Web Summit, Lisbon: The Beginner’s Guide

Web Summit Image by William Murphy

The world’s largest tech conference, Web Summit, will be taking place in Lisbon on November 6th-9th. A gathering of some of the world’s greatest minds, the summit includes 26 mini-conferences (and plenty of networking). This year’s speakers include big names including Al Gore and Caitlyn Jenner, as well as the CEO’s of Slack, Tinder and Reddit.

Thousands of techies will be descending upon Portugal’s capital for the event. If you’re lucky enough to be one of them, here are our top tips on settling in for Web Summit.

Where to stay during Web Summit Lisbon

Web Summit 2017 will be taking place at the MEO Arena and Feira Internacional de Lisboa (FIL), next door to each other in the Parque das Nações (Expo) neighbourhood. The nearest metro stop is Oriente, which is on the red line (Linha Vermelha).

Getting out to Parque das Nações from trendy neighbourhoods like Cais do Sodre and Alcantara can be a real pain (believe me!) so I can highly recommend either choosing accommodation nearby, or as close to a red-line metro as possible.

These are our recommended neighbourhoods for Web Summit accommodation. And yes, all the hotels we’re recommending have Wi-Fi:

Parque das Nações (Expo)

Image: Barao78 from PT via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to roll out of bed into the conference, it’s worth booking a room at the following hotels:

Tivoli Oriente Hotel –  This hotel is 350m (5 minutes walk) from the arena, right beside the Oriente train station. It’s got a gym and spa, perfect for working out and winding down.

Tryp Lisboa Oriente – This hotel is 400m (5 minutes walk)  from the MEO Arena, and is great for business travellers: it has an executive floor.

Hotel Ibis Lisboa  – Trendy chain hotel 500m (6 minutes walk) from the MEO Arena.

VIP Executive Arts Hotel – Located 800m (10 minutes walk) from Web Summit, this hotel has a self-laundry: ideal for those travelling with just hand luggage.

Myriad by SANA – This 5-star hotel is 1km from the venue (about 15 minutes walk), and perfect if you want to treat yourself. It has a Turkish steam bath and 24-hour room service.

Lisbon Airport

Hotels near Lisbon Airport are ideal if you’re flying in for one day and night at the summit, because they’re on the red metro line.

Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto Hotel – This contemporary hotel has a spa, a waterfall pool, and a garden to relax in. I love the red, black and white decor. Who said airport hotels were dull?

Holiday Inn Express Lisbon Airport – This recently refurbished hotel has its own executive floor, and an on-site bar and restaurant.

Star Inn Lisbon Airport – A three-star hotel with funky decor featuring portraits of stars like Marilyn Monroe.

Alemada

If you want to stay in downtown Lisbon, hotels near Alemada metro station are your best bet. Not only is this metro stop on the red line, which goes to Web Summit and the airport, but it also connects with the green line. The green line goes to Baixa-Chiado, perfect for getting to the Bairro Alto.

Empire Lisbon Hotel – Situated just 550m from Alameda metro station, this affordable hotel as all of the essentials that you need for a comfortable stay in Lisbon.

Gaspar House – Gaspar House is noted for its exceptional service, and it’s one of the top-rated accommodation options in Lisbon.

Chalet D´Ávila Guest House – Another guest house, and another guest house noted for its exceptional service.

 

Getting around Lisbon during Web Summit

Public transport

The nearest train and metro stop is Oriente. This modern neighbourhood is a bit out of the way, and the easiest way to get here from downtown is the metro. Buses, metros, trams and boats in Lisbon all use the Viva Viagem card. You can buy them from any ticket machine or ticket office, and they last for a year. The cards cost €0.50, and can be reloaded.

Journeys cost €1.30 with a Via Viagem card, or €1.45 without one, so if you make four journeys you’ll break even. If you’re staying near the venue and aren’t planning on doing much sightseeing, you mightn’t need one.

Taxis

Lisbon taxis are super cheap compared to cabs in other European capitals, and you’ll recognise them by their black and turquoise livery. Uber is also available in Lisbon, but if you’d prefer not to use it, other apps like Cabify are also available (you can get €6 free credit when you sign up with our link).

