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How beautiful is Lisbon compared to other european ciites?

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Apr 8th, 2016, 08:27 AM
  #1
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How beautiful is Lisbon compared to other european ciites?

Hi everyone,

I have the opportunity to travel for a 7-9 days vacation to Lisbon for a good price. I'm wondering how beautiful is this city compared to other more famous European classic destinations like Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Barcelona, Seville, Prague, Vienna, etc.? Is it less attractive in terms of architecture, scenery, beauty, churches, monuments, etc. or does it hold its own? Does it also have a Wow factor?

I have made some research, it seems like the city center is kind of small basically around the Rossio square and the Commercio square. But going on Google Earth, it seems that once you get out of this small area, the city architecture is less interesting and attractive? Or am I missing something? What about the churches, other plazas, and other beautiful streets/areas besides that area?

After my research I know that outside the city center (Rossio and Commercio area), there's also going up the castle St-Gorges, walking through the old Alfama part of the city, also the Jeronimos Monastery & Belem tower, maybe the Oceanarium and zoo, and of course day trips to Sintra and Cascais. Would that make it a trip as beautiful and scenic as let's say a week in Rome? Or is it just not comparable because other places like Rome, Paris, London, Prague, Vienna, Venice, South of Spain, etc. just simply another level?

Btw I have not been to Europe yet, so that's why I want to see if this city (with its different areas and day trips) would be a good choice or if it's not as special and "wow" as other more famous and classic European destinations. I don't mean to downplay Portugal in this post, it's just that I'm curious on what people who have travelled throughout Europe think. I wouldn't mind spending months in Lisbon and Portugal in general, as I'm sure the country and people are amazing, it's just that the purpose of this short trip is mainly "sightseeing" but while staying in one base Lisbon and doing a few side day trips.

Thanks.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 08:49 AM
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It's a very appealing city in many ways. If you've never been to Europe, and this is your first city, there would be lots of "wow".

What you may have missed from looking at online maps is that it's a very vertical city--lots of hills. There are various places in the city that have little parks on the sides of hills with great scenic vistas of other parts of the city. It doesn't have the architectural diversity of Barcelona, say, nor the great monuments of Rome, but it has some really wonderful old places. The old moorish castle, Castelo de S. Jorge, beautiful old churches dripping with gold inside, gardens, museums. Lots of lively squares with great people-watching. Great wine.

There's also a good subway system, plus the tramslines, that make it easy to get around, although your legs do get tired walking up and down those hills! And trains to take you out to Sintra if you like.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 08:55 AM
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"Beauty, like supreme dominion
Is but supported by opinion"
(Benjamin Franklin)
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Apr 8th, 2016, 08:57 AM
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I would not call it beautiful ( it is all in the eye of the beholder) but interesting, attractive,
different , slightly rough around the edges, somehow melancholy.
Definitely worth visiting.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:03 AM
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If you want the European blockbuster sights then Lisbon is not first choice. But if you want fewer tourists, authentic history, delicious seafood, good prices and beautiful location, go for it. Lisbon is one of my favourites.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:05 AM
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I resisted going to Portugal for many trips but after I finally went, I really liked it. IMO Lisbon / Portugal is cheaper than many other major countries. It is also poorer but it has all the elements I love about Europe (again, at a lesser price). There are many interesting things to see specific to Portugal / Lisbon and if you have never been to Europe before, all the other elements to love about the continent. Some of the city is a bit shabby and dirty - also be aware of the pickpockets but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Besides Lisbon, there are some nearby places for daytrips - esp. Sintra and Belem. Public transportation is good. I'd suggest some research before you go, not only on the sights but on the food. I really liked the food - some dishes may be unknown to you, not every place (and many the the better options) might not have a tourist menu, so try to become familiar with some of the dishes. There is alot of good seafood.

In many ways, Lisbon could be a great introduction to Europe as it is a bit more managable size-wise than some of the other major cities. Enjoy!
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:07 AM
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We spent 5 days in Lisbon back in Dec 2010. You can see our pictures here to give you an idea:

https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:17 AM
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I personally loved Lisbon, a little biased here as my Gfather was from Coimbra/Porto area, my Gmother from Rapallo, Italy. My kids and I enjoyed the forts, you can see the entire city from them, how they used to protect the city from Morocan. Lots of Morocan influence, tiles everywhere. Sintra is a beautiful little city, beautiful architecture, I rented a car and drove there. We also drove to the coast, love Cascais, the cliffs are impressive at the end. Although it's easy, I won't advice driving in Portugal who has the highest incident of death in car accidents, understandable though.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:21 AM
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I forgot, we stayed in Alfama and it was loud. It's a city within cities, everything is connected by steps, you walk and climb and end up in little plaza with restaurants and people dancing on the streets, one little place. When we stayed there there was a festival, with decorations all over the place, little flags hanging between buildings.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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we have been to Portugal a number of times but Lisboa once. It is clearly in the second tier of European cities for interest.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:30 AM
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Compared to Paris, London, Rome, Berlin or Madrid, Lisbon has a "small-town feeling". The aforementioned cities have "grand" architecture, magnificent buildings, splendid boulevards and squares, world-class museums.

Lisbon is more like a small town, charming, down-to-earth, with a distinct feel.

Whether it is a good destination for a first-time trip to Europe or not, depends on your travel attitude. If you are eager to collect the "big five" (so to speak) as quickly as possible, start with Paris or London. If you take a progression approach, it may not be bad to start small.

In any case, Lisbon is a worthy destination and, as everybody has said, it is cheap (especially when compared to London, Paris and Rome).
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:35 AM
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Sorry - but Lisbon is not one of my favorite cities. Have been twice - but one mostly working near Sintra.

