Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal’s capital! A city with a unique light that touches everyone and that is part of a country full of history and charm! We’re sure you’ll be well received by the Portuguese, who are extremely hospitable, kind and friendly people. Did you know that Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe? Get ready for great museums, gorgeous views, fantastic shopping and wonderful food. This will be an unforgettable trip.
Getting to Lisboa
By plane. Lisbon has flights that connect to the world’s main cities. The Portela International Airport is located 7 km from the city center. To reach the center, you can take the Carris buses (€1.40/trip fare), the subway – Metro de Lisboa (1hr ticket for €1.40), a cab (which costs about €10-€15, or you can purchase the Taxi Voucher, a pre-paid cab transport service), or the airport shuttle Carristur (for €3.50).
By train. Lisbon has several train stations with national (Gare do Oriente, Entrecampos, Rossio and Cais do Sodré) and international terminals (Gare do Oriente and Santa Apolónia). All of them have bus connections and/or subway stations and even cabs that will take you to any part of the city.
By boat. In Lisbon there are five marinas that welcome private boats and provide anchorage (Bom Sucesso, Belém, Santo Amaro, Alcântara and Olivais), as well as three ports where international cruise ships dock (Alcântara, Rocha do Conde de Óbidos and Santa Apolónia).
FROM ONE SIDE OF THE CITY TO THE OTHER
Subway. Lisbon has four subway lines and all stations have machines where you can buy your ticket. You can opt for single tickets (€1.40/trip, last one hour after the first validation) or you can purchase a rechargeable card (which costs €0.50) and buy a larger number of trips at once using the prepaid zapping card (which has an advantage for every trip made: instead of the usual €1.40, you pay €1.25/trip). It’s the fastest means of transport but it must be noted: the Lisbon subway system only covers part of the city and doesn’t run 24 hours/day. The subway opens at 6:30 AM and closes at 1:00 AM. You can find more information on the Lisbon's subway system site.
Bus. Lisbon has a fairly comprehensive bus network. This type of transport reaches all parts of the city and runs for 24 hours (with no additional cost during the night). The ticket purchased on board costs €1.80 and can’t be used on other transportations, but if it’s a pre purchased ticket acquired at the subway station, the price drops down to €1.40 or €1.25, depending on the type of ticket bought (single or zapping ticket, respectively). You can find more information on the CARRIS site.
Boat. You can’t get to know Lisbon by boat, but you can enjoy a trip along the Tejo River, jumping on board the "Cacilheiro" departing from the Cais do Sodré ferry station and headed to Cacilhas, Almada (€1.20/trip). If this option isn’t for you, you can still catch one of the modern boats to Barreiro at the Terreiro do Paço Station (€2.30) or head to Trafaria from the Belém station (€1.15). You can check out all the timetables here.
Taxi. It's a great way to get around the city, as long as you don’t hail cabs and travel during rush hour.
Electric tram. There are several tram lines but the most popular is undoubtedly electric 28E that runs between Prazeres and Martim Moniz, passing through the city’s traditional neighborhoods and several of its surrounding hills. The price of a ticket on board the electric tram is €2.85/trip.
Cool Tip: In Lisbon, contrary to what happens in other cities, there are no transportation tickets that last several days. However, a combined 24 hour subway/bus/tram ticket costs €6 (with the additional €0.50 needed to purchase the reusable card) and allows you to explore the city from one end to the other. The number of trips is unlimited and the 24 hours start counting once you’ve validated your first trip.
In Lisbon, tipping is up to the customer and is not included in the bill. If you want to leave a tip for the service, it’s up to you.
Lisbon doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, however, almost all establishments have free Wi-Fi that is accessible to their customers. Don’t worry, you’ll have Internet access in most museums, restaurants and cafes.
Locals speak Portuguese, but the vast majority of the population can communicate in English. Even in the most traditional neighborhoods, there are restaurants with menus written in other languages.
