Lisbon is the perfect destination for a city trip and a holiday in Portugal is not complete without a visit to its capital.
Our Lisbon travel tips will make your visit to this culturally rich city even better.
Most of Lisbon’s sights are located in and around the old city. They’re all within walking distance of each other which makes it perfectly doable to explore the city on foot.
Nothing is more fun than to wander through the narrow cobblestone streets and be surprised by the city’s charm.
The city is also called the City of Seven Hills. It doesn’t take long to find out why when you walk around the city.
If you are tired of all the climbing and descending, you can rest on a terrace with a glass of Vinho Verde (green wine). An extremely refreshing wine that you can only find in Portugal and which is ideal to quench your thirst on sunny days.
Another way to take some rest is to hop on the well-known yellow trams. A ride with these trams should not be missed.
Below we share all the best Lisbon tips for a great escape to Portugal’s amazing capital.
Be sure to read on!
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We recommend checking Momondo to find cheap flights to Lisbon. Here’s an overview of other flight comparison sites. Make sure to check the website of TAP to see their latest promotions, they offer direct flights to Lisbon from many countries.
Lisbon has countless impressive monuments and palaces. The Lisboa Card, the official tourist pass of Lisbon, offers free access to dozens of these sites and allows you to ride Lisbon’s public transport for free.
Buy your skip-the-line tickets for Lisbon’s 2 most popular attractions online in advance. With these skip-the-line tickets, you can bypass the waiting lines at the Jeronimos Monastery and the Belém Tower.
Our travel tips for Lisbon
Best time to visit Lisbon
It is actually possible to travel to Lisbon all year round.
We once celebrated New Year in the city and another time we traveled to the city in January.
Both were marvelous trips but we would be lying if we said that the weather is excellent all year round.
So what exactly is the best time to visit Lisbon?
Spring and autumn
The best time to visit Lisbon is during spring and autumn, especially during the months of April, May, and September to November.
During these periods you can enjoy pleasant and not too warm weather.
Temperatures average around 20-25 degrees Celcius with an occasional shower.
The weather is perfect to explore the city of the seven hills on foot. You can hike to the many magnificent elevated miradouros without arriving completely sweaty and it is still warm enough to enjoy a glass (or a bottle) of refreshing wine on the many terraces the city is rich.
The summer months of July and August are usually warmer and it barely rains during these months.
The temperatures reach 28 degrees Celcius on average during the day and it hardly cools down at night.
Although the summer months are the peak travel season in Lisbon, they do not feel like the ideal time if you can’t take the heat well. I would avoid these months if you can, a visit to Lisbon is much more charming without the crowds.
When we visited Lisbon during the winter, we had pretty good weather and most days the temperatures fluctuated around 15 degrees Celcius.
There were still some tourists but the lines at the major attractions were short.
Here you can find more info about the Portuguese climate.
How many days to spend in Lisbon
You will probably wonder how many days you need in Lisbon.
Do you want a weekend away? A city trip to Lisbon is perfectly possible as a weekend trip. If you have the time you can also make it into an extended weekend.
3 days is ideal to discover the highlights of the city at a leisurely pace. If you are looking for a 3 day Lisbon itinerary, click here.
Safety in Lisbon
Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world.
In the Global Peace Index, an annual ranking of all countries based on conflicts and attacks,
Portugal ranks number 3 in 2019.
Only Iceland and New Zealand are doing better and, surprisingly, it outranks even Japan.
Surprisingly higher I say because we already thought Japan was so safe.
Even though there is a big chance that Portugal is safer than where you are now, this doesn’t mean that you can just leave your wallet on the table or walk around with your backpack open, especially in tourist destinations.
In recent years, large cities such as Lisbon and Porto have become considerably more expensive, which has resulted in much more poverty.
The police have a prominent presence on the streets, but they cannot always avoid pickpockets and petty criminals hanging around near the tourist attractions.
For example, the iconic tram 28, a favorite with tourists is also a favorite with these criminals.
So always pay close attention to your belongings!
Lisbon has a vibrant nightlife scene and tourists are more than welcome to join the action.
However, pay attention if you plan a bender. Just as everywhere else in the world the nightlife districts experience slightly higher crime at night.
There are not really neighborhoods that you should avoid unless you really look for the peripheral municipalities where tourist attractions can no longer be found.
More travel advice can be found on the website of your government.
In Lisbon, as in most of Europe, people pay with the euro.
You will find ATMs everywhere and credit and debit cards are accepted in most places.
A typical Portuguese lunch will cost between 8 and 15 euros.
For dinner, you pay about 15 euros per person.
Always check your bill. We heard from others that some places try to overcharge tourists by adding things they never ordered. We did not experience it ourselves but a warned person is worth 2.
