By Max Reid
Lisbon, what an amazing city. As a third year student currently studying the ‘International Tourism Management’ program in GMIT Galway, I was required to partake in a mandatory international study tour (definitely not a holiday) in January 2020.
What were my expectations of Lisbon for Millenials?
After what seemed a long Christmas break, I was itching to get back into the college scene, to meet up with my classmates and what better way to do it than a three-day trip to Lisbon, before starting the second term? It almost felt like a mystery tour, as it was organised by our college lecturers. The lecturers took care of booking the flights and the accommodation, so our party of just under thirty-young people got away with the stress of booking it and we kicked off on an early departure from Dublin Airport with some pre-holiday pints.
Unfortunately, for myself and fellow classmates, it was our mandatory study tour, so there was a certain level of professionalism we had to maintain. My first job of the trip was to guide the party through Lisbon airport and get us on the metro to our accommodation, Sunset Destination Hostel. The airport was slightly confusing in terms of locating the baggage reclaim, but nevertheless we found it. The underground metro was very straight forward, thank God! As a lad who was born and raised in the Wicklow Mountains, public transport in cities is not my strong suit! “Spot the Culchie” as they say. (Culchie is an Irish word for people from down the country).
The metro instantly gave off the San Francisco vibe and I knew we were in for a unique experience for the next three days. As we left the underground and reached the surface of the city, immediately I could tell that Lisbon wasn’t just any European city.
The buildings, architecture and the hilly streets again, reinforced the San Francisco vibe and I nearly forgot I was in Europe. There was a strong presence of young people roaming the streets which were nice to see; probably because we knew the chances of locating a pub/club around the corner where we could mingle with people of our age was high.
Once we got checked in and settled in our hostel, we arranged to have a guided tour of some of the city’s most iconic places. It is safe to say Lisbon is more suited for young people, given all the hills we encountered.
What is Lisbon for Millenials? What is appealing?
Over the three days, what I loved about the city was the sense of freedom I felt. Every day I found myself wandering down to the water’s edge to simply listen to the talented buskers, to watch the water taxis go by, and to just sit and observe people as they went about their daily lives. There were many young people to be seen chilling on the funky benches living their best life. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a student studying in Lisbon, possibly coming down to the water’s edge in between classes, just enjoying the warm friendly atmosphere.
For young people visiting the city, the first thing that springs to their mind is letting their social media followers know what they’re up to! It is safe to say that Instagram was very much active throughout the duration of the trip! Many ‘Instagrammable’ locations can be found across the city, for example, the well-known ‘Pink Street’. A quirky, hipster vibe can be felt when roaming the streets, and there are some funky vintage clothes shops where you can get some quality brands.
Is it the reasonably priced flights/accommodation and the cost of living that attracts young people? Absolutely! Not to mention the 2€ bottles of wine which went down a right treat before heading out at night. In terms of going to Lisbon on a student budget, over the three days I spent 150€, but I have no doubt you could do it for less.
Weekend getaways and spontaneous trips away seem to be a trend for college students in Ireland thanks to Ryanair’s cheap rates. A trip to Lisbon is very affordable for any student – if you’re clever about it of course!
There are so many factors about this beautiful city which attract young people from all over Europe, it is impossible to name them all. During the three days, the group managed to do a lot of tourist-friendly activities from a walking tour, a food tour and a rather eventful guided pub crawl one of the nights!
Where there are young people, there shall be nightlife… Pink Street was very much the hotspot for pubs and clubs, and I think we managed to experience most establishments along this picturesque street. It was evident that this was the place for young people in Lisbon to go for a night out. I would highly recommend walking with a friend or a group when roaming about the Pink Street at night as being offered recreational drugs every twenty feet can be intimidating enough.
Lisbon is just a cool, unique destination and all young people should have it on their bucket lists. For those who wish to visit San Francisco but can’t quite afford it, Lisbon is the perfect replacement. It even has its own replica of the Golden Gate Bridge!
What is there to take away from a trip to Lisbon?
There are many things a young person can take away from a trip to Lisbon. For me, it was the sense of freedom I felt, whilst discovering the city on foot. Every street offered something quirky and different. The vibe in the city amongst young people seemed very friendly and accepting and it had a modern hipster aura about it. I would return to Lisbon in a heartbeat given the chance. It really does have something to offer for everyone. At the end of the trip, most of the party said they’d happily come back in the near future, and maybe stay longer than three days. A fantastic city for young people and I look forward to my return.
As a Millenial, did I consider Lisbon to be a sustainable city?
Lisbon is a very sustainable city in my opinion. The amount of young people living in the city is only a positive for Lisbon. As we know, the idea of being ‘sustainable’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ is a growing trend, especially amongst the young people of the world, thanks to social media and climate activist stars, such as Greta Thunberg.
During my time in Lisbon, alliances amongst local businesses were quite obvious. The Portuguese culture was very much evident in every bar and restaurant we visited with great employment of local people, who had superb knowledge of the city and recommendations of hotspots for us. Going forward, I think Lisbon has a great potential to improve and grow its sustainable image, thanks to the young people who will be the pushing force in this important topic.