Lisbon was love at first sight for us; the moment we laid eyes on Portugal’s capital city, we were enraptured; from its homogeneous textured brown tile rooftops to the azulejo designed churches to the diverse multi-cultural population, Lisbon had our hearts from day one. This international city is the perfect juxtaposition of traditional, historic and modern, simultaneously existing harmoniously. Lisbon is synonymous with so many wonderful things; specialty coffee shops, pasteis de nata, castles, palaces and cathedrals (oh my!) along with rich culture and history. In this blog post you’ll find out why we love Lisbon so much and why there’s a good chance you will too.
Sasha and I left Seattle and are living the digital nomad lifestyle in Europe for the indefinite future. We’ve had our hearts set on Portugal for over a year now, so we’re thrilled to be able to spend several months here! During our time in Lisbon, we walked an average of 16 kilometers (10 miles) each day (we had to justify all the pasteis de nata we were eating!), and the top two questions we asked each other every day, was, “which specialty coffee shop do you want to try this morning?” and “which museum shall we visit today?” And sometimes we switched it up with, “do you want to see two museums today or explore a new neighborhood?” With so much history, art, culture, architectural design, natural beauty, and interesting people, it’s truly impossible to be under stimulated here.
In this blog post I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting Lisbon, including:
- The history of the Great Lisbon Earthquake and how it shaped the city we know today
- How to get around Lisbon
- Where to stay in Lisbon
- Safety in Lisbon
- Cost of Living in Lisbon
- Downsides of Lisbon (spoiler alert: there are only two!)
- Top 26 things to do in Lisbon
THE GREAT LISBON EARTHQUAKE OF 1755
A critical historic event occurred in 1755 that quite literally changed the entire landscape of Lisbon as we know it today. In fact, it was the largest natural catastrophe in Europe at that time. Allow me to set the stage. The date was November 1, 1755; it was a weekend. Lisboetas (people who live in Lisbon) woke up just like on any other weekend, only this particular Sunday was a special day; it was All Saints Day. On this day, families lit one candle for each family member who had passed, and in the 1700’s, people had very large families and humans died at a young age, so many candles were burned in their honor. Around 9AM most families left the house, candles still burning, to attend church. People shuffled into mass as usual, not suspecting that anything was awry.
Then at 9:40 AM, the tremor struck. Most earthquakes last between 10 – 30 seconds, but this one lasted 3 – 6 whole minutes. What is estimated to be between an 8.5 and 9.0 on the richter scale, this was the largest historic earthquake to impact Europe and Northern Africa. The main church in the city center collapsed, killing nearly everyone inside. But the terror didn’t stop there…
Remember the candles I mentioned earlier; one lit for every family member who had passed? Well, citizens left their homes that day with the candles still burning, and most homes were made of wood. Earthquake + open fire + wood, equaled disaster. Those who survived the first six minutes of that fateful day, resurfaced only to find the city of Lisbon aflame. So what did they do? They ran to the water for safety. Upon arriving to the water’s edge, they were delighted to find that the water had receded, so they began running towards it. Survivors stayed by the water as long as possible, watching their beloved city burn to flames. Just 45 minutes after the earthquake hit, a huge tsunami, 6 meters (20 feet) tall, crashed down on the city and wiped out all the people who were seeking safety by the shore. Approximately 60% of people perished, and 80% of the city of Lisbon was destroyed, all within a few hours. The effects of this horrendous act of Mother Nature, was felt all the way South in Northern Africa.
As it turns out, many of the survivors were not religious. Why? They didn’t celebrate All Saints Day; this meant that no candles were lit that day, and they did not leave their homes to attend church. The church couldn’t explain to believers that non-believers survived, because that simply wasn’t justifiable, so the church condemned Lisbon “the cursed city” and demanded that it be erased from the map.
