The top Lisbon travel tips are listed below.
- Wear comfortable shoes to navigate the hilly, cobbled streets.
- Savor local foods, especially "pastel de nata" and "bacalhau."
- Use the Viva card for affordable and efficient public transportation.
- Learn basic Portuguese phrases, like "obrigado" (thank you).
- Reserve tickets in advance for popular attractions to avoid long lines.
- Explore beyond the tourist spots, such as diving into Alfama’s lanes.
- Don't miss day trips to enchanting places like Sintra and Cascais.
Lisbon! The city of seven hills, where the sun shines 290 days a year and the Atlantic Ocean kisses the shores. Whether it's your first time visiting Lisbon or you're returning for another dose of its charm, this guide is brimming with tips to make your Lisbon experience unforgettable. Dive in, and let's embark on this journey together to explore Lisbon!
Best time to visit Lisbon
Alright, let me tell you about my trip to Lisbon. You're in for a treat! One thing I always get asked is, "When's the best time to visit Lisbon?" Well, I've been there a few times, and here's what I've found out.
Spring and fall are the magic seasons in a lot of European cities. March to May and September to October, that's when you want to go. During these months, the weather is just right, not too hot, not too cold.
I remember last April, I walked around in a light jacket, and it was perfect. The sun was shining, but there was this cool breeze that kept things comfortable.
Now, in summer, like July and August, it can get really hot. I mean, around 30°C (86°F) hot! So, if you're not into the heat, avoid those months.
And the best part about spring and fall? Not as many tourists. For instance, in September, I visited the famous Belem Tower (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Lisbon Cathedral, and the line was way shorter than what my friends experienced in August.
How many days to spend in Lisbon
When planning a trip to Lisbon, a lot of folks ask, "How many days do I need?" Based on my travels, I'd say 3 to 5 days. Trust me, there's a lot to see.
In 3 days, you can hit the main spots. Like, the Alfama district. It's the oldest part of the city with narrow streets and colorful houses.
I spent half a day there, just wandering around and taking photos. Then there's the LX Factory, a cool place with shops, cafes, and street art. I spent a whole afternoon there.
But if you have 5 days, you can take things slow and also visit nearby places. I took a day trip to Sintra, which is like a fairy tale town with castles and palaces. Totally worth it! And another day, I went to Cascais, a beach town not too far from Lisbon.
Safety in Lisbon
Let's talk about safety. Like any big city, you've got to be careful. But from my experience, Lisbon felt pretty safe. During the day, I walked around a lot, even in less touristy areas. I felt okay. But just like any other place, there are some rules.
For instance, watch out for pickpockets and tourist traps. Especially in crowded places like trams or markets. I met a couple from Canada who told me their camera got stolen in a busy square. So always keep an eye on your stuff.
At night, I'd say stick to well-lit areas. There were a few nights I went out, and while most parts were fine, some alleys felt a bit iffy.
Just use common sense, you know? Like, when I was near the Bairro Alto area, a lively spot with lots of bars, I always made sure I stayed where there were plenty of people around.
Overall, Lisbon is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. Just be smart and stay aware, and you'll have an amazing trip. Safe travels!
On my trips to Lisbon, I found that food is a delightful experience without breaking the bank. A typical meal at a mid-range restaurant might cost you about €10 to €15.
And trust me, these meals are hearty! For breakfast, I often grabbed a "pastel de nata", a delicious custard tart, and a coffee, and it was just around €2 to €3.
Lisbon's public transport is pocket-friendly. The trams, buses, and metro tickets cost around €1.50 for a single journey.
There's also the 24-hour ticket for about €6.40. Super handy! I used it to hop on and off trams and buses all day.
Accommodation in Lisbon offers a range for all budgets. I stayed at a mid-range hotel on some occasions, and it cost me about €60 to €80 per night.
There are also budget hostels for around €20 a night. If you're looking for luxury, there are posh hotels that can go up to €200 and above.
Tipping in Lisbon
When I dined out, I learned that it's customary to leave a tip if you're happy with the service. I usually left around 10% of the total bill. So, for a €20 meal, a €2 tip felt right.
At bars, I noticed that not everyone leaves a tip. But I always left some change, like €0.50 or €1, especially if the bartender was extra friendly.
- Taxi drivers:
For taxi drivers, I typically rounded up the fare. So if it was €7.50, I'd give €8.
- Hotel staff:
At my hotel, I left €1 or €2 for housekeeping every day. And for the bellboy or concierge who helped with bags or gave great advice, the same amount felt right.
- Tour guides:
If you're on a guided tour, it's nice to tip the guide. I usually gave €5 for half-day tours and up to €10 for full-day excursions.
