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Lisbon turned out to be one of our favorite places so far on our travels, so after three weeks in the Portuguese capital, finding thirty-three things to shout out over the rooftops was easy!

1. The yellow trams

Similar both in look and feel to the San Francisco trams, these beautiful yellow trams serve as a very useful public transportation system spanning the central city area. The older street car trolleys continue to connect the coastal areas to the high up hilltop neighborhoods, while the trams travel across town on the streets at sea level. Most are slightly aged but in full working order (like much of Lisbon, actually) and they are lifesavers for getting you up and down the steep hills in comfort. The Number 28 route has become the de facto tourist tram, as it circles the city center. You’ll see tourists seated on the wooden benches, hanging out of the open windows with their cameras, while the locals have tend to cram into the aisles to keep using the line.

yellow tram lisbon portugal2. Multicultural make-up

Lisbon’s mighty maritime history in the 15th to 19th centuries means that Portugal gained several colonies throughout the centuries. The effects of this can be seen in the cultural make up of its capital city today, which, along with more recent immigrants from all over Europe and further afield, make Lisbon a culturally rich cosmopolitan city.

3. Vinho Verde

Despite its name, Vinho Verde or green wine, is not green at all. It is a light white wine, made of green grapes, and is one of Portugal’s specialties along with the more globally known Port wine. At €7 a bottle in the restaurant and much less in the store, there is no excuse not to try this delicious Portuguese wine.

Vinho Verde Portugal4. Cascais train ride

Cascais is the biggest beach town just outside of Lisbon, and it could not be easier to get there. The train leaves from central Lisbon and glides along the coast, with several stops throughout the various beach villages on the way to Cascais. Easily my favorite way to get to the beach, this sunny ride got me right in the mood for a day of ultimate relaxation! Make sure to ride on the left side of the train when traveling from Lisbon to Cascais for the best beach views.

5. Santa Justa Elevator

Lisbon is built on seven hills, and climbing this multilevel city can get tiring, especially without car. Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a Lisbon native born to French parents, Mesnier served as an apprentice to Gustav Eiffel, and brought the inspiration from the construction of the tower home and applied them with the Santa Justa lift. The lift was commissioned and created to facilitate the movement of people from down in the Baixa section up to Carmo Square. The design is intricate, beautiful, and the lift itself is free, but for just €1.50, you can climb the stairs to the top of the elevator for great views over Lisbon.

santa justa tower lisbon6. Cheap bakery breakfasts

Within a one-minute walk from the door of our hotel, we had the choice of six pastelerias, or Portuguese bakeries. While we are sure that plenty of people in Lisbon eat breakfast at home, people are pouring out of these pastelerias, all of them, each morning. We ordered a double espresso and one of the many delicious pastries for around €2 to start our day sugar shocked and uber-caffeinated! You can take a look at some of our favorite breakfasts in Portugal here.

7. The views

In Lisbon, there are views just about everywhere, from hilltops to hotel rooftops, plus countless parks and even from the castle. My favorite place for a view was to climb the streets up to the Miradouro e jardim do Torel viewpoint which is a little park in a residential area just off the Avenida da Libertade. The benches were so comfortable, and the trees provide a breezy, cooling shade. Even on days of intense summer heat, this park is the perfect spot to have a coffee and read a book while the rest of Lisbon is baking below.

lisbon view with castle

8. The Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Belem

The Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has a great collection of the world’s biggest artists of the 20th century- Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Magritte, Miró,  Jackson Pollock and many more. And the best thing: the museum is always FREE.

9. The beaches

We just can’t get enough of the beaches in Lisbon. The city itself is lined with coastline, along the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean – which can be reached by car, train, bike, bus or GoCar within minutes. A second option for more beaches lies just across the 25 de Abril bridge (the Golden Gate Bridge’s twin). A ten minute ride once across leads to the Costa da Caparica and miles and miles of Atlantic Ocean beach access. Both areas have a laid-back beach culture, surfing, and plenty of great restaurants to keep everyone fed and happy.

costa caparica beach portugal10. Pasteis de Nata pastries

These pastries are a Portuguese institution, and one of Dani’s favorite sweets from our time in Europe this year. They are custard filled pastries, with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.

11. Coffee

They love their coffee in Lisbon, and while walking the city streets, an espresso is available just about every 50ft. Known locally as ‘bicas’ these super strong espressos kept us buzzing all day long.

pastel de nata & cafe lisbon12. Sagres and Superbock beers

We kept that buzz going at night as well, with these two popular Portuguese brews. Both are light, crisp, and delicious cold – which after a day in that sizzling Lisbon sun feels gooooood.

