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Lisbon & San Francisco: Exploring 8 Striking Similarities

Did you know that Lisbon is known to some as the "European San Francisco?" I surely did not, until a month after my trip! However, when I saw a bridge with a similar design to the Golden Gate Bridge in #Lisbon, I definitely did a double take. After reflecting on my experiences of both cities, I have realized that the similarities are truly striking.

1. Suspension Bridge

This was the first thing that caught my attention. When I was walking around visiting the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, I spotted a bridge that looked identical to the Golden Gate Bridge. Am I going crazy? After further investigation, I discovered that the bridge, known as the Ponte de 25 Abril, was designed by the same architect who designed San Francisco's #GoldenGateBridge. Both bridges have held records: the Golden Gate Bridge for having the tallest suspension towers and span; the Ponte de 25 Abril for having the longest suspension span in continental Europe. Both bridges surely have relaxing views of docked boats ready for sail!

Image taken from

2. Location

Have you ever paid attention to the fact that both cities are on the West Coast? When I think of the West Coast, I immediately think of California. Of course, this is an Americentric mindset because Portugal too, is situated in Europe's West Coast. In fact, Lisbon is located on the Tagus River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Similarly, San Francisco is by the San Francisco Bay, which connects to the Pacific Ocean. Being that both are coastal cities, as a result, there are miles of beaches to enjoy!

3. Steep Hills = Amazing Views

My, are both rather hilly! In fact, it was because of these constant surfaces in both places (and the fact that there is just no way around the hills) that I depended on Ubers and taxis for transportation. Oddly enough, both cities are built on top of seven steep hills, which is definitely an eerie coincidence!  However, steep hills definitely mean amazing city and aquatic views! I will let these pictures speak for themselves.

San Francisco (left) vs. Lisbon (right) 

4. Street Cars and Cable Cars

Lisbon and #SanFrancisco are charming because of their street #cablecars, a popular form of transportation in both cities (understandably so). Those cable cars are a necessity because of the hills in both cities. In Lisbon, there are several working #tram lines (a part of the mass transit system) that were actually imported from the United States. San Francisco still has a couple of cable car lines and one street car line. Although I was unable to ride it in San Francisco, it was surely an experience when I did so in Lisbon!

San Francisco's Street Car (left) vs. Lisbon's Street Car (right)

5. Temperate Climate & Maritime Culture

Being so close to water, both cities are relatively cool in temperature. When I traveled to San Francisco, it was rainy and often times chilly. In Lisbon, however, I actually experienced what felt like more spring like temperatures. In fact, there were times that I needed a sweater, especially at night. As a result of being close to water, there are yachts for days docked in the water.

San Francisco (left) vs. Lisbon (right)

6. Prone to Earthquakes

Although I knew that California is known for earthquakes, I had no clue that Portugal has had its fair share of history as well! During my time in Portugal, the 1755 earthquake came up several times, particularly because it destroyed 85% of Lisbon. Apparently, Lisbon has been hit with several severe #earthquakes throughout history. Similarly, San Francisco was also almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1906. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless as a result.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake (left, picture from Curbed SF) vs. 1755 Lisbon Earthquake  (right, picture from National Information Service For Earthquake Engineering, University Of California, Berkeley)

7. Gateway to Wine Regions

Who does not love good wine? Well, both cities are within drivable distances to #wineregions that produce great wine. Trust me, you must venture out! San Francisco provides easy access to the Napa Valley region. Although I went on a rainy day, it was relaxing to be indoors. While in Portugal, you have to enjoy Porto wine and Vinho Verde. Get your wine on while in both cities!

Napa Valley wine (left) vs. Porto wine (right) 

8. Unique Street Art

I knew that San Francisco was known for vibrant #streetart in the mission district, but I did not know that Lisbon had its fair share as well. Although I did not come across street art in Lisbon to the same extent that I did in San Francisco, what I did find in Lisbon were hidden treasures because of how often it was hidden within the passing walls. The street art in both cities truly reflect the cultures and will undoubtedly leave a smile on your face!

San Francisco Street Art (left) vs. Lisbon Street Art (right)

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What is the most surprising similarity of San Francisco and Lisbon? Comment below!



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