Essential Guide: Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, the Portuguese capital is built on seven hills. So everywhere you go there are spectacular views. Lisbon is a fun, inspiring and hipster city and there’s a lot to see in do.

Samuel Johnson once said ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ Let’s forget about London for a second (even though it’s another amazing city) but I also think that if you get tired of Lisbon then you’re tired of life. It’s a city that gets one’s creative juices flowing, from local cuisine, day trips, culture, music, the locals and the party until dawn lifestyle; what is not to love about this amazing city.

Here is a quick guide of what to see and do in Portugal’s capital

How to get there:

Fly into Aeroporto de Lisbon. There are flights to all major international hubs and from there take the city bus into Lisbon, it should cost approximately 1.35€.

If arriving by train, the main train station is pretty central and within walking distance to the Alfama neighbourhood.

Neighbourhoods:

Lisbon has some amazing neighbourhoods to explore; Just to name a few Alfama (the old city) Barrio Alto and Baixo.

Alfama is the oldest part of Lisbon with its maze of narrow streets. It’s a fantastic place to get lost for the day. Within this part of Lisbon, you can discover some of the oldest buildings, traditional foods and music. Getting lost for the day here is amazing and you are guaranteed to find some amazing viewpoints of the city too.

Barrio Alto is the fashionable and hipster area of the streets. During the day it is quiet but at night the streets come alive with people partying until dawn. Great to explore during the day but even better at night with a great atmosphere, you can really get a feel of the city life in Lisbon.

Baixo is in the heart of the city, It is the cities busiest commercial hub with shopping, hotels, cafes, and restaurants, as well as some notable attractions such as Comercio Square and the Santa Justa lift from there you can get some incredible views of central Lisbon. Tickets for the lift cost around 2.80€ and is open from 7:00 -23:00.

Comercio Square
Santa Justa lift

Things to see and do:

  • Street art is a big thing in Lisbon. Everywhere you go you will some masterpieces on the walls. It really is spectacular and adds to the atmosphere of the city. It goes without say that Lisbon offers some of the finest and most creative street art in the world. It’s like a free art gallery.

  • Feira de Ladro is a flea market that sets up every Tuesday and Saturday in the Alfama district. It is one of the cities oldest markets and can be quite enjoyable if your thing is rummaging through junk and haggling the price down on that one treasure you have found. There are also independent traders there now selling handcrafted items and art.
  • Tram 28 is the highlight of any visit to Lisbon. The enjoyable route passes through many of Lisbon’s must see places. The trams originate from the 1930s and are still a huge part of the cities day-to-day transport today. Tickets can be bought for 2.86€ for a single ticket. Daily departures are every 11 minutes with the last departure being at 21:00.

  • Fado is the traditional music of Portugal which can be traced back to the 1820s and you can still enjoy it today over a couple of glasses of vino and a delicious plate of Bacalhau in a small and cute traditional restaurant in the Alfama district. As you are walking around Alfama at night time you will hear the hustle and bustle of people talking, glasses changing and the elegant rhythm of the guitar.
  • The Mosaic pavements that line the streets of Lisbon are amazing. You must always remember to look down as well as up. Although lethal in the rain, they sure do add more character to this amazing city. Not a detail is missed.
From where I stand
  • The viewpoints in Lisbon are not short of spectacular and from a city built on seven hills, you would expect nothing less.

Check out:

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte for panoramic views of the city.

Miradouro das Portas do sol for views over the terracotta rooftops of Alfama.

At night

St. Georges Castle is an 11th-century castle looking over Lisbon. From here you can get some fabulous 360-degree view of the city. You can reach the castle by bus no.37 or by walking from Alfama.

Day Trips:

Sintra is literally something out of a fairytale. Thick green forests, spiralling mountains and colourful palaces. Sintra has everything for a day of exploring and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city life. It is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Yes that’s right, this place is just damn beautiful. Take the train from Rossio station in Lisbon to Sintra. A return ticket will cost you 4.30€. A must do day trip from Lisbon.

Belem is a short trip away from Lisbon. Take the number 15 or 127 trams from Comercio Square. Here you will find the world famous bakery Pasteis de Belem where you can indulge in the amazing, warm, freshly cook egg tarts. There are always queues outside but this queue isn’t to get into the café, it is actually just for take away. Go straight through the door and inside and sit down on of the 400 seats inside and get served right away.

Another historical site in Belem is the Monument to the discoveries (Parao dos Descobrimentos) is an iconic monument on the banks of the River Tagus. The structure is dedicated to the 14th-century adventurers and explorers that helped make Portugal great. The structure offers a small museum and a viewing platform of Belem. They’re open Tuesday-Sunday between 10:00-19:00 the entrance fee is 3€.

Finally, Where to stay:

Budget: Alfama Patio Hostel is a bohemian style hostel in the Alfama district. The staff are lovely and make a point of getting to know you. There’s free breakfast every morning on the patio serving fresh juices, toast and even freshly made pancakes. They offer lots of activities and tours and there’s evenana in house cook who cooks every night for 8 euros and you get a 3 course meal. Every Friday is BBQ and sangria night. Absolutely amazing place to stay. Couldn’t recommend it enough. Prices start from 14€ a night.

Breakfast at Alfama Patio Hostel

Midrange: My story Hotel Rossio is an airy simplistic hotel in central Lisbon. With an old courtyard and a boho relaxing atmosphere. Sit back and enjoy a simplistic stay here. Prices range from 64€ a night.

Luxury: Olissippo Lapa Hotel is a luxury 19th-century hotel. It is nestled away on top of a hilltop near the River Tagus. Here enjoy a stay in their traditional rooms or lay in the sun next to the pool. Even enjoy a spa treatment at their in-house spa. Prices range from 245€ per person per night.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

18 Comment

  1. Loved lisbon when we visited! SUCH AN underrated city!

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      I totally agree

  2. I’ve been fantasizing about a quick getaway to Lisbon recently. The city looks so appealing and it seems as if there is so much to discover there. I must visit in the near future… I’m saving this post for later. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      There really is and it’s so underrated, which I think it a bonus. It’s a magical place. Thank you 🙂

  3. I really want to visit Lisbon this post has deepened that desire. Thanks for posting such a comprehensive guide. I will reference it in the future.

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. I hope it helps you 🙂

  4. Lisbon looks absolutely beautiful! Especially loved your foggy shots.

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      Thank you. I was so unlucky with the weather when I was there, would love to go back in the summer

  5. Portugal has been on my list for AGES! I am so using this guide too, whenever I get there, because it’s so helpful omg. I’ve learned so much.

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      Thank you very much.. it’s a must do.

  6. Lisbon is one of my favorite cities! I think it’s so overlooked and underrated. Glad you were able to get some pasteis de nata 🙂

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      I agree very underrated. Ohh Yes!! I couldn’t miss that. Delicious.

  7. I visited Lisbon back in 2012 without really knowing anything about it and loved it! Another day trip I would recommend is Cascais, which is a really nice coastal town not far from the city.

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      I would love to go back and this would definitely be on my list. Maybe a road trip!

  8. Good tips for staying and day trips. Nice sum up.

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      Thank you very much

  9. Vrithi PUSHKAR says: Reply

    THis is just what I needed! I am planning a trip to Portugal and I love your post. Detailed and useful. THANKS for sharing.

    Vrithi Pushkar
    http://www.epicuriouspassport.com

    1. Louise Allonby says: Reply

      Thank you very much! I hope your trip to Portugal is magical

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