The second oldest capital in Europe, built on seven hills.
Lisbon, Portugal's capital and largest city, is a vibrant, urban area that is gifted with centuries-old buildings, tiled walls, viewing decks, and yellow trams.
There is a vibe to Lisbon that's somehow missing in other world-famous cities. Perhaps it's the infinite attractions, or the sumptuous delicacies, maybe even because of Fado. Can't exactly pinpoint it. But one thing's certain, Lisbon is a city you’d go back to—again and again.
Like most southern European cities, it bore the brunt of the recession a couple of years back. However, thanks to tourism and some gentrification, Lisbon has, what we say, recovered.
Best time to visit: Spring (March-May) or Early Autumn (Late September-October). Avoid August as it is the most crowded and the most expensive, and a number of local shops are closed.
Currency: Euro (€)
Language: Portuguese (Signs are in English)
Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) also known as Portela, is the primary international hub of Portugal which is conveniently connected to the city by metro.
The Aeroporto Metro RED Line operates a direct service from Terminal 1 to downtown Lisbon, in about 20min.
Fare: One way €1.90
Getting around: Public transport is very efficient in Lisbon. You may choose between metro and tram to reach your desired destinations.
Fare: Buy the VIVA VIAGEM card and charge it with Day Pass for €6.40 (unlimited rides with Carris and Metro; valid 24hrs)
Tip: Tram 28 is Lisbon’s best tour guide. An integral part of the public transport, it passes through the popular neighbourhoods which saves most tourists from a strenuous walk the hilly terrain.
Thank you : obrigado (if you're a male) and obrigada (if you're a female)
Good day : bom dia
Hello : ola
Yes : sim
Where is…? : onde é...?
Do’s & Dont’s
Do: Wear proper walking shoes; Leave a bit of food on your plate once finished
Don’t: Linger too long in a café; Over gesticulate
Go on. Follow our 2 day guide for the best things to do and top attractions in Lisbon.
For Old Narrow Cobbled Streets
The oldest district in Lisbon is home to a number of view decks and a castle. Alfama is hilly—so is the rest of the city—but the only way to see it is to walk/climb its beaten winding streets.
So if you don't mind huffing and puffing, your first day in Lisbon will be full of exercise and views so beautiful, you'll forget they're not Renaissance paintings.
10.30AM MIRADOURO DA PORTAS DO SOL
For a Breathtaking Scenery
You'll be spoilt for view decks in Lisbon. But Miradouro da Portas do Sol offers a scenery that will literally have you gasping for air.
You'll have a postcard view of countless clay red roofs, pastel coloured houses, the brilliant blue Tagus (Tejo) river, and enormous passing cruise ships. The ambience is equally pleasing, thanks to live music and lounge bars.
12.30PM CASTELO DE SÃO JORGE
An Imposing Medieval Castle
With a history since the 8th century BC, Castelo São Jorge sits atop a hill overlooking Lisbon. Once used as a fortification, the castle is now a monument overflowing with music and theatre plays. There are countless points of interest here. Take a gander at a bird’s-eye view of Lisbon via a periscope made by Da Vinci himself. Afterwards, continue onto the exuberant castle gardens.
The most important thing to remember is: take in the VIEWS. As mentioned, Lisbon is on 7 hills, and on the walls of this castle, you can perch your camera for one of the best photographs you'll be taking of the age-old city.
Entrance fee: €10
Open November-February 9am-6pm and March-October 9am-9pm
Marisqueiras abound all over Lisbon. Ramiro for one is the most famous due to Bourdain's show. You could go there but the queue will eat you up. So we suggest copying the locals.
Uma is in a good location and serves what Ramiro serves. So regardless of which marisqueira you visit, you'll be getting almost the same dishes.
Business hours: Serving Lunch and Dinner. Closed in Augusts.
3.30PM PRAÇA DO ROSSIO
A Communal Space
Surrounded by bars and souvenir shops, Praça do Rossio is in the heart of downtown Lisbon; thus a good place to people watch after your hearty seafood meal.
Let the sun warm your face and observe the bustling locals and tourists. Admire the architecture of the neoclassical facade of Maria II National Theatre flanking its north side. And give honor to King Pedro IV whose monument sits in the middle of the square.
For Downtown Beats
Once rested, your feet is ready for more walking. From Rossio, you'll be traversing Baixa in a southerly direction. Baixa, to many, is considered the heart and soul of Lisbon. Rebuilt after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 1755. It has become a gateway (in more ways than the obvious) to Portugal’s capital.
