BRING THE WORLD HOME

A step-by-step guide

Lisbon

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About this Guide

Welcome to our Lisboa guide, where we have carefully selected the must-see places and added personal suggestions. It’s a quick and simple guide that you can consult at any time during your trip.

We have focused on providing useful and practical recommendations that will enhance your trip, including off-the-beaten-track locations. We consider this guide a compilation of our favorite spots in the city.

We have also included gastronomic suggestions that will delight your palate and immerse you in Lisboa’s delicious culinary culture.

We hope you enjoy our guide and it inspires you to explore all the treasures that this wonderful city has to offer!

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Lisbon

a little bit of history!

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and a city with a rich history that dates back over 3000 years. The city has been inhabited by a series of civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. However, Lisbon’s most well-known history began in the 12th century when the city was reconquered by King Alfonso I of Portugal.

In the 15th century, Lisbon became one of the most important cities in the world thanks to Portuguese discoveries in the New World and Africa. During this period, the city became Europe’s main port for trade with Portuguese colonies, and many important monuments were constructed, such as the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery.

However, in 1755, a devastating earthquake struck the city, destroying much of Lisbon’s historical architecture. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and a massive fire that left the city in ruins.

But the city recovered and was rebuilt, becoming the vibrant and cultural city we know today. During the 19th century, Lisbon experienced a cultural and artistic renaissance, and new buildings and monuments were constructed, such as Avenida da Liberdade and the Santa Justa Elevator.

In 1910, the Carnation Revolution took place, marking the end of the Portuguese monarchy and the beginning of the First Republic. During this period, significant social and economic reforms were implemented, and the city underwent further modernization.

In the 1960s, Lisbon experienced an economic boom, leading to rapid city growth and the construction of new buildings and neighborhoods. However, in the 1970s, the Portuguese economy stagnated, and the city faced an economic and social crisis.

The history of Lisbon is a rich and diverse story spanning over three millennia, filled with ups and downs, challenges, and triumphs. In recent years, Lisbon has experienced a cultural and economic resurgence, becoming a modern city that attracts tourists and expatriates from around the world.

Public transportation in Lisbon has evolved over the years and currently offers a wide variety of options for residents and visitors of the city.

The history of public transportation in Lisbon dates back to the 19th century when the first tram line was built in the city in 1873. Since then, the tram has been an iconic and popular mode of transportation in Lisbon, and you can still see a large number of old trams running through the city streets.

In addition to the tram, Lisbon also has a modern metro system that was inaugurated in 1959. The Lisbon metro currently has four lines that connect much of the city and its surroundings.

Furthermore, there is a wide variety of buses that cover the entire city, as well as suburban train services that connect Lisbon with its outskirts.

To use public transportation in Lisbon, users can purchase tickets from ticket machines at metro stations, train stations, and bus stops. Rechargeable transport cards such as the Lisboa Viva card can also be acquired, which allow users to travel on any mode of public transportation in the city.

Overall, public transportation in Lisbon is quite efficient and affordable, making it an excellent choice for getting around the city and its surroundings.

Baixa District

Starting at the center and heart of Lisbon seems like the most sensible option. With a short stroll, you can take a route through squares (including Rossio Square, Restauradores Square, Marquês de Pombal Square, and Commerce Square with its impressive Triumphal Arch) and see essential places such as Lisbon Cathedral, the city’s most important religious temple.

Alfama District

Known for being one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Alfama is full of charm and character. Its cobbled streets, picturesque houses, and panoramic views make it a popular spot for visitors. Here, you’ll find narrow winding alleyways, cozy squares, and beautiful viewpoints where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Tagus River. Alfama is also famous for its traditional fado music, with several restaurants and bars where you can enjoy live performances.

Belem Tower

It is an iconic fortress located at the mouth of the Tagus River. Built in the 16th century, it served as a starting point for many maritime expeditions during the Age of Discoveries. The tower is considered one of Lisbon’s most important symbols and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its unique defensive architecture, combining Gothic and Renaissance elements, makes it an impressive place to visit.

Monument to the Discoveries

The Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) is another significant point of interest in Lisbon. It is situated on the banks of the Tagus River and commemorates the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. This monumental structure was built in the 1960s and features an impressive sculpture depicting various explorers, navigators, and historical figures related to Portugal’s maritime discoveries. It also offers panoramic views of the river and the surroundings.

Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) is an architectural masterpiece of the Manueline style. Built in the 16th century, it is considered one of Portugal’s most important monuments and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastery houses the tombs of important Portuguese historical figures, such as the navigator Vasco da Gama. Its ornate facade and impressive interior church are true wonders to admire. Additionally, it is located near the National Archaeology Museum and the famous Lisbon Botanical Garden.

Tram 28

Tram 28 is one of Lisbon’s iconic symbols. This picturesque yellow tram takes you through the narrow streets of the city, passing through historic neighborhoods and offering panoramic views. It’s an excellent way to explore the city and immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere.

Santa Justa Elevator

Designed by architect Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, this wrought-iron elevator connects the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods. Riding to the top provides you with a panoramic view of the city, and you can also access the viewpoint at the top.

Carmo Convent

This ancient ruined convent is a striking reminder of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. You can explore its Gothic ruins, admire its architecture, and visit the small archaeological museum that houses a collection of historical artifacts.

São Jorge Castle

Located atop a hill, São Jorge Castle is an ancient medieval castle that offers breathtaking views of Lisbon. You can explore its fortifications, walk along the walls, and visit the castle museum to learn about the history of the city.

Commerce Square: It is known as Praça do Comércio, this huge square facing the river is one of the liveliest places in the city and is surrounded by impressive historical buildings, including the Rua Augusta Arch.

National Museum of Ancient Art: This museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts and artworks ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

Lisbon Oceanarium: This enormous aquarium is one of the largest in Europe and offers a fascinating glimpse into the marine world.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol: This terrace offers a stunning view of the Tagus River and the Alfama neighborhood.

Parque das Nações: This modern neighborhood was built for Expo 98 and features a wide variety of attractions, including the Lisbon Oceanarium, cable car, and a 360-degree observation tower.

Viewpoints of Lisbon: The city is full of charming viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the rooftops, hills, and the Tagus River. Some of the most popular viewpoints are Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Largo Portas do Sol, Miradouro da Graça, and Miradouro da Santa Luzia. These places are perfect for enjoying breathtaking views and capturing memorable photographs.

Bica Funicular: The Bica funicular is a unique and fun way to climb Lisbon’s steep hills. The journey takes you through the narrow streets of the picturesque Bica neighborhood, offering delightful views along the way.

Pink Street: Calle Rosa, or Pink Street, is an iconic street known for its vibrant nightlife. Formerly a place of brothels, today it hosts bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that attract nightlife enthusiasts.

Chiado: It is a historic and bohemian neighborhood in central Lisbon. It is known for its elegant cafes and fashionable shops. Here you can find traditional cafes that have been operating for decades, as well as modern cafes with a contemporary touch.

25 de Abril Bridge: It is a suspension bridge that connects Lisbon with the city of Almada on the south bank of the Tagus River. It is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and resembles San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge.

National Tile Museum: A beautiful museum dedicated to the art of Portuguese tiles.

National Museum of Music: A museum dedicated to Portuguese music, with a large collection of instruments and ancient sheet music.

Eduardo VII Park: A beautiful park with stunning views of the city and green areas for walking and relaxing.

Puppet Museum: A museum dedicated to Portuguese puppets and their history.

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: An impressive art collection that includes works by Portuguese and international artists.

Museum of Ancient Art: A museum with a large collection of European and Portuguese art from the 12th to the 19th century.

Lisbon Botanical Garden: A beautiful botanical garden with a great variety of plants and trees.

Pasteis de Belem: Near the Jeronimos Monastery, you’ll find the famous pastry shop Pasteis de Belem. It is renowned for its Pasteis de Belem, traditional and delicious Portuguese sweets. These pastries are small tartlets filled with custard cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is a very popular place among tourists and locals to taste this specialty of Portuguese gastronomy. Find out more about them here.

Water Museum: A museum dedicated to the water supply in Lisbon and its history.

Santa Catarina Viewpoint: A viewpoint with stunning views of the Tagus River and the 25th of April Bridge.

Fernando Pessoa House: A house-museum dedicated to the life and work of the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.

Fado Museum: A museum dedicated to fado, traditional Portuguese music.

Ajuda Palace: An impressive royal palace with a large collection of antique art and furniture.

Roman Theater Museum: A museum dedicated to the history of Roman theater in Portugal.

Casa dos Bicos: A historic house with unique architecture and a large collection of art and ancient objects.

Estrela Basilica: A beautiful church with an impressive dome and interior decoration.

