Lisbon has long been one of the most irresistible cities in Europe. Bright colours, contagious energy and views that will make your jaw drop are just some of the things to be expected from a visit to the capital of Portugal. Not to mention the food, of course! Here’s a list of things you will not want to leave unticked on your Lisbon bucket list!
1. ABSORB THE VIEWS
Much like Rome, Lisbon is also nicknamed The City of Seven Hills. During your wanders you will most definitely come across a few amazing views of the city. While some of the hills may be a little too ambitious to find without guidance, others are just very easily accessible. My absolute favourite is the one where the Castle sits. It gives you a beautiful view of Baixa’s orange roofs complete with the Tagus River, the Christ statue and the bridge in the background. Whatever you do, don’t miss this one out!
2. EAT ALL THE DELICIOUS FOODS
Foods, all kinds of it. Let’s establish right now that you will have trouble choosing from so many different options. From tasty meat and fish to scrumptious pastries, there’s quite literally something for every taste! If you’re after a typical meal, try chargrilled sardines in one of the many small restaurants in the city – it is a summer staple and should be easy to find! Top the meal up with a delicious Pastel de Nata (a small custard pie) and you’ll be good to go. You can find these popular little pies everywhere, but if you get the chance try the original factory in Belém. They’re too good to be true.
3. SOAK IN THE ARCHITECTURE
From Baroque to Art Nouveau and everything in between, you’ll have trouble counting how many architectural styles there are in the city. Lisbon is a place where beautiful palaces and cute little colourful alleyways co-exist in pure harmony. One of the things that makes Lisbon such a popular place is how visually appealing walking around can be. While at it make sure you look down to see the intricate patterns of the typical Portuguese cobblestoned pavements – they’re a marvel to look at!
4. PARTY HARD AT BAIRRO ALTO
Lisbon is well known for its buzzing nightlife, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The Mediterranean climate brings in warm nights that allow for long hours of revelry under the stars. Add in the beautiful views, the accessible prices and you’re in for a good one. Bairro Alto has long been the must-go place at night in Lisbon. Think a huge neighbourhood with narrow streets where every second door is a bar. Yes, that crazy. It’s like nothing you would have seen before. What’s more? During the day it becomes a mecca for alternative fashionistas.
5. GET LOST IN MYSTICAL SINTRA
Of all the places you don’t want to miss, Sintra should probably top the list. Located slightly outside the city, this UNESCO World Heritage Site can easily be visited by train on a day trip. Expect a castle to explore, a few beautiful palaces to visit, mystical streets to roam and views to die for. If there’s a place to get lost, Sintra is it. You will be taken a few centuries back in time. Don’t leave without trying the famous queijadas de Sintra, a delicious regional pastry that resembles a small pie and tastes like heaven. You’ve been warned!
6. INTERACT WITH THE LOCALS
The Portuguese are a nice helpful bunch. Laid back on their ways, but always ready to lend a helping hand and ensure you have a good time. People in general (especially the younger generations) can grasp a few sentences in English and will have no problem communicating with you. Ask for hints and tips on what to see and do and don’t be surprised if you end up in a crazy party overseeing the river until the early hours of the next day. You sure wouldn’t be the first! What happens in Lisbon…
7. RIDE THE YELLOW TRAMS
Chances are, if you are sending a postcard from Lisbon, it will feature one of these stunning yellow trams. Still used for its original purpose (to transport people, ahem), they’ve become a good way to see the city from a different angle. That couldn’t be truer for Tram 28, which criss-crosses its way up the tight streets of the Alfama district all the way to the castle. This route is extremely popular with tourists, so beware of pickpockets.
8. TOP UP YOUR TAN
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Portuguese take their beach time seriously, just bear in mind that 50% of the country is right on the coast! Lisbon is no exception. If you can’t survive without sand between your toes there’s a few places nearby where you can go get your fix. Either take the train to Cascais, a quaint little town with a few sandy patches (easily combined with a trip to Sintra!) or cross the river and hit Costa da Caparica, a long stretch of sand extremely popular with locals on sunny days.