After years of neglect and dilapidation under economic and bureaucratic policies that kept her behind the times, Lisbon is back in a major way. With property investment and tourist numbers consistently on the rise, it seems that this former world leader is poised to a sustainable return to her former glory. As more and more neighbourhoods upgrade through refurbishment projects, so too do new shops, restaurants and experiences continue to pop up all around the city.
Not everyone will agree that some of the changes happening in Lisbon are for the better. Several locals have been priced out of their homes, and criticism that the city suffers from ‘overtourism’ has made its way into local newspapers. Also, a discussion concerning the question of traditional Lisbon vs. modern Lisbon has arisen, and not only by the local community. Some tourists cheer the culinary offers on display at such venues as the Time Out Market, while other tourists argue they are kitsch or ‘touristy’.
That said, the world travel community has taken notice of Lisbon in the past few years. In 2017, Portugal collected 37 World Travel Awards, with Lisbon serving as home to top cruise destination, top design hotel, top business hotel and top lifestyle hotel, among others. More Michelin-starred restaurants have entered Lisbon’s gastronomic community, artist enclaves have sprung up, street art is flourishing, and an atmosphere of being ‘open for business’ is attracting creatives to the city, thereby fuelling increasing opportunities for experimentation in culture and design.
Further, with Portugal’s second consecutive award in December 2018 as World’s Leading Destination, her capital, Lisbon, sits at the epicentre of a colossal shift in services, gastronomy, shopping and culture that potentially promises to keep Lisbon at the top of travel lists for some time to come.