Getting around the city
Lisbon has lots of ways to get around. There's the metro. It's fast and goes to most big spots. Trams? Super fun! I loved the historic Tram 28.
It felt like a trip back in time. Buses are great too, especially for places the trams don't go. And walking? The best way to see the city up close. Just remember those comfy shoes!
Public transport in Lisbon is fantastic and easy to use. The metro is fast and goes to most of the main spots. There are also iconic yellow trams.
I remember taking Tram 28, which winds through the historic parts of the city. Such a fun ride! Buses are everywhere, and they're great for reaching places the metro or trams don't go to.
And don't forget to grab a transport card. It makes traveling so much easier.
Hotels in Lisbon
Here's a fun Lisbon travel tip: there's no shortage of places to stay in Lisbon. From my experience, the city offers something for every traveler. Budget travelers can find hostels in cool areas like Bairro Alto.
I stayed at a lovely boutique hotel in the Alfama district. It was charming and gave a real feel of the city. For those looking for luxury, areas like Baixa and Chiado have upscale hotels with stunning views of the river.
Always remember to book in advance, especially in peak seasons, to get the best deals. Safe travels and enjoy Lisbon!
Other Lisbon travel tips
- Catch the free museum visits
Guess what? Lisbon has a secret. On Sundays, many museums offer free entry in the morning. I was so thrilled! On my trip, I visited the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.
All those amazing paintings, and I didn't pay a cent. So, if you're traveling on a budget, plan your museum visits for Sunday mornings. It's a win-win!
- Wear comfortable shoes
Lisbon is full of hills and narrow cobblestone streets. They're beautiful but can be tricky to walk on. I made a mistake once. I wore fancy shoes.
Big mistake! The next day, I switched to my comfy sneakers. Life got so much easier. Whether you're climbing to São Jorge Castle or exploring Alfama, trust me, your feet will thank you!
- Make sure to watch the sunset from one of the viewpoints
Oh, the sunsets! One evening, I went to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. It's one of the highest points in the entire city.
The sky turned orange, pink, and purple. The whole city glowed. People were chatting, playing guitars. It felt magical. So, find a viewpoint, grab a snack, and watch the sun go down. You won't regret it.
- Enjoy shopping in Lisbon
Lisbon is a shopper's dream. I found so many unique things. There's the Baixa district, where I got a cute scarf and some gifts.
And the Feira da Ladra, a flea market. I bought vintage postcards there. Oh, and don't forget the cork products! Lisbon has them everywhere, like bags and hats. So, set aside some time (and Euros!) for shopping.
- Buy your tickets for attractions in advance
When I visited Lisbon, I quickly learned a golden tip: buy tickets in advance. Places like the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belem Tower? They're super popular.
One day, I saw a line at the Monastery that was super long. But guess what? I walked right in because I had my ticket already.
Some websites even offer discounts if you buy early. So, save time and sometimes money—get those tickets ahead of your visit!
- Decide where you want to go
Lisbon is packed with cool spots. Before I went, I made a list. It helped a lot! Top on my list? The Alfama district, with its winding streets and old houses.
And LX Factory, a hip area with cool shops and art. Making a plan means you won’t miss out on your must-sees.
- Consider buying a Lisboa Card
Oh, the Lisboa Card! I can't recommend it enough. It gives free admission or discounted access to loads of places. Like the Santa Justa Lift and some museums.
Plus, it covers public transport. I bought a 48-hour card for €31.50. It was super handy and saved me cash!
- Stay in an Airbnb in Lisbon
I wanted to feel like a local. So, I tried Airbnb. Lisbon has many options. I stayed in a cozy flat near the Rossio Square.
The host? Super friendly! She gave me tips, like where to get the best "pastel de nata". Plus, Airbnb can be cheaper than hotels. It's a great way to dive deep into Lisbon life.
- Go on day trips from Lisbon
"Lisbon's city center is amazing, but guess what? There are cool places around it too. I took a day trip to Sintra. Castles, forests, and colorful palaces! It felt like a fairy tale.
The train ride? Only about 40 minutes. Another time, I went to Cascais, a beach town. Sun, sand, and yummy seafood. It's just a short train ride away.
If you have an extra day, pack a small bag, grab a map, and go exploring. You'll see a whole different side of Portugal.
- Go on a walking tour
If there's one thing I truly recommend in Lisbon, it's a walking tour. My first day in the city, I joined a group. We met in Rossio Square. It was easy to find the guide—he had a bright yellow umbrella.
We started exploring, and oh, the stories he told! We wandered through the colorful streets of Alfama, hearing tales of old sailors and fado singers.
Every corner had a story. Did you know there's a tiny shop in Baixa that only sells sardines? And not just any sardines, but ones in beautifully designed cans. Yep, just cans of fish, all lined up like art!
