Lisbon is a city distinguished by its lively colors and architecture. It’s situated on the northern banks of the river Tejo, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, just before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. To fully take in the charm of Lisbon, you need to explore the city on foot. A great place to start is to take a stroll along the Tejo river. You can walk from Belém all the way to Parque das Nações, and enjoy an array of cultural landmarks and heritage spaces along the way.
Belém is home to some of Lisbon’s most famous sights including Torre de Belém and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the birthplace of the famous pastry Pastel de Belém (Pastel de nata). Pastéis de Belém is a great spot to try these pastries and is in fact the only establishment allowed to refer to them as Pastéis de Belém, as the café uses the closely guarded, original recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Elsewhere in Lisbon and Portugal, the pastries are sold as Pastéis de Nata.
Up in the hills, you can explore Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, and the home of Castelo São Jorge, Alfama. Work up an appetite by making your way up through the medieval cobbled streets, ready to enjoy dinner alongside a Fado performance. Fado is a melancholic musical style of storytelling with huge historical importance to the neighbourhood of Alfama, as well as the port districts of Mouraria and Bairro Alto.
A trip to Lisbon truly isn’t complete without taking in the city from one of its viewpoints. The river Tejo and the city’s terracotta rooftops and colourful houses look particularly impressive against the blue skies Portugal is so often blessed with. Being on one of Lisbon’s seven hills, Aflama has several spots where you can see the city from above, but there are many viewpoints across Lisbon. Miradouro das Portas de Sol, Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte, Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, Miradouro da Graça offer some fantastic views.
Lisbon also has some of Europe’s best nightlife, with a range of bars, restaurants, and music venues to suit all tastes. Bairro Alto and the surrounding areas are home to some of Lisbon’s most famous bars and clubs. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a full night out or you just want an evening meal, some drinks with live music or with a view from a rooftop bar, Lisbon has a range of great spots to choose from.
The city also has plenty of green spaces and parks including Jardim da Estrela, Parque Eduardo VII and Jardim do Torel. You are also only a short distance from the coast, the closest beaches being those along the Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais coastline. Monsanto Ecological Park and the Tejo river nature reserve are close to Lisbon and are great places to enjoy the scenery of central Portugal.
Just across the Tejo river, you’ll find the so-called "south bank" and the Setúbal Peninsula, a beautiful region with wonderful nature including the Arrábida Mountains and the beaches of Costa da Caparica. This is a region that many chose to live in, as it’s just a short train ride away from the capital of Portugal but offers a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere.
From Lisbon, you’re also just a short trip away from the coastal city of Cascais, famous for its beaches and historic monuments. Serra de Sintra is another popular choice for day trips from Lisbon. The town of Sintra is a world heritage site and has huge cultural and historic importance to Portugal. There is evidence of human presence in Sintra as far back as the early Paleolithic period, around 20,000 years BC. Sintra is home to some of Portugal’s most lavish and culturally important tourist attractions including Palácio da Pena, Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Castelo dos Mouros and Monserrate.
Lisbon is becoming a very popular choice for expats. As European capitals go, Lisbon is very affordable and the quality of life here is high. You’ll be able to afford a much higher quality of life on a more sustainable budget than in many capital cities.
One great advantage of Lisbon is that it is not far from the coast, meaning the nearest beach is only a short journey from the centre of the city. The coastal city of Cascais is also only a short distance from the city itself, so for beach and city lovers, Lisbon is a great option.
For those with children, Lisbon has some fantastic international schools with a variety of different curriculums to suit all backgrounds. It also has some great universities, particularly in the areas of science and technology.
The city has all the amenities you could need including several transport hubs, connecting you to cities across Portugal and numerous countries globally. The public health system is good and with healthcare insurance you can visit many of the private healthcare centres in the city for a reduced price.