The fog lifts as the morning dawns over Lisbon, shadows playing with the golden light on the cobblestones. A tram works its way up a steep hill, and seabirds wheel in the air.
Lisbon is one of the world’s most beautiful undiscovered capitals. Affordable and unique, it is a surprisingly inexpensive destination for Western Europe. Experiencing Lisbon like a local will give you a deep appreciation of the city and its people.
Coffee is everywhere in Lisbon, and the city boasts some of the best roasts in the world. Stop by one of the ubiquitous snack bars or pastelerias to enjoy a bica, the small coffees popular in Portugal’s capital city.
Wine is one of the major draws to Portugal. The country’s green wine is unique, an almost clear fizzy drink that is refreshing on hot summer nights. The views in the city are incredible, and having a wine on the terrace while overlooking the city is one of its great delights.
Join the Party
The party district of Bairro Alto is like Mardi Gras every night, with happily soused patrons spilling out into the streets, beer in hand. Bars in this area close around 2 AM, but there’s always Pink Street if you want to keep the party going. All you have to do is follow the crowd down the hill towards Cais do Sodre.
Take the Metro
There’s no need for a rental car in Lisbon. The metro will take care of all your public transportation needs. There’s even a station inside the airport! Lisbon’s metro system is extensive, and wherever it can’t take you, there are ferries and trains for points further out.
Go to the Beach
Although Lisbon itself is situated on the Tagus River, and has no beach, a quick train journey down the coast will bring you in contact with several white sand beaches dotting the coastline. From Oeiras to Estoril to Cascais, there’s no shortage of sand to choose from. The coastline is so close, there’s no need to change hotels. Lisbon is centrally located enough that getting to the beach is a breeze.
Know Your Markets
There are traditional markets in Lisbon, but it helps to know the best grocery stores to visit like a local. Continente, Mini Preco, Pingo Doce and Lidl are common, and each offers a different selection of food. Continente is usually the largest of these supermarkets and has a wider selection. It’s important to know the local stores if you’d like to pick up a bottle of wine or prefer to cook for yourself.
Avoid the Taxis
If you are visiting Lisbon and have little to no Portuguese, taxi drivers will often rip you off. This is especially true of taxis at the airport or train station. Never get into a cab if the driver refuses to turn on the meter. It’s also cheaper overall to take the metro to your destination, and is often more convenient.
Live Like a Local
There are lots of ways to explore a city. However, to get a real dive into the local culture there’s nothing better than finding a local that takes the time to show you around and tells you the stories that you won’t find on Wikipedia. You should definitely consider Withlocals, if you don’t know anybody in Lisbon already: it is an online platform where you will be able to get in touch with a local host, with whom you will explore the city away from the beaten tracks.
Lisbon is one of the last remnants of Old Europe, where you can still experience history etched into every cobblestone. It’s also a place of modern conveniences. with a convivial atmosphere and happy, friendly people. No matter where you’re from, Lisbon welcomes you.