Visiting the capital of Portugal soon and looking for the best Lisbon travel tips? We are here to help!
Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s full of history, pretty landmarks, lively neighbourhoods and restaurants serving delicious food.
No matter what you do, you can be sure you will have a very good time here however, to make the best of your trip, we decided to put together this list of travel tips to help you plan your trip to Lisbon.
They will save you time, money and spare you some hassle!
So, are you ready to discover all our Lisbon travel tips? Let’s get started!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
1. Choose your accommodation carefully
This is a piece of advice that could be given for everywhere but choosing the neighbourhood where you’ll be staying with care is important.
Lisbon might not be the biggest capital in Europe but it’s not a small town either. As much as possible, you’ll want to avoid spending too much time on transport.
Also, each neighbourhood is very different and unique. You have to make sure you are staying in a district that fits your personality and needs. For example, f you are not into partying, you may want to avoid the nightlife hubs.
Here are some recommendations of places to stay:
- Baixa & Chiado District: This is the historic centre of Lisbon. That’s where you will find most landmarks and touristy places. In terms of location, you can’t beat it. You will be in the heart of Lisbon. It’s also where you will find most luxury hotels.
- Alfama: Known for its steep hills and picturesque cafes, Alfama is the up and coming district. It’s also home to a lot of street art and you can find delicious food here. It’s a great place to rent an apartment.
- Bairro Alto: This is the ultimate party district. If you are coming to Lisbon to enjoy the nightlife, it will be the perfect place for you. Bars, clubs, restaurants… you’ll find them all here.
- Graça: This is the perfect district for people who want to stay away from tourists and experience the local culture.
2. Use Wise to get Euros
If you are travelling from outside of the Euro zone and need to convert your currency into euros, make sure to use Wise (formerly known as Transferwise).
Changing your money in a bureau de change or at the airport will cost you a fortune.
Wise is, by far, the cheapest way to exchange money.
Unlike traditional banks that charge you a fortune to change your money, Wise does it in a smarter way.
Basically, they let you have several digital wallets in as many currencies as you need. This means that you will send the money in your base currency and they will send you back the equivalent in your chosen currency.
Their costs are 10 times cheaper than traditional banks and the rates are much better.
It’s free to create an account, use their mobile app and only a few dollars to get their debit card (that you can use everywhere in Lisbon to pay or withdraw money).
For more information, check out my full review of Wise.
3. Carry cash
If you come from the UK, the USA or Australia, you will probably be used to pay with your bank card everywhere you go.
In Lisbon (and Portugal in general), it’s not always something you can do.
Sure many shops and restaurants do take bank cards but it’s far from being the case everywhere.
You will generally be able to pay with cards in all the touristy places but if you want to experience more local places, you will need to pay in cash. Especially for small amounts.
There are ATMs everywhere in Lisbon so it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to withdraw cash but you may want to plan on doing that beforehand as it will spare you the inconvenience.
Also, we all know that it’s when we need a cash machine that we can’t find it.
You don’t need to carry a lot of cash around. As a matter of fact, you really shouldn’t as there are pickpockets but having between 20 and 50 euros in your wallet is always useful.
If you go to Bairro Alto in the evening, this tip will come in very handy as many bars only take cash.
4. Go on a walking tour
Walking tours are a great way to know more about the city you are visiting and Lisbon is no exception.
If you want to know more about Portugal and discover some fun facts about Lisbon, this is for you!
There are several walking tours in Lisbon. It’s quite cheap and very good value for money.
I would recommend starting with the general city walking tour and if you like it you can go into more depth with Alfama and Belem walking tours.
The guide will tell you everything you need to know about Lisbon and Portugal.
From the Portuguese colonisation to WWII, all the main historical events will be explained.
It will only take a couple of hours of your time and give you so much information.
It’s also the best place to get tourist attractions, food and drinks tips.
5. Visit in June or September
While most people rush to Lisbon during the summer holidays, visiting in June or September is actually a much better thing to do!
Firstly, July and August are very hot. In June and September, it will still be hot enough for you to wear shorts and dresses but not enough that it will make you melt under the sun.
It’s the perfect temperature, around 25 degrees (80F).
Also, you won’t find as many tourists which means the overall experience is more enjoyable.
Of course, it won’t exactly be empty but it won’t be packed either.
Basically, all-in-all, June and September are the perfect months to get the best of both worlds.
Accommodation will also be a bit cheaper as it’s not as requested.
6. Wear comfortable shoes
Lisbon is the city of the 7 hills and that nickname is definitely appropriate.
No matter where you go in Lisbon, you will permanently walk up and down.
The streets are old, the pavement uneven and made of cobblestones.
It’s one of these things that makes this city so pretty and picturesque but it also makes it quite hard to navigate.
You should always opt for flat and comfortable shoes. For the ladies, do not wear heels, even if you are going out.
I know it’s tempting to put on pretty high heels but I promise you, you will regret it.
Instead, opt for some cute flats and enjoy your night. Even locals don’t wear heels. Not only would you potentially strain your ankle but it will truly be difficult to walk.
