After months of a relentless winter that even the official start of British Summertime couldn’t shift, it was inevitable that I’d have to leave the UK if I was ever to find the solace of Spring. Fortunate then, that I had booked April flights to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
For a few days at least, I was sure I’d avoid reluctantly scraping away some of my morning optimism along with the all too familiar layer of ice on my car windscreen.
Europe’s westernmost capital city might be growing in popularity among tourists, but it still seems to be something of a well kept secret. It’s also said to offer visitors great value for money, so this three day trip seemed like the best city break idea I’d had in ages. And after poring over posts from the fabulous Mrs O Around the World who herself hails from the city, I couldn’t wait to see if I would fall in love with Lisbon (for the record, Mrs O – I did)!
Lisbon exudes an ageless beauty. The fading tiled facades of its buildings seem to whisper beautiful old songs, telling the stories of countless years gone by. In the spring sunshine, its hilly streets are nothing short of spellbinding and the waterfront views are enough to calm even the busiest of minds (or in my case, enough to wash away winter).
It’s not all obvious beauty, though. You’ll see homelessness as you wander the streets; a stark reminder that times are hard here for many, much like elsewhere. But there’s a grit to this city that makes it great; a realness that gets right under your skin. I think it’s the familiar gutsy character you’ll often find in coastal cities. Thriving ports that evolve over the years give a place a certain resilience – and the rebirth of Lisbon’s dockland area as the home of trendy bars and restaurants shows that this city knows how to move with the times.
Let’s face it, Lisbon has been around forever; it’s as old as the hills it was built on and it’s survived tough times including a devastating earthquake in 1755 that meant the city had to be largely rebuilt. And that’s what I loved most about Lisbon; its sense of strength. The fact that it’s just a joy to explore simply made it better.
So will you go to Lisbon? It might be safe to say that this beautiful Portuguese capital city isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you should put off a visit. Go now and even if one trip is all you ever make, the city of Lisbon will stay with you long after you leave. Probably forever.
You won’t regret it for a second.
(I stayed at Lisbon’s Britania Hotel – read more about my visit here)
Have you been to Lisbon? What did you love about it? And if you haven’t been yet – would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments.