Destination: Lisbon - Your Personal Travel Guide

Old-world charm, majestic views, and mouth-watering eats await you in Portugal's capital.

Picture cobbled sidewalks, alfresco cafes overflowing with people enjoying pastries with tiny cups of espresso, and ornate 19th-century romantic buildings. No, it's not Paris or Barcelona, or even the 90's darling of tourism, Prague. It's Lisbon, Portugal, western Europe's answer to a low(er) cost continental holiday.

When most people think of beautiful European cities, Lisbon isn't usually the first place that comes to mind. But this coastal gem should be on everyone's bucket list. Just a six hour flight from New York, Lisbon is full of culture, delicious eats, and extravagantly beautiful buildings, in addition to being surrounded by charming towns that are perfect for day trips. What's not to love?

Preparing for Your Trip

While many people in Lisbon speak English (especially at the tourist attractions), don't be surprised if they don't. Unless you have an international phone plan, grabbing a SIM card at the airport is probably the best purchase you'll make: you can use it to translate Portuguese and order affordable Ubers all over the city. If you have a bank card that offers free international ATM withdrawals, definitely make use of it; both banks and money-changers charge a pretty hefty fee for converting currency.

Views You Can't Miss

There is enough to do in Lisbon to spend a week there, but if you only have a few days, there are a few key attractions to check out. First and foremost, regardless of where you're staying, make sure to check out Chiando and Restaurando, two neighborhoods near the water in the older part of the city. Don't miss the Rua Agusta Arch overlooking a majestic statue in a grand piazza. For a paltry three euros, you can take an elevator (and a few steps) to the top for one of the best views in Lisbon. Turn to the east to squint out at the glittering Atlantic Ocean, and to the west you'll take in a vast panorama of terracotta-shingled houses and the century-old churches dotted between them.

Once you've absorbed the breathtaking view, meander down to any of the Edwardian-era stops to take a tram car tour around the city. It's a far more glamorous way to see the city than wedged inside one of the ubiquitous red "hop on, hop off" buses that seem to populate every city in the west.

Buildings to Die For

It may be missing a roof but it has one hell of a facade

If you're into ancient churches, be sure to make a pit stop at Igreja de São Domingos. Inside this roofless Gothic church, you can imagine the solemn parishioners filling the rows, hanging onto the priest's every word. It's enough to make an agnostic believe.

The magnificent Rossio train station is also a must-see. Featuring a whimsical "m"-shaped entryway covered in meticulously carved embellishment, it's one of Lisbon's most elegant buildings. While its grand historical façade is somewhat marred by the Starbucks residing next door, it's still worth a selfie or two.

One of the best things about Lisbon is that you don't even need to search out magnificent buildings – they're everywhere. Rococo-style hotels, once the residences of the wealthy and their many servants, have been converted into shopfronts on the ground floor with apartments above them. The spectacular carvings on the building doors alone must have taken an artisan months to finish.

Affordable, Mouth-watering Eats

Not only does Lisbon have a terrific culinary scene, but it's also not nearly as expensive as other European cities. Like the rest of Europe, wine and beer are quite cheap. It's not uncommon to snag a delicious table wine for under four euro, and beers are usually under three. If you hit up a local café (and not the aforementioned Starbucks), a shot of espresso will run you under one euro, and you can usually get a small coffee for a little bit more.

Lisbon is rife with pastelarias (bakeries) overflowing with heavenly smelling (and tasting) fresh rolls and pastries. Make sure to start at least one day with a hot cup of espresso and a pastel de nata, a local favorite. These delicious tarts are small enough so you don't feel weighed down after downing it, but substantial enough so you're not hungry 10 minutes later. Try one at Pasteleria Alcoa, which has been turning out these reliable treats since 1957.

Bacalhou, or codfish, is another local favorite. As a seaport town, Lisbon is home to hundreds of seafood restaurants, many of which boast the "best" way to prepare this particular fish. If you're looking for a little variety, Quermesse is a charming restaurante featuring all manner of local delicacies. The goat cheese puff drizzled with fig jam is a heavenly appetizer, and the octopus with onions and roasted new potatoes will melt in your mouth. After dinner, try Winebar do Castelo for an after-dinner drink of port wine and maybe another pastry. You could end up spending less than a total 40 euro on an appetizer, main course, drinks, and dessert.

For a true European market experience, stop by one of the many mercados, where you can indulge in a robust pannecinie (ham), goat cheese, and crusty bread platter, washed down with a solo-cup sized glass of sangria or local beer – for under 10 euro.

Local Shopping

It's an intimate experience

Since a vacation isn't quite a vacation without some souvenirs, take some time to browse some of the adorable local shops like Ale-Hop and Luveria Ulisses (the world's tiniest and most elegant glove store ever). Lisbon is also home to European brands like Mango, Pull and Bear, and Zara, all featuring inexpensive trendy clothing and shoes. The city is also sprinkled throughout with antiguidade (antique) shops, where you can buy 17th- and 18th-century tiles from demolished buildings along with other antique goods. Furthermore, everywhere you'll find touristy souvenir shops touting tchotchkes like sardine-shaped magnets and cork wallets, purses, and bags. (Cork is very big there).

If you're looking for a foodie souvenir that makes buying tinned fish an experience, check out O Mundo Fantastico Das Conservas Portuguesas (the fantastic world of Portuguese sardines). Step inside what appears to be a carnival funhouse lined with garishly colored sardine tins. Even if you're not a fan of this pungent fish, buy a tin as a decorative element. It's almost a shame to open them and toss the beautifully designed wrapping.

This is just a small slice of what Lisbon has to offer. With its convenient location, affordable prices, and old-world ambiance, if you're looking for a European vacation that won't break the bank, look no further. Book a flight to this exceptional city today, before the rest of the world catches on to its charms.

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Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

Vacation VacationUniversity of Kentucky

Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!