We were looking for a cheap spot to stay for a month and all we needed was sun, sand, and strong Wi-Fi. Our search led us to Lisbon, where we realised we had been there before sort of! Because the similarities between Lisbon and San Francisco are astounding!
Similarities between Lisbon and San Francisco
The more we walked about and established our bearings, the better. The more we learned about Lisbon, the more we understood how similar the two cities are. San Francisco is another of our favourite cities in the globe.
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Located between a bay and the ocean
When of the “West Coast,” we think of California, but Portugal touts itself as Europe’s West Coast. And the idea of sun, sand, and beach that this concept inspires is spot on. Lisbon is on the Tagus River, before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The city has so much water that it has long lengths of riverfront property. And miles of sandy beaches beyond the city boundaries.
On the United States West Coast, the San Francisco peninsula is between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city’s Ocean Beach is comparable to Lisbon’s Costa Caparica huge waves and important surf areas. San Francisco, like Lisbon, offers miles of waterfront and beaches. Though not quite the same easygoing beach lifestyle.
Historic streetcars and cable cars
When most people think of San Francisco, they envision the old-school yellow cable cars. And it turns out that Lisbon, too, has yellow cable cars. More specifically, both San Francisco and Lisbon have cable cars and street cars. That began operation in the early nineteenth century. Cable cars can ascend slopes, whereas street cars prefer level ground. In Lisbon, there are five operational trams known as eléctricos (find out how to ride the tram in Lisbon). It is from the United States and was before known as ‘americanos’.
An orange suspension bridge
We walked down to the beach early in our stay in Lisbon and, glancing to our right, noticed a bridge that seemed out of place. Is that the Lisbon Golden Gate Bridge? You can’t compare Lisbon and San Francisco without discussing their similar bridges!
Despite its name, the Ponte de 25 Abril in Lisbon, the longest suspension bridge in Europe. Looks identical to San Francisco’s renowned sign. The two bridges are also similar in size, with the Golden Gate Bridge spanning 2,737m. And the Ponte de 25 Abril extending 2,277m across the Tagus River.
Severe earthquakes have occurred in the past.
Severe earthquakes devastated both cities. Several major earthquakes struck Lisbon over the ages. But the deadliest struck in 1755, destroying 85% of the city. San Francisco saw its earthquakes in nearly 150 years. 400,000 people were relocated because the destruction of the city.
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The Weather – except for the summer months
Lisbon and San Francisco are to have similar climates, and when we visited in early June. The weather was cool and gloomy, like a normal San Francisco June day. But, as the days and weeks passed, it became clear that Lisbon was hot and sunny. Iberian beach town more akin to southern Spain than San Francisco. The summers are night and day, but the winters are supposed to be damp and frigid in both places.
Street Art on the West Coast
We even came upon a new Banksy during our vacation to San Francisco! The West Coast of the United States is home to the world’s most innovative street painters. However, few people have heard of the great street art phenomenon sweeping Europe’s West Coast! For those who enjoy street art, Lisbon has a plethora of colourful social commentary. And it adorns many of its buildings and public spaces. Take a walk through Bairro Alto, which is a public art gallery with fantastic graffiti.