Photo Credit: Aayush Gupt
This Is Why I Keep Returning to Lisbon, Portugal As A Black Traveler
There is no doubt that most travelers rate Lisbon, Portugal’s lively capital city, as a must-visit European spot. As a rule, I have a tendency to always look for destinations that are slightly off the beaten path. Lisbon however, is the absolute exception. It sits high on travel lists for a damn good reason. I’ll join the masses in celebrating all the life that teems from this city.
What is it about Lisbon that keeps me and many other travelers ready to return? I’ll say it’s the combination of an affordable, colorful, laidback city that combines the old with the new. I’m back (fake shock) after promising myself that I’d return soon. Hit with some serious nostalgia, I’m exploring the city and remembering what it is that calls me back. Read on to find out my top reasons why this city is worthy of multiple trips.
Related: Explore Portugal’s Black History With The African Lisbon Tour
Lisbon's Black expat community grows endlessly
This has to be the first point; Travel Noire readers will be happy to learn that the Black expat community in Lisbon is ever-growing. There are various events, Facebook, and WhatsApp groups that help make it easy to make expat friends. Returning to Lisbon knowing that there is an expanding community for you to count on is always comforting.
Interaction with the Diaspora
That being said, Lisbon is a truly international city, meaning it is easy to come into contact with others from around the Diaspora. You’re sure to have connections with Brazilians and their samba or Capoeira, Angolans and their Kazumba and of course many from Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and others ready to share their culture/cuisine with the city. Be prepared to have your world expanded in the name of Black history and community.
More Black-owned spaces
I like traveling to places where there are spaces for Black-owned establishments to flourish. For this reason, Lisboa stays at the top of that list – especially in Europe. The heavy presence of the Diaspora means that the city is rich in new places to discover upon every visit. A few favorites include the African History walking tour and this Mozambican restaurant that is a must-visit spot in the city.
It’s super pretty all year round
One of my favorite things about Lisbon is how shamelessly gorgeous the city remains 365 days a year. As a traveler who prefers the hazy, colorfulness of Caribbean destinations but grew up close to Europe’s grandiose architectural heavy-weights, it feels like Lisbon gets me. Think Brazil meets Italy with a delicate dose of coastal city carefreeness; this is the energy Lisboa evokes.
Quick weekend away, anyone?
The added bonus of a city like Lisbon is how easy it is to sneak away on the weekends. Portugal is a pretty compact country. Being smaller than Spain and tucked away almost under the neighboring country’s armpit, there are often complaints that it isn’t well connected to the rest of the continent. This might be true. The reality is, the compactness makes quick getaways even more tempting. Head to the north for a fairytale trip to Porto or, more my preference, a beach weekend away in the south in Faro or the glorious Algarve region.
Experience Lisbon in the changing seasons
Chilling on the beach in October? Absolutely. Enjoying snug, hot chocolate-inspired evenings by a fireplace? Of course, I am. Will I dare head to the Christmas markets and surf on the same day? Yes, always. Lisbon doesn’t allow for a limited trip. In this sense, there is always something new to discover.
Our favorite Lisboa has a lot of cultural diversity because of the extent of Portugal’s colonizing past. Let’s not romanticize that fact. As a Londoner, this is super reminiscent of the UK. And much like my home city, it means the city belongs to everyone. As a Black solo traveler, this is very useful and even offers me a sense of safety because, at first glance, I could well be a citizen of this city. Unlike a handful of other European cities, I find that it is often assumed that I am from Lisbon, which provides me with enough invisibility and ease so that I can wander without stares, questions, and attention. I have to admit, this is what I think sets Lisbon apart from most other European capital cities. That and the warmth and the chance to walk unrushed while you discover a new fave spot in the city that keeps giving.