With its historical architecture, exceptional cuisine, friendly hospitality, and pristine beaches, it’s no wonder that Lisbon was ranked as one of the top 10 trending destinations of 2019. A city where you’ll constantly find yourself going “wow” while simply walking around the streets, Lisbon’s charm, history, and way of life offers something for everyone. When planning your Lisbon itinerary you want to make sure you include some of the best restaurants, sites, and things to do. Behold, our ultimate guide to visiting Lisbon, Portugal.
Things to Know Before Planning Your Lisbon Itinerary
Although credit cards are widely accepted in Lisbon, there are still some shops, restaurants, and taxis where cash is the only option. Besides, it’s always a good idea to travel with some cash.
Everyone speaks English:
Getting around without really any Portuguese was never a problem for us. All servers and shop owners typically speak English quite fluently, and even when you do interact with someone who doesn’t, they’re friendly enough that they’ll work through the language barrier with you.
It is a hilly city:
A very hilly city. Definitely bring good walking shoes as the city is best explored by foot and some of the streets are likely steeper than what you’re used to. Our Ultimate Guide to Lisbon features a lot of activities that are best experienced by walking. So be sure to pack those good shoes!
Lisbon is filled with cobblestones streets that are difficult to pull a rolling suitcase through:
As with many European cities, the cobblestone streets, although quaint and intimate, definitely increase the difficulty of travelling with a rolling suitcase. However, the good news is that Ubers are cheap. So aim to Uber as close as you can to your front door to minimize damage to your suitcase and/or your mood.
Take an Uber from the Airport:
If there’s one thing you should take away from this Ultimate Guide to Lisbon, it’s this. We got hosed on this on our first arrival at Lisbon airport, where we hadn’t planned ahead. Instead we opted to take a taxi. Our taxi cost us €40. Upon our second arrival at Lisbon airport, we grabbed an Uber instead, and that cost us €8. The bottom line, be sure to Uber to and from the airport, as well as for all your trips in between. Uber pick-up area is at the Departures level, which is located out the Arrivals doors and around the corner to the right. There’s free wifi there too so if you haven’t set up your phone plan you can still call one.
How much does Lisbon cost?
As far as major European cities go, Lisbon is very affordable. During even the busiest of seasons, you can stay in a double room for less than $100 per night, eat an amazing meal for two with drinks for less than $60, get an espresso for $1 and visit most tourist attractions for less than $10.
Plus, pasteis de nata are edible for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert…and they’re only €1. Need I say more? Make sure to plan sufficient levels of pasteis in your Lisbon itinerary.
The Ultimate Guide to Lisbon’s Best Time of Year to Visit
In our opinion, September and October are the best time to visit Lisbon. Crowds of the summer months are overwhelming, increasing the price of everything and decreasing the availability of the best restaurants, hotels, and tours. Early fall still offers the beautiful weather and warmth of the summer, but with drastically smaller crowds. We were often able to get into some of Lisbon’s top restaurants without a reservation, just because it was a quieter season to be there. You can experience everything in this Ultimate Guide to Lisbon in the Fall and you’ll have half the crowds of the Summer.
Lisbon Itinerary: Getting to Lisbon
From North America:
There are an increasing number of North American cities now offering direct flights to Lisbon. Plus, as one of the most Western cities in Europe, it’s one of the easiest destinations in Europe to get to.
As with most major European cities, there are ample flight, bus, and train options to get you to Lisbon.
TAP Air offers a great Lisbon stopover option for many of its flights from North America, which allow you to visit the city for a couple of days while en route to another European destination. This was our first flight with TAP, but it quickly became our favourite airline based on its exceptional comfort, hospitality, and even its food!
Uber from airport:
As mentioned above, be sure to take an Uber to and from the airport. It will cost you around €8, whereas a taxi will cost you €40! This is the #1 tip from this Ultimate Guide to Lisbon.
Getting around Lisbon
Part of Lisbon’s charm when walking around is its hilly, cobblestone streets. Although they add lots of character and help you appreciate the history of the city, they definitely impact the city’s accessibility. Therefore, be sure to plan lots of eating in your Lisbon itinerary to replenish all the calories you’ll burn walking.
Furthermore, the cobblestone streets can actually be quite slippery at times. Therefore, wear grippy footwear that is good for walking and take caution when going up or down some of the steeper streets. Although walking around Lisbon is the best way to experience it, there are also various options to get up and down and around. Trolleys, the subway, tuk-tuks, or very affordable Ubers are all good options.
