10 Reasons To Visit Lisbon

Portugal is one of those countries I can’t seem to get enough of. After my wonderful, wonderful trip to Porto and Northern Portugal, I knew that I was going to come back.

After the disappointment that my friend has about her visa and me traveling solo in the north, she finally made it to come meet me in the south no other than in the capital city of Lisbon. And what a super fun experience we had catching up and traveling together. We would never have thought that we would be meeting after college in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Life took us both very far from our home country. Indeed life can be very surprising.

Just like in Porto, I’ve spent about five days in this city trying to soak up the beautiful city, culture and other areas of interest as well as traveling with friends. Our verdict: We LOVE Lisbon! I’ll tell you the reasons why.

1. Unique architecture

Lisbon Roofs

The country of Portugal is situated in a nice location and enjoys a wonderful climate all year round. It’s very rare that it will get extreme weathers. A lot of times it’s sunny and nice and it reflects in their roofs. If Porto has the most wonderful display of colors with their laundries and tiled houses, Lisbon on the other hand has the most iconic and beautiful sun-kissed roofs.

2. Intimate alleys

Intimate Alley

If you’ve been reading my past Europe blog posts, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of narrow streets. I’ve seen tons of them during my time in Europe, but the ones I adore the most are in Lisbon. Nothing can get more European than that.

3. Charming neighborhoods

Mela and I in Lisboa

And we finally meet again!

Lisbon is a tiny and compact city. But despite that, it is a city that’s filled with charming neighborhoods that reflects the capital’s history and unique personality. From Rossio or the city’s main square; to the trendy district of Principe Real; downtown neighborhood of Baixa and sophisticated Chiado;  all the way to the bohemian flair of Bairro Alto, all neighborhoods show the uniqueness that’s truly Portugal.

4. Beautiful accommodations are aplenty

Ola Lisboa

The first day I stayed at Yes Hostel and didn’t like it. Luckily, Lisbon boasts as one of the cities with the most awarded hostels based on Hostelworld’s Hoscars. So the next day I moved to one of the most beautiful hostels I’ve ever stayed at – The Traveller’s House. This hostel is like an old Portuguese house that was converted to a hostel and I loved how cozy the atmosphere is.

We arrived in Lisbon on the first day of April and as the Portuguese saying goes: “In April a thousand waters will come.” And it’s true. My friend and her friend on the other hand have stayed at an airbnb apartment and because of the heavy downpour of rain, we stayed in the first day. The place they stayed at in Bairro Alto is a gorgeous apartment with a lovely owner whom I also met and recommend for a more homey option.

5. Getting lost here is fun

Funky street in Lisbon

Whenever I travel, I don’t carry maps simply because I can’t read maps. I rely on my internal system and I really love getting lost. The irony is that I very rarely get lost whether I’m biking in a rural village in Laos, motorcycling to explore beaches in Southern Thailand or just walking in a city like Lisbon.

I’m aware that most people are not that keen with directions but trust me, whether you are good or with no sense of direction, you will love exploring the city of Lisbon. And though you can get lost with its small alleys, you will still find your way back in this compact city.

6. Wide selection of places to eat

Lisbon at Night

I had traveling companions here and it was a bit of a challenge to find places to eat that would make all of us happy. Just what I predicted happening on the first night we ate at a touristy area. As you can imagine I wasn’t belly happy that night. My tip is this: avoid eating at tourist traps particularly in Baixa. Ask yourself this question when you’re traveling to a new city: will a local actually eat here?

There are two things that I would normally do. One is I would look for a small, family run restaurant or I would walk up to a random local and ask him/her this: “If I only have 1 day to explore x city, where would you recommend me to eat?” This thing works and sometimes I end up with new friends giving me more advice about their city. You’ll have more fun asking real people and get better information than relying on a guidebook.

7. A glimpse of the old Europe

House in Lisbon

Portugal is one of those special countries that undeniably has been able to preserve its old European charm. Lisbon is a city that’s made for their people but also a delight for travelers.

8. Great starting point for travels around Portugal and Europe

Lisbon Tram

I took an overnight bus from Madrid to get to Lisbon. The bus ride was a good one considering I’ve taken a lot of overnight bus rides in Asia. The most exciting part of the ride was me waking up to see water on both sides and realizing that we are actually passing by Vasco de Gama bridge. I can say that I actually passed by the longest bridge in Europe!

If you’re flying to Portugal, chances are you’ll land in Lisbon.  Portugal being on the westernmost part of Europe is a great starting point for further explorations within the country, the Iberian peninsula or the rest of the continent. It’s a small country and getting from here to  Porto takes only three hours by train. One thing to bring is your cool and remember that this is Portugal, not everything runs smoothly or in time.

9. One of Europe’s Best Value

Fountain in Lisbon

As I mentioned on my previous post, one of the joys in my travels is being able to find and share with people excellent value for money destinations. Portugal is one of those few countries where there’s a very high quality of travel to experience for the cost you’ll pay.

10. Lovely people

The people of Lisbon

Scene at the hostel:

Receptionist: Maria Anna Zalazar

Me: Yes?

R: Where are you from?

Me: From the Philippines

R (looks at me weirdly): Hmmm, you have a Portuguese name, with a Spanish address but an American passport and you say you’re from the Philippines??

Me (thinking if I sounded like a scam): Yes

R: Hmmm, by any chance do you have Portuguese ancestry?

Me: On my father’s side there’s a mix of Portuguese-Spanish.

R *smiles*: Welcome!


If there are two words that I can describe the Portuguese people, they are kind and welcoming.

I cannot emphasize three things enough:

First, although the Portuguese can understand Spanish, they can also understand English. Please be a good traveler. If you want to practice Spanish, do it in Madrid instead. Portuguese is a more romantic language and try to learn even just a few words. You won’t pronounce it correctly like I did while I was here but you’ll be surprised how far it can take you.

Second, for women who are looking to travel solo in Europe, Portugal is one of the safest countries you can explore.

Lastly, when you travel do meet locals. I was lucky to be invited at a house party in Lisbon by the friend of my friend who happens to have a friend who is friends with some locals in Lisbon who welcomed the three of us (strangers) in their home. And didn’t even notice that it was 5 am when I got back to the hostel. They are that kind of people- fun, incredibly warm and welcoming.

I come from a country that was colonized by Spain for more than 300 years. But the interesting part is that it was Ferdinand Magellan, a great Portuguese explorer who discovered the Philippines. Maybe that’s why I love the two countries so much. I’ve seen so many similarities from home in terms of culture and the fun-loving and relaxed pace of lifestyle.

Sometimes I travel to learn more about history. Sometimes I travel to meet friends. Sometimes I travel to explore the unknown. Sometimes I travel with no agenda. But one thing is for sure, I travel because I love hearing people’s stories; to meet people who haven’t gone traveling; to listen to their stories and exchange my stories in the hopes that they be inspired to see the world as well. Because somehow in this big and beautiful world,  no matter what our background and cultural differences may be, we are all travelers in this journey called life and we are interconnected. For me it was, it is and has always been about the people that makes a place worth visiting.

Com muito amor para Portugal,


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