This European capital is an unsung gem. The Portuguese food is extraordinary, the street art is fantastic, and the neighboring beach towns are positively dreamy. With its plazas and pedestrian streets, alleys winding uphill to gorgeous gardens, and historic monuments, Lisbon is a great city for exploring on foot. And when you get tired, there are bound to be half a dozen sidewalk cafés close by.
What We Love
The Waterfront: There is so much worth exploring along the scenic frontage: Peaceful marinas, tiny seafood spots where a meal costs only $15, and the Oceanário de Lisboa (Portugal’s largest aquarium).
Beach Towns: Take an excursion to Cascais and Estoril, where city dwellers keep beach houses. Think ice-cream parlors, birds on the seawall, and sailboats at anchor.
Best Known For
Tower of Belém: Make time to explore the 16th century Manueline-style tower rising nearly 100 feet up from the Tagus River. It was built in honor of explorer Vasco da Gama, and to protect the city from seafaring conquerors.
Alfama District: It’s a steep and often crowded journey up to Lisbon’s oldest district, but going on foot is more fun than taking the tram. Explore the shops and restaurants, then go to the Castle of São Jorge for panoramic city views.
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Who It's Best For
Immersion Travelers: Big bus tours can’t do Lisbon justice because the streets are narrow and the major attractions get overrun by large groups. Go on smaller excursions, or explore on your own to discover true city treasures.
Street Art Connoisseurs: Lisbon’s not a squeaky-clean city, but that’s part of its personality. Murals cover entire buildings, and are some of the city’s best photo ops.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Watch Your Wallet: Pickpockets are a serious presence. The bolder ones operate in broad daylight in major tourist hot spots.
Drugs: Don’t be surprised if you get approached by some shady sellers — not just in alleyways, but during the day in the business district.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.