(I promise there is a silver lining in this dark story, so bear with me here.) This horrible event marked the turning point in what is now modern-day science; the answer to “why”? used to always be “God”, but now the answer is “science” – this catastrophic event marked the age of Enlightenment (aha, the silver lining). This was the first earthquake to be studied scientifically for its effects across a large geographic area, and thus led to the birth of seismology and earthquake engineering. In essence, Lisbon was the start of modern geosciences that we are familiar with and rely on today.
After the destruction of the city, an architect was instructed to rebuild Lisbon stronger and better than before. He noticed that the arches of the church survived the collapse, but not the roof, so he made a miniature replica and had his army march around the wooden floor to simulate an earthquake. This would later turn into what we now know as the richter scale. You’ll notice that the buildings in the lower part of Lisbon near the big square, are all built exactly the same way; only a few stories high with wide streets. This was strategic, as having the buildings the same size and height would prevent the domino effect of collapse if another earthquake were to hit. Also, you’ll see no mosaic tiles (azulejos) on these buildings because it was too expensive and they needed to rebuild the city quickly.
As you walk about the city of Lisbon today, you would never imagine that it was once completely decimated, save for the remnants of the church that still serve as a reminder of that fateful day in November of 1755. Visitors flock from all over the world to visit Portugal’s capital city; today tourism accounts for around 20% of Portugal’s economy, and Lisbon is one of the most reasonably priced cities in Western Europe. Below is a photo of the church whose roof collapsed during the 1755 earthquake. It was never restored, but stands as a reminder of that fateful day.
HOW TO GET AROUND LISBON
As you’ve probably heard, Lisbon is an extremely hilly city, often compared to San Francisco because of the geographic landscape and very similar looking bridge to the Golden Gate. I was so impressed to see many elderly folks charging up the hills, with a cane in one hand and groceries in the other, navigating the uneven cobblestone streets as if they’ve been doing this their entire lives (they probably have.) There are endless ways to get around the city, which is very easily navigable by foot using Googlemaps. There’s even an electric escalator in the middle of the city!
Do you need a rental car in Lisbon? – Absolutely NOT! In fact, you’d be crazy to rent a car in the city because first of all, it’s simply not necessary. Second, parking is very difficult to find, and third, unless you’re familiar with Lisbon, driving is very complicated and confusing with tiny streets, one-way roads, and trying to navigate around the trams tracks. Save the stress and headache and avoid a rental car; you’ll be so much freer!
However, do keep in mind that there are lots of small alleys and staircases that are unclear where they lead to, so it can be easy to get lost. However, very similar to Venice, Italy, this is part of the charm of walking around Lisbon! Here are 11 ways you can get around Lisbon:
- Elevador da Gloria
- Take the Famous #28 Tram
- Elevador de Santa Justa
- Bike (electric or pedal)
- Electric scooter
- Taxi / Uber (inexpensive); as a reference, when we had to take a trip through town that was 20 minutes by car, the cost was around €10.
- City Bus
It can be easy to miss incredible views in Lisbon because you’re paying attention to potential oncoming trams, or merely focusing on putting one step in front of the other as you conquer a hill, only to reach the top and find that there is yet another hill ahead of you! But remember to turn around, as the view behind you can often be an unexpected delightful surprise!
WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON
One of the most difficult decisions whenever we move locations, is finding the right place to stay. Especially since we stay in one place for anywhere from two weeks to several months, it’s important for us to select a neighborhood that we like. Luckily, there’s a super helpful website to help you select the best neighborhood for you in Lisbon! It’s called Hoodpicker and it’s free to use. We stayed in the Principe Real district near Bairro Alto and we loved it. We were right on the #28 tram line across from the Parliament Building, and within walking distance of everything. Here’s a short video of our beautiful flat – we loved the vaulted ceilings and natural light.
SAFETY IN LISBON
Lisbon is the safest capital city I’ve ever felt in. It feels far safer than Seattle, that’s for sure. There are very few beggars and almost no homeless tents on the streets or in parks. Guns are illegal, as is carrying a knife with a blade longer than the width of four fingers put together. Of course, you should always be aware of your surroundings, and in any city you should be aware of petty crime such as pickpocketing, but I felt far less paranoid about wearing my backpack on my back, than I have in a place like Bogota or Medellin.
