I could probably use a more illustrating adjective, but I don’t think there’s a word that more aptly describes a city that masters the balance between hip, cultural, and charming.
I recently stayed in Lisbon for three days, and I totally get why it was named the most popular travel destination for millennials in 2019 by travel-planning site müvTravel.
According to Sarah Clark for Huffington Post, millennials prioritize cultural experiences when it comes to travel.
“While baby boomers tend to seek the safety and convenience of an overcrowded touristy restaurant near a major attraction, millennials are taking a step outside their comfort zone to experience that sought after authentic meal,” Clark wrote.
Not only does Lisbon embody the millennial aesthetic, it also offers millennials everything they want when they’re on the road — without breaking the bank.
Lisbon is affordable and convenient
For a European country, Lisbon is pretty light on the wallet. The Telegraph recently rated it as one of the cheapest European cities.
The Airbnb I stayed in was around €66 per night ($72) — split with my friend over the course of three nights, I ended up paying just under €100 ($110). There was a double bed and a bunk bed — if a group of four went, the Airbnb would have been even cheaper.
Food and drink were relatively cheap, too. I typically paid less than €10 ($11) for dinner or lunch and around €1 to €4 for breakfast, depending on how many baked goods I wanted that morning. And, according to Numbeo, the standard domestic beer in Lisbon is just €2 (about $2.20)
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That’s not to mention the package you can get with the Lisboa card, which grants you access to all of Lisbon’s public transportation (metro, bus, train, and trams, including travel for day trips to nearby Sintra and Cascais) as well as free access to many of the city’s main museums and attractions.
The bundle is just €20 ($22) for 24 hours, €34 ($37) for 48 hours, and €42 ($46) for 72 hours. The city is big and hilly, so the card ends up being a good way to experience all parts of the city quickly and affordably.
That Lisbon is affordable is a big plus for millennials, who are often boot-strapped when it comes to money and likely traveling on a budget.
Lisbon offers an endless array of eating and drinking
Lisbon’s nightlife is vibrant, but it’s not like the heart-pumping clubs of Ibiza and Berlin. With streets and alleys and riverfronts teeming with bars, the going-out scene is more of a slow burn that simmers throughout the night.
It’s chill, lively, and fun — a universal appeal no matter how you prefer your night out.
Lisbon has an equally thriving restaurant scene. The city is a gastronomic haven for millennials, who have been dubbed “the foodie generation” by Alyssa Modos for Spoon University. According to Anna Peele for Bon Appétit, millennials spend more than other generations on restaurants.
The city boasts eight Michelin-starred restaurants, like the José Avillez- run Belcanto, according to Time Out. But it also has a wide range of other restaurants that are authentic, modern, and tasty: There’s the Time Out Market and LX Factory, indoor and outdoor spaces, respectively, that have food options for days.
And the city has signature flavors, too. Consider Pasteis de Nata, a Portuguese custard tart dusted with cinnamon, or Ginga, a Portuguese cherry liqueur that originated in the city.
Read more: Millennials are treating themselves to experiences — but it doesn’t mean they’re bad with money
A city of hills, Lisbon also has rooftops from which to soak in the views while enjoying some food or drink: There’s the Limão Rooftop Bar, Topo, and PARK. A quick Instagram scroll shows just how much millennials love a good vantage point that’s both fun and photogenic — which brings me to my next point.
Lisbon is made for Instagram
Millennials want to post something on Instagram that shows they’ve been somewhere different.
Lisbon may not boast the paradise-like shots of Southeast Asia, but it is certainly still (highly) Instagrammable. And it’s full of winding streets and surprising, photographable nooks that make it seem — to their social media followers, at least — like they’ve been somewhere totally different from the rest of their peers.
Lisbon’s walls and alleys, ceramic tiles and pastel paints all beg to be photographed in all their colorful glory. I spent a morning getting lost in the streets of Alfama, the heart of Lisbon, and found myself stopping every other minute to capture striking tile patterns and facades.
Walls also become canvases in Lisbon. Alfama, Belém, and Chiado are home to some wild and amazing street art, in which graphics and colors combine into vivid, one-of-a-kind masterpieces — the perfect recipe for an Insta double-tap.
Ultimately, Lisbon gives millennials an experience — which is their favorite thing to spend money on, after all. And the fact that it makes for some beautiful photos on their social feeds only strengthens its appeal.