Planning a trip to Lisbon Portugal? Great idea! Lisbon is a magnificent city. One of my top picks in Europe. Read on for our top Lisbon travel tips that will help to make your visit amazing.
Lisbon was the first stop during an 8 month adventure in Europe. We stayed for 2 weeks. The city is a great option for budget travellers. This is one of the reasons we decided to start in Lisbon. Hotels, apartments, food, drinks are all quite affordable for Europe. The city is also on the Atlantic coast which made it one of the closest cities to land in coming from Canada. And Lisbon has an incredible climate being one of the sunniest destinations in Europe. Our European (extended) vacation began in mid April, so sunny and warm was a plus.
In this guide, I will cover some essential Lisbon travel tips. And below are some of our best photos in and around Lisbon so you can get an idea of what the city has to offer.
So, what does Lisbon have to offer compared to other destinations in Europe? What makes Lisbon unique? What are the best things to do and see in Lisbon?
Miradouros of Lisbon
I appreciated the many famous view points located around the city. These spots are known as the Miradouros.
Essentially the Miradouros are terraces with tables, chairs and a great view of Lisbon. They all have a small bar that serves drinks and snacks.
Perfect to grab an espresso in the morning or a beer or wine in the afternoon sun.
I absolutely loved to chill out and think about life and ideas at the Miradouros.
Walking in Lisbon
Lisbon is a city to roam about on foot. You will see all the most interesting sites on foot. Many of the streets are narrow cobble stone streets that wind and switchback up and down the hilly terrain. Walk around and get lost. The best areas to wander are Alfama and Bairro Alto.
Make sure you bring comfortable shoes or your feet will get trashed (bruised) on the cobblestone streets.
If you get tired of walking…hop on one of the…
Hopping on a Lisbon tram is a great way to take a break from walking and is also a nice option to see some key areas of the city.
Azulejos in Lisbon
When you are walking in Lisbon keep your eyes open for the azulejos that are scattered around the city. You will see the painted tile art form on both the exterior and interior of Lisbon buildings.
A great alternative to chilling out at the Miradouros is to chill out at a local beach.
There are several options close by. There are beaches along the coast between Lisbon and Cascais to the West, or along the Costa da Caparica to the South.
A great way to get to the beaches is to rent a bike and cruise West along the waterfront. At the Belém train station you can hop a ferry over to Trafaria and continue to the coastal beaches along the Costa da Caparica that stretches more than 15km South.
If you rather save your energy you can take a train towards Cascais.
These are the local beaches. Of course there are many more to the South between Lagos and Faro.
Save yourself at least one full day for a day trip to Sintra. Here you can view a number of royal palaces including the Castle of the Moors, the Pena National Palace, the National Palace of Sintra, and Quinta da Regaleira. Also be sure to check out the Convent of the Capuchos a fascinating site.
Seafood in Lisbon
Lisbon is on the Atlantic coast so the seafood options in Lisbon are plentiful and delicious.
Food in Lisbon
In general we found that most food options were very average fare. In fact we cooked a lot of our own meals at our apartment. When we did go out for meals, we learned to only go where obviously the locals also go. Avoid tourist area restaurants. They are always overpriced and not very good. Also, avoid eating the bread put on your table if you do not want to pay for it. Unlike in most countries it is not free.
This is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and it is very cool. Totally worth a half day to check out. We were somewhat sceptical about going since we generally like to avoid city tourist traps. But we were happy that we did go. It is very cool. You can see animals from all corners of the world.
The perfect spot to have a drink and a bite to eat, and do some people watching. There are a number of shops and cafes around the perimeter.
National Pantheon of Lisbon (Church of Santa Engrácia)
A very impressive 17th century monument in Lisbon. It was converted to the National Pantheon in the 20th century.
Here you can get 360 degree stunning views of Alfama and the Rio Tajo.
São Jorge Castle (Castle of St. George)
The most noticeable attraction in the city, this castle dates back as far as the 2nd century. A great location to take pictures of the city and take in some great views.
Located in the middle of the city the jardim botanico is 10 acres large and is a great place to relax and get some shade on hot sunny days. To get there take the metro to Rato station. Other sites nearvy that you can check out are the Carmo Convent/Church, the Elevador de Santa Justa, and the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.
Carmo Convent + Church of Lisbon
The Carmo Convent and Church were built between 1389 and 1423 in Gothic style. The convent was ruined during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Be sure to go inside the Carmo Church (now an archaeological museum) and check out the remains and arches that have been preserved since the great earthquake.
Elevador de Santa Justa
Offers another great view of the city facing towards the Castle of St. George. Kind of touristy but it was worthwhile.
Check Out The Belém Tower
The Belém Tower was designed to be part of a defence system for the mouth of the Tagus River and Lisbon. It was constructed in the 16th century.
Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)
Walk through Comercio Square also known as Terreiro do Paço that is the grand entrance to the centre of the old city of Lisbon. This square was formerly the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Ribeira Palace) which was destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
Lisbon is Affordable
Everything in Lisbon seemed less expensive than almost all other spots in Europe aside from Berlin, Turkey, Greece and some Eastern European destinations. Lisbon is a great city to spend time if you are on a budget. Hotels, apartments, food + drink all seems to be relatively cheap.
Best Time To Go To Lisbon Portugal
The best weather is between May and September. The most lively time to go is during July and August although it is also busier and more crowded.
Top Lisbon Travel Tips
- Get the Lisboa card for free transit (trams, subways) and also for free or discounted entry to many of the top sites – it easily pays for itself
- Don’t eat the bread (it’s generally bad and it is not free)
- Bring sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking
- If anything just hang out at the Miradouros and take on the Mediterranean lifestyle
- Save a day for Sintra
Okay, lets take a look at some awesome photos of Lisbon Portugal to give you and idea of what to expect.