After spending 5 years touring the world, I ended up moving my entire life to Lisbon, Portugal. I have not yet spoken Portuguêse fluently or built a great career that brings the best out of me, but it does not matter. I moved here to be with the person I love the most and to start a new beginning, looking for opportunities to grow. Working as a cabin crew completely changed my life and how I look at the world we live in. However, to be able to fully send a resignation to my company, it required massive courage and a strong will-power. Here are the 10 reasons why I made up my mind to move to Lisbon, a sunny Southern European capital:
1. The perfect sunny weather
Lisbon one of the warmest capital cities in Europe. The duration of sunshine is up to 2,806 hours per year. The Subtropical Mediterranean climate which makes Lisbon enjoyable all year round to carry out different activities. Winter temperatures are mild and the wind from the Atlantic Ocean brings a lot of rain. My mood is enhanced by the sun, I feel great and have more energy. Sunlight increases the level of serotonin in the brain, which is associated with improved mood. Lisbon is also the 2020 European Green Capital Winner. 76% of its citizens live within 300m of green urban areas. Random parks are easily found everywhere. Plastic will be entirely banned from 2020. Good news for nature lovers and environmentalists.
2. Portuguese Cuisine & Pastries
The Pastel de Nata (egg tart) might be one of the most famous pastries that came out from Portugal. It originated from Lisbon, created by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery before the 18th century, which you should visit and drop by Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém nearby, the most well-known pastry shop in Lisbon. If you are a meat and a seafood lover, Lisbon is the place to be. You can check out here for the “11 traditional Lisbon dishes you need to try” and all the related posts. Portuguese are also intense coffee drinkers, which explains why the coffee tastes so strong but cheap. My favorite local chain is A Padaria Portuguesa which you can find literally in all the districts of Lisbon. All the tempting sweets: pães de Deus, pasteis de bacalhau, bolas de Berlim, ovos moles… you name it. Check out here for the list of typical Portuguese sweets that you should try.
3. Insanely Vibrant Nightlife
Lisbon is like a lazy own bear chilling during the day but stays awake when the night comes. I love having few sips in the rooftops in Martim Moniz then crawling to different bars in Bairro Chiado and Principe Real. If you are into seafood with Asian-European fusion or oysters, try Peixola and do not forget to order the sobremesa Petit Gateux de Caramelo, it is one of the tastiest desserts I have ever had. Desnortes is perfect to have quite a fancy dinner then drop by Sentido Prohibido for some Brazillian tropical melodies, or Fado. Pensão Amor on the pink street is also a naughty place to be, used to host sailors, prostitutes and now, artists and all kinds of crowds.
Drinks are affordable, a typical drink such as caipirinha is so cheap and strong that knock you out after a few glasses. I love doing Jägerbomb bomb shot and let go, dance the night away. Gay bars such as Trump or Finalmente are also my favorite. You can hold your drink here on the street and it is no problem.
4. Rich in History and Cultural Heritage
Lisbon remains one of the oldest cities in the world; however, it is one of the least-visited capitals among the others. This city has a lot of histories to offer, especially during the Age of Discovery, Portuguese sailors were one of the first Europeans to discover India. These discoveries led to numerous naval expeditions across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, and land expeditions in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia that continued into the late 19th century, and ended with the exploration of the polar regions in the 20th century. The oldest bookstore in the world which still operating is also located in Lisbon. These are the most impressive buildings to visit. If you are a person who treasures history and culture, Lisbon is going to overwhelm you with its fascinating past.
5. Tolerance toward Homosexuality & LGBT
LGBT rights in Portugal are now among the bests worldwide. It is also one of the few countries to have an outright ban in its constitution against discrimination on sexual orientation. On 5 June 2010, the state became the eighth in the world to approve same-sex marriage. On 1 March 2011, the President ratified the Law of Gender Identity, said to be one of the most advanced, which simplifies the process of sex and name change for transgender people. Same-sex adoption has been legal since 1 March 2016.
There will be no trouble holding hands of your same-sex lover or kissing him/her on the street. Lisbon is very flamboyant with one of the best gay scenes in Europe, particularly around Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. Here are the top 10 LGBT clubs and bars to check out.