To be honest the city is not very handicap accessible, just because of its topography and age.
Which Lisbon neighborhoods to stay in (and which to avoid)
One thing we found initially confusing was hearing about all the different neighborhoods. It was tricky to totally understand which was where, and which were the best to stay in. Thankfully, after spending a month in the city we got a good grasp on Lisbon’s different neighbourhoods, and put together a guide to the different neighbourhoods in Lisbon.
When planning your Lisbon itinerary, you can’t really go wrong with any of the neighborhoods listed below. It’s all about what you want to be proximal to.
The only neighborhood that we really advise avoiding is Cais do Sodre. Unfortunately, this is where we had the ended up living during our 1-month stay in Lisbon. This area is full of the biggest nightclubs in the city and you’ll be kept up into the early hours of the morning with the pounding of the bass and the whooping-it-up of party-goers. Make a note of this as another key takeaway from our Ultimate Guide to Lisbon.
Click here to check out our guide to
The Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon
Best hotels in Lisbon
There are countless great options for hotels in Lisbon. As long as you’re in the good neighborhoods and you check the hotel reviews ahead of time, you’ll be fine. That said, some hotels that we’d recommend based on our experience and what we’ve heard from others are:
- The Lumiares – (Barrio Alto)
- Casa do Barao – (Santa Caterina)
- Memmo Alfama – Design Hotels (Alfama)
- Memmo Príncipe Real – Design Hotels (Principe Real)
Best things to do in Lisbon
As mentioned, there really is something for everyone in Lisbon. Our Ultimate Guide to Lisbon gives you everything you need to build your Lisbon itinerary from our top recommendations!
- Walk around and see the old city (Alfama)
- Visit Miradouros. These are the best ones in the city.
- Eat your heart out with gourmet cuisine. Check out these can’t miss dinner and Lisbon brunch spots.
- Check out the beautiful Elevador da Bica. Here’s how to do it.
- Visit the Tower of Belem
- Explore Jerónimos Monastery
- Visit the Tile Museum
- Ride yellow tram 28. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Try a pasteis de nata. Then try them again 🙂
- Walk along the riverfront. Why not grab a drink while you’re down there!
- Go shopping
- Visit the iconic Praça do Comércio, and check out Arco da Rua Augusta
- Check out the Santa Justa Lift
- Head out for a night out on the town – Lisbon is a party city (Pink street , wine bar, europa, get kebabs early they close at 2 and then there’s nowhere to get food). Alternatively, do a bar crawl if you’re looking for a less rowdy night.
- Take a food tour
- Go on out for a sail
- Rent an electric self-guided tour car
- Take a day trip to Sintra. This is a can’t miss. Here’s how.
Best Miradouros to visit in Lisbon
Not only is Lisbon hilly nature good for getting those glutes fired up, but it also lends itself to some incredible lookouts – or “miradouros” – of the city. Here’s our guide to the best ones, and how you can experience many of them in just a couple of hours. Miradouros are a must-have on any Lisbon itinerary.
- Miradouro De Santa Luzia
- Miradouro do Graça
- Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol
- Miradouro São Pedro de Alcantara
- Miradouro da Rocha Conde de Obido
Best Coffee Shops in Lisbon
On your average Lisbon tourist day, you’ll definitely be getting your steps in. Start each day of your Lisbon itinerary on the right foot with a delicious coffee at any of the places below.
- Fabrica: Great coffee and atmosphere but no wifi
- Wish Slow Coffee House: A great spot to hit before touring around Lx Factory. Great atmosphere but, as the name implies, it is quite slow.
- Copenhagen Coffee Lab: This chain has many locations and is very popular as a working cafe for many ex-pats and remote workers.
- Neighbourhood: A relatively new spot, this place appreciates the craft of making coffee and offers a great patio for people watching.
Best Brunch in Lisbon
Lisbon’s brunch scene rivals that of the best in the world. Yes, even Bali’s. There is no shortage of amazing spots to grab a smoothie bowl, avocado toast, whatever you’re looking for. For brunch lovers like us, this is the most important section of our Ultimate Guide to Lisbon. Find drool-worthy dishes and locations in our best brunch spots in Lisbon guide.
