This post is a companion to the main post on Lisbon. This one is meant as a quick reference guide to the tips and to-dos from the main post.
Tips and Orientation
1. Getting to Lisbon is easy. Lisbon airport is well-connected and is barely a 15-minute drive from the city.
2. Lisbon, especially central Lisbon, is spread across seven hills and is ideal for lazy exploration. There are winding streets with charming old houses, cathedrals and churches, many cafes and restaurants with yummy seafood and snacks, random art on the walls, flea markets etc. that makes Lisbon full of character.
3. For me, the highlight was the Miradouros (viewpoints) which provide spectacular views of Lisbon and the Tagus river, especially during sunset. Walking, or taking the tram, from one Miradouro to another is a great way to see Lisbon.
4. Lisbon has excellent public transportation (see link for info on tickets), comprising of Trams, Buses, Lifts and the Metro. We found the One-Day ticket (6.30 Eur, valid for 24 hours after purchase) to be the most convenient and best value. Kids under 4 travel free with a fare-paying adult. The slight pain is that the day ticket can only be bought at train stations and the machine doesn’t give change beyond €10/20 so carry smaller notes and coins.
5. Beware of petty thieves. We had someone try to steal from my wife’s backpack by trying to open it while it was still on her back. Another tourist warned us about people dressed as Mickey and Minnie, who attract kids and then try to do a group hug/photo while an accomplice steals from your bag. Apart from that, Lisbon seemed quite safe.
6. Toilets are clean and plentiful, in cafes, prominent sights, and even some public toilets that are like large rooms that clean itself after every use.
Things to Do / See / Eat
1. Castelo de Sao Jorge (map) – my absolute favourite place in Lisbon. The grounds of the castle look magical during sunset and the views over Lisbon and the Tagus river are enchanting, made all the more so with a glass of wine (you can carry your own, or buy some from the ”Wine by the View’ cart).
2. Belem Tower (map) – my second favourite place for a sunset, again enhanced by the presence of the Wine by the View cart. Belem Tower is a 20 min drive from central Lisbon. The Jeronimos Monastery (map) is also nearby so can be covered in one visit.
3. Miradouro de Santa Luzia (map) – a viewpoint and a central square with a lot of life around it. Great place for people watching, taking pictures, watching the trams go by, or enjoying a coffee/wine/beer in the sun.
4. Lisbon Cathedral (map) – also quite central like the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. The cathedral (called the Sé) dates back to 1147 and is the see of the Archdiocese of Lisbon. It has survived many earthquakes and has been rebuilt a few times.
5. Tram 28 (info) – ride through Lisbon’s prominent spots on this vintage Lisbon tram.
6. Feira de Ladra (map) is a large flea market, open on Tuesdays and Saturdays selling a wide variety of interesting stuff. Old curios/collectibles, handmade leather wallets/belts/purses, handmade woollens/clothes, creative stuff made from old cycle tyres, LP records, toy cars, ceramic tiles with Lisbon motifs, bags/wallets/purses made from Cork etc. etc. etc.
7. Conserveira de Lisboa (map / website) – family business dating its roots back to 1930 canning and selling locally sourced fish. The store maintains its original feel from 1930 and is very popular with locals and tourists. The colourful cans of tuna/sardines/etc. look very attractive and the fish, in many different sauces, is yummy.
8. A Ginjinha (map) – Ginja is a sweet cherry liqueur that originated in Lisbon, and the small A Ginjinha bar is the traditional home of the drink (source). It’s a small hole-in-the-wall store near the Igreja de São Domingos and has a long line of customers snaking out the store in the evenings. Good place for a brief stop while exploring that area or on the way to a restaurant.
9. Ascensor da Bica (map), Ascensor da Gloria (map), Santa Justa Lift (map) and other lifts/elevators – Lisbon has many Ascensors and Elevators linking lower levels with higher levels. Ascensors da Bica and Gloria are funicular trams, while the Santa Justa Lift is a regular elevator. Ascensors da Bica and Gloria are very photogenic and worth making a trip on, as well as walking along for taking some typical Lisbon souvenir photographs. Santa Justa lift looks quite imposing itself and provides great views from the top.