While there are specific buildings that are charming I was not wowed overall by Lisbon - to me it is too much 3rd world. The first time I was there we saw a huge number of refugees from Africa who tended to gather outside of tourist sights and banks to panhandle in a threatening way and a couple of times I was distinctly uncomfortable - and this from a New Yorker with no fear of city street life.

IMHO it does not have the same WOW factor that you find in many european capitals - and even in many other, smaller cities.

And this is not a function of liking only elegant and upscale places - we have traveled all over Central Europe, some of which was still in very transitional phases, when we were there and we loved them. Also loved visiting Russia even in the years when traveling there was less comfortable.

I would do some more in-depth research to see what you want to see and do and determine if this will met your needs.

On the plus side the people were generally very friendly, the food was not bad and visiting the resorts was pleasant.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:51 AM
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Paris plays in a league of it's own. If you have the opportunity to visit ONE capital city, and no plans to return soon, Paris seems to me the logical choice.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:52 AM
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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then here's a few hundred thousand words:

http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/f415062165
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Apr 8th, 2016, 09:52 AM
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Lisbon is one of my favorite cities, and I am always happy to go back. It is not London or Paris, but then few places are.

Aside from side trips to Belem (the monastery is stunning) and Sintra/Cascais, you should be able to do a day trip to Obidos and perhaps an overnight in Evora.

See also: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ing-lisbon.cfm

You do need to be alert for pickpockets, although it is not as bad for that as Barcelona, but I have not had an experience similar to nyt's.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 11:23 AM
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If you didn't visit Lisbon, rich in history, you would miss out on its beauty. Just disregard the graffiti you'll encounter in some locations.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 11:57 AM
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I agree with all the compliments for Lisbon. We stayed 5 nights and absolutely loved it. It may not have a "wow" factor, but I wouldn't go anywhere expecting to be "wowed", because that's a lot to expect. We had already seen lots of Europe, and Lisbon won our hearts.

The architecture in central Lisbon reminded us of Paris. Lisbon's economy has been struggling, so some of the beautiful apartment buildings are boarded up.

Prices are cheaper, in general, and it felt like the people were happy to have tourist business. We found the people to be warm and welcoming, and English is spoken by most everyone.

There is plenty to do, including the two day-trips you named to Sintra and Cascais. We especially liked Cascais.

We walked everywhere from our hotel. Loved the narrow, very old sections. Loved the central walkway to the riverfront. Loved the views from the top of charming Alfama.

Cabs are very cheap in Lisbon. We took one over to the museum of tile, which is interesting.

Great seafood is available everywhere. We just walked around and found menus we liked, and were happy with both service and food.

Actually, the graffiti in Lisbon is street art, not vulgar gang sayings or crude language. Good examples of it were seen on the cable car ride we took to the top of the hill, where we were dining that night. (I wish I could remember the name of places, but I can't find my notes!)

I HIGHLY recommend The Hotel Avenida Palace
http://www.hotelavenidapalace.pt/hotel-overview.html

The service is awesome, the palace building is gorgeous, breakfast buffet included is served in a beautiful dining room and the food is the best, prices are reasonable, location is unbeatable directly next to the Rossio Square and train station.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 12:21 PM
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You do not mention if your good price is a package that includes a hotel but if not, you might look into spending a night or two out at Cacais (or even the whole time). Cascais an easy 30 minutes away by frequent running trains and has a much calmer vibe than Lisbon. If you are going in the summer, a hotel with a pool in Cascais could add a lot to your trip.

IMO NYTraveler is quite harsh about Lisbon - yes, not Paris but no way 3rd world. As for African refugees peddling on the streets - I've seen that in almost every city in Europe!
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Apr 8th, 2016, 01:10 PM
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Lisbon is gorgeous if you like tile and if you like terraced cities that are not flat -- I like both. Its multicultural ambience reminds me of a very, very gentle Queens, NY,(and as a river city, NOLA) but filled with a beautiful light and fresh breezes despite the hardships of poverty. Food is as much of an adventure as it is in the immigrant boroughs of NYC, filled with the aromas and tastes of Portugal's far flung empire, combined with a long, long traditional cuisine native to Portugal that gives a depth the purely immigrant New York can't match.

Lisbon has great texture, which sadly has gone missing in many capitals of Europe with great facades for tourists but full of suspicion and a fortress mentality. Too much like NYC, actually.
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Apr 8th, 2016, 02:19 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the replies...

jamikins and mr_go, your pictures are amazing... It actually makes me excited to visit Lisbon and the surrounding areas. Everything looks beautiful and charming.

I feel that because Lisbon is kind of out of the way of many of the other major European cities, it makes it kind of appropriate to do it in a separate little trip.

In other words, if I do a week in Rome, I will feel as if I'm so close to Florence, Venice, and other major European iconic cities that it would deserve a much longer trip. It would feel weird to go all the way there and only see Rome with other major destinations so close by.

But with Lisbon, it seems a little bit far from the rest of the major European cities, that I wouldn't mind going for 1 week there in a quick 1 week hotel/flight package. Other European cities seem closer to each others that a longer trip with more research, well ahead planning, and moving from one base to another (probably by train) seem more appropriate. I hope that makes sense.

One thing is for sure, it seems like an interesting city based on all the comments and the pictures of Lisbon and Porto are amazing. With the pictures that were posted, I can see how they are not necessarly many "wow" monuments and attractions, but that even the little streets and corners seem to have character and a lot of beauty/charm.

I guess I just have to see a Lisbon trip not as a once in a lifetime trip to Europe to see so many iconic and huge attractions, but rather a very interesting destination that is a mixture of everything and a great introduction to Europe. Kind of like traveller1959 said.
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