Then we climbed up, up, up to the São Jorge Castle. What a view! The whole city sparkled below. The guide pointed out the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and so many other landmarks. I learned more in those 3 hours than I could've in days on my own.
And the cost? Some tours are "pay-what-you-like". I gave €10 because it was so good. If you're in Lisbon, tie your sneakers and join a walking tour. It's a must!
- Make a reservation
Oh, reservations! They saved me more than once in Lisbon. One evening, I was craving seafood. A local friend told me about this small, famous place in Bairro Alto.
I thought, "It's tiny. How busy can it be?" Big mistake! When I got there, the line was so long. People waiting everywhere. But guess what? I had made a reservation. I walked right in, leaving the line behind.
Restaurants, especially popular ones, fill up quickly. And not just in the evenings. I remember a brunch place in Cais do Sodré. I arrived at 11 am, thinking it'd be empty. Wrong again! Every table was full. Luckily, I had booked a spot.
So, a piece of advice? If there's a place you really want to eat or an experience you don't want to miss—book it. A quick call or online reservation can save a lot of waiting time.
- Learn a bit of the language
Lisbon speaks Portuguese. But I'll be honest: I only knew "obrigado" (thank you) and "olá" (hello). Was it a problem? Not really.
Many people, especially in shops and restaurants, spoke some English. But I tried to use my few words whenever I could. Locals appreciated it. Their eyes lit up, and smiles appeared.
I also used a small phrasebook. It had basic sentences, like asking for directions or ordering food. Simple stuff.
There were times, especially in tiny markets, where it came in handy. I'd point to a phrase, and the seller would understand. We'd laugh, nod, and somehow communicate.
A tip for travelers? Learn a few basic words. Please, thank you, hello, goodbye. It makes a difference. And if you get stuck, gestures and smiles work wonders. Happy chatting!
- Use Viva cards if possible
Traveling around Lisbon got so much easier when I learned about the Viva card. It's this little green card that works like magic! I bought one at a metro station for just a couple of Euros. But here's the fun part: "zapping." Sounds cool, right?
Zapping is like loading money onto the card. I put on €10, and it lasted me a good while. The card works almost everywhere: trams, buses, metro, even some trains!
Every time I used it, the cost of the ride was taken from the card. And guess what? It's cheaper than buying single tickets.
One day, I hopped on the famous Tram 28. Then, I took the metro to the Oceanarium. And later, I caught a bus back to my hotel.
All with a simple tap of the Viva card. No need to buy separate tickets or count change. If you're in Lisbon, grab a Viva card and start zapping!
- Try the food and drinks
Okay, if there's one thing you must do in Lisbon, it's eat. The food! The drinks! Where do I begin?
I had my first taste of "pastel de nata" at this little bakery in Belém. It's a creamy custard tart. Warm, sweet, and a little crispy on top. I might've had... okay, three.
Then there’s the "bacalhau" – that’s codfish. I tried it as a cake, in a stew, and even grilled. Delicious every time.
And for drinks? I sat at a tiny bar in Alfama and sipped "ginjinha". It's a cherry liqueur. Sweet, strong, and perfect after a long day of exploring.
Every corner of Lisbon seemed to offer new tastes. Grilled sardines, "bifana" sandwiches, and so many wines. So, when you're in the city, come hungry. Try everything. You won't regret it.
- Explore the Alfama District
Ever wanted to step back in time? The Alfama District in Lisbon did just that for me! It’s the oldest part of the city. Narrow streets, old houses, and surprises at every turn. I felt like I was walking through history.
I stumbled upon tiny squares where locals chatted and kids played. There were cafes where fado music floated out, touching my soul. Fado is traditional Portuguese music. It's soulful and deep. Many nights, I just sat, listened, and let the music wash over me.
Here's a tip: lose the map in Alfama. Really. Just wander. Every corner, every turn, there's something new. And if you get lost? That's the fun part! Locals are super friendly. They pointed me in the right direction many times.
- Go to the flea markets and boutiques
Lisbon's shopping scene? Amazing! One sunny Tuesday morning, I found myself at the "Feira da Ladra". It's the city's oldest flea market. What did I find? Vintage postcards, handmade jewelry, and even old LPs. Prices? Bargain central!
But Lisbon is not just about flea markets. The city is dotted with boutiques. Unique clothes, funky souvenirs, and beautiful crafts. LX Factory was my favorite.
It’s this old industrial complex turned cool shopping spot. Think art studios, bookshops, and trendy cafes.
So, if you're a shopper, bring an extra bag. You'll need it!
- Try Lisbon’s rooftop bars
After all the walking and sightseeing, there's nothing like chilling with a view. And Lisbon's rooftop bars? Perfection! I remember one evening, I sat at a bar overlooking the Tagus River. The sunset painted the sky orange and pink. I sipped on a cool drink, my feet up, and just... relaxed.
