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.
Other Lisbon information
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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
Above all else I recommend renting an Airbnb. I have stayed in a handful of them in Lisbon and am constantly amazed at how inexpensive they are for what you get, especially when you compare it to something like Paris. For example, during my last trip I stayed in prime location right by Time Out Market, in a ginormous apartment with room for 4, for just $88/night WITH fees and everything. Crazy!
Here are 8 LISBON AIRBNBS YOU MUST STAY IN.
If you do prefer a hotel or a different type of apartment rental, I recommend:
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
EDITORS NOTE/UPDATE: SEE MY LIST OF 8 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT MISS IN LISBON
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!
WHAT TO PACK FOR Lisbon
COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will likely (hopefully) be doing a lot of walking and up big hills so this is very important! My very favorite are M. Gemi’s white leather sneakers. I literally never travel anywhere without them. Click here to see latest prices and click here to get $50 off!
More details: The Most Comfortable And Stylish Walking Shoes for Travel
CHIC BOOTS. Same as above —they must be extremely walkable! After countless years testing all over the world, my two recommendations are these (I own 5 pairs and could run a marathon in them) and these which I’m hoping to buy a second pair of! Click here to see a full list of my travel shoe recommendations.
LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL CARDIGAN. Barefoot Dreams’ circle cardigan is honestly one of the best travel-related purchase I have made. So warm and absolutely necessary, I’ve brought mine on every single trip since purchasing it. Also great for transit days and hotel lounging! Click here to see the latest prices.
CONVERTER ADAPTER. This one is universal and works no matter where you’re going so it’s a must. When going to the EU I also bring along this very inexpensive 6 pack so that I have extras. So much to charge these days! Need other recommendations? Click here to see 20 Must Have Travel Products from Amazon Prime.
WARM NEUTRAL COLORED SCARF. & Other Stories’ oversized wool scarf is my absolutely favorite and comes in so many beautiful colors. Lisbon can get cold this time of year — you’ll need one! Click here to see the latest prices.
STYLISH CAMERA BAG… if you are bringing a camera! You can’t go to Europe with anything that isn’t chic ;) Since pickpocketing is a thing in Europe I bring GATTA’s Christie camera backpack (named after me) because it’s hands free, has a zipper AND a buttoned flap, and fully protects my camera yet is so cute no one will ever know it’s a camera bag. Click here to see the latest prices.