Okay, you may be reeling with shock from such a direct and profound statement.
Yes, I absolutely hated Lisbon. Even I surprised myself. Even if I arrive in a city that’s not to my liking, I still give it a second chance. But oh no, I simply cut short my planned 2 night stay and got out of the capital of Lisbon after 18 hours.
My perfect description for Lisbon is this:
‘It’s like a revolution happened but no one’s bothered to clean it up.’
Weakly, Lisbon’s defenders would claim that the country is in the throes of an economic recession. Well, so are Greece, Spain and Ireland. But they still do fantastically well for tourism.
Lisbon was probably the most disappointing capital I’ve ever visited. I couldn’t believe Lisbon beat my disdain for Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
So why was it so bad that I had to leave immediately?
I had High Expectations of Lisbon
When I mentioned to my friends and travel bloggers alike about my impending visit, they enthusiastically claimed its a fantastic place to visit. I still had no clue what to expect there and so I imagined it to be a cosmopolitan city, brimming with high-flying locals, friendly atmospheres, a gorgeous beach and stunning architecture. Sadly, that was not the case. I had the serious cases of ‘letting me down.’
The Unsavoury Bus Journey
Last time I spoke to you, I was leaving Madrid after coming back from Andalusia. From there I headed straight to Lisbon on a 12 hour bus journey. Climbing on board, I was excited. I would have my first glimpse of Portuguese people. I imagined them to be Caipirinhas-swilling, laughing and generally happy people and wearing far less clothes than they should have. Also, they would have amazing teeth and be very friendly to everyone. I found this to be the case with the Spanish people so a country that has a shared history with Spain should have similar traits, right?
Wrong! As I was the first to climb aboard, I would see all the passengers arrive. And I would wish I didn’t. Dark, moody, frowns my way, disrespectful of the bus and not at all friendly. I actually didn’t feel safe travelling on the bus with them. I even feared for my hygiene. It smelt like a pig had died in its own poo. And they were coming from the people on the bus who were perturbed to see me covering my nose…well with anything. Unwashed they were. Hugging my rucksack containing my valuables to my chest, I would fitfully sleep until I was jolted awake by a thwack on my seat. The couple behind me decided to have an all out argument complete with GBH. Great. I was relieved to arrive at a rest stop for the Spanish bus driver to intervene. As I sipped my coffee observing the blackness of the Spanish Night before we shortly slipped over the border into Portugal. The driver sat next to me with a sigh and gave me a weary look to say that it’s not the first time he’s seen this before. They were actually thrown out with their luggage on the side of the road, still arguing.
Going back to sleep, I was woken up to see the Lisbon Oriente Train Station loom into my view. I was so glad to get off the bus. Very Glad. That was my first brush with Portuguese people and they totally let me down.
Comparison with Brazil
I think one of my disappointments is that it wasn’t like Brazil, the old Portuguese colony. Okay, I realise there are differences like the weather and the way people look but I expected the same vibe, excitement and happiness that Brazil brought. When I was in southBrazil in February, I had a whale of a time. In Brazil, it was easy to meet people, full on the streets; everyone was smiling and partying in their own heads. They had literally everything to smile for, even for the braces on their teeth.
But not Lisbon. It was empty even during rush hour and the people I did meet kept themselves to themselves with their heads bowed, glum and depressed. Those that are inquisitive, I felt their stare on my back, but not in a nice way. It really didn’t feel like a happy place to be. Even the buildings didn’t look happy. Of course, in Brazil, some buildings looked they were about to fall down, but at least they looked cheerful. The street art in Brazil was vibrant and interesting. Whereas in Lisbon the street art consisted of swear words dotted on the buildings that may have stood a chance of welcoming visitors to their city.
Lisbon was a capital that wasn’t proud of itself.
I often judge the cleanliness of a city by its streets. Even third world countries. So when I went to Bangkok, or even Buenos Aires and Siam Reap, I was very impressed by how clean the streets were. But that was a totally different story when I arrived in Lisbon. I was actually rather taken aback. The buildings looked like they were covered with soot or even dirt. Walking up to a building, I wiped my palm on one wall and it came away pitch black. Even the ‘historical’ looking buildings were not immune. It was rather disappointing to see the buildings go in a state. Perhaps my standards stemmed from my parents freaking out if there’s a house down our street that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for a while. Needless to say, they get theirs sandblasted or washed every couple of years. And again, crude street art littered the place.
Throughout my walking tour that day, I could see the walking tour guide trying to lead us away from ramshackle and broken places but my inquisitive nature took over and I was truly disappointed what I saw. Just disappointment.
When evening came round, I joined 2 other people from the hostel to find some drinks. It was already dark and walking through the seemingly empty streets made me look around more than normal. I just felt unsafe. This was in the city centre and I began to worry about my well-being as gruff looking men eyed up the girls I was with. I would protect them if I needed to but probably to my disadvantage. Luckily, I managed to wave them off when they approached with a dangerous gleam in their eyes and hurried the girls along. I didn’t feel like this in Madrid or even Hanoi.
There’s Nothing To See
Literally, there’s nothing to see. Unless you want to see the knock off Christo the Redeemer that’s even smaller than the real one. I remembered my disappointment seeing that in Rio so I wasn’t exactly going to see the ‘shitter’ version. Browsing the ‘what to do’ section in the hostel, I noticed with alarm that all of them were advertising trips OUT of Lisbon. I’ve just spent 3 hours in Lisbon and already I was bored. Talking to the receptionist where’s good to go in Lisbon, he looked lost for words. Then said either a beach or a Fado Night when you had to grab a chair 2 hours before the event started to get a good view. And you can’t just stay and sit, you had to keep buying drinks otherwise the establishment would throw you out for using up their valuable drinking space. I half-heartedly decided and said I would go to a Fado night, a Portuguese style of music, to some others at the hostel. But I was met with sullen stares who stated they weren’t spending their time just sitting down. I sure wasn’t going to walk to a Fado Night on my own, I didn’t feel it was safe to do so.
However, as I started to mooch around thinking I should go on a day trip out of Lisbon, a walking tour guide burst into the hostel and asked if anyone was interested in doing a tour of the city.
The Walking Tour Was Rubbish
Really it was. Many people and travel bloggers know that I LOVE Walking Tours whether they were accompanying me or being dragged along. So as I began to mutter dark thoughts about Lisbon, I signed myself up to a walking tour hoping that it would be the saving grace of my impression of the city.
And I wish I could tell you about the sights I’ve seen in Lisbon. I can’t because there was literally nothing to see whilst I ambled around in an extremely bored manner. The tour guide admitted it was her first time doing the walking tour on her own (extremely eye rolling ensued) and she was being assessed by a head guide who followed us around, looking important with a clipboard and no paper on it. So, I could have made allowances to let her off with some stuff that she may have forgotten as I’m a nice guy who like to encourage those who are nervous. But actually, I wouldn’t have passed her. She didn’t talk loud and clear. She didn’t really engage the group with stories. She just pointed at a sight and said ‘look at that!’ and left us to stare bleakly at it. I considered leaving the walking tour halfway through when she announced we would be taking a break. Throughout then, I was being chased by a legless homeless man who jabbed violently his crutch (read carefully, I said CRUTCH not CROTCH!) on my chest and demanded money with evil intent in his eyes. I was shocked. He was so rude. Even the beggars in SE Asia and Africa gave me respect.
However, I stuck with the walking tour only because I couldn’t figure out how to get back to my hostel on my own. During that time, I spoke with the head guide about his job. He noted that he had to train a lot of people to be guides recently. After I asked why, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘they leave within a couple of weeks.’ Leaving him to stare at the clipboard looking like he was doing his job, I could see why. There is literally nothing to show visitors in this depressing city. I suspected they joined the other tours advertising day trips OUT of Lisbon.
Giving my thanks to God when we finished in the late afternoon, I trudged back to the hostel and immediately went on my laptop. There, I booked to get the hell out of Lisbon on the first train the next morning. After a sleep and annoyingly found that someone used my towel to clean his dirty body (probably from accidentally scraping himself on a building), I rushed to the nearest train station and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Lisbon grow smaller in the distance as the train rolled south.
Already I was happy, the train was actually rather nice and luxurious. Leaning back, I really hoped that my next Portuguese destination would be better. Heck, anything would be better.
I was very disappointed and even more so to be negative about a city that once was a bustling capital of the world. Maybe I’ll be back to change my mind but you know what? I won’t be in a hurry to do so.
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I think you’re on your own here, Rexy. Lisbon will always be in my top ten just for its custard tarts. When I went in September, it was dirt cheap, hardly any tourists around to spoil it, the decaying buildings looked pretty good to me and the nightlife was buzzing in the Bairro Alto. Each to their own though…
Portugal rules. Thats where I came from. Thats all. That’s your opinion. You are missing something thats all.
America is the worst and depressing country. Cost of Living and healthcare are horrible here. Cannot stand it!
Thank you! Thank you so effing much! I’ve bren looking for another soul that would rant and say the plain truth about thos sh*ty country. I’m portuguese and for years now the hole country angers me. But Lisbon? Lisbon i simply load. With a passion. To the point i would enjiy seeing it burn. People are rude, uncult and superficial. The streets of the capital are pure litter and animal feces. Most buildings are rotten and at risk of falling. Tourist parts of the city are extremely pricey. And the traffic… Oh the bloody traffic… There is traffic from 7a.m. to 8p.m. Non stop. Literally. A walk that taks 20 minutes might actually take more than 2 hours by car, and no, it is not exaggerated. Portugal, the superficial country with superficial people. Trully the only thing good here is the sun and food, and for that you actually have to go far away from Lisbon.
So thank you! And kuddos!
According to Forbes 2018 Portugal is the World’s Friendliest Country in the World.
According to the 2015 Global Residence and Citizenship Programs” (GRCP) Portugal is the 3rd best country in the world to invest in luxury real estate.
According to the 2019 World Economic Forum Portugal is the 4th safest Country in the World.
According to 2018 World Travel Awards Portugal is the best European destination, and Lisbon was voted the ‘Best City Destination’ in Europe for the third consecutive year.
Explain yourself now.
Girl, you are dumb… You have the right to dislike your country, but stating that you would like “Lisbon to burn” is so stupid, that is shameful…
You don’t need to interact with educated people, because you, surely, aren’t one…
P. S. I don’t like Portugal as well, but I have common sense…
As a Portuguese myself; I am mainly sad to see comments like yours. Yes; you can have your opinion and I am not going to try to change it for you however; I think it is extremely sad to see you feel so much anger. Please note that the Portuguese people that live in Portugal are the ones that suffer the most. They have no control on how the politicians lead the country. Their economy is terrible to a point that most youth have had to immigrate; leaving the old generation behind and lots of people from other countries that are even more poor. Since I was born I remember hearing ” Portugal is 50 years behind from the rest of the world” Having had a dictator ship that ended in 1974 was probably a factor on why the country did not grow as fast as others. Education was not as important as putting food in the table. May God bless Portugal and I would love to see my birth country rise up verses wishing it to burn down. Blessing and Peace
No roberta, it doesn’t. Portugal rules.
I am from Czech Republic and I was same depressed in Lisbon as him, it looks like my country in 90s.
I agree with you. I never saw any negativity. Portuguese people are reserved, polite and not attention seekers. Lisbon is run down but you can see how wealthy it once was. And there’s Bairo Alto with lots of bars. It’s a marvellous laid back city surrounded by Sintra, Cascais and the other side if the river. There are writers from different parts of the world who go there ti get inspired. I would love to go back.
Lisbon seemed to me a neglected place in general, and Portuguese people a bunch of sad folk. Food was good but expensive and service in restaurante and bars surpraisingly cold.
Toured Portugal for a week. It’s ok but trully dead boring. Maybe for families with children. Lisbon was quite disappointing. In my view expats who choose to retire there can just not afford Spain or Greece…. consolation.
I think Oporto is the worst. It actually makes Lisbon look like paradise. lol
Eileen, Please expaaaaaaand on your comment of OPorto….Thank you, LT
you are the worst!
Customer service is pretty much non existent. Everyone seems to be grumpy. The streets are covered in garbage and urine etc. some food is really delicious though! Beach is pretty but the water is freezing even in summer. Some people would love that but I’d personally go to a country further into the Mediterranean for the warmer water or Australia if you want better sandy beaches. It’s cheap but you get what you pay for. 3/10 wouldn’t bother going again.
I lived two years in Portugal and in two years I didn’t make any Portuguese friend. It’s not normal for me. I lived in other countries and in a short time I had made friends and with some of them I still keep in touch.
There is something in the Portuguese people that just doesn’t allow that. I found it here people are cold (both in the south and in the north), unhelpful, distant, sad, superficial and with little originality. You enter a shop, bar or restaurant, and be sure that for the first 30 seconds minimum (sometimes even 5 minutes) you will not be looked at, greated or anything, even if you are the only costumer. I walked away several times because I find it rude. I don’t feel good here and I’m moving away.
Agree so agree with you, i’m married with portuguese guy, but he was living in Colombia by then, so as Colombian we are one of the most friendly people in the world and then we moved to Lisbon 1 year ago, definitely so disappointing of the country and of course the people!! There’s such a “fake” friendly treatment that just take seconds to realize that they prefer living in their tiny mental world where everything is perfect…ok i would add the laziness and recist mental state they want to hide!! If not were by my lovely and funny husband (which i consider one 1 the millions of portuguese to be so different from them) i was leaving the country right now. Yes we found delicious food, beaches, and lovely places that are unique, but that’s the magic that all countries have, the only difference at least from my culture, the people can be a huge difference in your ride…
This is exactly my own experience: terrible loneliness after 14 months in Lisbon.
I made friends while living 4 months in Greece; still have great friends from my time in Peru 20 years ago! So definitely it’s not me.
Despite the sunny weather I feel such coldness in my heart. I won’t stand this much longer.
Thanks, these posts have convinced me to change my itinerary to the Maldives instead!
Oh thats the reason. You cant even say the name correctly.
I’m european. I love Nice, I love Paris I love london I love positano
He’s right Lisbon is 100% a DUMP
I’m European as well. I’ve been to almost every country in Europe and I can say, Portugal could have many flaws but clearly is not a bad country to visit. You just missed the point. That’s all. Now you could maybe not have as much fun as the others but someone that is reading that comment could think Portugal is a bad country because of your point of view and they’ll miss their own. So don’t ruin other people’s fun. Shut up
I agree with Garcia. I spent the last two weeks in Porto and Lisbon, both very safe and clean. I walked the streets late at night, alone and with my wife, and never felt scared. I’m not afraid of the dark or anything else, so it might be personal. But the fear is in your head, not reality. The same men looked at my wife but I didn’t see a dangerous gleam; that’s just the way that men look at women. The danger is in your head because you’re scared. Everyone has been nice to us, including the little old ladies selling bootleg liquor in Alfama who don’t speak a word of English. Even the woman whose apartment we accidentally tried to break into. She laughed and indicated that we were on the wrong floor. The walking tours were great. The “free” tour with Rita from Sandeman was so good that we booked two others with her. She’s a Native and she’s friendly and cheerful. The music tour with Chillout Lisbon was also great. Some fado places are the kind of overpriced tourist traps you find in every city. Next time just walk the streets of Alfama. You’ll hear fado everywhere. Most places will have seats available; just grab a table and order a beer for €1.50. Some have cover charges, but usually not more than €5.
I know this is a few years since your comment but had to reply. You say “that’s just the way men look at women”. What a misogynistic attitude! Maybe ask your wife if she felt comfortable with the creepy mens’ stares instead of assuming that’s normal behaviour!
I went to Lisbon with my ex. As a woman who frequently travels solo, and does astrophotography alone in the middle of the night, I have never felt as unsafe as I did in Lisbon-especially Barrio Alto. Hassled by drug dealers every few yards, derelict, run down, deserted dirty streets. Bad beer and bars, dodgy people on every corner, I was in shock that this was a European capital city not somewhere in the third world.
I left Paris after 15 years to move to Lisbon.
…the same year this article was written.
Unsafe ? are u dumb ?
Portugal is the third safest country in the world.
Yeah, this joker feels safe in Brazil, with more murders per year than Europe and Asia combined, but unsafe in Lisbon, lol…
I just left Lisbon and we stayed in the Alfama district. It was beautiful! The people were friendly, great food, beautiful old buildings. We had a blast in the Bairro Alto area and on pink street. We also spent the day at Costa da Caparica and went to Yamba and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen!
you are stupid or didnt have the right person to present Lisbon to you.
I’m sorry you feel that way, but as we say in Portugal “VAI MASÉ PRO CARALHINHO QUE TE FODA” and I think it’s beautiful!
So funny that you censorship a comment about the prizes Lisbon won in the last years. What is the real goal? Even this week it was announced that Lisbon was once again named Europe’s Best Destination for City Breaks and Best European Cruise Port in the World Travel Awards – Europe Edition, which is equated to the “Oscars” of tourism.
Definitely not on your own mate. I’m here on holidays and wish I went somewhere else.
I agree with you, its dirty, public transportation is useless (they waiting weird line and nobody can go to nus, I dont understand that) we went out from Lisbon and it was nice, rest of Portugal looks good, but Lisbon is dirty shithole and very expensive for nothing. 5 euros for big beer, wtf?
I completely agree with this person’s assessment of Lisbon. My bf and I spent several days in Lisbon and hated it. We found it dirty and uninteresting. The food was average, in fact, rather tasteless. Those custard pastries weren’t that great the way everyone was banging on about them. It may have been cheap once but not anymore. The people looked unkempt, rumpled up, badly dressed, unfriendly, sour-faced and rude. There was only 1 place we went to where the staff was friendly and accommodating. There ARE a few places of interest in Lisbon: The tram museum, Jeronimo Monastery, Belem Tower, the Castle, the big plaza area by the river, riding tram #28. We took a day trip to Sintra (highly recommended), and with relief went on to Porto. While Porto and Sintra were much better, the atmosphere of unfriendliness and indifference was still there. And the high prices, although Porto was slightly cheaper. But only slightly. I also expected Portugal to be like Spain. Wrong!! It was a happy day when it came time to leave. Worst holiday I’ve ever had. I’ll never go back to Portugal ever again!
Felt the same about Madeira, totally boring culture and people, food bland. But then I love South East Asia, do Europe generally leaves me cold. Sorry. Oh yes and I am 60 But young at heart.
I was born in Madeira, living in Toronto, Canada. I have been back to Madeira for visits, and it is beautiful and rich. I wish to back for months long vacation. Your sense of what is real is not based in reality.
I don’t think he is. The place is now like a theme park with small, fat, lazy locals doddering around. It is the least dynamic city/people I have ever encountered. People on the whole greet you with deadpan faces, I only came across 2 people who smiled back. They hate tourism but want your money. I would come back in 25 years when they have got off their arses and come into the 21st century. The place reeks of corruption, laziness, bad decision making, poor planning. Much prefer cities in France, Spain, Italy. Note to Portugal: Must try harder.
Must try harder. lol. People in Lisbon don’t owe you or anyone anything. You have the freedom of not liking a place, but don’t go demanding for people to change their behavior in their own country to please you. Just don’t come back and go to France, Spain or Italy. thanks.
Lisbon seemed quite decadent to me. People too serious, not especially kind but not nasty either. Lisbon has no outstanding world class museums nor special attractions. A two day stopover at most.
AhAhAh please don’t return. You are skyrocketing the price of housing for us. We could live with a bit less tourism. Before saying shit about portuguese people or trying harder, maybe, just maybe, read some history books, you might learn a few things. Maybe people in the capital stopped being friendly just like they aren’t in any other capital in Europe because it is really really annoying having tourists crowding the buses we take to work, crowding streets that have car traffic, leaving trash everywhere, destroying the essence of Bairro Alto, pushing decent restaurants away from any main street in the capital (that is actually not portuguese cuisine most of times). And our monuments? Some of the oldest in the world… No special attractions? They are part of world history. And the greatest museums you talk about? By chance aren’t you thinking of the Smithsonian or the British Museum right? Cause most that is inside has been stolen from other countries.
Like i i find this city’s state gravelly problematic and utterly surprising. Dirty and abandoned. Lisbon is a dying city and it would take 30 years and billions to bring it back to its better self.
I adore older architecture and Lisbon has extraordinarily stuff. Everywhere gorgeous structure that will have to be demolished.
My parents traveled in Lisbon in the 60. They came back with great photos and stories of Lisbon. I expected something like San Jose in Porto Rico but this is a city scarred by Death and torture .
I have to agree with you when it comes to the need of cleaning up the beautiful buildings that we have. Unfortunately there is the need for money to do that the country does not have.
I was born and raised in a small town not to far from Lisbon and I have beautiful memories of my beautiful country with lots of friendly people.
It is sad to see the Portuguese people being tagged as unfriendly as I do not recall it as such. Lisbon is small and full of traffic and too small to accommodate all the people that have try to find a better place to live than their own poor countries.
Also remember that the statues that are all over the city are historical monuments. They were from the times of the explorers and slavery from many, many many, years ago for which the current population had nothing to do with (History, sad history but we the current living Portuguese had no part of).
Between Lisbon Airport and the waterfront around the Orient Railway Station the Truth is this: The men set the global bar in:
the dark side of me would like to see the city burn to ashes. But the Well of Light inside me says “no – I choose Love.” Which means forgiveness for a LOT o f-U’s I received daily for two weeks. I’ll admit – I didn’t give one inch to the a**holes. So backbacker dude – I’m with ya on the tuga-tude. The Fathers need to set up and be Real Tugas – teaching their sons the Way of Agape love – Chief of which is to show partiality and to act especially deferentially to those who are foreigners. They don’t want me in Lisbon; I don’t want them in my life either – I’m out. As soon as I retreive some personal items the “Tugas” stole from me. Peace – out.
Portugal is soooooooo overrated. I’ve lived here for 2+ years now and it truly is a miserable place. The food is awful, everybody smokes like a chimney, there very little economic opportunity, and in general the Portuguese are a very insular people.
I think you are just sore because you didn’t get laid there… Lisbon is the best city in the world because of its unexpected charm, not because some tourist is expecting to find magic every corner he turns. Nor can you consider to compare Portugal to Brazil; just because they share the same language does not mean you should draw comparisons. No, it’s not organized, but who wants perfect? Sure the cobble stone was murder on my shoes, but hey I gotta respect hundreds of years of history. If you want perfect smelling and perfect looking, buy a smelly candle and backpack around Minnesota.
Portugal is charming and beautiful. The major problem with Portugal is that the people are rude and nasty to a point I never in my life could have ever imagined. The worst part of Portugal is that the people don’t know how to drive, and think they are the only ones on the road. I am alive, but I am missing a tooth which I had to replace with an implant and a foot that will be crippled for the rest of my life. I won’t even discuss my broken neck or my four herniated discs. I hate Portugal and 90 percent of the rude irresponsible people. Yes, the tarts are delicious, but the streets are full of dog shit and filth. I now live in beautiful clean Madrid,Spain. Bye Bye Portugal!!!
Not surprised att all that you love Spain.It comes with ignorance and it totally fits you.Stay there, by the way, do you like their english and being pickpocket at any corner? Go fot it 😉
You wax historical nostalgic body! Don’t you know where Lisbon wealth was made? No you you don’t. Aside from having ruthlessly abused natives and exploited their lands in what is now Brazil. LISBON WEALTH COMES FROM SLAVE TRADE. ….slaves bought or taken prisoners or kidnaped ( most taken directly from Africa were small children) and sold to the SOUTHERN STATES OF AMERICA.
There you go!
And to make the point above very clear to anyone the enormous sculpture at the center of the Russo Square depicts a CONQUISTADOR TRAMPLING ON A HORSE A NATIVE MAN IN CHAINS !!!
Shut the fuck up!
Pickpockets exist in Madrid but common sense keeps you safe and lastly English???
Who visit Spain to speak English.
I don’t think it’s fair to downgrade Madrid just to enhance Lisbon. Never have been pickpocketed in Madrid, but twice in Rome. Madrid is a big global city, beautiful, grandious and extremely lively it plays in another league. Lisbon, in my view, just ok, too boring.
Totally agree. I have never come across such an unfriendly country! After living and working here in Lisbon I’m always surprised when someone is friendly because it happens so rarely. It really is a cold and depressing place and I am planning to move on. I wish the job had been in Spain as I’ve never encounter that there.
Happy Monday from a Born Friendly Portuguese. It makes me sad to read a lot of the comments here ;(. I would like you to know that when I grew up in Portugal 1964; everyone was friendly and kind. Destiny had me move to California which I love but I just wanted everyone to know that hard times might have made locals to be sad depressed people but because they suffer not by choice. Portugal also has lots of other cultures (from all over Europe) escape for better life which has caused over population, little amount of jobs, and lots of homeless people that cause lots of trash. It is sad to see the poverty but I hope you can find it in your hearts to hope for the best for the Portuguese country verses blaming them for their pain.
I´ve lived here for 20 years (much like military service I cannot leave for now). I helped my parents retire here, before we could blink the third world healthcare left my father with a stroke and 8 years later I am taking care of my widowed mother. There are worse countries but frankly if I wasn´t a descendent of Portugal I´d never know this country existed. There are good and bad points in general, but in no way is it a good place to live unless you are a millionaire and love risking your health.
As opposed to the wonderful health care in the US?
No Victor, as opposed to the vastly superior healthcare in Canada, where I am from.
Totally agree just came back and what happened to the white city! Never been to such an unfriendly miserable place.
What happened for you?
