Lisbon Travel Guide

Introduction to Lisbon

The racing heart of Lisbon has barely skipped a beat. It is the perfect port city, steeped in history, colourful culture, and an older civilization than Rome.  The charming capital of Portugal has a picturesque setting on the Iberian Peninsula where docks unfold over windswept beaches, café culture booms, Moorish ruins line the horizon, and buildings offer a clash of white-wash and terracotta against the vibrant blue sky.

Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa

Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon's oldest religious building, combining Neoclassical, Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles it’s a National Monument.

Castle of São Jorge

Sao Jorge Castle

Dating back to the 5th Century, this Moorish castle dominates the city skyline and offers panoramic views of Lisbon. 

Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium

Europe's biggest indoor aquarium with 450 species of marine life including penguins, sharks, otters and sunfish.

Other things to do in Lisbon

The city's rich history can be explored through the wealth of historic attractions, religious buildings, monuments and museums. These include the National Tile Museum, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos a 15° century monastery, the Gulbenkian Museum, Sao Rogue Church where you will find the world's most expensive chapel, and the symbolic Belem Tower from 1515, decorated with intricate stonework sculptures of historical Lisbon figures.

One particular must visit is the city's majestic aquaduct, Águas Livres Aqueduct, here you will witness an impressive and momentous example of Portuguese engineering. It was erected in the 18° century under King John V, and from this spot you will get remarkable views of Lisbon's sprawl of energy below and the Monsanto forest in the background.

There are various boutique and antique shops tucked away in Lisbon and you will never be a stones throw away from a souvenir shop. If you venture a little out of the city centre and head to the historic, labyrinthine-likeneighbourhood of 'Alfama' in 'Campo de Santa Clara', you will discover The Thieves Market, an open air flea market brimming with vintage goods. It is open every Tuesday and Saturday from dusk to dawn.

For something a bit quirky the Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum) is the ideal location, it tells the history of the old art form of puppetry and is perfect for theatre fans, adults and children alike. For fashionistas and more of modern Lisbon 'The Museu de Design e da Moda' is not to be missed. The building is a striking concrete shell of a gutted old former bank, a minimalist space for over 2,000 pieces of haute couture and contemporary design.

Often referred to as the City of Seven Hills, there's many steep inclines, when travelling around the city you'll have the Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift), cable cars and the trams to help you get between the city levels. The Elevador de Santa Justa and the 28 Tram route are tourist attractions in their own right. The trams are vintage carriages, created in the 1930's and travel around key districts and tourist destinations such as Sao George Castle and Lisbon Cathedral.

Eating and drinking in Lisbon

Bacalhau (salt cod) is served across the majority of restaurants in Lisbon, and to get a true taste of the city's cuisine this is a must. It's served a number of ways, look out forbacalhau á marinheiro, which has fried potato cubes under the cod’s crispy skin or the bacalhau a bras stir fry with eggs, onions and olives. If you're heading to one of the city's many fado clubs expect to seeCaldo Verde, a soup with potatoes, onions and cabbage.

Lisbon has a café culture which dates back to the 18th century. Coffee quality is key and a typical Lisbon coffee may be stronger than what you're used to. If you want an espresso ask for a 'bica'. A galao is a milky, sweet coffee much like a latte and served in a glass. Pasteis de nata are sweet custard tarts perfectly paired with coffee, the original recipe which is over 200 years old is only available from Pasteis de Belem and so popular there are often long queues.  

Portugal's most known export may be Port, a fortified wine produced in Portugal's Douro Valley. Another famous drink favoured in Lisbon is Ginjinha, a shot glass of sour Morello cherry liqueur.

To sample a variety of Portugal's culinary highlights, try 'Mercado da Ribiera', Lisbon's newest food court with 35 different kiosks of fresh tasty foodie experiences served all day and night.

Lisbon climate

Lisbon has a subtropical-Mediterranean climate which offers long, hot, dry summers and short mild winters. Winters can be wet with around 15 days of rain monthly from November to March and summers are dry with minimal rainfall. Average summer high temperatures are around 23°c, and winters which are some of the warmest in Europe have highs of 16°c.

When to go to Lisbon

With its warm, dry climate, Lisbon can be visited all year around, April-June are considered to be the best months to visit as the temperatures are more comfortable than the highs in July to September.

There's a diverse schedule of events throughout the year, including the Lisbon Carnival in February, Lisbon Fish and Flavours food festival in April and summer is celebrated with a Jazz Festival from May to September.

Flying to Lisbon

Flights to Lisbon arrive into Lisbon Portela Airport, 6km north of Lisbon city centre. Flights from the UK take approximately 3 hours. Making your connection from the airport to Lisbon is relatively easy with bus services, taxis and car hire available.

 Lisbon Deals

Hotels in Lisbon

Car hire in Lisbon

Images by Flickr/rstml