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Are you planning a trip to Portugal and asking yourself ‘Is Lisbon worth visiting‘? As someone who spent time living in this stunning country and has visited Lisbon multiple times, let me break it down for you.
Lisbon is a city of gorgeous streets, endless pastries, and a contagious sense of saudade (a Portuguese word for longing). If you’re contemplating a trip to this charming little corner of Europe but are still on the fence, allow me to convince you otherwise.
Lisbon is not only worth visiting; it’s worth falling in love with!
From its colourful streets to its historic monuments and lively nightlife scene, this Portuguese gem has something for everyone – even if you think you’ve seen it all before. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to explore the capital city that’ll steal your heart faster than you can say “pastel de nata.”
Is Lisbon Worth Visiting?
Lisbon, the charming capital of Portugal, is a city that truly captivates the senses. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, it is no wonder that Lisbon has become an increasingly popular destination for travellers seeking a unique and memorable experience.
The Pros of Visiting Lisbon
1. Scenic views and picturesque landmarks
Lisbon offers an array of stunning scenic views that will take your breath away. Ascend to the historic São Jorge Castle, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the city’s red-tiled rooftops and the sparkling Tagus River winding its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
For a truly mesmerizing experience, head to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, a lesser-known lookout point that offers an uninterrupted and awe-inspiring view of the city’s skyline. It can still get a bit crowded at sunset though so go early to get a good view.
Marvel at the elegance of Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stands as a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. And don’t miss the grandeur of the Jerónimos Monastery, a stunning example of Manueline architecture and one of the most visited sites in Lisbon.
2. Delicious food and wine culture
Lisbon boasts a rich and diverse culinary scene, where traditional Portuguese dishes blend harmoniously with international influences. Indulge in the iconic Pastél de Nata, warm custard tarts with a crispy crust that melts in your mouth.
If there’s one thing I miss about Portugal it’s the Pastél de Nata’s!
Sample the tantalizing flavours of Bacalhau à Brás, a hearty codfish dish infused with onions, eggs, and golden potatoes. And don’t miss the succulent seafood, grilled to perfection and bursting with freshness.
To complement the culinary delights, Lisbon offers an exceptional wine culture. For a unique experience, venture to the cellar bars of Bairro Alto, where you can enjoy the ambience while savouring a glass of Ginja, a cherry liqueur adored by locals.
3. The city has a fun and infectious vibe
One of the most alluring aspects of Lisbon is its vibrant cultural scene. The city pulsates with an infectious energy, evident in its lively music, delectable cuisine, and enthusiastic locals.
Fado, a melancholic Portuguese music genre, can be heard wafting through the air in traditional taverns, creating a wonderful ambience.
In Lisbon, getting lost is not a setback, but a delightful opportunity to stumble upon hidden gems and unexpected discoveries. You certainly won’t be bored as you wander the unique streets.
4. Lisbon has a rich cultural heritage and history
Lisbon is a city steeped in a rich cultural heritage that spans centuries. Its history weaves a captivating tapestry that continues to captivate visitors from around the globe.
Walking through the streets of Lisbon, you can’t help but feel the echoes of the past. From the imposing São Jorge Castle, a testament to medieval times, to the elegant architecture of the Belem Tower, an emblem of the Age of Discoveries, history comes alive in every corner!
This vibrant city has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, the exploration of new worlds, and the blending of diverse cultures. The remnants of Roman, Moorish, and Portuguese influences can be seen in the intricate tilework, the ornate churches, and the winding alleys of the Alfama district.
5. It’s perfect for art lovers
Beyond the iconic landmarks, Lisbon’s cultural heritage extends to its vibrant arts scene. From contemporary galleries to lively street art, the city pulsates with creative energy.
Explore the trendy neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto and LX Factory, where you’ll encounter an array of avant-garde galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.
Moreover, Lisbon is known for its vibrant cultural events that celebrate the arts. The Lisbon Architecture Triennale, the Lisbon Book Fair, and ARCOlisboa are just a few examples of the city’s commitment to fostering creativity and providing platforms for artists to showcase their talents.
6. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to see the city
One of the awesome things about Lisbon is that the city is very walkable so you hardly have to spend any money on getting around. Being a large city you make think it’s pretty expensive but it’s actually the opposite.