I live in Lisbon and i worked in an office in one of the buildings of one of those pictures. In summer it was smelly and terribly hot, and in winter there were hobos and beggars sleeping there, they left their garbage, their poo and whatever else there in the street. The portuguese traditional floors are terrible because those small stones create more place for the garbage to fill and stay, they are very anti hygienic. In Lisbon actually most of streets on downtown Lisbon are ugly and there’s creepy grafittis everywhere. There is always some work and fix in the streets, (i can relate so much to what i see in the pics…) In summer is horribly hot and noisy. If you hated Lisbon, you would not believe the north side Lisbon’s suburbs. Ugly packed concrete big buildings where there’s no place to go or nothing to do but shopping centers and cafeterias, rude, uneducated noisy people, and NO big green areas…no quality space!. For me, a nature-lover, with a passion for the large green areas, mountains, the great outdoors, small towns, fresh air, this is a nightmare. Besides not having a decent job, i even have to If there is a beautiful place around, its only Sintra, with good arcitecture, clean and surrounded by forests and with a decent coastline. Everybody can visit Sintra, but to live there, one has to belong to certain burgeois families or be a rich CEO…i can’t wait to get the hell out of Lisbon and its grim unhealthy suburbs…ewww. Finally someone writes a review on the ugly side of this damn city! Thanks!
Blimey, sounds like it’s an awful place for you to work at.
But I’m glad that you found someone to agree with!
I have to say I am very surprised by your comments about Lisbon. However at the end of the day, to each his own and I can of course respect your decision.
A few months ago I have take the decision to visit Lisbon. And Everytime I travel to a new country I stay there 3 weeks to a month.
Although everyone is entitled to their opinion and some share yours, I think it is wrong of you to write such strong words and are really border line about a city you’ve spent so little time in.
Personally I find it insulting but that’s just me.
In addition, I do not know why you would even think Portugal would be like Brazil. If i did not have the opportunity to travel, the ability to keep an open mind my first question to that particular point of your comment would be “are you by any chance american? “. Luckily i know better than to make an assumption on the type of tourist you can be based on your origins and luckily i’ve been to the united states to know not everyone is ignorant.
I firmly believe at the end of the day, we are all different types of tourists and are charmed by different things.
After living six years in Paris for instance, i can only find portuguese people SUPER friendly.
Two things I will give you though, I did think I would meet more portuguese people easier. And I think your response to each comments were respectful and not degrating to Lisbon (unlike your first one).
One thing that did shock me in Lisbon though, I went to an Irish Pub a few nights ago, and it was full of …well…IRish, English, and american. For having spoken to practically everyone in the pub, i can tell you they were all tourists in town for 3 or 4 days. Why go on holiday if its to have a drink in a place u can find back home?
Should you go back Rexy, I trust you will be cautious about what kind of tourist you want to be. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”
Portugal is just a big slum, thank the Eu.
I am now in lisbon after some days in algarve for the first time… Terrible feeling of being unsafe desertic streets by night after some people describing city as a beautifull city i find the architecture very nice the tage very impressive but very dirty streets lot of bad smells i feel sorry for its history!!! You are right i visited new york, paris, rome, firenze, milano, barcelona, montreal, marrakech never feeled so disapointed about a trip!!!
The city is faling or what!! Anyways hope tomorrow i will find some places to enjoy the day
bruh Lisbon is dope as fuck, I don’t give a fuck about yo posh ass preferences come to Lisbon in summer its buzzing
I agree – I absolutely loved it – the street art is incredible – the faded grandeur of the buildings was beautiful – itcs incredibly cheap – real – authentic.It was such a refreshing change to be in a city that was nt gentrified to within an inch of it s life .I visited Lisbon for 7 day s as a solo 50 year old woman – went to the main sites and way off the beaten track (I m a street photographer- and the best photos were to be found here) and I can honestly say I never once felt remotely unsafe .People should go to Lisbon with their eyes and minds wide open – it s divine x
If you say Lisbon is one ugly, dirty and no hygine city! I bet you have not been in Istanbul yet?
You kidding right, 6 months in Istanbul, charming and beautiful, even Kasimpasa, the dankest part is OK…which part of Istanbul are you referring too?
I am agreeing with you. I am in Lisbon now for one and half year. Being pregnant in lisbon is a horrible. I lived in Belgium and everything is so much better. you feel like you are not in a European country. First it took me 14 weeks to get an appointment at a hospital and every appointment I had to wait 4-6 hours. People push you and don’t give you the seat that is intended for people how can’t walk or pregnant or have children. The Bus is never on time and they drive like creazy. They don’t wait until you get out and the smell is horrible. I will travel back soon.
Azores islands is much much better by the way and they are part of Portugal and are north of Madeira. No wait at hospital and they treat you like you are royalty. That so. Is nice.
Mariana deves ser brasileira!
O mundo é tão grande…porque permaneces aqui?
Eu já vivi noutros países e como não gostei, vim embora. Tão simples quanto isso, não gostas de Portugal, vai-te embora.
Mariana, you must be Brazilian!
The world is so big … why are you staying here?
I already lived in other countries and I did not like it, I left. As simple as that, you do not like Portugal, go away.
Well the problem its portuguese people dont like constructive criticism i Had that problem the other day in la loja da ciudadao I told them in England and Spain the Security number I get faster. They told me go away.
They have to improve we are european not feel that everything is ok.
You should try Azores instead. It will match your style. Very nice.
There’s a famous portuguese saying – A porta de entrada é a porta de saída
We just traveled up here after spending 5 nights in Albufeira. We had an amazing time there.
We got here and had pre-rented an apartment, it was not at all as advertised, stunk, filthy, HOT. A homeless person sleeping right out side the door. Constantly approached by people to buy drugs. Very persistent people and that was a nuisance.
We got a room at a hotel that had rooms and was near the airport and the remaining 2 days was just blah. There isnt a thing in this town that was like “wow, look at that” other than the garbage and piles of debris.
We fly out tomorrow and I cant wait to go home, which is a first for me when a holiday is done.
A few people were friendly I suppose, but I was really trying to find something good about our experience.
Unfortunately many people, like yourself, have an extremely limited cultural understanding and appreciation for the world that we live in. You are always looking for the experience of your own so called pristine, and socially isolated communities in other parts of the world, that don’t allow your intellectual abilities to progress beyond the creation of artificial social structures that limit your vision of the real world we live in. Try to understand and visualize the short falls of your own society, and perhaps you will develop a greater sense and appreciation of the world around you. This might allow you to better appreciate other countries, peoples and their culture. Knowledge is a learned skill, but understanding is a life experience. I have also had the experience of rude people, nasty encounters, and very smelly people and places in Great Britain and America, but this seems to be a common trait of all countries.
Beautifully written comment!
In his commentary he described every characteristic of the typical American: allergic to natural smells, shallow, untrusting… You are 100% right he sees the world through his own expectations instead of what it can be! “I was disappointed Portugal wasn’t like Brazil” that says it all!
I’m living here for 6 years Rexy and I really appreciate your blog. I have tried my best to settle here , I live in a beautiful home with a great lifestyle BUT the negativity of the people is the main reason I’ve decided to move back to London. I’m a tour guide and enjoy showing people the highlights of Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais but sadly I’ve had a gutful of the negative melancholic Portuguese.
Hi. Thank you for your honesty. Have been living here for 2.5 years. I find the city to be depressing and the people socially uneducated. Unfriendly to the point of being almost rude. There is some beauty and of course, many like it here. I think of moving daily and can’t wait for that to happen. Have traveled the world more than I can count and for some reason this city has no life to it.
…this city has no life…
but you live there for two and a half years. Hanks… what’s wrong?
Just spent a month in Lisbon – loved it!
Great open spaces, beautiful architecture, great public transport, access to beaches, parks etc.
Just back from Lisbon and I have never been more depressed, nobody is welcoming or accomodating here and people just stare at you like you don’t belong here. A lot of my friends and family love it here have never asked why though, just my opinion here but I really did not enjoy being in Lisbon.
This is because they are thinking are you a thief or a crook, because those two categories are most prevalent in Portugal and then there are nice poeple, about 20% or so. You see, it is nice.
The people are nasty and unfriendly. I have lived here 10 years and I hate it here every minute of every day! It’s garbage!
Sorry to hear you feel like this.
Why did you stay there?
why are you soo fcking dumb . Lisbon is beautiful and Porto is also a beautiful city you must be french or American to hate Portugal
Yes, I believe he is an American. No, French loves Portugal. America dont. He is deaf and an American. He dont know anything about Portugal culture. He must be missing something. His blog is inaccurate! America sucks because of cost of living is too expensive here and healthcare system here is HORRIBLE!
Portugal is a shit-hole. Istanbul may be a ‘dirty’ city but the Turkish people have a level of humanity far above the Portuguese. For me that is the bottom line when evaluating the quality of the culture. That’s what counts at the end of the day, and many people on this blog have pinpointed this lacking in Portuguese culture. Forget the buildings and the sights (the very few). And pork and rice, and pork and chips, how utterly boring is the food compared to Istanbul’s rich variety of cuisines. What a country likes to put in its stomach is a true reflection of the pride people have in their national taste. Give me Istanbul any day!!
Portuguese people are passive and fatalistic. Negative and narrow minded. no sense of humor, no broad minded and they are proud of their country and think their food is the best in the world, which in fact is the most boring kitchen I have ever experienced.
Well that’s easy to solve…..LEAVE
You just proved his point of unfriendly people. How ironic.
yes when people like him treats locals as servants and the city as a frakking theme park what they deserve is unfriendly people I hate everytime a group of tourists stands on my windows drunk chanting before they go up to their arbnbs and when I or my wife ask them polite to be quiet because it’s 4 AM of a week day, what we get besides rude trash talk is invitations to join the party, best part is when we or a neighbour calls the police they always play the victim or the dumb tourist who don’t understand the rules of the locals, and police always advice us to move. Situations like these always brings the friendly side of all of us :’) specially when I lived in USA for eight years and one time I throw a dinner who got a little bit noisy and at 10 PM of a Saturday night police came and ordered everybody to go to their home while I stayed with a ticket to pay because for them Portuguese is latino which is South America or something. So, white privileges over whites in a white second world country since major percent of tourists love Lisbon not because of the culture, but because of the culture of cheap booze, food and easy sex.
That’s what I did long time ago and was the best decision in my life ever. Your corrupted country, poor and boring, depressing and disorganized is the worst to live in the EU. You only want money from Brussels. You cost only money and bring only problems.
I’m going on 2.5 years. Shame it’s such a miserable place. Has so much potential. My take on the people is, “I’m going to make my problem your problem…”
I have lived in Oporto, Portugal for the past 12 years. I hate it here. Lisbon is paradise by comparison. Not all of the people are nasty. Clearly, you can find nice people wherever you go, but I have to say for the most part that the Portuguese are the rudest people I have ever met in my life. Also, the people here don’t know how to drive, and whether they are walking or driving, they must always be first- even if it means that you have to die. In fact, I was in a horrible car accident, and I almost died. My entire right foot is almost metal, and the Fidelity Insurance Company are getting away with barely paying me for my loses. I can’t even get a decent lawyer. The five I have had have all been dumb and lazy. I’m moving to Madrid this week. I mourn the loss of the full use of my foot every day. Oh, I hate it here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Forget about finding a lawyer in Portugal, they all are crooks and lazy assholes. Apart from the nice Portuguese the rest are very selfish, drive very fast and half of them drive half of their car on my side of the road and very fast, so I have to get out of the way and pull into the ditch, to avoid the collision. Once I had my car broken down and no one would even stop to help; then an African looking female came out from the house nearby and asked if I needed help. There always are nice people around and I always try to help everyone when I can, I feel happy to help even a foe.
Querida, fuckin leave!!!! I’m sure your negativity and spite, fill every place your in…. Your poor husband, I feel so bad for him….
Nice to know that you got a unique souvenir from Portugal 🙂 Go to the U.S, your health care it’s fabulous.If you’re lucky enough, you’ll only have to wait about 6 years to go back to the cruise and visit alaska.
By the way, do you speak spanish, german, french or just the basics?
You do realize, right, that your overly-permissive, easily-abused (and, yes incredibly shitty) health care system (and this, you should know, is coming from a socialist), is one of the main causes of the economic crisis that crippled Portugal to the point that a tiny country of 10 million people needed an astronomical bailout of 82.5 billion euros?
By comparison, countries like, say, Argentina and Ukraine, with at least 5 times that population, needed bailouts of around 50 billion.
Portugal is a shameful–yet at the same time shameless–country.
And, oh yeah, 30 billion if that life-saving–no, country-saving–money came from . . . US taxpayers.
Did you know that? No, of course not. Portugal: where ignorance is biss–and yet we’re still so fucking miserable.
Your description of your tour sounds like what a spoiled prince would write about. If you don’t want do get dirty stay in your castle! When you say you are annoyed after being in a new place for only 3 hour the problem is you.
Louis, I’ve lived in this hell hole, Portugal, for 11 years, and I almost totally agree with you, You left out a few pieces of information. My husband, who is a Portuguese American and I went on a bus tour with some older Portuguse people. Before the bus took off one of the passengers behind us farted. My husband startled me by yelling, “you do that one more time, and you are off this bus.” The other thing I well remember was that our tour stopped at a place where we could eat, drink, and dance. By the way, the Portuguse don’t smile when they do their folk dancing. In fact they almost frown! At the end of the evening, before we piled on the bus to go home, no less than 15 of the male passangers were facing the wall of the restaurant, and peeing right outside facing the wall. This is something I could not possibly have made up. You also left out the fact that one of the most unforgivable characteristics of these people is the way they drive. I’m sitting and writing this with a broken neck and a metal heel and tibia replacment, and the truck driver who pushed us off the road with much deliberation lied about the accident, and the police backed up his lie, because my husband had Luso/American on his passport. You also left out the fact that the Portugese are totally xenophobic. The only thing I think is great here are the beautiful and very modern museums and libraries they have in Lisbon. This description is what I have observed and experienced in this hell hole. By the way, I am world traveled, so I think this is an objective perspective.
We’ve been here for a year now, after 5 years in Vietnam; I’m Portuguese, wife is African, we have been going to the same gym for a year, never get a smile, never a Hello…we get followed a lot in shops, maybe they think we’re potential shoplifters…and that never happened in SEA even though they are pretty racist. I feel more ostracized here than anywhere else, you are spot on the xenophobia!
Been going to the same gym for a 1.5 years. NO one smiles and if you do it agitates the person receiving it. As if you’re about to rob them. Even at cafes or any other business I frequent almost daily, it’s as if you’re a stranger each time.
Feel so good to read it’s not just me. I live here for 7 years and I can’t understand all that non-responsible attitude, too much coffee and smoke and little work and efficiency. Not friendly at all, but very gossip people. Terrible. And if someone was asking why I stay, it’s because I am waiting for my European passport, almost 1 year and I have no news about my documentation. Then, for sure, I am leaving.
Finally found a site where Portugal isn’t praised with lies
I’ve been living in Lisbon for the past 1 year now….moved here from Dubai cause some how my company wanted to establish in Europe and told me it would be a great experience
Well it’s been one of the worst
I noticed disgusting habbits of Portuguese people they forcefully harass you to bump them a cigarette or the pick up a used dirty cigarette from the trash even some times food it’s just disgusting like raccoons
They praise Portugal like it’s the center of universe but try to bump more money out of you like greedy pigs
The beer here is crap
Unfortunately I have to work here for another 6 months n then I’m out of here for good wouldn’t recommend anyone to visit drug peddler or from what I here spice sellers in the street keep bothering just cause I’m not a local walking around
They once threatened me with a pocket knife in Lisbon main Street
Wouldn’t never ever let anyone experience what I’ve seen
thankfully my company is winding down operations and moving to Dublin this year
Would let the haters hate but it’s the truth
I felt the same way.. By far the most boring capital i have ever visited..
I visited Lisbon this past April and was actually quite pleasantly surprised!
My initial thought of it was similar to yours: the city looked a little run down, and it did feel empty at times. I walked for about three hours in the wrong direction (my fault) with NOTHING to see.
THEN i found the riverside, and walked along it in a beautiful sunny day. The River walk lead to a plaza, and the plaza lead to a vibrant centre, full of busy cafes and restaurants.
And to my surprise, it started getting better and better. I started climbing up the hills (aimless walking, I had three days there and no plans) and started discovering large lookout points with stunning views of the city, with its red tiled roofs stretching as far as I could see, in every direction.
And to top it off, I visited the castle. OMG, how can you say there is NOTHING to do in a city that has an Ottoman-Era castle?! (My highlight in any destination is a castle, by the way ;)).
More than that, the city has an incredibly vibrant night life, great cafes, and delicious bakeries. Lisbon honestly made it into my top 10 cities world-wide in 3 days that I was there, and I actually see it as the most underrated capital I’ve visited!
I visited Lisbon once and i had a bad experience too. After that i visited Oporto and everything in there seemed more ”warmer” and ”happier” than in Lisbon.
You should try Algarve too 😉
Thank you! I thought I was crazy 🙂 I’ve been here for 4 days and I really hate it. And, mind you, I’m from Serbia, not some fancy place. The people are really loud and rude. The public transport is absolute nightmare, packed, hordes of people coming in and out and pushing you from all sides. They charge tickets for literally everything but the sights aren’t worth it. Even when they are (like the Belem tower or Justa elevator) the queues are abnormally long. The streets are dirty and the buildings look run down. Footpaths are too narrow. Although it’s said to be quite cheap in comparison to other cities, that’s not the case. All in all, a huge disappointment.
Rex – I am so happy I came across this post. I can’t seem to find anyone’s experiences online to relate to my own about this place. I am an American who has been living in Lisbon for TWO years, and I agree with every single point you made here. Funny thing is I don’t even mind the city or architecture that much, and I can get past the grittiness and trash. It’s the people, the service, the food, the bad attitudes and general negative energy that radiates off everything that drives me crazy. I’ve traveled extensively throughout Europe, before and after my stay in Lisbon (my job relocated me here), and I have to say that Lisbon is my least favorite city in Europe. People here are glum, depressed, boring and have severe inferiority complexes. Porto is fantastic though – it’s friendly, the food is great, it’s clean. The people are amazing in Porto – it’s like night and day compared to Lisbon.
I have been reading a lot of the messages that were posted here and I could not agree more.
Before visiting Portugal, I read a lot of posts saying that Portuguese people are one of the nicest people in Europe. SO NOT TRUE.
Just for your information. I am Canadian and visited France, U.K., Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and many other European and non European countries, and I have never seen people so depressed, sad, unfriendly and with not single smile on their face. It is damn right depressing for a North American.
I feel that each time you try to ask something to a portuguese, they look at you with a grim face and telling you, in a non-verbal way, “can’t you go elsewhere to ask your question.” Even when you give them money (ie. restaurant, shops…) they never smile back at you. They don’t even say hi back at you.
I have never seen such an unfriendly and depressing people. After my trip and being around portuguese, they made me feel depressed.
To be honest, at the end of the day, after visiting all the tourist attractions, architecture and buildings, the only thing that remains is the people. And when you think about the Portuguese people, you really want to catch a one way ticket to any other country, otherwise you will end up in therapy for depression.
Mike, and other Americans here, thank you! I now understand!!! I now understand why Trump is US President.
Something you cannot say of portuguese people is that we are stupid or superficial.
And please, ‘depressed’ means someone is afflicted with a mental disease. You shouldn’t stigmatize people with mental disorders even because there are much worst diagnoses such as intellectual disability, for instance. By the way, liking everyone is stupid and superficial.
(Yes, people in Lisbon are not nice. Neither in London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and other large cosmopolitan cities. Please look back where you come from).
Wow, are you all so nasty and definitely blind and deaf…. I was just in Lisbon this past October, 2017, not only was it packed with tourists, the city itself was stunning and unlike any city I’ve had visited on the continent…. If those that don’t want to live in Lisbon, move!!! Madonna, Monica Bellucci, Christian Leboutin, Philippe Stark and countless others would disagree wholeheartedly with your defamatory opinions…. Lisbon stole my heart, and I met many people of all nationalities that agree with me 120%!!! The Lisbon I saw was cleaner than London and Paris, sunny and warm, and brimming with pride and an exceptional beauty like no other…. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, no matter how invalid they are…. Once last thing, I felt safer in Lisbon, than in my own city, Boston….
A troll, ha ha ha…you need an English refresher..lol
No, no, no.
Porto sucks. It’s the Naples of Portugal: Pretty on the surface, but completely mafia-run.
If you’re an honest, hardworking person, welcome to Hell.
Hello everyone. I’m portuguese, from Lisbon, and I’m really shocked with everything I read here about my city.
First, my english is not the best, but I’ll try to explain my fellings the best as I can.
Sometimes tourists says “Lisbon is a city that you love or hate”, and that seems to be true. One of the most shocking things you said was that Lisbon didn’t really have a lot of places to visit, it’s a boring city, not very interesting. That’s not true…
I don’t know what happened to you when you visited this amazing city, here you can see the XIII and the XXI centuries side by side. In Lisbon you should have visited Alfama neighborhood, where you can have na amazing view of the city, the buildings almost seems to shine, because of the sun. You should have visited the Chiado area (Bairro Alto neighborhood), a lovely charming place; Belém, where the monuments of discoveries are located; Baixa, that was built after the great earthquake of 1775; Parque das Nações (or Expo), the modern part of the city; Sintra, a village full of palaces and nature; Cascais and Estoril, with beaches and monuments… and more, more, and more. I don’t understand. I can’t. Everytime I visit Lisbon (I live in the suburbs), I discover something new, and even more surprising… And the people, the people use to be very helpul with tourists, actually, that’s one of the most praised points of Portugal. People say that portugueses are really friendly.
I’m not writing all this only because I’m portuguse and this is my city, I’m writing this because I think you were not very lucky when you came where. You should come here again and try to fell the reall Lisbon, the city that everybody loves (guided by a good professional).
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESpeo3VTvyc
I hope you one day visit this fascinating city again. You are welcome here 🙂
Thank you so much for your thoughts 🙂 It’s refreshing to see someone make an argument for Lisbon. I would like to return but I would like a local to show me around where the best places to go. Perhaps you could be up to the challenge?
Ahahah well… I’m 17 years old xD Probably my parents wouldn’t find that a good idea hahahah… but I know that some locals use to help tourists like you, visiting the city. I really would like you to visit Lisbon again! I’m sure you will find new things (and a lot of buildings are being rehabilited). Probably I can’t guide you, but you should find someone to do that for me, I will try to find something on the Internet about local guides. Maybe, I don’t know, I would meet you during your stay here. If you need some help with anything, comment here or send me a mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Lisbon has a lot to see! It’s really a fabulous city, believe me!
Hello again 🙂
I searched a bit in portuguese, and look what I found in a portuguese newspaper article: Pancho tours http://www.panchotours.com/tours-lisbon/tour/lisbon-free-tour It’s free, you pay what you want 🙂 I think they can show you the best side of Lisbon. One more thing, search on Google: Why I love Lisbon. I think you will understand my point of view. One day I read an opinion just like yours. Sometime later I visited the same site… the person who wrote the comment said that he had visited Lisbon again and fell in love with the city. It’s weird, isn’t it? xD
I love Lisbon and Portugal and agree with many of the things you pointed out but I cannot agree when you say that the portuguese people are friendly. that is the only thing that they can’t be accused of. The never smile, they never answer with a simple “yes” or “no”, they always answer with “se calhar” which is a rude manner of saying “whatever”. They do not treat visitors well and are not welcoming. It’s sad but true. Portugues people should learn some manners if they intend to make money off of tourism.
I think rudeness is prevalent in most cities around the world these days, sadly, especially in tourist ones. I mean Parisians have long been legendary for their rudeness and I found the Venetians, generally, about the rudest people I have ever encountered while they were, at the same time, absolutely fleecing you! Strangely, I found one restaurant where I liked their lasagne (not the terribly chewy pasta I had to endure elsewhere. Surely it’s not that andante in good restaurants?) and, on my third visit, they acknowledged me and suddenly became very nice, even giving me a limoncello on the house!
The author of The Blue Guide to Portugal, circa 1986, had commented on the delightful politeness of the Portuguese and said that nowhere else had he found this to such a degree.
The Blue Guide to Portugal, circa 1986, said that Portuguese politeness was absolutely delightful
I’ve been to Lisbon ten times since my first visit in 1996 (I have some Portuguese ancestry) and it’s my favourite city (Rome, my last trip abroad, second in my affections, I think, of some great cities I have been to). Admittedly, my last visit in 2017 was not so happy because an opportunistic Englishman stole my bag with camera, anorak,wallet, waterproofs etc in this restaurant, when I suddenly had a bad stomach ache and couldn’t see for about half a minute, (was my food spiked or did I suffer a heat stroke? My water was rather dark for several days afterwards) and later did my hotel room,too – all on my first night. This affected my mood for the whole of my stay sadly, especially as I had contributed to my problems by getting stressed and making things worse when I met this Englishman (possibly an ex pat) in an adjoining street who, while pretending to help me, rather cleverly tricked me into revealing where I was staying and then did my hotel room while I was at the police station!You live and learn and if such a thing happens to me again I will know how to react.
Can’t believe all these comments about how rude the Portuguese are since I have read that the biggest reason people give for moving to Portugal is the weather, followed by THE FRIENDLINESS OF THE PEOPLE!
I’ve just returned from a week in Lisbon. I agree completely with what you said – what a dump! What a disappointment . . .
Awww sorry to hear that. I hope it all improved since my visit in 2013
Unfortunately I have to agree. The city looks so dirty and poor, at times even very poor! I expected so much more. I can not get out of my head the images of garbage bags and the smell. Nobody bothered to take them away and they were still there even after my stay. Shocking.
