Picturesque Lisbon – the capital of Portugal is not like the other big cities in Europe. The colorful and surprisingly sensual city with numerous bright sights is one of the most interesting places in the European continent. Lisbon is located about 17 km from the Atlantic coast, thanks to the warm oceanic winds which create a comfortable climate for living and traveling both in winter and in summer.
“The city on seven hills,” as the Portuguese capital is also called, has a difficult history and each era has left its architectural heritage. The Moors, for example, left fortifications, rebuilt later in the castle of Sao Georges. Gothic temples, surrounded by narrow streets of Alfama, remained the harsh times of the Inquisition. In the lower part of the city, you can see the unique architectural ensembles of the colonial era, striking in its beauty.
GENERAL USEFUL INFORMATION AND TRAVEL TIPS
Lisbon is the largest commercial port and the capital of Portugal. It is located in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula at the mouth of the Tagus River.
Climate: The climate in Lisbon is mild. In winter, the temperature does not fall below +8 ° C, and in summer, the thermometer usually does not rise above +28 ° C even during the hottest months. There are often fogs at the mouth of the Tagus, but in the city, the humidity is very low.
Time zone: GMT (summer time: one hour ahead of GMT)
Visa: the Schengen zone. NO VISA is required for holders of American passports (90 days limit), SCHENGEN VISA is required for non-Schengen passport holders.
Language: Portuguese. But English is also widely spoken by all of those who work in the tourist industry and, indeed, during my stay I had no problems with communication. While it is true some of the locals had a pretty cool accent.
Currency: Euro (€). Banks for obvious reasons offer the best exchange rates. The highest density of banks can be spotted in the Baixa district. They open Monday to Friday, between 8.30am and 3 pm. ATMs are also available 24 hours. In the shops and restaurants I paid by credit card without any problems.
Tap water: In Lisbon, you can safely drink tap water, but if you prefer bottled water you can buy it in any little shop.
Internet: Mostly hotels, as well as my apartment, included access to the Internet in the range of services provided to their guests. But outside you can always find the internet in cafes or restaurants. Since I have a European mobile connection, I caught my 4G network everywhere.
HOW TO GET FROM AIRPORT TO THE CITY
Humberto Delgado Airport, also known simply as Lisbon Airport, is an international airport located 7 km from the city center of Lisbon and it is the largest in Portugal. The airport accepts international (regular and low-cost) and domestic flights and consists of 2 terminals T1 and T2.
Getting to and from the airport by public transport is very easy.
The most economical way to take the metro. The Lisbon Airport is connected to the city by the red line with the terminal station “Aeroporto”. The metro station is located in the terminal and the city can be reached in 20 minutes. The cost of one trip – 1.90 euros. If you purchase a card “Zapping”, each next trip is 1.25 euros.
You can use a bus – AeroShuttle or AeroBus. The buses also connect the central railway and bus stations with the airport. The cost of the trip is 3.50 euros one way and you can buy a ticket from the driver.
You can also use the city bus Сarris. The ticket costs 1.80 euros and it is better to use this bus if you do not have bulky luggage.
Taxi is the fastest and most comfortable way to get from the airport to the place you need. The cost of travel within the city must not exceed 25 euros.
If you are not going to stay only in Lisbon, it is advisable to rent a car in order to appreciate the beauty of all Portugal. During my trip, we also rented a car through my favorite www.rentalcars.com The prices are quite affordable, and it is better to choose full insurance so that you do not have to leave a deposit (in my cases, the deposit was 1,500 euros, and the full insurance – 70 euros that we paid). Most hotels have parking and also you can find parking early in the morning near the main attractions. We found free parking near the Jerónimos Monastery and I gave money to a beggar, as I thought he was a valet for the parking area 😀
WHERE TO STAY
Lisbon is a beautiful city with many areas, each with its own unique theme, unique sights, and lively nightlife. Fortunately, the areas where most of the tourist sites are located are quite compact. For me, choosing the area where to stay was always very important. Sometimes it takes me several days to find a suitable option: convenient location, reasonable price, decoration, and having a good view from the room.
The most popular places for tourists:
• Baixa – The majestic historic center of Lisbon
• Freedom Avenue – Elegant and stylish shopping area with many luxury hotels
• Chiado – Central Lisbon and a lively tourist area
• Alfama – Steep slopes, narrow streets, interesting sights and many options to rent a room or apartment
During my trip, I stayed in modern apartments called Lisbon City Apartments & Suites which is about 1 km from the historic center ( above the Baixa area). The suite was quite large with a wide and comfortable bed and a huge bathroom. It is very convenient that the room had a kettle and a variety of teas and coffee. So, everything as I love. I really like it and a nice bonus – was a price and proximity to the city center.
For nightlife lovers:
• Bairro-Alto – The area of night parties, in which you can hardly sleep
• Cais do Sodre – The former red light district, which became one of the centers of nightlife, where everything is permitted (I was shocked that drugs are openly sold on the central streets and nobody control this)
Fewer tourist areas:
• Graça – A somewhat fussy area.
