We’ve been traveling to Lisbon, Portugal, for years. It’s a beautiful city on the water, with tile-fronted buildings and classic European architecture. It’s also an amazing city to visit to learn about Portuguese food and wine. In this Lisbon travel guide, we’ll share our tips on how to enjoy this incredible city.
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How To Visit Lisbon Portugal
Based on all of our many visits to Lisbon, we wanted to share our tips on how to plan the perfect Lisbon sightseeing trip. This includes some of the top travel tips, the top things to do in Lisbon, and where and what to eat and drink in Lisbon.
Where Is Lisbon Located
Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal with a population of around half a million, making it one of the smallest capital cities in Europe.
Situated on the banks of the Tagus River, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe, predating cities such as London, Paris, and Rome.
Like Rome, Lisbon is a city built on seven hills giving it the name cidade das sete colinas. You can also combine a visit to Lisbon and a trip to Porto, just three hours north.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Lisbon
With a Mediterranean climate, Lisbon is best visited during the months of March to May or September to October when temperatures are mild and rainfall is at a minimum.
The summer months see warmer temperatures attracting large crowds of tourists.
If you travel to Lisbon in winter, you’ll be ok. Lisbon is warmer compared to most of Europe including some parts of Southern Spain.
Throughout the year Lisbon hosts numerous music, art, and religious festivals. These attract larger numbers of visitors than throughout the rest of the year.
Taking A Food Tour In Lisbon
People often ask us how we find great food in a city we’ve never visited. In addition to doing our own research and asking friends, we always take a food tour.
Not only will you learn what to eat and where, but food tours are also a great way to learn your way around a city.
There are lots of great food tours in Lisbon and choosing the right one is tricky. We are big fans of Devour Tours. Devour Tours does a great job of explaining the food and drink in a city.
They have the local knowledge to discover off-the-beaten-path bars and restaurants only locals go to. Over the past decade, we’ve easily been on a dozen Devour food tours across Spain, Italy, and Portugal.
In Lisbon, Devour Tours offers a mix of food tours and sightseeing tours. Tour prices range from $70 to $130 per person.
Most of Devour’s tours max out at 12 guests making it a more enjoyable experience. Here are the food tours Devour currently offers in Lisbon.
What To Do In Lisbon – Top Lisbon Attractions
As one of Europe’s oldest cities, there are a ton of attractions to see in Lisbon. One of the most famous and unique is Belem Tower.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s, the tower dates to the 16th Century. It once played a major role in the maritime defense of Lisbon.
On top of one of Lisbon’s seven hills sits Sao Jorge Castle (Saint George Castle). A Moorish fortification built to defend Lisbon in the 10th Century offers visitors stunning views of the city.
No trip to Lisbon is complete without heading down to the city’s waterfront. After all, Portugal has been a seafaring nation for centuries.
The Praca do Comercio or Commerce Square is a large open space situated along a portion of Lisbon’s waterfront. Once the home of the Royal Palace, today it’s a meeting place and outdoor space in the heart of the city.
LISBON TRAVEL – WHAT TO EAT IN LISBON
Lisbon is one of our favorite foodie destinations. Although the city is becoming a lot more popular with tourists, particularly for Europeans looking for a city break, there is still so much authenticity in the cuisine. Some of our favorite food memories took place in Lisbon. This is why we travel there so much.
Check out our Guide on What To Eat In Lisbon.
Lisbon Travel – How To See Lisbon In A Day
The horror if you only can spend one day in Lisbon, but we know it happens. It’s generally because visitors have an overnight layover, or might be visiting Lisbon during a cruise.
If limited on time, there are a handful of places to visit in Lisbon Portugal that can fill an entire day, with breaks, of course, for eating some of the most famous Portuguese foods along the way.
The best way to orient yourself and tick off some of the top sights in Lisbon is to start at Praça do Comércio, which can be best described as the original town square of Lisbon.
From there, walk north to see the Rua Augusta Arch, one of the most famous places to visit in Lisbon. You can also go to the top for 360-degree views over the city.
Or, alternatively, visit the Elevador de Santa Justa, which does tend to have a longer line.
From here, head over to Time Out Market, which is one of the best places to visit in Lisbon for food, if short on time.
Under one roof, you can taste a pastel de nata, along with a glass of Port wine. Try leitao, a suckling pig sandwich, or duck out back for a bifana pork sandwich at O Triangulo da Ribeira.
To work off your snack and lunch, walk up to Castelo de São Jorge (or take a taxi to save time) to see the views over Lisbon from a different viewpoint.
From here you can see some of the top Lisbon points of interest, including the April 25 Bridge and Cristo Rei, the large statue of Jesus that looks over the city.
How To Spend a Weekend In Lisbon
For many travelers in Europe, a Lisbon city break is the perfect way to spend a weekend exploring a still relatively undiscovered part of Europe.
Our one day itinerary covers a lot of ground, but if you have an extra day, here are some more ways to see the sights in Lisbon.
Start with the recommendations above, but on day two, head out to Belém. Take a bus from Praça do Comércio to the Torre de Belém. This is the city’s old watch tower and one of the most famous things to see in Lisbon.
After walking a bit north past the Monastery of Jeronimos and the Jardins de Belem, stop, of course, for some pasteis de nata at Pasteis de Belem. After, grab lunch at Pão Pão Queijo Queijo before heading back into town.
Perhaps wander the streets of Alfama, taking in the view from Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Then, just wander down towards the waterfront and head into Bairro Alto for Portugal drinks and dinner and the famous Lisbon nightlife.
Don’t forget to stop for a ginja, a sweet, fortified cherry liquor that is a must-drink in Lisbon.
WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON
During this last visit to Portugal, we rented an apartment through Booking.com. We’ve been doing that a lot more recently, particularly when visiting a location for a week or more.
In Lisbon, this is the apartment we rented. It helps keep us in our routine and helps us to experience a city more like a local.
We were only 15 minutes walk from all of the tourist attractions and the main food and drink areas. We also have the following recommendations for hotels in Lisbon from prior visits.
You can’t go wrong with the Four Seasons brand. They are in a great location, at the north end of Avenida de Liberdade, and have a rooftop running track.
Some rooms offer balconies with views over the city. Their lobby bar makes some of the best gin tonics in Lisbon too. | Room rates from €450 | Check the best prices here.
A lovely boutique hotel in the center of Lisbon with light and airy decor. Their Bistro 4 restaurant focuses on cuisine from across the country and the Aviation bar offers fab cocktails.
The hotel is just off Avenida Liberdade in a quiet residential neighborhood | Room rates from €140 | Check the best prices here.
Located directly on Avenida de Liberdade the Valverde is a contemporary boutique hotel with an attention to detail. Check out their outdoor patio, where they can arrange afternoon tea during nice weather. | Room rates from €160 | Check the best prices here.