Lisbon is located along the southwestern coast of the beautiful country of Portugal.
1. The Lisbon coast
This means that the bright sky-blue water of the Tagus River is (almost) always visible within Lisbon, and the relaxing beaches of Carcavelos, Caiscais, and many more are only a metro ride away.
2. The stimulating energy
The seaside background most definitely contributes to the laid back yet upbeat metropolitan vibe. Maybe it’s the open, airy layout of the city or the people mingling in the streets. Whatever it is, there is a calm yet arousing energy around the city – especially in nice, warm weather – that makes Lisbon a truly distinct and exciting place to be.
3. The history
Civilization in Lisbon dates back to Neolithic times, and the city has been influenced by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Moors. It was one of the most vivacious cities of the Roman Empire, and at one point the world’s most prosperous trading center. The best part about Lisbon is that most of the old buildings are still intact, and many of them are still in use. It feels like you’re living in a city of beautiful ruins as you’re surrounded by an exquisite mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Moorish architecture. Everywhere you go, you stumble upon romantic plazas and fountains, which particularly sets the mood in the early evening.
4. The sunny views
Lisbon looks best under the sun: during sunset, in the early evening, and any other time of the day really. The city was built on seven hills, and at the top of each one is a stunning view from every angle. Although it can feel like a trek to walk up and down its many hills, you can bet that all that effort will be worth it as soon as you look around.
5. Hot, friendly Portuguese people
Let me just say it right now, Portuguese people are hot. The beautiful country of the Iberian Peninsula tends to breed beautiful women and men alike. I was rubbernecking hard throughout my entire stay in Portugal, and the best part is everyone is quite good-natured and courteous. Don’t be surprised if you happen to pick up a little romance, as there’s no better place for a rendezvous than this gorgeous city by the sea.
6. International destination
Other than wonderful Portuguese folks, you’ll also find people from all over the world as Lisbon is quite the international hub and a popular study abroad destination for Europe’s ERASMUS students. You can expect more or less everyone, including the majority of Portuguese natives, to speak English. And if English doesn’t work, locals will definitely understand whatever Spanish you throw at them, which is awesome for someone who has never learned Portuguese.
7. Cheap food and drinks
I was able to eat and drink in Portugal for a week for the same amount I spent in Paris for a weekend. Every day I enjoyed a breakfast of coffee and a pastry at one of the many bakeries for 1.50 Euros, ate like a king for 10 Euros or less for dinner, and I never paid more than 2 Euros for a beer wherever I went drinking. Not only is the food and beer cheap, it’s also delicious. There’s lots of good seafood, bacalao (or codfish) being the Portuguese signature, and their main beer brand, Superbock, tastes better than Spain’s Mahou in my opinion. If cheap food and drinks aren’t a big draw, I don’t know what is.
8. Street art
Lisbon is well-known for its excellent street art. Everywhere you turn you will be amazed to see a creative and highly-skilled masterpiece, the spontaneity of which definitely beats going to a museum. The abundance of such artwork adds to the colorful ambience of this cool and artistic city.
One of Lisbon’s big perks is its close proximity to Sintra, the enchanted city of fairy-tale castles and forests, which is only a 2.15 Euro train ride away. Sintra is a popular day trip destination, as there are extravagant castles and estates travelers can visit, many of which will blow your mind. I spent a magical afternoon in Sintra feeling like a princess and running around the huge castle grounds of the Quinta da Regaleira, complete with grottos, chapels, watch towers, and caves! This charming town never disappoints as a favorite destination for anyone who visits.
10. Less mainstream
I told my friend back in California that I had just gotten back from Lisbon, and she responded by saying she has no idea where that is. It often seems to be the case that Portugal isn’t as much of a vital destination for those coming to Europe, which is exactly why you want to go there. A friend I made in Lisbon also told me that he chose to live there because it’s less “mainstream” than Spain, but just as, if not more, exciting and captivating. Be sure to go see Lisbon for yourself as soon as possible before everyone else discovers it as well!