I regularly get asked to name my favourite European travel spot – without hesitation, aside from my hometown of London, I always say Lisbon.
I love it and for those of you on the hunt for a romantic break, that isn’t just for Valentine’s Day, I expect brownie points galore, after you take the plunge and discover the magic of Lisbon for yourselves.
First, as soon as I touchdown at Humberto Delgado Airport I feel at home. The airport is always busy and the wifi’s not the greatest, but the warmth you receive from their staff is lovely and should put a smile on your face, as you head downstairs to catch the Metro.
The Lisbon Metro system is the kind of inexpensive, well run public transport system that many of us can only dream about.
Being born and bred in the UK – where the trains are slow, regularly late running, train tickets are expensive and our overall travel infrastructure is a sprawling badly run mess; Lisbon is an efficient respite from the kind of travel chaos, that added fuel to my move abroad.
Another additional bonus you’ll experience while travelling by metro is its artwork, which you’ll see in the stations – the variety of styles and subject matters will certainly grab your attention.
After I arrive, I always head into the centre of town to the Praca do Comercio – a beautiful square, overlooking the Tagus River.
If it’s your first time in Lisbon, savour it. Take a walk in the Baixa district. You’ll find a wide array of hotels, restaurants and shopping, set against a backdrop of stunning plazas, wide avenues and Pombaline architecture.
You’ll be wowed by both the architectural beauty of the many historical buildings you see; along with the scale of the beautiful 30-meter triumphal arch (Arco da Rua Augusta), that frames both the entrance of Praca do Comercio and a stunning bronze equestrian statue of King Jose I and is a must-have instagram shot.
The entrance to the Arch is open to the public as a viewing platform, providing stunning views of the Square and its surroundings. Another great place to see some epic views is the Santa Justa Lift which you’ll find at the end of Rua de Santa Justa.
If you want to venture beyond the square, you can catch a traditional tram or hop on hop off tour bus, so you can see more, immersing yourself in Lisbon history and culture, as well as getting your bearings.
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to up the romantic factor (apart from great company), it’s a glorious sunset. Lisbon plenty of them. Walk along the seafront in front of the Praca do Comercio at just the right time, and you will be guaranteed the kind of orange/red/purple glow that warms your heart and has you sighing.
Along the seafront, you’ll find some great spots to eat, but if you head back into the Baxia district, there’s a tasty nugget, I have to share with you – Restaurante Dois Arcos
You know when you stumble a place, on a great night out with friends and literally can’t believe your luck, when the food is epically delicious and reasonably priced too. Yes? Then we’re definitely on the same page folks.
So what if you’re not in Lisbon as part of a romantic duo? Can you have a great time in Lisbon solo?
That would be a big hell yah from me, As a long-time solo traveller, I can reliably tell you, you need never be alone in Lisbon. From striking up a conversation with the locals, bar/restaurant staff and other travellers, you will have so many opportunities to talk, explore and best of all learn about the incredible culture and vibe that is Lisbon.