Portugal was the first country in the world to decriminalize drugs, which you may think would make the city more dangerous, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Besides the occasional person on the main drag trying to sell you marijuana, you’ll find far fewer people drugged out on the streets than you would in Chicago or Seattle. The biggest threat in Lisbon, is actually not related to crime at all…it’s getting hit by a vehicle, especially a tram. The tracks are quite close to the sidewalk, and because the streets are extremely narrow in some portions of the city, you often need to step into the street to allow others to pass, so be very vigilant of your surroundings when it comes to traffic.
COST OF LIVING IN LISBON
Lisbon is often referred to as the poor man’s San Francisco, and while this is a bit of an insult to Lisboetas (Lisbon is WAY cooler than San Francisco in my biased opinion) 😉, it is true in terms of the similarity in geography as I mentioned above. Lisbon is one of the cheapest cities in Western Europe, and I’m surprised that its neighboring countries of Spain, Italy and France tend to get more love than Portugal. The Portuguese even admit that they have incredible products, natural beauty, lovely people, stunning coastlines and so much to offer…but they’re terrible at marketing themselves.
You can easily have a nice seafood dinner for two, including starters, entrees, dessert and wine, for under €40. Transportation is inexpensive, and wine is often cheaper than bottled water. Lisbon is cheaper than Madrid, Rome and Paris.
It is perfectly fine to drink the tap water in Lisbon, so bring your reusables to cut down on single plastic waste!
TIPPING IN PORTUGAL
As Americans, it feels very strange for us not to tip 20% everywhere we go (a standard in the U.S. for any service or meal), though Western Europe really isn’t a tipping culture. In our observation, we noticed that many people don’t even tip at all, though it is customary to round up to the nearest Euro, or leave a few euro as a gratuity. Tipping is not expected as a percentage here, but it is always appreciated. For example, if our lunch is €30, we usually leave a €2 euro coin as a tip. The lack of high percentage tipping, makes Portugal even more affordable.
DOWNSIDES OF LISBON
There are always downsides to each place, no matter how many stars we have in our eyes when we love a destination. I always aim to provide a realistic view of living and visiting a place by providing the good, the bad and the ugly. Though I will say, Lisbon is the first city where we could only think of two things we didn’t like: the graffiti tagged on buildings (it makes the city feel ugly), and dog poop on the sidewalks. Though there are grassy areas and parks within the city, dog owners don’t seem to care about picking up their pet’s excrements. We noticed this in Mexico when we lived in Puerto Vallarta as well. This means that you’ll need to watch where you’re walking, as it can often feel like walking through a mine zone! Also, the powerful smell of urine is quite prevalent in some parts of the city because of lack of public toilets. Though I will say, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much friendlier people are about letting you use the toilets in restaurants or cafes, even if you aren’t a patron there; unlike in Italy or France, where they will literally yell at you if you try to use their toilet without purchasing an espresso or water first.
