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.
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
- 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.
- Lisbon’s downtown and business district.
- Check out Arco da Rua Augusta, Praça do Comércio, and Elevador Santa Justa.
- 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.
- Lisbon’s main shopping district.
- Appreciate the old city center from Chiado.
- 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.
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.
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.
Best places to eat in Lisbon
- Cova Funda – The best grilled cod in town.
- A Gina – Classic, delicious Portuguese food.
- Pharmacia – a quiry restaurant themed like a hospital!
- Marisqueira Lis – Fresh shellfish.
- Carvoaria Jacto steakhouse – Wine and a great meal for less than €20.
- 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.
- Time Out Market Lisbon – A gastronomically outstanding experience.
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.
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)
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.