Just before things went from bad to worse in 2020, I spent 5 days in Portugal’s capital and ever since I started learning Portuguese, I knew I had to go to Portugal. Lisbon is a great city to visit as it isn’t too expensive and is genuinely my favourite European city.
The gothic architecture all around the centre of the city will have you looking all around, walking through Alfama is like walking through a maze and there are buildings of all kinds of colours. The main square known as Praça do Comércio is a great place to take a look at the buildings there and it’s interesting to walk around. As Lisbon is a very walkable city, however because of the steepness of the streets I recommend wearing a comfortable pair of shoes.
While most capital cities like London and Rome tend to be bustling cities, Lisbon feels like almost the opposite. In Lisbon drinking in public is allowed and you can sit down at one of the viewpoints to have a beer. Most of the streets are pedestrianised meaning that there isn’t hectic traffic and in the evening the streets feel very calm.
Convenient Public Transport
Even though Lisbon is a very walkable city, there is a metro system and buses take you to places you need to go. When you buy a ticket, you can reuse it for other journeys which I think is a fantastic idea and most journeys only cost about 1-4 euros. You can use the same ticket for taking the metro, ferries, buses and even trains.
Prices are Decent
Visiting Lisbon is a fraction of the cost of visiting London, as I’ve mentioned, public transport is extremely affordable and so is eating out. A decent meal in the centre of Lisbon can cost you about 8 euros and a beer can be no more than 4 euros. The prices for entering into certain places such as the Castelo de S. Jorge which is a castle in the middle of the city is only about 5 euros.
Great Local Food and Restaurants
First of all, you cannot go to Portugal without indulging in Portuguese natas, which are egg and custard tarts. You can find them everywhere in Lisbon and they aren’t too expensive, maybe 2-3 euros. Restaurants where you can try local food are easy to find and you can enjoy really good cod and it won’t be too expensive. It’s also worth mentioning that you can find Guaraná Antarctica in a lot of shops which is a delicious Brazilian soft drink.
Lots of Interesting Places to see
Lisbon is a city brimming with Portuguese history and culture, there are places that are hundreds of years old within the city. Right in the middle of the city you can find the Carmo Convent which is the remnants of an old catholic church built in 1389 and destroyed during the earthquake. There is also the Jerónimos Monastery which is a monastery that was built completely by hand in 1495 and nearby the Belém Tower which is a fortification built during the period of Portuguese exploration. However, the most amazing place I went to was Sintra which is a town that you need to take a 40 minute train from Lisbon to get to. Sintra is home to Pena Palace which is a colourful and massive palace and nearby is also a Moorish castle which has been there since the 8th century.
I definitely want to return to Portugal as it’s a fascinating country and people are surprised when I say it’s the best country I’ve been to. I highly recommend Lisbon as a destination for people on a budget and people who want to see some history.