Lisbon is, in my opinion, one of the best cities to spend a weekend and a perfect place to experience one of Europe’s smaller capitals – but don’t let the word ‘smaller’ fool you! Lisbon packs a hefty punch with great places to see, eat and places to totally ‘let your hair down’…

…Okay, so that analogy doesn’t really work for me with a shaved crew cut – but you get the picture!

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Lisbon Is More Than Just Cork Production…

Lots of cities in Europe seem to have an ‘identity’; Paris and Venice seems inextricably linked to romance, Barcelona to art like Gaudi and London to having around 52 Nando’s restaurants per square mile! Okay, I jest… We are known for much more in London – like bangers and mash, jellied eels and the home of Simon Cowell… 😉 Just like these most amazing European cities, Lisbon has formed its own cosmopolitan identity that doesn’t involve the cities famed cork production!

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Why Is Lisbon One of Europe’s Most Cosmopolitan Cities?

In my opinion, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most significant cities to visit. It was the gateway city for many explorers to discover new lands, flavours and tastes from across the world. Its location as a coastal city thus brought back many new and exciting foods, architecture, spices and cultures that all mixed within the city limits to create the beauty that is Lisbon today!

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Some Key Sites To See On Your Weekend In Lisbon…

1.) Torre de Belém (Belem Tower)
This year Lisbon’s ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’, Belem is 500 years old – construction started in 1515 and finished in 1519. At the grand old age of 500 Belem is still going strong.My top tip is to visit early in the day – queues rather quickly build up to over an hour wait.

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2.) Castelo de São Jorge (St George’s Castle)
One of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks – with over 1000 years of history, Castelo de São Jorge is a must see for any visitor to the city. My top tip is to visit around dusk… the castle has 360 degree views across the city and becomes a perfect place to watch the sunset.

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3.) Chapel of St. John
Hidden in São Roque Church, the Chapel of St. John is one of the world most precious (and expensive chapels) – built from gold, this chapel is a truly spectacular place to see…

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4.) Ride The Famous Trams
Why not head on one of Lisbon’s iconic trams – they rattle their way across the city and it’s a perfect experience to include when your feet get all tired! My top tip is to take the tram up some of Lisbon’s more hilly districts… especially on a sunny day.

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5.) Eat Piri-Piri Chicken
Home of the original piri-piri chicken – head to a one of the cities many local eateries that serve the freshest and most succulent per-peri basted meals you will ever have! My top tip is to try the peri-peri oil that will be on your table. With a small brush, baste everything in sight… it’s that delicious!

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6.) Get Lost In Lisbon’s Ancient Alfama Neighbourhood

Why not take some time and relax and enjoy the city? Stroll through Alfama’s colourful and hilly street. Not only will you experience some areas of the city that aren’t on the tourist trail, but you might find one of Lisbon’s most impressive cathedrals, the Sé.

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7.) Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Remember I said about the importance of exploration and discovery in Lisbon – well, the ‘Tribute To The Age Of Discovery’ is a perfect reminder of the rich heritage Lisbon has. This gigantic monolith creeps over the edge of the river Tagus. If you want an inside view, why not take a lift to the top and ‘discover’ a birds eye view of the surrounding area yourself!

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8.) Elevador de Santa Justa
Forget the Eiffel Tower in Paris; Elevador de Santa Justa is the one to see…

… Okay, so don’t forget the worlds most iconic statue in Paris, but do remember that the Elevador de Santa Justa was built by Raoul Mésnier du Ponsard who was Gustave Eiffel’s apprentice. It seems Eiffel’s work had a big impact on his apprentice, as the structures are very similar in design. Originally built as a way to connect areas of the city, it is now used mainly by visitors that want to experience ‘old Lisbon’.

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9.) See Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Built in the 15th Century, this spectacular world-heritage site is a must for any visitor to Lisbon. Commissioned by King Manuel I in 1501 – this beautiful and ornate historical building has been perfectly preserved.

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10.) Eat A Pastel de Nata
Try one of Lisbon’s most famous tarts – these freshly baked and warm delights are a truly delicious treat that have been sold in Portugal for hundreds of years. One of the most famous places to eat is at Pastéis de Belém, who pride themselves on the traditional baking method, ingredients and of-course… deliciousness! Don’t worry too much at the sight of long queues, they are fast moving and disappear as quickly as a Pastel de Nata in my hand! ☺

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11.) See The Cutest Puppy!