National Pantheon: The National Pantheon of Lisbon is a historic monument that houses the remains of prominent figures from Portugal’s history. It is located in the Church of Santa Engracia and features impressive Baroque architecture.

Lisbon Cathedral: The Lisbon Cathedral, also known as the Sé de Lisboa, is the oldest church in the city and an important place of worship. Its construction began in the 12th century and combines Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural elements.

Fronteira Palace: A beautiful palace with stunning gardens and a large collection of Portuguese tiles and art.

Sintra: It is a charming town located on the outskirts of Lisbon, known for its rich history and natural beauty. Situated in the hills of the Sintra Mountains, it features beautiful palaces, castles, and lush gardens. Some of the must-visit places in Sintra include the National Palace of Sintra, Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors, and the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira.

Lisbon is all of this and more! We understand that the best way to get to know a city is by exploring its streets and discovering every secret they hold. We can’t think of a better way to show you the city than for you to visit with us on a Free Walking Tour.

Bacalhau (Codfish)

This dish is a symbol of Portuguese gastronomy, and it is said that there are over 365 ways to prepare it.

Sardines

Grilled sardines are one of the most typical meals in Lisbon. They can be found in most restaurants and street food stalls during the summer months.

Codfish fritter

They are known as “Pastéis de Bacalhau”. It is prepared by mixing shredded codfish, cooked potatoes, onions, garlic, and parsley, which are then shaped into croquettes and fried until they have a crispy exterior and a soft interior. It is a very popular appetizer in Portugal.

Bacalhau à Brás

It is a traditional Portuguese dish that combines shredded codfish with finely julienned onions, fried potatoes, and scrambled eggs. Everything is mixed in a pan until the ingredients are combined, and the eggs are cooked.

Caldo Verde

This is a typical Portuguese soup made with potatoes, onions, kale, and chorizo.

Polvo à Lagareiro

This dish consists of perfectly cooked octopus, roasted in the oven, and served with roasted potatoes and a dressing of olive oil and garlic. It is a delight for seafood lovers.

Feijoada à Transmontana

It is a traditional Portuguese stew that consists of beans, pork meat, chorizo, and other sausages, slowly cooked to obtain a rich and flavorful taste. It is usually served with rice.

Pasteis de Belém

This is Lisbon’s most iconic dessert. Pasteis de Belém are small puff pastry cakes filled with a creamy and aromatic egg custard. They are served sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Queijadas de Sintra

Originating from the city of Sintra, near Lisbon, these queijadas are small pastries made with a sweet dough and filled with a mixture of fresh cheese, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon. They are sweet, soft, and very tasty.

Torta de Azeitão

This is another sweet delight from Lisbon. Torta de Azeitão is a rolled cake made with a very thin dough and filled with egg custard. It is often served sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by a cup of coffee.

Bolo Rei

Although more common during the Christmas season, Bolo Rei can be found in some pastry shops in Lisbon throughout the year. It is a sweet bread made with a butter-rich dough and filled with dried fruits and nuts. It usually has a crown on top decorated with sugar and candied fruits.

Pão de Ló

This is a moist and fluffy sponge cake, very popular in Portugal. Pão de Ló is made with eggs, sugar, and flour, and can be enjoyed on its own or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. It is a simple yet delicious dessert.

Ginjinha

This is a very traditional drink in Lisbon. It consists of a type of sour cherry liqueur called “ginja”.

Vinho Verde

Although not exclusive to Lisbon, Vinho Verde is a young and fresh white wine produced in the northern region of Portugal. It is very popular throughout the country and can be enjoyed in Lisbon at various bars and restaurants.

Coconut Water

This drink is made from the fresh water of young coconuts and is very popular in Lisbon during the summer months.

Port Wine

Portugal is famous for its Port wine, which is produced in the Douro region. You can try a glass of this wine in many restaurants and bars in Lisbon.

Aguardente de Medronho

This traditional alcoholic beverage is made from the medronho fruit, similar to a strawberry, which grows in the mountainous areas of Portugal.

Bica

“Bica” is the colloquial name for an espresso in Lisbon. It is an important part of coffee culture in Portugal and can be enjoyed in numerous cafes and pastry shops in the city.

Avenida da Liberdade

It is an emblematic avenue in Lisbon and one of the city’s main shopping areas. Here you will find a great number of luxury stores, fashion boutiques, jewelry shops, and department stores.

Baixa

The Baixa neighborhood is known for its pedestrian shopping streets, such as Rua Augusta and Rua do Ouro. On these streets, you will find a mix of fashion stores, souvenirs, jewelry shops, and traditional Portuguese items.

