Lisbon has come a long way, baby, as Europe’s underdog. From reinventing itself after the devastating tsunami of 1755 to surviving the fire in the trendy Chiado neighborhood in 1988, this city of seven hills is effortlessly giving the Portuguese boot to Barcelona (which has been stealing its thunder for years) and making a convincing play as the newest European hot spot.
As a burgeoning city with a knack for great seafood and proud heritage, Lisbon’s managed to retain a rich history prominent within its cobblestoned streets and Moorish-inspired architecture, clanking trams and the adornment of blue and white azulejos (ceramic tiles). As it’s not the most progressive in Europe, Lisbon comes across enchanting and other-worldly. You truly feel like you’re away from home (ie: no Starbucks). Throw in some art Nouveau buildings along tree-lined streets, a thriving arts scene and adorable elderly women gossiping to each other from their windows, and you’ve got a city whose charm never shuts down (just like it’s nightlife).
There’s never a bad time to go as Lisbon is one of the warmest European capitals. Consequently, the beaches here are some of Lisbon’s best features, as well as day trips to nearby towns. Nestle up on one of the several miradouros (vantage point) for sweeping views of the city and Tagus River.
The Portuguese have effortlessly earned the reputation as being one of the most friendly, and denizens are eager to share their fado (proud Portuguese tradition of singers lamenting heartbreak and longing), stories of their culture and their electric nightlife.
Though only a handful of gay bars exist and there’s a vaguely gay neighborhood (the homebase is Bairro Alto and you’ll be overwhelmed with all the patrons flooding the narrow streets from the box-sized bars), it’s impossible to feel alienated as the gay scene is flourishing and becoming known as one of the hottest in the world.