If you think Fado, you think Lisbon. A Eurotrip will never be complete unless you visit the continent’s own San Francisco, a city of narrow streets, barrios, jaw-dropping architecture and coquette yellow vintage trams.
Why should I go to Lisbon?
Hard to start somewhere – Lisbon is a place for every soul. If you want to see Europe’s version of the Golden Gate, check out Ponte 25 abril. Or perhaps you’re into old colonial architecture, in which case you should take some selfies in Praça do Comércio. There’s plenty of restaurants, pubs and Fado places in the upbeat district of Barrio Alto and make sure you get there using one of Lisbon’s nostalgic yellow trams that assiduously climb steep slopes for you. Closer to the ocean shore you’ll find the old neighbourhood of Alfama and while you’re at it, take a tram to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and the Torre de Belem. For a fantastic panoramic view over one of Europe’s oldest cities, head to Castelo de Sao Jorge.
Lisbon is a city of contrasts, from rich neighbourhoods to barrio-style neighbourhoods, from busy roads to quiet roads, from steep slopes to no slopes, from tastefully dressed locals to tastefully dressed homeless locals. And when you’re overwhelmed by all that urban landscape, cultural and social richness, you can head for a stroll in the picturesque town of Cascais or visit the famous castle at Sintra. But above all, perhaps what’s so great about Lisbon is the strong feeling of underground and local that you get in a worldwide famous tourist location. Lisbon is home.
Where do I sleep overnight?
We slept at our couchsurfing friends who once came to visit in Budapest. If you don’t have a profile there yet you better hurry and make one, then chances are you’ll find a great host in Lisbon – ours were simply amazing. If you’re into more privacy, try airbnb and other similar platforms or just booking.com, they tend to have good offers. Barrio Alto is the most lively neighbourhood with plenty of accommodation offers, but don’t shy away from areas a bit far from the centre – the city has a very good public transport and you’ll be in easy reach to pretty much everything. For instance, we stayed in the area of Campo Pequeno and had no problem doing loads of sighseeing and going out at night.
Where do I eat & drink?
Again, Barrio Alto will have anything you’ve ever wished for – there are restaurants and buffets every second door and most of them are reasonably priced. For breakfast, our favourite place was Padaria Portuguesa on Praça Luís de Camões 44. Make sure you try their pastéis de nata, although our friends told us we should have eaten the ones they make at Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, where they were firstly baked by Catholic monks (so do that and let us know how was it).
What we liked/what we didn’t like
(+) We loved Barrio Alto
(+) You cannot leave Lisbon without taking at least one tram ride, preferably uphill
(+) The feeling of a very local, non-commercial place is incredible, despite the crowds of tourists buzzing the city
(+) People are very nice and friendly
(+) Homeless people are amazingly educated, they spoke great English, dressed very nicely, were creative and polite
(+) Prices are reasonable
(+) Don’t miss all the attractions we mentioned in the beginning and feel free to see much more than that – for instance there are many elevators around the city, taking you from one street level to another
(+) We liked to get lost in the city and found some amazing building, park, statue, view, at every corner
(+) Great public transport and good connection to surrounding towns
(+) The design of pretty much everything, from tiles and mosaics to sardine cans and souvenirs
(+) OK, I think you got it, we fell in love with Lisboa and we have nothing bad to say about it
Where do I go next?
We heard Porto is a great place (and who doesn’t want to try their wines?). Also, you can make your way down south to Algarve for some breathtaking cliffs, sandy beaches, dramatic landscapes, hidden bays and loads of fun.