A constant buzz of activity lingers here—excited shoppers, running commuters, gaping tourists, and rumbling trams—be one of them and bask in the joyful noise.
Tip: Some locals will try to sell you hash or weed, firmly say NO and walk away. They can be very persistent. So walk away fast and don't look back.
5.30PM PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO
Lisbon's Entrance Gate
A truly magnificent square, Praça do Comércio, is located at the South end of Rua Augusta avenue entered via the Augusta arch.
A U-shaped, neoclassical building enclosed the square from 3 sides with its lemon-coloured walls. While the southern side opens to Tagus river, where travelers used to embark after a long boat journey.
You can have a drink in the oldest café in the city, Martin del Arcada. Or simply sit on the cobbled ground somewhere in the square and be connected to its history—that Portugal once was a very powerful and influential country.
6.45PM BAIRRO ALTO
Party-loving and caipirinha-filled Bairro Alto wakes up at dusk to help you enjoy a night of revelling.
Bars of different styles and aesthetics are scattered all throughout the neighbourhood, so it's easy to bar-hop and get buzzed.
Bairro Alto, of course, offers wonderful views of Lisbon. Climb one for a delightful nightscape.
Places to checkout: Pavilhão Chinês, Noobai Café, Artis, Bicaense
The Soul of Portugal
Fado, composed of strumming guitar strings and a deep melancholic singing voice, is a music genre in Lisbon that dates back to the 1820’s. Despite that fact, young Lisboetas still adore Fado and keep its fire burning.
That said, your trip to Lisbon isn’t complete without listening to Fado—live. The songs may sound very mournful, yet it’s so beautiful you won’t leave the performance depressed. There are a number of Fado houses to choose from, though you can visit Tasca do Chico for an easy pick.
10AM A GINJINHA
For a Shot of Sour Cherry-Liqueur
Who’s to judge if you start your day with alcohol?
A Ginjinha (Ginjinha Espinheira Bar) has been serving Lisbon’s official drink for years. Visit them before you head out for sightseeing. They'll pour you a shot, then another, and more, of this remarkably strong and sweet drink.
12PM PASTÉIS DE BELÉM
Creamy Eggy Tarts
Once positively tipsy, ride a tram towards Belém—a charming neighbourhood along the northern banks of the Tagus river. Your first stop is Pastéis de Belém, established in 1837 and the pioneer of Pastel de Nata. Do mind that there is always a lengthy queue outside their doors, and you might end up waiting for over 30min. But we encourage you to patiently wait and push pass onlookers; for this isn't just one of those tourist-traps.
Once seated and ready to bite into that small round tart, you'll be glad of your sweet tooth. It's deliciously creamy, crunchy, and sweet, yet light you could gobble up 10 in one go.
Take tram 15 or 127 from Praça do Comércio,
Alight at BELÉM,
Pass through JARDIM DE BELÉM
1.30PM MOSTEIRO DOS JERÓNIMOS
A Monstrous Yet Magnificent Edifice
Let your sugar rush subside by walking towards Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. A complex funded by the gold and riches that circulated in Portugal all thanks to their colonies.
Considered as the perfect specimen of Manueline architecture (Portuguese version of late gothic), you'll immediately notice from afar that this style serves a purpose—to show off the country's overflowing opulence.
Circle around it. Stroll in the front garden. Enter the church to see an altar made of pure gold (and the blood and sweat of thousands of slaves).
2.45PM PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS
An Enormous Monolith
Along the banks of Tagus river lies an imposing monument.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos was erected to commemorate Portugal's 500 years of seafaring. Look closely to see the sculptured faces of many celebrated explorers. You could also climb up to have a breathtaking view of the Tagus river, the Monastery, and the April 25th bridge.
4PM TORRE DE BELÉM
A 16th Century Fort
Another specimen of Manueline architecture. Torre de Belém served as Lisbon's shield against seaward attacks. And of course, you can climb it for another spectacular view of this side of the city.
5.30PM MERCADO DA RIBEIRA
Hundreds of Bites in One Roof
Like every single place you’ll visit, this market is also a centennial. Divided into 2 sections: the Eastern part is dedicated to selling fresh produce, while the western part houses the stalls of local chefs.
This is a fantastic place to try out different local dishes to share with your travel mates.
Business hours: Sunday-Wednesday 10am-12am and Thursday-Saturday 10am-2am.
Take tram 15 or 127 from ALGÉS,
Alight at CAIS DO SODRÉ,
Cross AV. 24 DE JULHO
Tip: For midnight snacks or quick bites, look for local joints serving Bifana—an unassuming pork steak sandwich. One such eatery is O Trevo.