Lisbon is by far one of my favourite cities I’ve been to in Europe. And I’m sure it’s not the first time you hear that from me, if you’ve been following my blog. Since I’ve been there twice, I thought I’d make a Lisbon travel Guide with all the advice I would give to my friends, if they told me they were going to Lisbon. That includes everything about the weather, where to stay, what to visit and most importantly, what traditional foods you HAVE to try. It will probably be a long post so bare with me. I’ll try to compress the information as much as possible. So let’s go!
How to get there?
I travelled from Cluj-Napoca Romania both times, so skip this part if you are going to Lisbon from elsewhere. Since there’s no direct flight from Cluj (yet, hopefully), there are basically two options: you either fly from Bucharest or from Budapest. You obviously have to get from Cluj to Bucharest or Budapest somehow and the easiest way to do that is it by car. You’ll need a parking space for the time you are away. Well, Budapest Hotel Car Park is much cheaper than Bucharest. Ferihegy Parking was 25 Euros for 7 days. They also have free airport shuttle services.
Where to stay in Lisbon?
As you might already know, I love Airbnbs. Bairro Alto is a very nice neighbourhood but it can be noisy at night. So it depends on what you are looking for. We stayed in Bairro Alto both times and we really loved it. It doesn’t matter when you go out, there’s always people around partying and it is very close to the city center. Alfama is another wonderful neighbourhood known for its traditional music “Fado” bars. You can also find Airbnb Apartments right in the city center on Rua Augusta.
When to go to Lisbon?
The weather is amazing all year around. Summers are always more crowded and can be sometimes more expensive. But whenever you go, I’m sure you will love it too.
What to wear?
I would say you can dress a bit cooler than you would normally do for the season you are in and take winter out of the picture. Winter in Lisbon is like fall or early spring in Romania. But don’t forget about the ocean breeze. Even in the summer time you might need something to throw on in the evening. There are cobblestones all over the city so heels are not a good option for strolling around.
What to visit? What to do?
1. City Center – Rua Augusta – Praça do Comércio. The main street in the city center “Rua Augusta” leads you right intro Lisbon’s beautiful riverfront Square “- Praça do Comércio”. It was considered the “door” to Lisbon as the commercial ships coming from the Tagus River would unload their goods directly there.
2. Castelo do Sao Jeorge is situated on top of a hill in central Lisbon and provides a breathtaking panoramic view over the city. You can get to the castle via tram 28, the most popular tourist route. The ticket is about 9 euros.
3. Take a tour with the 28 tram. If you go to Lisbon you need to take a ride in one of the old yellow trams. Tram 28 is considered to be one of the nicest routes because it takes you trough very narrow streets up and downhill trough Lisbon’s city center. You can hop off and visit Sao Jorge Castle or just take a roundtrip as we did. You can buy the ticket directly from the tram driver and it costs 2,85 euros. Click on the photo to see where the tram 28 stops. The tram departs from Praça do Martim Moniz.
3. See a Fado Show in Alfama. Alfama is considered to be the Fado district of Lisbon. Take a walk in the evening on the narrow streets of Alfama and you’ll most likely hear Fado coming from every little bar or terrace around you. Enjoy the music along with one glass of their signature Vinho Verde.
4. Go to Belem. There are at least two reasons you should visit Belem – Pasteis de Belem and the Belem Tower. You can enjoy one (or more) of their traditional Pasteis de Belem right where they were first made in 1837. You can get to Belem via tram 15 or train.
5. Take a one day trip to Sintra. Sintra is the most popular day trip destination for Lisbon tourists as you can visit beautiful castles and palaces. It was considered to be a summer retreat for Portuguese nobility. Take the train from Rossio Train Station. The journey is about 40 minutes long.
6. Cristo Rei, The Christ Statue. The Christ Statue is one of the most iconic landmarks of Lisbon. You can get right below the statue via an elevator. The entrance fee is about 4 euros.
7. Go over 25 de Abril Bridge. The suspension Bridge connects Lisbon to the Almada district and it resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francesco. If you rent a car I highly recommend you take a roundtrip across the bridge.
8. Santa Justa Lift is one of the main attractions of the city. There was a 3 hour long queue every time I walked past it. The view you get from the lift does not really deserve that long of a wait. What most tourist don’t know is that you can walk directly to the upper platform without using the lift. You just need to go up the hill a bit. My recommendation is to go directly to “Bellalisa Elvevador” Bar/Terrace as this connects to the upper platform of the lift where the tourist get off and you’ll get the exact same view. Directions here.
9. If you want to take a trip to the beach I recommend a day trip to Cascais or to take the train to Praia de Santo Amaro or Praia de Tower in Oreiras.
10. Miradour means Lookout point. There are lots of beautiful spots across the city where you can find incredible viewpoints. The best ones would be Miradouro do Santa Luiza and Miradouro of Santa Catarina.
What to eat?
My favorite subject. There are some traditional food specialities you need to try while in Portugal.
- Bacalhau à brás (scrambled eggs and salt cod- dish served in restaurants) or Pasteis de Balhau at Casa Portuguese do Pastel de Bacalhau on Rua Augusta
- Pastel de Nata,
- Arroz Dolce (Sweet Rice Pudding)
- Mangos. Papayas and Avocados taste great.
There’s not much for chocolate lovers like me. And they put cinnamon on EVERYTHING
- Vinho Verde (traditional “green” wine)
- Ginjinha – at A Ginjinha in the city center
- Coffee (Espresso) after each meal or standing up at the bar, like the locals 🙂
Where to shop?
Honestly, I think shopping in the city center is the most enjoyable way to do it. On Rua Augusta and its surroundings you will find lots of shops: Adidas, Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Calzedonia, Mango and lots of Portuguese Shoe Shops. Centro Comercial do Colombo is also a good choice if you want to be indoors or if you want to shop at Forever 21 or Primark.
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