Lisbon is one of the prettiest and most liveable cities we’ve been to thus far. I used to live in San Francisco in the late 90s and that’s exactly what Lisbon felt like to me. It’s beautiful, it’s hilly, it’s got that same artsy vibe, and it’s home to some amazing food, both Portuguese and international. It’s one of those cities that makes you feel good simply by being there.
With so much going for it, it’s no surprise that Lisbon has been one of the most talked about European destinations in recent memory. If you’ve heard the buzz and want to see what all the fuss is about, then this detailed travel guide will tell you all you need to know to plan your first trip to Lisbon.
VISIT LISBON QUICK LINKS
This Lisbon travel guide is long. For your convenience, I’ve compiled links to hotels, tours, and other services here.
Top-rated hotels in Baixa / Chiado, one of the best areas to stay for people on their first trip to Lisbon.
- Luxury: Pousada de Lisboa – Small Luxury Hotels Of The World
- Midrange: My Story Hotel Rossio
- Budget: Lost Inn Lisbon Hostel
- Sightseeing Tour: Lisbon Essential Tour
- Food Tour: Tastes and Traditions Food Tour
- Fado Performance: Best Live Fado Show in Lisbon
- Day Trip: Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, & Cascais Daytrip
- Visa Services
- Travel Insurance with COVID cover (WFFF readers get 5% off)
- Airport Transfers
- Lisbon Tourist Card
- Car Rental
- Portugal eSIM
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GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
LISBON TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Because of the current global situation, Lisbon travel guidelines have been changing often. To help you with your trip planning, our friends at Booking.com created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions around the globe.
Before planning a trip to Lisbon, be sure to check Booking.com for information on travel restrictions to Portugal. If you do decide to visit Lisbon, then you may want to seriously consider getting travel insurance with COVID coverage.
Depending on what type of passport you carry, you may need to secure a visa and other travel documents before visiting Lisbon and Portugal. Check out iVisa.com to learn about the requirements and to apply for a visa (if necessary).
LISBON AT A GLANCE
Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. Located on the estuary of the Tagus River, it’s the westernmost of all European capitals and was once thought to be the farthest edge of the known world.
Today, Lisbon is regarded as one of the most vibrant and charismatic cities in Europe. Like Rome, it was built on seven hills. It’s characterized by cobblestone streets and hilly neighborhoods traversed by a network of trams that have been in operation since the turn of the 20th century. Lisbon is very much a city of balconies and vistas, the most striking of which can be appreciated from the many miradouros or terraced viewpoints that cap the city’s hills.
Lisbon is home to one of the most beautiful natural harbors in Europe and a bounty of fresh seafood that rivals any port city in the world. Its vibrant nightlife makes it interesting at any time of the day while its year-round climate makes Lisbon an ideal destination at any time of the year.
BEST TIME TO VISIT LISBON
Thanks to its milder winters, Lisbon is a great city to visit at any time of the year. But if you want to go when the weather is at its most pleasant, then it’s best to go anytime between March till May or September to October. The weather is ideal and you’ll avoid the tourist crowds and heat of summer.
MAR-MAY: Spring is one of the best times to visit Lisbon. Hotel rates are lower than summer and temperatures hover between 50-70ºF (10-21ºC). Days can be overcast with some chance for rain so be sure to dress appropriately.
JUN-AUG: Summer is peak season in Lisbon so expect crowds no matter where you go. It’s the hottest time of the year with daytime temperatures often exceeding 80ºF (27ºC). Hotel prices will be at their highest as well.
SEPT-OCT: Like spring, autumn is one of the best times to visit Lisbon. It’s cheaper and less crowded than summer though it does start to get colder and rainier so remember to dress appropriately.
NOV-FEB: Winters in Lisbon are much milder than other European capitals so it’s still a good time to go. Prices are cheaper though these are the wettest months of the year so keep that in mind when planning your trip to Lisbon.
We were in Lisbon in mid-May just as the April rains had tapered off. It was still overcast and a bit chilly on some days but it didn’t rain. I think the weather would have been even better towards the end of May.
Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Lisbon
For more on the weather in Lisbon, check out these climate graphs from holiday-weather.com. I’ve also created the average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below with the most ideal months to visit marked in orange.
TRAVELING TO LISBON
Lisbon is an easily accessible city. We traveled to Lisbon by train from Porto but there are many ways to get there depending on where you are.
People flying in to Lisbon will be arriving at Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS). Lisbon Airport is located about 7 km (4.3 miles) north of the city centre. You can make your way to central Lisbon in one of the following ways.
