Lisbon Travel Guide header
By James | Last updated: January 2020* | 1 Comment.

Lisbon Travel Guide: What to See, Do, Eat, & Drink in the Portuguese Capital

In 2013, I spent a weekend in Lisbon. It was the second time that I’d visited Lisbon as an adult but this time I really fell in love with it – so much so that I ended up moving there. 

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time in Lisbon. I’ve lived in several parts of the city and I’ve visited as a tourist. It’s truly a beautiful city, and I’m surprised that it took so long for the world to “discover” it. 

Note: This is the travel guide to Lisbon. If you are interested in information about living in Lisbon, be sure to read the guide to living in Lisbon.

Where to Stay

I personally like to stay in more residential neighbourhoods like Campo do Ourique and Alcântara, but they’re probably a little far out for a lot of people – especially if you’re only visiting for a few days. 

My usual recommendation for a short-term visit is the neighbourhood of Principe Real. It’s very beautiful and has a neighbourhood feel, and it’s also just within walking distance of most of the city centre attractions (Lisbon’s São Jorge Castle is 40 minutes by foot and Praça do Comércio is around 25 minutes). 

If that’s still a little too far, I would also look at hotels around Avenida de Liberdade, which is a very beautiful and upmarket street, and also extremely central. 

Chiado and Baixo are two close by neighbourhoods (Avenida de Liberdade is next to Baixa) and are even more central, but are both much busier than Avenida de Liberdade. If you’re just looking for a central location from which to explore the city, however, they’re both good options. 

Alfama, the oldest part of the city, is also worth considering as there is a lot of short-term accommodation there. It is extremely touristy (almost every building seems to be an Airbnb or a Petiscos bar) but it is quite close to the city centre and, despite all the tourism, it still has a lot of character. 

In terms of areas I avoid, I don’t recommend staying in the Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodré because they have a lot of bars and can be extremely noisy. The area around Anjos and Intendente is also considered “up and coming” which means it’s still a bit sketchy in places (although I’ve never had any problems). 

Get here

By plane

Most people visiting Lisbon will fly into Lisbon’s one and only airport, Lisbon Portela Airport. 

Lisbon Airport is situated around 5.5 km outside of Lisbon City Centre, and you can get to from the airport to the city centre by metro. There are also buses, and taxis, Ubers, and other taxi apps are available as well. 

By train

Portugal’s train network connects Lisbon with Porto and Northern Portugal, popular destinations in the Algarve like Faro and Lagos, and some more inland locations like Évora

You can’t get everywhere in Portugal by train, but Portugal also has a very extensive bus network and, between the two, it’s possible to get just about everywhere in mainland Portugal. 

Train tickets and timetables can be found on cp.pt

By bus

Portugal has a good bus network which covers the majority of mainland Portugal and many international destinations in Spain and beyond. The long distance coaches are normally air-conditioned, much newer than the trains, and sometimes even have working wifi – there’s a lot to be said for travelling by bus in Portugal. 

The main bus station in Lisbon is Sete Rios, although some buses go to and from Oriente Bus Station. Both aren’t very central, but both are accessible by metro. 

Bus tickets and timetables for long distance buses can be found on Rede Expressos

By boat

Lisbon is increasingly becoming a popular cruise destination with several docking areas including Santa Apolonia (made up of 3 docks), Alcântara, and da Rocha

All of the cruise terminals normally have buses or other forms of transport to take you into the city centre, and you can easily walk in from Santa Apolonia. 

What To SEE & DO

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Lisbon. 

Praça do Comércio from above

Praça do Comércio sits in the heart of central Lisbon and is one of the most beautiful squares anywhere in Portugal.

Miradouro da Graca

Miradouro literally means golden view, and these are spots around Lisbon that offer fantastic views of the city. Visiting at least one is definitely recommended.

Jeronimos Monastery

Situated in Lisbon’s Belémneighbourhood, the Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most grand and impressive buildings in Lisbon – and it’s where pastéis de nata were invented as well.

What To EAT

Pastel de nata

pastéis de belém

Although Portugal is traditionally famously associated with bacalhau, in recent years the pastel de nata has become so popular that it’s probably become Portugal’s most famous dish. 

While you can find pastéis de nata anywhere in Portugal, this is a cake that originates from Lisbon – specifically from Belém. The most famous nata shop in Lisbon is Pastéis de Belém but, although it’s the original, it’s definitely not the only place you can get them. 

