It’s not unusual for me to long for a place after I leave. Yet there are so many incredible destinations in the world, I seldom re-visit places. Lisbon is an exception. I’m going back. My whole family fell in love with the country of Portugal. We adored the friendly people, hearty food, temperate climate, mysterious castles and lush gardens. From the romantic beaches in the south, to the soaring mountains in the north, the whole country is magical.
And the crown jewel is the capital city, Lisbon. As an intergenerational traveler–with family members as old as 80 and as young as 16–we have challenges finding a vacation destination that everyone enjoys. Well, Lisbon has it all–stellar restaurants, gorgeous scenery, distinct culture, important historical sites, spectacular weather–it really hits every mark.
Here are two of the several reasons I especially enjoyed my visit to Lisbon. The first was staying in Lisbon’s new boutique property, Hotel Portugal, and the second, was finding exceptional tour guide to show us the town–Lisbon Secrets.
Hotel Portugal is simply lovely in every way, but especially because of the extraordinary staff here. The front desk, restaurant, housekeeping and bell staff are just so professional. They work hard to make the guests feel comfortable and are willing to do anything to meet your needs. They made reservations for us, cancelled reservations, called cabs, answered dozens of questions, gave us directions, advice and just generally make you feel like they enjoy helping you! Has that ever happened?
And the breakfast service, which is really delicious and fresh by the way, includes endless refills of your coffee cup! The design of the hotel is fresh and new, and the guest room decor was inspired by the blue and white Portuguese tiles found in buildings throughout the city. Hotel Portugal’s location is excellent, near Rossio Square, but on a quiet side street, steps from several high energy neighborhoods like Chiado, with great restaurants, the metro and shopping.
Lisbon Secrets Tour Guides
We took two different tours through Lisbon Secrets with our guide Pedro. First he took us on the Walking Lisbon tour for 3.5 hours, and then the “Chill Out” Tour which means you tour for eight hours (with a vehicle), but at a relaxed pace so you can take it all in. Pedro has a deep knowledge of Portuguese history and culture. He knows everyone and is able to customize your tour with restaurants and sights, shops and museums.
The Intro tour focuses on the Alfama, includes sipping the strangely wonderful Ginjinha, and a visit to a tile making shop. The Chill Tour includes the waterfront monuments, the amazing Expo–a modern part of the city, important churches, bakeries and stylish neighborhoods. With both tours, you will do a lot of walking. So wear comfortable shoes for the cobblestones and tile streets. The tours provide significant understanding of this beautiful city, and by the end, with the help of Pedro, you’ll feel like a native.
Lisbon, I miss you.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.