In Portugal, the electric current is 220 volts with a round two-pin socket. If in your country of residence the electricity characteristics are different, you’ll need an adapter and/or transformer.
Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and began using the Euro in 2002. No other currency is accepted in the country, but there are exchange points at the airport and in the center of Lisbon, and some hotels also offer this service.
Cool Tip: If you use a different currency, calculate conversions with the help of this site.
The weather in Portugal is mild. Lisbon, which is located in the center of the country, has about 11 hours of sunshine per day during the summer months and relatively high temperatures. During the winter, average temperatures range between 7ºC and 14ºC (45ºF and 57ºF) and in the summer these temperatures can reach 30ºC (86ºF).
DISCOUNTS & SAVINGS
Lisboa Card. It offers three options (24h, 48h or 72h, with prices ranging between €18.90 and €39/person) and allows free access to all subway lines and buses, Carris electric trams and lifts (Sintra line – Rossio, Cascais line – Cais do Sodré). It offers admission into 25 museums, monuments and other places of interest and the cardholder also has discounts at places and on services that are of tourist and cultural interest, as well as at typical Portuguese goods’ shops.
Lisboa Eat and Shop Card. Just like the previous one, this is also an individual card. It was created by the Lisbon Tourism Association with the goal of promoting regional cuisine and offering discounts at over 100 traditional and modern shops. It costs €6 and allows the cardholder to discover discounted menus of at least 10% in over 30 restaurants.
USEFUL CONTACTS/TELEPHONE NUMBERS
National Emergency Number (Fire Department, Police and Ambulances): +351 112
Police: +351 588 300
Airport: +351 413 500
Tourist Information: +351 808 781 212
Dona Estefânia: +351 213 126 600
Egas Moniz: +351 213 650 000
Santa Maria: +351 217 932 762
São Francisco Xavier: +351 213 017 351
São José: +351 218 841 540
São Luís: +351 213 216 500
Ambulances: +351 808 20 10 68
Farmácia do Marquês: +351 213 525 048
Farmácia Marbel: +351 217 976 235
Farmácia Barral: +351 213 476 141
Farmacia Durão:+351 213 424 166
Farmácia Silva Carvalho: +351 218 873 875
Fire Department: +351 213 422 222/+351 213 924 700
Portuguese Red Cross: +351 213 030 360/3
LISBON’S MAIN AREAS
Lisbon combines tradition and modernity, is divided into different areas and its essence is embedded in its neighborhoods.
Alcântara/Belém. The Discoveries Monument, the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Coach Museum, the Belém Cultural Centre, the Tropical Botanical Garden, the Electricity Museum and many other iconic monuments are located in the Alcântara/Belém area, which is great for walks, especially on sunny days and always with a fabulous view of the Tejo River. Here you’ll find something for everyone and you’ll run into many fitness buffs who take advantage of the riverside to go for a run.
Cool Tip: Take a walk by the river and stop to eat the famous “pastéis de Belém” at the shop with the same name.
Campo D’Ourique/Amoreiras. Campo de Ourique is one of the best neighborhoods to live in. It’s a family-orientated neighborhood located between Amoreiras, Estrela and Prazeres and wasn’t a part of the city center until the 18th century. On its streets you can find stores, pastry shops and offices and its atmosphere is very typical, although it does bring together modern buildings and the current Campo de Ourique Market.
Estrela/Lapa. The more traditional Lisbon families live in this area of the city, known for its well located housing and dynamic commercial area. Estrela is famous for its Basilica and Garden with the same name and brings together many restaurants that serve typical dishes to the Lisbon elite, with the most Portuguese music as its soundtrack: fado.
Santos. Formerly an industrial area, but gradually becoming a very creative zone. Close to Cais do Sodré, this is a trendy neighborhood and some even call it the "design district" because it’s associated to a brand that wants to make it even more dynamic: Santos Design District. This area of the city is known for its nightlife; there are bars and clubs at every step and even some museums, such as the National Museum of Ancient Art and the Puppetry Museum.
