A Quick City Guide to Lisbon, Portugal
Two summers ago we decided to spend the last week of our yearly month long European vacay in Portugal. From what I remember the decision was based mainly on the fact that we had seen photos of the beaches in Lagos and they looked amazing (side note: they were). Since we had so many stops that summer, it was hard to do a lot of research on each place and Lisbon was one that got more or less looked over during the planning process.
It didn't take long to fall in love with Lisbon, especially since it is oddly similar to San Francisco where I live and which I of course love. They are both extremely hilly (they actually both have exactly seven hills), on the water, they have absolutely fantastic restaurants, great bars, wonderful shopping, earthquakes at times, very similar climate, historic cable cars/trams, and they even both have their own bright orange bridge!
Upon arrival I asked via Instagram if anyone had suggestions on what to see and do and to my pleasant surprise a few of my friends did! Below is a mix of my recommendations and ones I am passing on from them, and if there is one suggestion you should take from me it is to visit the first restaurant in the list below.
HOW TO GET TO LISBON
Lisbon is a major city so there are many transportation options! It is home to the largest airport in Portugal, making it easy to arrive by plane if you are coming from another country. If you are somewhere closer, by train is a great option since there are four different stations in Lisbon alone.
GETTING AROUND LISBON
Getting around Lisbon is very easily done by foot, tram, metro, or tuk tuk. I would actually recommend you do each at different times!
- Tram 28 specifically will take you through most tourist spots for cheap so don’t miss that. You can either ride the entire route or get off at different points of interest to explore them more. Keep in mind that it is famous and listed in many tourist books and sites so it will get very busy at times. You can buy a ticket in advance for €1.45 or onboard for €2.90. More info on their site here
- There is an underground metro system that runs through Lisboa, although I never took it myself. Tickets are €1.45 per journey. More info on their site here
- Tuk tuks can be hired on the spot as needed, or you can ride one via a guided tour (more on that below)
- Walking is also a great option but keep in mind that Lisbon is nicknamed the “city of the seven hills” because it is very hilly. If you are not used to hills you may want to stick to alternate methods of transportation.
Instead of single journey tickets, you also have the option to buy a 24h Carris/Metro ticket for €6.15. This might be more cost effective for some of you depending on your plans. Carris operates the buses, trams, and funiculars.
WHERE TO STAY
While visiting Lisbon, I stayed at the Lisbon Destination Hostel which I highly recommend. It is located inside the Rossio Train Station which might sound odd but was instead very convenient and absolutely beautiful. Once inside the hostel, you’d never know you were also in a train station. It’s low key, felt very safe, and is centrally located.
WHERE TO EAT
Hands down the best part of Lisbon is the food. Here are four restaurants you can’t miss:
- Eat dinner at Taberna da Rua das Flores! Easily the best meal of my month long Europe trip and well worth the wait! Go as early as possible (like at opening, no joke) though because it is small and popular. DO NOT SKIP THIS!
- Enjoy a nice seafood dinner at Cervejaria Ramiro. Also very popular so go early to avoid long lines. Very, very good and a fun experience! Try the garlic shrimp. Closed on Mondays
- Lunch at the Decadente - recommended by a local and did not disappoint. Stop by the viewpoint across the street for photo opps
- Le Petit Cafe for sangria and lunch or snack! Try both red and white and a cheese/meat plate
WHAT TO DO
- Try a walking tour if you are willing to brave the hills otherwise go via Tuk Tuk. Eco Tuk Tours was great
- Walk around Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon
- Explore Bairro Alto especially at night!
- Roam around Chiado, one of the most popular neighborhoods and home of many best known places. Lively. I'll never forget walking through it on the way home from dinner one night
- Visit Castelo de S. Jorge for good views unless you're going to do a tuk tour in which case you'll be taken to equally good views for free!