What to bring to Web Summit

If you decide to stay at the airport or in town, it’s unlikely that you’ll be heading back to your hotel once you reach the conference. Pop the following in your bag: after all, it’s better to have something and not use it, than not have something and need it.

Business cards

Definitely not outdated. You’ll be surprised at how often people still ask for cards. It’s much sleeker than scribbling your name down on a scrap of paper, or quickly trying to add someone to LinkedIn with a poor Wi-Fi connection. If you don’t have any cards already, you can quickly whip some up at Moo.com (follow our link and get 20% off your first order).  Patrick Bateman, eat your heart out.

Powerbank

Live-tweeting, selfie-snapping, and instant-messaging: Web Summit is hard work for your phone’s battery! Pop a portable charger in your pocket and you won’t need to interrupt your networking session to plug in.

Snacks

Although the queues for food aren’t too bad, it’s always a good idea to have a cereal bar on hand – especially if you’re lining up for an event for 90 minutes. If you’re on a gluten free, vegan, paleo or other strict diet, we recommend packing lunch too.

Re-usable water bottle

There are lots of places to fill up in the conference centre, so don’t waste time queueing for mineral water. Anyway, you never know who you’ll get chatting to around the water cooler…

Comfortable shoes

Lisbon is a hilly, cobbly city and the streets are slippery when it rains (always a chance of it in November). Opt for smart, practical and comfortable footwear with a good grip – e.g. the Pikolino Rapport for men, and the Crocs Sienna for women.

Waterproof clothes

Lisbon gets 300 days of sunshine a year, but unfortunately a fair chunk of those 65 wet days fall in November. And when it rains in Lisbon, it really rains. A packaway jacket like this one is ideal.

Notepad and pen 

It might seem nerdy, but you’ll be glad to have something to jot down notes with. You’ll be hearing so many great speakers and meeting so many brilliant people, you’ll never be able to remember everything.

Top Tips for the Day of the Conference

The Guardian describes Web Summit as “Glastonbury for Geeks“, and they’re not far wrong. It’s definitely more like a music festival than a conference, so keep the same principles in mind. For example:

Have a plan of attack

The arena is huge and crowded, so give yourself plenty of time to get from session to session. Top tip: try to choose events based on where they are in the arena, so you don’t go mad running around.

Arrive early

There are literally thousands of delegates, so don’t expect to stroll up ten minutes before a huge tech rockstar begins speaking and expect to get a prime seat.  Aim to arrive at least 90 minutes early for morning sessions, and no later than three hours before the opening event.

Know the queuing system

Day ticket holders queue in a different place than those with full tickets. Confusing, right? It’s not very clearly marked, so double-check before getting in line.

Don’t rely on Wi-Fi

When thousands of people are gathered in one place, Wi-Fi can get a little sluggish. When those thousands are all tech-heads? Forget about it. Being able to fall back on 4G will make your day run smoother (especially when you’re trying to find that cool bar in the Bairro Alto all agreed to meet up in later).

Focus on networking

As great as all of the talks are, the key to Web Summit is networking. This can be done in person or through the Web Summit app. It can be done during the day, or at night during Night Summit. Many people even skip the talks (they can be watched later online) in favour of more networking time during the day.

From local and roaming sims to wireless dongles, read more about using data during a trip to Portugal.

Sightseeing in Lisbon after Web Summit

Lisbon is a really beautiful city, so it’s well worth adding an extra day or two onto your trip for a bit of sightseeing. As Parque das Nações itself isn’t the most impressive area of the city, we recommend heading into Baixa and going walkabout in those comfy shoes you bought.

If you don’t have much time, the City Sightseeing busses offer a quick and comprehensive tour of Lisbon’s main attractions. The blue line stops at Parque das Nações, where Web Summit is taking place.

If your work has sent you to Web Summit, perhaps you can convince them to let you spend a few more days working remotely from Portugal? Lisbon has some fantastic co-working spaces, so you don’t need to hang around in your hotel lobby.

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