TOP 26 THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN LISBON
- Take a Free Walking Tour
- Soak in the views at Sao George Castle
- Photograph Purple Jacaranda Trees (Spring & Autumn)
- Walk Through the Charming Neighborhood of Alfama
- Photograph The Colorful Flower Wall Next To the Museu de Lisboa Santo Antonio
- Pay Attention to the Beautiful Azulejos Throughout the City
- Visit the Museu dos Azulejos (National Tile Museum)
- Try a Pasteis de Nata and a Pasteis de Belem
- Visit Belem Tower
- Visit Jeronimos Monastery
- Visit the MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
- Visit the Museu dos Coches
- Step Up Your Fashion Game – Treasure Hunting at Consignment Shops
- Take a Day Trip to Sintra
- Enjoy Ethnic Cuisine in Martim Moniz
- Sample Local Cuisine at Time Out Market
- Haggle at the Feira da Ladra (Thieve’s Market)
- Visit Gulbenkian Museum
- Be Wowed Inside the Se Cathedral
- Visit the LX Factory
- Try One of Over 365 Recipes of Bacalhau, Portugal’s National Dish
- Try Georgian Food
- Photograph the 25th of April Bridge
- Go “Specialty Coffee Hopping” – (like bar hopping, only for specialty coffee during the day)
- Listen to Fado Music at a Local Bar
- Experience Hip Lisbon Nightlife in Bairro Alto
1. TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR
This is always the very first thing Sasha and I do when we arrive to a new city; take a free walking tour! The concept is that you pay the guide (in the form of a cash tip at the end of the tour) based on how much value you feel they delivered. People tip anywhere between €5 – €20 per person, but the longer the tour, the higher you should tip. Usually for a three-hour tour, we tip between €20 – €25 per person. Please keep in mind that this is usually these guide’s full time jobs, and all the guides we’ve had during our travels, have been vibrantly passionate and authentically genuine about loving their home city and providing a great deal of knowledge. They also include local tips (such as the best time to see a cathedral, or where to watch the sunset, etc.), and personal recommendations on where to eat and what to see from a local’s perspective. Please don’t be that jerk who slinks away at the end of the tour without tipping. Most of these guides do this for a living, not just for fun. We used Lisbon Chill Out Free Tours and highly recommend them! They are the original free walking tour company in Lisbon.
2. SOAK IN THE VIEWS AT SAO GEORGE CASTLE
Perhaps the most famous view of Lisbon, is atop the Castle of Sao George. Don’t be expecting too much in terms of going inside the castle; besides walking atop the walls, this is really just for the view, and there is an entry fee.
3. PHOTOGRAPH PURPLE JACARANDA FLOWERS
If you’re lucky enough to visit in the months of May, June or October, you’ll have an added pop of vibrant violet flowers to your photos, as these are the two seasons for the jacaranda tree to bloom!
4. WALK THROUGH THE CHARMING NEIGHBORHOOD OF ALFAMA
Fun Fact: any word that begins with the letters “AL” come from Arabic origins. Alfama is the most quaint and delightful neighborhood in Lisbon, with labyrinths of alleys and staircases leading to lovely plazas where you can sit and enjoy a cafe or Ginjinha – a Portuguese liquor that locals make in their home and sell from their window to passerby on the street for 25 cents.
Alfama is a special neighborhood that you will understand only after strolling through it. You’ll see that most of the population are elderly; everybody leaves their windows and doors wide open during the day and neighbors actually talk to each other from their windows. Some of the homes are less than 200 square feet (18 square meters). To have such a quaint, trusting neighborhood right smack in the middle of a capital city, is an impressive and beautiful thing.
5. PHOTOGRAPH THE COLORFUL FLOWER WALL NEXT TO THE MUSEU DE LISBOA SANTO ANTONIO
This floor-to-sky wall is purely for aesthetic purposes and makes for great photos (especially in portrait mode if you’re shooting from a smart phone.) Sadly, the flowers are not real, but they sure look real! You can find this colorful wall right in front of the Museu de Lisboa Santo Antonio.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO THE BEAUTIFUL AZULEJOS THROUGHOUT THE CITY
The use of tiles on building architecture, is actually quite strategic. Think about the same concept of why we use tiles in bathrooms; they are used to reflect heat. Also, because Lisbon is right on the sea, salt and humidity usually breaks down buildings much quicker, but tiles only need to be replaced every 50 years or so, versus having to repaint a building every two-to-three years. It certainly isn’t the cheapest design material to use, but it’s what gives Portugal such a unique characteristic, which is what I feel adds to the charm of this city. This style is called Azulejo, a glazed ceramic tile. Walking around Lisbon can often feel like an Azulejo treasure hunt!