METRO: Traveling by metro is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get to downtown Lisbon from Lisbon Airport. The Lisbon metro runs from 6:30AM till 1AM.
AEROBÚS: Aerobús is a shuttle service that takes passengers from Lisbon Airport to the city centre. It runs two routes to central Lisbon, the first ending at Cais do Sodré and the second a direct route from Lisbon Airport to Sete Rios. Both routes run every 20 mins from 7:30AM till 11PM. Tickets also include 24 hours of unlimited journeys on the Aerobús network.
As of January 2022, the Aerobús shuttle service is temporarily suspended, probably in relation to the current global situation. Please be sure to check the Aerobús website before making any plans.
PRIVATE/SHARED TRANSFER: If you’d like to book a private or shared airport transfer in advance from Lisbon Portela Airport to your hotel in downtown Lisbon, then you can do so through Get Your Guide. Shared transfers will be considerably cheaper though it may not take you directly to your hotel.
UBER/TAXI: An Uber ride between Lisbon Airport and central Lisbon will run you around EUR 15-20. Because Lisbon Portela Airport is located within the city limits, taking a taxi will be less expensive than other European capitals so expect to pay around the same as an Uber. If traveling by taxi, be sure that the driver switches on the meter as they’re required to use it by law.
If you’re already in Portugal or in a nearby city in Spain, then traveling to Lisbon by train may be the more convenient option. Trains are fast, comfortable, and relatively inexpensive. Plus, it’ll save you trips to and from the airport as train stations are usually located within the city centre.
We took the Alfa Pendular from Porto to Lisbon and a tourist class ticket cost us EUR 31.20. The journey took about 2 hrs 40 mins.
If you’d prefer to take a trip to Lisbon by train, then you can check train routes on the Comboios de Portugal website. This is Portugal’s official rail website and where we bought our Porto-Lisbon tickets. Another popular transportation website you can look at is Bookaway.
From the train station, you can then book an Uber to your hotel.
Like trains, traveling to Lisbon by bus may be the better option if you’re already in Portugal or in a nearby city in Spain. You can check bus routes and purchase tickets on Bookaway. From the bus station, you can then catch an Uber to your hotel.
Traveling by car is one of the best ways of exploring Portugal and many parts of Europe. Before our trip to Lisbon, we were in Spain and drove from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela. Unlike public transportation, it gave us the freedom to stop wherever and whenever we wanted.
If you’d like to visit Lisbon by car, then you can rent one on Rentalcars.com.
WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY
The unit of currency in Portugal is the Euro (EUR).
I withdrew EUR from ATMs in Portugal so I didn’t have to exchange currency in Lisbon. This seems to be the best option in Lisbon and in many other European cities these days.
ATM rates are competitive and they save you from having to bring too much foreign currency with you. Plus, I read that the exchange rate at cambios (currency exchange offices) usually aren’t as good.
If you plan on using your ATM card overseas, then it’s a good idea to inform your bank before your trip to Lisbon. That way you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in most machines but not in all.
NOTE: Some ATMs in Lisbon may ask if you’d like to proceed “with or without conversion”. Always proceed WITHOUT conversion. If you proceed with conversion, then the foreign bank operating the ATM will do the conversion for you, usually at highly unfavorable rates.
BEST AREAS TO STAY IN LISBON
There are many beautiful neighborhoods in the Portuguese capital. Finding the best place to stay based on your interests can make your trip to Lisbon that much better.
Are you looking to party? Then Bairro Alto is definitely for you. Do you want to be near the river? Then Cais do Sodre would be the better choice.
I’ll describe each area in more detail below but if it’s your first time visiting Lisbon, then I’d say the Baixa / Chiado area is the best place for you to stay. It’ll put you in the heart of central Lisbon and close to many tourist attractions, shops, restaurants, bars, and transportation options.
I’ve created a color-coded map to help you understand where these areas in Lisbon are. Click on the link for a live version of the map. (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)
PURPLE – Baixa / Chiado
RED – Bairro Alto
ORANGE – Cais do Sodre
BLUE – Principe Real
PINK – Avenida da Liberdade
GREEN – Alfama
TEAL – Belem
YELLOW – Parque das Nações
BAIXA / CHIADO
As described, the Baixa / Chiado area is one of the best places to stay for people on their first visit to Lisbon. It’ll put you in the heart of central Lisbon and just a stone’s throw away from many of the city’s top tourist attractions like Santa Justa lift, Rossio Square, and Praça do Comércio (and its Arco da Rua Augusta).
