Lisbon Portugal Guide - Fully Updated for 2016!

Lisbon is the stunning capital city of Portugal, and one of the most charismatic and vibrant cities in Western Europe. It is a city that effortlessly blends traditional heritage, with striking modernism and liberal thinking. As a holiday destination, Lisbon offers a rich and varied history, lively nightlife and is blessed with a glorious year round climate. This guide will provide an introduction to Lisbon by answering some of the common holiday questions and providing links to further in-depth information.

lisbon portugal

Lisbon castle, high above the river Tejo

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So why visit Lisbon and Portugal?

Lisbon city perfectly reflects the Portuguese culture, which embraces modern culture whilst maintaining its unique heritage and traditions. Lisbon is constantly recognised as one of the greatest cities in the world, a claim confirmed by the “Lonely Planet Guides", which named Lisbon as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit. Surprisingly enough, it still is one of the least visited capital cities in Europe. For a guide to the top 10 sights of Lisbon please click here.

Praca do Comercio lisbon

The grand Praca do Comercio

How long to spend in Lisbon?

Lisbon is ideally visited as a long weekend break (three days), which allows visitors to spend a day in Baixa and Alfama, a second day in Belem and Estrela and a final day exploring Parque das Nações and North Lisbon. For a guide to three days in Lisbon, please click here.

The Se Cathedral lisbon

The magnificent Se Cathedral

A trip to Lisbon can also be easily extended into a seven day vacation by including popular day trips, such as Sintra, Cascais, Mafra, Obidos or Sesimbra, or by coming Lisbon with a couple of days relaxing on the beautiful beaches. For a guide to seven days in Lisbon Please click here.

lisbon party

Lisbon is a great city to socialize and enjoy the long nights!

When is it best to visit Lisbon?

Lisbon has long hot summers, pleasant spring/autumn seasons and mild but unpredictable winters. It is recommended to visit Lisbon in the spring (March- May) when the days are bright and sunny but the temperatures are slightly cooler.

The winter months (November - February) are a mixture of cloudy and sunny days but the winter season does offer exceptional value for money. Lisbon remains active throughout the year and all tourist attractions are open in the low season.

Lisbon Weather portugal

The average weather of Lisbon Portugal

Another great time to visit Lisbon is for the Popular Saints festivities, which is celebrated during the two first weeks of June and cumulates on the feast day of Saint Anthony on the 13th of June. During this time, the streets of Lisbon are adorned with streamers, traditional dances take place in the squares and pop-up BBQs sell local culinary delights. For a guide to the Popular Saints festivities please click here.

Where to Stay in Lisbon?

It is generally recommended that tourists should stay close to the historic centre of Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto or close to the southern end of Avenida da Liberdade. These areas are the heart of Lisbon and all of the main tourist attractions are within walking distance. Bairro Alto is one of the main nightlife districts so it is highly recommended for those wishing to experience Lisbon nightlife.

Baixa Lisbon

The Baixa district and Rossio square as viewed from the Elevador de Santa Justa

Accommodation in the central historic area tends to be more expensive and those on a budget should look slightly further out although it is recommended to stay close to a metro station for ease of getting around the city. For tourists visiting in peak season it is recommended to book well in advance and last minute deals are very rare. For a selection of the best hotels in Lisbon please click here.

Is Lisbon and Portugal an expensive destination?

Lisbon does offer exceptional value for money for food, drink and travel. Hotels are generally cheaper than most other European cities but the inflated peak season prices mask the overall lower costs. All entrance fees are sensibly priced and all of the major low cost airlines fly directly to Lisbon Airport. Overall, Lisbon provides a good value holiday destination but accommodation and flights should always be booked well in-advance. For a guide of visiting Lisbon on a budget please click here or to read the average costs for a Lisbon holiday click here.

belem lisbon

The pretty Belem district

Are there beaches close to Lisbon?

Lisbon is close to a stunning coast lined with beautiful sandy beaches, which are only a short bus or train ride away. There are two easily accessible coastal regions from Lisbon; Cascais-Estoril region (to the west of Lisbon) and Costa Caprica (to the south of Lisbon). For a full guide to the beaches of Lisbon please click here.

lisbon beach

The beautiful beaches near Lisbon

What are the Popular day trips from Lisbon?

There are many enjoyable day trips from Lisbon, the most popular being the charming hill-top town of Sintra and the royal fishing town of Cascais. Slightly further day trips include the pretty beach town of Sesimbra, the colossal palace of Mafra and the picturesque walled town of Obidos. Due to the excellent public transport network around Lisbon it is even possible to visit the Alentejo Region and Evora as a day trip. For a guide to the day trips from Lisbon please click here.

Pena Palace  portugal

The stunning Pena Palace in Sintra Portugal

Where to fly into?

Lisbon Airport is the main international terminal in Portugal; with direct flights to all of the major European cities provided by both major airlines and low cost alternatives. The airport itself is conveniently located within the city limits and is well connected by the metro, which makes onward travel extremely easy. The airport has a new terminal building that handles all of the departures (not arrivals) for the low cost airlines but is poorly connected to the main terminal. For a guide to Lisbon airport and the new terminal 2 please click on the underlined links.

 lisbon flight

A flight on the approach to Lisbon airport

Will Language be an issue?

English is also widely spoken by those who work within the tourist industry. Tourists with only English language skills will not experience any language barriers. All transport hubs, including railway stations, metro and airports also have full English translations and signposting. When dining out, most restaurants and cafes in Lisbon have English menus and, if not, waiters are always happy to translate.

Parque das Nações Lisbon

The modern Parque das Nações

Should I rent a car while in Lisbon?

Lisbon has an excellent and inexpensive public transport network and a rental car is not needed for a holiday in this region. Driving in Lisbon can be stressful demanding due to the erratic driving of the Portuguese, the poor traffic markings and the heavy traffic. Parking is also very limited and expensive.

lisbon bad parking

A badly parked car blocking the Alfama tram, not an uncommon sight.....

Car rental is not needed to visit the popular day trips (Sintra, Cascais or Mafra) as there is an excellent and inexpensive public transport network. However, a rental car can be useful when exploring further from Lisbon and into regions with limited public transport, such as Setubal, Sesimbra or Evora.

Is Lisbon suitable for Families?

The Portuguese have a family focused culture and young children are welcome everywhere. There are also plenty of child-friendly activities throughout the city to choose from. For a guide to Lisbon for children please click here.

Lisbon Oceanarium

The Lisbon Oceanarium is great for children

Popular Pages to start Discovering Lisbon and Portugal

Our site has been written by individuals who have a true passion and love of this city and the recommended pages to help start plan your holiday to Lisbon are:

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The Best Guide to Lisbon