One of the millions of reasons I love Lisbon is because they have done such an outstanding job of preserving the old city, so it truly has a special feel of stepping back in time before modern-day skyscrapers and trendy architecture. However, just outside of the city, the juxtaposition of old and modern architecture is striking.
7. VISIT THE MUSEU DOS AZULEJOS (NATIONAL TILE MUSEUM)
Besides all the stunning azulejos that you’ll see for free in and around the city, there’s also a National Tile Museum that is absolutely not-to-miss! I have to say, my favorite room was actually the kitchen of the museum’s cafe! (photo on the above left).
8. TRY PASTEIS DE NATA AND PASTEIS DE BELEM
Lisbon loves their pastries. So therefore I love Lisbon even more. 😉 The best way I can describe this delicious sweet is a piece of heaven surrounded by a rainbow, wrapped up in a cloud. An impossibly flaky crust envelops a creamy, fresh, smooth filling, topped off with cinnamon for that warm-your-heart-spice. The history of how the pasteis de nata was invented, is quite interesting. In the 18th century it was common practice to use egg whites to bleach the habits of nuns. This inevitably left monks with a plethora of egg yolks that they didn’t want to waste. So what better way to use it, than to mix it with sugar? (and some other secret ingredients, never to be surrendered by the Portuguese). By the way, the word nata means cream in Portuguese, so pasteis de nata is simply a cream pastry (but it sounds way more fun in Portuguese, right?) The best place in downtown Lisbon to find these bad boys, is a place called Manteigaria, which has several locations around the city. I’ve tried many a pasteis de nata, and none lived up to the recipe of Manteigaria, who serves them warm – the best way to eat them! Pasteis de nata are literally the only thing Manteigaria makes, so they have clearly perfected them!
Supposedly the first ever recipe of this pastry, came from Jeronimos Monastery, where monks opened up a store right next to the monastery to serve the local neighborhood, called Pasteis de Belem, which still exists in the very same location today and has a queue at nearly all times of the day).
9. VISIT BELEM TOWER
The Belem Tower served as an embarkation and disembarkation point for Portuguese explorers, and is right down the coast (five minutes by walking) from the Monument To The Discoveries, which was erected in 1940, with Henry the Navigator at the bow.
You can actually pay to ascend to the top of this monument via a lift, where you will find beautiful birds eye views of the Tagus River below, and the city of Lisbon in all its hilly glory.
10. VISIT JERONIMOS MONASTERY
Jeronimos Monastery was built in late Gothic style architecture, and was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
11. VISIT THE MAAT (MUSEUM OF ART, ARCHITECTURE AND TECHNOLOGY)
On the way to Belem from the city center, you will find the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology. This was one of our favorite museums in Lisbon because of how applicable the sciences are to our modern-day lifestyle. Included in this museum, is the history of the electric power plant with hands-on exhibitions on how to create electricity. This museum is excellent for families traveling with children because of the interactive displays. It definitely brought out our inner child! There was also a wonderful exhibition where you can select from a list of exercises – both physical and mental, which display behavior sciences. One of them was called “Goodoo Doll” – where we got to select a blank canvas doll, think of a person who means a lot in our life, and select five charms to strategically place on the doll body – basically a Voodoo doll, only good, hence the “goodoo”. The exercise was cathartic, fun, and relaxing.
Another exhibition (bottom right in the photos below), was a display where we could measure our carbon footprint contribution based on our lifestyle. Not surprising, the two major contributions to CO2, are flying in an airplane (something we are guilty of as travelers), and eating beef.
12. VISIT THE MUSEU DOS COCHES
Located in Belem, the Museu dos Coches houses one of the finest historical collection of carriages in the entire world, and is one of the most visited museums in Lisbon. Each carriage had such intricate design, and each had their own story. We found this museum to be fascinating, and was one of our favorites.
