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Lisbon Travel Guide: Things to Do in Lisbon Portugal

Let’s travel to: Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. An old, yet young and vibrant city with countless beautiful sights, historic areas, fantastic weather year round and a very relaxed atmosphere

Useful information:

  • Language: Portuguese
    • But you get by fine with English, especially among younger people
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Airport
    • Humberto Delgado Lisbon Airport (LIS)
    • 35min metro ride away from the city centre
  • Train stations
    • Rossio (most central one)
    • Oriente
    • Santa Apolonia
  • Public Transport
    • Bus
    • Tram
    • Metro
    • Cable Car
    • A 24h ticket gives you access to all public transport except long-distance trains (cost: 6.15€/daily ticket)
    • Public transport uses a rechargeable card you top up with money or tickets
  • Bicycles can be rented at several places like hostels
  • Getting around on foot is also possible, but be aware that Lisbon is very hilly, so walking around can get exhausting, especially when you consider the weather
  • Weather
    • Very warm all year, hot in summer
    • Due to being near the Tejo river, oftentimes a cooling breeze can be experienced in the city, so if you are a bit sensitive, bring a light jacket or something with long sleeves
  • Accomodation
    • Hotels
    • AirBnB
    • Hostels
      • Check out the Destination Hostels chain (Sunset, Lisbon, Alfama)
        • Three separate hostels in very central places
        • Booking in one grants access to the facilities of the others, including a rooftop bar and a pool
        • Also organizes tours every day of the week, including a pub crawl and city exploration tours
  • If you are still a student, bring your student ID, which will give you significant discounts on pretty much all touristic sights
  • Museums, of which there are a lot in Lisbon, are free on Sunday, but usually closed on Mondays
  • The main tourist attractions can be quite expensive, usually ranging from 7 – 12 € each, look for combined tickets to get discounts
  • Lisboa Card:
    • Combined pass allowing for free entry into a lot of museums and reduces fees for the main attractions; also serves as a free transport pass for all public transport for the duration (24h/48h/72h)
    • Prices: 19€ (24h), 32€ (48h) and 40€ (72h)
    • In my opinion not really recommendable, since you would need to visit a lot of attractions and museums to make this worth it
      • Considering that all museums are free on Sunday and closed on Monday, this makes it even less attractive if your stay includes a Sunday or Monday
  • Also be aware that Portugal has ended the War on Drugs in 2001, meaning you will not face any criminal charges for possessing or consuming any drug as long as the amount is not excessive. As a result, many people on the streets will offer to sell you drugs, most commonly marihuana, but potentially harder drugs as well

What to do:

  • Baixa (lower town)
    • Central area of Lisbon from which you can easily and quickly reach all other part of Lisbon
    • Avenida da Liberdade
      • Avenue connecting the two largest squares of Lisbon, Restauradores and Marquês de Pombal
      • Lots of cafés and boutiques along this avenue
    • Elevadores
      • Ancient elevators connecting the lower town with the upper town
      • Most famous one is the Elevador de Santa Justa due to its observation deck that gives a great look over central Lisbon all the way to the Tejo River
        • The fee is 5€, but free with any sort of daily travel pass
  • Praça do Comércio
    • Large square directly at the river, great place for hanging out at night and drinking with friends
  • Bairro Alto (upper town)
    • Old town of Lisbon
    • Artistic heart of the city
    • Great place to shop, eat and get drinks at night
    • Igreja do Carmo
      • An old church half destroyed by the earthquake in 1755
      • Now only the walls and pillars remain, but the atmosphere and architecture is still amazing
  • Belém
    • Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
      • Cloister and church with attached archeology and maritime museum
      • UNESCO-World Heritage Site
      • Recommendable to arrive early in the morning to gain entry before the tourist busses arrive
    • Torre de Belém
      • One of the landmarks of Lisbon
      • Top of the tower gives a great view over the Tejo river and the whole quarter of Belém
      • If you don’t arrive very early in the morning prepare to queue for a long time since only 120 people are allowed in the tower at the same time and they make you wait until all 120 have left the tower before they let 120 new people in
  • Parque das Nações
    • Location of the World Expo 1998
    • Good spot for shopping with several malls
    • Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe
    • Several architecturally amazing buildings here like the Pavilhão Atlântico (concert/event arena), Ponte & Torre Vasco da Gama or the Casino Lisboa
  • São Jorge Castle
    • Moorish castle on top of a hill overlooking all of Lisbon
    • Best place to take pictures of central Lisbon
    • Surrounding quarter of Alfama has lots of small streets and stores, but also huge monuments like the Panteão Nacional, the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora or the Lisbon Cathedral
  • Cristo Rei statue
    • Similar to the statue in Rio de Janeiro, this Jesus Christ statue is on the other side of the Tejo River looking at Lisbon
    • Observation deck gives great view of Lisbon and the Tejo River
    • Fee is 4€
  • Daytrip to Sintra
    • 45min train ride from Rossio train station
    • Location of lots of castles and palaces where the kings & queens resided during summer
    • Great area to hike in and explore the nature
    • Two biggest tourist attractions are the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle
    • Tip: Visit the Quinta da Regaleira
      • Old mansion in the Manueline style typical for Lisbon
      • Underground cave system and natural park surrounding the mansion

What to eat:

  • Seafood lovers will have the time of their lives here. Pretty much every Portuguese restaurant offers some variety of seafood, one very typical being grilled Sardines. These can be quite cheap, especially in smaller restaurants, where you can get several grilled sardines for just a few euros along with some vegetables usually
  • Francesinha - Portuguese sandwich, made of bread, ham, sausage, steak or roast beef , covered in melted cheese and served with a hot, mildly spicy tomato and beer sauce with some side dish like fries. Quite the wild combination, but definitely try it, it does work
  • Gazpacho -  cold soup served with raw vegetables and bread, very typical for both Spain and Portugal.  As it is served cold, it is very refreshing especially during the hot summer

Where to shop:

  • Baixa, especially on the Avenida da Liberdade
  • Bairro Alto
  • Parque das Nações
  • But pretty much everywhere in Lisbon you can find places to shop at

Where to go out:

  • Bairro Alto for pubs and restaurants
  • Riverside area for a lot of the clubs, including Lux, the hotspot in Lisbon’s nightlife, a club partly owned by John Malkovich
  • “Pink Street” - the name of this street comes from the street asphalt being literally coloured pink. Buzzing nightlife here pretty much every night of the week, especially filled with travelers, exchange students and expats

List by: Steven

Steven spent a semester abroad in Singapore in the fall of 2016 which gave him the chance to explore Asia and rediscover his love for travelling and exploring new countries. He has travelled to countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia but still wants to keep exploring more new countries and continents every year. While travelling, Steven loves to find out about a city’s culture and historical background, but also about the local people and the unique aspects of a city’s lifestyle.

Follow his adventures on Instagram:  @stevie__0

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