It seems as if people do not bother anymore and have given up on their country. When I rode a train I saw a very symbolic poster which was all black and said both in English and Portuguese something like come on and see my future… I have no future.
I think these words say everything about what is going on in the country.
Very sad and disappointing.
I was there 3 weeks ago, I have no idea what your talking about ….poor?
I’ve lived in Toronto, London, I’ve been to New York, and the amount of garbage is no different than what I see here in London. In fact London has
So much litter and people piss on the streets. unless you come from some utopia I am not aware of, but I guess people have have different standards
Bro I am also luso-canadian. You have the option of going back to Toronto. I´m from Vancouver. Unless you actually live here you won´t “get it”. I loved visiting but when I had to stay (dad got sick) it became my death sentence.
Agreed! I would say, though, that you do have to adopt a different mindset when you visit Lisbon which involves learning to appreciate faded grandeur. I’ve seen it described by one writer as having a dilapidated beauty and that is very much the point; if you go there expecting the city to be as nice and spruce as, let us say Rye in Sussex (admittedly, rather an extreme example being a village), then you’re not going to like it! Someone describing it back at the time of the second world war even rather amusingly remarked that it looked like a mouth that hadn’t seen a dentist in a long time! As has been pointed out by one contributor here, frozen rents precluded repairs to property for many years; owners simply couldn’t afford to carry them out.
the impressions one gets from a place depend on so many factors….Lisbon is not perfect but If you look you can find both wonderful places and awful places…it is up to you to look…I like to go to the nice ones….and there is plenty of them…I am sorry that you did not find them.
I’m definitely gonna try to return to Lisbon to give it another go.
I was forced to study in Lisbon im with you it’s the worst place on earth
I visited in March and it is the only western European city that I didn’t enjoy. In parts the place looked squalid, the graffiti was an eyesore, there was little of anything to see or do. The coast was beautiful though. The food was boring, fish and boiled potatoes, the side salads were always uninspiring. The only thing I totally loved were the little custard tarts. I lived on them. Otherwise, Lisbon was dull as dishwater.
Several of you noted the rundown buildings. There are many, do you know why? Lisbon had frozen rents in the historical center during almost 100 years. In 2012 the IMF asked Portugal to change the renting laws. Since then the refurbisment has started, but it will take a few years to see big changes. When I say “frozen” imagine people paying 20 or even 10 Euros a month. Many landlords were broke, and any investment to refurbish those old buildings was impossible.
yeah, so please tell me how many airbnbs do you have under your name now? 😉
You’re correct; an elderly Portuguese of mine had an apartment opposite the technico and she once told me what she was paying compared to some newer residents and, as she readily admitted, the difference was ridiculous. She had a nice, well appointed apartment in Cascais, too.
Rather extraordinary to note, but these days the Baixa, THE central district looks rather more run down in places than the Alfama, which was always so down at heel; while, I do appreciate the crumbling nature of Lisbon (providing the buildings are not so dilapidated that they have to be demolished), I do think it rather shameful to see weeds growing out of a roof of a building right in the centre in Praca da Figueira. They need to see to that, if they haven’t done so already. But Lisbon to me is raw and authentic; it doesn’t wear a mask; it’s not disneyfied…yet! I think the graffiti may be starting to get a little out of hand, though.
I really think you need to return and to try to discover the city. I am in love with Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Palmela Village, Costa Coparica beaches. I think i can return in these places again and again.
If you look to a city just with eyes and not with heart you will always see dirt, old buildings, strange people. Also if you judge a city thinking to people you meet there again is wrong. Not everybody can be like you hope or expect.
Are so many things to see in Lisbon and i will mention just few: Jeronimos Monastery, Discoveries Monument in Belem, Belem Tower, Santa Justa elevator and the views from up, Rua Augusta Arch, Castle of St George and the views from there ( have a glass of wine there, see the sunset and you will never want to return home), Alfama and Bairo alto areas, Park of Nations in the new area of Lisbon, Oceanario de Lisboa, Vasco da Gama Bridge- Longest bridge in Europe, Vasco da Gama Tower ( have a cable car tour). Apart visiting all these places go in the old part of city and stay to one terrace to watch sunset and listen portuguese music. Or go to a terrace near ocean ( Expo) and see the sunset. Then visit Cascais with all the amazing beaches from Lisboa to Cascais ……… Visit Sintra and you will fall in love……..Go to see the power of the Ocean on Costa Coparica beaches. Don’t forget the Cabo da Roca the most Western point in Europe, but don’t stop where all turist do that. Take your time to explore around and you will find yourself alone between the most wonderfull landscapes.
As about people they will be exactly like you want to see them. So look to them with open heart, try to understand them and not to judge them. I can say they are very helpful and friendly people.
If you allow an advice for your future destinations. Travel with heart more and less with eyes :). Don’t go with unreal expectations and also don’t judge. In this way you will discover the beauty and maybe you will discover yourself.
All the best,
Had to visit Lisbon for work for 2 weeks (am currently still in Lisbon as I write, and only have 2.5 days to wait to leave). Can’t fault any of the thoughts on this page. Nothing to see, nothing to do, dirt everywhere, nobody is happy…but the weather is at least better than England.
I expected to be able to sit on a beach in my spare time…don’t get your hopes up unless you are willing to travel out of the centre.
I’m a photographer and hoped to be able to photograph its delights long into the night but again I haven’t felt safe out…and got sick of telling the first *enter any large number here* people I didn’t want to buy any drugs so went to my apartment.
Not one on thats going on the return list.
Gosh!! ” to sit on a beach in my spare time…” Did you even looked at the map to find out the location of the city before going!?!?
Quite! And yet, I think I read tonight that its accessibility to beaches is greater than that of any other European capital city, nevertheless. Why do you want to find a beach when you’re in Lisbon, anyway?
You were right being cautious Joel. It’s not a safe city by night to be walking alone and carrying precious items. To be fair, most places probably arent, but you should be bare in mind the Portuguese saying, roughly ” if the circumstances are ideal, a thief will be born”.
If you venture to the wrong corner, even in busy places, danger is lurking around. Posh side of town included.
I’m sure many may not agree but I’ve seen my fair share of muggings by night and broad daylight.
Visited lisbon for the first time last month and your article is spot on. Unfortunately the media have decided to set this dump up as the next must-visit destination.
There is nothing to do, it is grotty, and the nightlife is exaggerated.
Although ive found the portugese to be ok overall, and the algarve is very nice, its just lisbon id avoid.
No matter how mauch or dislike a certain city, there are always objective reasons to evaluate one’s destination.
– the site where Lisbon is located doesn’t have any paralell amongts the capital cities in europe, only matched by Naples and its Golfo
– there are masterpieces of european architecture, Jeronimos, Belem Tower, S. Vicente de Fora, Necessiddades Palace, Terreiro do Paço, and many more
– food, no need to enumerate what is well knowned,
– wine, probably the best wind in europe is to be found in Lisbon
– the same for coffee
– streets full of life
– one of the most beautiful natural light
– friendly people
and much more.
I am not pretending that everyone should love Lisbon, I am just stating that the author, and all the ones complaining about it, most probably lack a certain sense of curiosity, open mind and capacity of adaptation.
I know lots of capital cities in Europe, at least, and I find Lisbon always unique, fascinating and vital. You just need time to discover it.
Couldn’t agree more with what you say about adaptability. I think Lisbon is a disappointment to some people because though it does have some – as you have pointed out – there is a relative shortage of blockbusters, due to the 1755 earthquake, that you have to see. Personally, I think that is a refreshing change and gives you time to absorb the general atmosphere and haunting, melancholic quality of the Portuguese capital. I think there are too many contributors on here lacking some poetry in their soul.
I didn’t know what to expect when I traveled to Porto and Lisbon and fortunately I was pleasantly surprised! I agree that the roads and buildings look dirty, but I assume that’s from the dampness. The food was consistently better than in Spain and the service too. People actually smiled when they were serving food! Out on the street I didn’t think the people seemed any less personable than in Spain. Europeans just don’t smile all the time like American’s do! And the street art was amazing! You just had to look for it. Perhaps your bus ride to Lisbon put a sour taste in your mouth from the beginning. You should try it again and take a day trip to Sintra and Belem (great street art!) while there!
Got it, Sintra and Belem will be on my list to visit in Lisbon when I return 🙂
I am not going in depth to point out how very wrong you are and the main reason you didn’t enjoy it starts from when you start with comparisons. It s not Brazil it is not Spain every city has a dark side to it . I consider myself lucky to have lived there by the coast( Carcavelos) and by the country (Sintra) and always knew where to go in Lisbon city centre and where to avoid and enjoyed it immensely. Golden rule if you’re in an area where you see alot of tagging’s on the walls its probably not the best area to be in. There is amazing street art and even a really cool school that teaches graffiti. I could go on forever telling you all the pro’s and con’s but I wont cause that generates expectations which in my experience is the mother of all F…k ups.
I sincerely suggest you start your 2nd trip at either end of a route that I am about to tell you start in Sintra walk around the city centre the botanical gardens, eat their traditional pastries Travesseiros or Quejadas de Sintra you will need all the sugar for the amount of site seeing and culture this little unesco town has so much to offer and head on to Quinta da Regaleira, Palacio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros Convento dos Capuchos and these are just the top 4 as Sintra is a magical town filled with so many hidden treasures and mysteries. From there I’d suggest driving or tour busing towards Cabo da Roca is a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe. Next stop Guincho beach to check out the amazing dunes and is a beach famously known for wind surfing and Kite surfing, I think already from this area you are able to hire bicycles and cycle towards Boca do Inferno and Cascais.
I generally try to avoid suggesting places like Cascais but some tourists feel the need to belong and or communicate with their own, Cascais main town square has a vibrant nightlife and the main town square has plenty of English Pubs and Bars which are overly priced. I honestly suggest the best way to eat in Lisbon would be in Tascas (local taverns) food is generally excellent and great value for money. From Cascais catch the train which runs along the seaside where you have so many beautiful beaches to choose from my favorites are Praia de Sao Joao great for snorkling, Praia da Parede well known for its excellent combination of iodine and hours of sunshine, Parede Beach has long been in demand for its therapeutic properties in treating bone disease and to such an extent that an Orthopaedic Hospital was built here. Carcavelos known for its surfing white soft sand and nightlife and even wine. after the beaches visit Oeiras here I would suggest seeing Palacio do Marques de Pombal, Museu da Polvora Negra and Jardins da Quinta Real de Caxias.
From there catch the train and head to Belem another town filled with history and culture and see Torre de Belem, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, Museo dos Coches, Monesteiro dos Jeronimos and go eat as many pasteis de Belém (portuguese custard tarts) this is where they come from and have been making them since 1837 you eat them warm straight out the oven sprinkled with cinnamon on top and one is never enough and the cafe alone is an historical monument, Belém is another little town’s like Sintra filled with culture. Moving on to the very next station which is Alcantra and here there is plenty of beautiful art and nightlife I would suggest to go to LX Factory but the area itself has an abundance of graffiti one of which is my favourite artists called Vhils who does reverse graffiti a link will be posted below and for magnificent photos go to Docas de Alcantra stand under the Bridge that looks like the Golden Gate in San Francisco, Ponte 25 de Abril which is built by the same architect and take sunset pics.
Now the last stop will be Cais do Sodre from here I would walk all the way to the top to Bairro Alto there are loads of bars, taverns, view points and funky unique shops carry on walking till you reach view point Adamastor to chillax and look at the magnificent view orr Rio Tagus or from Cais do Sodre you can also walk towards Alfama which is known for its tiny streets, markets and fado and walk all the way up to Castelo de Sao jorge and or chillax here or go to this live Music Venue called Santiago Alquimista, other decent venues for live music C.C.B – centro cultural de beIém, for Circus & Theatre Chapitó and night club LUX.
I could go on forever with recommending but I will leave this of ryou to discover and add to this list you can’t hate something that you didn’t have enough time to get to know also to know the word hate you should know that it is closest to love and rather say instead Don’t go to Lisbon if you haven’t got the time otherwise you won’t really enjoy it!!
Thanks for the great recommendations! I really want to come back to Lisbon and experience it again 🙂
You will love it 🙂
Not to rain on your parade but after you’ve done that, you pretty much saw everything. Is not coincidence everybody keeps repeating the same places.
Mind you, it is cool. It’s just you go back to nothing to see again.
Some pretty good recommendations there, I’d say, though Adamastor, though quite enjoyable, is not one of the best miradouros – one or two very prominent, ugly modern buildings below spoil it, aesthetically.
Try Braga, Guimarães, Aveiro or Viana do Castelo… The northern part of Portugal… People, even though, not smiling at you constantly, are polite and friendly.
(ok, I’m not friendly, but it’s not a manner of politeness, it’s just my way in life… But, hey, if you say “Hi” to me, and not talk about football, I will, for sure, reply back
in lisbon i sweat in summer and winter. So humid
I just bumped into this because I get the kicks out of reading whatever it is that other people think/say about Lisbon and Portugal. I must say that I do agree with some of the things that you point out: yes, Lisbon is full of old, decaying buildings, a sight that one does not expect to see in a EU country, especially one that has been a member of the organization since 1986 and has been receiving millions of euros every single year. Although things have started to change, I think that it is only taking place in areas that have lot of international (meaning touristic) appeal – don´t know if you were able to visit a place called Chiado ? It has become quite trendy over the years and the numbers of buildings being refurbished and turned into luxurious lofts, aiming at wealthy tourists from northern europe and Asia, mainly China. I don´t think that one can compare Lisbon with cities such as London or Paris, or even Berlin, those places are huge and so they end up having a lot of things to see and do, but you can find lots of interesting things to do in Lisbon (maybe you came at a bad time) – concerts, exhibitions, fairs, cinemas – I guess that one just needs to have a more welcoming approach – I guess that your first impressions of the city, ended up clouding your judgement. Being portuguese I must I also find the quality of service around these parts to be a bit low, sometimes very, very low, I try my best to curb my disappointment for being paid a miserable wage is not an excuse for bad service, but some people do go through great lengths to provide a good service, especially in places that have become quite trendy – TimeOut has lent a very big hand turning some places into hotspots. Since you wrote this in 2013, I don´t know if you have returned, in case you have, I hoped you enjoyed this second time around, in case you haven´t … what are you waiting for ? 😛
Thanks for your comment. I’d be happy to return. Perhaps later on this year? What would you recommend for me to do in Lisbon?
Hello Rexy, how is it hangin ?
Well, better go straight to the point: what exactly is one supposed to do in Lisbon, considering that one is giving it another go (now there´s a mouthfull 😛 ) ? Well, I don´t know if you had enough time to visit the are called Parque das Nações ? Architecturally speaking, I think it is quite impressive, although I guess it depends on one´s taste, but it is worth a visit, even if the only thing you want to do is to stroll by the river. In this area, you have Lisbon main aquarium that, despite the fact that it is a bit pricey, it´s most certainly worth a visit. If you are into arts, especially paintings then I stronly recommend a visit to the National Museum of Ancient Art – one cannot compare it to other great museums such as the National Gallery in London or even the Prado, in Madrid, but it does house seem pretty impressive painting and they usally hold temporary exhibitions that happen to be quite interesting as well. As far as museums are concerned I also recommend a visit to the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, named after its founder – a rich armenian who made his fortune out of the oil industry when it started to boom and also, if you´re into modern art, there´s the Berardo Museum, inside Centro Cultural de Belém (this one is free :D). Belém itself is a pretty interesting neighbourhood, from a historical perspective and if you don´t feel like visiting any museum or taste any delicacy (Lisbon´s most famous cake is made here), you can just relax by the river. As far as shopping is concerned, I´m always amazed by the fact that such a small place has so many places to shop, and although you do find tourists heading towards places like Centro Comercial Colombo (one of Europe´s biggest), Centro Vasco da Gama (Parque das Nações) or Chiado, I think that place most tourists enjoy doing all of their shopping is El Corte Inglés, a department store similar to the ones you have in England – I guess that is somehow more like John Lewis and Debenhams, rather than Selfridge´s or Harvey Nichols, although some floors really are very expensive. I think that the last time you were here, construction work was still going on by the river and now that everything is finished they managed to turn that part of town into a green spot where lots of people flock to, especially in the afternoon, because you ocasionally have some live music and kiosks. As for nightlife, there´s Cais do Sodré – most people start their night out at Time Out´s Mercado da Ribeiro – a bit like Borough Market, in London, and once they´ve dined they head to the Pink Street (named Pink because the floor is … you guessed it, pink 😛 ). There are lots of swanky bars and discos in this area to end the night in good spirits. Last but not least, you can also visit Cascais where you can go to the beach, meet the locals (several British citizens included) and just see the sights.
Sorry for such a long text, guess I got a bit carried away, imagine if I had told you all about the new it spots in town. And before I leave: yes, Porto (or Oporto as you guys in England say it) is worth a visit and the best month you should come to Lisbon is October.
I love Lisbon and have been visiting it since 1996 but I have to say that it is starting to get spoilt by tourists. I haven’t been since 2017, but I noticed in 2015 how much busier it was ; it’s become really difficult (not impossible) to get a ride on tram 28 now, for instance. One drawback for me is that I don’t much like the food except for their cakes etc at tea time (some very nice samosas in the cafes, though, as a lunchtime snack) It doesn’t help in Lisbon that I am much more a meat person than a fish one; I think if you’re a great fish lover, it’s probably a whole lot better. Mind you, I find food out, anywhere, often disappointing; I love pasta, for instance, but with the exception of one restaurant, I thought the food in Venice was pretty grim.
If you didn’t like Lisbon and thought that there was nothing to see, it’s actually your fault!! There are so many great things to see in Lisbon, it’a a unique city, the food is completely different from the other capitals and it’s such a great city… I don’t understand the hate… ew!!
Lisbon is just like any other capital as far as it having good things and bad things is concerned. Of course, not everything is right down people´s alleys and I suppose that if someone already heads this way with a couple of preconceived ideas about it, and those preconceived ideas are not necessarily good one ends up finding the whole thing pretty dreadful but, and even though I prefer places like London and Berlin, Lisbon has lots of things to see and do, just don´t expect the same type of bewilderment that you are bound to find in far more well known capitals. It would be great if the author of this blog/website gave Lisbon another chance … or maybe, if Lisbon is really no-no area for him, he could try Porto, I think that he will like it … but I have been mistaken before.
I’d love to give Lisbon another chance. Perhaps a combined trip to Porto and Lisbon?
P.s: do check out Porto, something tells me that you will feel at home.
It’s only my opinion and everyone is entitled to one. However, I’m happy to give Lisbon another chance. What’s your top three favourite things to do in Lisbon?
Thank you wonderful lady. I live in Toronto, I was born in Madeira. I love both the old and new parts of Lisbon.
Definitely not a city for everyone. Like any other place in the world, has many pros and cons:
1. Relatively cheap
2. Great ocean view
3. Amazing Belem and surroundings, I am actually surprised why you did not manage to go there
4. Awesome nature! The variety of trees and flowers is fascinating throughout the year
5. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and Park are totally cool.
6. Really enjoyed my trip to Sintra
7. http://www.bracodeprata.com/ great music here. Nice compensation for the lack of decent concerts.
8. On average, it is not hard to find an English speaking person
1. Shitty services, especially public services.
2. Horrible food, I cannot eat in any restaurant (I am a vegetarian who does not like bread, cakes and sweets, so Portuguese cuisine is out of question)
3. Conservative dress-code (I cannot wear half of what I would wear in my home town without being openly called a white whore by some random old fart)
4. Very unfriendly local people, also not trustworthy.
5. A lot of beggers, street harassment and catcalling from locals (and this applies not only to construction workers). Generally, plenty of trash in the streets, if you know what I mean. You can feel it in the air that the country is hopelessly broke.
6. Boring to go anywhere if you don´t drink alcohol.
Well, it´s true, most public services are bad, and that happens not just in Lisbon but everywhere in this country, but as far as people being untrustworthy … well, I guess it depends on where you happen to find yourself, some areas in Lisbon really are quite shady and those that happen to be slightly more upscale are traditionally not well known for their friendliness and warmth, quite the opposite, but just like any other city, there are always exceptions: I have a friend who lives in London, a place that I love but he hates, especially because for him every londoner is stupid, arrogant and cold.
As for fashion sense, I don´t know, maybe you came here when … in winter, and you were wearing very light clothing ? or did you find yourself in an old part of town where people just stare at you when they find you´ve wore something odd ? I´m just asking because, one of the advantages of the current financial crisis, if one can say that it had any good effects, was the fact that people are so engulfed in their own trials and tribulations that they no longer care about other people´s fashion senses, although there are still some exceptions.
True, the country does seem to be hopelessly broke but false: there are lots of places to go in Lisbon where you can drink everything but alcohol, one just needs to know where to go.
The only time in ten visits that I was mugged, it was by an ENGLISHMAN (an ex pat?)pretending to help me when I was stressed after I momentarily couldn’t see in a restaurant (I had a bad stomach ache and rushed to the loo with diarrhoea and my water was a dark brown for several days afterwards) and my bag was stolen. He had been in the restaurant and now cleverly tricked me into revealing where I was staying. I realized soon enough that HE had stolen my bag and while I was at the police station he used information in my wallet to break into my hotel room where he really enjoyed himself pilfering hotel equipment as well as a shirt and yellow sweater of mine.Was it heat stroke (very hot night, even at 11 o’clock) I had had in the restaurant or was my food spiked? I had very politely asked my pasta dish to be reheated because it was a little bit less than lukewarm; it was a long time coming back. The Portuguese police, incidentally, on my brief experience of them are as bad as the American police are popularly believed to be.
Agree with you that all cities have pros & cons and of course Lisbon isn’t an exception. I’m Portuguese, from Lisbon but have lived in 3 different Continents for the last 14 years and must say I now see “my” city with other eyes but always with love in my heart.
I agree with you in some cons you stated but others don’t.
1) About the shitty services it depends on each place, even the same place can have good and bad employee and also your attitude towards them… Even with public services sometimes you have very kind and helpful people attend you, other times you get an unfriendly and arrogant people who think they are doing you a favor (it’s a question of luck). An this is not because you are a foreigner, it happens to me too that I’m a local. In average, isn’t the best service in the world but not the worst either (not even the worst service in the developed countries!). I would like to mention the public online services are one of the best I’ve experienced: you can almost do everything online from paying your taxes, book and appointment at your doctor, buying an apartment, creating a startup, getting a divorce, etc., you just have to have you ID with and ID’s card reader but people don’t use it much (some don’t even know it exists!).
2) Regarding the food, in the past was true that Lisbon didn’t had almost any offer to vegan or vegetarian people. I’m not a vegetarian but my vegetarians friends say that’s improved a lot in these last years and now is easy to find a nice place to go out and to have a meal. I’ve tried (and enjoyed!) the restaurant Jardim dos Sentidos (at Mãe d’Água in Amoreiras) and the restaurant at the Hindu Temple Radha Krishna (in Telheiras) but you have more than 100 vegan/vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops to go in Lisbon: https://www.happycow.net/europe/portugal/lisbon/
3) Depending what you are comparing to, yes, Lisbon can have a more conservative dress-code… If you are comparing to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Luanda (Angola), LA or Las Vegas (USA) you will see people wearing less revealing clothes here in Portugal but, for example, the beach cloths in Portugal are revealing that in Florida beaches. Also Scandinavians and Germanic people’s seemed to cover up more than in Portugal… And if tou are comparing to India or Muslim countries, Portuguese women are almost naked for them 🙂
In my opinion, in average of all countries in the world we aren’t so conservative as you state, not even in comparing only with countries in Europe.
Young people (<50 years old) usually don't care about the skin you are showing but older people do… Please understand were the old folks come from because Portugal lived under a dictatorship until 1974, were women didn't had much rights and they even had to cover their hair to go to church, lots of people were illiterate, etc. Fortunately, in only 43 years, things changed a lot and now our legislation states equal rights for woman, gays, etc and we have free education and great universities, so I think Portuguese society is growing in the right direction (mind-open)… but not all old folks minds changed, specially the more illiterate ones. Sorry if they made you feel uncomfortable 🙁
4) What to say about the people? Like any country, if you take the time to meet enough people, you will find good and bad, trustworthy and not, friendly and unfriendly… but it's true that Portuguese culturally have a tendency to complain about everything and not look to the bright side of life. It's not everyone that does that but it's frequently to hear someone complain at the BUS, at the hospital, at the coffee shop, etc… and the more people complain, more depressed they get, less smiley they will be, etc. On the other hand, you also find in Lisbon people that go out of their way to give directions and help you out, what is rare to happen in a big city.
5) I'm 100% with you with the excess of beggars and street harassment (fortunately isn't around all Lisbon, is located downtown and the new avenues) but it has increased a lot and needs to be fixed. The catcalling is a problem around all Portugal and in the north of Portugal is even worse… as a woman I also find this very upsetting and the Portuguese society need to change in the right direction ASAP.
6) "Boring to go anywhere if you don´t drink alcohol"- Is funny because I felt exactly the same when I was in London but then I made other friends and discover that the night in London had much more to do that just going to pubs. The same applies to Lisbon, we have so much more to do at night than just drink 🙂 but if you like to go to bars ask for non-alcoholic cocktails or juices (with real fruit, it's the most healthy choice and are delicious).
Hope you will have the opportunity to visit Lisbon/Portugal again and to have better experiences that the first time.
