Visiting Lisbon

Lisbon stands out for its magnificent natural environment, spread over the slopes of seven high hills and ending on the banks of the Tagus River.

Lisbon
Lisbon

Portugal’s capital is at once a picturesque, cosmopolitan and creative city, marrying the historic with the modern, the traditional with the contemporary. Lisbon is at its best on summer evenings, when the cafes in the pedestrian streets and the riverside restaurants are buzzing with life.

Lisbon’s new Golden Age began in 1994, when it was declared European Capital of Culture. This was followed by the World Expo in 1998, for which Lisbon managed to obtain financial support from the central government and the European Union. This led to a new bridge across the Tagus River, a major expansion of the crumbling metro system and the massive redevelopment of the Expo site, the Parque das Nações, is now a major visitor attraction.

In 2004 Lisbon – Lisbon hosted the European Football Championships, where our national football team was crowned European champions, and the prestigious MTV Europe Music Awards the following year, sealing its place on the map of popular European destinations.

However, by 2010, the country was hit by the European financial crisis and the following year, it received a “bailout” package from the IMF to stabilize its public finances, becoming the third Eurozone country of the year to receive the “aid”. However, the city is proving resilient. Attractions continue to be renewed and expanded; including the Oceanarium – Lisbon’s Aquarium, the largest in Europe, the National Museum of Royal Carriages and the magnificent greenhouse in Edward VII Park.

New restaurants have opened in Comercio Square, the largest square in the city. Michelin-starred chef José Avillez has opened the Cantinho do Avillez restaurant in the Chiado district, serving dishes inspired by traditional Portuguese cuisine in an unpretentious setting, while by the river you will find many clubs, all proving that optimism in the city is undiminished.

This stoicism surely has something to do with the fact that Lisbon is Europe’s second oldest capital, after Athens, and has survived many exciting twists and turns of history, including a devastating earthquake in the 18th century. For culture lovers, explore the city’s past using the old traditional tram, its historic neighbourhoods such as the labyrinthine Alfama, the elegant Baixa and the cultural Chaido, as well as its great UNESCO sites. A stroll around the port, one of the world’s largest natural harbours, is also a reminder of why this formidable city has attracted so many cultures, from Phoenicians, Celts and Romans to Visigoths and Arabs. At the same time, Belém presents the opportunity to learn about the famous explorers of the country who set out from here on a course of incredible voyages of discovery.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, there are plenty of things to see and do, visit the exquisite palaces in one of Europe’s most romantic cities Sintra, try your luck at Europe’s largest casino in Estoril, surf in Cascais.

Friendly, full of diversity, dynamic, and with a wonderful Mediterranean climate, mild winters and warm summers, all seasons are good for visiting Lisbon!

First time in Lisbon?! Everything you need to know

Are you preparing to travel to Lisbon, or thinking about whether it’s worth putting on your list of next destinations? Below we’ve put together some useful information and tips for those about to visit Lisbon for the first time. But because we can’t be unaware of all that we experienced in this beautiful capital city, we can say for sure that it is worth it without a second thought.

Basic information

Lisbon, or Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and its largest city (it has about 600,000 inhabitants). The official language is Portuguese and the currency is the euro.

Lisbon’s neighbourhoods

If you are a first time visitor to Lisbon it will be useful to know the main neighbourhoods to wander around. The ones of most interest are Baixa-Chiado, Alfama, Belem, Bairo Alto, Mouraria, Madragoa, Anjos. Each of course for its own reason. We personally liked Alfama, Baixa-Chiado and Belem the most, however it doesn’t serve as well as the others due to distance.

Transportation to and from the airport.

When you first get to Lisbon you will understand that the Lisbon airport is very close to the city. If we define the centre as the Baixa-Chiado area the distance is about 9 kilometres. The options you have are as follows:

Taxi

By Lisbon Airport Taxi it will take about 15 minutes in normal traffic and will cost 8-10 euros (one way).

Aerobus

Outside the arrivals next to the taxi stop you will find the bus stop. It has a stand where they give you a ticket and tell you if you get 1, or 2 depending on where you are going and which stop you get off at. The cost is only 2.5 euros per person.

Metro

At a cost of just 1.40 one way you can get from the airport to the city. However, for the historic centre you will need to change the line.

To get to the historic centre, you will need to change the train to the city centre.

Comfortable shoes as you will be walking. The historic city centre is built on 7 hills, so you get the idea!

Most shops accept cards. Even in small bars that don’t fill your eye!

