A Traveller’s Guide to Lisbon

A Traveller’s Guide to Lisbon

Lisbon is unlike any other European capital you’ve been to. The perfect blend of modern and traditional, Lisbon welcomes all to join in the celebration of art, culture, food, nature, architecture, and the beauty of life itself. An absolute gem spread across seven hills, Lisbon is a city you’ll never want to stop exploring.

And the best part of it all: you don’t have to spend much to have a good time. Lisbon is known for being one of the most budget-friendly cities in Europe.

The best time to visit Lisbon

Lisbon weather is fairly pleasant throughout the whole year. In the summer, the hottest it gets is a little over 30°C, but the coastal breeze makes it almost unnoticeable. The winters in Lisbon are rather mild in terms of coldness, but it does get quite rainy.

Still, the best time to visit would be during the off-season months, such as March to May or September to October. Lisbon is usually packed in the summer, which means more crowds and fewer options for accommodations.

How long to stay in Lisbon

If you’re pressed for time, the Lisbon essentials could be covered in three days, but it’s still best to stay for at least five days to really enjoy the place and go at your own pace.

Where to stay in Lisbon

For tourist attractions, stay in the Baixa district or Avenida da Liberdade area. This is where most of Lisbon’s main go-to sites are, which is why most tourists choose to stay here.

For the hippest clubs and parties, the Cais do Sodré is where you want to be.

For business trips, Parque das Nações is the most ideal location as it’s closest to the airport and has the most business hotels.

travellers guide to Lisbon, Portugal | Ladies What Travel

The best way to get around Lisbon

The best way to get around Lisbon is definitely by foot. It may be hilly, but the city is full of treasures that can only be found on foot.

If you’re planning on going to a rather far location, though, the number 28 tram is the best way to go. It runs from 6am to 9pm, and you’ll need a Viva Viagem card to hop on. If you’re in town for a few days, €5 for a 24-hour tram card would be the smartest choice.

What to do in Lisbon

Visit Lisbon’s six neighborhoods

travellers guide to Lisbon, Portugal | Ladies What Travel

Alfama

  • Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood.
  • Filled with medieval-looking streets and hidden alleyways.
  • Great to visit at night.
  • Climb the São Jorge Castle for a spectacular view.

Baixa

  • Lisbon’s downtown and business district.
  • Check out Arco da Rua Augusta, Praça do Comércio, and Elevador Santa Justa.

Belém

  • Lisbon’s museum district. Visit the Museu Berardo, MAAT, and Museu dos Coches.
  • Home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Tower of Belem and the Jeronimos monastery.
  • Usually packed with tourists, it’s enough to simply appreciate the Tower from a distance.
  • Don’t miss Pasteis de Belém, Belem’s most iconic bakery.

travellers guide to Lisbon, Portugal | Ladies What Travel

Chiado

  • Lisbon’s main shopping district.
  • Appreciate the old city center from Chiado.

Bairro Alto

  • The heart of Lisbon’s nightlife.
  • Maze-like streets and hills.

Parque das Nacoes

  • Modern Lisbon.
  • Climb the Vasco da Gama tower or ride a cable car to witness the view of Tagus river.

travellers guide to Lisbon, Portugal | Ladies What Travel

Join a free walking tour

If this seems all too overwhelming, you can always opt for a free walking tour to take you around and show you the sights.

Go to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Proclaimed as the one museum in Lisbon you must see, this museum showcases works from the Egyptian times and the Roman Empire to works by Rembrandt and Monet.

Head up to the beautiful Convento do Carmo

Perched high on Lisbon’s hills the Convento do Carmo  was ravaged by the big earthquake of 1755. Its main arches bare and exposed to the elements, this ancient church has kept its magnificence and you can only begin to imagine how wonderful it must have looked before it was wrecked by the natural disaster.

Looking up in Convento do Carmo.

Check out the Museu De Azulejo (National Tile Museum)

Since Portugal is known for its decorative tiles, you can’t leave Lisbon without stopping by the National Tile Museum. For just €5, you can view five centuries’ worth of ceramic tiles, all stunningly beautiful and well-preserved.

Visit the Monument to the Discoveries

Located close to the Belém Tower, this towering monument commemorates Portugal’s glorious Age of Discovery. The sculptures and carvings are simply divine.

Wander through the flea markets and antique shops

  • Feira da Ladra market in Alfama – Every Tuesday and Saturday. Also known as the “Thieves Market.”
  • LX Factory – Every Sunday. Vintage shops, designer shoes, and food places.
  • Arco da Velha in Cais do Sodré – Vintage bric-a-brac shop and café.
  • A Vida Portuguesa – A retro store dedicated to selling vintage Portuguese products and souvenirs.

Listen to Fado

Fado, which means “destiny,” is Portugal’s traditional form of music. With lyrics that are often about the sea, Fado is poetic and soulful. You’ll hear plenty of Fado musicians while walking through the Alfama district.

Take a day trip to Sintra

Just 40 minutes away, Sintra is the perfect town to spend the day in. Filled with grand and colorful architecture, Sintra is known for its beautiful houses and palaces that were once owned by the bourgeois. The Palacio de Pena is a Sintra essential with its majestic gardens and architecture.