It’s a lovely area to explore on foot with plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. Plus, you’ll be within walking distance to other interesting neighborhoods in Lisbon.
You can book accommodations in Baixa / Chiado on Booking.com or Agoda. Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Pousada de Lisboa – Small Luxury Hotels Of The World
- Midrange: My Story Hotel Rossio
- Budget: Lost Inn Lisbon Hostel
If nightlife is important to you, then Bairro Alto is definitely where you want to be. It’s a quiet neighborhood with cobblestone streets during the day that turns into one of the liveliest and most vibrant areas in Lisbon at night. It’s home to many trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, and rooftop terraces. Even if you don’t like to party, it’s a fun area to explore at night. The streets are buzzing with energy.
You can book accommodations in Bairro Alto on Booking.com or Agoda. Listed below are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Bairro Alto Hotel
- Midrange: Dear Lisbon – Charming House
- Budget: Lookout Lisbon Hostel
CAIS DO SODRE
Cais do Sodre is one of my favorite areas in Lisbon. It’s a beautiful waterfront area that’s home to Mercado da Ribeira and Time Out Market. If you travel for food like we do, then you’ll probably find yourself at this amazing food hall more than once during your trip to Lisbon.
Caid do Sodre is also home to Rua Nova do Carvalho or “Pink Street”. Known locally as Rua Cor-de-Rosa, Pink Street is a former red light district that’s been transformed into one of the trendiest areas in Lisbon. It consists of a street painted pink with some of the city’s hottest nightclubs and bars on either side of it. Based on what I’ve read, local revelers will usually start in Bairro Alto before ending the night around Pink Street.
You can book accommodations in Cais do Sodre on Booking.com. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Lisbon Finestay 8 Building Apartments
- Midrange: Azulejos Cais Sodré B&B
- Budget: Sunset Destination Hostel
This is where we stayed on our last trip to Lisbon. We booked a lovely homestay just down the hill from trendy Embaixada shopping gallery and the Botanical Garden of Lisbon.
Located just north and within walking distance of Bairro Alto, Principe Real is home to many boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. It’s a busy commercial district that’s similar in feel to Bairro Alto though perhaps a little quieter which some people may prefer.
You can book accommodations in Principe Real on Booking.com. Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Memmo Príncipe Real – Design Hotels
- Midrange: 1869 Príncipe Real House
- Budget: Royal Prince Hostel
AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE
The area around Avenida da Liberdade is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Lisbon. It’s often compared to France’s Champs-Élysées and consists of a 1.5 km (0.9 miles) stretch of 5-star hotels, shopping malls, designer boutiques, and upscale restaurants.
Situated just east of Principe Real and north of Baixa / Chiado, Av. da Liberdade is still within walking distance of the city’s main sights, making it an ideal choice for people looking to stay in a more luxurious neighborhood in Lisbon.
You can book accommodations around Avenida da Liberdade on Booking.com. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Valverde Hotel
- Midrange: Hotel Britania – Lisbon Heritage Collection – Avenida
- Budget: Green Heart Hostel
Alfama is one of the most beautiful areas in Lisbon. Situated on the southeastern slope of the same hill capped by Castelo de Sao Jorge, it offers some of the most spectacular views of the city and river.
Alfama survived much of the destruction caused by the 1755 earthquake and is known for being one of the oldest and most historic districts in Lisbon. Originally settled by Moors in 7AD, it retains much of its original Moorish charm with its whitewashed terraced houses featuring orange tiled roofs and wrought iron balconies.
As beautiful as it is, Alfama is also one of the busiest and most visited neighborhoods in Lisbon. It has steep hills and can get pretty crowded so keep that in mind when deciding where to stay in Lisbon.
You can book accommodations in Alfama on Booking.com or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Lisbon Best Choice Prime Apartments Alfama
- Midrange: Alfama – Lisbon Lounge Suites
- Budget: Alfama Home
If you prefer to be closer to the water and not have to struggle with the steep hills in Lisbon, then Belem would be a great place to stay. It’s situated right next to the Tagus River and offers some of the best waterfront views in Lisbon.
Belem is located about 5 km (3.1 miles) east of central Lisbon. It’s a bit far from the main commercial areas and will force you to take public transport more often, but it does put you close to some of the city’s top tourist attractions like Belem Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries, MAAT, Jerónimos Monastery, and Pastéis de Belém.