In general, the costs of public transport are not too expensive.
A ride on the metro or tram costs € 1.35 with the Viva Viagem card. Train rides to Sintra and Cascais are also very cheap, for € 4.50 you already have a return ticket.
Later in this post, we share some tips about public transport in Lisbon. Or you could read our complete guide about public transport in Lisbon.
For hotels with all facilities, you have to foresee a budget between € 75 to € 130 per night.
Of course, it can also be more expensive or cheaper depending on your personal preferences and the time of the year.
Further in this post, we mention a few good hotels.
Hostels start from € 25 to € 30.
Tipping in Lisbon
Wondering if you should tip in Lisbon? And who and how much you should tip?
Here are some recommendations.
As a general rule, tipping in Lisbon, and in Portugal in general, is something that is not expected and therefor completely optional.
Tipping in restaurants
Most Portuguese only tip if the service is better than expected. The guideline is an amount between 5 and 10% of the bill. When it comes to small bills, like a “menu do dia”, the bill is sometimes just rounded up.
Tips are left cash on the table, or some establishments have a tip jar near the pay point.
It is not customary to add your tip to your card payment.
Always check your bill first. Most restaurants add no service charges to your bill but, especially in tourist areas, they become more common. If you see this on your account, you should of course no longer tip.
Tipping in bars
Tipping in bars is not common except for maybe high-end places such as luxury cocktail bars.
Tipping taxi drivers
Portuguese usually don’t tip taxi drivers but most tourists reserve a small extra for the taxi drivers, especially if they provided help with the bags.
It’s a nice gesture to round the bill up to the nearest € 5 or to give an extra € 1 per bag.
Tipping hotel staff
It is common to tip hotel porters when they provide help with your bags. A guideline would be to tip around € 1-2 per bag.
Although less common, you could also offer a tip when you use room service and leave something extra for the maid when you check out.
Tipping tour guides
Tour guides are more used to getting tips as they work in the tourism industry.
If you think your guide was worth it, you can show your appreciation by tipping about 10% of the cost of the tour.
Cheap flights to Lisbon
To find cheap airline tickets, we recommend checking Momondo, Skyscanner or Kayak.
There are many more airline ticket sites. We list some other popular booking sites with their advantages and disadvantages in this article. Twice a year we do a test to see which site offers the cheapest tickets and update the article with the results.
Lisbon travel tip: If you are in Lisbon you should definitely take a ride on one of the yellow trams.
Public transport in Lisbon
For a relatively small city such as Lisbon, public transport is pretty well arranged. The city has 4 metro lines and 6 tram lines. There are several bus routes as well but already the combination of the first two is enough to easily reach most tourist attractions.
Once you are in Lisbon’s center it’s easy to discover the city on foot.
We wrote a complete guide with everything you need to know to take public transport in Lisbon.
Buy your tickets for attractions in advance
Lisbon is nowadays a popular and well-visited city.
Popular attractions in Lisbon
Lines at popular attractions can be long in the peak season but you only have to queue if you don’t yet have tickets.
To avoid the queues all you have to do is buy your tickets in advance. Many popular attractions such as the Torre de Belém and Jerónimos Monastery offer these so-called skip-the-line tickets. Usually for the same price as what you would pay at the entrance.
With these tickets, you can jump the line and head straight in.
It’s good practice to buy tickets in advance if you plan on visiting many sights. By doing so you’re sure not to waste time queuing.
You have not visited Lisbon if you have not seen the Jerónimos Monastery, one of the most important sights in Lisbon and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Because it is one of the highlights of Lisbon, it is often very busy.
We would, therefore, advise you to purchase skip the line tickets. The online tickets are the same price as what you pay at the entrance and may save you quite some time.
Tower of Belém
You can walk from the Jerónimos Monastery to the Tower of Belém in 10 minutes.
Inside the tower, you can see how it served as a fortress and a palace at the same time. From the top of the balcony, you have a view across the Tagus river. You can also see the red “Ponte de 25 Abril”, an almost identical copy of the Golden Gate bridge, and the more distant Padrão Dos Descobrimentos.
Although the tower is more beautiful on the outside than on the inside, there are often long queues to get in.
If you are short on time or are not very interested in architecture, we would advise you to skip a visit inside.
We recommend buying skip the line tickets if you want to see the inside. The online tickets are the same price as those at the entrance.
The Castle of São Jorge
The Castle of São Jorge is the most famous castle in Lisbon.
The castle is located on the namesake hill and towers above the city.
Inside you can walk on the walls of the castle from where you have a beautiful view of the city.
There are also many attractive inner squares.
