The hilly and coastal capital city of Portugal has a lot to offer to its visitors. There are a plenty of historical monuments, art and architecture wonders, a wide variety of food, culture and vibrant places to explore. Lisbon is a very beautiful place to spend a fantastic holiday.
Why should anyone visit the city?
Lisbon has some of the most famous architectural wonders like Roman ruins, Moorish castle, Jeronimos monastery and many historical and futuristic structures. Visitors also love the beaches in the day time and the lively nightlife of Lisbon. There are many wonderful places to explore.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
The main airport Lisbon Portela Airport is an international airport that connects the city to the major destinations of the world. It welcomes almost all the popular airlines around the world.
The scenery of the South of Europe is very beautiful to explore by road. The way to Portugal from Spain is very clear and convenient to travel. You can drive a car to explore.
Portugal shares the land border with Spain. Travelers can take the train from the city to Madrid and different cities of Portugal.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
Lisbon is a very safe city with almost no crime and very rare violent crime. However, the general precautionary measures should be followed. Lisbon remains safe during the day time whereas Downtown and Rossio area becomes a bit dangerous in the night time. There are many drug dealers in the Downtown area and nightlife spots who scam the people by selling bay leaves instead of hash. Pickpockets are everywhere in the city.
What’s the weather like?
- March to May has more rains and low tourist crowds. The weather mostly remains unpredictable whereas the mild time of the spring is perfect to explore hilly areas of the city.
- June to August is the summer season and the peak season of tourist crowds like the other places of Europe. Hotel and resort rates are also very high. Beaches are packed during the month of August.
- September and October are less crowded months. Accommodation and travel prices also becomes low. Weather is almost like the spring season.
- November to February is the slow season so the prices also drop. You can find some great deals on accommodation and February. However, the temperature is cold and rains are unexpected.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
Official language of Lisbon is Portuguese. English is widely spoken in the city especially in the tourist areas. Locals, associated with tourist industry speak very frequent English.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
Official currency of Portugal is the Euro. This currency is used in almost 19 countries of Europe. You cannot use US Dollar directly anywhere in Portugal.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
Some of the best districts to stay in the city are:
- Baixa and Chiado is the downtown and the hilly area of the city. It is constructed according to the 18th century town planning. Many historical buildings are converted into the hotels, guest houses, shops and eateries.
- Alfama is the oldest quarter of Lisbon. It was first settled during the 7th century AD by Moors. This area has some superb souvenir shops, restaurants and narrow streets to explore.
- Avenida da Liberdade is the most expensive area of Lisbon. This mile-long strip has the most exclusive real estate, embassies, consulate and designer stores.
- Bairro Alto is the Bohemian quarter with densely packed streets. There are many boutiques, bars, restaurants and houses with graffiti.
- Lapa and Madragoa is the area of the finest mansions and embassies in Lisbon. There are many museums and art galleries in this area.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
- Chalet D’Avila Guest House is the budget accommodation with free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast in the morning.
- Lisbon inn Lapa Suites is the moderate priced accommodation in Alcantara neighborhood. It is located near museum, galleries and one of the most beautiful parks of Lisbon.
- Hotel Ritz is the five-star accommodation located across the Parque Equardo VII city park. Hotel offers designer toiletries, minibars and free Wi-Fi services.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Renting a car is not recommended because of the parking and traffic issues in the city especially in the downtown.
- Metro / Subway operates every day after every 6 to 9 minutes. The routes are connected to all the main avenues, tourist areas and airport.
- Buses, Trams and elevators are all over the city. These mode of transportations are used as tourist attractions.
- Taxi is a cheaper way to get around. Fare prices are higher in the night as compared to the daytime. Uber is also available in Lisbon and the fares are almost equal to the taxis.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Elevator)
This ride can give you the best experience of getting around the city. This neo-Gothic elevator is the short way to get around different attractions. It is a century old elevator that used to operate by steam. It was built to have a convenient shortcut for Bairro Alto without climbing up the hill. Elevator have a small capacity so there are long lines of visitors during the day time.