You can book accommodations in Belem on Booking.com or Agoda. Listed below are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Altis Belem Hotel & Spa – Design Hotels
- Midrange: Geronimo Guest House Belém
- Budget: Restelo House
PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES
Like Belem, Parque das Nações is located away from the city center. You’ll need to take public transport to get to downtown Lisbon but it may be a good choice for families traveling together.
Once an industrial area, Parque das Nações was revamped for the World Expo in 1998 and is now one of the most modern neighborhoods in Lisbon. It’s close to Lisbon Airport and features many family-friendly attractions like Oceanário de Lisboa (aquarium) and Pavilhao do Conheciment (science and technology museum).
You can book accommodations in Parque das Nações on Booking.com. Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: MYRIAD by SANA Hotels
- Midrange: Moxy Lisboa Oriente
- Budget: Oriente DNA Studios
You can also book hotels and home stays in Lisbon using the handy map below.
PLACES TO VISIT IN LISBON
What should I not miss in Lisbon? People on their first trip to Lisbon will surely be asking that question. To help alleviate your FOMO, we’ve listed below some of the top tourist attractions in the city that you absolutely cannot miss.
1. Jerónimos Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Together with Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited attractions in Lisbon. Completed in the 17th century, it’s the former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome and was built to commemorate the return of Vasco de Gama from India. The tombs of the famed explorer and Luís de Camões, a Portuguese poet and writer, are housed in the church.
Jerónimos Monastery is located in Belem, about 7 km (4.3 miles) west of the city center. It’s a beautiful waterfront area near several major tourist attractions like Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. You can take public transport and easily spend the entire day exploring and enjoying the area. It’s a great place for people watching too.
Entrance to the church is free but it costs EUR 10 to visit the cloister. With a Lisbon Card, you can enter the cloister for free. If you’d like to visit the monastery on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
Operating Hours: 10AM-5:30PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: FREE (church), EUR 10 (cloister)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs
Nearest Public Transport Station: Belem (Cascáis line)
2. Belem Tower (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Belem Tower is a 16th century fortification that served as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. Constructed on the north bank of the Tagus, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s often portrayed as a symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries. It once functioned as an embarkation and disembarkation point for Portuguese explorers.
Like Jerónimos Monastery, Belem Tower is a national monument of Portugal and one of the most important tourist attractions in Lisbon. Entrance is EUR 9 but you visit for free with a Lisbon Card. If you’d like to visit Belem Tower on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
Operating Hours: 10AM-5:30PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: EUR 9
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs
Nearest Public Transport Station: Belem (Cascáis line)
3. Monument to the Discoveries
Within walking distance of Jerónimos Monastery and Belem Tower is a large waterfront monument called Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries. It was built to commemorate the Age of Discoveries in Portugal and features Prince Henry the Navigator and other famed Portuguese explorers.
I was happy to view the monument from outside but you can visit the observation deck at the top of the structure for sweeping views of Belem and the river. Entrance to the deck is EUR 6 but you can get a 30% discount with a Lisbon Card. If you’d like to visit the Monument to the Discoveries on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: EUR 6 (Observation deck)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Nearest Public Transport Station: Belem (Cascáis line)
4. Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio or Commerce Square is the main public square in Lisbon. Situated by the river, it was built on the site where the old Royal Palace used to stand before it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755.
The most prominent feature at the square is the Arco da Rua Augusta or “Rua Augusta Arch”. Completed in 1873, it was built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon after it was devastated by the earthquake.
It’s easy enough to visit Praça do Comércio on your own, but if you’d like to go on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Nearest Public Transport Stop: Terreiro do Paço (Blue line), Baixa / Chiado (Green and Blue lines)
5. Santa Justa Lift
This beautiful elevator called Elevador de Santa Justa or Santa Justa Lift serves a dual purpose. Not only does it offer fantastic views of the city, but it’s also the fastest way to get from Baixa to the Bairro Alto neighborhood.
An elevator may seem like one of those needless tourist traps but the Santa Justa Lift is far from that. It was actually inaugurated in the early 20th century as one of the city’s very first public transport systems. With Lisbon being built on seven hills, its steep hills made it very difficult to travel between upper and lower Lisbon but the Santa Justa Lift made it much easier.