Flat and comfy is the way to go in Lisbon!
7. Book your tickets in advance
If you are planning on visiting the touristy sites such as the palaces in Sintra and are visiting during the high season, make sure to book in advance.
These places can get very busy and although it’s not as bad as in Paris or Rome, it’s still risky to wait until the last minute.
You may even want to consider booking a skip-the-line ticket as well.
Here are some entrance tickets that you can buy online:
- Pena Palace and Park Skip-the-Ticket-Line Entrance
- Monserrate Palace and Park Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Queluz National Palace & Gardens Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Castle of the Moors Fast Track Ticket
- National Palace of Sintra and Gardens Fast Track Ticket
8. Consider buying a Lisboa Card
If you are planning on visiting many sites and museums that charge an entrance fee, you should consider taking the Lisboa Card.
The Lisbon card is entirely made for travellers. It will give you access to:
- Free access to 26 monuments, sites and museums
- Free and unlimted travel by public transport
- Free train travel to Sintra and Cascais
The card is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
If you are planning on visiting several of the attractions it gives you access to, it will save you a fair bit of money and will make your trip easier.
That having been said, if you don’t want to visit the sites, it won’t be worth it. The transport part of the card is great but that alone is not worth the price of the card.
9. Be aware of pickpockets
Like many European cities, Lisbon has a lot of pickpockets.
It’s nothing you should be too worried about but it is worth mentioning. Just try to be careful and not too oblivious when you go to touristy places and you will be just fine.
Just use your common sense: don’t walk with your bag opened or your phone in your back pocket.
10. Take Tram 12 instead of 28
One of the most popular experiences in Lisbon is to take the tram. Lisbon still uses old electric trams and they give this picturesque look to the city.
Usually, tourists tend to take tram 28 as it goes through the entire city all the way to Belem.
I would recommend taking tram 12 instead. Tram 28 gets very crowded and you will most likely be standing.
Regardless of the fact that standing in a crowded tram is not very comfortable, the main issue is that it will completely spoil the experience.
The best part about the tram in Lisbon is to be able to look out the window and enjoy the tiny streets and landmarks. If you are standing in the middle, you won’t get to see anything.
Tram 12 is way less crowded and will give you a chance to make the best out of the experience.
Also, the route is a loop so you will go back to the same departure point which will make it easier for you.
It takes you all the way around Alfama and Baixa, through the castle, covering 4km. It costs 1.50 euros and is a 20 min ride.
11. Go to a Miraduoros
Miraduoros are viewpoints in Lisbon.
As you now know, Lisbon is the city of 7 hills which means that there are many places in Lisbon that are a bit further up and boasts fantastic views.
Discovering these places is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
Thankfully, you don’t have to figure out where they may be hidden. Lisbon will tell you where to go! If you see a sign that indicated “miraduoro” that means there is one of these viewpoints.
Make sure to follow it so you can enjoy the views.
It’s also worth going in the evening so you can enjoy the night views.
12. Don’t take elevador de Santa Justa
There are tourist traps in every city and in Lisbon, that would be the elevator de Santa Justa.
Located in the historic centre, this elevator was created by a French architect using a similar style to the work of Eiffel.
This landmark got insanely popular in recent years and the queue to get on the lift is insanely long.
For some reason, you will find it in most travel guides about Lisbon but in all honestly, it’s not worth your time and money.
This is mainly for the fact that you can see the lift from the street and you can reach the viewing platform on foot. It’s located on Convento do Carmo and the entrance is only 1.50 euros.
The lift is not bad per se but paying 5 euros and waiting for potentially a couple of hours for a 20-second ride is probably not the best use of your time.
13. Go to the beach
If you are spending a few days in Lisbon, you should have enough time to take a day trip or two.
Of course, Sintra will probably be on your bucket list and so it should but if you have a bit of time left, make sure to visit one of the beaches near Lisbon.
The most beautiful places in Portugal are actually on the coast.
You can find some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe here and some of them are true hidden gems.
14. Just walk around Lisbon
Although you will find a few landmarks here and there, Lisbon is not Paris or Rome where you want can find yourself hunting down all the main monuments.
The best thing about Lisbon is the atmosphere and the way of life.
The best place to experience it is just to walk around and get lost. Stop in a local cafe and try pastels de Nata or some bacalhau (cod).
You will find many pretty places and as you will go up and down the hills you will understand what Lisbon is really about.
15. Use Uber over public transport
Uber is very cheap in Lisbon (in comparison to the other Western European countries) and in certain cases can work out even cheaper than public transport.
The metro and bus networks in Lisbon aren’t bad but it can take quite a bit of time to get from point A to point B.
Taking a Uber will save you loads of time and if you are a group of 3 or 4, it might not even be more expensive than taking the metro.
If you want to take the metro in Lisbon, it costs €1.50, plus €0.50 for the card.
This means you pay €2 per ride. If you take a Uber it will cost you €4 for a 20 minutes ride.
You generally can get anywhere you want within a 20 mins drive radius.