Your entrance ticket also includes a visit to the permanent exhibition of archaeological finds.
Foresee at least 2 to 3 hours if you want to see everything.
You can also walk around the castle. The promenade around the castle attracts many amorous couples each evening to enjoy the sunset.
It’s a great place to end your walk around Lisbon and relax for some time before you head off to diner.
If you want to learn more about the history of the castle you can book this tour. A guide will wait for you at the entrance of the castle and will give you an introduction about its history and current remains before you can visit it at your own pace.
The castle itself also organizes guided tours on weekdays at 11h30 AM and during the weekends at 11h30 AM and 3 PM. Depending on availability, you can join the tour for an additional fee of € 2.5.
Pena Palace in Sintra
The fairytale Pena Palace is one of the most famous tourist attractions near Lisbon. It can easily be reached in 30 minutes by train from the city’s center Rossio station.
The palace is very popular and during the summer months, there can be long queues at the entrance. It’s good practice to buy skip-the-line tickets. You will be glad you did when you walk past the line at the entrance.
You can choose to print your tickets. But it is even easier to show them on your phone. The online tickets are the same price as the ones at the entrance.
If you prefer visiting the Pena Palace with an organized tour, take a look at the day tour below.
Daytour to Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Cascais
This tour takes you to many highlights in one day.
You start your visit in magical Sintra, where you can optionally choose to visit the estate Quinta da Regaleira, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Then you continue your day trip to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European mainland.
You will end this beautiful day in the posh resorts of Cascais and Estoril.
The list above contains Lisbon’s most popular attractions. There is of course much more to see and do. Click the button below for an overview of highly-rated Lisbon activities on GetYourGuide.
We often book our tickets through GetYourGuide. You can secure your spot in advance and GetYourGuide offers the flexibility to cancel in case your plans might change. It’s almost always possible to cancel free of charge up to 24 hours in advance.
That’s why we advise booking all your Lisbon activities online as soon as your plans are finalized. This way you are sure that you can do your preferred activities on the date and time you had foreseen.
You may benefit from these discount passes if you plan to visit several of Lisbon’s attractions.
The Lisboa Card is the official tourist pass of the city and offers a lot of value.
Below we describe the benefits of this card.
The Lisboa card
The Lisboa card is a real bestseller.
It offers incredible value to those who plan on visiting several of Lisbon’s interesting museums and marvelous historical buildings.
The Jerónimos Monastery and the Torre de Belém can be visited for free along with more than 30 other museums and historical buildings. You can also use the fast-track entrance at these attractions. Several other attractions offer discounts ranging from 5% to 50%.
You can also ride public transport for free during the validity of your pass. The Lisboa Card is available as a 24, 48 or 72-hour pass.
The Lisboa Card is only interesting if you will be visiting the musea and historical buildings. The Viva Viagem card is a better and cheaper option if you will only be using public transportation.
Here’s an overview of the benefits. The link below points to a guide that explains all the benefits in detail.
- Free transport: unlimited travel by bus, metro, tram, funicular as well as the Santa Justa lift, the iconic lift in the center of the city.
- Free access to 35 museums and historic buildings.
- Avoid the queue: This card gives you priority at many places of interest. Because it is often very busy and there are often long queues for sights, you save a lot of time.
- Free city guide: free city guide with useful information and tips.
- Discounts: the Lisboa card also gives a discount of 5-50% at more than 60 locations.
- Day trips to Sintra and Cascais: Trains to these locations are free and several attractions in these locations offer free or discount admissions.
Things to do in Lisbon
There is so much to see and do in Lisbon that we wrote a separate post about it.
Be sure to read this post in preparation for your Lisbon vacation.
Below we briefly list the things not to be missed:
- The Jerónimos Monastery, a Dutch Hieronymite Monastery is one of the highlights of your Lisbon city trip.
- The richly decorated Belém Tower is a wonderful place to take Instagram worthy photos.
- The São Jorge Castle is the most famous castle in Lisbon. This is also a wonderful place to enjoy the sunset in the evening.
- Don’t miss the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, which was erected in homage to all those who contributed to the development of Portuguese exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries.
- Be sure to visit the Lisbon Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
- You should definitely take a ride on an authentic tram when you are in Lisbon.
- Be sure to try the delicious Pasteis de Nata, a small cake filled with pudding.
- Street art fans will definitely love Lisbon. Portugal’s capital is decorated with many colorful masterpieces. In our Lisbon blog post, we guide you through the city so you can see the most beautiful works of art in the city.
- Wander through the Alfama district. This is the oldest district in Lisbon and here you will find a maze of many narrow picturesque cobblestone streets.
- Stroll across one of the most famous squares in Lisbon, the Praça do Comércio square.
