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15 Thing you need to know before you visit Lisbon

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Lisbon stands out among other European cities as a top choice for city breaks because it provides a wealth of pleasurable features, including a lot of sunshine, fantastic weather, a rich history, an enviable lifestyle, a dynamic culture, and close proximity to beaches. Nearly everyone who visits the city is charmed, therefore returning to take advantage of the city's enviable lifestyle is unavoidable. Some people even fall so deeply in love with Lisbon that they decide to settle there.

To make traveling easier and more manageable, it's usually a good idea to learn a little bit about the city you're going, just like you would when visiting any other destination. Lisbon is no different. The city is teeming with activities to do and sights to view, but more significantly, there are vital cultural and historical details to keep in mind to prevent surprises! The information in this Guide will help you travel comfortably, wisely, and appropriately to Lisbon.

1. When is the best time to visit Lisbon?

Portugal's climate is known throughout Europe and the world for being moderate and temperate and for having an abundance of sunshine all year long. However, it's wise to keep in mind that there are seasons here as well. Springtime in this region is crisp and warm, with frequent sunny days and brief downpours. The city always has an Atlantic breeze blowing through it, keeping things from getting too hot during the delightfully bright, dry, and scorching summer months. If you don't enjoy the heat very much, autumn is a terrific time to travel. Additionally, winter is usually colder and has a disproportionate number of the wettest days of the year. However, even this has some surprises because there is some sunshine in December and it is still very likely to have sunshine in February.

Because Lisbon is so well-liked, tourists are there all year round. The peak period spans the months of spring, summer, and early fall. However, there are benefits to traveling in the winter as well, especially for low-budget vacationers since lodging costs are significantly reduced during the off-season. usually half as expensive as during the busiest times. You have no choice but to put up with the erratic weather. However, you have a safety net in the form of the lovely city of Lisbon nearby!

2. Visit Miradouros for Sunset in Lisbon

Spending time viewing the sunset in one of the miradouros that dot Lisbon's hills is another enjoyable thing you can do there. They not only provide amazing vistas, but also a lovely atmosphere as the sun's final rays reflect brilliant colors over the city and the Tagus river. At the highest point, the Miradouro Senhora da Monte, sip on some wine or beer while taking in the busker musicians' performances. The freshly renovated Miradouro So Pedro de Alcântara, which offers a magnificent view of the valley, and the Miradouro de Santa Catarina, which attracts a hipper, younger population who enjoy a few drinks and maybe even a dance or two while gazing out at the glistening river.

3. There is no need for a car

If you're flying into Lisbon, there's a good chance you won't need a car because the city is quite walkable, the public transportation is dependable, and there is a reasonably priced Uber car service available at your fingertips. However, if you want to travel to Lisbon by automobile or are considering hiring a car, we urge you to reconsider. You'll lose a lot of time looking for parking and have extra headaches due to the crazy traffic in Lisbon. The streets in the city's center are practically impossible to park on because they are either charged or reserved for residents. This leaves you with the expensive alternative of parking lots, which will set you back at least €20 for a full day.

We advise only renting a car for out-of-Lisbon excursions; this will give you the freedom to explore Cascais's coastline, Sintra's natural beauty, the wide plains of Alentejo, and the rest of Portugal's countryside.

4. You need comfortable shoes in Lisbon

Lisbon is a city of seven hills, so if that means anything to you, you should take care of your feet. Don't bring your dazzling boots or high heels. Put on your most comfy pair of sneakers. Lisbon is stunning and offers breathtaking vistas, but accessing them requires climbing a hill and some stairs. Walking is highly advised because much of Lisbon's beauty may be found along its meandering, cobblestone streets, little alleyways, and getting lost in its bustling neighborhoods with their numerous stairs. You'll treat yourself to a lovely outdoor walking activity and plenty of beneficial walking exercise on a sunny day!

Check out our well rated and reviewed Hotels in Lisbon for your perfect stay in the Capital of Portugal.

5. Learn at least a bit of Portuguese

Portuguese people are known for being kind, pleasant, and accommodating, and most individuals speak English as a de facto engagement with their tourists. Speaking some basic Portuguese words, on the other hand, would undoubtedly improve that encounter and even earn some respect and cordiality from the locals.

It's always nice to start with "Ola" ("Hello"), then "Obrigado" ("Thank you") for male speakers, "Obrigada" for female speakers, and "De nada" ("You're welcome") at the end of a transaction. If you accidently bump someone, you say "Por favor" ("Please") with a grin, or "Desculpa" ("Sorry"). When leaving, say "Adeus" ("Goodbye") and wave goodbye. People are smiling as a result of this.

Even when ordering coffee, there are numerous coffee kinds available in Portugal. To avoid confusion, request "Bica" for an espresso-style coffee and "Abatanado" for an americano or long black coffee. If you wanted a large coffee with milk, say "Galo." "Meia de leite" for milky coffee, "Descafeinado" for decaf, and "Cha" for tea instead.