It’s easy enough to visit Santa Justa Lift on your own, but if you’d like to go as part of a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily
Admission: EUR 5.15 (roundtrip), EUR 1.50 (viewpoint)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Nearest Public Transport Stop: Baixa / Chiado (Blue and Green lines)
6. Castelo de São Jorge
Castelo de Sao Jorge or Sao Jorge Castle is an historic castle and one of the most emblematic landmarks in Lisbon. It’s perched on the summit of São Jorge hill, the highest hill in Lisbon and home to the postcard-perfect Alfama district.
Castelo de São Jorge started as a small fortress built by the Visigoths in the 5th century. It was enlarged by the Moors in the 11th century and reached the height of its splendor from the 13th to the 16th centuries when it was occupied by both the King of Portugal and the Bishop.
Sao Jorge Castle features eleven towers, a museum, a bar, and a restaurant, not to mention some of the most breathtaking views of Lisbon. You can visit the castle on your own or through a guided tour.
MAAT stands for Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. It’s a contemporary art museum and cultural center that features national and international exhibits by leading artists, architects, and thought leaders.
MAAT is located by the Tagus River in Belem so you can make a stop here on the same day you visit Jerónimos Monastery and Belem Tower.
8. Oceanário de Lisboa
The Oceanário de Lisboa or Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. Located in Parque das Nações, it features a large collection of about 16,000 marine animals across 450 species. Its main exhibit is a 5,000,000 liter (1,300,000 US gal) tank featuring sharks, rays, barracudas, moray eels, and a large sunfish.
You can purchase tickets to the oceanarium at the gate or in advance through Get Your Guide.
THINGS TO DO IN LISBON
1. Ride Historic Tram 28
This historic tram line is an icon in Lisbon. They’ve been taking commuters from Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique (Prazeres) since the turn of the 20th century. The steep hills of Lisbon can make it more challenging to get around but these yellow trams provide an easy and scenic way to visit some of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods and attractions.
Tram 28 takes commuters through popular neighborhoods like Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. A single journey on the tram will cost you EUR 3 but you can save on the cost if you get a public transport card. Check out the HOW TO GET AROUND section of this Lisbon travel guide for more information.
If you like street art, then be on the lookout for this mural by legendary American street artist Shepard Fairey. You’ll see it from the tram while going through the Graca neighborhood.
Taking Tram 28 is one if the best ways to visit Alfama, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Lisbon.
2. Catch a Fado Performance
Fado refers to a musical genre that can be traced back to at least as early as 1820s Lisbon. Traditionally performed in pubs and cafes by one or more guitarists and a vocalist, it’s a type of singing renowned for its deeply emotional and melancholic character.
Fado is strongly associated with Lisbon and something that you need to experience on your trip. It’s performed in many venues throughout the city but one of the most famous places to catch a fado performance in Lisbon is at Tasca do Chico in Bairro Alto (pictured below). You can also get tickets to fado shows on Get Your Guide (Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3).
3. Visit Lx Factory and Embaixada
If you enjoy artsy stuff and unique one-off items, then you need to check out Embaixada and Lx Factory. They’re creative hubs that feature a plethora of interesting products made by Portuguese artists and artisans.
Pictured below is Lx Factory, a co-op featuring a funky mix of shops, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and bars. There’s a lot of great street art here as well.
Lx Factory is located in the Alcantara neighborhood halfway between Cais do Sodre and Belem. It’s a fun place to check out on your way to Jerónimos Monastery and Belem Tower.
Embaixada is a unique shopping gallery located in Principe Real, just a stone’s throw from the Botanical Garden of Lisbon. It’s housed in a late-19th century Arabian palace that’s every bit as fascinating as the boutiques and restaurants that call it home.
Embaixada isn’t as big as Lx Factory but the products on sale here, made by Portuguese artists and designers, are just as cool and interesting. Check out my article on Lx Factory and Embaixada for more pictures and information.
4. Go on a Food Tour
With so much amazing food to be had in Lisbon, what better way to experience it than by going on a food tour? We love going on food tours because local guides can take you to the most authentic eateries, places that would be difficult to find on your own. No tourist traps here!
Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food and drinking tours in Lisbon.
5. Go on a Tuk-Tuk Tour
I didn’t know this until we got there, but traveling by tuk-tuk is one of the most popular ways for tourists to get around Lisbon. I normally recommend walking tours or bike tours but considering how hilly Lisbon is, a tuk-tuk tour may be the best way to tour the city.
Check out Get Your Guide for a list of tuk-tuk tours in Lisbon. If a tuk-tuk tour isn’t for you, then you can chose from other tours like electric bike tours, Segway tours, and walking tours.