13. Sculptures everywhere!

Lisbon is filled with sculptures – the biggest one being the Cristo Rei statue in the Almada neighborhood on the left-bank of the Tagus River, a giant stone Jesus Christ figure, which is overlooking Lisbon and was inspired by the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro, but you will come across bronze and stone sculptures everywhere in the city, including the magnificent Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) in Belem, and a gigantic Fernando Botero sculpture on the north end of the Eduardo VII Park.

botero sculpture lisbon portugal14. Tiled houses

The tiles of Lisbon are what help to maintain that intensely old school charm of this capital city. The buildings and sidewalks are both covered in tiles, and form designs or patterns, or even larger murals.

tiles lisbon15. Bairro Alto & Chiado

This area of Lisbon is a combination of bohemian creativity and classic luxury. A place where art museums and fusion restaurants meet live music and old-world wine and whiskey bars. If we lived in Lisbon, this is where we would go out for all occasions.

16. Indian Restaurants

Goa, India was a Portuguese territory until the mid 20th century, and one culinary result is that Lisbon has over 50 Indian restaurants in the city and counting! We couldn’t have been happier with the Indian food as it was both vegetarian and delicious. In fact…we managed to eat at a different Indian restaurant almost every single night, and no, it wasn’t healthy. But it was good!

Indian sauces Lisbon Portugal

17. The subway system

You may be charmed by the trolleys, the sleek super quiet trams, the buses which provide a great tour for the price of bus fare, or the fun ferries which cross the Tagus river – but don’t forget about the fully functional, easy, clean subway system. Our hotel entrance was at the top of the Almirante Reis exit, so we took the subway often and found it to be very convenient.

18. Ponte 25 de April

We’ve mentioned it before, but we just love how this twin of the Golden Gate – only one of many similarities to San Francisco – adds an extra touch to the classic beauty of the skyline.

Ponte 25 de Abril lisbon19. Affordable prices

From food and transport to clothing and tourist attractions, Lisbon is a fabulously affordable city. The capital is home to some of the finest theater and hotels, but the luxury here seems present, but muted – Lisbon is also the most no-fuss capital we have visited and can easily be done on a budget.

20. The Alleys of the Alfama quarter

The Alfama quarter of Lisbon is the most romantic area of the city. Built upon dense bedrock, the Alfama survived the 1755 earthquake, which makes a visit to this area like a trip back in time. Stepping through the narrow medieval cobblestone areas brought us to tiny squares, inside mystic churches, and past whitewashed houses decorated with colorful flowers and laundry hanging out to dry.

lisbon alley alfama21. Survival of the mom-n-pop restaurants

If we ate seafood, then it would surely be on this list of thirty three things we love, since Lisbon and all of Portugal is known for its fresh, delicious seafood. And although don’t eat seafood (or meat), we can appreciate the way it is sold and eaten here in Lisbon. Even in expensive downtown real estate, streets are lined with family-owned shops and restaurants open for generations. Shops specialize in specific products – fabric, yarn, bags, antique books, florists, tools and, of course, seafood. It’s a great feeling to pay someone for an item and know that the cash is going right to them, not to an (inter)national chain.

22. Wine and whisk(e)y in wooden boxes

Continuing along our love of the old school style of Lisbon and the survival of the mom-n-pop, we love peeking in to the dimly lit downtown booze shops which still sell dusty bottles of wine and whiskey packed individual in wooden boxes.

23. Santo Domingo church

Its nondescript facade hides one of the most beautiful churches we came across in Europe during this trip, and believe us, we have seen a ton of churches! The salmon-colored walls are so unusual, the detail on the many statues and columns incredible. We don’t actually attend church, but we’d go back to this one again any time!

santo domingo church lisbon24. Docas – The Santo Amaro Docks

Under the 25 de Abril Bridge in the Alcantara area of Lisbon between Baixa and Belem, former warehouses now house a string of bars and restaurants which now overlook a trendy yacht marina. You can eat everything from Tapas and Mexican to traditional Portuguese, but the best part is enjoying a drink and a view of the lights twinkling on the water at night.

