10 Reasons You Should Visit Lisbon Right Now
1. Lisbon is Europe’s Sunniest Capital with 2,799 Hours of Sunshine
While other European capitals nearly guarantee rain (we’re talking to you London and Paris), Lisbon basks in the sunshine. So, you may as well get your share of it.
That means longer summers too. While some countries are moving into cool temperatures in September and October, people here are still heading to the beach to catch more rays. Bring your sunscreen!
2. The People of Lisbon – Lisboetas – are Super-friendly and Helpful
For us, Lisbon lived up to its reputation as a very friendly town. People are genuinely polite, the drivers are reasonable – they stop at crosswalks – and waiters will help you figure out what it really says on the menu.
It seems like Lisboetas each know about 5 languages. We’ve heard them switching fluently from Portuguese to English, French, German and Italian. Some of them probably speak more languages but don’t want to make you feel inadequate.
Lisbon feels like a safe city with lots of people in the streets at night, spilling out of cafés and bars with drink in hand. There’s just a happy buzz in the air. That’s a big plus when you’re travelling.
3. Lisbon is Getting Popular, But Not Yet Over-run
English and German travellers have always known about Portugal and Lisbon in particular. But it’s not quite so popular in North America and the rest of the world.
For now, you can still move on the sidewalks, get reservations in restaurants and get tickets for events.
That will change. As the word gets out, Lisbon will get more crowded. Get here early.
4. Compared to the Rest of Europe, Lisbon is Quite Affordable
OK, it’s not “Eastern Europe cheap” but compared to other popular western European cities, your Euro goes a bit further, especially in the neighbourhoods away from the tourist track.
5. Lisbon has Created a Wonderful Waterfront Along the Tagus River
This is where Lisbon comes out to stroll. You’ll find walking and cycling paths, places to fish, children’s parks, restaurants, carts serving wine and Ginja (a sweet cherry liqueur, a Lisbon favorite). It’s very civilized and quite beautiful, especially at sunset!
6. Lisbon is the Second Oldest Capital City in Europe, After Athens
Culture and history? You got it. Lots of sites to see, churches, forts, museums, arts, wonderful coffee shops, restaurants galore. Lisbon was first inhabited around 700 B.C. It seems like every culture lived here for a few centuries – Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, German tribes, various raiding marauders and finally, Christians. This city runs deep.
7. Lisbon is Very Walkable
You can walk, take tuk-tuks, buses, trams and the subway. But a warning if you’re walking – Lisbon is a city built on hills. You get a free thigh-master workout walking up the cobblestones and endless staircases. Wear comfortable shoes. No need for the gym.
8. Tipping in Restaurants isn’t Expected
It feels strange at first, like you’re being stingy. But it’s not the way it is in North America. If there are a couple of Euros change, you can leave it on the table if you like. But if you’re paying by credit card, you won’t be given the chance to add a tip. No automatic help in calculating 15%, 18% or 20% tips. It’s just not part of the culture.
9. Pasteis de Belém: the Real Reason to Get to Lisbon Now
Across the city you’ll see signs in pastry shop windows advertising Pasteis de Nata. They’re custard tarts and they are a Lisbon obsession. Most of them are very good.
But the original ones, known as Pasteis de Belém are only available at one store in the Belém part of town. There’s always a line-up, but it moves fast and when you get your tarts (don’t make the amateur mistake of buying just one), they’re still warm, the shell is crusty and the custard is straight from heaven (they were originally made by nuns). You’ll get little packets of icing sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on them.
BTW, if you find yourself standing next to a handsome man in a suit, it might be President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who apparently gets a couple most mornings on the way to work.
10. Portuguese Wine
Portuguese wine doesn’t get nearly the attention it should. Maybe it’s because people just remember Mateus from years ago.
Today, Portugal has many well-established wine regions and interesting reds, whites and rosés at all price points (but generally cheaper than comparable French or Italian wines). We just had a wonderful bottle of red in a restaurant for 15 Euros. You can buy it at the winery for 8 Euros. The same quality of wine from France, Italy or California would be at least triple that.
We’re trying to do our part to promote Portuguese wine. You should too!
Choosing a Guide Book? Lonely Planet is our Favorite
Hotel Accommodation in Lisbon
For hotel accommodation, we like Booking.com where we find a great selection, current prices and pages that make booking easy. We are also big fans of Airbnb.
The links below are affiliate links. If you click on them and book, we receive a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. This helps with the cost of operating this site.
There is a good selection of accommodation in and around Lisbon. Get the most up-to-date hotel prices for Lisbon here.
Thinking of Airbnb?
We’re renting Airbnb throughout Portugal. There’s a wonderful selection of apartments in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Faro. If it’s your first time renting Airbnb, click here to get the equivalent of $50 CDN off your first booking.
Renting a Car In Portugal? Here’s What You Need to Know…
Portugal, outside of the main cities, is a wonderful country to drive. We rented a car for three weeks and the drives were one of the highlights of the trip. Here’s what you need to know for a great experience renting a car in Portugal.
Harry Potter fan? Head to Porto Where It All Started
We loved Lisbon, but Porto has its own charms, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. Sit in the same Porto café as J.K. Rowling where she started to write the first Harry Potter book.
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