Feira da Ladra

An antique and second-hand market that takes place in Campo de Santa Clara (in front of the National Pantheon) on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 09:00 to 18:00.

Chiado

Located in the heart of Lisbon, Chiado is a bohemian and elegant neighborhood that offers a wide variety of shops. Here you will find designer boutiques, bookstores, antique shops, and major international brands.

LX Factory

It is a former industrial complex converted into a cultural and commercial center. Here you will find design stores, alternative boutiques, craft shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Local Markets

Lisbon has several local markets that are excellent places to buy fresh and local products. Mercado da Ribeira (Mercado Time Out) and Mercado de Campo de Ourique are two popular options.

Centro Comercial Colombo

If you prefer shopping in a mall, Centro Comercial Colombo is one of the largest in Europe and offers a wide selection of fashion stores, electronics, furniture, entertainment, and restaurants.

Curiosities of Lisbon

  • Alfama, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, survived the 1755 earthquake. It is believed that the reason for its survival is due to its construction on a hillside, which absorbed part of the earthquake’s force.
  • Fado is a traditional music genre of Portugal, especially associated with the city of Lisbon. It is characterized by its melancholic and nostalgic tone, with lyrics exploring themes such as love, loss, saudade (a kind of deep melancholy), and everyday life. Fado music is typically accompanied by a Portuguese guitar, which has a distinctive and vibrant sound, and often combined with a classical guitar and a solo voice.
  • Fado emerged in the working-class neighborhoods of Lisbon in the 19th century and became popular in the 20th century. It is considered a unique musical and cultural expression of Portugal and was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2011.
  • The iconic tram of Lisbon, known as the “Eléctrico,” has been in service since 1873. Although there have been some changes in routes and vehicles over the years, trams remain a popular form of transportation in the city.
  • The Belém Tower, another emblematic place in Lisbon, was originally built as a fortress to protect the entrance to the harbor. Over the years, it has also been used as a lighthouse, prison, and tax collection center.
  • The famous codfish (or “bacalhau” in Portuguese) is an important part of Portuguese cuisine, and it is said that there are over 365 different ways to cook it, one for each day of the year.
  • The city is known for its famous Belém pastries, a delicious cream custard tart with puff pastry, which has been made in the renowned Belém pastry shop since 1837.
  • The 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon, connecting the city to the town of Almada, is named in honor of the Carnation Revolution day in Portugal, which took place on April 25, 1974.
  • The Commerce Square (also known as Terreiro do Paço) was the residence of Portuguese kings until the 1755 earthquake, which destroyed much of the city.
  • The Park of Nations, a modern district in Lisbon, was built in the 1990s for the 1998 World Exposition. The Lisbon Aquarium and the cable car are some of the popular attractions in the park.
  • In the upper part of the city, the Bairro Alto is known for its lively nightlife and its steep streets that offer breathtaking views of the city.
  • The Castle of St. George is a fortress that dominates the city and has almost 1,000 years of history. Inside, there is a museum that tells the story of the castle and the city.
  • The Cristo Rei statue, located on the other side of the Tagus River, was completed in the late 1950s and is a replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. From there, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lisbon.
  • After the devastating earthquake of 1755, which marked the city’s history, the Marquis of Pombal ordered the reuse of the rubble from the destroyed buildings and paved the sidewalks with them. That’s where the base for the well-known Portuguese cobblestone originated, which later became popular.
  • The Ribeira Market, inaugurated in 1882, is one of the largest markets in Lisbon and has become a gastronomic center with numerous food stalls.
  • The Aqueduct of the Free Waters is one of the greatest hydraulic engineering works in Portugal, built in the 18th century to supply water to the city. Currently, some of its arches can be visited.
  • The Vasco da Gama Tower, located in the Park of Nations, is the tallest structure in Portugal, with a height of 145 meters.
  • The seven hills for which the Portuguese capital is known are Santa Catarina, Estrela, Penha de França, San Pedro de Alcántara, Castelo, Graça, and Monte.
  • The people of Lisbon are known as “alfacinhas,” which roughly translates to “little lettuces.” In the past, Lisbon was famous for its intense lettuce production in the nearby fields.
  • The Lisbon Botanical Garden, founded in 1878, houses more than 18,000 plant species from around the world.
  • The Casa dos Bicos, located in Alfama, is a historic building that owes its name to its facade covered with pyramid-shaped stones.
  • The oldest street in Lisbon is called Rua Augusta.
  • The Estufa Fria is a botanical garden located in the center of Lisbon, which features a wide variety of tropical and subtropical plants.
  • Lisbon is located at the mouth of the Tagus River.
  • The National Library of Portugal, founded in 1796, houses over two million volumes and is one of the oldest and largest libraries in Portugal.
  • The National Museum of Ancient Art, located in the Alcântara neighborhood, has an impressive collection of Portuguese and European art spanning from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
  • The history of Lisbon would not be the same without the famous 1755 earthquake, known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake. This 9-magnitude earthquake, lasting 8 minutes, destroyed a large part of the city. It was followed by a 15-meter tsunami and a massive fire that almost completely devastated Lisbon and caused the death of more than 50.000 people.