25. Bike path to Belem

The 7km cycle path along the coast leads from the downtown train station to the area of Belem, and is a flat, easy ride under the 25 de Abril Bridge, past countless trendy bars and restaurants and toward some of Lisbon’s most popular and significant tourist attractions.

lisbon bicycle path to belem26. Baixa

This area is the heart of downtown Lisbon. It’s beautiful, wide squares and great shopping streets were re-built after the earthquake of 1755 leveled the city. The neo-classical architecture today houses some modern shops, but several of these downtown store fronts are still run by sole retailers selling hand-crafted goods and services. Baixa is the main area for public gatherings in Lisbon as well.

27. Street Art

Cities with great street art always win our hearts, and parts of Lisbon are like outdoor art museums, with eye-catching, intellectual street art.

lisbon street art graffitis28. Avenida da Libertade

This central, tree-lined boulevard across town from the Rossio Square to Parque Eduardo VII, and is the main shopping street and thoroughfare for parades in the city. The Libertade is known as Portugal’s equivalent of the Champs Elysees in France, and with its luxury shops, it sure feels that way.

29. Queijo mestiço de Tolosa

As we do in any European country, we grabbed a bottle of red wine, a freshly-baked baguette and this delicious soft white mestiço de Tolosa cheese and had a picnic in the Jardim do Ultramar. At some point, we ran out of bread, and then out of wine, but we kept right on nibbling at this excellent cheese anyway – so good!

portuguese wine & cheese

30. Campo Mártires da Pátria

The statue that sits on this space, Sousa Martins Statue, is dedicated to Dr José Tomás de Sousa Martins, who, in the 20th century, worked with the poor treating tuberculosis. Today, there are thousands of engraved plaques and stones still thanking the doctor for his help. The attached park, Jardim da Cordoaria, has peacocks, pheasants, ducks and geese paddling around a pond, plus a cafe called O Coreto, which is popular with locals who like the solitude of this peaceful park right in the center of the city.

31. GoCar Tours

Exploring the town from the view of a little yellow GoCar is a great way to see Lisbon. Read what we thought about our Lisbon GoCar Tour, and if you are on your way to Lisbon, you can book a Gocar tour here.

lisbon gocar tours32. Portuguese style

Lisbon residents are a handsome bunch. Golden brown from the summer sun and thin thanks to climbing the city’s many hills, people here have the bodies to pull off tight, short and barely-there attire – but no one does. Instead, the style is much more natural and comfortable. Men wear button-down shirts and linen trousers, while women wear long, flowing dresses/skirts and loose-fitting linen shirts. Overall this brings such a relaxed fashion sense to match the laid-back attitude and a lack of pretentiousness that we could really get along with.

33. A Ginjinha

Ginjinha is the name of a liqueur which infuses sour cherries in alcohol with sugar. This super sour shot burns its way down and doesn’t taste all that pleasant at all – the pleasant part is that it shots are available all day long from A Ginjinha, essentially a gritty, singular market stall, right on Rossio Square. The wrinkly old Portuguese vendor slaps shot after shot on the counter for the continuous stream of locals and tourists who gather to spend five minutes with their cherry shot throughout the day.

a ginjinha lisbon portugal

If you enjoyed these 33 things – check out the things we love about some of our other favorite destinations:

1. 33 Things We Love about Costa Rica
2. 33 Things We Love About Nicaragua
3. 33 Things We Love About Guatemala

For highlights in Central America, Mexico and Europe, we’d love you to have a look round all our Things We Love articles!

Have you been to Portugal? More specifically to Lisbon – Did you love it as much as we did? What were some of the things you love the most about Lisbon?

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    1. The ‘green’ wine is actually white, with a crisper flavor to it. We both loved it. Port wine would be another wine to try as it is made in Porto – Portugal is really a wine drinkers paradise! 🙂

      1. It’s called green wine because in the mountains the grapes don’t get really ripe, and making wine with those grapes gives the wine a natural carbonation. To me, it tastes like green apples and it has to be served really cold.

          1. Green Wine is made only in Minho (north of Portugal). And it’s not only white, you can find red Green Wine also.

    1. That’s exactly how we felt, too. We never even planned to go to Lisbon, just went on a whim, and now it’s a major favorite and somewhere we’ll have to go back to. If our list gets any longer, we’ll have to live to be 150 at least, definitely sympathize with you there! Let us know if you do decide to go, we’d love to hear all about it 🙂

  1. The first day I`ve found your site and how very in teresting it is !!! I`ve always thought of going to Lisbon and now I`ve seen your info it`s one of the places I must visit. It will be a great challenge because my husband is in a wheelchair and can only walk a few steps so it looks as if public transport may be the only option – we don`t mind because we know our limitations .