• Estrela – Quiet and prosperous area
• Principe Real – Beautiful, calm and most exclusive area of Lisbon
• Belem area – A popular place to visit during day trips, which, however, is far from the city center (Baixa)
• San Sebastian and Estefania – Good locations north of downtown
WHAT TO SEE AND MAIN ATTRACTIONS
Lisbon just fascinated me by luxurious shopping areas, cozy streets, magnificent temples, houses decorated with colorful tiles, green parks, and friendly people.
So, what is worth seeing and doing in this city first of all (according to my personal experience):
First of all, it is worth to take a ride on the famous yellow tram. The yellow tram is the same symbol of Lisbon, as let’s say the red telephone booth of London . The most interesting route No. 28 passes through the old part of the city: from Campo Ourique to Martim Moniz Square. You will get to see many main Attractions such as the Lisbon Cathedral, the church of Conceicao Velha, the house with spikes, the castle of St. George, observation decks….
The second thing to do is to get to Lisbon’s highest point. The Castle of Saint George is visible from everywhere in Lisbon. There is a museum, where peacocks stroll through the gardens of the fortress, and on the observation deck, you can admire the panoramic views of Lisbon.
You can get here by tram No 28 or by city lifts.
Do not miss the wonderful souvenir shop just before entering the castle with hand-painted dishes, hand-made toys, and magnets.
The third thing to do in Lisbon is to conquer the peaks. The three Lisbon lifts are indispensable forms of public transport for the city, located on the hills. Lifts Gloria and Lavra start from the square Restauradores. The first one goes to the observation deck of San Pedro de Alcantara, the second one goes to the picturesque and almost unknown for tourists Torel garden with a fantastic view of the city. The 45-meter Santa Justa Lift will take you to the observation deck, the Chiado area and the ruins of the Carmo church.
The fourth best thing to do in Lisbon is to listen to Fado. Fado is not just music, but, according to UNESCO – its a cultural heritage. You do not need to understand Portuguese to feel the depth of the inner sadness, about which they sing. You can listen to the live music at the Fado Museum or in the restaurants of Bairro Alto, Alfama and Madragoa areas. Concerts start around 9-10 pm. Entrance is usually free, but food and drinks may cost more than usual.
Click here for the schedules of concerts at the Fado Museum.
The fifth thing to do in Lisbon is to admire the Azulejo. It is the painted glazed tile that gives such a cozy charm to Lisbon. Azulejo has a very practical function: tiles reliably protect the facades of buildings from moisture. You can see the oldest tiled panel of Lisbon in the church of St. Roch and the most interesting collection in the museum Azulejo.
The sixth best thing to do in Lisbon is to visit the largest Oceanarium in Europe. Apart to fish and sharks, also penguins, sea lions, otters, turtles, and even tropical birds live here. A walk through a long glass tunnel creates an incredible submersion effect. There are many interesting excursions in the oceanarium; one of it is sleeping with sharks for children…
Check more tours on their website
The seventh best thing to do in Lisbon is to taste the wide world best-known sweets called Belem. The art of baking amazing cakes in the legendary cafe Pasteis de Belem has been improving since 1837. The queues line up daily for this gentle puff pastry baskets with custard and cinnamon, so it’s best to come here early in the morning.
The eighth best thing to do is to visit the Jeronimos Monastery – one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The monastery owes its beauty to King Manuel I: in the 16th century, he launched a grandiose construction “ingratitude” to the Virgin Mary for the protection of the Portuguese navigators. The interior of the monastery is as luxurious as its magnificent carved facade decorated with corals.
The ninth thing to do in Lisbon is to step on the world map. In 1960, a monument of the Discoveries was erected on the promenade of Belem. On the white limestone, caravel depicts the figures of 32 heroes of the era of great geographical discoveries. The world map is laid out with routes and dates of Portuguese sea expeditions on the square in front of the monument. Surprisingly, the tourists often just do not notice the map. So, if you are walking around this place, make sure you look at your feet carefully.
The tenth best thing to do in Lisbon is to see the symbols of North and South America. In 1934, Cardinal Manuel Seregeira visited Rio de Janeiro and decided that Portugal also needed a statue of Christ. When the Second World War began, the local episcopate made a vow: if Portugal avoided the war, such a statue would appear in Lisbon. Portugal remained neutral, and a monument to Cristo Rei was erected. Lisbon and the city of Almada, in which the statue is installed, connects the bridge named April 25. Its similarity with the famous Golden Gate in San Francisco and is not accidental – both bridges were built by one American company.
You will save a lot of money if you buy a Lisbon Card. With it, you can use it for any kind of public transport, including the metro, elevators, Santa Justa lift and even trains to Sintra and Cascais. In addition, the Lisbon Card provides you with free admission or ticket discounts at most museums and tourist attractions. Due to this, you can save 50-100 € ! for a couple of days. The full list for free admission and discounts check on their website.
