Discover the food, culture and history of one of Europe’s oldest cities with this guide to everything you need to know about Lisbon.
It’s been years since my first trip to Lisbon – when I was lured in by the hilly streets, delicious food, and rich history evident through the architecture and culture. Cool cocktail bars, historic fado houses, and gourmet restaurants seem to hide around each and every corner up the steep, winding streets.
Aromas of freshly baked bread, tomato rice, grilled prawns, and Pasteis de Nata (Mantegueira is my favourite) are enough to sweep any visitor off their feet when travelling to Lisbon. I’ve been back to Lisbon several times and for some pretty long stretches of time, and each time I visit, I discover more and more reasons to fall in love. I want you to discover the best of Lisbon, too. Check out my guide on when to go, where to stay, and the most helpful travel tips for visiting Lisbon.
Stay within a short walk of many of Lisbon’s best attractions at the lovely mid-range Lisboa Pessoa Hotel. Check out the local cafes (Café Janis is stylish and fun), shop along Rua do Carmo, or watch the tram go by in a town square in this lively upscale neighbourhood.
Belém offers a bustling riverfront promenade and some of Lisbon’s oldest architecture. The gorgeous 5-star Altis Belem Hotel & Spa boasts a Michelin-star restaurant and rooms with gorgeous views of River Tagus.
Bairro Alto is a great pick for access to the best restaurants, boutique shops, and high-end hotels. Bairro Alto Hotel provides luxury accommodations in a historic 18th-century property just steps from standouts like Taberna by José Avillez.
Cais Do Sodré
Stay at Lx Boutique Hotel in Cais do Sodre, one of Lisbon’s most electric neighbourhoods. Check out legacy businesses like Mercado da Ribeira and newer additions like the Timeout Market near the riverfront.
Even in a popular tourist destination like Lisbon, you never know when your luggage gets lost, your flight gets cancelled, or you end up with an unexpected medical emergency. I use AXA Travel Insurance to give me some peace of mind when travelling just about anywhere.
Lisbon Visitor Guide: What to Do During Your Lisbon Trip
Top Things to Do
Get Lost in the Street Art
Lisbon is one of the coolest city breaks in Europe, and street art is a big reason why. Walk around Alfama, head to Caracol da Graça, or take the tram around town and you’ll see hundreds of murals lining the walls. Track down the gorgeous tiled mural São Vicente de Fora by Andre Saraiva for one of my favourites.
Listen to Local Music At a Fado House
Fado has a long history in Lisbon dating back to at least the early 1800s. You’ll still hear the beautiful if melancholy songs spill out of unassuming bars and restaurants around town. Visit Maria da Mouraria, or Tasca do Chico for two of the best.
Take in the History and Views in Alfama
One of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Alfama has no shortage of history and charm. The windy cobbled streets lead you to mediaeval castles (Castelo de São Jorge), the gothic and baroque Lisbon Cathedral, and the best spots in the city at sunset – Portas de Sol.
Take Home a Piece of Lisbon History
Shopping at Cortiço & Netos is a unique experience that allows you to shuffle through crates of old tiles, an important reminder of how the city rebuilt itself after the devastating 1755 earthquake. You can find some really cool (and hard-to-find) tiles at this boutique shop.
Take a Food Tour
Exploring the restaurants and cafes in Lisbon is a must. If it’s your first visit, Oh My Cod Tours is a wonderful option that lets you sample seafood and snacks from 5 excellent restaurants in Mouraria, Alfama, and Baixa.
Marvel at Architecture in Belém
You’ll find some of the coolest architecture in Lisbon in Belém. The elaborate Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance Jeronimos Monastery houses the tomb of the famous explorer Vasco de Gama. But the 16th-century fortress Belém Tower and the more recent Monument to the Discoveries are equally impressive.
Eat at Time Out Market
Time Out Market offers you a chance to try food from many of Lisbon’s best chefs under one roof. The restaurants rotate frequently but feature some of Portugal’s finest food. O Frade, Libertà Pasta Bar, and Chef Miguel Castro E Silva are names you won’t want to miss for expertly prepared dishes in a vibrant marketplace.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
No Lisbon trip is complete without adding some art to the mix. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is the art museum to see on your Portugal itinerary. Why? The private collection from the avid collector Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian boasts over 5,000 pieces, including Pallas Athena by Rembrandt and Manet’s Boy Blowing Bubbles.