It is a resort town that was used as the used as the source of inspiration for many Poets and writers. There are cobble stone streets, fairy tale like villas, palace, castle of the moors and many more. It is a part of UNESCO world heritage site. This area is very hilly and it is important to wear comfortable and sturdy pair of shoes.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
The main feature of the amazing museum are the vibrant ceramic tiles or azulejos. You will find many tile designs in different parts of the city like gift stores, buildings and top city attractions. The museum has a great collection of different types of tiles. Some tiles are from the 15th century. You will find historical murals created with tiles providing the information of the manufacturing of tiles or azulejos.
Monastery of St. Jerome
It is listed in the UNESCO world heritage site. The highly artistic piece of architecture was created during the age of discoveries to honor Vasco da Gama. He and his crew spent their time in Portugal before embarking on the journey to India in 14th century. It was converted into the monastery for monks during the 17th century. During the 19th century, it was converted into a school and orphanage.
Oceanarium (Oceanario de Lisboa)
The oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium of Portugal. It is not just an aquarium but a different world in itself. It has more than 8000 marine species living in more than one million gallons of seawater. There are different exhibits of birds, mammals, amphibians and other ocean species like penguins.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
There are many places to click photos whereas Santa Luzia viewpoint is the most photogenic spot in the entire city. You can click a photo of the houses and buildings of Lisbon with the ocean in the background.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
- Miss Can – Portuguese food
- Leve Leve Tapas Bar – Tapas, salads and desserts
- Cervejaria Ramiro – Seafood restaurant
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
- Fauna and Flora – Baked foods, Portuguese breakfast, Vegan breakfast
- Pastelaria Alfama Doce – Traditional Portuguese Breakfast
- Amelia in Campe de Ourique – all day Brunch, Pancakes
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
Bacalhau is one of the national dishes of Portugal. It is dried salted codfish served in many ways. Most common way of preparing it is with scrambled eggs, olives and fried potatoes.
What about food markets?
- Mercado da Ribeira – food court, fruits, vegetables, meat, gourmet meals
- Mercado de Campo de Ourique – small market, Portuguese cuisines, sushi, seafood, desserts
- Mercado de Fusao – foodie spot, Chinese, Japanese, fusion foods
- Pricipe Real’s Organic Food Market – Organic fruits, vegetables and homemade foods.
- Martim Moniz – International Cuisines, traditional foods
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
District of Bairro Alto is the main nightlife area of Lisbon with a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and party places. Narrow streets of the neighborhood become crowded with locals and tourists from 10pm until late at night.
Cais do Sodre is the central area of Lisbon with many nightlife spots. It is a very lively place to spend an entertaining night.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
- Restaurante Rossio Altis
- Varanda de Lisboa, Hotel Munidal
- Chapito a Mesa
- Bica do Sapato
- Bairro Alto Hotel
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
- Rua do Carmo – Main shopping area of Lisbon, art galleries, boutiques
- Embaixada & Praca do Principe Real – cute shops, souvenirs
- Bairro Alto – Restaurants, shops, chocolates and macarons
- A Vida Portuguesa – souvenir shops, rugs, Portuguese items
- Avenida Liberdade – Designer and International brands (Gucci, Burberry, Cartier & Escada)
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
Best tours outside the city which you can complete in a day are:
- Palacio Nacional de Queluz
- Sanctuary of Fatima
- Costa da Caparica
- Mosteiro Palacio Nacional de Mafra
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
Gambling is legal in Lisbon. Many games are allowed legally and playing unauthorized games is considered a crime in Portugal. Some of the best casinos are:
- Casino Lisboa
- Casino Estorill
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Join a Lisbon walking tour to explore the city and learn about the history. It is free of cost and a local guide provides information about the culture and lifestyle of the city.
- Spend an afternoon at the Wines of Portugal to taste a diverse collection of wines. It is best for the wine lovers and the newbies to find their favorite flavor.
- Do not miss the famous Time Out Market. It is a huge indoor space with a wide variety of food stalls and a big space for seating.