Lisbon: A Local's Guide

BY Alex Couto

Lisbon: A Local's Guide
Photography by Cristiana Morais


Lisbon is old. So old that it became OK with the fact and started ageing gracefully. Come here for history, touch the centuries-old sculpted limestone and spot the historic details peeking through the modern buildings.

The rest of Portugal thinks Lisbon gets all the action, which isn’t far from the truth. Even though Lisbon is old, it’s never had so much groove. Emerging local artists are hosting shows unpacking the perils of gentrification, and expat communities from France and Brazil are adding a new layer to the creative scene, hosting events and festivals like Iminente. The flow that was set in motion by gentrification has impacted the food and wine scene too. Although we have some great traditional eateries, Lisbon has no shortage of natural wine and small plates, but we’ll talk more about that later.

The city’s signature quirky buildings, pastel palettes and vistas of the Tagus River are constantly being interrupted by ringing trams and the hum of packed cafes. Being right in the centre of Portugal, positioned on the Atlantic Ocean, location is a big part of Lisbon’s charm.

Summer is when Lisbon shines its brightest, with long hot nights and sandy beaches like Praia da Torre, Parede or Carcavelos just 20 minutes away. During the summer months, the spirit of the city is celebratory; this celebration of life is partly fuelled by the fear of losing your place at any given moment. The idea that the city might just slip through your fingers in the next rent spike has left the locals in a mood to cherish and celebrate, in between the protests.

Be warned: Lisbon is a very easy place to fall in love with. That’s why so many of its visitors wish to become citizens; the Portuguese government certainly helps with measures like the Golden Visa for house buyers and a brand new citizenship programme for digital nomads. As a result, rents keep skyrocketing. You’ll feel it when you’re here.

If you're planning to visit Lisbon, check out our local guides for the best things to do.

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