Lisbon city breaks

Lisbon has so much more to offer than its tasty custard tarts! For starters, sunset viewings are mandatory thanks to its beautiful hilly location overlooking the Tagus River. While its means of transportation are some of its biggest attractions. From Gothic style elevators to yellow trams and three wheeled tuk tuks, there’s so many unique ways to see the city! And its culture is just as fascinating, although you’ll find most of its best art work on its streets. Admire ornate tiles adorning the walls of townhouses and detailed graffiti that wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery.

Things to do
 
Whether you want to do Lisbon like a local or you’ve come here to see its top tourist attractions, there are some things that should be on everyone’s to-do list! 
 
If it’s viewpoints you’re after, the city’s highest point Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is a must for its castle panoramas. Or if you want to combine incredible views with one of the city’s most famous landmarks, head to São Jorge Castle. Another fantastic vantage point lies on the banks of Tejo Estuary, a great spot to catch a glimpse of Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Not to mention it’s home to the Cristo Rei statue, Lisbon’s answer to Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer.
 

While you’re in Belém, you can’t miss a chance to see one of the neighbourhood’s most camera-worthy spots, Belém Tower. Sitting on the banks of Tagus River and decorated with military motifs, this famous structure can only be accessed by drawbridge. This is also where you’ll find Pastéis de Belém bakery, which is home to Portugal’s most authentic custard tart. The ancient recipe remains a secret to this day.
 
When you’re not exploring the city by foot, you should be taking it in from the seat of a streetcar. Hop on the iconic tram 28, which will take you down some of Lisbon's skinniest streets, rattling past top landmarks like Baixa & Terreiro do Paço. 
 
After a day of sightseeing, Lisbon’s nightlife won’t disappoint. Find swanky drinking spots up on the rooftops alongside live music venues playing traditional Fado music. And there’s a district to suit every personality too, Bairro Alto is like one big street party, while Alfama is home to the city’s best wine bars.
 
If you’re planning to stay in Lisbon for longer than a weekend, then make sure to pencil in some time to visit Sintra! Just a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon, it’s like stepping into a Disney movie. The first thing you’ll notice are the brightly-painted palaces, but it’s manicured gardens are just as beautiful! You’ll also find a string of beaches within easy reach including one of its most popular shorelines, Praia de Carcavelos, which you can reach by car in around 25 minutes.
 

Map of Lisbon

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4°C - 35°C

As one of Europe’s sunniest cities, Lisbon has a mild Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures often exceeding 30°C. Come winter, you’ll still witness plenty of sunshine but you’ll also experience a fair amount of rain and cloud cover.
 

 

2.5 hours
Lisbon airport (LIS) which is just 6km northeast of the city centre.

Lisbon is best for...

Culture vultures: From its beautiful mosaic pavements to traditional Fado music and tile-covered architecture, Lisbon is packed with culture. Wander its oldest district Alfama in search of the city’s iconic cathedral or admire century-old paintings from its famous galleries, all before eyeing up its beautiful Moorish castles.

Night owls: There are plenty of places where you can let your hair down in Lisbon. Most of the action takes place on the car-free Bairro Alto with its mix of lively discos and casual canteen bars. But if you’re planning on staying out until the early hours, Rua nova do Carvalho (or pink street) in Cais do Sodré’s is where you’ll find the city’s late closing clubs.

Shopaholics: Designer boutiques, highstreet favourites and flea markets, you’ll find them all in Lisbon. Head to Rua do Carmo and stumble upon some of the city’s oldest shops like the 1920s jewellers Joalharia do Carmo, or visit Colombo Shopping Centre and choose from over 300 stores. Those looking to splash the cash on some designer threads will prefer Avenida da Liberdade, one of Europe’s most expensive shopping streets.

Fast facts for Lisbon

Language: The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. You will get away with speaking English in tourist spots like Lisbon, but locals will always appreciate it if you attempt the language, even if it’s just a few basic phrases.

Currency: The currency in Lisbon is the Euro.

Local time: There is no time difference between Lisbon and the UK.

Fly to: Lisbon airport (LIS) is one of the main gateways to Portugal and is just 6km from the capital. From here,  you can take the direct metro line to the centre, flag a taxi or hop on the public bus.

Flight time from UK: Around 2 hours and 30 minutes

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at Lisbon’s tourism website.

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

 

Getting around Lisbon

By Metro: If you’re only in Lisbon for a few days and want to cram in as many tourist sights as possible, the metro is the fastest way to do it. Not only are there stations all over the city, but you’ll also find English instructions on the ticket machines as well as maps in multiple languages.

By tram: By far everyone’s favourite mode of transport, taking a tram ride in Lisbon is like eating pizza in Rome! You’ll find these streetcars all over the city, but its vintage trams tend to be the most popular. The number 28 is now a tourist attraction in its own right.

By Bus: Buses are a cheap alternative to the city’s trams if you’re looking for a quick way to discover the city. They also cover areas which you can’t reach via the city’s trams and metro.

Events in Lisbon

Lisbon Carnival: Despite being synonymous with Brazil, Carnival was actually brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. Celebrated over 14 days in February, watch as the streets fill with music, dance performances and even BBQs. But make sure you don’t miss the parade on Avenue da Liberdade, it’s the flashiest of them all!

Rock Rio: Held annually between Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro, this is one of the world’s biggest music shows. Covering just about every genre from rock right down to pop, head here in June and get ready for five days of incredible music. 

Lisbon safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Lisbon, please visit the FCDO website.

Lisbon weather

Temperature: You can expect average highs of 28°C during the summer and average lows of 8°C during the winter.

Best time to visit: Summer is a great time to visit if you want to experience the best of Lisbon’s weather, but it can also get a little crowded. Those looking to combine sightseeing with days along the coast, should head here in the middle months (May or September). Not only will you get to see some of the city's biggest attractions without the lengthy queues, but it’s also the perfect time to hit the beach with sea temperatures starting to rise.

Not much of a sunworshipper? Then, you may prefer the milder winter months. Less busy and less expensive, it’s a great time to book a last minute break. Just make sure you’re prepared for the weather as it can be quite changeable at this time of year. And even if it does rain, you won’t be stuck for things to do with plenty of museums, cafes and shops on hand to provide some shelter. 

Best hotels in Lisbon