We love travelling, cities and our blogging friends! So it makes sense that we would search for the best possible way to combine our three favourite things!

In a new series here on UrbanDuniya, we’re inviting our fellow bloggers to tell us about their favourite cities in the world! For our inaugural Urban Legends post, Ashray and Zara from Backpack ME are telling us about Lisbon!

Ashray and Zara (aka A&Z) are a couple from India and Portugal. Back in 2011 they quit their jobs in Dubai to travel around the world. Now they want to inspire everyone to travel, no matter where they come from. Backpack ME is all about a multicultural perspective on travel: http://www.bkpk.me.

Ashray and Zara under the bridge in Lisbon!

Ashray and Zara under the bridge in Lisbon!

What is your favourite city in the world, and why?

It’s so difficult to name just one favorite city… but we do love Lisbon!


When did you first visit the city, and what was your experience like?

Zara lived in Lisbon during many years and Ashray visited for the first time back in 2011, just when we started traveling full-time. It’s always interesting when you put two people together and one knows a lot about a place and the other one comes in with a fresh perspective. We ended up seeing and doing things most tourists probably won’t. But at the same time, we also ended up going around like tourists, which is something you rarely do when you live in a city for so long.

View of Lisbon

View of Lisbon

What is your idea of a perfect day in this city?

A perfect day in Lisbon takes place is Spring or Autumn, when the weather is mild and invites you to be outdoors. The morning starts with a walk by the Tagus River, appreciating the view all the way to the South Bank. A mid morning snack has to be featured in this “perfect day”, because when you are in Portugal, there’s always space for coffee and pastries.

The walk takes us to the areas of Baixa and Chiado, where the morning buzz of working people make us feel good about visiting, but not having to be an active part of the hustle and bustle. We take it easy, strolling around and doing some people watching. And, just like that, lunch time arrives quickly!

Because this is an ideal day, we do a long lazy lunch with petiscos. These are small servings of food, just like tapas in Spain, that allow us to sample more than one dish. We indulge in Octopus Salad, Peixinhos da Horta (deep fried battered green beans), Bolinhos de Bacalhau (cod fish fritters), Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato (clams in a buttery white wine sauce), a selection of cheeses and local bread. All these savories go down so well with a glass of Portuguese red wine! Chocolate Mousse is definitely on the table for dessert.

Downtown Lisbon at night

Downtown Lisbon at night

And because the day is not just about eating (even though in Portugal you could keep yourself well entertained doing just that!), we are off to burning some calories walking up and down the cobblestone alleys in the traditional neighborhoods, such as Alfama. In Lisbon, the best plan really is to not have a plan. We don’t come to our beloved Lisboa to see specific things (even though there are plenty of museums and landmarks). What we really appreciate in this city, are the narrow streets that take you up to magnificent view-points and picturesque corners.

When the night comes down, we meet up with friends in one of Alfama’s al fresco restaurants. The menu is simple and features mostly fresh fish, grilled on charcoal outdoors. With a side of boiled potatoes drenched in olive oil and grilled green peppers salad, we’re happy to delight ourselves with some sardines and squid. Lisbon tastes like the sea, and we really enjoy that!

The night ends in one of the low-key Fado houses… far away from the touristic areas. We go to the hood of Alcantara and enjoy some typical live music from Lisbon. Just a singer and two Portuguese guitar players perform some of the most heart-felt and melancholic music this country has ever known.

A perfect day in Lisbon is all about indulging your senses: with the beautiful views, the deliciously aromatic food, and the sounds of the city, of the river flow and Fado music.

Fish BBQ Dinner at Pateo 13 in Lisbon

Fish BBQ Dinner at Pateo 13 in Lisbon

What’s your favourite place to eat in this city, and what dish is your favourite?

Our favorite thing to eat in Lisbon is grilled fish. Nothing beats a fresh and simple sea bass sprinkled with salt and pepper. Cooked in charcoal until the skin is fairly crispy but the inside is tender and fleshy. And like any good food in Portugal, with a generous drench of the finest of virgin olive oils. Grilled fish in Lisbon is very common and it is not necessarily expensive. You do not have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy it, because regular working class places serve it too. This is why we do not have a favorite place to enjoy this type of food, because it’s pretty much great all over the city. If you have around 10 euros, you can treat yourself quite reasonable around here. Add some Portuguese wine, like Monte Mayor from the Alentejo region, and let’s call it a party!


If this city was a person, what would he/she be like?