13. STEP UP YOUR FASHION GAME – TREASURE HUNTING AT CONSIGNMENT SHOPS
Lisbon is a highly fashionable city, where walking around downtown often feels like admiring a fashion show of the latest summer trends in Europe. Though there are stores like Bershka, H&M and Zara, I try to avoid those because they promote fast-fashion, which is environmentally unsustainable. Instead I seek out local boutique stores, or consignment shops selling second-hand clothing. Lisbon is filled with such shops, and my favorite was called Clube Royale where I found the most beautiful white twirly skirt. The owner took one look at me, took some quick measurements, and set off to find me the perfect outfit without me even asking! What a shopping experience! While you may find some second-hand clothing items here from brand name stores, most items are one-of-a-kind.
*TIP* – Having a twirly skirt in Portugal will make for some excellent photos with all the castles, cathedrals and towers. 😊 💃
14. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO SINTRA
Sintra is the town of castles, cathedrals and cream pastries. I wrote an entire blog post on How To Visit Sintra on a Day Trip.
15. ENJOY ETHNIC CUISINE IN MARTIM MONIZ
Lisbon has an incredibly diverse, multi-cultural population. With roots from Brazil, Africa and surrounding European countries, one of the things that makes Lisbon so interesting, is its fusion of cultures, of which can also be found in the food! Martim Moniz is a district in Lisbon, that has rows of ethnic restaurants and shops, from Indian to African to Nepalese.
16. SAMPLE LOCAL HIGHLIGHTS AT TIME OUT MARKET
For another great foodie experience, Time Out Market is the place to sample all the delicious Portuguese morsels. Opened in 2014, Time Out Magazine launched this multi-purveyor concept in a single market, with 40 hand-selected restaurants and eateries, best in their category. For example, you’ll find a Manteigaria here, because they have the best pasteis de nata. You’ll also find top-rated chefs, some of whom own Michelin star restaurants. It’s a great way to eat for relatively inexpensive, and get to try multiple dishes. You’ll find cafeteria-style seating all around the market, and cocktails, beer and wine in the middle. Look for the description to the right of each stall, as it explains who the chef is, and what’s special about that particular purveyor.
17. HAGGLE AT THE FEIRA DA LADRA (THIEVE’S MARKET)
If you’re looking for antiques, or just plain weird items, whether you’re a collector or want to buy a funny gag gift for a friend or family member, this is pace to find it. You’ll discover everything from snake’s skin to vintage dolls to china, silverware, clothing and shoes at this market. But what’s up with the name? Ladra is a female thief, but the derivation of the word “ladro” actually means a bug or a flea found in antiques. So don’t worry, this is not a market for thieves (but do watch your bags as in any other crowded place in the city). This market is held every Tuesday and Saturday from dawn until afternoon.
18. VISIT GULBENKIAN MUSEUM
This wonderful museum houses the wide variety private collection of Calouste Gulbenkian, a Turkish-Armenian oil magnate. Surrounded by wooded trees and water features, this museum is a sight for all the senses.
19. VISIT SE CATHEDRAL
There is a small entry fee to see the inside, but it’s well worth it. Built in 1147, Se Cathedral is the oldest church in the city, and has withstood many earthquakes and natural disasters. It has been modified and restored several times, and has a mixture of architectural styles. Parts of the interior contain the beautiful azulejo style design. Take a look at the flower stained glass design in the middle of the church in the photo above. Here is how it looks from the inside, along with an artistic shot of the reflection off of Sasha’s sunglasses:
20. VISIT THE LX FACTORY
LX Factory is Lisbon’s most significant former weaving and textile factory, revived to this modern-day space where the cool kids hang out. Located right underneath the April 25th bridge in the neighborhood of Alcântara, you’ll find a hip industrial space housing over 50 restaurants, cafes, shops and bars, complete with neat art installations and wall murals. This newly revived experience factory brings people, ideas and products together in a space that belongs to everyone.
