As far as capital cities go, they don’t get much cooler than Lisbon!
For avid travellers it’s often far too easy to breeze through the bustling cities on search of something unique, but Lisbon is well-worth slowing down for. This Portuguese city is overflowing with diversity, delicious food, colourful tiles and creative flare that you just don’t seem to find in most European capitals.
So, here’s our top 6 reasons to stay a little longer in Lisbon.
1. The Portuguese do food markets like no other
Back in 2014, a team of journos and food critics from the world-renown Time Out lifestyle magazine converted a 19th-century market hall into a foodies heaven. Time Out Market Lisboa is beaming with vendors from all over the world, dishing up hundreds of unique market snacks waiting to be taste tested.
Simply grab a seat at one of the long wooden benches and take turns at selecting a dish to share amongst your group.
2. It’s a hilly city, but the views are worth it
We’re not lying when we say Lisbon is hilly. In fact, legend has it that Lisbon (like Rome) was born between seven hills – which means a walk around the city is challenging, but beyond beautiful!
Undoubtedly one of Lisbon’s most scenic views is the terrace of Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Sitting by the Church of Santa Luzia and surrounded by the humming sounds of passing yellow trams – this is the perfect place to pause and take in the sweeping views of houses, churches and the Tagus river.
Miradouro de Santa Luzia is also a great introduction to the charming Alfama region. This area of town truly rewards those who travel on foot, so put the maps away and prepare to get a little lost as you wander past the hill-side streets and small boutiques.
3. Home to the best Pastel de Natas
What’s the best way to judge a city and it’s locals? Through the food of course! And the iconic sweet and custard-y Portuguese tart might as well be a part of the local’s DNA.
The Pastel de Nata (or ‘Nata for short) has to be up there with Croissants in Paris or Pizza in Rome. It’s iconic to Lisbon, having been around since the 19th century when a monk sold off the secret recipe to a baker in the capital. The trick to nailing this perfect ‘Nata recipe is making sure there’s just the right amount of sugar on top so that it caramelises without burning.
While in Lisbon, be sure to make a stop at Fabrica de Nata in Restauradores Square. Here you can watch the bakers working away on their art and try a few yourself for only 1 Euro each. Trust us, they’re worth the hype!
4. Rooftop bars galore
With no shortage of stunning viewpoints, Lisbon is bound to have some epic watering holes hidden on top of old office blocks and car parks!
A few of the crowd favourites include Rio Maravilha and PARK, located along the Tagus riverfront. But, if you’re looking for something with more of a local feel and prices that match – TOPO is the spot!
Sitting on top of the Martim Moniz shopping centre, TOPO offers one of the BEST views in Lisbon. Both the open-air and indoor bar flaunt 180 degree views of the iconic Castle, Casteki de S. Jorge and Old Town.
5. Live music around every corner
It may not be widely known for it’s live music, but if slow jazz or Portuguese acoustics tickles your fancy then follow the sounds to the Barrio Alto district. The streets here live a double life, nearly dead quite throughout the day yet buzzing with crowds when the evenings roll around. This popular bar district hosts a happy mix of crowds from foreigners to locals – young and old – all ready for a night of music and bar-hopping.
For a more traditional experience, visit the Tasca do Chico bar just before 8.00pm. Each night this place hosts impromptu Fado – a melancholic style of music unique to Portugal. The flaming Chorizo dish is also worth a try while there.
6. Perfect base for a day to Sintra
If time is on your side, a day-trip to Sintra is well-worth consideration! Located only 25 kilometres from the capital, this region is made famous by its beautifully coloured palaces and Moorish castles.
While a free shuttle bus is available from the train station up the hill to the tourists sites, we highly recommend taking the unbeaten path and exploring Sintra by foot. This way you won’t miss the hidden palace ruins and winding forest paths along the way. The Palace of Pena will be worth the trek, with epic views over the horizon and neighbouring castles.
Feeling inspired to start planning your next adventure in Lisbon? Take a look at our extensive range of Portugal and Spain trips.