Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, is situated on the estuary of the Tagus River. As the westernmost capital in Europe, it was once considered the edge of the known world. Today, Lisbon is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and captivating beauty. Similar to Rome, the city is built on seven hills and features charming cobblestone streets and hilly neighborhoods traversed by a network of trams that have been operating for over a century. Beauty of Lisbon is blended on its scenic balconies and panoramic views, which can be best enjoyed from the numerous terraced viewpoints known as miradouros that crown the city’s hills. The city boasts a magnificent natural harbor and offers a delightful selection of fresh seafood, rivaling any port city worldwide. With its lively nightlife and pleasant year-round climate, Lisbon is an ideal destination for any time of the day or year.
BEST TIME TO VISIT LISBON
Lisbon’s mild winters make it an appealing city to explore throughout the year. However, for the most pleasant weather and to avoid the tourist crowds and summer heat, it is recommended to visit between March and May or September and October.
EXPLORE THE BEAUTY OF LISBON
1. Explore the Old Town: Alfama, Lisbon’s historic area, entices with its narrow, winding streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Take a walking tour to delve deeper into the neighborhood’s history and discover iconic sights.
2. Visit the Belem Tower: This 16th-century tower served as a fortress and lighthouse during Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Situated on the Tagus River’s northern bank, the tower offers self-guided tours, granting access to its halls, portholes, and the former prison pit.
3. Wander through the Jardim Botanico: Spanning 10 acres, this expansive garden provides a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. With over 18,000 plant species from various regions, it is a green oasis perfect for relaxation.
4. Enjoy the beaches: Lisbon boasts several beaches, such as Guincho, Meco, Tamariz, and Morena. These beaches offer opportunities for swimming, surfing, and a laid-back atmosphere.
5. Explore St. George’s Castle: This massive medieval castle shows pure beauty of Lisbon which also offers panoramic views of the city. Tour the castle and its towers, visit the archaeological museum, relax in the small garden, and dine at the castle’s restaurant.
BEST AREAS TO STAY IN LISBON
Lisbon encompasses several beautiful neighborhoods, each catering to different interests. Bairro Alto is perfect for those seeking a lively nightlife scene, while Cais do Sodre offers proximity to the river. For first-time visitors, the Baixa/Chiado area is highly recommended as it situates you in the heart of central Lisbon, close to major tourist attractions, shops, restaurants, bars, and transportation options.
ROAMING AROUND IN LISBON
Public transportation: Buses are the primary mode of transportation within the city, with tickets costing 1.50 EUR per ride or 1.35 EUR with a pre-paid card. A 24-hour pass for 6.45 EUR grants access to buses, subways, and trams. Lisbon also has two tram lines and a metro system, with prices similar to buses.
Taxi: Taxis start at 3.50 EUR and increase by 0.50 EUR per kilometer. While most drivers speak English, showing the address on your smartphone is helpful. Taxis can be expensive, so consider other options if on a budget.
Car rental: Public transportation is reliable, but renting a car provides flexibility for day trips. Expect to pay 30-40 EUR per day for a small rental car, and the minimum age for drivers is 21.
Ridesharing: Uber, Bolt, and FreeNow are available in Lisbon, but their prices are not significantly cheaper than taxis. Ridesharing might not be the best choice for budget travelers.
Bike rental: Biking in Lisbon can be enjoyable for avid cyclists but less so for casual riders due to steep hills and cobblestone streets. Gira, the city’s bike-sharing system, offers a 24-hour pass for 2 EUR.
VARITY OF CUISINE TO TASTE
Lisbon offers an abundance of good and affordable food options. Traditional Portuguese cuisine can be experienced for less than 30 EUR per day. Time Out Market, located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, showcases various vendors serving diverse cuisines. Be sure to try pasteis de nata, custard-filled pastries available throughout the city, and ginjinha, a local fortified wine made with cherries and sugar. Lisbon’s restaurant scene includes options for Portuguese haute cuisine, seafood, and international cuisines. Additionally, the city’s Chinese food, known as Chinês clandestinos, is highly regarded by discerning foodies and can be found in family-run establishments within immigrant enclaves. Cafes offer a delightful coffee culture, with affordable wine, beer, pastries, and meals available.
BUDGETS IN BRIEF
Depending on your budget, Lisbon caters to various traveler preferences. On a backpacker budget of around 50 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook your own meals, and engage in free activities such as walking tours and exploring the Old Town. For a mid-range budget of 130 EUR per day, you can opt for a private Airbnb or hostel room, enjoy local restaurants, use public transportation, visit paid attractions, and indulge in occasional drinks. A luxury budget of 240 EUR or more per day allows for hotel stays, dining out, car rentals, museum visits, and more extravagant experiences.