The Pharmacia restaurant, Lisbon.

Best places to eat in Lisbon

  • A Gina – Classic, delicious Portuguese food.
  • Pharmacia – a quiry restaurant themed like a hospital!
  • Bonsai – Great value Japanese food.
  • Landeau Chocolate – The city’s best-loved chocolate cake.
  • Gelateria Nannarella – Freshly whipped gelato with rich flavors.
  • Copenhagen Coffee Lab – Join in on Portugal’s obsession with espresso.

Useful apps for visiting Lisbon

It’s also worth checking out some of the cool apps available to help you make the most of any trip to Lisbon. Check out Keri’s post on her top five Lisbon apps.

Tips from a Lisbon local

Practice a few Portuguese phrases before visiting

Before making your way to Lisbon, take some time to learn a few of their common phrases to help you get around.

travellers guide to Lisbon, Portugal | Ladies What Travel

Wear the right shoes

Lisbon is full of hills, so make sure you’re wearing shoes that are comfortable and have a strong grip.

Don’t leave Lisbon without trying these delicacies

  • Cod cakes
  • World-famous pastel de nata (custard tarts)
  • Sardinhas grelhadas (grilled sardine)
  • Chorizo (fire-cooked or in a bowl of Caldo Verde)

Avoid tuk-tuks

You’ll see plenty of tuk-tuks riding around, but don’t give in. The prices are usually hiked way too high for tourists. Opt instead for the bus, tram, or even Uber.

Despite its ever-growing popularity among tourists, Lisbon remains just as it has always been: rich with history, culture, and warm people. Charming and unique, Lisbon is a definite recommendation for travelers making their way through Europe as it offers visitors experiences and adventures like no other.

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Author Bio: This guest post was written by Sam Ross, who runs The Hammock Hombre – a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past three years, he’s travelled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.

 

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17 Comments

  1. August 30, 2018 / 11:11 am

    I just love Lisbon and have visited twice. I went to Sintra as well, though I’d recommend staying the night there as well, as it gets a little more quiet from 4pm on when the day trippers leave and the place is just one grand fairytale!!
    #FarawayFiles

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:49 pm

      I’d like to visit Sintra, I didn’t make it there when I visited. I can imagine it’s much nicer once the crowds go!

  2. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    August 30, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    I wish I’d read the tip about the Belem Tower before we visited last year. Definitely just admire from the outside as it takes so long to queue inside, for not much gain.
    It’ certainly a beautiful city and we loved the Time Out Market too.
    #farawayfiles

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:49 pm

      Travel’s a learning experience, isn’t it?!

  3. August 30, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    So nice to know that the best time to visit is between March – May and Sept/Oct! I’d love to escape Germany in April as that’s usually the gloomiest and rainiest month. I keep saying I will go but something else comes up. Maybe 2019! #FarawayFiles

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:50 pm

      Book it now – the airline’s are having lots of sales! 😉

  4. August 30, 2018 / 8:41 pm

    Isn’t Lisbon great? Our posts on this week’s #FarawayFiles are both on this fascinating city, and yet we have hardly any overlap at all. I think that speaks volumes for the diversity and appeal of the wonderful capital of Portugal.

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:50 pm

      So true Daisy!

  5. September 2, 2018 / 4:24 am

    Great guide to one of my favourite European cities. Lisbon is lots of fun and I’d love to go back again to explore some of the neighbourhoods I missed last time. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:51 pm

      Sam’s write up is amazing isn’t ?! I only touched on the city when I visited!

  6. September 4, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Lisbon does indeed have it all. It is a poignant place for me and will always be a special city in my heart. I returned this year after a 3 year absence and loved it all over again. Thanks for the tips – I shall follow a few next time.

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:52 pm

      Aww lovely to hear Wilbur – hope you get to return again soon. x

  7. September 5, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Fabulous guide to a city that is on my list to must visit! Will definately take your advice to visit outside the height of the season. Love the winding cobbled back streets, oh and the trams, fabulous x

    • September 5, 2018 / 1:52 pm

      The list gets ever longer, huh? 😉

  8. September 5, 2018 / 10:32 am

    Unfortunately I’ve only been to Lisbon once, and for a ridiculously short stay of 2 days – definitely not enough! Next time I have the chance, I’ll definitely take your recommendation and try to stay for at least 5 days. There’s just so much to see and do! We visited in early January which was quite nice, and it was lovely to still the Christmas lights still illuminating the city. Everything was just so gorgeous, and the food was also delicious! I’ve pinned this for reference for when I’m finally able to return, thanks for sharing 🙂 #citytripping

  9. September 5, 2018 / 1:53 pm

    Aww I visited in February and it was a bit cold and rainy. I can imagine it’d look gorgeous with all the lights on. Good thinking – I might look into some January travels now. I usually get mumpy and hibernate at home!

  10. bavariansojourn
    September 5, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Lisbon looks utterly beautiful. I think I need to go on my own so I can take thousands of photos! 😀 #citytripping

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