6. Use Uber in Lisbon

We suggested avoiding cabs and switching to Uber. Trust our expertise; taxis have a bad reputation for overcharging passengers and taking longer routes than necessary. Uber, on the other hand, has a better reputation. These vehicles are recognized to be secure, and all transactions are handled digitally via your smartphone to prevent overcharging. Additionally, you may track your travel and create a visual map of your route. Additionally, Uber drivers are way more friendlier and more likely to speak English fluently. They are even more likely to provide you with a considerably better service.

7. Visit a Market

Some of the oldest still-existing markets in Europe and the entire world are found in Lisbon. And even more shockingly, they continue to prosper and gain popularity over time. Consider the 13th-century festival Feira da Ladra, which is now a staple of Lisbon culture. In Campo Clara, you may discover just about anything you can think of, including vintage items, trinkets, used apparel, tiles, artwork, and books. It always delights and amuses both tourists and residents. It runs every Tuesday and Saturday.

Every Saturday, visit Principe Real for yet another fantastic location for antique market shopping. Additionally, it features a large selection of regional Portuguese handicrafts and artisanal goods as well as an organic market with fresh goods.

8. Keep your Belongings safe

It is sad that such instances as pickpocketing occur in touristy areas, and Lisbon is no exception. It is especially common in congested regions, such as trams and other public transportation, and in tourist areas with significant traffic. As a result, it is advisable to employ common sense when caring for your valuables. Don't leave your bags open, and instead of putting your phones and money in pockets, put them inside your bags. And, to avoid an incident, keep your bag in front of you rather than behind you. Thieves are swift.

9. Book in advance and pay in cash

There are many flexible restaurants and cafés, and some don't accept reservations; instead, you must enter on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if you can reserve a table, do so. We advise using Google Maps to look up eateries because there, you can typically get the phone numbers. Considering how effective they are, we also advise making reservations using the websites of Fork or Zomato. It makes sense to make reservations in advance because the weekends are often busiest for many well-liked venues.

And it's advisable to carry cash with you if you plan to visit one of the more intimate Portuguese tascas, the neighborhood eateries, as many of these establishments have limited digital capacity and don't accept cards. The best form of currency is cash.

10. Check your bill when you pay

When you get the bill after dinner and the amount is unexpectedly more than you anticipated, do you remember that moment? This also occurs here. Always be sure the total on the bill matches what you ordered. In Portuguese restaurants, "entradas" or "starters" such bread, goat cheese, and olives are frequently offered. However, there is a law that states you do not have to pay if you do not touch them. To avoid misunderstanding and displeased stares from the waiters, carefully examine the bill to see if you have been charged for what you consume.

11. Lisbon is not Paris or London, Pay less

In places like London, Paris, or Copenhagen, you could anticipate paying €5 or €8, but not in Lisbon. A caneca (a pint-size) of typical Portuguese beer, like Sagres or Superbock, costs €3 and costs between €1 and 0.33 ml for imperials. Unless you only drink imported or artisan beer in upscale places. It's the same with coffee over here. Coffee is reasonably priced and accessible throughout Portugal, including Lisbon. A bica typically costs €0.70, and an abatanado or americano costs €1. There are some locations where you will be charged €3 for an americano and €4 for Latte, which is a high price for Lisbon. Lisbon's affordability should not change; it adds to the city's charm and genuineness.

12. Enjoy the Outside of Lisbon at the waterfront

Speaking of beverages, we strongly advise spending some time by the sea while enjoying a glass of wine or, even better, a cocktail. The Ribeira das Naus esplanade, which is situated between Cais do Sodré and Praça do Comercio near the river's bank, is ideal for this. It's a location where people like to lounge on deck chairs and watch sailboats or the gentle waves of the azure Tagus. When the sun is setting, there will be music playing and DJs spinning party beats, making it the perfect location for a sundown aperitif and perhaps dancing as well.

13. Be aware of Tourist Traps

Many locations, particularly in the Baixa district's downtown, falsely describe themselves as "typical Portuguese" or "authentic" Lisbon. There are certain stores and establishments in this area that, despite being housed in a historic structure, make the claim to date from a bygone era, but which were just recently renovated to entice ignorant tourists. original nata pastel? Nope. In Belem, that is. Costing €15 for a can of sardines? Reconsider your position. Consider tourist traps. Here you find our guide to Baixa-Chiado's downtown areas.

14. Get to know the other side of Lisbon via Ferry Boat

Take a ferry over the waterways while you're in Lisbon; it's one of the most underestimated and undervalued things to do. It may not be immediately evident, which is understandable, but a view of Lisbon's skyline from across the river may be the best. So take some time to board the ferry and travel to Cacilhas, a little port town with charming restaurants, including our favorite, Restaurante Ponto Final, where you can eat outside on a patio overlooking the river while admiring the breathtaking marine scenery all around you.

15. Visit Alfama

They say you haven't visited Lisbon at all if you haven't gotten lost in the Alfama neighborhood. Many of the old, cobblestone alleys, passageways, ramparts, and staircases that spiral around the hills have been preserved because the area hasn't been affected by time or natural disasters. It is therefore highly advised to explore its maze-like features because every turn will astound you with detail, brightness, and vitality. When you visit in the summer, the air will be filled with the aroma of grilled sardines and lively celebrations honoring the city's patron Saint Antonio.

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