11 Reasons to Go to Lisbon Over Spring Break

Sarah Mamlet
April 15, 2019
Lisbon seen from a hillside

In truth, there are so many good reasons to go to Lisbon. Because the flights are short, because the food is cheap, because the sun is shining...

1. Because no city has prettier streets and buildings

A sunlit street in Lisbon


With beautiful colored houses.

Three buildings in pastel shades

Often decorated with a tile façade.

a green tile house

Have you ever seen a neighborhood so lovely?

2. Because Lisbon has a remarkable history

An old gothic cathedral, now roofless

Lisbon has been through more than most European capitals—from early settlement to invasion by the Moors to the age of exploration. One of the strongest earthquakes in the world leveled the city in the 18th century. This ruined convent, now an archaeological museum, stands as evidence.

3. Because it's a great place to go shopping

A Saturday morning flea market

Cheaper than most places in Western Europe, you can find all sorts of artwork, crafts, and clothing around Lisbon. Check out the flea market in the Alfama neighborhood every Saturday morning, surrounded by delightful (and affordable!) cafés.

4. Because of the traditional Portuguese food!

A table full of tapas

I cannot say enough good things about Portuguese tapas. So many different meats and cheeses! And for the record, I was traveling with a vegan, and there was plenty of food for her as well.

A traditional Belem pastry

The famous Pasteis de Belem, a custard tart recipe kept secret, guarded by the one café in the Belem neighborhood where the pastries have been made since 1837. Similar pastries, called Pasteis de Nata, can be found elsewhere in the city.

A bowl of food I've never tried before: the biggest fish eggs ever

Sometimes you may walk into a restaurant and not recognize a single thing on the menu, and end up with...giant fish eggs? They were delicious, truly.

A mystery pie

The bakeries are full of pastries, too many to ask what the filling is. This could be chicken...or cheese...or bacalhau (traditional salt cod)...or custard...the only certainty is that it will be good!

5. And because of the less Portuguese food...

A plate of bruschetta and a glass of red wine

Lisbon does everything well, including eggplant bruschetta, and always has excellent wine (can you tell I missed wine while in Morocco?)

A plate of chocolates

And oh my the chocolate...another food that I don't get too much of in Morocco!

6. Because of the beautiful musical traditions

A mural of fado images

Lisbon is home to fado music, as depicted in this mural, a tradition of lyrical ballads accompanied by 12-string guitar. Originally sung by prostitutes and the widows of sailors in the 1800s, you can now hear fadistas singing at night in cafés all around the Alfama neighborhood.

7. Because Lisbon takes street art very seriously

A rainbow of street art

All over the city, around every corner, you can find beautiful works of art.

Street art depicting two girls

Abstract or representative, the art gives each street and neighborhood its character.

8. Because the city is a stone's throw away from Sintra

the brightly colored Pena castle

Home to brightly colored castles...

Quinta da Regaleira mansion

Eccentric mansions...

A stone well descending

And mysterious stone wells you can climb down.

9. And because Sintra is also set in so much beautiful nature

A view of the Pena palace on a wooded hillside

The Pena palace is set in a gorgeous national park.

A statue of a knight on top of a hill in the woods

Filled with statues placed there by kings and queens of the past.

A lighthouse on a green hill overlooking the Atlantic

And these cities and towns sit right on the edge of the world—the westernmost point of continental Europe.

Cliffs on the Atlantic Ocean

This is where the Portuguese of the Age of Exploration looked out and imagined the continent on the far side of the waters.

10. Because Lisbon's iconic trams will take you up and down the steep hills of the city

The 28 tram on its way through Alfama

Through the hilly Alfama and Bairro Alto neighborhoods on the old 28 Line.

11. Because you want to sit in a café in Graça, looking out across the city skyline

Lisbon's hillsides and rooftops

The red roofs and blue sky during the day...

The lights of Lisbon at night

And the lights (and another glass of wine) as night falls on Lisbon.

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Sarah Mamlet

<p>My name is Sarah, and I'm from New England but I study psychology (and math, and religion, and everything else) at Vassar College in the Hudson Valley. When I'm not doing schoolwork, you can find me singing in a choir, at ballet class, or binge watching TV shows with my friends.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Vassar College
Acton, MA
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