6. Take a Cooking Class
Going on a food tour will take you to some of the best and most authentic places to eat in Lisbon, but if you really want to learn about Portuguese food, then one of the best ways to do that is by taking a cooking class.
If you’re adept in the kitchen and want to learn how to make pastel de nata and other Portuguese dishes, then check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Lisbon.
DAY TRIPS FROM LISBON
If you’re staying long enough in Lisbon and want to go beyond the city, then you may be interested in going on one or two day trips. Here are some of the most popular day trips you can take in the Lisbon region.
Sintra is far and away the most popular day trip destination from Lisbon. Located less than an hour by train from Lisbon, it refers to the town and municipality famous for its 19th century Romanticist architecture, royal palaces and gardens, and historic villas. The entire town as a whole is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There’s much to see and do in Sintra. If you’re exploring on your own, then I suggest getting an early morning start. It’s best explored in 2-3 days but if you only have enough time for one day trip, then the can’t-miss sights are Pena Palace (pictured below), Quinta da Regaleira, and the Castle of the Moors.
If you’d rather visit Sintra on a guided day trip, then you can choose one of many Sintra tours and activities on Get Your Guide.
Travel Time: About 50 mins
Cascais is a Lisbon municipality located on the Portuguese Riviera. It’s a former fishing town that’s become one of the most popular holiday destinations along the Lisbon coastline. Historically, it served as the summer retreat for many members of the Portuguese royal family and nobility.
Today, Cascais is one of the most affluent municipalities in Portugal. It’s a lovely seaside town with lavish villas, cobblestone streets, interesting museums, and many restaurants and bars.
Located less than an hour east of Lisbon, Cascais can easily be reached on a day trip using public transportation. If you’d rather go on a tour, then check out Get Your Guide for a list of guided day trips to Cascais from Lisbon. Many will combine Sintra and Cascais on the same day trip.
Some guided day trips to Cascais will take you to Boca do Inferno, a scenic cliff formation and cave system located just west of Cascais. Its name literally means “mouth of hell” and refers to the rough ocean waves crashing violently against the cliff’s face.
You can visit Boca do Inferno on your own or book a guided day trip through Get Your Guide that makes a stop there.
3. Arrábida Natural Park
If you’re fond of the outdoors, then one of the best day trips you can make from Lisbon is to Arrábida Natural Park. Located about 40 mins south of central Lisbon, it’s a protected area in the Setúbal Peninsula with lush mountain ranges, white sand beaches, and some of the best coastal scenery in Lisbon.
Get Your Guide offers plenty of day trip tours that take you hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, dolphin watching, and more in Arrábida Natural Park.
PORTUGUESE FOOD GUIDE
Portuguese food is a Mediterranean-based cuisine highlighted by delicious dishes like cozido, tripas, and arroz de tamboril. If you’d like to eat like a local in Lisbon, then check out our Portuguese food guide for a list of the best dishes to eat in Portugal.
Pastel de nata may be the most famous dessert in Lisbon but there are so many more delicious sweets you need to try in Portugal. If you have a sweet tooth, then be sure to check out our guide on traditional Portuguese desserts for more information on all things sweet and delicious in Lisbon.
WHERE TO EAT IN LISBON
If eating local food is important to you, then you’ll definitely want to avoid any tourist traps “conveniently” located near popular tourist attractions. Be sure to check out our Lisbon food guide for suggestions on which restaurants to visit for some of the best dining experiences in the Portuguese capital.
To help you decide which restaurants to visit in Lisbon, I’ve narrowed it down to our four favorites below. Be sure to click through to the full Lisbon food guide for more pictures and information.
1. Time Out Market Lisbon
If you travel for food like we do, then a visit to the ultra popular Time Out Market in Lisbon should be high on your list of priorities. It’s a trendy food hall with over four dozen stalls representing some of the best restaurants, bars, and pastry shops in Lisbon. Want some of the city’s best bacalhau a bras, conservas, croquettes, and pastel de nata? They’re all here, conveniently under one roof.
Located in the historic Mercado da Ribeira in Cais do Sodre, Time Out Market Lisbon is extremely popular so expect a crowd at peak times. It can be hard to find a seat so I suggest going in the off-hours to make it a little easier. Check out my article on Time Out Market in Lisbon for suggestions on which stalls to visit.