“Horrible food” ya because you don’t eat anything tasty to begin with
It is the first time ever I come across such negative reviews and comments about Lisbon. I can understand each one’s point of view, but I have to say you are wrong regarding the “nothing to do” part. I went there own my own for the first time in May 2015, and it was only for 5 days. Such a lovely and pleasant surprise. I had a hell of a time, the weather was great. They were an awful lots of things to do and to see, I walked so much yhe cobble stones got me by the end of each day!
I went back for a whole week in January 2016, it was even more awesome ! 17°, sunshine,… And the people? Well, I met quite a good amount of people when I was there, especially the first time when I went alone. I found them friendly and easy to talk to. But maybe this is down to the type of person I am, which does not have problem meeting new people.
For I’ve lived in Paris 25 years of my life and 3 in London, I can tell you these people are much friendlier than Parisians (really not that hard, let’s all face it ;). I’ve loved living in the UK and I kinda wish I was still there, but after those two trips in Portugal I’ve decided to move to Lisboa in about 6 months. It will probably be different once I live there but I believe in the potential the city offers.
I really hope you get another chance to visit it again and appreciate it this time!
Thanks for your views though
Lisbon is beautiful, this person went on a budget tour, stayed in a shitty hostal and didnt spend a penny on anything but still if he had just walked around this beautiful city, went to the parks and museums and explored chiado, barrio alto, principe real…so many nice areas to see in Lisbon. The city is really stunning with hills and a river and it has an old world charm like nowhere else in Europe. Portuguese people are reserved, that doesnt make them unfriendly or sad, they just keep to themselves but if u make an effort then most are friendly and nice. There is amazing culture in lisbon, great opera, Amazing cinemas and very good selection of films, the food is to die for…the time out food market is the best place in the world to eat I think…wine is amazing…and how can anyone not like Pastel de Nata? Lisbon is vibrant, progressive and very beautiful…its One of the most beautiful cities in the world..and the people may be quiet but they arent all that bad
I believed he probably arrived on a Sunday!! On Sunday´s the city center turns off from locals.
Yes, I would say reserved rather than unfriendly; a friend of mine thinks that may be due to an English presence and influence through the years
I agree with the Portuguese who say that so many people don’t realize the pleasure that can be found in feeling sad. I indulge in that pleasure whenever I’m in the city with its melancholic atmosphere but also enjoy its jaunty side and its partying side at night. And by pleasure in sadness, I mean a kind of nostalgic feeling, saudade, and not, of course, real grieving.
Been living here for 3 year and hating every minute every day rain or shines! (Work comm.)
Anyhow, I don’t want to explain… I one 100% agreed with you.
House in Chiado, Good Money (compared to portuguese wages Sorry). – Work with some of the best portuguese intellects.
First week, its an okay city then you get to know the system, simply shit. Don’t trust the locals ( they only need you when they need you). Not trustworthy. And ahhhhhh the tramp outside shittig on the street!!! Utterly disgusting plus the giant dog shits scattered everywhere. Miserable.
Cascais – Iame and boring, even the rich has no class here.
Can’t wait to leave
go away to your sh…y country, hun!
All true…I am Portuguese and I have lived in a lot of places from Ho Chi Minh to Rio de Janeiro to Bogota and we are LAZY, RUDE and UNFRIENDLY. I guess earning the current wages wouldn’t help people be any friendlier either…There’s no service culture, nobody every has a smile, narrow minded, can’t think outside of the box…just a drag. Hospital and medical services suck, I was much better off in Saigon…never had to wait and the places were immaculate. We’re back here but never know if we’re staying or not ‘cos the place just drives you nuts. Saying all of that, the people suck but the food and the sights are fabulous…
I also hated Lisbon. It is so dirty, the people are unfriendly, it smells bad. Never going back
Oh god! moving here with work next month for the foreseeable future, actually ridiculously nervous about it all now, I was really hoping for everyone to be friendly and there to be a lot more English speakers, I am from the UK (Shrewsbury) and have been living in Brussels the past few months… I thought it had to be happier than Brussels where everyone is miserable and the streets are covered in rubbish… sounds like i’m just moving to a hotter version of Brussels BOOOOO :'(
Wow… that has got to be the worst evaluation of Lisbon or of any other city that I have ever read, for that matter. I have travelled extensively and visited just over 100 countries around the world. I have lived in Toronto, New York, Atlanta, Paris and now live in Hong Kong. I have been to Lisbon over 10 times throughout my lifetime, and I have to say that it is “NOW” one of my 3 top favorite cities in the world. Especially now as the city is being rehabilitated immensely due to the new Rent Regime, Golden Visas and the Habitual Residency incentives. I could not believe the amount of cranes and the amount of rehabilitation work across the center of the city on old beautiful buildings. I love it so much that I purchased an apartment in the Bairro Alto neighborhood just recently as a “pied-a-terre”. What is there not to love about Lisbon???!!! The weather, for a European Capital, is second to none. You have a river, the ocean (20 minutes to the beach from the center of the city), hills, cobblestone streets, amazing history (one of the oldest capital cities in Europe), great food, great nightlife at extremely affordable prices versus other capitals. Did you visit Belem, St. George Castle, Chiado District and Bairro Alto…. how about enjoying a cold bear at the “Brasileira”??? Rexy, dude… I think you simply missed all that is great about Lisbon, unfortunately! Metaphorically speaking… Its like you visited New York but only spent time in the in the heart of Harlem or the Bronx and missed out on the Greenwich, Soho, Times Sq… etc. You have got to go back and this time with people that know Lisboa well. Cheers.
Forgot to give also my opinion/comments on the Lisboetas/Alfacinhas, since there are a great deal of comments here and almost all negative. To say that the majority of Lisboetas/Alfacinhas are rude, lazy, melancholy, etc. In my experience, most people I have met and made friends with are generally quite sophisticated (most people can speak a 2nd or even a third language), well mannered, polite, respectful and trustworthy and they are very good at the Arts… it does not surprise me that famous people from Tom Hanks to Nelly Fortado, to Keenu Reeves and more have Portuguese blood.
All good stuff, My Opinion, with which I agree. Though it has its definite advantages, for the sake of the city’s soul, however, the number of airbnb’s in central Lisbon needs to be controlled and apartments made affordable for local Portuguese to live in. The mayor has indicated that key workers will be encouraged to take up residence in some of these. As for being a construction site, The Portuguese capital, hard pressed, has been something of a construction site all the time I’ve known it (since 1996). A familiar sight, indeed an ever present sight, are these big cards on buildings with “Obras” and “Aviso” with my praying that the buildings are being restored and not altered. Incidentally, i hate the conservatories that have replaced some wrought iron balconies (now often disfigured by large air conditioning machines). They are absolutely an eyesore and I’m told residents often don’t even sit in them but put their washing machines in them.
Wow…I had no idea that Turismo de Portugal or ? the Camara Municipal was hiring trolls!…Possible as CNN and the other MSM are really pushing Portugal as the destination.
Gee portuguese Victor Pinheiro…. now I know where you got that opinion that the Portuguese are ” LAZY, RUDE and UNFRIENDLY”… looks like you have been staring into your own mirror pal. Frankly, you are the minority… most Portuguese, in my opinion, are quite the opposite from what you have described. But we all have a right to our opinion! cheers mate!
I am in Lisbon right now, booked for a whole week worst mistake ever!! And I am not even a budget traveler, I am staying at Sheraton with a rental Mercedes A250 in the garage, I did literally 60KM in the car around the whole city and except a few views of the city from the top of the mountains, there wasn’t anything worthy to even park! Not even a decent local cafe, what I am doing now is hit the beaches with are beautiful but unfortunately the Atlantic is freezing cold to swim. About the nightlife is mediocre at best, no top notch bands playing, clubs are cheesy and closes too early, most of the local girls are ugly (at least for my taste) and they are super conservative forget about one night stand! I came from Berlin and this is all the opposite lol, just counting the days to get the f*ck out and never come back! Positive side is the cheapest site I’ve been in western Europe.
If you drove around in your fancy Mercedes and couldn’t find anything worthy in this city full of historical buildings or any hot local girl willing to f+ck you, yes, you better leave and never come back. Judging by what you wrote, it’s obvious you’re not the type of person who will enjoy its charming narrow streets or its rich history. Next time try Monaco or Nice, you won’t be the richest dude around but at it will probably suit you better, and you might even find some hottie worthy of your attention.
Im portuguese lived in Lisbon for some years while attending university , my home town is actually nor that far from the city anyways, your negative opinion of you and other commentators is spot on, i found the city somewhat bearable in the winter and mid seasons but in the summer forget about it, there are no green areas where you can relax and get some fresh air the nearest beaches are within the metropolitan area which means they will be crowded and it will be hard to find a parking spot for your car.
The ugly decaying buldings the graffi the filth and dirt, its all comes down to one thing….the people …..ive always said this the only thing wrong with Portugal is that portuguese people live here, and in the country side is not any better in any way better , stupid conservative untrustwhorty ( deffinetly portuguese are pro’s at being con artists) uneducated, uncultured and very very narrow minded this country is social and cultural waste land,
While in other countries you can just go out by yourself and meet people in Portugal you go out wiht your firends you talk with your friends and maby your friend’s friend and at the end of the night you go home with your firends, meet girls let alone having a one night stand ? forget about it, portuguese women dont dress up to attract men they derss up to compete and make other women jealous even if you meet someone through a social circle any intimate contact will have to be approved by her circle of girfiends.
Yeah the country has been through some rough financial and economic situation so what??? these people are so stupid they take it out on the neighbur on the tourists, the dog the wife and never on the real culprits the currupt politcians they who voted into power.
Ugh, you sound like a Spaniard
So, did you like Lisbon after your second visit?
Just returned from a two day stay in Lisbon and I agree with you on most points. I don’t understand why travel guides and bloggers rave about this place so much. A friend of mine described the city as Spain 30 years ago. My impression is that it’s stuck in a time trap and has made little progress since Vasco da Gama sailed around the cape of Africa. The place is a mess. Crumbling buildings, filthy streets, odd people, no infrastructure to deal with the hoards of tourists, poor service in cafes and restaurants, weak coffee and mediocre food. I fail to see the ‘charm’ in looking at once beautiful buildings that are now in ruins. It’s just sad. A strange thing is that most of the people I came in contact with didn’t want to speak Portuguese if they had some knowledge of English or Spanish. Maybe this was for convenience, but I sensed an inferiority complex.There was no feeling of pride for their city or their language. The most satisfying experiences were the stunning views from the miradouras and the historical sites like the Torre de Belém, Carmo Convent, Castelo de São Jorge and the Mosteiro de Jerónimos. So I would say if you appreciate European history, it’s worth a visit because Lisbon is all about history. In 2016 though, it’s hard to believe that this place is a European capital or even part of Europe.
So true! I also regret my visit.
The fact that it’s stuck in a time warp has always been for most Lisbon enthusiasts and, I would suggest, for those of us with a little romance in our souls, one of its principal charms and something that modernisation and the onslaught of tourism threatens to destroy. Surely, the joy of travel is to discover something different (and Lisbon is). Too many contributors to this website, it seems to me, are fans of homogenisation and want everything to be the same everywhere.
Don’t bother going back, there’s absolutely nothing special about Lisbon. I traveled on an extremely crowded Tram for about 30 minutes to get to the tourist spots and all I saw was a mediocre cathedral, the monument to the discoveries and that was about it. I went to the tourist area with all the markets and the buildings were really pretty…but again, absolutely nothing special about Lisbon.
The people. WTF is up with the people? I’ve honestly never encountered such rude people in my life (and yes, I’ve been to Paris!). The driver of the Tram argued with me about the cost. I asked him the total cost for 3 adults and 2 kids and he rambles in broken English, snapping at me in front of everyone. I told him, “just tell me the FINAL COST.” It seems he wanted me to calculate 2.80 x 4, explaining to me that since my daughter is 5 years old, she’s the same price as an adult. I guess me requesting the TOTAL PRICE was asking too much of him. He expected me to pull out my calculator as I’m HOLDING a baby in my arms. Ridiculous.
Next scenario: My daughter and I needed the bathroom terribly and we went into a small restaurant begging the couple to let us use their bathroom. “Bano, bathroom, banheiro, toilet, POR FAVOR.” Nothing. THey would not allow a WOMAN and her 5 year old to use their bathroom. Unbelievable.
Last scenario: At the airport leaving this dump, I asked the people at the front desk to please provide me with the bassinet for my son. They agreed. Later, right before boarding, I asked another gentleman the same thing and he went to check on it for me. Then the same man from before approached and confronted me about why I’m asking for the bassinet again. I explained that on the way to Lisbon, I was promised the bassinet but it was given to another couple. He replied that I was wasting their time, I had already asked them about it, why am I asking again. Again I told him I’m just confirming. He proceeded to argue with me and I just ignored him and entered the airplane. Again, this while I’m HOLDING A BABY.
I’ve walked miles in Lisbon and even some of the nice neighborhoods has litter and DOG POOP, yes, DOG POOP all over the sidewalks.
Don’t get me wrong; I also met some very nice people. But I’d definitely say at least 1 out of every 5 people I met was a total jerk. These people are soo cranky and pissed off.
If the Portuguese want their country, economy and tourism to improve…then get your act together. This is not how you treat tourists.
Thank God I was able to leave after two days. Don’t waste your time in Lisbon, go to Spain instead. The people are super-friendly, the country is stunning and there’s so much to do!!!
I agree with you completely. Dirty old buildings, no nice beaches nearby, litter filled streets, some of the most unfriendliness people I have ever came across (particularly staff in stores/restaurants) and a general feeling of unease. I am a young female and was constantly harassed, groped, followed, whistled at etc. even by taxi drivers which meant I even felt unsafe taking a taxi back to our hotel to avoid the sketchy streets at night! I once walked out of my apartment to a gang sat on the stairs outside, they started shouting things to me then one of them came up and started stroking my hair and back.
Drug dealers and tat sellers on every single corner and harassing you when you are trying to have a drink in a bar, not to mention the pickpockets.
Really disappointed in this city and would never return – it was like a really rubbish version of Barcelona for me. However I do love the Algarve and Alvor in Portugal!
I am in Lisbon now and it is a rather chill international city but found it very pleasant. The places we visited were The Tower of Belem, Alfama (Saint Jorge Castle), Sintra (Pena Palace), Cascais.
It might be quite a different expectation from different cities in Europe but there are plenty of places and great restaurants here if you know where to look (Ramiro was a great seafood place priced around 60-80 euros for a delicious meal)
We didn’t quite have the same accomodations as we stayed at the Epic Sana hotel and ubered everywhere but overall the city I felt was safe and people were quite friendly.
I hope you give Lisbon another try but research far ahead of the wonderful spots to try and visit and bring a friend.
I’m so relieved to find it’s OK to not be in love with Lisbon! I’ve enjoyed the castle, some of Alfama and have been to a couple of excellent free museums and galleries, I also like the temperature. But I’ve been disappointed overall, there is something missing. I don’t mind dirt or decay when it’s part of an old world charm but even main square buildings look neglected and ugly and it feels depressing. Lots of shops and cafes are shut up and many are really old fashioned which gives a rundown character.It’s an uncomfortable mix with bland high street brands and overpriced smug trying-to-be-trendy newer eateries and niche shops – I find both irritating. Crucially, I’ve been unable to find decent cheap food – I trekked Alfama to get lunch, opting for an unpretentious looking place – the sea bream was delicious and came with…. one boiled potato cut in half and some shredded iceberg lettuce. I’d been offered bread cheese and pate but realising they’d charge I asked how much – in total it would have cost me 8 euroes. A “mixed” salad of more iceberg, 2 slices of tomato and onion was 4.50E so with a small house rose wine and water the bill came to 18.50Euroes (after I pointed out they’d charged for bread I didn’t eat). Compared with eating in Spain where there is real variety and value especially for lunch it all left a bad taste as I just don’t like being ripped off, in fact eating out felt like an ordeal.
I feel in general tourists aren’t treated well here. I don’t want to be fawned on but I don’t want to be snapped at – you make a friendly smiley enquiry prefixed with a bon dia and you get a curt sullen answer with no eye contact – in general this seems to be the older generation but I had a girl in the castle roll her eyes at me when I asked where the cafe was as I’d interrupted her snacking and at the Belem tower a younger man was so rude and passive aggressive that I just left, I’d had enough. For me the Belem Tower and monastery are total tourist traps – they invite you to queue for hours and there is finally very little to see inside – there is also no water available so you can dehydrate quite effectively after queuing with no shade in hot weather. When I tried to speak to someone about this I discovered that suddenly no-one spoke any language except portuguese… I’d also avoid the trams – crammed full as it makes it way down dingy streets stopping every 2 minutes to let yet more people on. The lift is another example – tourists get to pay 5E each (for something you can again queue for an hour for and which takes 2 minutes) while locals can just use their transport cards for 1.50E – my guesthouse staff didnt tell me anything like this, it just seems part of the taking the tourists for what they’re worth culture. finally.three individual attractions that were packaged together for 15E ‘deal’ at the mausoleum turned out individually to cost exactly the same! I was almost surprised the package wasn’t more expensive as that seems to be the way it is here – not really how to endear yourself to tourists providing an essential flow of cash in an obviously cash strapped capital.
Overall once you’ve done the castle, a walk of the squares, the views, a couple of museums and avoided the queues, rip offs and rudeness take Lisbon for what it is, an interesting but depressed city with a very sad chaotic past which still seems to be trying to find it’s confidence, character and inner niceness, it is there it’s just hidden quite a lot of the time.
I reply to Rebecca but also to Rexy who started this discussion. I will try to be careful with what I’m saying because I’ve never been to Portugal before and I know pretty little about the country. But here are my impressions after 1 week spent in this city.
Overall, I agree with Rebecca. I think she’s made very relevant and wel-balanced comments. I also can understand where Rexy’s coming from, although he may have been a bit rash and quick with his judgements. To put it simply, after 1 wek walking around the central parts of Lisbon, I cannot say that I am in love with this city. But I think this may be largely due to the poor state of the local economy. With money, the streets would be cleaner, there would be many more lovely buildings and houses instead of the incredibly decayed ones I have seen (especailly on the eastern parts of the centre), there would be loads of attractive little pubs and restaurants etc etc. But the potential is there and there are multiple signs that the city is trying to “ressuscitate” (renovation works on the way everywhere).
Nevertheless, I am a bit surprised that people make so much of a big story about the history of the place. I’m the frst one to be interested in history – I love it – but history does not make a place interesting if it’s only a “concept”, I mean if it’s not obviously translated into many, many sites that are either beautiful or fascinating, or both. What good does he do to me to know that Portugal had such a great historical past, when I walk endlessly in streets where there is no nice place to sit and enjoy the sights? In too many parts of this city, the only thing I can see is small local, grubby cafe places. Oh, and by the way, too many pastelarias. That’s another hing that betas me, that people can makesuch a big story about the pastelarias and the little cakes. OK, the cakes are nice, and I like going to the pastelaria around the corner, clean and welcoming, for my breakfast. But come on a bit, can you fill an entire day with sitting in pastalarias and eating cakes????
I’ve also been surprised by how poor some of the local food could be – I’ve been to many little restaurants. I don’t agree one bit that one should state “Lisbon is a great place for food because look, it’s got that great restaurant with meals at 60-80 Euros a head”. Anyone should be able to enjoy local food at a fraction of that price. And if it’s about eating well at 60-80 Euros a head, you will find great places nearly anywhere in Europe, so what would be so special about Lisbon, on that score?
Now, if you want to eat for 10-15 Euros, it seems that half of the time you end up with a bland 2-3 boiled veges with 2 grilled sardinhas and a glass of OK-ish red wine. Wine seems also to be overstated by some people. Another thing, why should one not be allowed to compare with other places? The point is, if one experiences better for the cost and for the effort elsewhere, that has to be said, no? Well, my point here is that I had a lot more staisfaction, for the cost and for the effort, in the cities I visited in southern Spain. Yes, I will compare: it’s not day and night but I will give a high score to Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, when compared to Lisbon.
Again, it’s probably a question of how good the local economy is.
I don’t have the poor impression about the people that some in this discussion seem to have. I found them relaxed people, not intrusive in any way (except for the tramps in some places), and I always had smiles where I stopped for a coffee or whatever. But maybe it’s the Latin half of myself that helps – a Latin connection works subconsciously in ways that non-Latin people cannot ever imagine, let alone feel (sorry). That Latin connection makes me feel well-inclined towards the people – I even enjoy listening to the language and have fun trying myself in Portuguese – and obviously people just love it and smile when they hear me trying.
There’s something else I want to say. Many people say, how could you be so negative about Lisbon when there are so many places to visit, beaches X, museums Y, excursions out of the city Z, etc? Well, let’s be clear, it makes a big difference if you’re a short term tourist or if you want to live in the place. For a tourist, I can well imagine that Lisbon and surroundings is worth a good 3-4 days if not more. But for anyone who wants to live here, the story is different. It’s like the little cakes: how many museums can I take in a week, week after week, to fill my life? I need something else!
It’s like someone said it (was it you Rebecca?): there is a feeling that something is missing. I came here because I’m interested in settling in for a few months, maybe a few years. So far, after 1 week, I’m not convinced.
Thank you for such an informative answer! I agree that there are many things that you can see if you know the place well. It’s not to say I will not return to Lisbon and having read many comments on here, there are lots to see but it wasn’t visible for the tourist visiting. I will return at some point and will check them out.
Let me know if you are going back to Lisbon yourself!
I am Lisboeta, I was born and live in Lisbon, and really, I only have one thing to say “Tourists go home and never come back”. You are only filling my city!
I think you just proved my point – thanks, and a big smile to you too!
Hi Anabela, I can understand if you’re upset by the negative comments on this blog. I’m in Lisbon now for the 4th time, and I LOVE it. The Portuguese I met have been so modest and welcoming. I’m sorry if the negativity on here made you feel bad. You should be very proud of your city, and I hope you want to share it with people who move here from abroad. Many EU people believe in the economic potential of Portugal and are making investments. Stay positive 🙂
You won’t have money if tourist don’t come to Portugal…It’s 50% from the country income
Really? You staid for 18 hours and can say all of that about such a big city??? Sounds a bit doggy to me… unsafe? And your terms of comparison are Brazil and Spain?? Really? BRAZIL a country where the police kills more robbers than America ? (Yes it.s true)! SPAIN? I went to Madrid for 4 DAYS and was mugged on the third… and I dont around saying that its a terrible city. All my life in Lisbon and nothing happend to me not even a scrath on my car. You were expecting people with nice teeth??? What kind of expectation is that? Let me tell you, and this cames from a negative person myself, that reading your text lets me wonder what your state of mind was at the time…. every where you looked you saw something bad instead of god. And thats just not possible… that everything is bad… Next time you came to Portugal try to be nice and you’ll probably end up receiving back a nice and positive attitude from people and you’ll feel more fitted in 🙂
We are ALL human beings and we live all at the same place, Mother Earth. Don’t judge, BE lovely and kind and you’ll see the Best and the shine and the beauty everywhere. I Love Lisboa, my City! You are all welcome! And you are free to dislike… But… It’s not the reality beautiful or ugly. The reality is there. It’s our eyes, our inner reality that paints beautifuly or not. Be happy wherever you are!
Hi there! I just came across your post and I am so sorry that Lisbon left you with this awful idea about us.
I am portuguese, born and raised in Lisbon (I was born in Alfama actually, the most beautiful neighbourhood in the world!). Lived in New Jersey for 5 years when I was a kid, that was a long time ago so I’m apologising for my english in advance.
I wish you would give my city another try, heck I would even like to show you Lisbon through my eyes! You see, I’ve been to Paris, New York, Madrid… but nothing feels like Lisbon. It has the most beautiful natural light I’ve ever seen. It has the most gorgeous hills that glow every time the sun hits the river! It has the most tasty food I’ve ever eaten! Our food is so good, you only need salt to season it, and the pastry? To die for!
You see, when you were walking the streets of Lisbon, you didn’t feel welcomed, but why should you? You are a stranger to our little eyes! You probably walked around with a disgusted look upon your face. You get what you give! But if we were providing you with some kind of public service, I would guaranty that you would be treated like a king!
We are not the most happy people in the world, so what?! Try living with a payment of 530€ a month, working a full 40hours a week, sometimes more… would you be happy? We are fighting for our rights since the dictatorship ended in 1975 and no one cares!!!
Don’t be so quick to judge what you don’t know, after all you’ve been here only for a couple of hours, or maybe you should read a bit more about the history of the places you’re visiting.
Please give us another try, I would be more than happy to show you around and let you see with your own eyes how gorgeous this city really is!
Best wishes and happy holidays from Lisbon, Portugal.
Alfalma, the most beautiful neighborhood in the world? Sweetie, you need to travel more.
Calling a stranger ‘sweetie’ followed by a disdaining remark to travel more is really not a very respectful way to talk to people you don’t know. You are entitled to your opinion but no need to be rude!
I agree with rexy. Everyone said the city has the aged feel etc but guess that Prague has the aged feel, Lisbon was simply dirty and grimy with not much to look at other than viewpoints to viewpoints. A handful of nice viewpoints, which took me half a day to explore, and then Lisbon had nothing more to offer. Fado restaurants were obviously more interested in selling alcohols to me (I wanted a small beer and he insisted I get a big one. When I insisted on a small one he noticeably frawned and left) than the show itself. I also noticed a lot of the tours are organised to go out of Lisbon. I can see why.
