7 Unusual Facts About Lisbon

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We’ve been taking a look at what makes Lisbon so popular for short breaks in Europe. Aside from the wonderful architecture, glorious weather and delicious Portuguese cuisine, there are loads of interesting things that you may not already know about Lisbon. So, here’s our run-down of facts, figures, and some rather surprising revelations about this intriguing city.  


1. It’s known as ‘The City of 7 Hills’

Somewhat misleading, but Lisbon has long been known as the ‘cidade das 7 colinas’…however, there are in fact more than seven. It’s thought that they were perhaps miscounted on purpose to make the city seem more like Rome. Regardless, São Jorge, São Vicente, São Roque, Santo André, Santa Catarina, Chagas and Sant’Ana make for picturesque walking spots, and an ideal opportunity to photograph this beautiful city.

2. They love their Guinness

So it’s not the most cultural of facts, but it’s thought that Lisbon was the first country to import Guinness from Ireland. What can we say? They have good taste!

The Guinness Storehouse Bar
The Guinness Storehouse Bar

3. It was a hotspot for spies

Some of the best spies from around the world used to base themselves on the nearby beaches of Estoril. High-stakes gambling was the draw, as many of the richest refuges that had fled WWII began afresh in the area. 007 creator Ian Fleming was based here whilst working for the British Naval Intelligence.

4. They have a big secret

The recipe for Lisbon’s most famous pastry, the Pastel de Belém, has been kept under wraps for decades. Only five men in the entire world know what goes into this delicious treat, and they take every precaution to keep it that way. They won’t even travel on the same plane as each other!


5. It’s not technically the capital

Sounds silly I know, but there are no official documents naming Lisbon as the Portuguese capital. Apparently, it just ‘happened’ back in 1255 when Alfonso III moved the courts to what was then largest and most important city.

6. It’s home to the largest indoor aquarium in Europe

The Lisbon Oceanarium welcomes more than 1 million visitors every year! With all your favourite marine creatures including a huge underwater level, it’s easy to get lost for hours in this maze of sea life.


7. Their trams are not authentic

There seems to be a pattern emerging…although we’d associate getting around in Lisbon with their colourful tram networks, they did in fact nab the idea from the Americans. Of course, iconic images of San Franciscan trams scaling the steep streets now come to mind. They did pay mention to their origin however, by naming them the ‘americanos’.

So there you have it…some pretty enlightening facts in there, right?! Lisbon is absolutely one of our most highly recommended city break destinations in Europe, so next time you’re looking for somewhere new to go, have a look at the Portuguese capital…well, sort of!

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