I found Lisbon very affordable due to the fact that there are a lot of landmarks and sights that you can see for free. Plus the unique neighbourhoods are fun to get lost in, with the charming streets and colourful houses so there’s actually a lot of sightseeing you can do without spending too many $$.
The Cons of Visiting Lisbon
1. Crowded streets during peak tourist season
While Lisbon undeniably has its charms, there are a few drawbacks that may give travellers pause. One such drawback is the crowded streets that can be experienced during peak tourist season.
As the city’s popularity soars, the narrow streets of Lisbon can become packed with visitors eager to explore its wonders. This can lead to long queues at popular attractions, bustling crowds in the historic neighbourhoods, and a somewhat diminished sense of tranquillity.
Navigating through the throngs of tourists can be a test of patience, especially for those seeking a more intimate and relaxed experience.
To mitigate the impact of the crowds, consider visiting Lisbon during the shoulder seasons or exploring the lesser-known neighbourhoods that offer a respite from the main tourist hubs. With a bit of planning and a dash of patience, you can still savour the essence of Lisbon without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds.
2. Hilly terrain that can be taxing for some tourists
When it comes to Lisbon, the hilly terrain can leave some tourists huffing and puffing.
This city of seven hills is a challenging playground for those unaccustomed to steep inclines. For visitors with limited mobility or fitness levels, the constant uphill battles may become a tiresome endeavour.
However, don’t let the hills discourage you from exploring this captivating destination. Remember, the rewards are often found at the top! From breathtaking viewpoints offering panoramic vistas of the city to hidden gems tucked away in the winding streets, Lisbon’s hilly terrain can lead to unforgettable experiences.
If you find the hills daunting, there are alternative transportation options like trams to help you conquer the peaks with ease. Additionally, choosing accommodations closer to the city centre can minimize the uphill treks and of course, you’ll want to pack a good pair of walking shoes too!
3. You need to watch out for theft
Lastly, like in any major city, petty theft can occur in Lisbon. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas, and take necessary precautions to safeguard your valuables.
Portugal is known as a pretty safe country in general but it’s always wise to stay alert and use common sense to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Debunking Common Myths About Lisbon
Myth 1: It’s just another European city with nothing special to offer.
Absolutely not! Lisbon was the first place I ever visited in Europe so I didn’t quite know how awesome it was at the time but now that I’ve travelled more of Europe I can confidently say that it is one of my favourite cities.
I’m not much of a city person either, so that’s saying quite a lot. In fact I think Portugal in general is a bit underrated and everyone should travel there at least once.
Lisbon had such a unique charm about it that is hard to describe until you’ve experienced it for yourself. All my friends who have travelled there since have absolutely loved it too so Lisbon is definitely doing something right!
Myth 2: It’s too expensive for budget travellers.
Again absolutely not! Yes it’s a big city but big cities mean lots of options so if you’re on a budget then you can stay at bed and breakfasts or hostels. Hostels are fantastic for getting to know other travellers which is great for when you’re travelling solo.
If you plan to stay in the city for a while, i.e at least 3-4 weeks and are travelling slow (my favourite kind of travel), then why not look into the option of volunteering at a hostel? You will save yourself a ton of money in exchange for an awesome experience.
For cheap eats, don’t miss the local markets or grab some food to go from a local supermarket. You certainly don’t need to be eating out at a restaurant for every meal. Bonus points if you manage to find a hostel with free breakfast or decent cooking facilities!
So, is Lisbon worth visiting?
100x yes, Lisbon is worth visiting! From its breathtaking scenic views to its awe-inspiring picturesque landmarks, Lisbon truly offers a feast for the eyes.
Immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this vibrant city, and you’ll quickly understand why it is an absolute must-visit destination. So pack your camera, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey of discovery in Lisbon.
FAQ: Is Lisbon Worth Visiting
Is it safe to travel to Lisbon Portugal?
With a low crime rate and a well-established security infrastructure, Lisbon stands as a haven for tourists. The city’s streets are typically safe to wander, even at night, and instances of serious incidents are rare. However, it’s always wise to remain vigilant and exercise the same caution you would in any other urban destination.
Lisbon’s friendly locals and welcoming atmosphere contribute to the overall sense of safety. From the historic neighbourhoods to the bustling markets, you’ll find a warm and inviting community that will make you feel right at home.