Lots of other pastelarias make them and compete with each other every year for “best pastel de nata” awards. 

View Portugalist’s guide on where to eat pastéis de nata in Lisbon 

Bacalhau à Bras

While you’ll find lots of different bacalhau dishes on menus in Portugal, one of the most typically Lisbon dishes is Bacalhau à Bras. 

The dish is said to have originated in the Bairro Alto and it combines cod with potatoes, onions, and eggs. It’s one of the most popular bacalhau dishes and one that you’ll find on many menus in Lisbon, along with others like bacalhau com natas and bacalhau à lagareiro. 

Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato

Clams a bulhao pato

Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato is another dish that you won’t just find in Lisbon but, since it originates from here, it’s worth trying it while you’re here. 

You’ll find this dish on petiscos menus, in marisqueiras, as a starter in normal restaurants – it shouldn’t take long to find it. It’s incredibly simple and combines just a few ingredients like garlic, coriander, olive oil, and lemon juice, but it’s also incredibly typical of Portuguese cooking. 

Read more about food from Lisbon

Other Portuguese Dishes

The dishes mentioned above are all good examples of dishes that originate from Lisbon, but there are plenty of other great Portuguese dishes that don’t necessarily come from Lisbon. 

Dishes like piri-piri chicken, leitão, bifanas, and pregos may not come from Lisbon originally but you’ll find them on restaurant menus here – and they’re all definitely worth trying. 

Read more about Portuguese Food

Other Food Articles

If you’re interested in Portuguese food, be sure to read some of the other foodie guides from Portugalist. 

What To DRINK

Ginjinha

glass of ginjinha

Ginjinha is a sour cherry drink that’s typical in both Lisbon and Óbidos. 

It’s something to try at least once, and some people like it so much that they take a bottle or two home, but it’s definitely not in the same category as Port or Portuguese table wine. 

There are several famous places to try ginjinha in Lisbon including A Ginjinha and Ginjinha Sem Rival. 

Read more about Ginjinha

Wine

Lisbon is actually a wine region, although obviously the wine isn’t grown in the city centre but in the surrounding countryside in an area previously known as Estremadura. Portugal changed the name of the wine region to Lisbon in 2009 to avoid people getting confused with the similar-sounding Spanish wine region, Extremadura. 

If you’re interested in trying the most regional foods and drinks, then wine from the Lisboa region is what you should look out for. If you’re simply interested in trying the best wine Portugal has to offer, you should probably start with Douro and then Alentejo wines. 

Sagres

Portugal traditionally has two beers, Super Bock and Sagres. Super Bock is traditionally drunk in the North of Portugal while Sagres is drunk in the South. 

Sagres’ brewery, Sociedad Central De Cervejas e Bebidas, is situated in Vialonga, around 25 km North of Lisbon and, for this reason, Sagres is typically drunk in Lisbon. 

Generally speaking, those that aren’t tied by patriotism to their local brewery tend to prefer Super Bock over Sagres but it’s a good idea to try both and see which one you prefer. 

Read more about beer in Portugal

Craft beer

The craft beer scene has exploded in Portugal in recent years, and there are now small and medium-sized breweries dotted all over the country. 

Local craft beer producers include Dois Corvos and Musa, but you can find craft beers from all over Portugal at pubs like Quimera Brewpub and Cerveteca Lisboa. 

Read more about Portuguese craft beer

Other Portuguese drinks

Besides beer, wine, and ginjinha, Portugal produces some other great drinks, especially Port wine (which comes from Porto), new-wave gins (which come from all over Portugal), and medronho. 

Read more about Portuguese drinks

Getting around

Aside from the hills (and they are steep), it’s very easy to walk around Lisbon City Centre. If you want to venture into other parts of the city, Lisbon has a good public transport network that’ll take you almost anywhere. 

Walk

Lisbon is extremely walkable and, with the exception of attractions like Jerónimos Monastery, which are located in Belém, the majority of the attractions are in the city centre. 

The streets are hard and cobbled, however, and the city is built over seven hills, so be sure to bring a good pair of well-cushioned shoes. 

Tram

Although trams are common in many cities in Europe, few can compare to the rickety old wooden trams that run through Lisbon. While many of these trams have been replaced by larger and more modern trams, there are still a few routes where you can ride a traditional wooden tram. If you have the opportunity, it’s fun to do it. 