Wish I’d read this blog and comments before I went to Portugal in October 2016. After almost 3 glorious weeks in southern Spain, we were excited to see a little of southern Portugal with a few days in Lisbon. Our UK friends had raved about Lisbon but we were so disappointed. Everything Rexy says is right, except he obviously hadn’t been accosted by any of the creepy drug dealers in the busy main squares in the early evening. We are 60 year old Australians and I don’t think we really look like obvious cocaine customers but we were randomly approached every night. Just a little unnerving and threatening… Didn’t even get lucky with food in Lisbon – it was better in the other southern Portuguese towns we visited, like Faro, Sesimbra, and the lovely Evora. It was all such a disappointing contrast to Spain where it is near impossible to get a bad meal. I don’t really like to rubbish a place I’ve only visited for a few days, but it would take a lot to get me back to Lisbon. Why go there when you could just as easily go to beautiful Seville?
From your pics it seemed you didn’t have a sunny day and that you were tired after a bus ride. A sunny day makes all difference in Lisbon because there’s something magic about that light. 18 hours not enough to feel the vibe… some friends tell me, if you don’t sleep there, it doesn’t count!
Actually your post remembers me a lot about a friend that come visit Lisbon grumpy on an unrelated thing… he too could only see dirt, drug dealers and graffitis everywhere….actually the only thing he like of Lisbon was Benfica museum,and he hates football, maybe you should go there next time.
Next time also,
Eat, drink and party like a Portuguese
Run or cycle the waterfront from cais do sodre to Belem or Monsanto
Enjoy the winter sun in your face and relax and drink acoffee in the many miradouros
combine city with beach
Yes, Lisbon n don’t have the monuments of Rome or Paris (there was a tsunami) and there’s problems with many decaying buildings, but right now there’s lot of investment and renovation going on too… Many new shops, caffees, restaurants s and bars with a distinct Portuguese decoration, very different from any other city n Europe!
hey yankee…. trie Detroit, probably much nicer than Lisbon. Portugal is not Lisbon specially with you tourists
I agree with most of the points made by Rebecca. And I also can see where Rexy is coming from, after having spent 1 full week walking around Lisbon. There are some positive aspects, though, but maybe they take more time and efforts to truly discover!
Just came back from Lisbon, and it is interesting to read a negative opinion about this city. It certainly makes me think about the past 4 days and evaluate my experience.
Are the people unfriendly with a grim face? The bus driver on my way to the Jesus statue was so friendly, that I thought it must be just this one person. On my way back had a different bus driver and he was even more friendly. Were all encounters so nice? Not at all, but overall I have to say, that the people are friendly.
It sure depends on where you are coming from! I live in Germany and lived a few years in Eastern Europe. Portuguese people are friendlier than Germans, but for someone from England they might appear unfriendly. The same thing goes for filth and rundown buildings.
I had an encounter with a pickpocket in the tram 28.
Ate a whole lot of this little pasties. Maybe they don´t taste good after months, but I couldn´t eat enough of them in 4 days.
I avoided places that were only frequented by tourists, so maybe that is the reason why I not felt taken advantage of. There are certainly many possibilities for that. Best example is a place that is so colourful like an old circus and only sells cans of sardines. Since the place is stacked with cans in many colours, I thought there would be a wide variety of them, but it was just a tourist scam. They sold only one type of sardines with different years of birth. Apparently you can buy a can of sardines with the birthyear of your loved ones. The place was stacked with cans and stupid tourists.
There is indeed much waste and dogshit, but I only happen to think about it now, when I read the other comments. Like I said, your experience depends on what you are accustomed to – not that I am confronted everywhere with dog shit in Germany.
Took the tram 15 to Belem on a Thursday and wanted to do the same on Sunday, but this time the tram commuted less often, it was smaller and there were more tourists. I gave up on the idea, otherwise I would be also stacked like a sardine.
My point is that one should consider the time of the visit.
I could imagine that a visit in the summer and on a weekend must be total nightmare. The dog shit and the litter would stink and the crowded tram would be a hell hole at the end.
Are the people stupid? I have certainly seen stupid things done by people, but I blame their decades of socialism for it. Socialism creates stupidity, and by taking money from the intelligents people to the less intelligent it breeds stupidity, so maybe there is a truth in the comments.
Streetsellers, beggars are a certain. Just ignore them, otherwise you have much to do.
Overall I liked the city, it is relatively cheap for the EU, nice things to see for 3 days, sun was a plus and my first bath in the sea in this year.
My husband and I have just come back from a 5 day stay in Lisbon. We loved it. We are gay and vegetarian. We encountered no issue on either front. The hotel was fab ( Barrio Alto hotel) the service was great across the board and people were helpful and friendly. We had some excellent meals and had no problem in finding good restaurants that catered for vegetarians. It is clear the place has been spruced up over the last few years and this continues apace. There is building work going on everywhere. It is clearly a living city and there are areas where the graffiti does spoil the experience, but overall it vastly exceeded our expectations. There is plenty to see and do. Don’t be put off by the negative posts here.
Hi Rexy, that’s an interesting forum you’ve created. I agree with some of your points, but disagree with others. But we live in a free world, everybody has the right to think whatever they want. I live in Lisbon, and I particularly enjoy it a lot! There’s only one thing that is really annoying, well I’m a Brazilian guy, so it’s easy for Portuguese people realize that I’m Brazilian due to the accent, and Portuguese men, maybe if another Brazilian guy reads it will agree with me, anyway Portuguese men in my opinion are big liars and envious of Brazilian men. Let me specify: at the gym, practically all Portuguese guys tell me that they are real women conquerors, and it also happened to another Brazilian guy, which by the way is my friend at the gym. Honestly, I’m always on my own doing my training, but now that they already know that I’m Brazilian, they never lose an opportunity to annoy me with the same subject. Really, get over yourselves. And another thing they say a lot is about how “easy” Brazilian women are. Of course they say they have already had a Brazilian woman, and in my opinion, of course they are lying. They are so small-minded, thinking that will get superior than Brazilian men by saying that. And I have Brazilian women friends here, and it’s unanimous, they don’t find Portuguese men attractive at all. So, what I have to say is that humbleness is not bad, it’s a good thing. I find both Brazilian and Portuguese women attractive, the problem really, is with Portuguese men. I love both Brazil and Portugal, and of course Lisbon, and that’s the only thing really annoying I have to say about Lisbon, this ridiculous attitude. It probably won’t happen to any other men of any other nationality, it’s specifically against Brazilians. And just to complete, of course not all Portuguese men are like this. It would be stupid from me to generalize. I have some good Portuguese friends. That’s just some of them.
Hi radrad! Interesting what you’re saying about Brazil/Portugal guys-girls relationships, although that may not apply to other nationalities. I heard a lot about the not-so-healthy relationships between Portuguese men-women, that Portuguese women are very difficult to date (I’m a man) etc.
Otherwise, having been a few times in Brazil (as a tourist, and also to meet with Petrobras in Rio, I can say I love Brazilian people. I find them charming and funny. If you don’t mind me saying that, I suspect there is also some amount of bullshit with Brazilians (showing off, pretending to be what they are not, trying to impress on others, not being reliable etc) but that’s something I guess is true with other Latin people and I think I know how to decode that aspect of the people.
I will be spending a lot of time in Lisbon and I’m sure I will meet numbers of Brazilians there, that will add to the fun!
Hi Georges! How are you doing my friend? Sorry, I forgot to check if there were any reply.. Yes, I agree with you, about what you said, but this happens because Brazilian women are sometimes considered the most beautiful in the world, which by the way if you go specifically to southern Brazil is probably true, but then with on mind, they have this trend to show off and try to get attention, I totally understand your point. Now, on the other hand Portuguese women are not that beautiful, but the funny thing is that they also have that trend to put themselves on the top of the mountain.. And about the people, yes, surely Brazilian people is way more fun than Portuguese, I’ve no doubt you had a great time in Brazil. I’m sure also you’ll like Lisbon, is a great city, and you’ll find many Brazilians indeed, and they are light-years more open and easy to make friendship than Portuguese. Thanks for the comment! Cheers.r
OMG…what am I going to to in Lisbon for 7 days??? I can’t get a refund on my airline ticket. If only I had seen this blog I would definitely stay away from Lisbon. Maybe, there is hope if I go to the country side instead. Please help! I am going on June 2017.
Just wondering how was your trip to Lisbon in the end. Was it as bad as rexy made out?
Just about to leave Lisbon. So much of this article is true, there is nothing worth visiting for. Having said that we we did have a nice day in Belem. The streets in Lisbon are filthy and in some areas felt unsafe where we were constantly hassled by drug dealers trying to sell us coke or hashish. To make things worse this has now become a popular destination for burnt sozzled english hen and stag parties. Everything is overpriced and doesn’t offer the same quality as other destination cities. We are looking forward to getting home!
Unfortunately the negative things are true. The city is dirty and buildings look shabby. Even in the old town. It seems as if you see only the past glory and there is no present glory. People seem to have given up on their country, they do not even bother to clean, and this is the saddest part.
Indeed, does not look like a European capital at all.
I will not waste much time about the many unrealistc and easily debunked (like security and safety), remarks you made about a city and a nation you clearly do not know. After reading some of your comments I’ve noticed that you repeatedly said you want to return. My friendly advise…don’t! We are sad and glum and we are quite proud of it. Sadness, pessimism and nostalgia, famous Saudade, are part of our culture. We were like this before Spain became a state, before Brazil was discovered, before most Europe became what it is, before the world became round. It will not change, ever. Yes, I would not smile at you in the street. Why would I? I do not know you at all, you do not smile to strangers, it is “rape like” creepy! PS: I would also pick up an history book if I were you. After all you tried to find Brazil in Portugal, which is more or less the same as trying to find Guyana in the UK. Not to mention your statement about Portugal and Spain sharing history. What were you expecting about 2 countries that were enemies since Spain came to be? So, again, do not come, you will feel just the same (there are much less derelic building though).
Maybe you can lend the guy one of your history books—but maybe not the one in which you learned that Brazil was “discovered.”
At last, an article that dares showing the dark side of this city! It’s been 4 months since my boyfriend and I decided to live in Lisbon. We are French and spent the last year travelling (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand), and we felt like we wanted to settle in a warm and sunny place in Europe. Of course, Portugal seemed great! My Bf had spent two months in Brazil before our one-year-travel and he was like “hopefully, brazilians and portuguese people share a common joy and kindness”. Personally, I though “they have the best weather in Europe, everybody says it is a great capital, no reason why they should be unpleasant people”. OMG, what a disappointment. They are rude, close to foreigners, and the city has nothing to offer. Unless you are 21 and enjoy taking drugs and get drunk every night, you won”t have much to do in that city. The prices are way too expensive compared to what locals earn, and the real estate is just a shame. You have to know that renting a flat is quite impossible there. Either you buy or you are screwed. The best opotion remains Airbnb but the owners just want to steal you rmoney, for real. When we arrived, we thought about buying a flat, thinking we would spend some years here. You have no idea how terribel were the visits. They were showing us bad houses, badly located at crazy prices!! We preferred to rent a long-term Airbnb. We rent it in Costa Da Caparica (not even in the center of LIsbon) and it cost us 4500€ for three months!!! We chose Costa Da Caparica, because we would be close to the beach, so we could surf We also thought that the people would be nicer, that it would be easier to mix with them. Not at all… our owner only talk to us about the money, and the rest of the population just do not care about us, so we finally don’t about them either. We have decided to leave the country in September, and we really look for it, because we can’t stand living here anymore.
Feeling so sorry for you guys coz we had a similar experience.
We relocated to Lisbon from Cape Town (sigh!) with very high expectations after hearing so much about it.
It took us about 3 months to really hate Lisbon and its people.
Portugal is definitely the most overrated country in EU.
Only ERASMUM students love it coz they can get trashed every night.
All the foreign people that came here to work that i know have left the country within 6 months with the same hate inside…so It is not a coincidence.
Hi, I am a portuguese from the Algarve. Even for me, that I am portuguese, I found things I dont like in other cities of Portugal but it is just cultural diferences.
Lisbon is old. yes it is. Around 1000 years old that will explain it looks. If it was everything new and the same why would we bother to visit places. Historical Lisbon is very rich.
Portuguese people are reserved, yes most are but as the same as other European countries. Anyway why would people would been smiling in the street to strangers? I would think that they were kind of crazy.. but this is just me.I was in the UK and Spain and I didn’t see much difference..
The first time I went to London I returned shocked cause I didn’t have sun for 2 weeks.. but I returned and I found amazing places… people are polite not necessary friendly but I am not expecting that someone wants to be friends with a stranger without knowing him..
Safety.. all the big cities has places that are not safe. Did you find it safe in Brazil?
Dirt.. in some neibourhoods of Lisbon I found dog shit in the floor.. I have been in other countries and I didn’t see much difference
I just didn’t understand the comparison with Brazil. It is the same that you compare Cameroon to UK or France just because they speak the same language..
We make our experiences.
Portugal has everything: beach, mountains, snow, rivers, historical places, sea, florest, diverse foods, lots of cultural events. If you are looking for something similar to your city you should travel inside your own country.
Portugal is unique as every country. That why travelling is so exciting!!
Good luck in your next trip!
I am Portuguese, I live in Portugal, we went to Houston for 5 weeks, we rode out Harvey, after 2 weeks I knew all my neighbors and we all greeted each other, I still don’t know my neighbors in Portugal…
I don’t even know how I ended up in this website, I was looking for things to do in Lisbon, and found this.. I have only one thing to say to you all and specially for the creator of this site.. Lisbon is wonderful, Portugal is wonderful, and if you don’t like in here, please, don’t you ever come back! You can be sure that no one here will miss you!
Lisbon is an amazing city , it’s clean but not polished , excellent public transport, great food, very friendly people and rich culture!
What are you talking about
I’ve been 2 days in Lisbon and I also found disappointing..i’ve had high expectations as i’ve been told It was better than Barcelona Madrid and Rio. I did find the people very serious and they all seemed depressed (but very kind at the same Time)it didn’t feel like a first world place.. It was depressing seeing parts of town like “Praca do comerco”being dirty and in decay.. And the worse thing the bad smells (probably bacalau). I still think the city has its own charm and It could be amazing if It felt as modern as Spain.. And if the locals were happier.. I was mostly feeling sorry for them.
My wife and I have been in Lisbon for the past 4 days with friends, staying in the Bairro Alta. The apartment we have is lovely- like a writer’s studio with roof top terrace. But, when we venture forth in the morning we wade through the detritus of the ” night before”- bottles strewn, plastic glasses littering the narrow streets. There is something profoundly wrong with a generation/people that have zero respect for their environment. And, the mess is not the fault of visitors- we hear mainly local accents at night. The graffiti on the buildings is certainly NOT art. My wife and I love to see dogs with their owners out enjoying a promenade- but, there is so much dog mess- irresponsible dog owners. Comments have been made about visits outside the city- Sintra is overwhelmed with tourists. And the pink palace up the hill is an archictectural monstrosity- we felt like we were stuck in a Disney-esque queue without the thrill of the ride as reward. The one place we did enjoy was the private palace at Sintra with the gardens and water features. Would we visit again? We and our companions feel no. Tomorrow we leave for Barcelona.
This is arguably one of the most ridiculous posts I ever came across rewarding a trip. To only stay in a city for 18 hours , 18! An make an entire post about how terrible Lisbon is shows a despicable lack of judgement. I also noticed the photos are edited to make them darker and therefore to give the sensation that the buildings are dirty. Not the case at all! I’ve been to Lisbon several times and the bright yellow walls of the Praça do Comércio ( 5th picture ) are almost blinding!
To state there is nothing to see in Lisbon really made me laugh , just shows the type of uncultured person you are. Lisbon has tons , tons of history being the capital of Portugal and being the place from where the Age of Discoveries took place. (Portugal is also one od the oldest nations in Europe!) Portuguese people are as friendly as people can get. Always ready to lay a hand and to help you with everything. The truth is I could stay here arguing , but it’s truly pointless. Some people won’t ever understand.
To make a proper judgement visit Lisbon , or any other Portuguese city to state that this ludacris insinuations are Indeed false.
I am In Lisbon, did a search for walking tours and for some reason this post came up. I have lived in New York City, Mami and London and you could say the same about all of these cities. But they are all including Lisbon beautiful cities filled with history and excitement and life. I think your journey started off on the wrong foot, that bus ride sounds like an awful way to start your trip to Lisbon. As a travel blogger you must surely have been able to appreciate the culture, the history, the architecture – all things we look to experience in our travels. Please give it another chance and maybe with a fresh start, you will see things in a different light. When you are in a bad mood, people respond to your negativity- avoid you, ignore you. So please do not disrespect a beautiful, friendly and happy population in Lisbon, don’t worry they will forgive you.
I have to say I currently agree. I arrived yesterday and my first impressions aren’t great. It reminds me a bit of Palermo in Sicily in that there’s not a great deal to see or do on initial inspection, it feels pretty dangerous, it’s dirty and run down.
I guess it’s a perspective thing. I’ve travelled all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, Canada etc… and it definitely feels more like second world country. This wouldn’t be so bad but I’m exhausted from a long period of work and really needed a nice break to relax. This isn’t a relaxing place. That said I have been placed looking for adventure like Morocco, Chile, Israel, Argentina, etc… and this would probably fit the bill of that type of trip. It feels more like a place to survive and experience than a place to relax, chill and enjoy. I kind of thought there would be nicer bars and cafes and beaches on hand but it’s more 3 legged dogs, homeless people and filth. I will spend a few days in my apartment recovering and rejuvenating and then see if I have the energy for an adventure. I wish I’d either stayed home to recover or booked a holiday on Menorca or similar. My bad.
This was in 2013. Anyway, the city has a lot of troubles (starting by our salaries, housing, and you have to think you came here right in the middle of the economical crisis) but no things to see?? that’s impossible. I’ve been in and out of lisbon sice 2003 and even now i haven’t seen everything in the city.
the basics: alfama and the viewpoints – now a days for tourists but worth a visit – plus the castle, which is NOT ottoman…is from way before around the sixth century, made by the moors a muslim group from north africa that occupied the iberian peninsula around that century.
besides walking aroung alfama (and the flea market, feira da ladra) you have graça, great neighbourhood to eat with two magical viewpoints, and some alternative bars, you can go to intendente and mouraria the most multicultural neighbourhoods in the city – plus mouraria looks like alfama but better for me. then baixa, the downtown which is boring as f*ck and yes it’s obviously empty at night, because no one lives there, is a fake place for tourists. but the architecture is awesome.
Then chiado and its fancy places, camões square and fernando pessoa statue, plus the eldest bookstore in the world and the conteporary art museum, principe real with a nice cool botanical garden, and a viewpoint on the way. then belém which is the place where we have a lot of monuments regarding the times where we were traveling abroad and went to india, brazil etc. Plus museums like the military one, the fighter museum, the museum of technology all in belém. and the custard tarts of course. On other parts you have a fado museum in alfama, a tile museum also nearby , the city museum in campo grande area near the universities (and “real lisbon”), the gulbenkian foundation with a great garden, and just another one: the old art museum, with art before the XIX century if i’m not mistaken, but probably the best museum in lisbon.
so places to go…i just listed very few of them. to go out: bairro alto and cais do sodré. Everybody will tell you that anywhere.
Then if the city is dirty or not, at least that’s real. I like the city cleaned, but i lived in waay worse places in europe in that field , so i’m kinda cool with it. I don’t think the city is that dirty by the way. Thought paris a bit more for example. And people? well, people receive sh*tty payment, they work in general too much, and they are going to spend more than one hour from their job to their house, because…people can’t afford living in lisbon now a days.
in terms of driving: if i’m in a hurry i’m the most important guy in the road. that’s how we think here. hell, that’s how i think. a lot of times i just want to go home, and the traffic doesn’t move…people get creative about that.
A lot of other things, like hospitals and stuff…well, welcome to a normal portuguese life! you know that a lot of the problems you people in the comments mentioned…you know we have to live with those things, right? yes, hospitals can be slow, justice also, plus the bus and the subway…but we are the ones getting more in trouble because of that. Thank you for appointing the problems that we need to face everyday!
ps: i don’t understand why did you think portugal would be similar to brazil. I really don’t. we share the same language, and we have some knowledge about their culture (they kinda know nothing about ours, except the history in common). That would be terribly easy to find before you reached here. And yes, most people in portugal will tell way more about our problems than about our good things. Well, that’s normal, people are different everywhere. I really don’t care if you come back to lisbon or not, and you are entitled to your opinion. However, no things to see in lisbon? in one of the eldest cities in europe?
Gotta say I almost laughed at some of these so called Lisbon experiences! I just got back from a week in Lisbon, and I not only found the city unbelievably beautiful, but the Portuguese some of the nicest of Europeans I’ve ever met. The only thing I found distressing was the amount of tourists, and all the construction. I have no idea where these people went, but it wasn’t the Lisbon I experienced in October of 2017. Maybe the gorgeous weather, delicious food, amazing views and energy turned off these jaded, bitter travelers.
I’m surprised that this post is still on the top of Google results when I searched something about Lisboa. I’ve lived in Lisboa for half a year now, and I’d like to share my impression about this city. Lisboa isn’t the city I like most in Europe, nor is it the worst. There are things I liked about, but also things I feel uncomfortable. Bear with me, it’s going to be a long comment.
Firstly, I agree Rexy that this city is dirty and poorly maintained. I hate seeing cigarettes in the gaps on pavements. As a non-smoker, I hate people smoke a lot even indoor and in crowded areas. The air quality isn’t really that good unless you go outside of the city. I don’t understand why people don’t wash their cars. Dirty car windows with pigeon poos, dirty seats on ferries. Well, I’m sure it’s still better than India or China, but if you compare to other big cities in Europe, I’d say even London and Berlin fare better in terms of hygiene level.
There’s a lack of trees and green space. I missed places like Hyde Park of London, or Central Park in New York. There are some small jardins, or you can visit the Parque Florestal de Monsanto, but that is a bit far. If you are in the city center, it’s just difficult to find a quiet green space. And even in café, people just quickly drink a bica and go. Even though people are laid back, I don’t really feel relaxed here. Metros, buses and trams are over crowded. Roads are congested. That all adds up and make me feel stressful.
There are Portuguese food I like, such as grilled fish, pasteis, etc. but after a while I found that most portuguese restaurants offer the same food, no matter where I go, so it becomes a bit boring after a while. There is a lack of variety. I can find very good East Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European food in London, but not quite so in Lisbon. The Chinese restaurants here are awful, even the “clandestine” one people recommended.
I still don’t adapt to the late time schedule, that lunch sometimes start at 2p.m., and dinner starts at 8p.m. or even 10p.m. I used to have dinner at around 7p.m. and that’s too early in Portuguese standard. I don’t like my stomach to be too full at late night. I met some portuguese friend who likes to party overnight on Fridays and Saturdays. That is just too much for me, and my neighbourhood is noisy even at 1a.m. or so.
People say in Lisbon you can speak English. Not quite true. It’s only true if you stay inside the expat bubble, but if you need to deal with the government bureaucracy, property agents, or customer services on phone, the experience is awful. Sometimes I just couldn’t find anyone who speak English at all. I am learning portuguese, but it is quite difficult for me and I don’t find people really appreciate foreigners effort in trying to speak their language. More often than so, they look impatient and you just feel that it’s not that easy to make friends with locals. They keep talking about Benefica or Sporting but I’m not interested in their football team at all. I do have a few local friends. When we become close, they are really ‘simpático’ and hospitable people.
There are some beautiful street arts like those by Bordalo II, but there are indeed too much ugly graffiti. I like how they can do street arts everywhere. Once I saw that in a square with no electricity, they just hang a cable across the road over the street lamps and do some video projection. I don’t think such things would be allowed in Germany.
Are portuguese people lazy? They do work long hours, but when they work, they chat a lot and work very slowly. And they are often late, unlike Germans who are punctual and very focused when working.
I don’t really enjoy the heatwaves, like over 35 degrees in June. While in winter, while it isn’t as cold as in northern Europe, but because of humidity and the lack of heating, it feels really bad especially when it rains.
People say housing price is cheaper here. Well, in central Lisboa it’s very expensive already, because of tourists and expats like us moved in. That forced people to moved to suburbs, but the suburbs don’t look very nice. A lot of them are ugly blocks built in 1960-70s. In London, when you go to Zone 3 or beyond, you can find houses with a small backyard easily. London does have a much better urban planning in this regard. Here, most people live in small apartments in packed buildings. Yes, you can find beautiful houses in Cascais, but those are very expensive.
Portuguese often have ‘saudade’ over their past glory and their sea voyages, but they don’t have much knowledge about the darker side of their colonial pasts. They say their colonial rule is milder and they mixed well with indigenous people, but that isn’t quite true. When I read, I started to learn about how they massacred all muslims when they entered Goa, they dug up graves when they wanted to build roads in Macau, while loggers in Brazil has endangered the livelihood of indigenous. I also met Portuguese friend who think that they are less racist than, for example, Americans. Not really. It’s just Americans are very aware of their racism and their media talks about these issues a lot. Racism in Portuguese society is just seldom discussed. For example, when I was looking for apartment, the agent told me that that area is not a good place, because there are a lot of ‘ethnic’ people. And then I thought, what? I’m a foreigner and an immigrant, am I considered a bad “ethnic” people too?
About recycling. There are recycling collection spots, but sometimes they are a bit far. I find it difficult to walk 10mins to the closest spot of recycling. And it is always full, with loads of garbages just littered outside the recycling bins. That is really disgusting. The city council must improve the way they collect recyclables.
