Steep, narrow streets and magnificent architectural features are the hallmarks of Lisbon and the city is at the same time grand yet modest, ancient yet modern, but always warm and friendly.
The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a glorious city to discover and first-time visitors will delight in the wonderful historical buildings, broad avenues and busy maritime port. Built on seven hills, Lisbon is located at the mouth of the river Tagus (Rio Tejo) and from the dizzy heights of Bairro Alto, walking the cobbled alleys, mosaic patterned pavements and tiled facades, is to see Lisbon at its best. The launch pad for voyages of the intrepid explorer Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator and Ferdinand Magellan, who gave his name to the Magellan Straits, little wonder Lisbon is also known as the City of the Explorers.
Today, intersected by the brilliance of the local yellow trams which trundle along, everything in the city seems alive and vibrant. The medieval Alfama district, Gothic Cathedrals and Torre de Belem represent just a tiny proportion of the architectural treasures the city holds. The thrillingly shabby-chic area of Bairro Alto is home to hosts of trendy coffee houses, open air cafes and music bars, all clinging to the vertiginous streets and all the while, the haunting and melancholic strains of the traditional "Fado" music insinuate throughout.
For all shopping fiends, Lisbon is a paradise. Teeny gift shops, local artisan stores and modern malls will feed the frenzy of materialistic maidens. The most westerly European capital, Lisbon is unique in many ways. As the aristocracy moved to the seaside resorts of Cascais and Estoril in the hot summer months, royalty were already ensconced in magnificent palaces in the sweet village of Sintra.
Worthy of day trips from the city, Lisbon itself can hardly be bettered as a venue for strolling along atmospheric streets, people watching from a smart cafe, admiring fabulous architecture or just soaking up the delicious continental flavour that Lisbon imbues.
Getting into Lisbon city from Lisbon International Airport
Landing in Lisbon International Airport, it's a quick transfer to Lisbon city centre. You have a multitude of options including private shuttle, train, Aerobus and the metro.
Bus: You can get the Aerobus, which departs approx. every 20mins. It stops at the important sights in the city as well as the bus and train stations. \approx. 45mins and costs €20 per journey.
Metro: The metro is a very cost-effective way to get into the city. It departs every 6-9minutes, takes approx. 20minutes and costs €1.45 per journey or €6.30 for a day ticket.
Private shuttle: You can also get your own private transfer which takes approx. 15mins and costs approx. €20pp return based on 2 people sharing.
10 Reasons to Visit Lisbon
- Torre de Belem: A short train ride outside the city you'll find Torre de Belem, an old fortified tower on the river. There’s a tiny bridge leading to the tower that you can visit for a .
- Jerónimos Monastery: Near the Torre de Belem, you'll find Jerónimos Monastery, which houses the Museu de Marinha, the historic maritime museum of Lisbon. Here you can explore the rich history of Portugal and the sea including the polished wooden quarters of the royal yacht and a portable wooden alter dated back to the 15th Century.
- Alfama district: Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and you really see this in the Alfama district with its unique atmosphere. It’s home to Castelo de São Jorge, the best place for a breath-taking view of the sunset.
- Mercado de Ribeira: Markets are the perfect place to dive a little deeper into the culture by discovering local cuisine. Inside Mercado de Ribeira, you'll find over 30 restaurants and food stalls where you can indulge in Portuguese specialities.
- Looking for a real fairytale experience? Spend a day at Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The unique architecture and the bright colours of the castle and palace will bring you back to a magical time. This charming place needs to be seen to be understood.
- Sunrise at Miradouro Portas do Sol: Just like the sunset, sunrise is just as magical. One difference? You’ll have the whole city to yourself. Head up to the Miradouro Portas do Sol in Alfama district and see how the city awakens with the sun rising.
- Let’s talk alcoholic beverages: Served in a shot glass with a cherry, try Ginja, a sweet Portuguese liqueur. Or, Vinho Verde, which is a slightly fizzy white wine served in green bottles.
- Tram Rides: Old, yellow trams take you from one stunning square to the next or up one of Lisbon's many hills. Jump on tram 28 for a long and beautiful ride through the quarters of Graça and Mouraria.
- Picturesque architecture: Wander around Lisbon, take in the picturesque facades of the buildings and the colourful painted tiles. Look up to see typical balconies and clotheslines and down to admire the Portuguese pavement (Calçada) that form a beautiful mosaic.
- Street art tour: With a guide, stroll around Lisbon to see the best of the street art around the city. Find colourful and meaningful pictures up on buildings and learn a little bit more about their background, as well as about the city’s history.