Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat August 15 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | August 15, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Loving Life in Lisbon

    Loving Life in Lisbon

    PHOTO: The viewpoint from Miradouro De Santa Luzia, overlooking Lisbon’s stunning coast! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    After wearing every article of clothing I owned, trying to fend off the chill from Berlin’s bipolar March temperatures — I had enough and booked a flight to Portugal to soak up some sun and reunite with my friend Ricardo I had met in Costa Rica a few weeks prior in Central America.

    When I arrived, I walked from the airport into sunshine and knew I had made the right choice. From stunning landscapes to old and new architecture, famous pastries and red wine costing less than water, Portugal has become one of my favorite places in all of Europe.

    If you’re anywhere near Spain; do yourself a favor and book the next bus or flight. Your money stretches far here and you will be loving life.

    Daily Budget: Depending on what you want to do, you can get by living off of $20-$30 a day. If you’re incredibly frugal, not including transit — you can live off of $15 a day.

    Transit: Very tourist-friendly and easy to get around. To save money, buy the €5 pass right away, which is cheaper than individual passes.


    Cheapest Hostel: People Hostel (€8.90/dorm)
    A little out of the way from the city — but it’s cheap (and that’s all that matters)


    • Comfortable beds with reading light

    • Lockers

    • Kitchen

    • Breakfast included

    • Common room/cable TV/DVDs

    • Good Wi-Fi

    • Game-room

    • Mini-supermarket

    • Outdoor terrace

    Best Budget Hostel: Lisbon City Hostel (€12/dorm)

    Close enough to the city, it provides you with all you need and the staff are wonderful!


    • Comfortable dorm beds

    • Lockers

    • Kitchen

    • Outdoor terrace          

    • Breakfast included

    • 24-hour reception/security

    • Bar

    • Common room/cable TV/DVDs/PlayStation

    • Good Wi-Fi

    • Key Card Access

    EAT & DRINK:

    • Best Local Restaurant: MAIO
    Thanks to my friend Ricardo, a local from Lisbon, he brought me to this local hidden gem — Cheap prices, amazing service and mouthwatering fresh fish! 

    • For a cheap, delicious meal head to Taberna on da Rua das Flores.

    • Eat a famous massa folhada pastry at Pasteis de Belem.

    • Eat a tartlet at Tartine.

    • Try Santini ice cream.


    Because you can’t go to Portugal and not drink what they’re known for…

    TIP: If you are uncertain about the wine as I was, I have found out there are 2 rules of thumb:

    1. Do NOT buy anything below 2 euro. I regrettably made that mistake on more than one occasion. I stayed away from the €1.99 Wine but thought I was being sly buying wine that was on sale from €4 to €1.99. I was happy until I drank it … It tastes bad even to the budget backpacker.

    2. As I found out from various locals, you can't go wrong buying wine from the Alentejano Region of Portugal. Listen to the locals, they know best.

    BEST WINE: Chamine (from the Alentejano region) (Cost: €5)

    Cheapest wine but incredible for the price: Real Lavrador  (Cost: €2.50)

    Must Do’s:

    • Wander through the winding streets of Alfama and get lost in its beauty.

    PHOTO: Getting lost along beautiful streets in Alfama

    • Party on the famous Rua da Barria. This is a famous drinking thoroughfare — you can buy beer and party in the street — lots of college kids and great dancing!

    • Walk to the water at Parque Das Nacoes for a beautiful view of Lisbon’s famous bridge and pavilion.

    • Locals head to Rua Da Atalaia at night for a beautiful vista of the famous Lisbon bridge at night. Don’t forget the wine!

    • Miradouro De Santa Luzia has an amazing view of Alfama Castle.

    • Stroll through the upscale neighborhood of Rue Garrett.

    • Check out the floating umbrella street and the pink street in Agueda.

    PHOTO: A great reunion with Ricardo having street beers and dancing the night away on Rua da Barria

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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