There is also a lack of preparation for disasters. I don’t see any fire extinguishers, hoses or sprinklers in my building. None. Lisboa is in the earthquake zone and they all know about the great 1755 earthquake in the history. But do they have any instructions on what to do or where to go in case of an earthquake? Do they teach these things to children? No, they don’t have any planning at all, unlike Japanese who get used to earthquake every year. Earthquake is rare here, but when it comes, I would say that no one would have any clues about what to do. Do they have any plans about climate change, and possible flooding of coastal area? Not at all. That’s also the reason why forest fire killed so many this year.
And I always wonder, what are the famous Portuguese brands? I couldn’t think of one that is well known globally. They have a lot of good low price or middle range wines, but they couldn’t just make one that is as precious as any French wine. They have some leather goods, but none of them as famous as Italian ones. Portuguese music too, besides fado, are often cheesy pop tunes, or some dance music with some Brazilian style or Afrobeats. Perhaps there are good ones, but they are just not something I find I would love to listen all the time.
Portugal is said to the best tourist destination in 2017, but I would say if they don’t improve their infrastructure, maintain their buildings better, and clean up the city, this tourist rush wouldn’t last long. Right now the economy is on the rise, but I have a gut feeling that it will get worse again soon, since they don’t have good planning for the future.
After working and living for half a year, I must say I’m still unsure whether I’d like to live in this city longer. I see a lot of comments from locals here trying to defend their home city. Yes, I know that there are many good sides of this city too, but please take criticism openly. Don’t immediately put on your defence mode. Improve your city. Don’t litter. Stop those bad shopkeepers who try to trick tourists into scams. Clean up the city and make it a better place for everyone please.
I’m surprised this guy calls himself a traveler. Why would you go anywhere with ANY kind of expectations?! The fun of travel is to experience new things, not judge them. I don’t know if you’re American (wouldn’t be surprised), but try going places with nothing but an open mind, and I’m sure you will find wonders.
Hey, I’m portuguese but from the north. I’ve only visited Lisbon once. I was there in a scientific conference so didn’t get to see much but the parts I’ve seen (Belem and Gulbenkian mostly) were nice and tidy, also the metro stations each with its own artwork were really nice.
HOWEVER, I must agree with you on the lisbonners. Christ on a bike, such gloomy arrogant people, you just can’t ask for directions because they immeadiatly look bothered as fuck, you get into an empty cafe and ask for a simple espresso and the waiter acts as if he’s doing you a huuuge favour, you go on a train and you don’t hear a fucking whisper, people just don’t talk to each other, walking on the street everyone avoids eye contact, it’s crazy. There were only a handful of people there who actually spoke to me before being spoken to (like asking the time or commenting the weather) and guess what, they were ALL from the north and they all said they hated living there because people suck – except in Alfama and Bairro Alto, they did say you can still find genuine people there but I did not get a chance to visit.
Summing up, it’s not by accident that the whole north HATES lisbonners with a passion – because they suck. Next time just come to the north and you’ll see how everyone is a lot more welcoming – sometimes a little too welcoming, like asking personal questions and insisting on offering you port wine after you say you don’t drink alcohol. Hehe. Northern monkeys we are BUT warm and genuine. I recommend Oporto, Guimaraes and Coimbra for cities and Geres for a natural park.
Oh, everything said about the driving is true, people are crazy here, and it is worse in the north than in the south, and the smaller the village the crazier the driving – the locals feel like they own the road because they were born there, so it’s their road, move aside muthafucka.
Hope you come back.
PS – 2013 was very gloomy as well, you know with the economic crisis, you could feel a darker atmosphere everywhere. But I was in Lisbon in 2008 and it was already shit and it’s not the crisis it’s them man, it’s the fucking moors (that’s what us northeners call people from the south because it was moor territory once while we are the true celtic descendants ah!)
If you want to learn something about the Portuguese social dynamics you can start with this comment that perfectly illustrates the inferiority complex that some people from the north of Portugal have towards Lisbon and the south.
This is not true, not all, nor even the majority, of northerners hates Lisbon. This sad reality is confined to some really sad individuals that base a whole city and more than a million people on a single trip to the capital ten years ago.
And I’m sure that Portugal would be a more welcoming country if we had more people being quiet on trains and less people hating other for no reason.
I spent a lot of time in Portugal in 2016. Like many places it has its pros and cons. I lived there for almost 10 months but I found it extremely difficult to break the ice with the locals. Which surprised me as I don’t find it hard to make friends anywhere else. I spent a lot of money on intensive language courses only to find some teachers took my money and didn’t turn up or just couldn’t be bothered to teach properly. I was always told people will appreciate you making an effort to speak their language but this just didn’t happen in Portugal. Some of them were helpful but 90% of them just couldn’t be bothered and would just continue to talk at lightning speed with a face like their wallet had just been stolen or even worse they just walked away. The standard of accommodation I found was not great and the houses were not properly maintained. I also had a few other issues with people letting me down. Plus I often got short changed! After 10 months I gave up and left. There was some pros though… The quality of food was amazing with some of the best wine I’ve tasted. I’ve also been converted to expresso coffee thanks to Portugal. Although back home I have to go to the local portuguese quarter to find a decent one. I think if the locals were a bit more accommodating to internationals and the place didn’t have this strong ‘saudade’ melancholy feel to it then I would of happily stayed. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
Totally agree. Lisbon is a really sad and unhappy place to live in. I’m regretting every month of my Erasmus studies there.
You didn’t tell us much at all about Lisbon but certainly managed to say a whole lot about yourself.
I agree. I have been living here for 6 months now. It is more of a global city now with so many tourists, but locals are nasty. I don’t even bother with the nasty or rude eyes/comments anymore. I just want to get the fuck out of here.
It’s getting expensive too. It’s a bad investment comparing to the type and quality of life.
This place has nothing compared to Brazil, Angola or Mozambique.
Probably the only good thing abt this country is the weather. Winter is not that bad, and it’s quite sunny.
I have been to Porto and I was so disappointed.People were unfriendly and rude and changed to English when I tried in Portuguese.I also noticed they don’t provide very good service at the restaurants and that the food is expensive and not worth the money.Definetely not going back .Spain is way better
100% agree with this. I’ve been living here for the past 4 months and you’ve no idea how happy I am to be finally getting out of this place in a few days time. Once you get away from the tourist areas you can see just how much of a shithole Lisbon is. I live near Sete Rios in the north of the city in what can only be described as a GHETTO. Both the native Portuguese (most of, bar a few I’ve met) and the African immigrants from the colonies are so unwelcoming and don’t feel safe especially at night. Most of the neighborhoods I’ve visited give off the same vibe, even across the river in Almada. Trump should include Lisbon to his list of holes.
The Portuguese cultivate Saudade, that’s why they are miserable. They care about no one but themselves and they are Fascists, and their psycho constantly barking dogs attest to this.
i’ve never seen a comment so wrong in my entire life. Hilarious.
I couldn’t agree more. i have a vague recollection of Lisbon in 2014 – my husband and I were not impressed and don’t care to return although his heritage is Portuguese, his family is from the north. all I remember is being offered drugs on every corner (we do not look like the stereotypical type of couple that would use drugs) and lots of beggars. We burst out laughing at this one man on a train playing a tune on a tin can – we weren’t laughing at him being a beggar – rather it was a bizarre sight for us and the song was quite funny. That is probably my favourite memory as it was the only time I genuinely laughed while I was there.
We also got chased by several policemen for not having a train ticket (we didn’t realise you needed to purchase another one for a different line) and it was absolutely pathetic that they treated us like hardened criminals when there were drug dealers only footsteps away.
The food was nice, Belem was a highlight but only for the food. The gypsies in the park cackling away did nothing to endear us to the city. We also visited estoril which looked pretty however it was boring and deserted (in late May). The historical monuments were also boring – who really cares? I’m interested in history but not that particular story I guess. I wasn’t impressed.
The Bairro alto region was my favourite part, more interesting and we visited a cosy wine bar which was nice. I think the more wine I consumed, the better the place seemed!
The comment I most agree with is that the people are so unfriendly. I went shopping a fair bit and I wasn’t greeted warmly by sales assistants which I thought was just my imagination however now that so many other people have said it I realise it wasn’t just me. I was also followed around the shop by a security guard like I was a common thief. I felt unsafe around the people – they just seemed shady and I wouldn’t be able to rely on anyone if I needed it.
We are returning this year but as soon as we land we will rent a car and get the hell out of there, heading south to the Algarve. My experiences of Portugal have been that nowhere is particularly friendly but at least the other areas are more beautiful.
The Algarve is a bit more accomodating mainly because of the expats living there. The Portuguese really like to cater to those who they think are high rollers, such as if you’re Chinese…if you want reasonable service, stick to those places where they have expat personnel working
Lisbon is not a theme park. Stay away from this country. People struggle everyday to pay their bills, we don’t have to put up with arrogant and self-entitled pricks like yourself. We don’t have to be nice. We don’t have to make sure that you have a “great experience”. Because of your kind rents are skyrocketing and Portuguese are unable to find affordable accommodation. Take your dirty money and limited mindset somewhere else. If you want to meet “caipirinhas” go back to South America.
Should we take our 82.5 billion, too? Or is that money–which Portugal needed because of its systemic corruption and incompetence; I.e., its dirtiness–somehow not the dirty kind?
No, rents are skyrocketing in Portugal because your country got itself into the worst economic crisis of any European country since World War II–yes, even worse than Greece, a country with enough exports and infrastructure to crawl out of its hole.
Your rents are skyrocketing because the Portuguese government and Portuguese landlords (basically the elite, so there’s not much difference between the two) had to turn to rent escalation in order to make money.(Did the Germans come here and steal your buildings, then raise rents? No, the Portuguese sold them those buildings.)
Portugal’s poorly-structured businesses, rife with nepotism and cronyism, top-heavy with sinecures (i.e., / e.g., the creation of ten subdirector positions when precisely zero are needed), et. al, is what led to your crisis. Don’t believe me? Read the IMF report, the report your government had to sign off on in order to receive its 82 billion dollar loan.
And “dirty money”? Heh. Good one. Most money is dirty, be it from England, Germany, the U.S., Sweden, or, yes, Portugal. The only prosperity Portugal has ever experienced came via exploration and exploitation, came through colonialism. Any wonder your economy bottomed out once your colonies started to disappear? You know, you can’t run businesses in Lisbon and Porto and Coimbra as if they’re plantations in Moçambique. right? You know that business model isn’t sustainable, right? So why does Portugal never learn?
Props to the Portuguese language, though, for not even bothering to hide that fact, seeing as though the word for “explore” and “exploit” are the same.
Or maybe that lack of differentiation is due solely to laziness. It is Portuguse, after all.
So now tourists are self entitled pricks. Interesting. Well when we spend our money to visit a country, yes we expect to enjoy ourselves not being surrounded by dog poop and rudeness. You prove the authors point… many, not all Portuguese are incredibly nasty people
You’re so right, Fernando, rent in Lisbon used to be so cheap and tourism ruined everything.
Portugal has always been in a bad economic crisis and it’s much better now, but rents are skyrocketing not because of its crisis but because of this massive tourism and invasion of digital nomads, many of these tourists come from rich countries and think they’re entitled to anything and treat people terribly. I’ve seen it. Not to mention a lot of them are the rude ones and expect others to be their personal employees. Oh yeah, these tourists don’t even obey portuguese rules when it comes to covid!!! You can tell a lot of them are pressed, writting a lot of bs and projecting their insecurities on others. I can’t wait to go back to Lisbon. It was the most beautiful, safe and fun experience. Food was delicious. It’s one of the most visited cities in the world for a reason, and thankfully, it seems to push away people the wrong people.
”Portugal got into one of the worst economic crisis of any european country” hm what? i’m laughing so hard. You’re out of touch with reality this is not the 90s anymore. You should really do some research because everything you said was wrong and you clearly dont understand what’s going on right now. Oh and the words ”exploit and ”explore” dont mean the same in portuguese. But i guess that’s what happens when you use google translate and refuse to learn the local language innit.
A comment made by an incult imbecile.
Just stay in your shithole.lisbon is better without you.
What I got for this commentary: You are American! You have all the characteristics: Being allergic to natural smells, being shallow and superficial. This commentary described your expectation and therefor American mentality more than it did anything else!
“I was surprised that Portugal wasn’t like Brazil” Really Were you ever surprised that England wasn’t the U.S.? This was the dumbest thing I’ve ever read and you only stayed there 2 days!
There are many positive things about people, culture, life, views etc. in Portugal and I can talk for hours about the positive things, but I want to say that if you break one of many unwritten unspoken rules that Portuguese have they will PUNISH you in many different ways. For example a dentist knowing you have emergency and are in pain will intentionally postpone your appointment for many days and weeks if they think you have broken one of thousands of rules they have created for themselves and never told us what is the reason. Any company, shop, service are moody and sometimes nice and friendly, but even being the NICEST person you will succumg and screw up some day and that’s where your PUNISHMENT will begin by denying you service and by not servicing you, just promises and never show up at your house, etc. Or a cashier at a grocery store will suddenly start acting extremely rude to you refusing to service you or to pack your bags etc. And you will never find out what went wrong? Suddenly the word will get around (some made up fake gossip) and you will find yourself being unable to buy anything and to get anyone to service your car, your house etc.
To a tourist or a newcomer Portuguese may appear very friendly and nice and some or many or about half of Portugeuse are truly qiite nice although that does not mean they keep their promises and respect other people’s time and schedule. What I want to notice that a lot of Portuguese if not a national trait is their selfishness. You will literaly have to pull letter by letter, word by word of information from the Portuguese. And don’t expect their stories to be truth. Amanhã means “tomorrow” but it actually means “never” or “yeah right”. Your installer, carpenter etc. will come and measure your door, window openings, roof measurements etc. but most likely you will never see them again.
Well i see in your article a lot of critiques.
Each one should respect opinions and i respect yours.
But as i saw in your article, you came to Lisbon by bus from Madrid in a 12 hours trip. I did that trip several times in a company called avianca-auto-res. I assume you used the same company as it is the only. I see you are generalized you experience starting on the bus ride to Lisbon on a spanish based company with spanish bus drivers(this ones are always rudes and not well educated in that trip).. Believe me they are ignorant, i did that trip a lot of times and one time the driver broke my bag puting them down in the carrying place of the bus.
From here your start a bad mood in Lisbon, even you write the pigeons looks depressed! Man the pigeons do not have so much expression as us humans, it seems to me who was depressed was you at those days, when we are depressed, sad and not in good mood, everything around us looks sad, boring and with no interest at all, doesn’t matter what part of the world you are. You could be in disneyland and still everything is sad around, my friend.
I have been in Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, USA , And mostly of Eu countries and eastern Europe.
Portugal is definitly one of the best, in food , in prices as generally it is economic for tourists and the major best thing of this country is the places to see , the nature, the coast the see and specially the sun light on that part of the earth in the summer. But of course if we are well depressed in a very bad mood , there is no sun light, no blue sky that could change your interior mood.
About the people, in general they are friendly, not so like brasilians cause this is an european country land. But generally they are friendly and well inteligent people , most of portuguese speak very well english as that you dont find in the neighboor country Spain.
About the dirty and mess in the streets, there are yes, mainly in the most old historical areas that are really clean by the municipe now in 2018.
But man, please you really talk about mess, dirty and bad smells? Are you sure have you been to south America as you stated Brasil?
Ignorant, rascist, shallow, misinformed, arrogant, narrow-minded asshole. Unsafe in Lisbon? Oh really? Portugal is the 3rd safest country on the planet. It’s people like you that make Trump look ‘good’. Don’t go back- Portugal is better off without morons like you.
Hello Luisa, I’m writing this in English (because I could do it in portuguese) ’cause I want this asshole to see this comment.
The best part of the article is “Comparison to Brazil” and “THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE”. Both of this titles made me sick, not only due to the racism and ignorance explicit in the text, but also the lack of intelligence that is present here. How can someone say that that there’s nothing to see in Lisbon, the city that appears in every history book? The capital of the country that made History along many centuries!
Typical text wrote by a person who claims that portuguese people speak spanish. Stupid.
i fully understand that someone doen’t like a city. That happened to me several times. Of course i wouldn’t dream of saying nasty things about the people or the place. I dididn’t like New York, i felt very unsafe there, advised not to go around after dark but i had to adapt to the place and i saw very strange things . Something that stroke me very sharply was the habit of asking for tips to the customers in restaurants something unthinkable for an european, no matter how bad is one’s salary. It’s a question of education. The same way i wouldn’t insult New york or the new Yorkers. I just Will not be back.
Wow, it is a free world and everybody is free to like a place or not, and write his or her experiences. Apparently some Portuguese people think they will change the autor’s opinion by writing bitter comments here? You just confirm his opinion, you know. Not everybody is going to like your country, as noone likes everything, why don’t you just relax or try to show the nice things you claim having. And yes, your country benefits by tourism and it is very apparent Portugal badly needs that extra income. Just saying.
And you seem very civilized by posting this comment. Jeeez! ( eye rolling)
Yes because police is looking at the water while fake drug dealers are allowed to ruin a nice meal by following you trying to sell their fake shit. Why always so pretentious and superior? You are not Portugal, it’s highly possible that it’s the place where you mother brought you to earth!! You know earth? That tiny small planet somewhere in the universe?
My name is Rita, I’m from Lisbon and I would like to say something about this amazing city that you hated.
This may sound ridiculous, but after reading this, even though it is about a city, I feel personally offended. It’s like you are writing a bad comment about me, because maybe, you are. Since I’m not going to comment your choice of words while writing that awful title, I’m going to start by saying that when I was reading this article, in a certain way, I was understanding you and even agreeing with you when you said that the streets are dirty. Yes, it’s a shame because we have such beautiful colors around the city that should never be unseen due to the dirt of the street. BUT on the other hand, you should know that it is really offensive when you write a title: “Comparison to Brazil”. You must be kidding me. This is a typical ignorant comment from a person who probably thinks Portuguese people speak Spanish. Brazil and Portugal are such different countries, and even though Brazil is an ex-Portuguese colony with many similar characteristics, you can’t write an article with a subtitle like that. We are in the year 2018, It’s kinda normal that Brazil and Portugal are not similar any more. The last topic that I’m going to refer with such anger is the “THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE”. How can you say that about a city that made history form around the world? How can you say that there isn’t monuments that describe the events that Portugal was present along many centuries that we participated?! I’m truly sorry for you awful experience in my home city, but please, first you need to understand that this city isn’t modern or futuristic, it has roots, something you probably don’t understand so that’s why you didn’t like it. Second get a History Book, learn something and come back so you can appreciate Lisbon’s beauty.
I don’t blame you feeling offended; I’m from England (with some Portuguese cousins) and I adore Lisbon. I can’t understand some of the comments here, especially as tourists mostly only do a best of tour. I like the usual areas, too, but I always visit Lapa and Torel, too, for instance and even discovered the bairro colonias and all those streets like Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, Mozambique, Zaire, Angola etc. I think many of the contributors here lack flexibility; I think, too, they may well be somewhat uncultured. They seem to have a set idea of what a city should be like and that it must have plenty of real blockbuster sights, which Lisbon is relatively short on due to the 1755 earthquake (on my birthday!). But I believe you can still really love a place without a lot of blockbuster sights; there’s nothing specific to see in alfama, for instance, but it’s wonderful to walk around with its steep inclines and the rails. all very picturesque and colourful and like a village despite being in central Lisbon
Honey, I have been in a Third World country and people took more pride in their surroundings. People were more Pleasant, friendly… I’m sorry it’s painful to read these things about your city but for many tourists it is the truth
Did you really traveled to Lisbon in the last 3 years?
May be you’re bored with your Hull city and try to take revenge on Lisbon.
Or maybe the world have a lot of fake news:
Do you need more help for your new review travel?
Thanks. Write more articles about how Lisbon sucks, so stupid tourists just simple go away or never come here. This city is now a tourist atraction. We who lived and work here our entire lifes are being pushed away to the suburbs. This was a nice place to live, when no one cared about this, sure it had some rotten edges but it’s our city not some middle class so called travellers city. 18 hours here? Nice for you, I live here 30 years and right now I bought the building I’m living in because some German business man tried to bought the building for a stupid German Hostel, I prefer spend my entire life paying for this building and let only portugueses living here than having white ass travellers spending the weekend of their lifes. Go to your home! Most of the money you spend here goes to English and German corporate and portuguese. WE HATE TOURISM!
Can I say I am quite old and have travelled quite wide and I would say any anyone going to Lisbon not to go as we were offered drugs just walking down the road also were there the time of Eurovision and their was an anti UK vibe. When visiting an Italian restaurant in the capital was told the only place was available for my family was outside even when there clearly places inside and was quite confusied when this was aggressively pointed out. Additionally at the train station at the point of sale refused to understand our clear directions that was accessed an expected the previous day. I don’t think this capital wants diversity or inclusion therefore please do not give them your dollar just let them become more isolated and economically poor.
Hey, just curious, but are you aware that Portugal’s rather sudden turn to aggressively pandering to tourists–something that wasn’t even half as dramatic when this guy wrote this article five years before you penned your comment (after all, a lot of it came about as a result of IMF recommendations in 2016)–is 100% the result of its wholly self-created, entirely avoidable economic crisis?
The kind of garish–and ultimately desperate–tourism industry to which Portugal has necessarily turned in recent years is the kind of thing certain countries, usually because of corruption and/or poor work ethics, and/or shortsightedness, have to engage in when they’ve failed to develop self-sustaining infrastructures.
So, in short, whose fault is it that you now need to deal with the inevitable side effects of this industry which, after all the math is done, is playing a big part in pulling you out of the abyss? (You know, aside from 85 billion from the IMF, funded by British, American, Canadian, etc. taxpayers.)
Here’s a hint: it’s not German businessmen.
paris can be dirty and depressive and super dangerous,and berlin idem. spain can also be horrible,and switzerland unfriendly as f. i lived 10 years in France,and currently i live in Berlin since 11 years. sincerely i would love to know from where u come from .
Nice to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t find anything special with Portugal. Sure, the weather and the beaches are nice, but living there is frustrating and the Portuguese are stand offish and many times rude. I didn’t enjoy working with them in general, they are unreliable and luck structure and quite gossipy. I met some nice people too, but I didn’t like the vibe in general and I was happy to leave.
Before reading this post, I have to confess, I have heard similar negative impressions about Portugal over the years. I am an American who has lived in Switzerland for the last 10 years, and have travelled extensively across Europe. The Portuguese people who come to work in Switzerland I find incredibly warm and friendly. Maybe they are happy to be out of Portugal and earning better wages. I’ve heard rural parts of Portugal are quite beautiful as well as Madeira and the Azores (which I would not mind to visit). Algave way too touristy, and I really have no desire to go to a city where people don’t pick up after their dogs (I am a dog lover with dogs). I’ve also heard the food across Portugal is extremely average. As a vegan though I understand there are several options in Lisbon. Honestly, can’t say Portugal is at the top of my list of places to visit, although it is considered one of the safest places in Europe; not a target for terrorists, and generally very low on violent crime. I need to feel a stong pull to a place before I bother going there and spending my money. Unfortunately, Portugal has never had that pull – except for as I mentioned, Madeira and the Azores.
We just spent five days in Lisbon and or experience was very different. The pros: every person we interacted with was very friendly, or at the very least, helpful. We never experienced begging with the exception of the very poor women outside a church. With a little research we found lots of fresh and healthy food options. Plus the prices for good food and wine was amazingly reasonable. The two train stations we used were easy to navigate and clean. Our hotel ended up being in a quiet neighborhood with a delightful “mini-express” market where we found felt made options for a couple light meals in our room.,.the soups rival any restaurant’s. The views from neighborhood hilltops were gorgeous. On the con side, the beautiful historic buildings and streets could use a good washing (perhaps the end of the long depression they’re recovering from will provide funds) and a dog clean up law would be an improvement. Luckily there seem to be far fewer dogs than in many other European cities. Overall we found Lisbon to be a friendly and delightful city with an interesting history.
We’re not “recovering” from a depression. That would employ that we’re digging ourselves out of a hole–i.e., what some people call “working”. We simply received a blood transfusion of billions and billions from the International Monetary Fund, money which will have to be paid back by the next generation, because, you know, that’s my kids’ problem!
There was no reckoning here–i.e., waking up to the fact that we now have to work harder, more efficiently, more HONESTLY–there was simply a taking-of-the-handout and slipping back into default denial mode. In other words, the systemic issues which led to the depression are actually now worse, this country will within the next 15 years recede into another depression, one rossly compounded by the billions we already owe.
So, no, no one is going to bother pretting up buildings here and there. You think pigs in slop care in the least about the slop?
You want views, that`s all! 🙂
Greetings from Portugal
Lisbon is shit, it’s true, but only the Portuguese people are entitled to say that or anyone else who has lived there long enough to have their reasons to say that. You, buddy, are a spoiled tourist with fancy expectations that stem from your formatted internet, foodie, selfie, “here I am” culture. Lisbon’s long history was not made to please you. Drop dead or learn to understand and enjoy the real world.
Rex, I didn’t finished reading your post. After two paragraphs it was clear to me that it wasn’t going to add any value to the traveler community. It’s a pity you missed a good opportunity to make an adult and compelling argument to support your reasons for such a passionate hatred. Instead you came up with a rather infantile prose void of any substantial content. Your views, which I respect as any other, are just a superlative exercise of patriotic narcissism that ironically defeats the very purpose of existence of your blog as an “inspirational” source for the traveler. I would recommend that you do your research. More of it and better. And then make sure you arrive to each destination with an open mind to the differences that make it uniquely interesting, rather than subjecting yourself to the practice of futile comparisons. Good luck Rex.
