The 10 best cities for first-time international travelers

The Iberian Peninsula is packed with traveler-friendly cities, including Madrid, Porto, Sevilla, Valencia, and — of course — Barcelona. However, Lisbon is currently one of the most popular cities for travelers to Europe, and with good reason. The city has an infectiously laid-back way of life that leaves most travelers green with envy when they have to return home.

Packed tightly over seven steep hills, nearly all of the streets in Lisbon are lined with Portugal’s iconic cobblestones, and we promise you’ll be snapping a picture every time you turn a corner. Beaches are only a 40-minute train ride away, and the town of Belem — a 10-minute ride from downtown — is home to the world’s most famous “pasteis de nata,” a UNESCO-designated monastery, and two exciting art museums.

Sampling a city’s nightlife is one of the more memorable parts of a first trip abroad, and Lisbon might just take the cake. Those seeking tamer evenings can snag a table in any of the “fado” joints in the hillside Alfama neighborhood. Boozing it up in the streets is legal, and those looking to partake should traipse down the narrow lanes of Bairro Alto around midnight.

For daytime activity, there are buzzing plazas, pastry shops, outdoor markets, and a stunning riverfront that’s made for a romantic stroll. The easy-on-the-wallet cost of hotel rooms, food, and drinks only sweeten the deal, and plenty of the people you meet will speak at least some English. It’s also perfectly acceptable to sleep in here, as the city doesn’t get going until 9 a.m. on most days — which is perfect for a vacation, if you ask us.

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