In this blog/vlog, I am sharing my experience in the Portuguese capital. I have a very good memory of my week in Lisbon at the end of April. Partly,because it was my very first travel with my boyfriend. But love story apart, I personally found Lisbon and its people truly amazing.
I didn’t like the city straight away, but after a few days I started to feel its vibe, and by the end of the week I just wished I had more time to spend there. Nevertheless, I’m offering an honest review, talking about good, the bad, and the ugly.
Top 11 things to do in a week in Lisbon
I have decided to share this experience with a video. Watch it to see what I advise as top 11 things to do in a week in Lisbon. The video gives a good overview of the city and its offers.
11 things may look like a lot, but the truth is Lisbon is quite small to be a capital city, and you will be able to do most of these things in a few days. In fact, during my visit I have done 3 trips outside the city, which I’ll cover in another post.
The topics in the video include the best city neighborhoods, viewpoints, and activities. I also talk about the culture of Lisbon and Portugal, including food, music, and architecture. Finally, I don’t speak Portuguese but I’ve tried to offer a very basic language support!
Below you will find additional considerations about Lisbon that I haven’t included in the video.
Lisbon’s atmosphere: expectations vs reality
One of the things I liked more about Lisbon is its atmosphere and vibe. I currently live in a capital city, London. I am used to its fast paced rhythm, the crowd, and the stress it can cause sometimes.
Lisbon is also a capital city, so I was expecting something somewhat similar. I was wrong. Despite being the capital of Portugal, it has the atmosphere of a small city or town.
I hardly saw any crowd, even in the very centre. I found very little traffic. I saw almost no one wearing suits or rushing to get the bus.
At the same time, Lisbon, like London, is very touristic. Mass tourism can sometimes ruin the travel experience. But to be fair, it is very difficult to avoid it, especially when visiting a big city.
My main tip would be to avoid the restaurants in the Baixa – they are really just for tourists: very expensive and generally not good! For a bit more authenticity, try the Bairro Alto and the Alfama instead (watch the video to know more).
Things to be aware of when traveling to Lisbon
I would like to add a few more considerations about Lisbon.
Some locals (not all) don’t speak English, even if they work in the tourism industry. The most popular foreign language seemed to be French. If the locals see you are a tourist, they often speak to you in French straight away. Spanish is also a good option. I often got away with a mix of Italian, English, and Spanish.
SARDINES AS SOUVENIRS:
As you will immediately realize when arriving in Lisbon, Sardines are among the most popular foods. Portugal has a strong tradition of canned fish, originally considered a food for the poor, but now an ubiquitous and loved souvenir. In particular, it’s common to find sardines in vintage and very good looking cans.
In Rossio Square, there is even a store that sells ONLY canned sardines!
I used to pass there every day and by the end of the week I decided I had to buy one (or two). The problem is that canned sardines contain oil, which is a liquid. Therefore, if traveling by plane with no hold luggage you have to buy a can no heavier than 100 grams. I didn’t think about it as a liquid, so the thought that my souvenir wouldn’t pass through the security check at the airport never crossed my mind.
If you have a disability or have difficulties to walk, Lisbon may not be the best choice for you. First of all, it’s built around hills. Secondly, the calçadas (special pavements – watch the video!) may be beautiful but they can also be dangerous. I have almost fell down many times while walking these pavements. I have also noticed a fair amount of people of all ages with crutches …
I have visited Lisbon at the end of April, and it was already quite hot, reaching 25 degrees on some days. 25 degrees may not sound terrible, but when walking a lot under the sun, it feels like it’s much hotter. Therefore, if you suffer from heat, you should avoid visiting the city in full summer.
Lisbon is no Amsterdam, but Portugal decriminalised drugs. During our week in Lisbon we have been approached countless times by people trying to sell us some drugs. They weren’t exactly dodgy people, but it was still quite annoying. They had no problem approaching us even during the day and with police people in sight, showing us their “good stuff”. After a few days, I could spot them a mile away.