Nine Things To Know Before You Visit Lisbon
Whether going for a study mobility, placement, work or just to visit it, Portugal is always a good idea (the best if I may say so!) I spent five months there during my semester abroad. And, if you’re going to have the time of your life in Lisbon (and you must know that I’m already jealous on you), here are nine things to know before you visit Lisbon!
1. Forget about shaking hands! Kiss people directly.
Portuguese are by far the warmest people I have met. I’m used to shaking hands and saying my name politely, as I thought everyone did when meeting someone new. But no; when someone introduces you to his Portuguese friends, you best keep your hands tight behind back. João or Joana will kiss you on the cheeks while saying their name.
Oh, and some word of advice: kiss their right cheek first! If you’re used to kissing the left cheek first, you might have some not-so-nice accidents unless you switch sides!
2. The Tejo River is not the ocean.
You know that Portugal is half surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. You also know that Lisbon ends at some point by the water. But, in your first day there, don’t let yourself be kidded by the idea that you’re going to Terreiro do Paço to breath in the breeze of the ocean! Once you get there you’ll see inhabited land on the other side. However, the ocean is just a few stations away.
3. Lisbon gets a lot of sunshine.
Even if you’re going to stay in Portugal during the winter months, the sunny Portuguese coast doesn’t know what a ‘cold season’ really means. During my stay there the coldest days I encountered (which were very few) were around 10°C and the average temperature was around 17°C. So, you’ll be able to get a tan and have a nice bathe in the ocean from March till the end of October (my last one was in November!) so don’t forget your body lotion and flip-flops.
4. Places in Lisbon have pretty literal names.
Erasmus corner is literally a… corner. Located near Miradouro do Santa Catarina, it is the meeting point of hundreds (or thousands) of students every end of the week. That’s where you go to have a glass of sangria while socializing with new peeps before going down to Pink street and the clubs area.
Like the Erasmus corner, the Pink street is exactly what the name says it is. Going down from Praca Luis do Camoes to Cais do Sodre, you’ll find it on your right side. This is one of the most iconic places for the night life of Lisbon as it has many pubs and bars and where local people as well as tourists come to chat and dance till dawn.
5. There are sweets everywhere!
If I were asked to highlight one thing about the Portuguese food – besides Bacalhau (yum!) – I can firmly say that, dude, these peeps do like their eggs and sugar! That’s right. Lisbon’s the place where I tasted the yellowest and sweetest pasticery products; biscuits, bread and a heap more flour-base things. Portuguese like to use eggs and a lot of sugar in everything they cook. Of course, I might be exaggerating a bit… but try the simplest of the sweets (like Bolo do Deus, which I love) and you’ll see what I’m talking about!
6. The local favorites Pasteis do Nata and Bacalhau com Natas are amazing!
I can say that these two are probably the most iconic dishes of Lisbon. For Pasteis do Nata, go to Belem (a gorgeous neighborhood at the outskirts of Lisbon) and taste the famous sweet who’s ancient recipe originates from Jerónimos Monastery.
Bacalhau com Natas, on the other hand, is a code-and-potato kind of pasta. It is not the most exotic dish in the world, but my Portuguese friend almost had a heart attack when hearing that I had not eaten this dish after I had been there for quite a bit already.
7. Forget about high heels in Lisbon.
With all this good food, there is one thing that might keep you in shape. One of the things that surprised me the most (aswell as shocked, annoyed and made me happy) were the hills. Jeez, straight roads are as hard to find in Lisbon as a non-egg dessert! The city’s topography is so uneven that even if you’re just walking from one point to another you’ll go up and down MANY times. This means, of course, a lot of cardio and that your butt’s muscles will get a nice workout.
8. The climb is worth the time.
To the idealistic ones, the high hills of Lisbon will be a breath-taking hiking challenge that will fill you with achievement. To the less athletic ones, a drive to any of Lisbon’s many miradouros, or panoramic views, at the top of its highest hills is equally as fun. So, put on some comfortable shoes and get up there to stare at those breathtaking landscapes and spectacular sunsets!
9. Lisbon is SUPER picturesque!
Besides the street art (which is just amazing), real works of art are lying on the walls of Lisbon and the city is painted cheerfully by its colorful buildings. The old architecture; the narrow, up-and-down streets; and, the windows in their so diverse shapes, make for some gorgeous pics! Capture yours to take back with you – especially the beautiful feeling of serenity that lies in the alleys of Lisbon.