Suggested Lisbon Itineraries
Lisbon in One Day
Walk Around Alfama – Lunch at Barrio Villez in Barrio Alto – Jeronimos Monastery – Torre de Belém – Time Out Market for DInner – Sunset at Portos del Sol
All the Spots in Only 2 Days Lisbon Itinerary
Sidecar Tour – Cervejaria Ramiro – São Jorge Castle – Street Art in Alfama and at São Vicente de Fora – Fado in Mouraria Quarter – Architecture in Belém – LXFactory – Rooftop Bars
Full Week in Lisbon
Alfama – Mouraria – Bairro Alto and Chiado – Belém – Day Trip to Sintra – Parque Eduardo VII and Botanical Garden of Lisbon in Príncipe Real – Sidecar Tour and Cooking Class
Lisbon is full of surprises, often in unassuming places. The former textile factory in the sleepy neighbourhood along the Tagus River is now a hotspot for street art, cocktails, and food. Go on a weekend, and you might stumble on an antique sale, concert, or both.
Walk Around Mouraria
Mouraria, also known as the Moorish Quarter, is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Lisbon. You’ll find an enchanting collection of winding streets making way to a diverse neighbourhood known for its street art, food, and (of course) Fado.
Vintage Sidecar Tour
I always like to give you the heads-up when I find a brilliant cafe, street art in an unassuming alley or stunning vistas off the beaten path. I found a few of them (some top secret) on this amazing motorcycle sidecar tour.
How to See the Best of Lisbon for Free
Every Lisbon travel blog needs a guide to seeing the city on the cheap, right?
You can explore some of the most iconic spots, like the 15th-century Church of Santo Domingo and the gorgeous town square Praça do Commercio, for free. Or for just £3 ($3.70) you can climb up to the top of Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta.
Want to see the best of Lisbon on a free tour? Visit pre-earthquake landmarks like São Jorge Castle and Lisbon Cathedral or check out the best of Belém on a guided tour with New Europe Tours.
Must-Try Bars & Restaurants in Lisbon
Dine at Cervejaria Ramiro for some of the best seafood in Lisbon. Scratch that. You’ll find the best seafood in Lisbon at this storied eatery. What began as a beer bar in the 1950s is now one of the city’s best places for crab, lobster, and giant tiger prawns right off the grill. Don’t sleep on the steak sandwich, either.
BAHR – Barrio Alto Hotel Restaurant
A hotel restaurant as a must-try Lisbon spot? Yes. It’s no secret Lisbon has some incredible rooftop bars, and BAHR also happens to serve up amazing cuisine in a stylish room with an amazing patio. Dishes like the Portuguese prawns rice and tuna toro ceviche are standouts.
Barrio do Avillez
Local icon José Avillez runs this Michelin Guide-approved food hall that’s popular with locals and visitors, alike. Why? There’s a great mix of stylish venues serving seafood, pizza, and classic Portuguese dishes indoors and on the patio. Go to Taberna for inventive tapas and literally perfect cheese and charcuterie boards.
Topo Rooftop Bar
Located at the top of an unassuming building near Martim Moniz train station, the panoramic views, hip locals, and delicious cocktails at Topo Lisboa are all reminders that Lisbon’s best bars and restaurants are often hiding in plain sight.
Livraria Bertrand is one of the world’s oldest bookstores, dating back to 1732.
The 25 de Abril Bridge looks eerily similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe (and the 2nd oldest capital).
Though Lisbon Cathedral is more well-known, São Roque is famed for its record-setting cost of the gold, ivory, and other rare materials inside.
Hello – Olá
Goodbye – Tchau
Yes – Sim
No – Não
Please – Por Favour
Thank You – Obrigado
How Much Is – Quanto é
Good Morning – Bom Dia
Good Afternoon – Boa Tarde
Good Evening – Boa Noite
How Far is.. – Quão Longe é
Where is.. – Onde é
I Would Like – Gostaria
Excuse Me – Com Licença
Western European Time (UTC +0, UTC +1)
From late March until the end of October, Lisbon changes to Hora de Verão (summer time), UTC+1.
Electricity and Adapters
Lisbon uses Types C and F plugs. When visiting Lisbon, bring an international travel adaptor so you don’t have any issues charging your mobile devices.
Stay current on your standard vaccines, like chickenpox, influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and COVID-19. Tap water is safe to drink in Lisbon, but you may notice a higher mineral content than in some locations in the USA and Europe.
There are mosquitos with the Zika virus in Lisbon, but the risk factor is very low.
Lisbon travel is easiest when you use a combination of public transportation and rideshare.
Local transportation costs between £1.29 to £2.60 ($1.59 to $3.20), but you can buy an all-day pass on the tram, local trains, and local buses for only £5.68 ($7).
You can also get around to most locations on foot. Lisbon is a very walkable city, just keep in mind there are lots of hills.
When you visit Lisbon, know that it’s mostly a very safe location for tourists. But pickpocketing does happen, especially in crowded tourist areas and on public transportation.
If you’re walking alone at night, try not to separate from your group and stay in populated areas on the main streets if you are alone.
Costs and Budgeting
Expect to spend between £125 and £245 ($155 and $300) per day per person with accommodation on your Portugal trip on a mid-range budget. Add £120 to £345 ($147 to $425) if you travel to Portugal on a luxury basis.