It’s not hard to think about what makes Lisbon so special and popular amongst tourists.
I can tell you right away it’s a dream city to visit. First it has one of the best cuisines in the world: no one can resist Belém’s custard tarts, amazing salty grilled sardines or delicious and various cod dishes drizzled with fantastic portuguese olive oil.
Then you have the weather: in the winter is never to cold, during the summer there is always a refreshing breeze flowing by and during the spring it is just perfect. Also in less than one hour you can hit the beaches at the sunny small town of Cascais or discover the hidden secrets of Sintra, a medieval village resting inside the mysterious Sintra Mountain. If you rent a car or catch the train you can reach the warmer southern coasts of Algarve, the Alentejo’s countryside plains or the historical Porto city in less than 3 hours. In a nutshell you can easily see the entire country in one trip.
Lisbon is like an amazing resort where there are all this different activities: leisure, architecture, gastronomy, art, nightlife, culture, adventure. Another big plus: Portugal is cheaper than France, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Greece and Spain.
Lisbon itself it’s beautiful: The trams going up and the down the cobblestone floors, the narrow streets of Bairro Alto where one old lady sits by the window seeing you passing by, the numerous churches hidden inside the hills surprising us at every corner, the light- the unique Lisbon light that makes you feel in love and nostalgic at the same time.
That’s why Lisbon is so special. But why is it so popular right now? What happened in the last two years that flooded the city with millions of tourists, cruise ships and airplanes coming to the city everyday? I think the main reason is that Lisbon has been named one of the best cities in the world in different categories.
According to Bloom Consulting Lisbon is the best city in Portugal to live in, to visit and to invest on. A CNN journalist said the the city could be “Europe’s coolest city”. Another article by the same channel distinguished Olaias’ train station, designed by portuguese architect Tomás Taveira, as “one of the most impressive in Europe”.
The Guardian newspaper chose Museu Berardo as one of the top 10 free entrance museums in the continent. Spanish magazine Condé Nast Traveler named Augusta Street one of the most beautiful in the world, between the top 31 you have to walk on before you die. And we are not done yet. Fodor’s turistic guide placed Lisbon in the 4th place of Top 10 European cities. The city also qualified in 4th place in the website Urban City Guide’s selection of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Lisbon is also one of the best cities in the globe to see street art (according to news.com.au), it’s in the Top 30 cities with best reputation ( City Rep Trak) and it’s the 6th city with the best climate (weaterhwise.org).
Oh and did I mention it has 40 nominations for the World Travel Awards this year?
All these awards and nominations create a very appealing argument on why you should visit Lisbon. But the question remains: why now?
Portuguese government has invested a lot in tourism in the last few years to boost Portugal’s crashing economy.
“Low-cost” airliners are also investing in Lisbon based operations: easyjet is increasing their numbers of flights starting in the city and Ryanair recently began flying there. Familiar faces like Cristiano Ronaldo, José Mourinho and Sara Sampaio also brand Portugal wherever they go, giving more visibility to the country.
In 2004 the European Tournament in Portugal also started attracting tourism to the country and in the same year began the world renounced music festival Rock in Rio- Lisbon edition.
Slowly, investors, tourists and journalists started looking more closely at the city. This attention now results in a blooming tourism with Lisbon being visited by over 8.3 million people a year. And if you haven’t visited Lisbon yet, don’t worry: the secret city has been revealed but its magic will never be lost.