I have just spent some time in Portugal’s Lisbon and this dynamic city was as surprising as it is fun.
I have never walked so much or eaten so much over the days I was there. And the best part was it was affordable.
The Food: Portugal has amazing food. Many restaurants and food stores call it “honest food” and that’s a good description. From fresh, raw ceviche to gourmet tapas, charred steaks and hand made Portuguese tarts, the food culture is big. The people put love into their food.
Seafood is plentiful and cheap. The eating is definitely a highlight of a trip to Lisbon, as the people are so passionate about their food presentation and taste. You can find a good homestyle meal for under 10 Euros. But Portugal itself has over a dozen Michelin starred venues too.Time Out Markets is a great place to sample everything in one location, but don’t miss some of the fabulous restaurants.
Local wines: We don’t read or hear much about Portugese wines, but they are fabulous and inexpensive. Matues is the one wine you ,may have heard of, and is a summery frizzante rose in a gorgeous bubble shaped bottle. All of the restaurants serve multiple local wines, and many can be bought by the bottle for under Euro 10 in local stores and are excellent.
Social culture: The social culture is big. Bars and restaurants pack the streets, and they are busy from lunch time until the early hours. The only negative is that many don’t take bookings and expect you to que for sometimes 2 hours, but if you are flexible, there are always other options around.
Architecture: The city is a combination of old and new architectural styles. There are ultra modern restaurants and hotels, next to some of Europe’s oldest buildings such as the Lisbon Cathedral. Many older buildings are covered in azulejo tiles, which are just beautiful and perfect for instagram.
Accidental Fitness: This is a city where you walk, and walk and walk. And the walking is rough as the streets are all paved with cobbles and are very up and down.
I was easily doing 15km a day without even thinking about it. If it gets too much, the tube system is easy to navigate and cheap, and the trams are fun and offer another great instagram moment.
Beaches: There are multiple beaches very nearby and beach towns such as Cascais and Estoril where you can access small coastal towns easily by train, as well as golden beaches.
Day Trips: The Unesco world heritage cultural landscape Sintra (known locally as the moon hill) is a magical way to spend a day. It has some of the most elaborate castles in Europe all in the one location and it is only an easy and cheap 40 minute train ride away.