The picturesque old city and colorful buildings are just some elements of the beautiful city of Lisbon. The city is full of boardwalks that run along the coast, filled with local businesses and restaurants serving local cuisine. An assortment of museums will allow you to witness some of the rich history of Portugal and learn more about its culture. If you love a good photo, Lisbon will give you plenty of opportunities to take the perfect picture with its stunning architecture and uneven landscape. You can try some of the best seafood dishes in Lisbon, including a famous codfish which is a favorite among locals.
To make discovering Lisbon a bit easier for you, we have prepared this The Best of Lisbon Travel Guide list, where we hope to give you useful tips on how to enjoy your stay in Lisbon as much as possible!
Lisbon travel guide
If you want to get the best Lisbon experience, make sure to plan your trip to take place in one of the warmer months, as your stay will be much more enjoyable. After all, it would be hard to enjoy sunbathing on a sandy beach while it’s freezing outside. This Lisbon travel guide tip will allow you to fully enjoy everything this beautiful city has to offer. Usually, the best weather can be seen between March and October. If you are a fan of extreme heat and shining sun, you should visit Lisbon in Summer, when temperatures are the highest and a cold beverage is a blessing. However, if you find the heat of Portugal Summer too much for you, we recommend visiting Lisbon in either March or October, as the weather is still warm enough to visit the beach but you don’t have to worry about heatstroke.
A lot of tourists decide to visit Lisbon during summer vacation, creating massive crowds and swarming the beaches. Fighting thousands of people for a free spot on a sunbathing chair does not sound like an enjoyable experience, so we recommend staying as far from Lisbon as possible during high season. The most tourists visit between July and August, making these months unbearable not only due to extreme temperatures, which can reach even 35 degrees Celsius, but also because everything is packed full. Moreover, prices during high season are often much higher, so avoid it at all cost if you care about your budget. For the best experience, visit Lisbon between June and September, as those months have a relatively low intake of tourists.
History and Culture
To get some knowledge about the city and save money at the same time, we recommend taking advantage of one of the many free walking tours which take place around Lisbon. The tours are organized by locals who devote their time to educate tourists about the history and culture of their hometown. Most tours start in the morning and last until afternoon, and the best place to find them is the Luis de Camoes Square. These kinds of tours will give you the added bonus of being able to talk and get acquainted with a local, who will surely provide you with some additional tips on how to enjoy Lisbon. Remember, locals are always the best source of information, so seek them out whenever you can!
If you have never tried Bacalhau, you absolutely have to! This Portugal delicacy is a favorite among locals, who prepare it in a variety of different ways and using different ingredients. There is a saying in Portugal, which states that there are 365 ways to prepare Bacalhau, one of every day of the year. Bacalhau is a dish made with salted codfish, which is served in a variety of different ways, depending on the region. Most restaurants serve Bacalhau with heavy cream sauce and baked or cooked potatoes. Another popular variation of this dish is grilled codfish with vegetables, sprinkled with olive oil and served with potatoes.
Pastel de Nata
While almost every Lisbon travel guide will tell you to try the local codfish and other seafood, they rarely mention the delicious egg tarts, called by the Portuguese Pastel de Nata. The egg tart pastry was first made by monks who sold them to support their monastery in Belem. When the monastery was closed down, the famous recipe was sold to the next owners - Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem, which can still be visited and is one of the best places to enjoy Pastel de Nata in Lisbon. With a crispy outside and creamy inside, Pastel de Nata are the perfect additions to an afternoon tea or coffee and we wholeheartedly recommend trying at least one!
Things to do in Lisbon
With tourism increasing faster and faster during recent years, Lisbon has witnessed an unusual increase in visitors. This has caused some of the attractions in the city to become so-called tourist traps, which cause too much trouble to visit and are usually not worth the hassle. One of such traps is the Belem Tower, which is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. The tower can be admired from the outside, which is much more impressive than what is actually inside the tower. Moreover, since the attraction is so popular among tourists, expect heavy crowds and having to wait in a line for at least an hour, possibly more! You should also avoid the famous tram #28, which is the favorite spot of pickpockets who take advantage of the crowded cars.
You will quickly find yourself with no money to spend on souvenirs and attractions if you will order a taxi every time you wish to get from one point to another in Lisbon. Instead, the easiest and usually the best solution is walking, since Lisbon is not a huge city and the amount of hidden gems you might find on your way more than makes up for hurting feet. If you want to absolutely avoid walking, we recommend taking advantage of the public transportation within the city. The metro and trams are efficient, and the buses are a good choice if nothing else is available. We recommend getting the Viva Viagem rechargeable card which can be used with any type of public transport and day-passes are available, which are a good deal if you plan on staying for more than just one day.
When it comes to accommodation, it can be really difficult to find proper accommodations which is not a tourist trap and isn’t already fully booked. If cannot ask a local for a tip about where to look for a good hotel, we recommend avoiding Alfama and Castelo in general, since those are the areas which most tourists choose for their accommodations, and is usually overpriced. For cheaper accommodation, search within the Anjos and Intendente areas, which are a lot less pretty than some other areas of Lisbon, but will definitely allow you to save some money. Avenida or Baixa would be a balanced choice between quality and cost, so we recommend first searching in one of these areas.
Locals and Tourists
One of the best and most famous parts of Lisbon are its beaches, which are crowded by tourists during most of the year. The Atlantic beaches are always sunny, have soft white sand, and are surrounded by gorgeous crystal-clear water. If you’re looking for the perfect beach to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, we recommend heading to the Sintra beach, which is not as crowded as some of its neighbors while stile remaining beautiful. Moreover, the beach features a tall rock formation from which some of the more crazy locals sometimes dive - do not do that, though. We do not recommend, however, visiting beaches like Carcavelos, as even though they have good infrastructure, they are usually filled to the brim with locals and tourists.
One thing that Lisbon definitely does right is its colorful nightlife, as its nightclubs are famous all around the world and people flock to visit them. If you want to join the locals, we recommend starting your exploration of Lisbon’s nightlife with Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as the Pink Street, which is the place most of the locals gather around for a night of partying. We also advise giving Bairro Alto a try, as the narrow streets of this neighborhood turn into party spots at night, providing a very authentic experience. Remember that the locals usually party late at night, so if you start your dive into the nightlife around 1 am or 2 am, you should be able to avoid most tourists and still have lots of fun. If you want to combine good food with clubbing, we recommend the Silk Club - a luxurious restaurant which doubles as a nightclub!