If Lisbon was a person, she’d be the typical shy girl who opens up slowly. Somehow mysterious. She dresses up with vintage clothes but accessorizes with modern touches. As you get to know her, you understand that she is deep and interesting. She has a lot to show you, because she takes the time to absorb her surroundings and share them with you. She takes things easy and loves mixing tradition and a certain old world charm with a contemporary outlook towards life. Over all, she is unique and fun.

Ashray getting lost and found in Lisbon

Ashray getting lost and found in Lisbon

Do you know have any insiders tips for visitors to this city?

We have recently published an article about how to travel in Lisbon on a budget, including tips for those who want to get acquainted with the capital of Portugal without breaking their travel budget.

Still, our best tip is not to plan too much when in Lisbon. Let the magic of the streets take you by surprise!

Typical neighborhood in Lisbon

Typical neighborhood in Lisbon

Is there anything you don’t like about this city? (be honest!)

We understand that Lisbon is often misjudged at the first sight. Many areas are humble and, in some of them, unfortunately, the old buildings are not well maintained. We have heard some visitors complain that this gives the city a “shady” feel – while others actually like this and believe this gives Lisbon a raw and down-to-earth feel. In any case, we think that a better preservation job could and should be done in certain areas, because it’s a shame that, in some cases, constructions with such beautiful architecture are rotting away. Fortunately, there has been improvement on this front, and we hope they keep it up that way!

If you could sum up this city in a word, what would it be?



Don’t forget to catch Ashray and Zara on social media;

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/piggybackrideAZ

Twitter: htttp://www.twitter.com/piggybackrideAZ

GooglePlus: https://plus.google.com/+AZBackpackMErtw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/backpackme

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/piggybackrideaz

AZ of Backpack ME in Lisbon

AZ of Backpack ME in Lisbon

Many thanks to Ashray and Zara for this awesome piece!

Have you been to Lisbon? Is it one of your favourite cities?

Comments (16)

  • Zara @ Backpack ME Reply

    Many thanks for featuring us, Tim!
    It’s such an honor to premier your Urban Legends series! 🙂

    February 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Thank YOU for the great interview!! 😀

      February 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm
  • Renuka Reply

    Cool interview! Great idea. 🙂 I am intrigued about Lisbon. I think a great city has to have great transport system, good eating places and lots of walking space!

    February 7, 2015 at 8:34 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Sounds great, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by, Renuka 🙂

      February 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm
  • Andrew Reply

    I’ve heard nothing but love for Lisbon, it’s one city I havent visited in Western Europe that I am keen to! One day… one day…

    February 8, 2015 at 9:25 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Agree – everyone I know who has been there simply raves about it. Yes, one day… one day 🙂

      February 11, 2015 at 7:24 pm
  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    Fantastic read, I love these kinds of series, such a great way to get the low down on cities. Love the description of the city as though it is a person, totes makes me want to visit. 🙂 I hear good things about the food here, has been on the list for a wee while. Thanks Tim for the intro to Ashray and Zara too.

    February 10, 2015 at 11:59 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      They’re great – LOVE their site!! Thanks for reading Anna 🙂

      February 11, 2015 at 7:24 pm
  • Annie Tong Reply

    Hey Tim,
    Love the series, what a great way to find all the hidden gems all over the world.

    Zara & Ashray, you two look great together! Following you guys now 🙂

    Tim thanks for sharing
    Annie ox

    February 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Thanks Annie! Zara and Ashray have an awesome blog – glad I could introduce you 🙂

      Tim 🙂

      February 14, 2015 at 7:28 pm
  • Jess @UsedYorkCity Reply

    I haven’t been, but am a HUGE fan of regional wine! Will definitely have to check it out in the autumn one year;-)

    February 12, 2015 at 1:50 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      You definitely will! Thanks for reading 🙂

      February 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm
  • Agness Reply

    I went to Lisbon last summer with my mom and we were both fascinated by the hospitality of locals!

    February 16, 2015 at 11:02 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      I’d love to go there!! I still remember your awesome blog posts, especially about that great hostel!

      February 18, 2015 at 8:43 pm
  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) Reply

    I’ve never been to Lisbon even though it’s so easy from London. I think it gets less attention than some of the other nearby western European cities which is probably not fair from the sounds of this description – in a way, I’m looking forward to it because it’s not as hyped up as cities like Rome and Barcelona. Thanks for an interesting read and for giving us some inside tips into Lisbon!

    February 17, 2015 at 2:58 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      You hit the nail on the head, there! It’s true that it does get less attention, but I guess that’s part of the appeal, right?! Thanks for reading 🙂

      February 18, 2015 at 8:44 pm

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