Is Lisbon Worth Visiting?
If you’re planning a trip to Europe and wondering whether Lisbon is worth visiting, you’ll want to read on to find out about the top sights, monuments, meals and attractions that the Portuguese capital has to offer, so you can decide whether a trip to Lisbon is right for you. Lisbon often gets bumped down people’s European bucket lists in favour of more famous capitals such as London, Paris, and Rome. However, Lisbon is most definitely a worthy destination in its own right, and if you get the chance you should absolutely visit!
Is Lisbon Worth Visiting?
Lisbon (or Lisboa) is the Capital of Portugal and has a population of over 500,000. It’s worth visiting because it’s a vibrant, lively, colorful, cultural and an inexpensive city with over 3 million visitors a year. Visit the Alfama district and consider day trips to Porto, Coimbra, and Sintra.
There are so many reasons why Lisbon is worth visiting, which can clearly be seen by the fact that the city has had a massive rise in popularity over the last few years from both tourists and also Digital Nomads who have decided to call this city their home.
Read on to discover Lisbon’s best bits, find out how to get around the city, have a taster of Portugal’s food and wine world and decide whether you think Lisbon is worth visiting…
Reasons Why You Should Add Lisbon to Your Bucket List
Lisbon is Relatively Cheap
Considering Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, the city still offers relatively cheap drinks, dining, and attractions that make a city break here budget friendly.
Whether you’re seeking an affordable weekend getaway or are thinking of tacking Lisbon on to a big European adventure, a visit to the capital certainly won’t break the bank.
With beers in Lisbon setting you back just €1.50-2, most meals costing less than €10-15, and public transport around the city both reliable and affordable, there’s no excuse not to add Lisbon to your bucket list!
Read more about the prices in Portugal in our article
‘Is Portugal Expensive’
Lisbon is an Amazing Place to Eat and Drink
The food and drink in Lisbon are perhaps the top reason to visit the city as they are truly heavenly! Whether you love meat, seafood, fresh plant produce, or sweet treats, Lisbon has you covered.
Being located on the coast, Lisbon has access to some of the freshest fish and most scrumptious seafood you can imagine. They absolutely love cod here, and no trip to Lisbon would be complete without trying one of the city’s famous cod cakes.
This rule also goes for the mouth-watering Pasteis de Nata, the famous soft, sweet custard pies that can be found all over the city. Lisbon must produce tens of thousands of these delicious delights every day, so you’ll definitely be able to get your hands on one for a taste.
Last, but by no means least, Lisbon’s famous drink Ginjinha is a must-try. This cherry liqueur is sweet, smooth, and sour all at the same time and can be tasted at hole-in-the-wall bars all over Lisbon.
Lisbon Has a Lot of History
Something that not many people know about Lisbon is that it is actually the second oldest capital city in Europe after Athens.
The city has had a long history of rulers (namely the Romans, Germans, and Arabs) who have all put their stamp on the city in terms of culture, cuisine, and architecture. Lisbon also played an important role in world exploration, with many vital world voyages setting sail from the city’s harbour.
Travellers can see a monument to some of the world’s great explorers (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) on the banks of the Tagus river, which gives an insight into the journeys undertaken in years gone by.
Lisbon's Architecture is Fascinating and Unique
Lisbon has an eclectic mix of architecture thanks to its long and varied history, and the city’s layout (built on seven hills!) allows you to witness the colourful, cultural sites from a range of different angles.
From Moorish citadels such as the São Jorge Castle, to the Gothic Carmo Convent and everything in between, Lisbon has some awe-inspiring works of architecture that tell a story in themself. That’s not to mention the cute, colourful and sometimes impressively intricate Azulejos (painted tiles) that grace the facades of many buildings throughout the city. This beautiful tilework becomes part of every trip to Lisbon.
Whether they make up a plant pot or a whole wall-side mural, Azulejos are a work of art that must be seen to be appreciated in all their glory.
Lisbon Comes Alive at Night
While Lisbon by day is a magical place, the Portuguese capital really comes alive at night, and it’s an excellent choice for those who love long, lazy dinners or all-night partying.
The cobbled streets of Bairro Alto are the place to go if you want to drink and dance the night away. With quirky bars packed to the rafters with both locals and tourists alike and traditional Fado music pouring out into the street, you’re sure to have a night to remember.
It’s also worth noting that it is pretty much frowned upon to go out for dinner before 8.30, with most locals not heading out until around 10pm to start their meal! So you’ll want to plan accordingly so you can make the most of the atmosphere and choose restaurants that are popular with locals.
Lisbon Has Great Weather
Another reason that makes Lisbon well worth is a visit is simply that the city’s weather is fantastic! Lisbon is lucky enough to receive around 3000 hours of sunshine a year (averaging about 8 hours a day!) which makes it one of the sunniest cities in Europe.
Whether you’re visiting in winter, spring, summer or fall, you’re likely to receive bright, clear days in which to explore the city. Even during the hot summer season when temperatures break 30 degrees Celsius most days, the cool Atlantic breeze makes the weather mild and pleasant.
Lisbon is Easy to Get Around
Finally, despite Lisbon being an especially hilly city (making walking around pretty strenuous at times), the public transport systems here make it a relatively easy city to explore.
Not only are the trams cheap and convenient, but they are also somewhat of a tourist attraction in themselves. The famous, yellow, number 28 tram travels from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, and passes through popular tourist districts such as Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. This is an iconic ride and is a must for all trips to Lisbon.
Another fun way to get around the tight, cobbled, hilly streets of Lisbon is to take a tuk-tuk. These can be found all over the city and have been a popular mode of transport here since just after WWII.
So, Should I Visit Lisbon?
If you’re only visiting Europe for a short period, you might want to weigh up what you want to see and do in during your trip and whether Lisbon will hit the spot.
Lisbon certainly doesn’t have the show-stopper monuments of other European capitals such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum or the Sagrada Familia, so you won’t be ticking those off your bucket list. However, Lisbon does have colour, charm, and character that can’t be replaced and you won’t find this anywhere else in Europe. Yes, it is a little rough around the edges, and some buildings may be more shabby than chic, but it is also friendly, cheap and cheerful which makes it ideal for a backpacker trip or a family vacation on a budget.
The food and drink here are also to die for, which for me, definitely bumps Lisbon up the list!
If you are also visiting other cities in Portugal definitely look at 15 Best Places To Visit In Portugal
Is Lisbon Safe?
On the whole, Lisbon is considered a very safe city, with locals being renowned for their warm hospitality and friendly nature. Of course, like any European city, travellers should be aware of pick-pockets, particularly when using public transport, looking at maps, and when exploring notably busy tourist spots. There are also certain areas of the city that are probably best avoided at night such as Anjos, Intendente and Martim Moniz, especially if you are travelling solo.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lisbon?
Thanks to its spectacular weather, Lisbon is a good year-round destination with bright, clear days the norm. While the summer months can get pretty hot (think: over 30°C during the day) Lisbon still gets relatively busy, so it is perhaps best avoided. Spring and autumn are great times to travel to Lisbon, and even winter with a few layers can be a lovely time to go to the Portuguese capital.
How Long Should I Spend in Lisbon?
Lisbon is a great place for a long weekend, and around three days is generally considered long enough to see the main city sights.
While locals would argue that you could spend a lifetime here without seeing everything, three days allows you to walk around the top spots, visit some museums, try some local delicacies and also spend some time relaxing and people watching!
If you have longer, you could consider spending a few days in the city and then a couple of days using Lisbon as a base to explore some day trip destinations such as Sintra and Óbidos.
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