Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Eco Travel Guide to Lisbon: Visit the World’s Happiest City


From luxurious, eco-friendly hotels to its myriad of plant-based eateries, here’s how to book a sustainable trip to Lisbon. 

Whether you’re booking a holiday getaway or a short weekend excursion, a trip to Lisbon is always in order. Known as the City of Light, Portugal’s coastal capital city gets about 220 days of sunlight — making it an enticing vacay pick just about any time of year. 

Still not sold on the hilly city? A recent survey by travel company iVisa ranked the contentment of people residing in 40 countries based on five factors — the amount of sunshine, hours worked, cost of living, life expectancy, and friendliness of locals. Lisbon took the number one spot, making it the happiest city in the world.

“Lisbon is a city of excellence, a vibrant, inviting and warm city,” said Carlos Moedas, Mayor Municipality of Lisbon and the Lisbon Tourism Association. “Being recognised as the happiest city in the world is a stimulus and a challenge to continue the work to improve the quality of life of residents and to make Lisbon an increasingly attractive destination.”

Situated on the banks of the River Tagus, the city certainly has much to offer, especially for the eco-conscious visitor. From sustainable hotels to its myriad of plant-based eateries, here’s your complete eco-travel guide to all things Lisbon. 

Where to stay

Enjoy a comfortable — and eco-friendly — hotel stay during your trip to the Portuguese capital by checking into an environmentally-conscious resort. 


Inspira Liberdade Boutique Hotel

Located in the heart of Lisbon, this four-star boutique hotel aims to “create an oasis of peace and harmony, in which all the positive energies, aligned by the principles of Feng-Shui, could flow freely, revitalizing your mind and soul.” 

Sustainability is a major focal point of the hotel. It uses 100 percent renewable energy — relying on solar panels and LED lighting — and is Green Globe certified. Featuring a spa and wellness area, a restaurant on-site, which offers organic, plant-based dishes containing locally-sourced ingredients, workshops, wine tastings, and more — this hotel is sure to be a relaxing home away from home.

Neya Lisbon

Neya Lisboa Hotel

For “an unforgettable experience,” book a stay at this sustainable property, which boasts several eco-friendly distinctions, including Green Key certification. It was also the first hotel in Portugal to become Zero Carbon certified. The establishment uses solar panels to heat its bath water, has a plastic-free program, and even offers bicycles to guests to help reduce their carbon footprint. 

Dare Lisbon House

Dare Lisbon House

Nestled in Lisbon’s historic center in a renovated 18th-century building, this luxurious hotel’s sustainability initiatives are extensive. To help nix food waste, it nixed the standard breakfast buffet in favor of offering guests local produce to make their own meal from the comfort of their room. And it encourages guests to reduce their energy usage by turning off their lights.

Where to eat

What better way to minimize your environmental footprint while traveling than by dining at a plant-based eatery? Lucky for you, Lisbon has all of the yummy vegan food your grumbling belly could ever wish for.

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Organi Chiado

“Did you know that vegan food improves ecological footprint? By removing meat and dairy consumption from our diet, we can reduce our ecological footprint by up to 73 percent,” the restaurant wrote on Instagram. From Caprese salads and penne pasta to braised tofu and hearty chili, you’ll want to stop at this Lisbon food spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My Mother’s Daughters

This nature-based cafe serves up mouthwatering dishes made from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. For breakfast or brunch, order a stack of pancakes topped with fruit and oats or a tofu scramble. Enjoy a plate of Brazilian feijoada for lunch. And for dinner, dive into a bowl of biryani rice with roasted eggplant. Oh, and don’t forget about dessert. Creamy chocolate mousse, anyone?

What to do

From its sprawling parks to its historic museums, Lisbon is certainly a sight to see. 

Lisbon tower
Courtesy Alex Paganelli | Unsplash

Natural wonders

Enjoy a day of park hopping by visiting all of the greenery the city has to offer. Estufa Fria and the Parque Eduardo VII (which has a botanical garden) are great places to start. You can also book a nature and birdwatching tour with Lisbon Naturalist, a start–up from the University of Lisbon that combines nature and cultural outings with scientific data collection. 

luxury beachfront resorts and hotels
Courtesy Trident Hotel

Fun activities 

After you’ve seen all of Lisbon’s flowering gardens, connect with International Volunteer HQ for fun outings that don’t come at the cost of the planet, including sustainable scuba diving and forest conservation. You can also take a local street art tour or embark on an eco-friendly wine tour.

Nae Shoes
Nae Shoes | Courtesy

Sustainable shopping

While consumerism is as un-environmentally an activity as they come, it’s hard to visit a new city without bringing something special back. The good news is that Lisbon has several sustainable fashion stores to shop, including the LX Factory and NAE Vegan Shoes. You can also visit the local flea market, called Feira da Ladra, for upcycled and vintage goods.

Got a serious case of wanderlust? Check out Ethos’ roundup of luxury vacation resorts and hotels from around the world here.

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