Lisbon, Portugal, is equally endowed with both beautiful scenery and rich history. Built atop seven hills, it offers endless views of amazing architecture and natural beauty. And as Europe’s second oldest capital, it also possesses thousands of years of documented history. Visit Lisbon in this Everyday Postcard from Marco, the Travel-Boo.
With seven continents, nearly 200 countries, and more than 7.5 billion people in the world, there is a lot to experience. The world is so vast and amazing that even the most avid traveler with a large bank account couldn’t truly do it justice in one lifetime!
Through the Everyday Postcard series, one of the world’s everyday wanderers shares postcard-worthy photos and real-life travel experiences to bring a piece of the big wide world to you.
After moving to his father’s native Portugal, Marco and his partner were so smitten that they decided to move there! After identifying all of the best places to view Europe’s hilly second-oldest capital city, Marco dashed off this Everyday Postcard:
Let me tell you about a city that will capture your heart at first sight!
Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and the new darling of Europe after winning several top travel awards in recent years. And it’s no wonder, great food, sunshine, friendly people and a gorgeous city to boot. What’s not to love!
Meet Marco Santos
Born and raised in South Africa, Marco and his partner moved to sunny Lisbon over two years ago. With an absolute love for Europe he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese heritage along the way. Marco has set out to share his passion for travelling through and exploring Portugal, Spain and the rest of Europe, through his blog Travel-Boo.
For those of us who haven't visited yet, give us an overview of Lisbon.
Located in Western Europe, Portugal’s capital city has become somewhat of a hotspot in recent years, thanks to the numerous World Travel Awards it’s raked in. It’s a gorgeous city and the second oldest European capital (with Athens being the oldest). It has an incredible history and range of influence over it, including both Roman and Moorish rule.
Built on top of seven hills, there are plenty of beautiful viewpoints in Lisbon, offering sweeping vistas out over the city and across the Tagus river.
How did you decide to visit Lisbon, Portugal?
Given that my father was born in Portugal and I still had family living in Lisbon, I really wanted to explore all that the city and country has to offer.
In 2016, together with my partner, we embarked on our first ever visit to sunny Lisboa and instantly fell head over heels in love with the city, the weather and of course the warm and hospital Portuguese people too.
So much so that we decided to move permanently to Lisbon a year later, and have resided here ever since!
What's the best way to get to Lisbon?
Getting to Lisbon is fairly easy. Since we were travelling all the way from South Africa, we arrived by air into Lisbon’s international airport. The airport is located fairly close to the city and is either a 20-minute drive to the city centre or around half an hour by metro.
How did you travel around Lisbon?
Thankfully, Lisbon is a very small and compact city compared to other European capitals making getting around Lisbon super easy. This meant that we were able to get by on foot with no issue at all.
On the occasions that did involve a slightly further travel distance, we simply made use of Lisbon’s metro and train systems. It is a pretty affordable way of getting around the city as you purchase a reusable travel card for €0.50 and then load money on it as required. Generally, a one-way journey on the Lisbon metro costs only around €1.34.
Surprisingly, we also made use of cab hailing services such as Uber, Bolt or Kapten. Considering how small the city centre is and since we were two travellers, it often worked out cheaper compared to us travelling by metro.
Pro Tip: Immerse yourself in the beautiful Portuguese scenery by biking from downtown Lisbon to Belem.
What's the weather like in Lisbon, Portugal?
We travelled at the end of May through to the middle of June. The weather was perfect, just starting to warm up nicely. This time of year is ideal, as you’ll avoid the summer peak period between July to September when the city is overrun by tourists.
May, however, is not guaranteed to always have warm weather. If you prefer a hotter climate, then travelling towards the end of September through to October is probably a better bet.
What "can't miss Lisbon sights do visitors need to see?
There is so much to explore in Lisbon but if I had to highlight a couple of sights not to be missed then these would include the impressive Jeronimos Monastery and church in the area of Belem. The architecture and detail in this building is truly exquisite!
Then, head over to Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama, and get lost in the old cobbled streets, which is also well worth a visit. Do make sure to enjoy a dinner and Fado show. Fado, being the traditional folk music of Portugal. It’s melancholic and haunting sounds are beautiful.
Downtown Lisbon, in the areas of Chiado and Baixa, also has its fair share of worthwhile sights including Rossio Square, the Rua Augusta pedestrian street, the Santa Justa Elevator, the Praca Luis Camoes square, the Carmo church ruins and the Sao Roque church, to name but a few.
Pro Tip: Explore Lisbon’s thriving street art scene in this three-hour minivan tour.
What was your favorite moment in Lisbon?
With so much to see, do and explore, our Lisbon itinerary was jam-packed full of sightseeing and discovery. But perhaps one of my all time favorite moments had to be admiring all the viewpoints (Miradouros) that this city offers.
It is such a special feeling being able to peer out over the orange roofs of Lisbon, and marvelling at all the colourful buildings. Pure magic.
On our last day in the city, we decided to head to the top of the famous Rua Augusta Arch that frames the Praca do Comercio square in downtown Lisbon.
Looking back out over the city from the top of the arch was so mesmerizing and both my partner and I agreed, it was the moment we both knew we wanted to call this city our home!
Pro Tip: Taste 18 different Portuguese dishes in this small group Lisbon food tour.
Since you were in Lisbon for an extended stay, did you take any day trips?
Yes, we decided to embark on a couple of day trips from Lisbon.
With a number of them being only an hour outside the city, it was ideal. So, we visited the gorgeous seaside town of Cascais, the magical village of Sintra with all it’s palaces, castles and noble estates as well as a trip to Obidos, a medieval walled city with charming white-washed buildings and cobbled streets.
Both Cascais and Sintra were easily accessible by train and Obidos by bus. If you plan a visit to Lisbon, I would highly recommend you consider a couple of day trips to round out your trip.
One of the best parts of travel is experiencing the local flavors. What is your favorite Portuguese meal?
It has to be all the delectable pastries and cakes Portugal has to offer. The Portuguese love their cakes, sweets, and pastries, and you can find a bakery on almost every street.
The most famous of these delights is the much loved pastel de nata egg-yolk custard tart, of which we had too many as they were simply delicious. A couple of my other favourites include the Bola de Berlim, the Tarte de Amendoim and the sugary Guardanapos. All absolutely worth a try, albeit not good for the waistline.
Pro Tip: From pastel de nata to sweet port wine, there are many delicious food and drink treats to bring home from Lisbon. Here are several other ideas for the best souvenirs to buy in Portugal.
Did you meet any of the locals? What were they like?
Yes, we did. Especially when taking Ubers throughout the city we met many local drivers. The Portuguese are known for their warmth and friendliness and considering that most Portuguese, more so in the cities, speak almost perfect English, language wasn’t a barrier at all.
They are an extremely proud nation willing to share all their insider tips and suggestions, which was so useful in exploring the city and the rest of the country too.
What's one thing travelers can't forget to pack when they visit Portugal?
Comfortable walking shoes! As already mentioned, Lisbon is very hilly and you’ll no doubt encounter quite a few steep hills along the way. So, do make sure that you pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes that also have a good grip. The cobblestones, especially if it rains, can be very slippery.