I fell in love with this beautiful city! The mosaic streets, the waves of the ocean, the sound of fado, the music of the language and the soul of Portugal… For everyone else who just started packing their bags and asking, “where should we fly?”, the answer is to Lisbon, Portugal. You’re gonna fall in love!
This travel blog has all you need to know for your trip in Lisbon. Transport, main touristic attractions, places not to miss, the most beautiful beaches, places to eat, night life and insider tips.
This Lisbon travel guide includes the following parts:
The best way to explore Lisbon is to walk. It is easy enough to wander around the centre without using trains. The city is full of hidden gems that will surprise you at every corner. Whether its magnificent views, a little vintage shop or just amazing street art…
However, the metro in Lisbon is super simple to understand. To ride the metro, trams, buses you will need a VivaViagem card. Besides, Uber and Cabify are widely available. The beautiful old trams will also bring you wherever you want to go.
Places to Visit
You may love Lisbon for its history and monuments, ideal conditions for surfing or for its delicious cuisine. One thing is certain: There’s a lot to do and see in Lisbon. All the time in the world won’t be enough to enjoy this capital, so I will now address what is really worth to do and insider tips to see the major sights. Bem-vindo a Lisboa!
Belém: District of the Major Tourist Attractions
This area used to be the harbour and departure point of all the Portuguese ships in Discoveries Era. You can breathe history here amongst the great monuments, broad gardens and magnificent river views.
Many things to keep you busy here like the monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos which is the most popular tourist attraction of Belem. My favourite attraction is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (the Discoveries Monument) which is one of the most iconic monuments of Lisbon, and was constructed to promote national self-confidence.
The overcrowded Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) is a very popular tourist attraction. Belém is also the museum district of Lisbon. You can find interesting exhibits in Museu Berardo, Museu dos Coches or in the futuristic MAAT, museum for art, technology and architecture.
Insider tip: Jardim Botânico (Tropical Gardens) is the best place to escape the crowds and find some peace and calm. It is just next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
Pickpockets: Unfortunately, there are many pickpockets in this district, so always be careful with your valuables.
Baixa: Downtown Lisbon
Baixa is the heart of the city. It is the main shopping and banking district that stretches from the riverfront to the main avenue Avenida da Liberdade. It is next to all major sights and attractions, with excellent transport facilities and close to shops, restaurants, cafes and some museums.
The best attraction of Baixa district is the amazing view from the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta. This gorgeous arch connects the Rua Augusta Street with the Praça do Comércio. The Praça do Comércio is the grandest square in Lisbon and one of the largest in Europe. Historically this was the gateway to the city, where goods from the colonies were traded.
A bit further up, opposite the river, Rossio Square, the traditional heart of Lisbon. Don´t miss having lunch or drinking a small glass of the cherry liquor called Ginja from the Ginjinbar.
Alfama: The Labyrinth District of Lisbon
Alfama is one of the oldest districts of Lisbon, and is a delightful labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses. Originally, Alfama was associated with poverty, where only the poor and disadvantaged resided. As Lisbon grew into an important port, the district has been transformed into a fashionable artisan district.
Many places worth to visit in the surroundings including the Se Cathedral, the Castle, the National Pantheon and Saint Anthony’s Church. The most touristic one is the Lisbon Castel which provides wonderful views to the central Lisbon.
The best view-point of Alfama is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Santa Luzia Viewpoint), but my favourite is Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen which is in front of the Graça Church and provides wonderful views over the castle and central Lisbon. There is a pleasant open air café and this is an ideal place to relax after climbing all the hills of Alfama.
Insider tip: The most enjoyable activity in the Alfama district is to ride on the number 28 tram. The tram route connects the district of Graça with Baixa and passes through the streets and hills of Alfama.
Day Trip to Sintra
If you are staying longer than 3 days and like visiting castles or palaces with exotic gardens, I highly recommend you to visit Sintra. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will feel like living in another universe while wandering there.
There are so many outstanding tourist attractions in Sintra. My favourite one is the beautiful Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) with breathtaking views. The National Palace, the Moors castle, Quinta da Regaleira, the Seteais Palace, the Monserrate Palace and the Pena Park are also worth to see.
Lisbon´s Best Beaches
Lisbon is surrounded by a stunning coastline that offers a variety of beautiful Atlantic beaches for surfing or swimming, some of them are easily accessible from the center by public transport.
One of these outstanding beaches is the Adraga with huge cliffs, located in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park in the bottom of a valley. It takes 40 Minutes by car.
My favourite one is the Portinho da Arrábida with crystal clear waters. The contrast between the blue of the waters, the white of the sand and the green of the hills is just amazing. The easiest why to get there to rent a car. It is located in a bay which entails several beaches with the Arrábida Natural Park. It takes almost 50 minutes from the center.
If you are a fan of long golden sand beaches and like surfing, I would recommend the Praia da Mata of Costa da Caparica. It is easy to get there by public transport. Lastly I can recommend you the beaches of Cascais and Estoril if you just want to sunbathe because these beaches are the easier ones to get from center and don´t have crystal water like to other ones.
Where to Eat in Lisbon
Portuguese cuisine is rich and delicious. Bacalhau (cod), sardinhas grelhadas (grilled sardines), caldo verde (kale soup with slices of chorizo) and pastel de nata (egg custard tarts) are the most famous and beloved dishes of Portugal.
🍴 Mercado da Ribeira : Time out Market
If you are a morning person like me, Mercado da Ribeira is a perfect place to go at 6 am. You can grab a coffee and pasteis de nata and watch the older generation of Lisbonites pick up its day’s fruits and veggies. There are also many stands which offer you Portuguese traditional dishes such as, seafood rice, steak in a bun, salt cod with chickpeas and prawns.
🍴 Cervejaria Ramiro: The Best Sea Food
Ramiro is the best local seafood restaurants of Lisbon. The seafood is as fresh as you can get. It is quite popular that´s why I recommend to go for lunch around 13 pm or in the evening at 18 pm. You cannot leave Lisbon without trying this place!
🍴 A Gina : A hidden gem
If you want traditional Portuguese food, this is your place. The steak is excellent. The grilled ribs and sea bass are cooked to perfection. You must also try the octopus. They have a great wine list and their prices are very reasonable. I’m sure you will go back here for another meal.
🍴 Manteigaria: The Winner for Pastéis de Nata
The original recipe of custard tarts is held by Pastéis de Belém, a pastry shop that opened in 1837. But the best pastel de nata in town is at Manteigaria, located off a square in Chiado. The tarts are fresh and delicious.
The Night Life in Lisbon
The open-air cafes and restaurants of Rua August, Rossio and Baixa close around 11pm. The nightlife of Baixa is primarily focused around late meals, casual drinking or performances in the theatres. Baixa is a good location for family evening meals an it is not crowded like the other districts.
The greatest area to experience a night in Lisbon is the district of Bairro Alto. This most traditional district in Lisbon turns into the city’s major nightlife hotspot at night. From trendy bars, small clubs to live music venues where you can enjoy Fado music…. The night lasts until 2 am. That´s why the best time for clubbing begins around 1 or 2 am. Cais do Sodré is also known for its nightlife with loads of unique bars and nightclubs around. The most famous nightclub in Lisbon is LuxFrágil. If you like electronic music, you will love it there!
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
The weather in Lisbon is suitable for spending time and sunbathing on the beach from May to September. My favourite month is June because it is the month of street festivities, open air parties and shows. September is also a good time to enjoy the last days of summer on the beach. July and August are the most crowded months. It looks like the entire population of Lisbon has moved to the beach. Besides, it is too hot and everything is more expensive.
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