So, if you’re wondering, “Is it safe to travel to Lisbon?” rest assured that this captivating city prioritizes the well-being of its visitors. Even as a solo female traveller in Lisbon, I felt completely comfortable in this vibrant city.
How many days in Lisbon is enough?
Ideally, allocating Lisbon three to five days will allow you to uncover its many treasures without feeling rushed. This timeframe strikes a harmonious balance, providing ample opportunity to explore the historical landmarks, indulge in delectable cuisine, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
If you don’t have that much time, then it is also possible to see Lisbon in a weekend or even a day but be prepared for it to be action-packed.
On the flip side, if time is a luxury you possess, extending your stay to a week or more will grant you the luxury of venturing beyond the city limits, embarking on day trips to nearby attractions such as Sintra or Cascais. It is also possible to take a day trip to Porto from the city of Lisbon, perfect for when you have an extra day up your sleeve.
Ultimately, the duration of your stay in Lisbon boils down to your preferences and schedule.
Where to stay in Lisbon
When it comes to choosing where to stay in Lisbon, you’re spoiled for choice. Each neighbourhood has its own unique charm and offers a distinct experience.
Where you choose to stay and what type of accommodation you choose will largely depend on your budget. Here are a few options that will help you find the perfect base for your Lisbon adventure:
Baixa: Located in the heart of the city, Baixa is ideal for those who want to be at the centre of the action. This bustling neighbourhood is known for its grand squares, elegant architecture, and proximity to major attractions.
Bairro Alto: For a vibrant nightlife scene and a youthful energy, look no further than Bairro Alto. This historic district comes alive at night, with its narrow streets brimming with lively bars, clubs, and music venues.
Alfama: If you crave a taste of old-world charm, Alfama is the answer. This ancient neighbourhood, with its winding alleyways and traditional Fado music, transports you back in time. Get lost in its labyrinthine streets and soak in the enchanting ambience.
Best Hostels in Lisbon
If you’re on a budget or you’re travelling solo then hostels are a great option to help save money. There are a ton of awesome hostels in Lisbon and you can’t really go wrong but here are some of the best-rated ones to help you out.
- Urban Garden Hostel (very affordable hostel for Lisbon, I stayed here and it was good plus they had free breakfast)
- Goodmorning Hostel Lisbon (Includes free waffles and nutella for breakfast, yum!)
- Home Lisbon Hostel
- Yes! Lisbon Hostel
TIPS FOR CHOOSING A GOOD HOSTEL WHEN TRAVELLING SOLO
- Look for a hostel with a lively atmosphere. These hostels always tend to be more social and therefore make it easier to meet people
- ALWAYS check the reviews, and make sure the most recent reviews are good ones. If in doubt, keep looking
- Go for a hostel that offers free breakfast! A must in my books, even if it’s basic it gives you a chance to fuel up for the day while saving you $$
- Pick something in a central location, no need to spend more money than you need to on transport
Should I go to Lisbon or Porto?
If you have the time, then definitely both. These two cities are very different from one another and have their own unique charm that should be experienced at least once. However, if time is of the essence then how do you choose?
Well Lisbon, as you’ve discovered so far, is the vibrant capital which enchants with its rich history, lively atmosphere, and iconic landmarks.
On the other hand, Porto, nestled along the Douro River, boasts a more intimate charm. Its narrow streets, colourful houses, and famous wine cellars exude a distinct character. Indulge in port wine tastings, wander through the historic Ribeira district, and admire the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge.
If you crave a bustling metropolis filled with endless exploration, Lisbon is your muse. If you seek a more intimate and laid-back experience, Porto beckons you with open arms.
Whichever you decide, both cities offer a delightful taste of Portuguese culture, captivating beauty, and endless discoveries.
Conclusion: Is Lisbon Worth Visiting?
In conclusion, Lisbon is unequivocally worth visiting. Yes, it might get busy in peak season and have a few too many hills but the pros certainly outweigh the cons in this case!
Beyond its stunning architecture and artistic allure, Lisbon exudes an infectious energy that permeates its every corner. From the bustling markets to the lively street performances, there is always something to discover and delight in.
Whether you’re an art lover, a history buff, or simply a wanderer in search of new adventures, Lisbon beckons you with open arms. Embrace the warmth of its people, immerse yourself in its vibrant culture, and prepare to be captivated, for Lisbon is a city that promises memories to last a lifetime.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to book your trip and pack your bags!