2. Cervejaria Ramiro
Cervejaria Ramiro is one of the most popular restaurants in Lisbon. It’s featured on almost every travel food show, YouTube video, and blog post about Lisbon, and with good reason. The seafood at this “cervejaria-marisqueira” is absolutely delicious and something every food lover needs to experience in Lisbon.
Everything we ordered at Cervejaria Ramiro was fantastic, but this Portuguese-style crab dish called sapateira recheada may have been the highlight of our meal. Está delicioso! Check out my article on Cervejaria Ramiro for more pictures and information.
3. Ponto Final
While our seafood feast at Cervejaria Ramiro may have been the most delicious, this sunset dinner at Ponto Final may have been the most memorable. Situated on a concrete pier overlooking the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge, it was one of the most beautiful and picture-worthy restaurant settings I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve read that the food at Ponto Final can be hit or miss, so you need to know what to order. Based on local recommendations, we got the arroz de tamboril or monkfish stew. Good for two, I suggest doing the same because it’s absolutely delicious.
Located in Almada, Ponto Final is at the very end of a long pier with interesting street art. To get there, you’ll need to take a ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas. Check out my article on Ponto Final for more pictures and information.
4. Pasteis de Belem (Home of the best pastel de nata!)
There are many pastry shops offering pastel de nata in Lisbon, but there is only one Pasteis de Belem. Home to the original recipe for pastel de nata, Pasteis de Belem is without question the most famous pastry shop in Lisbon. I enjoyed pastel de nata almost everyday in Portugal and the offerings at Pasteis de Belem were the best.
Pasteis de Belem is located just a stone’s throw from Jerónimos Monastery, the very place credited for inventing this iconic Portuguese pastry in the 18th century. You can easily take public transport to Belem so this is an experience you definitely shouldn’t miss.
POINTS OF INTEREST IN LISBON
To help you visualize where everything is, I’ve pinned all the places recommended in this Lisbon travel guide on this map. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN LISBON
The Lisbon public transportation system is extensive and efficient and a great way to explore the city. You can explore Lisbon by tram, metro, bus, and ferry. If you enjoy walking like I do, then it’s a great city to explore on foot as well.
If you plan on using public transportation a lot, then I highly recommend getting one of these public transport cards. They can be cheaper and more convenient than purchasing single journey tickets.
24-Hour Public Transport Ticket
For EUR 6.90, this convenient public transport ticket will give you unlimited access to the trams, metro, and bus services in Lisbon for 24 hours. It’ll also give you free access to the Santa Justa Lift and the funicular lines.
If you plan on taking five or more rides in one day, then a 24-hour public transport ticket is definitely a good investment. You can purchase one from any metro station.
Viva Viagem Card
The Viva Viagem card is a rechargeable Lisbon public transportation card. The card costs EUR 0.50 and can be topped up with EUR 3-40 at any metro ticket machine. It can even be loaded with the 24-hour public transport ticket.
Please note that unlike other major cities, each passenger in Lisbon needs to have their own Viva Viagem card. You can’t share one card with multiple people.
If it’s your first trip to Lisbon and you’re planning on visiting many of the city’s top attractions, then a Lisbon Card may be a good investment. It’ll give you unlimited rides on the public transportation system for 24, 48, or 72 hours. It’s valid on CP trains (Comboios de Portugal) going to Sintra and Cascais and it’ll give you free access to many of the top attractions in the city. Check out Get Your Guide for more information and to purchase a Lisbon Card.
No matter how you get around in Lisbon, I suggest downloading the Google Maps app (iOS | Android) if you haven’t already. It’ll tell you all the different ways to get from point A to point B using public transportation. It’s accurate and reliable and something we can never go without on a trip.
Be sure to have Uber installed on your phone as well in case you need to book a ride. We used it a few times in Lisbon when we were too lazy to take public transportation.
HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / LISBON ITINERARY
How many days do you need to visit Lisbon? As always, it’s best to allocate as much time as you can to major cities like Lisbon, but thanks to its efficient public transport system, you can cover its top attractions in just a few days.
As long as you get an early morning start every day, then 3 full days should be enough. It’ll give you enough time to see the main sights in Lisbon and take a day trip to Sintra and Cascais.
Here’s a sample 3D/4N Lisbon itinerary to help you plan your trip.
