LisbonTravel Guide

Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world. Can you believe it's centuries older than London, Paris and Rome? But far from being stuffy or “old”, it’s a vibrant, exciting city on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean packed with charm. It also manages to effortlessly combine old and new. Known for excellent food and wine, pretty pastel-coloured buildings, and nightlife, Lisbon also offers beautiful beaches and welcoming locals. Many museums, galleries and churches are dotted throughout the city and with great weather and loads of sunshine, Lisbon is a year-round destination. So, what else does this city have to offer? We’re happy you asked! Lisbon offers an endless list of things to see and do. That’s why we’ve compiled this fabulous Lisbon Travel Guide to give you the lowdown you need!

Lisbon quick facts

Language

National language

Portuguese

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

NZD $3.17

Local time

Sunday

3:31pm

Currency

Euro

NZD $1.00 = EUR €0.55

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

NZD $24.68

Electricity

Plug type: C

2 pins • 230V

Explore Lisbon

Where to stay in Lisbon?

Whether you can afford to glam it up in boutique hotels, or you’re more about the home-away-from-home experience, Lisbon offers a variety of options when it comes to accommodation. 

Zuzabed is a lovely bed and breakfast situated near the historical centre of Lisbon and with views of the São Jorge Castle on São Jorge hill, a famous landmark. It offers three kinds of accommodation to suit every kind of visitor, including spacious suites or even a private cottage. The Chalet D’ Ávila is another great option in the city centre as it’s close to the metro and 5km from the airport. Rated “superb” by guests, you can expect bright, airy rooms with parquet flooring and large windows with city views.


If the ultimate accommodation is on your radar, look no further than Pestana Palace. One of the best luxury hotels in Lisbon, it boasts stained-glass windows, parquet floors and ornate ceilings. With views of the Tagus River from private balconies and a spa to die for, be sure to stay long enough to enjoy some pampering, the pool, and the bar, because once you set foot inside, you’ll never want to leave.


Looking for something cosy and intimate? With only 12 rooms, the Lisbon Garden Boutique Guest House offers private, peaceful and well-equipped accommodation within walking distance of many attractions. Want big, beautiful rooms and Lisbon’s nightlife on your doorstep? The LR Guesthouse close to Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) has all the above. It’s also rumoured to serve the best breakfast in Lisbon – just what you need after a long night out!


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

Things to do in Lisbon

So many attractions, where to start? Whether you explore the city on foot, hit the tourist hotspots, or wine away some time at the vineyards, we're pretty sure you'll fall in love with Lisbon.

Portugal is famous for its wine, so we highly recommend a wine-tasting day trip. Situated in Lisbon’s wine region, the Arrábida Natural Park is only 30 minutes from the city, between the ocean and the mountains. Here, you’ll find vineyards with a view, learn about the production of local vino and get to sip and sample. Several operators offer wine tours to the park and elsewhere in the region.


 Religious landmarks in Lisbon are plentiful, and Jerónimos Monastery in the Belem district is well worth a visit. It’s the final resting place of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama and the impressive, ornate building of carved columns, arches and spires was home to monks in the 16th century. Further afield in the town of Fátima, 90 minutes from Lisbon, the Sanctuary of Fátima is a famous Catholic pilgrimage site. This is where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three children in 1917 and millions of visitors flock here every year. Go back in time even further to the medieval town of Obidos, a 1½-hour drive through the beautiful countryside. Built on Roman ruins dating back to 308 BC, a lovely backstory is that in 1282, King Dinis gave the town to his bride as a wedding gift, starting a tradition that saw Obidos being given as a wedding gift to every queen of Portugal.  


Some say the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) is one of Europe’s most beautiful town squares and it’s not hard to see why. Opening onto the Targus River, this is where, back in the day, kings would disembark from their ships and be received. Stroll around and admire the striking architecture and statues at every turn. The square is also home to top restaurants and shops and various markets. For breathtaking views over the city, head to the viewing deck at the Arco Da Rua Augusta monument – an archway over the entrance to the square and the pedestrian shopping street.


If you visit one museum in Lisbon (and there are many), make it the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Art lovers and history buffs will be awed by the massive collection of art – collected by one man – reflecting thousands of years of history. From Egyptian and Greco-Roman art to Renaissance masterpieces, as well as collections of old manuscripts and books, there are 6,000 pieces on exhibit.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Lisbon

Lisbon food and drink

Home to some of the best eateries in the world, Lisbon dishes up loads of flavour. From Portuguese cuisine at family-run restaurants to fine dining or street food, there’s something for every palate. Here are our favourites:

A Merendinha do Arco Bandeira in Rossio Square in downtown Lisbon is a traditional, no-frills, all flavour Portuguese restaurant. With a small menu, cooked to order, locals frequent the restaurant on their lunch breaks, and you know there's no better stamp of approval than that. The menu features delicious seafood like grilled cod and fried octopus, interesting combos like pork with clams, and there’s always a good dose of friendly service and hospitality.


Rated as one of the best restaurants in the world, Alma has secured two Michelin stars. The executive chef is quite the celebrity on the international food circuit, and his menu is all about local meat and seafood dishes, influenced by his love for travelling, particularly in Asia. Alma also has an extensive wine list.


Time Out Market is the first market of its kind where everything is selected, tasted and tested by an independent panel of city experts. It features more than 40 stalls showcasing all the food categories from various countries under one roof. In the mood for gourmet burgers? How about sushi or pizza? Don’t miss out on this community market for a unique taste experience.
 