Azulejos

Step into a world of intricate craftsmanship with Azulejos, hand-painted ceramic tiles that adorn buildings and facades throughout the city. These colorful works of art tell stories of Portugal’s history and culture, making them a truly unique and evocative souvenir. A classic one to bring home but they are just beautiful.

Pastéis de Belém

No trip to Lisbon is complete without savoring the iconic Pastéis de Belém, delectable Portuguese custard tarts with a crispy exterior and a lusciously creamy filling. Bring home a box of these mouthwatering treats to relive your culinary journey.

Regional Wines

Indulge in the rich flavors of Lisbon’s wines, a reflection of the country’s deep viticulture heritage. Whether it’s the world-renowned Port wine or other Portuguese varietals, these bottles are a true testament to the art of winemaking.

Sardines

A tinned treasure to bring home, experience the taste of their seas with canned Portuguese sardines, a local delicacy. These tins make for a unique and flavorful souvenir.

 

Ginja Liqueur

Raise a toast with Ginja, a tangy sour cherry liqueur that has been enjoyed as a traditional Lisbon digestif for generations. This distinctive spirit encapsulates the city’s vibrant and flavorful character.

Fado Music

Bring home the hauntingly beautiful melodies of Fado, Portugal’s soulful traditional music. With heartfelt singing and emotional narratives, Fado captures the essence of Lisbon’s soul.

Handicrafts

Admire Portugal’s artisanal skills with exquisite embroidery and lacework, offering a piece of the country’s heritage. These handcrafted treasures beautifully depict part of their rich cultural tapestry.

Portuguese Olive Oil

Elevate your culinary creations with high-quality Portuguese olive oil and gourmet food products, a true testament to the country’s dedication to fine flavors.

Mugs

What about one of those mugs with iconic motifs of the city? They make for great souvenirs and help you relive your memories whenever you use them.

If you want to discover the complete and up-to-date list of the best souvenirs from Lisbon check out our blog:

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General recommendations

Credit cards are accepted in practically all restaurants, shops, and hotels.

When we think of Lisbon, steep hills and viewpoints come to mind, which has earned it the nickname “the city of the 7 hills.” However, there’s no need to worry because if you look carefully, you’ll find help to overcome the slopes: escalators between buildings or inside metro stations and parking lots, free elevators in some buildings (clearly marked on the facade with the word “elevador” and their name), as well as the famous funiculars and trams.

If you visit Sintra, we recommend buying tickets online for the main points of interest: Palácio da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, and Castelo dos Mouros. You’ll avoid the long queues that form at the ticket offices.

Portuguese canned fish preserves are highly appreciated internationally, so don’t forget to buy some cans during your visit to Lisbon. The most typical ones are sardines. These products are so important that the sardine has become a symbol of the city and Portuguese cuisine as a whole.

It can be useful to purchase the Lisboa Card if you plan to use Lisbon’s transportation extensively and visit many monuments and cities like Sintra or Cascais.

Pay attention to Lisbon’s famous tiles. Since the 16th century, Portugal has become an important center of tile production on an international level, and it remains so today. Proof of this is the thousands of mosaics that cover and adorn the facades of many houses, palaces, museums, and churches throughout the country. You’ll find them in all colors and motifs, even the walls of Lisbon’s metro stations are works of art with tiles as the main feature.

Don’t forget sunscreen if you visit in spring and summer; there are many hours of sunlight, and you need to protect yourself. Also, make sure to have a raincoat in case of a shower.

It’s essential to wear comfortable shoes for walking on Lisbon’s steep streets.

If you liked this guide and want to support us, visit our website and discover our exciting range of unique and personally designed souvenirs for Lisbon!

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