Hello my fellow people
Funny as I have been coming to Lisboa for 13 years ! And I’m only (he says only) 38
Well I’m English so that’s a lot
This guys comments are actually quite typical of someone who gives Lisbon a very short visit and has no clue
A few of my London friends also hated it for their own reasons
BUT Lisbon is the most special and beautiful city on earth as are the people you just need to dig deeper and GET IT
When you do I promise it all becomes clear and life in Lisbon is is simply amazing
We will help any lost souls
Hi, I moved here from South Africa and for the past two years am still finding incredible beautiful places to explore in Lisbon. Can’t believe you are not able to find anything. The bus services are modern, clean and very reliable. Look I don’t have much to gain by posting this of one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. Yes I have travelled too. The downside is my husband has a family who won’t accept me. That mentality is a huge cultural shock since we are married many years. But there are good and bad everywhere you go, so I head out often to the country of Fatima. The food is brilliant and vibe incredible. Come back with an open mind and look enjoy your next visit.
I think the reader when wrote this was severely depressed… that was why he even saw the Lisbon birds sad… Go back to Lisbon after a round of antidepressant pills..you might see the world less dark
Lisbon is ok, but heavily overrated. If you have been in Barcelona or Rome, well, then you don’t need to go to Lisbon.
Moreover, Lisbon is full of pickpockets and con-artists. During my 3 day stay there, they tried to scam me 2 times. One time an African guy came to ask me money to go to see his child in the hospital (or something like that). Another time, a Canadian came to ask 35€ to buy a bus ticket to the Algarve because his backpack was stolen. When I asked his email address (to refund me the money later), it didn’t exist. He gave me a second email address and it also returned a delivery failure message… I also saw a guy on a bike stealing a smartphone from a girl in the street…
This kind of stuff can happen anywhere, but in Lisbon it seems all too common.
Funny, isn’t it, that prior to reading this website, the few people I’ve met who have done Lisbon, as well as Barcelona, all preferred the Portuguese city.
I totally understand you. i had the same exact experience and I am trying my best to leave as quickly as possible and forget this life changing experience.
Definitely the worst country I have lived in, the worst people I met in my entire life and the worst decision of my life.
I don’t know how you can say you enjoy travel and don’t enjoy Lisbon…SMH. Worst travel article I’ve ever read and it’s not just because I disagree; it’s the fact you probably put more time into writing this then you actually spent in the city your dissing
The first thing I noticed, as a Brazilian, was the smug and gloomy faces and the reactions you get when you try to banter/be nice.
People are either rude, sad and nervous/easily start speaking in a loud tone for no reason or are just awkward/don’t know how to interact. In Brazil you can go up to literally anyone and ask some question and banter a bit. Try doing that in Portugal…people will give you a poker face when you make a joke as if you’re wasting their time or will answer your original question nervously and face the opposite direction of you.
Weird, sad and angry people.
Lol, just came back from Lisbon and boy, how do I love Portugal and the Portuguese people! My memories are just so bright and full of positive energy. Your post reflects one tiny experience of yours… how strange to claim that this is Portugal. Much love
Note; for a bitchier narration….I’ll be using a very strong language to indicates my hatred.
Call me “Sangre Azul” as they say in Spanish.
My 7th year in Lisbon. This is my love hate relationship with Mama Lisboa okay.
Honest, straight to the point. No B.S whatsoever.
I live in a very comfortable house in a very nice suburb on Linha Cascais. No complaints.
Pay 46-48% taxes. I contribute to this society And I do have a lot of right to say what I have to say and please note that even your annual wages won’t cover my tax here okay? got it? yes. good now listen.
I moved to Portugal in exchange of my extravagant life to a simpler lifestyle. I had a huge expectation before I arrived here. Nah! Lisboa Failed me.
I don’t care if you try to sugarcoats everything about lisboa… How you think this city is cool bla bla bla. dope or whatever… It’s just for your own satisfaction being Ignorant and an attitude don’t want to listen to others opinion. that’s what you are about. How about read and ponder?
The place is miserable enough…. Everything is ultra negative with saudade kind of thing. so fucked up. top to toe yet people don’t realize this at all?
Lazy people are everywhere, piles and piles and piles of dog human dinosaurs faeces. Literally everywhere on the street here and there bla bla bla….what a very smelly city this is. so unhygienic! They do nothing to make this more beautiful.
Loads of ramshackle building public transport tram metro and train are all falling apart – covered with uneducated irrelevant graffitis… It’s wrong and weird. it’s a No No Art. Open your eyes? No improvement always a bloody strikes. Solve this.
Once I went to the parque they broke into my car and stole my bag! and it’s not safe here it took the police 2 hours to come to the location the fact that the station is less than a KM is butthurt!
lt’s awful it’s miserable and it’s too negative.
The service in Lisbon and Portugal is the worse. They will not treat the customer the way they should treat them like developed countries. very rude services very slow very lazy employees. If the customer say something they say customer treat the locals as a slave. Maybe they got carried away with 500 600 years ago stories of that world discoveries explored by their forefather…. maybe they always think that they have higher status than the others… If you are better show it to others do something not just sit back do nothing and complaints…. you ain’t a conquerer honey. plus we don’t live in that era.
Then come this gentrification?
it’s weird. people are extremely greedy with housing prices in lisbon. they put up the most irrelevant prices on real estates in lisbon. super high… thing is I don’t care but I feel sorry for the younger generation of Portuguese people. they can’t afford to own a mortgage in Lisbon all bought by foreigners what a lost…. look it up online… the prices are extremely ridiculous for what you will get. is nothing special honey we don’t live in upper east side. it’s just Principe real…
My prediction: The city won’t change for a long long time…. stop hoping for something to change in 10…15 years… I have witnessed things here and I don’t think it’s an easy process. people are scared to invest. you know how important it is for an investment from foreigners? For a country without it’s own commodities? Do your math baby.
well on the other perspective:
5 is a good number to enjoy a country. I learned my lesson. I do not regret at all. I gained experience. Time to leave
Note: I love Portuguese countryside with Semi Mediterranean weather with olive trees and succulent garden. it’s something I will remember.
Totally agree. I also hated Lisbon. I’ve been there very recently and I also had high hopes based on what people I knew said of it. But unfortunately I didn’t like it. I was constantly approached by drug dealers and beggars. I was constantly on guard because I was worried about pickpocketers. I couldn’t relax there. When I was buying a train ticket at the machine a beggar approached me and asked me for money. And to sum up my time in Lisbon, on my last day I was short changed by a supermarket cashier! She knew what she was doing. She just saw that I was a tourist and thought she could scam me. Overall it was an unpleasant experience for me and I will never return to this horrible city.
I have lived in Cascais, west of Lisbon, for a year now and go into Lisbon 2-3 times a week. I have travelled to over 50 countries, and have lived several years each in London, Dublin, and Paris. So, I know a thing or two about other large cities. Here goes:
1) the Portuguese are the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met, number one in all the countries I have been to.
2) The climate is outstanding, not too hot in the summer (can get hot, though, when the Sahara winds blow north) and not too cold in the winter. It was 20 C and sunny yesterday in December. People were swimming at the beach without wetsuits.
3) I love the food, it is fresh and very good quality. There are strict laws on food quality here. It is definitely easier in smaller countries to have higher standards. There are great restaurants in Lisbon. But, there are also bad restaurants as there are in every city in the world. Do your research.
4) There is a street cleaner that cleans the sidewalk outside our house twice a week. Garbage truck picks up the trash seven days a week. No other place on the planet does this. The streets can be dirty but this happens everywhere.
5) There are a million things to see and do in and around Lisbon. It sounds like a lot of people on this blog were lazy in their research.
6) Portugal is western but one of the poorer countries in the first world. They had rent control up until about 2011 or 2012 so there was no incentive to renovate the buildings. This law was changed. Buildings and houses are now being renovated and the city is going through a huge reconstruction boom. The city has changed and will continue to improve.
Do some research before your next trip to Lisbon and give it a chance. I am sure you will love it like I and many others do.
I couldn’t agree more. Lisbon is SUCH a disappointment. After traveling for years, I can’t believe how miserable, ugly, dirty, and underwhelming this city is. I’m really confused as to why people like it. We thought about leaving the first day too, we ended up staying 4 nights. We regret not leaving.
Oh dear Lord, don’t you people get it? We don’t look poor, we ARE poor, overworked and underpaid! Please do a Google search on gas prices and minimum wages comparisons, to see what I mean.
Any people you might encounter on the street won’t smile at you because if they’re on the street, they’re either rushing from/to one of their many jobs or they’re beggars/unemployed. You won’t find people with money roaming the downtown streets, what are you guys expecting?!
Portugal lived under a dictatorship for 40 years, rich people loved it, poor people were miserable and had no outside contact, they had NOTHING, didn’t even know what a Coke (Coca-Cola) was, something that African countries had already, for example. With the revolution it was like the flood gates opened (unruly chaos-like)…and since then, every single politician from every single party has only been looking out for their own benefits, so the result of that is a city (and country) very badly taken care of.
People don’t (and have no reasons to) trust the Police, the Legal System, even their own doctors sometimes because EVERYONE is always doing something shady for their own benefit. In my 31 years of life I have not known A SINGLE person who doesn’t scam the government/taxes/IRS in some way. And it’s not because the people are thieves by default, it’s for the same reason big companies flee the country, because of unsustainable water/electricity/paperwork prices and bureaucracy.
About the driving, it’s not exactly that they’re bad drivers per se, but the police literally ambush people for tickets and the drivers feel such revolt that even the most meek person you know, when seated behind the wheel becomes a savage trying to get away with every and anything illegal they can when they suspect the police is not around. Oh, and why does the Police ambush people for tickets, you wonder? They are understaffed and underpaid and their own Chiefs THREATEN them with repercussions if they don’t get certain amounts of ticket money.
Now, about Lisbon being bad tourism, that’s just plain wrong. The natural views, the cultural side, the architecture (even if dirty, yes, because the mayor’s office doesn’t order even 25% of the cleanings it should), museums, Roman ruins, the food and the drinks, the castle, there is so much cool stuff to do just in the actual city of Lisbon (and don’t get me started on Cascais, Sintra, etc.) that even people living here for all their lives find something new every weekend. It’s fascinating that Rexy was so bummed out after such few hours. And let’s get real, what kind of travelers are in Lisbon with no idea what to do and pass down the opportunity to see and hear a live performance of UNESCO Cultural Heritage’s FADO because they don’t want to sit at a table for a couple of hours?!!
One more thing about the rudeness…you’ll find that even if the Portuguese look depressed and always frowning, if you manage to actually talk to one (that’s not rushing somewhere!) they’re very helpful and friendly. Most of the rude people you encounter (besides the drivers lol) are NOT Portuguese and don’t even know how to speak the language.
This comment comes in no way related to any national pride I might have, because I have next to none of that. The Portugal I’d like to stand up for is almost an unintelligible idea of what it could’ve been if we had less corruption amongst us. But fair is fair and I couldn’t read so many of these comments and the original post itself and remain silent when I could help shine some light on this subject.
l´ve been losing my time reading these comments in the middle of the night. l´m Brazilian and l´ve lived in Lisbon. l agree with every single word you said. Portugal is touristically very underrated. Most people only know the beaches. Having said that, live is very very hard for the average person there…
Like you said, the Portuguese come across as rude but when you actually need help they will help you.
Thank you for this. I wish more Portuguese would respond with informative comments like this. But I will say… I’ve visited a Third World country, who just ended a war and the people were more pleasant than the Portuguese. But I really do appreciate your informative comments
Your report strikes me like a déjà-vu. I went to Lisbon, even learnt the language (the Brazilian version though, because it sounds much nicer) and was sneared and stared at by grumpy locals in Lisbon. LOL
In the end I even ended up in an argument with a ticket vendor who told me a wrong information and his embarrassed colleague, instead of defending me, just turned away.
I haven’t experienced this anywhere in Europe and I 100% agree with you that Lisbon is a rather unfriendly city. And many people I talked to got the very same impression.
Try Madeira – a nice island and totally different.
Portuguese and Brazilians don’t mix – at all. They really don’t like each other.
So if you walk around Lisbon speaking in a Brazilian accent, that’d be comparable to going to Texas and speaking to people in a plummy Oxford accent. You’d get funny looks there too.
something tells me your a spoilt rich kid who knows nothing about real life.america is a dump and p[overty ridden,and way more unsafe than lisbon. your attitude is one of entitlement and pig ignorance. i despise travellers like you.idiots.
You seem very high maintenance. …Or like many, you are used to the world wide accepted concept of American niceness. I just visited here and fell in love with the city, the history..food and people. Some of them are grumpy or come off that way, but when you look into that, there is a historic root in that too. People here are so nice, sometimes it takes them a bit to warm up to you, but then they are genuine and you can have brilliant conversations until midnight! Hope your next visit will change your mind. 🙂
I completely agree with you, this was my first opinion of Lisbon too, it’s dirty, there are more miserable rude people than there are nice, the streets are busy, the buildings some could be stunning, but they aren’t well kept, historic building covered in graffiti, like do they have no pride for their history? there is shit graffiti everywhere, and I remember sitting down to dinner one night with my partner and I thought to myself I’m going to start a go fund me page for Lisbon “donate a bucket of paint to Lisbon”. I too don’t feel safe in Lisbon as a female, unlike when I lived in Dublin and would happily walk the streets day and night no propblem. the streets are so dirty, they aren’t wheelchair friendly either. I was offered drugs on many occasions, I saw many pick pockets, not to mention the Taxi drivers, they are such aggressive drivers, everyone drives so fast in the city too, and they use their horns more than their indicators. The only thing I like about Lisbon is it has a great selection of Vegan restaurants. I travel to Lisbon often for work and I just feel trapped and clostrophobic as soon I walk into the city and I can’t wait to get out! As for the beggars, I pretty much had the same experience as you did! I felt safer in Pretoria, Johannesburg and that’s saying a lot! I also don’t find Lisbon that cheap! I live in Spain and it’s much nicer, cheaper, and the people are so friendly. Lisbon was a huge let down for me!
In the 90s, I was offered drugs too. There were dealers on the train station’s platform ffs, waiting for tourists to get off. One followed me into a bank. He was shoving a slab of hashish in my face while I was talking to the teller, to buy escudos! I was also offered stolen goods (watches, cameras) a few times.
I visited an illegal bar somewhere in an appartment in Bairro Alto. A dutch tourist’s camera was stolen there, he was livid! Some guys took him to a side room for a little one-on-one, he came out red-faced and even angrier. He shouted he was going to call police, one guy responded with a “slash your throat” gesture.
I was also told by German backpackers in an Algarve camping that local youngsters drove around at night looking for tourists to beat up. They’d met one guy who had facial wounds from being beaten with bike chains.
They don’t like Germans very much down there.
I think Lisbon is a very beautiful place!!!
I started coming to Lisbon in 2007 and liked it so much that I moved here (from Paris, no less) in 2013, the year you wrote this. Seems your disappointment has everything to do with unrealistic expectations and projections. Like that the Portuguese should be just like the Spanish or Brazilians based on superficial similarities. Or that people who can only afford to travel home on an overnignt bus are going to share the giddiness of a tourist on an adventure. Or that something bad should happen to you in a place so run down, though nothing did. A Google images search would have shown you what to expect visually. And a scratch of research would have told you that Lisbon was one of the safest cities in Europe even then. I could go on, but it’s been six years, so you’re probably older and wiser now anyway. 🙂
Looks like a report from some primitive and superficial life form.
I currently live in Lisbon and I just hate this city so much. It’s full of tourists all year around, you can’t fit in the sidewalks, and now prices and rents have just sky rocketed. Every weekend i leave this stressful city and go to Alentejo. Lisbon is just overhyped and I actually love to see posts like this one so that people can just go take Instangram photos elsewhere. If you think the Portuguese were not nice in 2014, I can assure that now most of the residents are fed of tourists and won’t give you directions even if you are 100 metres from the destination.
I agree. Lisbon is overrated. It’s horrible to drive in with one way tiny streets and never-ending steep roads that don’t lead anywhere interesting, average food, people not so friendly and a slightly grim aura about the place. I’m obviously not feeling generous today! I’d choose the Algarve over Lisbon any day.
Be aware of scams in Lisbon. The latest one is a bunch of kids dressed up as if they were part of a NGO asking tourists for donations to assist poor people. It’s all fake and it’s a big scam. Also be aware of pickpockets because they are very professional and they are pretty much everywhere in Lisbon. Hate to say this but unfortunately my city is no longer the nicest place to visit.
I first visited in the 70s (portuguese parents dragged me there). I hated it as a kid, thought it was the 3rd world. Border police were fascists with anger management issues. Everybody was arrogant, angry and nationalistic. And that’s considering they dote on children.. I visited as an adult a few times, it was even worse.
Portuguese are ignorant, irresponsible, drive like crazy, electric wiring is laughably unsafe (I know of a tourist electrocutied under the shower), roofs are leaky. Hotel and restaurant staff are passive-agressive, condescending, sometimes openly hostile. They joke about you in Portuguese to each other and laugh in your face.
Parents always told me I’m a whiner, I feel vindicated now. I also heard about bad experiences from friends. Many got robbed, lots of junkies around in the 90s. Never experienced that, I think it’s safer now. The city is gentrifying.
Still, it’s ridiculous to claim there’s nothing to see. I’d never go on a rip-off walking tour anywhere. Buy a little city guide, use public transport to get around.
There’s plenty of museums and monuments, there are bars and restaurants everywhere, esp Bairro Alto, and fancy clubs at the docks. There’s the hip XL Factory area, and the food court close to the ferry station. There’s the odd viewpoint (Miradouro) that’s worth checking out.
And indeed you can go on day trips. The locals go to the beach in Cascais and Estoril, there’s Sintra and surrounding national park. There’s a nature reserve close to Setubal.
As for Lisbon Oriente Train Station, it’s on the edge of the city. It’s a hub connecting Lisbon to some other parts of the country. There’s not many people living or working in that area, so you don’t get much home-work commuters there.
In my experience, some parts of Lisbon are very quiet, esp outside of tourist season. You’ll see huge crowds in the area spanned by Restauradores, Rossio, and Bairro Alto though, esp in summer. And at tourist hotspots of course, like the Santa Justa Elevator and St George castle, there can be huge lines there. The famous Belem cafe is always very busy.
Baixa is a shopping area during the day, the main street down to the Praca do commercio is full of restaurants, living statues etc. Very touristy, not my thing. Alfama can be busy too, esp in the evening.
I am portuguese, born and living in Lisbon. All I can say is that, overall, Portugal is a shitty country. It never treated well it’s people. That’s why we are so narrow minded.
That’s why there are thousands of Portuguese living abroad. It makes me laugh to say that Portugal is one of the best places to live, maybe it is for the thousands of foreigns that get tax benefits or for the golden visa corrupted mafia. If you want to understand the real Portugal, maybe look at the happiness index of Portugal, birth rate, average salaries and emigration rates. A lot of people are investing crazy amounts in real estate and the bubble will burst big time when ageing and economic downturn kicks in. Just wait and see. This country is heading for yet another crisis.
I am Portuguese. Lisbon is a beautiful city. You just didn’t visit the right parts of Lisbon. I am not a “Lisbon Defender”, but I get incredibly angry because of your ignorance. I respect your opinion, but:
-You expected better architecture? There are many forms of “art”. Buildings can be old (and a little dirty), but that doesn’t mean they are bad or ugly. You just need to LEARN to APPRECIATE the buildings.
-Did you think the music was “sad”? It is meant to be that way. LEARN to APPRECIATE it. By the way, it is called FADO. Did you even care to read a liitle bit about Lisbon? There is another form of Fado that I think you would like more. It’s called Fado Corrido. Search it in YouTube or something.
-SPANISH PEOPLE ARE WAY DIFFERENT THAN PORTUGUESE PEOPLE. Maybe the people you met wer in a bad mood because you were taking photos at them because you were being ignorant or not respecting portuguese culture/not respecting portuguese manners or you just didn’t meet the right portuguese people. In fact, we like tourists!!! Especially if they are NOT arrogantly sarcastic or igorant. WE LOVE TO SHARE OUR CULTURE.
-DON’T TAKE PHOTOS TO PEOPLE. At least here in Portugal, we don’t like to get photographed nor filmed by tourists. I am saying this because of that photo that you took with taxi drivers in it.
-VISIT OTHER PARTS OF LISBON. At least from what you published, you only visited a tiny fraction of Lisbon. Maybe you will like it more next time you visit other parts of Lisbon.
OH, and PLEASE try Lisbon’s tradicional food.
(I recommend one good old “Pastel de Nata”).
.P.S.: DON’T COMPARE PORTUGAL TO OTHER COUNTRIES. OH, AND JUST BECAUSE YOU FELT UNSAFE, DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE UNSAFE. DID YOU KNOW LISBON IS SAFE? OH, NO, YOU DIDN’T BECAUSE YOU DON’T CARE.
By the way, I am publishing this comment in 2019. You published that in 2013. Since 2013 Lisbon has been evolving a lot.
Just one last thing: SPANISH != PORTUGUESE.
You are totally right.
1. Once you get there, you realize that this country is not ready for foreigners, tourists or students. Poor knowledge of English, most of them don’t know even the basics, and those who do are students and younger people in general. No one asked you to learn the whole Oxford dictionary, but the basics? (I’m not from an English speaking country, just to set that straight.)
2. Cuisine is laughable. I would be ashamed to present that garbage you call francesinha to someone and call it a ”must try”, delicacy etc. It’s a toast, and for me personally, a really bad one. 90% of gourmet offer are fast food stuff, tapas and codfish. Lack of character I would say, like with many other things but we’ll get to that.
3. Everything is overpriced and overrated. The prices for accommodation would be considered hilarious, if they weren’t tragic. Disastrous conditions, it feels like Portuguese people have never been outside of Portugal so they feel like their value is higher than it actually is. It’s really not. There are far more nicer, interesting and wealthier countries than Portugal who have those prices. Bars, restaurants and even some groceries are far too expensive. While on the ame hand, you can’t get some basic groceries until you put yourself through a good search between shops.
4. Waiters are a disaster. Self service in bars, I mean, do you know the description of the job? You do, but you are so arrogant and lazy that you will still charge that coffee 1, 2 or even more euros, even though the customer has to come to you to order and then wait, pay and take its drink. Restaurants aren’t like that but you always get a feeling like they hate you. Some Portuguese people I’ve met have agreed upon that. No charm, human touch in approach etc., let’s just get it over with…
5. Traffic. I think this is the only country where I’ve witnessed so many idiots in traffic. Pedestrians and drivers, passing or walking through red lights like it’s nothing. Even the police (I saw them do it twice). I almost got ran over by drivers a couple of times. It’s a normal thing, here in Porto at least. Idiots.
6. Meals in student restaurants cost almost 3 euros, while the whole ”menu” costs over 3. ”Student menu”. It’s cheaper to make food at home when you plan ahead and buy big. Disaster.
7. Tradition is poor. You have these ”Harry Potter” looking idiots all over the city with their capes, yelling all the time and thinking ”oh I’m so cool” while I noticed some tourists laughing at them (like me). Yes, you have churches, Cristiano Ronaldo, buildings with azulejos and stuff but other than that, zero. Sometimes I wonder how you once ruled the planet, it’s a world wonder. Culture is totally overblown, boring boring stuff really.
8. People are mostly not nice. They don’t like you, they are rude, they hate to speak English (if they know it, which they probably don’t) and you always feel unwelcomed. I’ve met some Portuguese people who are tolerable but I’m talking about the general population. Portuguese like to stick only and mostly with Portuguese and you cannot deny it.
9. Health care and hospitals. I think I don’t have to comment on that one actually, even Portuguese know what’s it like. Horror.
10. Public transportation is too expensive. You are in Portugal, not in a world leading force or major tourism destination. As I heard, the minimum wage in Portugal is not that great so even for the Portuguese it should be expensive.
11. EVERYTHING IS OVERRATED. Everyone knows that tourism in Portugal almost didn’t exist 15 years back which is no shock at all but with all these flaws, it’s surprising how it exists today. Lisbon must be one of the most boring capitals ever. There reall isn’t that much to see in this country and yet, you present yourselves totally different.
After everything said, I know there will be those people who had a great time, partied a lot, travelled a lot, who don’t really care that much about money, cuisine, culture or basically anything that I’ve stated above. But for all of us who do, and many people whom I talked to have agreed, this country was a pure disappointment. I had some nice moments during my Erasmus stay but there were far too little and mostly out of Portugal (although Azores was fun). There are more things which I didn’t like, but I think they are more of a ”personal matter and taste”, so I didn’t want to mention them and maybe be offensive to some. Hope you don’t delete the post, I am just telling the truth. And before you start commenting, ask yourself. Try to prove me wrong, but we all know you can’t. Maybe I had high expectations, but even if I didn’t, Portugal definitely succeded in ruining the ”basic” expectations. I have never felt better about coming home than I did yesterday when I finally arrived. Goodbye Portugal, forever.
What a negative person you are! You compared Lisbon to Brazil, and said Brazil is better? So I went to Rio in 2015, it seemed like the informal housing which included the favelas was endless..it just went on and on and on… in traffic I looked out of the window and a boy who was standing next to a donkey looked at me a pulled the middle finger at me. I just laughed it off, I enjoyed myself and absolutely loved my stay there. I was a female, alone in a more dangerous country.
Yeah people may not seem as happy here at times but what I have come to notice is that people in Portugal don’t seem bothered by others, in a good way. They just go about life minding their business. I enjoy that because I don’t feel the pressure to look a certain way like I do in other countries where everyone is so concerned with image and material things.
