“Whenever Lisbon comes up in conversation, I’m incapable of holding back a declaration of love: I adore the Barrio Alto! This means the high district, on the hills above the city center or ‘low district’. During the day, long walks in its not-so-crowded streets are extremely pleasant and relaxing. No stress, no unpleasant surprises, just charming houses, and winding, rising, and falling streets. Wrought-iron trellises, clothes drying on small balconies, birdcages, old ladies examining the lives of their neighbors.
During the day, the district is primarily interesting for the insight it gives into the everyday lives of the locals. The oldest quarter, Alfama, is full of tourists even during the day, as it is a must-see attraction. In my head, Alfama is the place for spectacular panoramas, and for gazing off across an infinity of tangled rooftops. What luck that this district survived the terrible earthquake of 1755 – the one which led Voltaire to philosophize on the nature of evil.
Alfama is extremely quaint: cobbled streets, alley, tiny shops, and old men chatting at café tables. (aji, 2017)
“I didn’t like Lisbon as much as Porto. It’s undeniably a very beautiful city, but also quite dirty, smelly and litter-strewn. There are also a lot of homeless people, who unfortunately pee on the street, so you can smell urine in many places. This may have been exacerbated by the heat of the summer, and the lack of rain, but when I think of Lisbon now, it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
My favorite district was Belém, which has the Belém Tower and the Monastery of Saint Jerome, as well as a monument to the heroes of the Age of Discovery, and plenty of museums and green spaces.” (2014)
“Overall I’d say that while Lisbon and its surroundings certainly have a lot of atmospheres, and the city is definitely worth a visit, for me it lacked the atmosphere of a Mediterranean city, with palm trees, flowers… Lisbon is a lot more ‘lived in’ than I expected, and it could definitely do with a bit of a touch-up. If you want to experience the real Portugal and the lifestyle of its inhabitants, you’ll have to travel out to a smaller town or city. If you do, though, a trip to Portugal can be a real highlight for any traveler.
“Almost at once, I felt right at home. The first feature of the city that struck me were the endless cobblestones that covered the streets downtown. This type of paving has its advantages, but also some disadvantages… On the one hand, it gives the streets a very quaint, charming look, but on the other hand, it’s tiring to walk on them, and easy to slip in rainy weather.
Since Lisbon is a coastal city, rain and wind are not uncommon, but as soon as the sun comes out, you can go out in a short-sleeved shirt, even in winter. Sunshine is important here, not only because it warms the city, but also because it’s in bright sunlight that Lisbon looks its best. The multi-colored houses and patterned tiles are a common feature (almost no houses here have central heating – they rely on the thermal insulating effects of tile) and they really come to life in the sunshine. In addition, this ‘city of seven hills’ has many vantage points, from which to admire these charming, brightly colored houses.” (2018)
“Maybe it’s just that my expectations were too high, but Lisbon definitely wasn’t my favorite Portuguese city – in fact, I really didn’t care for it. It’s a beautiful city, of course, but the fact is, it’s also pretty dirty and smelly. There are a lot of homeless people on the street, many of whom clearly don’t bother seeking out a restroom when nature calls, so the smell is pretty pervasive. In the city center, I liked the area around the castle and the Barrio Alto district. Belém, which is outside the city center, is cleaner and quieter, and I liked it too. Belém is home to the Monastery of St. Jerome (closed when I was there) and Belém Tower. It’s also possible to visit some museums which some may find interesting, including the Maritime Museum. I’m not saying it isn’t worth visiting Lisbon if you’re in Portugal, but at the same time I wouldn’t spend too long there.” (2016)
“Looking at photos of Lisbon, my first thought was ‘that can’t be real!’ Though they do indeed liberally photoshop their images of Lisbon on tourism websites, still the reality really is something: colorful houses piled up on top of one another – houses which, viewed from afar, look almost like a Lego city, and you have to really immerse yourself in it, as you walk up the steep, sloping hills in search of ever more beautiful panoramas. White cobblestones harmonize perfectly with the colorful houses – obviously local officials chose white to reduce the heat absorption, and not because they knew no other color would blend so well with so many shades, but it has an undeniable aesthetic appeal.” (2017)