- If you are a music fan then we recommend attending a fado performance.
- Take the Santa Justa Lift, the iconic lift that connects the lower center to the 30 meters higher Carmo Square.
- Have dinner in the Mercado da Ribeira, an indoor market with shops and a food court.
- Admire Lisbon from one of the many miradouros.
- Shop till you drop on the Avenida da Liberdade.
- Take a day tour to magical Sintra or spend a day at the beach of Cascaïs.
Take a hotel in the center of Lisbon
Lisbon’s historic center is small and easy to explore on foot. To get the most out of your city trip, we recommend that you stay at a hotel in the city center.
Lisbon’s center counts many charming hotels. Sometimes these are slightly more expensive but in return, you get all the sights within walking distance.
Below we list a number of nice hotels.
Hotels in the center of Lisbon
Hotel Avenida Palace
Hotel Avenida Palace is a belle epoque hotel located in the historical center of Lisbon. This hotel feels like a luxurious palace with the charms of yesteryear. The hotel is just a few minutes by foot from the Santa Justa Lift, São Jorge Castle and many other sights. The metro and train station is also nearby.
Premium comfortable hotel
NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade
The NH Collection Lisboa hotel has recently been fully renovated and is an ideal base to discover Lisbon. You will find a metro and train station within walking distance.
A great plus of this hotel is the beautiful view you have from the roof terrace.
My Story Hotel Rossio
The My Story Hotel Rossio is a nice hotel in the center of Lisbon. From your room, you can enjoy a beautiful view over one of the liveliest squares of Central Lisbon. The metro, bus and tram stations are nearby.
Perfect for a weekend in Lisbon.
If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb, you will find an overview of nice Airbnb’s in the center of Lisbon below.
Airbnb’s in Lisbon
Airbnb also has a strong presence in Lisbon. You will have no problem finding an apartment in
Lisbon but before you proceed I would like to make one observation.
Due to Airbnb’s popularity housing prices in Lisbon have skyrocketed pushing many people in poverty. Many locals can no longer afford the rent in the center and have been forced to move out of the city.
This is all the result of companies that have en mass bought properties for short-term rent and also individuals have discovered that it is more profitable to rent out their houses on Airbnb.
This has created scarcity in the regular rental market.
If you know that 46% of Lisboans earn 900 € or less then you know that prices of 600 € for a 1- room studio, sometimes even without sanitation, are a little absurd.
I shared the above info because I don’t think it’s so ethical.
You can visit the Belem tower, a true architectural gem on the banks of the Tagus, for free with your Lisboa card.
Snacks on the table
Most restaurants offer a selection of snacks on the table.
These snacks may be free where you live but that is not the case in Lisbon or Portugal in general. Most restaurants will add these to your bill if you eat them.
You can just leave them on the table. You won’t be charged as long as you don’t touch them.
Free museum visits
It may be possible to visit a museum for free even if you don’t have the Lisboa Card.
Some museums open their doors for free every Sunday, others on the first Sunday of every month. Some only offer free admission for children and 65+ and a discount for all others. In some other cases, it is also only free for locals.
The rules differ from museum to museum. If there is a museum you absolutely want to visit, it is best to check the website beforehand to see if they offer discounts and under what conditions.
If you do not know the website of the museum you wish to visit, you can start your search from the website of the Lisbon tourist office, which has an overview of all museums in and around Lisbon.
Wear comfortable shoes
It is best to explore Lisbon on foot but while you do you will need to defeat quite a few altimeters.
Certainly, if you want to go to the miradouros, something we absolutely recommend, there is some climbing involved.
Lisbon is built on 7 hills, which adds to the charm of the city, but sometimes it results in what looks like a mountain hike.
Another reason for comfortable shoes are the quaint but uneven cobblestone streets.
Comfortable footwear is therefore recommended when you want to discover this city.
Be sure to watch the sunset from one of the viewpoints
Lisbon has some beautiful miradouros from where you have a beautiful view of the city.
Shopping in Lisbon
Lisbon has many nice shopping streets and a number of large shopping centers.
The Rua Augusta and the Rua do Carmo are the main shopping streets in the center of Lisbon.
Located to the north of the city, near Benfica’s football stadium, Centro Colombo is one of the largest shopping centers in Europe.
Another mall worth visiting is the Centro Commercial Amoreiras. Here you will find in addition to 250 shops and many restaurants an observation deck, the Amoreiras 360 ° panoramic View, which offers a beautiful view of the city.
Lisbon is a charming city with an impressive historical value.
The city is ideal for a city trip and is also a nice place to start your road trip through Portugal.
We hope that these Lisbon travel tips will make your visit to the city even better. Have a great trip!