Lisbon, we wish we knew how to quit you. It started with a cheeky city break, nothing serious. We came back with a tan and some of those little custard tarts. Next thing we know we’re spending hours on Instagram stalking #lisbon, and begging our boss to relocate Hostelworld HQ.
And it seems we’re not the only ones; everybody’s obsessed with Lisbon right now. It’s a city that will steal your heart, and leave you hungry for more. Here’s why you should make a beeline there this summer…
✨ The nightlife looks like something out of a fairy tale
The charmingly ramshackle Village Underground Lisboa is built from old shipping containers and buses. This co-working space and arts hub also throws a mean party, attracting an arty, hipster crowd. If you’re looking for something a little less high-brow, why not follow the pink brick road to the city’s former red light district, Cais do Sodré, which is now home to some of the city’s coolest bars and clubs. There’s no place like Lisbon. There’s no place like Lisbon. There’s no place like Lisbon…
Finally, make sure you finish your night out like the locals do – in the most civilised way imaginable – with homemade soup and chorizo bread fresh out of the oven. Our favourite place to enjoy this little tradition is A Merendeira. (Photo: Jorge Matreno)
If you are looking for a social vibe, head to Bairro Alto for one euro pints and streets full of people willing to have a chat. It’s the perfect place to meet other travellers and arrange an adventure for the next day.
📷 The tiles will make your Instagram feed pop
These gorgeous little works of art can be found on buildings and pavements across the city. And once you start noticing them, you won’t stop. For true tile addicts, there’s even a dedicated museum, with tiles dating back as far as the 15th century. Or you can get your hands on your very own slice of vintage tile goodness over at Cortiço & Netos.
🕶 The hostels have their own ball pits and rooftop pools
This is the dream, people. Excuse us while we dive head first into our very own PIT OF BALLS at Hub New Lisbon Hostel. But wait, Sunset Destination Hostel has its own rooftop pool and massage parlour complete with amazing views over the River Tagus. Then there’s Lisbon Destination Hostel, located INSIDE a train station and featuring a gorgeous winter garden complete with hammocks and fake grass.
☀ The weather’s nice ALL THE TIME
Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but when you live in London, five consecutive days of sunshine feels like witchcraft. Let’s just say you’ll probably get more sun on a long weekend here than you will in the whole of August in England. And dammit, Lisbon, even when you’re rainy we can’t help but love you.
😱 The views are unreal
A sea of terracotta rooftops baking in the sun. Panoramic views of the River Tagus and Lisbon’s very own Golden Gate Bridge. This is one beautiful city, and there are a million and one viewing points (known as “miradouro”) from which to appreciate it.
🎨 The city is one big open-air gallery
Colourful, fantastical, political – the city is covered in amazing graffiti from visiting street art celebs to home grown talent. The city’s most famous resident sprayer is Vhils: If you’ve never seen one of his 3D murals up close, you’re in for a treat.
To see what life as a street artist in Lisbon is all about, follow Kruella on Instagram, the lady behind the above masterpiece.
💪 It’s socially acceptable to eat little custard tarts for breakfast
If we had to pinpoint the start of our obsession with Lisbon to one moment in time, it would probably be biting into a freshly baked “Pastel de Nata” from the legendary Manteigaria bakery (The Pastéis de Belem is good too, though a little more touristy). We pretty much filled our suitcase with these on the last day of our trip. Mmmm custardy mess…
🎭 The city is full of culture and you get to live awesome authentic experiences
Stroll the city to see amazing street musicians sharing African, Brazilian and Portuguese music. Spend time in local jaunts like Anjos 70, a super cafe/bar that hosts lots of community events like art fairs and flea markets.
😎 Even the bridges are cool!
The Vasco da Gama Bridge and is 17km of pure perfection. Not only is this the longest bridge in Europe, it’s also quite possibly the coolest thanks to the awesome skate park built at its base on the Lisbon side of the river.
🏛 The architecture looks like THIS
You don’t really need a plan in Lisbon if you want to see stunning architecture – it’s all around you. But here are a few of our favs, including the whimsical Bélem Tower, which looks like it’s floating in the Tagus River; the perfectly proportioned Praça do Comércio (pictured); the ornate, leg-saving Santa Justa Lift; and the eerily beautiful ruined gothic Carmo Convent. (Photo: Tom Hafner)
🏖 Oh hello, ocean breeze and stunning coastline!
Barcelona, Rio, Sydney, Cape Town, San Francisco… being by the sea is a sure-fire way for a city to capture our heart. And the coastline around Lisbon is in a league of its own: rugged cliffs, spectacular sandy beaches and even the odd dolphin. Head 30km west to the buzzing coastal town of Cascais (pictured) or carry on a little further and you’ll reach the stunning Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. If you want something a little more chilled, head south to the Troia Peninsula. (Photo: Lovelyforliving)
🌞 The sunsets are ridiculous
After a long, hard day eating custard tarts and jumping in ball pits, it’s time to grab a beer and some mates and head to a roof somewhere to watch the whole city bathe in a warm glow as you plot the next day’s adventures. Saúde! (Photo: Kruella)
Hungry for more? Check out our Parkour video tour of Lisbon – which will give you a perspective on the city you can’t find anywhere else.
Want more inspiration for Portugal? Check out these articles:
- All The Food You Need To Try As You Eat Your Way Around Portugal
- 10 Best Places To Visit In Portugal If You’re Young And Broke
- Want a more authentic travel experience in Lisbon? Be a responsible tourist