Cheap flights, increasing global connectivity and the popularisation of hostels have combined to make it easier and cheaper for us millennials to travel the world than ever before. Top destinations for many millennials include historic yet modern European capitals like Prague and Vienna, and as I found out on my latest holiday, Lisbon. Here’s my guide for how to navigate Lisbon as a millennial…
Welcome to Lisbon
You may not know much about Lisbon – I have to admit I didn’t – but the Portuguese capital is definitely worth a place on your bucket list. Founded in the Iron Age, the city has played host to everyone from the Romans to the Moors to the Spanish over its fascinating past, providing a wealth of historic landmarks such as Sao George Castle, the Belem Tower and the Carmo Convent for your itinerary. Today Lisbon is a vibrant European capital, with cultural attractions such as the ‘fado’ bars of the Alfama district, where talented performers croon mournful songs, as well as designer boutiques, elegant restaurants and lively nightclubs, so there really is something for everyone.
Lisbon is a fantastic city for cash-strapped millennials, because it’s one of the cheapest capitals in Europe. To give you an idea of just how cheap the city is, we stayed in a hostel for just €13 per night, and that was considered expensive for Lisbon! Even better, you can order a pint in some of the trendiest bars in the Portuguese capital for as little as €1.20. I should also point out that when you travel here you’ll fly into Lisbon Airport, which is merely around 8-kilometres from the city centre, so you won’t even have to pay much for transfers! You should keep in mind, however, that like any other tourist hotspot Lisbon does have its tourist traps, like the ‘traditional’ seafood restaurants which line the Rua das Portas de Santo Antao thoroughfare, and these are best avoided.
Invest in footwear
You need to invest in good, sturdy footwear while visiting Lisbon. It may be cheap, but there’s so many grand architectural marvels – ornate facades line practically every street which runs through the city centre – quirky landmarks like uphill trams and tucked away cafes where you can enjoy rich coffees, that walking’s the only way you can see Lisbon’s hidden gems. Like Rome, Lisbon is built on seven hills and the city’s streets are paved with glistening white marble cobbles that prove murder for your feet when you do too much walking. You really need to leave the impossibly-high stilettos and shiny black dress shoes at home, so you can walk around in comfort on your Lisbon getaway.
If you’re a career-minded millennial like me, you may be forced to squeeze a weekend trip to Lisbon into your hectic professional schedule. Lisbon is like Barcelona, as both cities hold bus trip services which take you on a whistle-stop tour of the main sites. I recommend that you sign up for one of these tours if you’re strapped for time. It’ll only set you back around €20 – €30 and once you get on the bus, you can get off at any time to explore attractions on your route, before boarding a later bus. We did a bus tour on our last day in Lisbon and it really gave us the opportunity to discover the city’s highlights, from grand squares and historic nunneries, to lush gardens and the Lisbon Oceanarium!
Bring your phone
It may seem odd for me to tell you to bring your phone, but hear me out. This is such a gorgeous city – I actually said to my friend Maria at one point that the architecture here is actually almost obnoxiously ornate – that’s how picturesque the buildings are. The city’s primary thoroughfare, the Avenida de Liberdade is itself a sight to behold, dotted with chic designer boutiques and bizarre centuries-old buildings. On this one street alone, I saw a building which was decorated to resemble a wrapped Christmas present, which looked simply amazing. Bring your phone so you can Instagram and Snapchat Lisbon’s visually arresting delights and increase your social media following!
Night of your life
Come to Lisbon for the Instagram-worthy landmarks, stay for the fantastic nightlife. Lisbon is home to one of the trendiest districts in Europe, Bairro Alto. Based a few minutes away from the Avenida de Liberdade, Bairro Alto is home to a variety of quirky bookshops, compelling fado establishments and cool bars that you just have to visit. I swear to god they even have an Irish bar there and hands down, it’s one of the best Irish bars I’ve ever been to, as it was basically a pub/disco hybrid with neo-lit Catholic-esque statues! I have to give a special shout out to ‘The Pint’. This is a tiny little hole in the wall where we only stopped for one drink but ended up staying for four hours, enjoying incredibly cheap drinks and striking up such a friendly relationship with the bar staff that my friend Siobhan got offered a job! That’s just the kind of place Lisbon is for an intrepid millennial!