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Read More Portugal! Plan a visit to the most picturesque Sintra

Only 40 Minutes from Lisbon!

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Read More Portugal! See our guide on all the things to do in Porto, Lisbon’s northern city!




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  • I giggled out loud at 11)! I went to Lisbon last summer and it was excruciatingly hot, too hot to enjoy the city properly. I did tick off quite a few places on this list, and I must say that my favourite thing about Lisbon was the food. And the air-conditioning, blessed blessed air-conditioning. x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha!!! Yeah when we visited it was scorching but it was cold in Cambridge so the heat was very welcome! Plus hot weather just means I need to drink more wine to cool off. Flawed logic, I know but I like it. Hehe! Looks like you managed to still get up to quite a few things in Lisbon though and get some pretty fantastic food in too!!! Love those blog posts by the way! 😉

  • Well, crap. After #11 I have no choice!
    I can’t get enough of your photos. I’ve never given much thought to Lisbon, but now I’m wee bit obsessed.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re gonna be pleasantly surprised when you visit I imagine. It’s easily one of my favourite cities!

  • MissLilly

    I could write such a long post right now!!! Love the pictures. Lisboa has amazing food amazing weather too. It’s awesome to watch the sunset from one of the rooftops and watch the golden tones go into blue all over the city. Experience one of the many amazing Portuguese gins and wines. Venture off to a Fado house for unique experience and just enjoy the night in bairro alto. Ahhh 1week later and I miss it already
    For the next topic what about a story from your travels that changed you and why.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      I love that idea Lilly! I think I may have to start writing that straight away!

  • I am going to Lisbon in November, and I am so excited. Definitely bookmarking this page.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re gonna have such a great time. I might have to crash your Lisbon party! 🙂

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  • Great post! We were just in Lisbon last week and you definitely covered all of my favourite spots in th city!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! I bet you had an amazing time Kate! Lisbon is such a wonderful city. I can’t wait to visit again soon!

      Lloyd x

  • Luxevile

    Great post and nice pictures! For a longer trip to Lisbon, try to visit the
    surroundings as Caparica and Loulé.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks! I think we’ll definitely have to do that next time! Really appreciate it!

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    Eco Trilha gives you a personalized experience in Portugal.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Cool!!! Thanks for the tip!

  • Jorge Mata

    The only thing I dont understand is that everyone writing about Lisbon keeps presenting it as one of Europe s smallest capitals. That s far from the truth. Greater Lisbon is Europe s 10th biggest urban area only behind Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Athens , Milan and Naples. Lisbon its not only the core centre. There is much more North, East, West and South of the river. Please dont present it as if it was a tiny town, it isnt! Check the facts. 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We didn’t say Lisbon was small. We said it was smaller and your comment drives home our point even more. Lisbon is smaller than some of Europe’s popular capital cities (quoting you) like London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome… To mention but a few! It’s not small but it is smaller.

  • Jorge Mata

    Not trying to create an argument but Europe has got 50 Countries (therefore 50 capitals). There are only 6 capitals bigger than Lisbon. So its wrong the way you presented it and let me quote you ” one of Europe s smallest capitals.” It is not.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! No worries, we didn’t think you were and totally appreciate the discussion. You would absolutely be right if we did say it was ‘small’ or ‘the smallest’ (both of which are absolutes) but I said it was smaller (which is relative). The earth is gigantic but it can still be ‘smaller’ than another planet. You’ve quoted me wrong in your comment. I said smaller not smallest.
      This being said, the focus is still that Lisbon is an amazing city with lots to do and see which we can both agree on. Hehehe! ? 🙂

  • Amazing post! I’m happy that you enjoyed Lisbon and had a lot of fun there!
    Those pictures are stunning and I will never get tired of seeing them!
    Happy that I found you on Pinterest and will definitely follow your blog closely 😀

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Fábio! Lisbon is such a great city isn’t it! We loved every second!

      Thanks so much for your kind words too! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya

  • Katie Johnson

    I am so excited I found your blog. I’m going to Lisbon in October and planning a side trip to Sintra. Thanks for all your recommendations!

  • Cool article with lots of useful tips! I´m heading to Lisboa this weekend, can’t wait to explore the city! Your pics look amazing!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Anna! 🙂

      You’re going to love Lisboa – make sure to head to Sintra too (it’s not far at all from the city).

      Have an incredible time!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

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