Rato. This is a central area of Lisbon and it has this name thanks to Luís Gomes de Sá e Menezes who gave his nickname “Rato” (“Mouse”) to the convent that was built there. It’s close to Estrela, Príncipe Real and Amoreiras, and has an undeniable diversity of restaurants, mini markets and pastry shops.
Príncipe Real. It’s a noble and quiet area, full of historic homes and captivating gardens. One of the neighborhood’s main features is the Príncipe Real Garden (officially named França Borges Garden) but there are other highlights: the terraces, churches, museums, theaters and a variety of shops.
Bairro Alto. It’s simply known as "Bairro" and is one of the city’s alternative areas. Art galleries, shops, bars... It’s a typical area during the day but at night it’s a trending area in both fashion and music. It’s probably one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Lisbon. Restaurants for all palates exist in this part of the city and shopping is alive and well along its streets. It’s not the best option for accommodation, however, seeing as it’s a very noisy area, but it’s a great place for going out, especially during the weekend.
Santa Catarina/Bica. Churches, convents and palaces transform Santa Catarina into what it is: a historical area where traditional restaurants thrive side by side with modern restaurants and where art school students live out their daily routines. This is also a neighborhood that comes alive when the sun goes down, but the Santa Catarina lookout, also known as “Adamastor”, is worth a visit before sunset.
Chiado. This is the heart of the Portuguese capital’s commerce area. It brings together some renowned spots, such as the National Museum of Art or the Armazéns do Chiado and has, in addition to more traditional outlets, many modern spots. Chiado has been appointed as the best area in the city for shopping for quite some time now and this is perhaps its best feature indeed. But, if you prefer a cultural evening, Chiado is also your destination if you’re looking to catch a show.
Cais do Sodré. When we walk through the streets of Cais do Sodré, we’re immediately engulfed by a mix of generations, cultures and languages. Locals choose Cais do Sodré to go out at night. The highlight of the moment, in the eyes of its visitors, goes to “Rua Cor-de-Rosa” (Pink Street), along with all the restaurants and bars that surround it.
Avenidas Novas/Saldanha. It’s one of Lisbon’s most privileged areas because of everything it brings together. Award-winning buildings, renowned shops, greenhouses (hot and cold) with exotic plants, gardens, sophisticated restaurants, multi-storey buildings... The Saldanha area not only shows us that we’re in a European capital, but reinforces that idea.
A Baixa. Locals call the area between Praça do Comércio and Rossio the “Baixa” and this is where you’ll find the heart of the capital’s commerce. It brings together some popular spots such as the Santa Justa Elevator and MUDE (Design and Fashion Museum) and, in addition to more traditional outlets, many modern places as well. Shops, restaurants and street entertainers amuse pedestrians in this area, with the added bonus of fabulous views of the Tejo River.
Sé/Castelo. It’s one of the tiniest parts of the city but also one of the most central and traditional, thanks to the number 28 electric tram, the Santa Luzia lookout and Lisbon’s Cathedral. The area was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake but it’s still possible to see some medieval remains. The monuments perfectly translate Portuguese nationality and the city's history.
Alfama. Alfama is one of Lisbon’s most famous neighborhoods because of its tradition and because it’s considered the birthplace of fado. It’s the city’s most Portuguese and most typical neighborhood and, despite being made up of very narrow and winding streets, it’s one of Lisbon’s most fascinating areas, full of small bars, restaurants, cafes and lookouts that will give you an even more incredible perspective of the city.
Parque das Nações. It’s Lisbon’s most modern area. It underwent significant renovations because of Expo '98 (and that’s why some people still call it "the Expo area"), and now offers visitors a different perception of the city. The MEO Arena (formerly known as the Atlantic Pavilion) and the Lisbon Oceanarium are located here, as well as the Pavilion of Knowledge.
Cool Tip: Take a cable car ride and enjoy an even more special view of Lisbon.