The country is old, and yeah it could certainly do with a lot of fresh paint..but I find ‘dirty’ spots are isolated. Most places are actually pretty clean. The cobblestone streets are certainly not great for walking, but someone actually mentioned it being hygienic.. as if tar, concrete and paved roads are somehow routinely washed and cleansed by their municipalities. All streets are unhygienic, they are there to walk on. period.
You mentioned feeling scared as someone approached you, now I felt the same thing in Lisbon… but realised that feeling stems from my own home country where there is a high risk of something happening to you if you walk around alone at night. I walk around by myself as late as past midnight in both urban and quiet residential areas of Portugal, and I feel pretty safe to consider doing so.
Some people do smell, but strangely enough I find these to be people who are not Portuguese…. I notice these smells while traveling (long distance travel excl. metro) or from obvious foreigners, but not often from normal Portuguese… I excluded the Metro cause if Portuguese people often had a smell, I would most certainly notice it on the metro which I use almost daily.
You say there’s nothing to see, or that you were unimpressed by both Christ Statues… my goodness, is everything okay at home? The views that I have seen from both are really beautiful, and although the detailing of the sculptured statue may not be to your standards?? I am personally always amazed, consider the work that went into creating it. The time it took, and getting it up there… they both have a little chapel inside. I could go on.
During your visit to Portugal, did you take the easy journey to Sintra and admire the amazingly beautiful architecture and gardens. Did you go up to Alfama and enjoy the views over a glass of wine over there, did you take a trip down down to the Algarve coast in summer and see how happy and chilled everyone looked while enjoying the sunset and dancing to music at the beach. Also I have never ever seen Orient that empty at rush hour, you must have walked to the other end where people only go cause their cars are in the parking area close by. Why did you not go up to the top and show us a picture of how beautiful Oriente station looks up there, where everyone waits for their trains. In a music video by Richie Campbell, some shots are of him in the same area you photographed. It looks like a cool place to photograph, however you managed to capture an image as depressing as your personality is.
Every Country has good and bad to it, and we travel to experience how differently others live. Some places may suit our personalities and others may not. It does not mean it is a crappy place. Certainly there would be no need for travel if every place was the same.
Try Seville Again 🙂
I too was disappointed with Lisbon. Hopeful for more in Porto. From the onset, I had a sunken feeling in my gut. I have traveled many places Asia and orient, North and South America, Australasia and Europe. I had a car and could get to all the suggested and the hidden gem sites. I left early due to the suppressed feelings I felt in this area. I am glad others like their experience in Portugal, but me, I have found Lisbon disappointing. Can’t say for other areas yet but if I feel the same as I travel along, I will continue to move ahead of schedule to other countries that are personally appealing. It’s just not the place for me, that’s all.
I’m British and have lived in Alges, 10 mins along the coast on the train west of Lisbon city centre, for six months. I’ve visited around 30 countries, and lived or stayed for several months in many of them. Here’s what I think are the good, the bad, and the ugly of Lisbon:
THE GOOD: There’s TONS to do: cathedrals, museums galore, palaces, castles, pretty seaside areas and good beaches just outside the city, stunning architecture and monuments, lots of nice walks around the city, and markets. Many nice cafes and restaurants. Decent gyms. The public transport is reliable, affordable, and the trams are cute! There are lots of expats and digital nomads doing cool stuff – theatre, comedy, startups, meetups… The hostels – I’ve visited but not stayed in two – are great value, fun, friendly and clean. The internet is usually pretty good.
THE BAD: Wait-service can be hit and miss. In some places you’re really taken care of, in others they look annoyed that you exist. It’s 50/50 what you’re going to get irrespective of how friendly you are. Supermarkets are overpriced (and choice is very limited if you’re used to British or especially American supermarkets). There’s a lot of graffiti – some of it’s really good, some of it’s annoying when it’s painted over the train window so you can’t see outside, and some of it’s an outright tragedy when it’s scrawled on their architectural heritage. Registering as a citizen should have taken me an hour but instead, because of their inefficiency and inability to think outside the box, I was sent for two infuriating weeks from pillar to post – and I’m told this is their normal style of bureaucracy – I only had it stop at two weeks because I had a strop in the tax office and put my foot down on their bullshit.
THE UGLY: The locals appear deeply unhappy, insecure, and are not welcoming often to the point of hostility. It’s the norm to scowl, or look depressed or very nervous, or have that dead-behind-the-eyes look. NOBODY smiles and I’m not exaggerating. Nobody says bom dia unless you say it first and even then they look shocked. You can make them friendly toward you but you’ll need the sheer determination of a fly trying to smash its way through a pane of glass. A lot of the once-stunning architecture is left to go to wrack and ruin – broken or bricked-up windows, overgrown with weeds the height of the building, shutters rotting and hanging off, gorgeous tiles cracked and dropping off. Generally speaking, wages are low, and rent is high and EVERYONE is always freaking whining on about it. A lot of people still smoke here, even inside some establishments and often in doorways you have to pass through.
IN SUMMARY: it’s an excellent place for a city break because of the pretty architecture, plethora of museums and nice beaches (outside the city), but it’s a challenge to live here because of the economy (if you have to work here – thankfully I don’t) and because of the unhappy, unfriendly locals.
Really funny you edited your pictures to make them look like a dirty city and then go on about how dirty the buildings look. Thats clearly photoshoped with a sepia filter to make it look dirtier than it is. You have issues man.
The Portuguese express mail service in Lisbon opens your packages and under claim of “not allowed to mail” confiscates the contents. Beware!
I agree that Portugal is not all of that, and the hype about Portugal is exaggerated. But you are a moron.
Judging the people of Portugal based on the experience you had with a bunch of passengers from an international bus line… that is like judging Sweden by the quality of the foreign hookers that live in that country.
And then you expected Portuguese people to be like Brazilians… you are delusional!
I absoulutely agree. I was here ten yars ago – air was fresh, people were friendly, now it’s so utterly overcrowded and run down, construction sites everywhere, 80% tourist, 20% locals, constant flight traffic overhead, MASSIVE pollution problem, very few green spaces, sigts are over crowded and over-rated, open drug use, unsafe vibes. Very rude locals if you try to speak English. Every Portuguese I speak with agrees with me that they need to do something about the amout of visitors. I was called a “f*cking ugly cow” when I asked for directions today.
I remember how sweet you were, Portugal. Now you hate tourists, but please – everyone’s an ambassodor, even in their own country. Written in september 2019.
I am here in Lisbon now. Agree re chip on the shoulder attitude of the locals in general.
However, I found the city to be incredibly beautiful. The architecture; the winding, cobblestone, narrow streets; and of course the amazing food esp pasteis de nata were what I enjoyed the most.
if you come to cascais i will sure you that is safe i f come to beach of parede there is a interest of scientists because have fossils of dinossaurs and the beach of avencas ( praia da parede praia das avencas) is a natural reserve because there is a fish in that beach that you only see in avencas is safe in cascais thrust me and we have a excellent food believe me
Lisbon is just a sucky city, if you travel outside of the Lisbon area you you see the true beauty of Portugal and see how friendly Portuguese people really are. Lisbon is just another capital where too many people think they are better than the rest of the country.
You should try giving it another go now! It’s been voted best tourist destination for two or three years in a row. And all of the pictures you show are actually different now. The buildings have been propped up and the city’s gotten it’s shit together – and I admit it’s not the most beautiful place to visit on a rainy season, so maybe try coming back in the summer! I also didn’t use to like my own city back in 2013, and now I love it… Also, try checking the Azores and Madeira out, too!
I loved New Orleans, but I can see why the city wouldn t be for everyone. I can t think of any place I really hated, but I felt a little indifferent toward Ottawa, even though there wasn t anything wrong with the city I just didn t connect with it. Whoever spent 5 days in New Orleans and thought Bourbon was the only thing to do clearly did not do her research ??. I think that holds true for any city and I can understand not venturing out for a day or two but 5 days Come on!!!
If you are visiting Portugal, there are so many other places to see. Lisbon is not the one I would recommend.
I’ve got a mix of emotions while reading all the post and the comments below.
I live in Porto for a few years now but unfortunately my journey here soon will finish and I will need to come back home. And there is many reasons for that…
My comment will be more in a general way about the Portugal rather than just about the Lisbon to which unfortunately I’ve never been.
I saw Portugal as a tourist and let’s say as a “local”. And these two different experiences made me see Portugal in a two ways, which one of them was the reason why I’m planning to leave the country.
My first time here was as an Erasmus student. I studed here whole year and it was one of the best experience in my life. The weather was fantastic all the time, nature was stunning, good night life, affordable prices, beautiful architecture. So everything what I mentioned is full pack of vacation advantages and regarding that I totally disagree with the others who says that there’s nothing what to do. Even if you just stay for one day in Porto, there is plenty places to see and things to do. Like matosinhos and foz beaches, a huge park near by, beautiful downtown with tiny streets, ribeira, Luis bridge, virtudes, central park with the birds, espinhos which is not far away from Porto and many many other things for which you would need at least several days. If it’s not enough so there is plenty other amazing places besides Porto or Lisbon like Douro valley, geres national park, Algarve, Azores and so on. My point is that as a tourist you have here many many things to do and to see. My point is that if you come here just for vacation, try to see only the best things besides searching for the negative ones. I think there’s no perfect place and every place is unique in their way. And I would fully recommend everyone to visit Portugal as a tourist but only as a tourist…
So as my easy student life finished and I met my girlfriend here, i made a decision after finishing my studies to come back here and look for a job. And this was a point when I needed to take off my pink glasses and see the reality.
And the reality is that I feel my self here as I would be twenty years ago in my country. The whole life for me here is a big big mess. Starting from the public services which most of them needs to be done in one to one contact. if you want to change your monthly ticket zones, you can’t do that online so you need to go to one of their points, take a ticket and wait for a half of the day. You want to make an appointment to the doctor, again you can’t do that online or even by phone, you must go directly to the health center, take a ticket and wait in a line for a couple of hours. You need to go to the SEF, must go there one hour before the opening hours and be willing that the line won’t be long enough and you will be able to have an appointment, otherwise you will need to do the same next day. In the end all your life becomes a long waiting in the line… And it’s just a few examples where the things like these could be organised in a much more effective way just having an online systems.
Someone was saying that people here are rude, well with that I cannot agree at all. They are really really nice and helpful, also most of them can speak English.
But there is other things which makes me think WHY they do like that… It seems that the life here are based on their own rules rather than on the law. People are crossing red light all the time, if not so enter into the middle of the cross walk while the cars are still passing. They drive like crazy, get nervous very fast,beeps for every small thing, doesn’t let people to pass the crosswalk, leaves the cars the way they want. And I was already hit two times by the car, at least it was just a small bump but still they should pay more attention on the road.
While the metro system in my opinion is really good but taking the bus is a big struggle. It gets late very often and in my case it costs a lot of time, because if I loose one bus then I loose the other one I should take to get to my job. It happened many many times. And it’s a very common thing making some plans with Portuguese people, always get late, always forget something, it is really hard to trust them when it comes to the serious things.
And I get really really pissed with some of the attitude you people have. Okay you speak very loud, let it be, even though if you are not alone and there are many other people but what is wrong with the smoking, spitting and littering on the streets. I was really surprised that you can smoke in some closed areas, that you can smoke in the bus/metro. That people throw their trash whenever they want (especially those scratch lottery tickets), that they don’t bother to spit in front of other people and I see that every day many times.
And finally when it comes to the working culture it’s everything based on many coffee brakes, a lot of talks, long working hours because of the previous mentioned things and the job being done very slow and poorly.
I really don’t want to draw a country in a bad way and for sure I’m not here to change the people but being born and raised in a totally different environment for me it was too hard to adapt to the local life style. And it was the main reason why I decided to leave the country soon.
In conclusion I would like to say that Portugal as a vacation place is an amazing choice but if you are willing to live here, you might be struggling a lot. Even though when I will leave I will always have a good memories about this country
A small mistake regarding smoking. Wanted to say “…that you can smoke in the bus/metro STOPS”
I agree on every little thing you mentioned on your comment. Portugal especially about in the end your life end your life ends up in a long waiting line. Everyone who lives and have lived in Portugal, knows that there is a bipolar way to deal with things, especially in the public institutions. Portugal is very behind in time and technology. Unfortunately due to all mainstream media funded by investors that invested huge money on business need to get their investiment back but sadly portuguese people are not yet prepared to handle the situation. And we’re now in 2020 meanwhile Portugal feels like the 80’s !
I fully agree with you Rexy. I am now the third time in Lisbon due to business reasons and everytime it gets more worse. To find proper accommodation its a nightmare, overprized shitholes they call rooms or flats and they are far from da citycenter away in this New Buiding Ghettos like Portela, Odivelas or Chelas, you Name it. Portuguese Poeple tend to be racists and selfish, in this time I was in Lisbon my only friends where foreigners, its speaks by himself. Lisbon remembers me on a third world capital lika Cairo, Darresalam or Mumbai. Dirty Streets, rubbish everywhere even at toyrist hotspots, rotten buildings which can fall apart any second and everywhere you can smell the odour of the camalization when the wind doesnt blow. I regret to wasted my time in this Shithole country and I can warn others who come to live and work here
AVOID PORTUGAL as its a Shithole Country
I’ve been to Lisbon about 8 or 9 times. I never tire of it. In fact I love it. Yes, it is a scruffy city. Should billions of Euros be spent on cleaning it up, making it nice and tidy and ever so user-friendly. Sanitise it into a pretty theme-park-like place. And ruin it …………. Still, I see that you didn’t like Hanoi or Phnom Penh either. I really liked both of those too. Maybe you should quit writing travel blogs and I should write them instead.
Hanoi, HCMC and Siem Reap (I avoid Phnom Penh) are much better than Lisbon and I’m POrtuguese…lol
Absolutely agree, Lisbon is my favorite city in the whole world.
I know there will be snickers and rolling eyes but I feel the same and that was from a YouTube walking tour. I was shocked. At first I thought this must be holiday because the stores were shuttered in steel, the graffiti covered everything and no one was making an effort to clean it up. The streets were empty and so were the famous tourist sights. No one was sitting at the outdoor tables and very few, if any, were in the shops. I have been to many countries, top to bottom, and loved each one but I’m glad I watched this before thinking of going to Lisbon. It’s truly sad. What the heck happened to Lisbon?
A bit late to the discussion, but ….
So, I am glad to find that many people feel the same way about the incredible rudeness of Portuguese people, and living in cliques, too, not welcoming outsiders. I don’t expect them to, anymore, at all.
Anyways — first time in Portugal I lived 2 months in the north in a very very small rural place, then 2 months in Porto in the city center, and I HATED it. Porto is so dirty, dark, not a lot to do.
I returned to Porto over 1 year later to visit a friend for one weekend — for just 2 days as a mere tourist, Porto was much more enjoyable, lol. Horrible food though, never found one decent food place there.
So, I agree that Portuguese people are darkish, depressing, always wearing brown (why?!), looking old, smoking, and that Portuguese food is tasteless.
This spring I visited Lisbon, for some reasons, and I LOVED it. Okay, it was very very empty when I came there because of the socalled “pandemic”. But …. amazing, stunning architecture, so clean in the city CENTER of Lisbon, great public transport!! if you are at the metro or tram lines, cheap taxis.
A LOT to see and to do, even in half lockdown!!! Luxurious shops, … great coffee places and cafés …
And the food – fantastic choice!!!
So, yes, very disappointing experiences and rudeness from Portuguese people themselves — just forget about them, lol.
The city has incredible places, great fantastic views, a great relaxed vibe at the river, culture, take the tram through the older parts, of town, ….
The food places are fantastic, if you go by what you like. E. g. vegan places, loads of different ones, great taste. The owners of the places I likes are not necessarily Portuguese …
It depends A LOT on where you are and what you book for accomodation, and that comes with experience. With getting to know a place, that always takes TIME.
I have stayed in the best, cleanest, most modern and most comfortable places EVER in Lisbon. You must read very carefully what you get, and research, where the place is located. Differences are huge, and neighborhoods are vastly different in Lisbon.
When I was staying in a “holiday” apartment (actually a real apartment in real huge complex offered by private couple), a bit outside the city to the east, I didn’t feel safe either, and it was more dirty there than in Porto, and the Portuguese people there, the neighbours, and shops, — just plain horrible, and loud, and there was nothing to do there. I heard then from several locals, that that area used to be known as dangerous, and slums … then there had been huge residential buildings, and new roads, been built. The apartment itself actually was really great, incl. parking in the house. That is another thing you need to learn about Portugual — loads of places have no heating, often no air conditioning, or no parking options. But there are also huge residential buildings, where you get heating, parking, elevators, cleaning service, … everything …. great quality, super modern, and often you get a lot of luxury and service I never got anywhere else.
It is completely different in a different neighbourhood, if you stay in a newly renovated luxury place in the center, in a traditional but expensive neighbourhood, you find amazing older city buildings, restaurants, cafes, shops, ….
Visit the amazing parks, view points, river, museums, palaces/monasteries, cultural events, and so on.
In Portugal, you really need to look for what you want, and research well which places to go.
From Lisbon, you get everything — culture, fashion, food, beaches with surfing, nature, … great transport, … convenience … beautiful city center with amazing architecture. Best ice cream ever, …
Public places in the center are very very clean, also shopping malls, ….
But yes, I agree, there is such rudeness to some Portuguese people, and yes, they drive ruthlessly, not taking other people into account AT ALL. Nobody cares about others, or would wait for them, ….
I arrived here from a country which is the complete opposite, … so that is hard to take. But I didn’t expect it anymore, and certainly no worse driving than in France or Italy lol.
I found the most rude country with the most disgusting food, several times, Spain. But yea, Portuguese people do manage to make me stare at them stunned, mouth open, unable to say anything in shock, that is the level of rudeness one can get. Also not helpful at all, not accommodating at all.
On the other hand there is an extreme, painful politeness about the Portuguese way sometimes, makes loads of apologies, (yea, always making up excuses anyways), talk artificially in circles, giving reason after reason why they are to be pitied and nothing is their fault ever. OMG Covid is such a great excuse for everything, esp. the laziness mentioned.
I was moving my stuff several times now in the Lisbon area, noone ever offered any help, not even opening the door for me, then asking me, if anything was wrong!! when I asked them directly to open it for me, as were just standing around watching!!! Several times, this happened in different places. Or people getting into elevator before me, while I had been first, arms full of heavy things !!! So not only not helping, but making me even wait longer for elevator, as taken by them.
Or owner of mentioned private apartment drove me mental, texting me again, and again, asking when I would arrive, while I was driving, and had told him several times the EXACT arrival time. Inspite me answering in heavy Lisbon traffic again, almost causing an accident — he wasn’t there when I arrived, also gave wrong coordinates and then complained I hadn’t been 20 m further down the road, at the correct place!
In short – Lisbon is amazing, with the same shortfalls as many European huge cities …. but it is a place where you need to know what to choose and what to look for, and not expect locals to be over the top helpful. Many are, though, actually. And try to speak a few words Portuguese, people will become nicer. I am not planning to stay here forever, I know it is not ideal, and Lisbon not inexpensive …. esp. not better neighbourhoods … though I do enjoy coffee at 80 cents …
I went to Porto this year, and sadly had identical impressions.
Nowhere to go.
Nowhere good to eat. And don’t even get me started on the food.
Public transport on the lower side of the civilised world.
But worst of all, the people… indifferent to rude, unpleasant looking. I’m a big man so I didn’t feel worried, but I can absolutely understand you on this.
I Googled to see people’s opinions about Portugal. Most of the people participating here are Portuguese people who are offended that anyone can find fault with Portugal. The comments are quite mean.
You totally lost any credibility when you compare Lisbon to Brasil… what?? Are you really comparing a South American country to an European city? Brasil is one of the colonies of Portugal, not the opposite. They are the ones who got our influences, not the opposite.
But you don’t look very smart, isn’t it? Nothing to see when you have plenty of museums, monuments, castles, palaces, you can go by boat to the other side of the river with plenty of huge beaches and nature, churches, cultural places.
And oh my god, Lisbon dirty?? There is people collecting bins TWiCE a day everyday! Countries like the Uk for example have it once a week and you can see rubbish everywhere.
I can only say you are dumb.
I am so upset to see some horrible comments in here, just because you’ve put your opinion out there and let me tell you it couldn’t be MORE accurate.
I am in Lisbon right now and cannot wait for my flight back home. Lisbon is so boring, people are so rude in hospitality and it is indeed very dirty. there are few things to see and that’s about it. I feel let down and disappointed. Won’t be coming back for sure – maybe another part of Portugal wouldn’t be so bad.
Sending love xx
Wow, I thought I was alone in my thoughts. I’m conflicted about Portugal. We live in Lisbon and we’re now considering heading to the Algarve. We had a really enjoyable time in Lisbon when we first arrived, it was summer and we took day trips to Sintra and Cascais to see castles and beautiful gardens. However outside of the tourist trips, we were really struggling. Everything feels like it’s much harder than it needs to be. Every piece of admin we’ve needed to do has been months long dramas. People are grumpy and rude. I feel like I’ve had a headache everyday for months from trying to get things done and avoid being scammed while we’ve been looking for a new to rent. Lisbon is beautiful in parts but when you’re living there, dealing with locals and trying to set up your life, it feels like the rules have been created to make it as hard as possible. And I’m sorry to say the food is extremely disappointing. If it’s international cuisine, it’s usually good, but anything traditional we’ve had has been bland and heavy!
We’re going to try the Algarve, get some space and since we’re from Cape Town, perhaps being at the coast again will be a better experience. The property market is outrageous right around the country though, it’s one thing that wealthy immigrants have wrecked the market by buying everything and charging ridiculous rental costs, but along with the high rent, the places look like they haven’t been renovated since the 80’s. Old fittings, old furniture, old fittings… for a crazy amount of euro. Anything renovated to normal modern standards, not fancy, just updated – is unaffordable.
Anyway, we are here and we’re doing our best to make the best of it.
I totally agree with this post. I am traumatized as to how ugly, run-down Lisbon is and I’m glad I left that dump after spending 2 years there.
I would even go as far as to say that Portugal, as a whole, is the most overrated country in Europe. The Portuguese sunny weather plays a trick on the many turists from cold countries thinking it is remotely a good place for vacation just because it’s sunny. Lisbon is a very unorganized city, the buildings are falling apart and overpriced, the airport is shitty, the streets slope up in all directions due to the myriad of hills on that unwalkable terrain. Food is tasteless and lacks history.
All beaches in Portugal have cold water, the nature is ugly (I guess the only interesting natural sceneries in Portugal are Madeira and Azores, which are not even part of Portugal per se. Lisbon has shitty green areas. It’s a concrete jungle. No greenways, no road verges like you see in Spain, Poland, Germany, Canda, etc, parks are scant. In terms of insulation, it was better to be a poor peasant in the Middle Ages in Lisbon than a modern individual renting there now (at least the peasants had a fireplace to keep their homes warm). You are very likely to get cold and sick inside a regular apartment or hotel (if it is a really crummy one). The city simply has no reason to beckon, folks.
I have lived in Portugal for a year. Was married to a Portuguese woman. We have a little boy together. They are a lawyers family and she lives opposite of the court house. Needless to say that I lose all the cases. Lawyers are unprofessional and really rude, not friendly. Do hardly speak any English, like most Portuguese. Unreliable, unfortunately I cannot say anything else. Hospitals look like they are in the Middle East. This apart from the very depressing characters, the passive behaviour. It was not my country to say the least. Unfortunately
This man goes to a hostel. And Complains about not feeling safe. You are literally sharing a room with strangers, what do you expect?
I’m native Portuguese and I do agree about the food. Apart from the cheeses and pastries, the food is rather bland.
The restaurants aren’t very good unless they are African,Indian or Chinese etc. which in itself won’t count as Portuguese food.
And no the Portuguese population aren’t going to smile at you for no reason but that doesn’t make them in polite. Just different culture.
I do agree about there being a lot of building in need of a paint job but that it’s up to the residents/property managers, not the council as it’s privately owned.
Agree with most of negative comments…its 9 years from the original post and funny most of the things are valid even today.
I wish I had read this page before booking the holiday, I am a father of toddler and a little kid and can say this week has been worst experience ever for our family in Lisbon. I would never return to Lisbon won’t even recommend to my friends. Can’t comment on other parts as I haven’t experienced and not fair to say bad. I can forgive ugly (if anyone argues go visit Martim Moniz) looking streets and buildings but people no, most unfriendly and deliberately being unhelpful even towards woman carrying infant. It’s as if they don’t want any tourists at all. To keep it short, for future travellers if you have kids and don’t speak any Portuguese please be warned and try to avoid Lisbon completely in ietenary
I have been in Portugal in Faro (Algarve) for a day from around 5am to 15pm. I took a taxi at dawn and then roamed the tiny, dirty and dillapitated streets of Faro and at times have been more scared than in any other place in Europe. The scare was somewhat gone at noon but the sights were just as horrendous.
The real estate market is speculative. People assume that this is all foreigners, but usually these markets are driven by locals. I have looked at a lot of properties and none ever piqued my interest.
Don’t forget it is hilly. To me personallly that is less comfortable than a flat terrain. Not just to me but in general a sloped terrain is of lower value.
There are also a lot of pitbull owners, which usually correlates with society.
I hope the best for Portugal as a European brother. With Ireland and England so close they have powerful neighbors to trade with. With the right policies they could start success. Technology is cheaper then ever, but any change will take a generation of education to take hold.