First-Timer's Guide to Lisbon
We recently had the amazing opportunity to visit the capital city of Lisbon in Portugal before overseeing the production of our ethically made shoes up north (more on that here).
Known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning architecture, it has become a popular destination for travelers from all over the world and offers something for everyone. If you're planning a trip to Lisbon, here are our top tips for making the most of your stay.
Getting to Lisbon
Depending on where you live, you may be able to fly direct to Lisbon. We were able to catch a direct flight from San Francisco to Lisbon via TAP Portugal, which took about 10.5 hours.
Lisbon is well-connected to the rest of Europe and the world, so you can easily find flights from major cities in Europe with many affordable airline carriers servicing the area.
If you're coming from other parts of Portugal, you can take a train or a bus to Lisbon. There are also several highways that connect Lisbon to other major cities in the country, so driving is also an option.
Getting Around Lisbon
Lisbon is a relatively small city, and most of its major attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, beware of the hills! This city is known for having 7 hills and cobblestone streets, which can make it somewhat of a workout to get across town! Wear comfy sneakers (like our Paisley sneaker) to keep your feet happy, while still looking stylish.
If you prefer not to walk, there are several other options available. One of the most popular ways to get around Lisbon is by taking the iconic yellow trams that run through the city's narrow streets. There’s also the metro, taxis, and Ubers, as found in most major cities.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
Lisbon has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences.
Some of the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon include the historic Alfama district (where we stayed), the trendy Bairro Alto area, and the upscale Chiado neighborhood.
What to See in Lisbon
Lisbon is a city with a rich history, and there are plenty of attractions to explore. Here are some of our favorites:
- Historic - the famous São Jorge Castle, the Jerónimos Monastery, and the Belem Tower.
- Neighborhoods - the vibrant Alfama neighborhood (check out the stunning views from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol), and the lively Bairro Alto neighborhood for trendy restaurants and nightlife.
- The River - the Tagus River that connects to the Atlantic Ocean. On our last night, we signed up for a sunset Tagus River cruise and it did not disappoint.
- Instagram Spots - Rua Nova do Carvalho (the pink street), Miradouro de Santa Luzia, and Ponte 25 de Abril bridge (like the Golden Gate Bridge!)
What to Eat in Lisbon
Lisbon is a food lover's paradise, with a wide range of delicious dishes to try. Some of the must-try foods in Lisbon include:
- Pastel de Nata: These delicious custard tarts are a Portuguese specialty and can be found at bakeries and cafes all over the city. We ate at least one a day! :P
- Bacalhau: This salted cod dish is a staple of Portuguese cuisine and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
- Sardinhas Assadas: These grilled sardines are a popular dish in Lisbon, especially during the summer months.
- Port Wine: While Port wine is made up north (see our Porto guide here), you’ll find a variety of Port wines wherever you go in Lisbon. Pair with dark chocolate, cheese, or figs for a delicious after-dinner treat!
Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers. If you're visiting in the summer months, be prepared for hot temperatures and high humidity. It's a good idea to dress in layers and bring sunscreen and a hat for protection from the sun. We visited in April and it was between 70-80 degrees most of the time!
While Portuguese is the official language of Lisbon, many locals speak English and are happy to help visitors navigate the city. However, it's always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Portuguese to show respect and make communication easier. We recommend the Duolingo app.
There’s so much more that this city has to offer. We hope you found this guide helpful and wish you the best of travels should you decide to visit Lisbon someday!