    1. Susan, thank you so much for the kind words 🙂 Lisbon is definitely worth a visit, and even though it might be a bit tougher with a wheelchair, it is not impossible!

  2. I’m living in Portugal right now (cascais) and I love that I have experienced a lot of what you have mentioned.
    I am on a highschool student exchange program called AFS
    For 6 monthes

    1. Hey Raven – you’re so lucky! Awesome that you are studying abroad in Portugal, and Cascais is our favorite place of all! Have so much fun while you’re there!

  3. Thanks for the list of tips. I’ve just come back from my first trip to Lisbon and couldn’t agree more, it’s a fantastic city! I didn’t expect it to be so hilly but grew to love the steep cobbled streets and the great views when you reach the top. We only had a few days there and from your post I can see that there’s much more to discover. Will have to go back soon!

    1. Mel, thanks so much! I don’t think we expected it to be so hilly either before we got there. I felt we saw quite a lot in the three weeks we spent there but there is still so much we haven’t seen yet.

  4. Lisbon is amazing, loved your post and I agree with you in all of these 33 things. However, it’s not Tagus River but Tejo River! 🙂

  5. It’s so nice to see someone talking about my city… Yes, you cover a lot of but believe that is much more… Well now I going to drink some “green wine” and get the traditional ” piela” (drunk)…. Cheers to all

    1. Glad you approve Pedro 😉 we love vinho verde and know there is so much more – can’t wait to return to discover even more about one of my favorite cities in the world!

      1. If you like Lisbon just please don’t go anywhere else in Portugal because you’ll fall in love and you’ll never want to leave this piece of heaven on earth.
        There’s so much more to see than just Lisbon and things are even more beautiful outside the obvious tourist places.

  6. “4. Cascais train ride”

    So one of the things you love about Lisbon is actually leaving the city? That makes sense.

    By the way, there are no beaches or Atlantic coast in Lisbon.

    And Goa was Portuguese until mid XX century.

    1. Hi Pierr, thanks for catching that we put the 19th instead of 20th century, that’s been corrected now. To clarify, if you spend some more time on our site, you will understand that we prefer to get out and around a city, not just in the downtown area. Cascais is outside of Lisbon, yes, but it is an easily accessible train trip, the start of which leaves right from Lisbon. Any visit to Cascais would likely be from Lisbon, so there is no reason not to include that in this round up. Second, there are no beaches IN Lisbon on the Atlantic, but again just a public bus ride across a bridge from the city, not an hour away, are miles and miles of beaches. We hope that our readers understand that these are both excellent days out when spending time in Lisbon and something we most definitely recommend.

  7. I see and i understand this is mostly for tourists.

    And i understand perfectly what exists around Lisbon.

    However when you write “we just can’t get enough of the beaches in Lisbon”, you’re not talking about the city of Lisbon itself – because there isn’t a single beach in Lisbon.

    Only the Tagus is around the city of Lisbon, not the Atlantic.

    So you’re talking about other places near Lisbon.

    You can travel to and from Cascais by highway without passing through Lisbon.

    I feel exactly the same of what is written in point 13: Lisbon is filled with sculpures, yes, that is true. But the Cristo Rei Statue is not one of them. so it’s not Lisbon’s biggest statue.

    It’s like saying the Statue of Liberty is New Jersey’s biggest statue just because it’s close and you can see it from NJ – but the geographical location of the Statue is New York City.

    Cristo Rei statue is located in Almada and Almada is not a neighborhood of Lisbon, is an independent Municipality with its own Mayor – and has nothing to do with Lisbon whatsoever.

    I understand that someone can prefer to get out and around a city, but Lisbon is not only downtown.

    My problem with the kind of lists is that you start by writing you love Lisbon but the list itself reflects other parts of the country, of which the only main connection with Lisbon is being close to it.

    So you love Lisbon… and Cascais and Almada and…. Costa da Caparica, one parish of Almada located in the district of Setubal.

    And Setubal is not even mentioned…

    Don’t get me wrong but this list is not only about the city of Lisbon, but about the region of Lisbon. Those are different things…

    Ah, by the way, don’t worry about the trams… they are not that old at all.

    1. Thank you again for your technical information. I hope that these tiny corrections about exact locations and informing the audience that there is a mayor of Almada make people even more well-informed about their trip to Lisbon and the surrounding areas.

      I appreciate you fact-checking all the way from Amsterdam, this must have been very important for you to get off your chest. I do hope that people reading this remain inspired to visit the city that we loved so much, which is really all we wanted to do with what is an inspirational piece.

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