Portugal has been on my map for a while now. For at least a couple of years. I’ve been hearing a lot about it; lots of my friends who were there were obsessed with it and couldn’t wait to go back and since being a big fan of Cesaria Evora (I know she’s from Cape Verde but she’s singing on Creole-Portuguese ) and her music style that includes fado mixed with morna, I basically couldn’t wait to go there. On top of all that, Portuguese is my favourite language. Yeah, well, it was no brainer when I was choosing my next destination. It had to be Portugal. Lisbon and Porto, to be precise. For a first visit.
Let’s start with Lisbon. If you’re wondering if Lisbon should be your next destination or you still looking for reasons why, look no further. This is why you should be already packing your bags for Lisboa:
1. Lisbon is cool. It really is. And I’m not saying that because it’s currently one of the biggest hits when it comes to travel, but it really is a cool city. It has such a good vibe. Literally from the first step I took while leaving the metro and walking down the the main square, it really got me. Like in a second. You know sometimes it takes a while to see if you like the place or not, but with Lisbon, it happened immediately. I liked the energy, I liked the air, the wind that was blowing mostly all of the time, the bright clear sky above the city, the colourful facades, vibrant atmosphere… Lisbon really has it all.
2. Easy going, no rush atmosphere which is rare to find in the big, capital cities. Unlike many other European cities, where traffic jams and rushing up has become everyone’s everyday, Lisbon has kinda slowed down vibe. You know, really cool and chill out atmosphere everywhere you go. And I actually very much liked that. Even when it comes to tourists; there are many of them but not that many like in some other big tourist cities where you literally can’t walk freely around and always end up like being in the line full of tourists while actually just walking on the street. What I’m trying to say is that the city doesn’t make you tired like some other cities do. Even in the middle of Summer. That’s how great the energy is. So that’s a big plus. It’s also a very laid back city and so are the people and that’s what I like the most about Lisbon.
3. Sunshine city. Lisbon is actually the sunshine capital of Europe with an average of 2799 sunny hours a year. In my ten days stay, there was no rain. Very little cloudiness. And even on 30C, there was the cold wind from the Atlantic blowing so it was never really hot. No swelter and humid too, which was such a relief. Never actually felt that; being 30C and even somewhat cold when not on a direct sun. Beautiful.
4. Prices. That’s actually where my biggest surprise came from. Fish and sea food around 10-14 euros, chicken around 8-10 euros, burgers around 7 euros (fries included), beers starting from 2 euros, glass of wine starting from 3 euros, best dessert ever – Pasteis de Belem – 1 eur. And that was one of the highlights of my trip to Lisbon. More about it below.
5. Pasteis de Belem. At first I didn’t understand what’s the fuss about; why all around the city there were those small cupcake lookalikes sold. And everyone was going crazy about them. Having my meting in the Lisboa tourist office (amazing people (thanks Vitor!) so helpful and friendly; thanks for the bday present!), they explained to me that I have to go and try the original pastry in Belem called Pasteis de Belem. So while exploring the Belem and the Belem Tower I went and found the aforementioned pastry shop. In a quick chat with a waiter I found out that they are making these pasteis with the same ancient recipe originally from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos created in 1837. He also told me that they are selling up to 14 000 of them every day! Wow! So when he arrived back with those egg tart pasteis, I was really eager to taste them finally. They were fresh from the oven and you can put cinnamon and sugar on them. And maaaan, I can tell you, those are one of the best desserts I ever tried. Delicious. One euro each. Don’t even wanna go there on how many I ordered later. 😀 Tip: If Belem is too far for you to go for the egg tarts, in Bairo Alto there is Manteigaria that sells Pasteis de Nata, also very good.
6. Viewpoints and rooftop bars. Aaaah, now that I am writing about it, I remember just how good it felt to be sitting down, drinking cold beer and overlooking the Lisbon rooftops, 25 de Abril Bridge and Cristo Rei statue at sunset. And staying there until the late night, well early morning hours. Watching the city going to sleep, city lights lightning up and all of that accompanied by one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen… well, this all solely makes more than enough reasons to visit Lisbon. The best viewpoint I’ve been to (and there is also a bar there) is Miradouro da Graça – Viewpoint Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Laid back atmosphere, such a good energy; definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
7. Awesome day trips. Reach Sintra, the aristocratic hill town full of beautiful palaces and gardens in just 40mins train ride. While in Sintra, don’t miss the half an hour bus ride to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe. And finally, end your daily trip by stopping at Cascais (there’s a bus from Cabo da Roca that takes you there), a small pictueresque beach town with sandy beaches and nice restaurants just a short train ride back to Lisbon. Yes, you are making a full circle trip. More about my experience and how to organise the daily trip containing all three destinations in one day, read in my separate blog post here: https://deanpelic.com/day-trips-from-lisbon-sintra-cabo-da-roca-and-cascais/
8. Trip to Porto is just 3hrs train ride/one hour flight away from Lisboa. And Porto is so beautiful even being completely different than Lisbon. Different energy, vibe and atmosphere. And a must visit. Read my detailed blog post about Porto here: https://deanpelic.com/48hrs-in-porto-riverwalk-at-sunset-with-some-fine-wine-and-ed-sheeran-songs/
9. Interesting souvenirs. I don’t know if you are the souvenirs person or like me ain’t really crazy about buying souvenirs when traveling but I have to say there are some pretty cool souvenirs in Lisbon. I mean I like souvenirs that are originally made in the land I visit and have some meaning, not really crazy about the generic stuff you can buy at almost every corner. Lisboa has some pretty cool shops when it comes to buying souvenirs, I used the TripAdvisor app to find the best ones. I actually bought some souvenirs for my parents and also got the gift from Turismo de Lisboa – Sardinha by Bordallo Pinheiro. One of the coolest and most original souvenirs I’ve got. I’ll leave you the link so you can check the whole collection here: https://eu.bordallopinheiro.com/home-decor-sardine-cat?specs=1305
But let’s be honest, even the photos you take could be a perfect Lisbon souvenirs. Just look at how photogenic this city actually is:
So I could be naming even more reasons why you should go to Lisbon right away. Did I mention dancing on the streets and neighbourhoods festivals, churros and drinking “ginginha” in a chocolate glass?! Oh man, there are so many things I could be telling you about, but what’s the fun in that when you know everything in advance?! I’ll leave you to discover all the secrets and beautiful things this city has to offer. I can just tell you that you won’t be regretting it. Lisboa is super cool and I can’t wait to go back. Plan yourself more than just a weekend for a laid back visit if you can. I mean the weekend will do it, too. But it’s just more nicer when you have some free time to fully indulge all this city has to offer. And on top of that, the accommodation is also inexpensive, probably the least expensive of all the European cities I visited in the last couple of years. So yeah, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be packing your bags literally right now as you are reading this. Lisbon is waiting!
Thank you Gloria magazin for the nice intereview and overview of my trip to Lisbon. You can read the full interview here: https://www.gloria.hr/fokus/zvjezdane-staze/domaci-ljepotan-na-putovanju-ova-zemlja-je-cudo-cure-me-i-na-cesti-pitaju-broj-telefona/7560756/
Thank you Dnevni Avaz/ Panorama for the nice intereview and overview of my trip to Lisbon.
Big thank you goes to Croatia Airlines for continuous and great collaboration. Also Visit Portugal, Visit Lisboa (thanks Vitor) and Visit Porto for the amazing support and collaboration on my Portugal trip. You guys are the best. Muito obrigado!
*Book your accommodation (wherever you travel) through my link: https://www.booking.com/s/efcb62e7 and get back 200 HRK (25 Eur) on your card after your stay.