• Ride Tram 28
• Castelo de Sao Jorge
• Santa Justa Lift
• Bairro Alto
• Principe Real
• Praça do Comércio
• Time Out Market
• Lx Factory
• Pastéis de Belém
• Jerónimos Monastery
• Padrão dos Descobrimentos
• Belem Tower
• Rua Nova do Carvalho
• Day trip to Sintra and Cascais
LISBON TRAVEL TIPS
1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel
You either enjoy travel planning or you don’t. People that do will find the Sygic Travel app useful. I’ve been using this free trip planning app for years. It allows me to pin points of interest on a map then group them together by location to create as efficient an itinerary as possible. You can download it for free on iOS or Android.
2. Stay Connected in Portugal
Having a fast and steady wifi connection is a must when traveling. You’ll need it to navigate, translate signs, and stay connected on social media. Having access to Google Maps alone justifies the cost.
We own Pokefi pocket wifi devices so we didn’t need to rent one in Europe. But if you want to stay connected in Portugal, then you can purchase an eSIM through Klook.
3. Get a Lisbon Card
As described, people on their first trip to Lisbon may want to invest in a Lisbon Card. It’ll give you unlimited access to public transportation for 24, 48, or 72 hours and allow you to enter many of the city’s main sights for free. Plus, you can use it to go to Cascais and Sintra. Click on the link to purchase a Lisbon Card through Get Your Guide.
4. Prepare for the Hills
Being a city built on seven hills, exploring Lisbon on foot will test your endurance. The public transportation system is great but you’ll still need to get around on foot for a good portion of your trip. If mobility is an issue, then you may want to choose a hotel that’s in a less hilly part of town.
5. Don’t Board Tram 28 at Praça Martim Moniz
Praça Martim Moniz is the start of Tram 28. There’s always a long line there so I suggest boarding the tram somewhere further along the line. Tram 28 is an extremely popular line so most cars will still be crowded, but if you wait long enough, then a less-full car will eventually come around. Personally, I never had to wait too long to board a car where the people didn’t look like sardines packed in a can.
6. Bring Home Conservas
Speaking of sardines packed in a can, one of the best souvenirs you can bring back from Lisbon is conservas. Conservas refers to gourmet canned seafood popular in Portugal and Spain. They’ve been an important part of Portuguese culture and cuisine since the 1850s.
Preserved seafood like anchovies, bacalhau, octopus, and eel are packaged in attractive tins and then wrapped in paper. They’re absolutely delicious and make for the perfect Portuguese food souvenir.
Conserveira de Lisboa is one of the most famous conservas shops in Lisbon. They have a branch near Praça do Comércio and another at Time Out Market.
Conserveira de Lisboa is excellent but if you want truly beautiful tins, the you may want to check out O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa as well. Their prices are considerably higher than other shops but they have by far the most exquisitely designed tins.
At these prices, these conservas are probably more for keeping than for eating. They even have tins marked with your birth year.
7. Store Your Luggage
More and more people are choosing to stay in AirBnBs over hotels so having a safe place to store your luggage is becoming a necessity. We didn’t need it in Lisbon but there were a few cities in Europe where we had to store our luggage in lockers while waiting to check in to our AirBnB.
If need a secure place to store your luggage for a few hours, then you can check Luggage Hero for available storage options in Lisbon.
8. Check for Lisbon Travel Deals
There are many websites that sell vouchers to tours and other travel-related services. For a trip to Lisbon, one of the best websites to go through is Get Your Guide. They’re one of the leading travel ecommerce websites and offer a fantastic selection of deals on tours, attraction tickets, airport transfers, and more.
9. Rent a Car
Renting and driving a car is one of the best ways to explore Europe. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. We didn’t rent one in Portugal but we did rent cars in Santorini and Spain.
If you’re considering renting a car in Portugal or anywhere else in Europe, then you can do so through Rentalcars.com.
10. Get Travel Insurance
We didn’t get travel insurance often when we were younger but now that we’re older and more experienced, we understand how important it can be. The fact is, you never know what can happen when you’re in a foreign country. Having a reliable insurance policy can be a godsend should anything bad or unforeseen happen on a trip.
Whenever we do feel the need for insurance, we always get it from SafetyWing or Heymondo. They’re both popular travel insurance providers used by many long-term travelers. Follow the links to get a free quote from SafetyWing or Heymondo. Get 5% off on Heymondo by using our link.
11. Bring the Right Power Adapter
Portugal has Type C or Type F electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.
I’m by no means an expert on Lisbon but I do hope that you find this guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trips.
If you have any questions or suggestions, then please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing trip to Lisbon!
These are some of the things we brought with us to Lisbon. Check out our what’s in our backpack post for a complete list of our gear. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon and other affiliate links.)
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