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Lisbon through your eyes

Where to shop in Lisbon?

 Lisbon offers a variety of shopping experiences, from high-end to budget, indoor to outdoor. For those with expensive taste, head to the most luxurious shopping street in the city,  Avenida da Liberdade. The tree-lined boulevard is home to many of Portugal’s most exclusive stores (think Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Cartier) and some of the finest bars and restaurants in Lisbon. Are malls your thing? Centra Vasco da Gama in the Parque das Nações neighbourhood is a multilevel mall with international retailers, eateries, and a cinema. The modern shopping centre is easily accessible by metro, a web of bus routes or taxis from the city centre. Sometimes there’s nothing better than hanging out at a market all day and browsing the stalls. Feira da Ladra is Lisbon’s bi-weekly flea market, which dates back to 1272, when it was held in various parts of the city before settling permanently at its current location. Traditionally dedicated to selling second-hand items, these days you’ll find antiques and handicrafts among the bric-a-brac. A must-see for visitors who enjoy a cultural injection while souvenir shopping.  

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Lisbon?

 We want to say the best time to visit Lisbon is any time of year! But let’s get specific. So, the shoulder seasons are April and May, September and October and they are best for exploring Lisbon on foot or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking. Sandwiched between the coldest and hottest months, the days are mild with temperatures in May ranging between lows of 14°C (57°F) and highs of 22°C (72°F). High season is June to September – the peak summer months. As with any destination, the high season means a more colourful experience with more activities geared towards tourists. It also makes for a pricier experience, and having to compete for space in hotels, restaurants and bars. So, if a relaxed vibe is more your style, high season may not be the ideal time of year to visit. Temperatures range between 17°C and 26°C (63°F and 79°F) in June and September and 18°C and 28°C (64°F and 82°F) in July and August. December to April is the most cost-effective time to visit the city. The cooler winter months mean fewer tourists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean less activity. Lisbon still features events and outdoor markets, giving you plenty to do. 

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How to get around Lisbon

 It’s easy to explore Lisbon on foot, along the city’s cobblestone streets, or by using public transport like a bus, tram or ferry. Most of the city is connected via the metro. Look out for Lisbon’s unique elevators – both national monuments and tourist attractions. They are very popular and can get you up the hills quickly and cost-effectively. Buy your ticket on board. You should also get yourself a Viva Viagem card − a quick and easy way to pay for trips using public transport, and it can be loaded with as much credit as you think you will need during your stay. You can find Ubers and other ride share services in Lisbon, which offer a convenient way to get around a new destination. Word of warning: if you call an Uber to fetch you at the Lisbon Airport, the car can’t stop outside the Arrivals Terminal, and there may be some confusion in figuring out your pickup location. 

 

Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Lisbon?

Did you know? Lisbon is the only European capital with Atlantic Ocean beaches, and it has more than two dozen Blue Flag beaches to boast about. Blue Flag beaches are classified as such for their high environmental and quality standards, so you know you’re heading to a beautiful place!  With a shoreline stretching for 1.5km, Carcavelos beach is one of the longest on the Lisbon coast and is just 20 minutes from the city by train. It’s one of the most popular beaches with locals and tourists alike, as well as families. Surfers also like to go here to do their thing. And yes, it’s been “blue-flagged”. If you prefer a more secluded beach, we recommend Praia Dos Galapinhos. Awarded the 2018 European Consumers Choice Award of 'Most Beautiful Beach in Europe', it can be found tucked into the Arrábida Natural Park near Setúbal. With calm waters, ideal for swimming, it also has a forest as its backdrop. Just a heads up that getting to the beach is a little challenging – either walk down what locals call a ‘goat track’ or you’ll need to wait until low tide to climb over rocks to get there. But all part of the fun, we say! The Estoril coastline on the outskirts of Lisbon is dotted with many stunning beaches, and you’ll also find some Blue Flags here. Estoril was Portugal’s most famous resort during WWII and is also home to one of the continent’s biggest casinos, which inspired Ian Fleming's James Bond character and the novel Casino Royale.

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What are the best parks in Lisbon?

 This capital city has no shortage of green spaces where you can stroll, jog, picnic or simply sit on a bench and enjoy the outdoors. Parque Eduardo VII (Edward the VII Park) is to Lisbon a bit like what Central Park is to New York, surrounded by residential areas, but more manicured! It’s a formal park with hedges shaped into boxes, rolling lawns, statues, and a great view from the top of the hill down to the river. Several greenhouses on-site are open to visitors and showcase cacti and exotic plants. One of Lisbon’s most extensive gardens is the Mário Soares Garden, the size of 11 football fields! It features a lake with boats, walking trails, table tennis, paddle tennis courts and several restaurants and bars, so you could easily spend a whole day here. Tucked into the Príncipe Real district, about a six minute walk from the Rato Metro Station is Lisbon’s Botanical Garden. Established in 1873, it’s home to thousands of plants, including exotics. The best part (we think) is the butterfly greenhouse where butterflies are bred – and it’s open to the public. Another lovely park we encourage you to visit is the Jardim da Estrela. With a duck pond, a café, and a children’s playground, families love to come here. The park is also a venue for markets and the annual jazz festival. Walking towards the north of the park, you’ll come across the 300-year-old British Cemetery where author and playwright Henry Fielding is buried. The cemetery has a fascinating history and is a tranquil place to walk through (but if you find this too creepy, we understand!) 

Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

The current requirements for travelling to Lisbon

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