Tram 28 follows the most scenic route, but this tram is barely a functioning tram anymore and more of a tourist rollercoaster. It’s not uncommon for their to be queues of two hundred or more people waiting to get on and, once you do get on, it can be extremely cramped – and, there are pickpockets to watch out for. 

Unless you see the tram going by and it’s fairly empty, normally it’s better to avoid this tram in favour of another less popular route. 

Funicular

A funicular is a mode of transport that you won’t find in many cities around the world. It’s essentially a tram that goes up a very steep hill and then back down again. 

There are three funiculars in Lisbon: Lavra, Glória, and Bica. Of these, Gloria is the most popular and offers the best views. 

Metro

Lisbon has a good metro, which is particularly useful for getting to places like Parque das Nações, the airport, and the Entrecampos and Oriente train stations – basically destinations that are a little further out of the city centre. 

The metro does cover a lot of the city centre, but there are lots of parts that it doesn’t cover like Belém, Alcântara, Alfama, and Graça, many of which are destinations that you’ll want to visit. 

Use it where you can, but don’t expect it to cover everywhere. 

Bus

The bus isn’t the most exciting way to get around any city, but it’s sometimes the most efficient way to get around. The bus network is typically more extensive than that of the trams and metro and, because it isn’t as exciting as say taking a tram, the buses are usually less crowded. 

Boat

Can get across the water by ferry. You probably won’t use this much – the main thing in almada is the statue of Jesus. There are also some good seafood restaurants as well. You may also use it if you decide to go to Costa da Caparica. 

Train

Train isn’t used that much in the city centre but it is used to go to nearby destinations like Estoril and Cascais and Sintra. It’s also used to leave the city and go to destinations like the Algarve or Porto. 

Taxis & Ubers

Taxis are available throughout Lisbon and several taxi apps, including Uber, operate here as well. 

Overall, Uber is probably the largest taxi app and the app with the most drivers. The other taxi apps can be slightly cheaper, however, and many offer free credit for your first ride. 

CompanyFree CreditCode/Signup Link
Kapten (Chauffeur Privé)€ 6JAMCAV
Cabify€6jamesc130
Free Now (MyTaxi)€ 5james.cav
Bolt (Taxify)€ 32Y3QU
Uber£3Link

Nearby Towns & Day Trips

  • Sintra (27 km)
  • Cascais (28 km)
  • Estoril (26 km)
  • Setúbal (38 km)
  • Costa da Caparica (16 km)

FAQs about Lisbon

Is Lisbon expensive?

Grown expensive but it hasn’t caught up with most Western European cities yet. You can keep costs low if you want to in Lisbon, but even if you go for a moderately expensive holiday it won’t be as expensive as somewhere like London or Paris. 

Does Lisbon have a beach?

There isn’t a beach in the city centre, but there are a few beaches nearby. The best nearby beach is probably Costa da Caparica. The downside is that public transport is a bit limited, but it’s fine for a day out. You can also get an Uber there. 

Cascais and Estoril are easier to get to as you can get the train from Cais do Sodré, however, the beaches aren’t as good as the one in Costa da Caparica. 

Is Lisbon safe?

Portugal is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, and this includes Lisbon. Violent crime is rare in the city, but pickpocketing does happen. It’s recommended that you not only keep an eye on your belongings at all times, but also travel with travel insurance that covers you if something happens to them. 

Read more about safety in Portugal

How many days do you need for Lisbon?

It’s possible to cover most of the attractions in Lisbon within two days, but it will be quite rushed. If you plan on visiting Sintra as well, you should allow at least another day for this (which may allow time for a trip to Cabo da Roca as well). 

What should I wear in Lisbon?

Your main priority should be a good pair of comfortable shoes. Ladies: forget the high heels as they’re just not practical for the cobbled streets. 

While Lisbon does have good weather for most of the year, it does rain sometimes and it does get cold in the winter. Be sure to pack appropriately. 

View a recommended Portugal packing list

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.
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1 comment on “Lisbon Travel Guide: What to See, Do, Eat, & Drink in the Portuguese Capital”

  1. Your guide is so useful! Do you have any specific restaurant recommendations for Lisbon (perhaps some local non touristy spots?) – I have noted some the the best nata’s places but how about for the other foods you mention trying?

    Reply
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