Click here to read our Guide to Brunch in Lisbon
Best Restaurants in Lisbon
We’d be remiss to put together the Ultimate Guide to Lisbon and not include our suggestions for top restaurants. Lisbon is truly one of the best culinary cities in the world, and you need to experience its incredible food scene! Here is our detailed guide to our favorite restaurants in Lisbon – featuring all kinds of mouth-watering photos – and we’ve ranked them below as well. Add as many of these as you can to your Lisbon itinerary.
- A Cevicheria
- O Asiatico
- Big Fish Poke
- Local Your Healthy Kitchen
- Dallas Burger Joint
- Officina do Duque
- Time Out Market
Click here to check out our guide to the best restaurants in Lisbon
Rooftop Bars in Lisbon
Similar to the miradouros, Lisbon’s hilly nature also creates a golden opportunity for some epic rooftop bars. Here’s your can’t-go-wrong list of epic spots for a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail at sunset. Be sure to mix these into your Lisbon itinerary.
- Hotel Mundial rooftop bar
- Barrio Alto Hotel Rooftop Bar
- The Insolito
- Terraço Chill-Out Limão
- Rooftop of Verride Palácio Santa Catarina
- Sky Bar
- Quiosque das Portas do Sol
- Honorable mention: Quiosque Ribeira das Naus – Not a rooftop bar, but an incredible atmosphere on the river. The atmosphere here is incredible, sunny, relaxing, good music. If you arrive early enough or manage to keep a keen eye out, you can snag a lounge chair right on the waterfront.
Where to get groceries in Lisbon
As mentioned previously, you can live on the cheap in Lisbon if you do your own grocery shopping. Grocery stores are often small but offer some great options with everything from produce to baked goods to meats to beer, wine and spirits! In fact, you can get a good bottle of Rose in a grocery store for as low as €2! Or treat yourself to the €5 bottle 😉
Here are some great options for groceries in Lisbon:
- Mercado da Ribiera
- Mini Mercados
- Mercado Santos +++ by Heim
- Pingo Doce
- Principe Real Farmers Market (Saturday’s only)
- Campo de Ourique Market
- Mercado da Baixa
- Mercado da Figueira
Click here to check out
Our Guide to the Best Lisbon Neighborhoods
Best Coworking spaces in Lisbon
Looking to get some work done while in Lisbon? Well, you’re in luck. As Lisbon grows year to year as a popular spot for remote workers, coworking spaces have begun to pop up all over the city. Here are some options for you:
- Outsite: Great spot for the day, week, or month. There’s no real benefit to buying a membership unless you want to use the space outside of opening hours. But if you’re just going for the morning or afternoon, you can buy a coffee and stay for the day. Note that this place is cash only (crazy, right?).
- Copenhagen coffee: Not an official coworking space, but it may as well be based on all the expats and remote workers working away in here at any given time. Great atmosphere for working with lots of plugs, big tables, and lots of spots.
- Selina: A unique space with lots of seating, tables, and plugs. Selina also offers rooms to book for the night, as well as a rooftop bar that’s nice for lounging with a drink after work.
- Impact Hub: Located in the Lx Factory area, this difficult-to-get-to coworking space is like no other. With workspaces located inside old double-decker buses stacked on top of each other, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a coworking space as unique as this one anywhere else in the world.
Day Trips Near Lisbon
Although there’s plenty to do in the city of Lisbon itself, there are some easy day trips that we would definitely recommend.
- Sintra: Spend the morning exploring some of Portugal’s most iconic castles and palaces, then spend the afternoon soaking up rays at the beach. Here’s how to do this epic day trip the right way.
- Cascais: A pristine beach town just up the coast from Lisbon, Cascais is the best and easiest option if you’re looking for a beach day nearby. Check our guide to taking a day trip from Lisbon to Cascais.
- Costa da Caparica: Another beach area just a half-hour Uber from Lisbon, Costa da Caparica offers miles and miles of beach, without the crowds of Cascais.
Other beach options near Lisbon: Ericeira and Cabo da Roca, are both about half an hour away from the heart of Lisbon
Beyond day trips, there are also several great options for overnight and weekend trips nearby. These include:
- Lagos / Algarve: Just a three-hour train ride to the south of Lisbon is the iconic Algarve – home to pristine beaches tucked into magnificent, towering red cliffs. Here’s how to get to and experience a few days in Lagos. Tavira is another beach area just outside of Lagos that’s worth checking out if you have the time!
- Porto: Three hours in the opposite direction of Lagos will take you to the city of Porto. Known for being the birthplace of Port wine, Porto also features quaint historic buildings, narrow cobbled streets, and a beautiful river setting.