21. TRY ONE OF OVER 365 RECIPES OF BACALHAU, PORTUGAL’S NATIONAL DISH
I find it ironic that Portugal’s national dish is bacalhau (cod fish), but cod is not native to Portuguese waters! (Most of their cod comes from Norway.) Nonetheless, the Portuguese love this fish cooked any which way, and you’ll find it on the menu in nearly every traditional restaurant you visit. If it’s your first time trying this dish, I recommend starting with a dish called Bacalhau à Brás, which is shredded cod mixed with egg, onion and herbs. I’m personally not a fan of any of the bacalhau dishes I’ve tried, both on mainland Portugal and during our time on the Azores Islands, because I find it to be too salty. Cod is also a relatively tasteless fish.
22. TRY GEORGIAN FOOD
You may be wondering why I’m recommending that you try Georgian food in Portugal. One of the reasons we love Lisbon so much, is because of the wonderful ethnic diversity, both in culture and food, as I’ve mentioned several times now. I first tried Georgian food in 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where my husband is from. I have since looked for it everywhere we visit and have not found it in a single place until now, here in Lisbon. Because this restaurant is run by natives of Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, it is truly authentic. Treestory is located just a short Uber ride outside of the city center, and will be some of the best food you’ll have in Lisbon. There’s a lovely courtyard with outdoor seating, to enjoy a peaceful setting with your delicious food.
23. PHOTOGRAPH THE 25TH OF APRIL BRIDGE
You may recognize this bridge, perhaps because it looks like the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge’s twin sister! It was built by the American Bridge Company, who constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but they were not the same company who constructed the Golden Gate. However, they are both suspension bridges of similar color. The bridge connects the municipality of Lisbon with its neighbor across the Tagus River, Almada. Unfortunately you cannot cross it by foot (with the exception of once per year during the marathon), but it’s beautiful to photograph from many different angles, and serves as a great landmark so that you always have a sense of direction if you were to get lost (happens frequently with all the small and narrow streets in the city!)
24. GO “SPECIALTY COFFEE HOPPING” (like bar hopping, only for specialty coffee during the day)
Lisbon is filled with specialty coffee shops around every corner, so pick your poison: aesthetically beautiful, lavish cafe, Instagrammable cafe, or chill, hip cafe that comes with an adorable corgi. After visiting so many museums, we woke up one morning deciding to switch it up, and said, “let’s do a cafe hopping day today!” and that’s exactly what we did – we found 7 top rated cafes, mapped it out, put on our comfy shoes and hit the coffee-filled streets of Lisbon with our reusable hydroflasks in hand. Needless to say, we were hyped up on caffeine by the time we were through, and this blog post was a result of our findings: Top 7 Cafes in Lisbon.
25. LISTEN TO FADO MUSIC AT A LOCAL BAR
Fado music is the life blood of Portuguese soul and spirit, and is usually associated with pubs, bars and restaurants. Fado dates back to around 1830, but is thought to have much earlier origins. Fado is a deeply moving, melancholic and expressive form of music, and the person singing, typically expresses all their emotions with great gestures using their entire body.
26. EXPERIENCE HIP LISBON NIGHTLIFE IN BAIRRO ALTO
Bairro Alto is the most happening nightlife area of Lisbon, where you can find over 300 bars. Narrow alleys give way to delightful plazas, where you’ll find all kinds of people, young and old (but mostly young) hanging out, drinking, smoking a cigarette (it is Europe after all), and enjoying themselves well into the night and wee hours of the morning. Be sure to walk down Rua Verde Lisboa – a narrow alley lined with restaurants in the Bairro Alto district (this reminded me of our foodie experiences in Japan!) Sasha and I didn’t get to experience much nightlife because we work Seattle time zone hours, so we work late into the night. However, one evening I walked to pick up some food for takeaway for our dinner and stumbled upon this delightful quintessential Europe evening scene:
Lisbon is, without a doubt, our favorite capital city in the world (so far! We still have lots to discover!) Lisbon is a vibrant city where you will never grow bored; in fact, quite the opposite! With all the wonderful museums, culture, history, and international people, you will certainly expand your mind (and quite possibly also your belly with all the pasteis de nata!)
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