6. The Beaches and the Islands
Algarve has an endless series of finest beaches in Europe, more than 150 for you to choose from. Everything is photogenic from those iconic limestone formations produced by erosion and dissolution. The perfect mixture of natural color is born by the golden and white sands, orange-yellowish cliffs, clear blue sky, and emerald seawater. Not mentioning the amazing tasty but cheap food, lively bars, and discos to dance the night away. Loving islands? Here are the best islands to visit in the Azores which is famous for its raw natural scenery and untouched landscapes of lakes, waterfalls and green meadows. Looking for something that is equivalent to Hawaii? Visit the Incredible Madeira which is also the birthplace of the most well-known Portuguese football player, Cristiano Rolando.
7. The Portuguese Language
I am a language lover because it still remains one of the last barriers. Portuguese sounds mysterious (yet I am talking about the accent from Lisbon), dark and complex. My friend used to take me to a live Fado bar in Bairro Alto, Sentido Prohibido 3. It was my first time listening to a Fado song singing by a local. The singer’s voice was powerful, dramatic yet haunting. It made me feel nostalgic and longing even I did not fully understand the lyrics.
Portuguese is a good entrance if you like to study other Romance languages like Spanish, French or Italian. It is also the native language of charming exotic Brazil and those Portuguese ex-colonies, spoken by more than 250 million people. Speaking this language also increases chances to impress others since Portuguese is popular but not that much if you know what I mean.
8. Lisbon is freaking safe
Portugal ranks extremely high when it comes to safety. It is now the 3rd most peaceful country on earth just after Iceland and New Zealand. I always feel safe walking here at night, even using my phone on the street without an issue. We do need to be extra careful in any city in the world nowadays but in Lisbon, even though it is the capital and invaded by tourists, still relatively safe compared to other major capital cities in Europe such as Paris, London, Rome or Berlin. It has a lot to do with history and geography.
Lisbon and Portugal, in general, do not have that many legal immigrants which made up only 5% of the population. There is no government inspired by the war on terror. Gun crime is almost non-existent. Separatism and ethnic conflicts are hardly a cause for concern in Portugal. I love how peaceful Lisbon is and rarely I will find extreme news about this magnificent city, only hope it will remain the same.
9. Not A Dull City To Live At All
Lisbon might be a small city but it is definitely not boring. There are parties waiting for you every night in bars and night clubs in Bairro Alto, Principe Real or Chiado/Cais do Sodre. Carcavelos beach is only 14 miles away from Lisbon, or sunny Algarve is two hours away by car. Here is the list of the most beautiful beaches nearby this city. You can also visit the magical Sintra which is 30 minutes by train. LX Factory is a hippy place that will inspire you to be endlessly cool. The biggest mall in Portugal, Colombo is also located in Lisbon, next to Benfica Stadium.
Here are some typical things to do: biking along the bridge Ponte 25 Abril which looks similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, eating the original Pastel de Nata in Belém, drinking coffee while enjoying the sunset in Miradouro da Graça or explore different cuisines in Martim Moniz or drinking wine while sitting in the fortress of São Jorge Castle. Taking the oldest tram in the world going around the old town is also a good idea. There is also one the largest indoor aquariums in Europe, Oceanário de Lisboa located in Parque das Nações, where the Expo ’98 took place. The list goes on. Porto is also only 3 hours away by train. Check out 11 top-rated day trips to other cities from Lisbon.
10. Low Cost of Living
Lisbon humbly ranks the 93rd most expensive cities to live in the world but the cost of living has been increasing recently, especially renting price due to intense tourism and many people start to come here for works and leisure. Relatively if you earn more than 1200 euros per month then this city is really affordable. Public transportation is cheap since you only pay for 30 euros to be able to use trams/metro/water bus/buses and the quality is great.
If you drive then the gasoline is a bit pricy and finding a place to park a car is also a headache. It is cheap to eat out. A full meal could cost 7 euros. Drinking is also affordable. Lisbon is not expensive compared to other major cities. A low salary explains a lot about this matter. Check out this breakdown of the living cost in Lisbon from the Portugalist.
The first time that I have visited this city three years ago, I completely fell in love with its charm. I even told myself to live here for a while, and crazy how all of these happened just now. I do believe in the law of attractions and be careful of what you wish for. Lisbon, nonetheless, has its own issues as many other cities. It is not easy to get a good income here as the country’s economy has been struggling but slowly getting better.
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