The Portuguese capital has undergone a cultural revival over recent years, which has led to a rise in the number of people visiting the city for pleasure. Its coastal location makes it a perfect option for people who like to combine sunny days on the beach with sightseeing. Lisbon offers an unforgettable mixture of the traditional and the modern, with wonderful sights, museums and culture, as well as vivacious urban life, delicious food, and endless things to see and do. Plan your trip with this useful Finnair travel guide to Lisbon and have a fantastic vacation.
Sights in Lisbon
There’s something interesting in almost all of Lisbon’s diverse districts. Rossio is the city’s main square and a central hub for locals. Baixa is the downtown area and the planned organisation of the streets, a result of rebuilding after an earthquake, is noticeably different to that of other parts of Lisbon. The charming district of Alfama shows the city’s Moorish past, with an almost Arab-like feel and many traditional Fado bars. Belém is one of the major districts for tourists, with its numerous monuments and landmarks. Climb Belém Tower for sweeping views over the city, admire the grand Presidential Palace and step back in time at Jerónimos Monastery. Several peaceful gardens are scattered throughout the district and art lovers should add Belém Cultural Center, home to many modern works, to their itinerary. Among Lisbon’s varied museums, some of the finest include the Maritime Museum, the art-filled Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, the science and technology museum of Pavilhão do Conhecimento and the unique Museu do Azulejo. Architectural treasures include Europe’s longest bridge, Ponte Vasco da Gama, St. George’s Castle, the historic Aguas Livres Aqueduct and the magnificent Ponte 25 de Abril—the sister of San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. For beach days, head to Costa da Caparica, Guincho Beach or Tamariz; and for a few hours in nature, Lisbon Botanical Gardens is ideal. At nighttime, the streets of Bairro Alto really come alive.
Things to See and Do Near Lisbon
- Sintra – An incredibly popular day trip destination, highlights include Pena Palace, the National Palace, Moorish Castle and the Park and Palace of Monserrate. The surrounding mountains offer lots of great hiking and nature spotting opportunities.
- Praia das Maçãs – This tranquil beach resort boasts sandy shores and clear water.
- Fátima – A day trip to this world-famous pilgrimage site will allow you visit Cova da Iria, the place where an apparition of the Virgin Mary is said to have occurred in 1917. The city has several significant churches and chapels too.
- Almada – Home to one of the top sights in the Lisbon area, Almada is known for its imposing and impressive Cristo Rei statue. Similar to the iconic figure in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, a large statue of Jesus Christ stands atop a hill looking over the city.
Shopping in Lisbon
One of the most inexpensive capital cities in Western Europe for shopping, it’s no surprise that retail therapy is a popular pastime for visitors to Lisbon. Historic stores are interspersed with modern outlets and there are also several modest markets.
- Chiado – One of the most upmarket districts for shopping in Lisbon, you’ll find high-class fashion boutiques along beautiful historic streets.
- Avenida da Liberdade – Another area for luxury fashions, this wide and attractive avenue is home to brands like Armani, Louis Vuitton, Timberland, Calvin Klein and Burberry.
- Principe Real – You’ll find a good selection of modern and trendy stores here.
- Rua Augusta – Located in downtown Lisbon, this street features a number of well-known high-street brands.
- Dolce Vita Tejo – Home to numerous stores selling a diverse array of items, this is one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe.
Food and Drink
- Bacalhau à Brás – An ever-present dish around Lisbon, this is shredded codfish mixed with fried potato, scrambled eggs and onion, garnished with olives and parsley.
- Caldo Verde – One of the city’s most popular soups, the green colour comes from the large amounts of kale used to make the soup. Other ingredients include potato puree and garlic.
- Pastéis de Nata – These egg tarts combine enticing textures for a local sweet sensation.
- Polvo à Lagareiro – Comprising grilled octopus served with potatoes, the dish is completed with garlic and olive oil.
- Caracóis – A seasonal delicacy, cooked snails in garlic butter can be enjoyed in Lisbon from May to late September.
Transport in Lisbon
A fast, clean, reliable and efficient public transportation system connects all parts of Lisbon and its surrounding areas. Conveniently, one singular rechargeable ticket is valid for the metro, trams, trains, the majority of buses, and ferries. The card can be topped up with the exact amount needed for just one ride, or you can load the amount for an unlimited day pass. Credit can also be stored on the card, resulting in lower fares per journey.
- By foot – The city centre is easy to walk around, and the districts of Alfama and Bairro Alta can be reached on foot from downtown Baixa. Several strategically built escalators and funiculars remove the challenges of particular hilly streets.
- By bicycle – Cycle lanes run between Baixa and Belém, and Lisbon has been working hard to become a more bike-friendly city.
- Scooters – Popular with people who like independent explorations, there are several rental shops around Lisbon for scooters, motorbikes and mopeds. You will need to show your license and should always wear a helmet.
- Buses – Extensive bus routes connect all parts of the city and the suburbs.
- Metro – The underground metro in Lisbon offers a quick and convenient way of getting around the city, with the added bonus that many stations are filled with striking art work.
- Trams – Various tramlines cross the city and there are stops close to most places of interest. Tram 28 is a public tram that follows one of the only three surviving traditional tramlines. A great way to relax as you see many interesting neighbourhoods, it passes through the Old Town, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto.
- Ferries – Regular ferry services cross the Tagus River to connect the city with suburban areas.
- Taxis – Taxis are widely available in Lisbon and can be pre-booked or flagged down on the street. They operate using set tariffs, with 1 being the lowest rate and used in the city centre on weekdays. Tariff 2 is used at weekends and in the evenings, and 3 and 4 are for journeys outside of the city centre.
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