The food and drink is pretty cheap compared to the rest of Europe. A glass of beer costs around 2-2,80 euros, a meal for 2 around 30 euros.
English is spoken almost everywhere and quite a few people speak French! (except probably the taxis we got into!)

The museums are closed on Mondays, as are some well-known restaurants and shops. So save that day for walking around.

Extra tips If you’re planning to travel by metro explore the possibility of buying the Lisboa Card, which provides unlimited rides on the means of transport, as well as discounts at various attractions.

Lisbon Main Attractions

Ride the famous Tram 28

A trademark that you will often find “roaming” around Lisbon is the tram 28. Its characteristic feature is its yellow colour and it follows a really beautiful route through the city centre. It is worth taking the route to discover the picturesque neighbourhoods of the centre. You will go up and down hills and gaze at the colorful houses.

Extra tip: The tram runs from 07.00 to 22.00. However if you want to get a seat go early! It makes several stops but it’s best to board from Campo Ourique, or Martim Moniz again to get a seat. You can buy a ticket from inside which costs 2,90 euros. Alternatively a more value for money option is to buy a 24-hour ticket from a metro station, which costs 6.15 euros and includes unlimited rides for a day and discounts at other attractions such as the Elevador de Santa Justa

Climbing the Elevador de Santa Justa

This elevator has been around since the 19th century and takes passengers from the Baixa area to the Largo do Carmo area. Today it is used more as a tourist attraction than as a means of transport. The main reason why it’s worth going up is the panoramic view it offers! On one side you can enjoy Lisbon from above and on the other side an unreal medieval church (Carmo Convent) without a roof that survived the 1755 earthquake.

Extra tip: The cost to get on and off is 5.15 euros, but if you’ve bought the 24-hour ticket mentioned above you don’t have to pay again. However, something we discovered on the way down is that there is another way. The asancer is joined by a bridge to the medieval church. Underneath there is a bar-restaurant which has an elevator and takes you to a cork shop right across the street from the elevator! So if you take it from the bottom you save yourself the queues and pay just 1.5 euros to get to the top.

Visit to Castelo de São Jorge

A castle on the highest hill of the city offering a panoramic view of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Beyond that of course this castle-fortress has a history dating back to Visigothic times. Its greatest heyday was from the 13th to the 16th century. The form in which it is today is from the Moors. You will explore its 11 towers, museum and magnificent views.

Extra tip: Expect it to take 2-3 hours as the castle is relatively large. Also, the route to get there is quite uphill. The cost for an adult is 8.5 euros.

Tasting the most famous sweet, Pasteis de nata

These Portuguese tarts will steal your heart and your palate. Delicious vanilla flavored cream and a lightly caramelized topping inside a nest of crispy puff pastry. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and powdered sugar and you won’t want to leave Lisbon.

Extra tip: The most famous pasteis de nata will undoubtedly be found at Pasteis de Belem. Filled with steamy smells at first you’ll have a bit of a panic but it’s 100% worth it. Literally bite and forget. Our second favourites we tried at Fabrica Nata. Just as tasty, but not as crunchy puff pastry. Cost from 1-1,10 euro each.

Walking in Alfama

The most picturesque neighborhood in Lisbon and the only one that survived the great earthquake of 1755. What can you expect!! Traditional old houses, narrow streets and historic buildings like the Cathedral. Sit in one of the many small cafes – restaurants and experience the relaxed vibe of the neighbourhood.

Photos at Belem Tower

Although all of Lisbon is suitable for photography, the Belem Tower especially on a sunny day takes you back to the time of the knights. It was built in the 16th century and apart from its defensive use, it also had a symbolic one as it was considered a monument dedicated to the discoveries of the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. The tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Extra tip. The entrance fee is 6 euros.

Food and drink at Mercado Ribeira (TimeOut market)

Like other European countries, Lisbon has markets where you can find a lot of food and drinks in small shops next to each other. In the case of this particular market taken over by TimeOut, you have the chance to enjoy “tweaked” Portuguese dishes, in a modern version. From burgers to, seafood and endless local wines.

Extra tip: If you want to be served quickly and find a seat, avoid rush hours, like 1400.

Learn about all the things that make Lisbon what it is!

Every city has its own history, traditions and special things that make it unique. In Lisbon some of these are the tiles that adorn the houses and are a true art form. In fact, there is even a corresponding museum. Another interesting feature is the tradition of tins! A wide variety of canned sardines, tuna, cod, octopus and all the good things of the Atlantic. There are even shops like Loja das Conservas where you can find products from 19 different canneries.

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