Many hotels in the city have rooftop bars. But there are other hidden gems too. Ask locals or look online. Then, head up, grab a drink, and watch the city sparkle below.
- Attend a festival
I got lucky. My trip coincided with the "Santos Populares" in June. What a party! Every street in the city was decorated. There were grilled sardines, music, and lots of dancing. I danced with locals, tried all the food stalls, and felt the city's heartbeat.
Lisbon has many festivals all year round. From film to music to food. If you can, plan your trip around one. It's the best way to dive deep into Lisbon's culture.
Traveling is all about experiences. In Lisbon, every moment was a new adventure, a new story. Pack your bags, and let the city surprise you!
Mistakes to avoid in Lisbon
Ah, Lisbon. Such a beautiful city! But, just like in any other city, it's easy to make a few blunders. I've made a few mistakes during my visits, and I'd love for you to learn from them.
- Sticking Only to Touristy Spots
On my first visit, I just followed the crowd. Big mistake! Sure, places like Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery are must-sees. But there’s more to Lisbon than just these popular spots. Dive deeper. Alfama’s tiny lanes and Bairro Alto's nightlife are experiences in themselves. Don’t just follow a list. Explore!
- Wearing the Wrong Shoes
This one's big! Lisbon is known for its seven hills. My stylish shoes seemed like a good idea until I tried climbing those cobbled streets. Ouch! Take it from me: wear comfy, sturdy shoes. Your feet will thank you.
- Not Having Enough Cash
While many places accept cards, I stumbled upon tiny cafes and shops that only took cash. And oh, the flea markets! Don't miss out on cool souvenirs because you don’t have a few euros on hand.
- Skipping on Local Food
I regret this one. On day one, I went to an international chain for lunch. Why? There's a world of flavors in Lisbon! From creamy "pastel de nata" to the rich "bacalhau," there's a dish for every palate. So, skip the familiar. Dive into local menus.
- Not Using Public Transport
I thought I’d just walk everywhere or grab taxis. It added up, both in tiredness and cash! Then, I discovered the magic of the Viva card. Cheaper, efficient, and such a good way to see the city.
- Not Learning Basic Portuguese
Sure, many people speak English. But just a few words in Portuguese, like "obrigado" (thank you) or "bom dia" (good morning), can make a difference. Locals appreciate it, and it adds a personal touch to your trip.
- Not Checking Festivals and Events
Lisbon has many local festivals and events. Once, I missed a big festival by just a day! Since then, I always check local calendars. Being part of a local celebration makes your trip special.
- Not Respecting Local Etiquette
Lisbon folks are warm and welcoming. But remember, it’s their home. So, things like talking loudly in quiet areas or littering? Big no-nos. Respect the place, and it gives back in love.
- Not Having a Flexible Itinerary
I had a list. A big, tight list. I was hopping from one spot to another, no rest. And then? I missed out on spontaneous moments, like that impromptu fado performance in a cafe or the street fair in Alfama. Now, I have a loose plan. It lets me enjoy unexpected surprises.
- Missing Out on Day Trips
Lisbon airport is a gem, but its surroundings? Just as amazing! Places like Sintra and Cascais are just a short train ride away. My mistake was not keeping a day aside for these. Don’t make the same one. Explore around.
In the end, mistakes are part of any journey. They shape our stories and teach us. But, if you can avoid a few, why not, right? Pack your bags, set your spirit free, and embrace the beautiful adventure that is Lisbon. And remember: travel is not just about places. It’s about experiences. Enjoy every single one in Lisbon!
And there you have it – a glimpse into the magic of Lisbon from my eyes. From the historical lanes of Alfama to the bustling streets of Baixa, this city promises a world of adventures waiting to be explored. Remember to savor each moment, each taste, and each melody. Until next time, "Adeus" and happy travels!
1. Do I need a visa to visit Lisbon?
Depending on where you're from, you might. Citizens of EU countries usually don't, but others might. Always check the latest visa requirements before your trip.
2. Is tap water safe to drink?
Absolutely! I filled up my bottle multiple times. It's clean and refreshing.
3. What's the best area to stay in?
There are many! Baixa is central and close to many tourist attractions. Alfama is historic and charming. Bairro Alto is lively with lots of nightlife.
4. Is English widely spoken?
Yes, especially in tourist areas. But learning a few Portuguese words can be fun and appreciated!
5. Are credit cards accepted everywhere?
Most places, yes. But in smaller markets or cafes, cash might be preferred. Always good to have some euros handy.
6. How's the Wi-Fi in Lisbon?
Pretty good! Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels offer free Wi-Fi. I even found some public Wi-Fi spots around the city.