If you have a few days in Lisbon and you want to get to know this city better, be sure to check my more detailed post 3 DAYS IN LISBON: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS (with an index of prices and discounts)!
WHERE TO EAT AND DINING AROUND
The traditional food in Lisbon, as well as throughout Portugal, is home-style simple, tasty and inexpensive. The taverns, cafes, and restaurants of Lisbon will satisfy the tastes of all gourmets. There are more than two thousand different restaurants: tiny with a few tables, and elegant elite with a stylish design.
The choice of cuisine is also huge. Therefore, it is difficult to compile anyone objective rating of the best restaurants in Lisbon.
I will start with the simplest option. When you are very hungry and want to eat here and now, well, go to the area of the famous Princip Real Park.
Frangasqueira Nacional can hardly be called a restaurant or even a cafe, they cook simple and tasty food on a huge charcoal grill and most importantly – quite inexpensive. From the grill, you will be served hot chicken, ribs, sausages, served with crispy potato chips and crispy basmati rice. The small menu also has several types of tomato salad and olives. To have a hearty meal, the check will not exceed € 10 for 1 person.
Estamine Art Food Drink – chamber Family Restaurant in the center of Lisbon. If you want to feel as in the kitchen with old friends and have a cheap lunch or dinner with a glass of wine or beer – here you are, in a small restaurant in Graça and San Vicente. All products are fresh – various sausage cuts and sandwiches. Vegetarians and gluten-free diets will not be hungry either. The price range is from 4 to 15 euros.
Lucimar – a simple restaurant of Portuguese and European cuisine. The famous “Portuguese sandwich” Francesinha rightfully occupies the main place here, it is definitely worth to try. Price – 8,95 €. Between two slices of toasted bread is a steak, sausage or ham, and all this is “melted” with soft cheese and sprinkled with a delicious sauce. Above it is a fried egg. Eat Francesina with olives and french fries or just like that. Thinking about it makes my mouth waters 🙂
Really, what else to try in Lisbon, except for the famous and tasty Bacalhau. By the way, cod is caught in Norway and processed there right away, so most often they cook food from dry and salty fish. Although the stores have and fresh.
In the first evening in Lisbon, we visited the gourmet restaurant Versiculo do Faia. True Portuguese food. The cod in a cream sauce was simply delicious and octopus with spinach melted in the mouth. They have also a variety of appetizer with cod such as stuffed peppers! So, yummy…But make sure to book a table because they stay packed!
Did you know that in Portugal there is a rating of “Seven gastronomic wonders of Portugal”?
So let’s see…
- Alheira de Mirandela – fried Alera sausages from Miranda
- Queijo Serra da Estrela – soft sheep cheese
- Caldo Verde – green soup
- Sardinha Assada – fried sardines
- Arroz de Marisco – rice cooked with seafood
- Leitão de Bairrada – suckling pig
- Pastel de Belém – cakes with custard.
And that is not all, so you definitely will not leave Lisbon hungry!
READ MORE: ” TOP PORTUGUESE FOOD: DISHES YOU NEED TO TRY“
SHOPPING THERAPY IN LISBON
Well, how not to devote time to your favorite pastime – SHOPPING 🙂 I have to say that I was very pleased with the prices and quality of the Portuguese brands, and my suitcase returned home 5 kilograms heavier.
While planning a shopping tour to Lisbon, first of all, you need to take a look at Rua Anchieta, 11. Here you will find a souvenir shop A Vida Portuguesa, where many Hollywood stars and even Queen Elizabeth II of England made purchases. We were told that over the past 50 years no one has ever complained about their cosmetics. Be sure to shop at their natural cosmetic soap, where their packages are sealed with real wax!
Tourists who are fond of history can buy azulezhu – ceramic patterned tiles. The azulezhu Solar Antiques Specialized Shop (Rua D. Pedro V, 68-70) has been operating since 1956 and has collected over half a million copies on its shelves.
In Lisbon, there are many unique shops that sell natural organic products made from cork oak bark. In one of these shops, I bought a pretty cork oak handbag.
Forum Tivoli is the most branded outlet. It sells clothing and accessories such as brands Adidas, Burberry, Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander, Levi’s, Missoni, Miu Miu, Prada. Address: Avenida da Liberdade, 188.
Anyway, I didn’t go there and instead visited Centro Commercial Colombo – not only the largest outlet of the Iberian Peninsula but also one of the world’s largest shopping giants. Having visited this 13-story department mall, it would not occur to tourists to look for a cheaper outlet near Lisbon.
There are more than 360 shops on 13 floors, about 60 restaurants, a cinema, a fitness center, and a bowling center. Yes, it was a hard day …
Are you still in doubt to visit Lisbon or not? This is a great destination either the short weekend getaway or the weekly, more thorough tour.
This is not a sponsored post. All the websites and companies I have included here are based on my personal travel experiences. Please note that some of these links are an affiliate, and with no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission that helps me run this website and helps me share my adventures and travel tips which can help you.