Earning its name from the picturesque hills that surround the city, Lisbon is a feast of art, culture and history. Bright and lively, Lisbon presents Gothic architecture, cobbled alleyways and fashionable bohemian haunts. Other terms of endearment include the ‘city of light’, ‘city of tolerance’ and ‘queen of the sea’; all paint a lyrical picture. On a city break to Lisbon you quickly see that this glorious city, lives up to its names and so much more.
Thinking of a Lisbon city break? Read our comprehensive guide below. To find the information that’s relevant to you, use the handy page contents below:
- Best time to visit Lisbon
- What time is it in Lisbon?
- Getting around Lisbon
- Where to stay in Lisbon
- Best beaches in Lisbon
- Best things to do in Lisbon- attractions, landmarks, museums
- Eating and shopping in Lisbon
Best time to visit Lisbon
The best time to visit Lisbon is between April and October where you will experience high temperatures between 20˚C – 30°C. High temperature between November and March are between 10˚C – 20˚C. Lisbon has become increasingly popular for its mild climate and bohemian atmosphere.
What time is it in Lisbon?
Lisbon follows the same time zone as London, so no jet lag here! Much like the UK they also adopt daylight saving time during the summer.
Getting around Lisbon
Lisbon is easy to navigate by foot, however it’s notoriously hilly. Trams are cheap, crowded and fun and bus and metro connect the entire city with ease. The ‘Viva Viagem’ card is available (much like London’s Oyster) from metro kiosks.
Where to stay in Lisbon
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. For those who prefer to live in luxury a superb selection of 4 and 5 star hotels in Lisbon offer a genuinely comfortable stay.
Altis Avenida, is a luxurious 5-star hotel in Lisbon’s centre. Its opulent marble interiors complement its glamorous Portuguese style.Book here
For more affordable luxury, the Hotel Lisboa Plaza is a glamorous heritage hotel. Tucked away on a side street, this family owned hotel is a splendid retreat from the city.Book here
Best beaches in Lisbon
Lisbon is surrounded by a stunning Atlantic coastline. Not far out of the city you’ll be met with long stretches of golden powdery sands. There are several beaches just a short train or car journey from Lisbon.
Praia do Guincho
Just 40 minutes from Lisbon, Guincho is world renowned for its surf and large waves. Its wild nature makes it less popular with families.
Portinho da Arrabida
Surrounded by green hills this beach is delightfully rural. Hugging a picturesque village with calm and clear water.
Praia do Carcavelos
Lisbon’s most popular beach. The beach is wide with a great selection of cafés and restaurants, excellent for families.
Praia do Meco
45 minutes south of Lisbon, Meco is peaceful and much less crowded. Its atmosphere is popular with nudists and surfers.
Praia do Guincho
Best things to do in Lisbon
Our in-house expert Jacqui Davies recommends the top 3 things to do in Lisbon…
- Try Pastias de Nata – Did you know? More than 20,000 custard tarts are sold each day in Lisbon! Made from a secret recipe passed down from late 18th century monks. Confectioners, who bake them in a ‘secret room’ have to sign a confidentiality agreement about the recipe, so that the tastes of the Belem egg custard tarts remains unique.
- Tram 28 – A visit to Lisbon is not complete without a tram journey (Tram 28 in particular). Tram 28 passes though popular tourist districts and the city’s steep narrow streets.
- Henry the Navigator – This massive statue provides a great photo opportunity. Built in honour of Henry the navigator who was hugely instrumental to the success of Portuguese exploration in the 15th century.
The famous Portuguese custard tart ‘Pastais de Nata’
Famous landmarks and attractions in Lisbon
Belem tower – Iconic fortified medieval defence tower, built in the 16th century to defend Lisbon from invaders. This 30 metre, 4 story, limestone tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sao Jorge castle – A Moorish castle and palace ruins located in the Alfama district. Originally fortified by the Romans and ‘rebuilt’ under Moorish rule. After driving out the Moors in 1147 the Portuguese used the castle as a royal palace.
View of Sao Jorge Castle
Jeronimos Monastery – Formerly a monastery this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Gothic and Moorish architecture. Constructed in the 1500’s, you’ll find this structure in the Belem district.
Lisbon Oceanarium – The Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. It’s separated in to four habitats reflecting the world’s different oceans. Gaze upon sharks, sting rays, penguins, otters and much more.
Penguins at Lisbon Oceanarium
Praca do Comercio – Situated near the waterfront, this historical plaza is surrounded by traditional painted buildings. The plaza was constructed to replace the royal palace which was reduced to rubble in the 1755 earthquake.
Praca do Comercio
Park and National Palace of Pena – 50 minutes from Lisbon this show stopping palace will have your jaw consistently on the floor. Like a Disney scene, the palace sits on a hill above Sintra with views as far as the eyes can see. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of history and colourful, intricate architecture.
National Palace of Pena
Best museums in Lisbon
Lisbon is no doubt a city famous for its art. This reputation becomes ever more evident in its numerous museums displaying everything from Classical Monet and Rembrandt, to specialist museums showcasing modern structures and intricate architecture.
Gulbenkian – “Never in modern history has one man owned so much”. British/Armenian business magnate Calouste Gulbenkian fell in love with the city of Lisbon in the 1940’s. Once one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, he collected art and artefacts of extreme value. His vast collection is now on display in this museum. Gaze upon Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Lalique jewellery, Chinese Jade, Persian porcelain and much more!
Museu Nacional de Arte Antigua – Showcasing over 40 thousand pieces from the middle ages to the 19th century. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, jewellery and artefacts from all over the world.
National Tile Museum – A collection of intricate tiles. The splendid array of colours and patterns dates back to the 15th century. The museum provides excellent inspiration for aspiring interior designers.
Eating and shopping in Lisbon
You can unearth some real treasures in Lisbon; be it local produce, authentic souvenirs or bohemian artefacts. Lisbon’s food scene is as established as its art with gourmet food markets, quaint cafe’s and Michelin star restaurants. From succulent Alentejan steak, fresh seafood to the national pastry ‘Pasteis de Nata’, Lisbon offers a tantalising palate.
Embaixada – In the trendy neighbourhood of Principe Real, this Arabian palace has upmarket shops hosting national brands, fashion and leading Portuguese gastronomy.
Avenida da Liberdade – 90 metre boulevard holding international brands, trendy bars and quality restaurants.
Cobbled shopping street in Lisbon
Feira da Ladra market ‘thieves market’– A Portuguese flea market dating back nearly 1000 years. Running Tuesdays and Saturdays in Alfama, the market sells second hand goods including handmade crafts, antiques and hidden gems.
Baixa and Bairro Alto – Two fashionable and stylish districts with excellent shopping, nightlife, theatres and bohemian cafes. Try Bacalhau à Brás (shredded cod with onions, potatoes and eggs) a Bairro Alto special. By night the charming cobbled streets come alive with nightlife and traditional Fado music.
Tram in Bairro Alto
Alfama – Lisbon’s medieval quarter with a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets. This characterful district has ample artisan shops, tiny plazas and funky cafes. It’s a wonderful place to simply get lost and discover tasty eateries and Fado bars.
Have you bee to Lisbon? We’d love to hear your stories, get in touch in the comments below.
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