Portugal City Travel Guide: Lisbon
Lisbon is a charming, easy-going, southern European city. During the day, life centers around relaxing in the capital's numerous cafes while the city bursts into life at night in the bars and restaurants of Bairro Alto and Alfama.
Though much of Lisbon was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, the rebuilt city of Marques de Pombal offers plenty of interest. The vast Praça do Comécio near the river gives the visitor an idea of Lisbon's one-time commercial and maritime grandeur.
The straight, cobbled streets of the Baixa (many of them pedestrianized) are full of elegant reminders of the city's Neoclassical past and Pombal's town planning: Rua do Comércio (Commercial Street), Rua da Prata (Silversmiths' Street) and Rua dos Sapateiros (Cobblers' Street) retain many of their original functions and now play host to more contemporary street performers and pavement artists.
The elegent Chiado area frequented by poets and writers has been completely restored after a fire in 1998.
North of Marques de Pompal metro station, is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Tel: 21 782 3000), on Avenida de Berna is one of Europe's finest museums with over 6,000 pieces of art from all over the world including Egyptian, Greek & Roman and Chinese and Japan art plus a number of European masterpieces. Nearby is the associated Centro de Arte Moderna (Tel: 217 823 474) with a collection of modern Portuguese art and a reknown cafe, with good vegetarian options. The Parque Eduardo VII named after the British monarch has a number of interesting greenhouses - estufas.
To the east the Alfama district is Lisbon's oldest, dating back to Moorish times and retains a traditional atmosphere. Lisbon's cathedral - Sé - is located to the west. The Castelo de São Jorge (Tel: 218 800 620) was first established in the 5th century and is located on Lisbon's highest hill. There are tremendous views from the impressive walls and towers of the castle. The Olisiponia (Tel: 218 877 244) has a multi-media exhibition showing the history of Lisbon. East of the castle is the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora (Tel: 218 824 400) with beautiful 18th cenury azulejos.
Bairro Alto, quiet during the day, can be reached by tram and is the city's main nightlife area teeming with bars, clubs and fado houses with often excellent Brazilian & African sounds.
One of Lisbon's best museums is the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (Tel: 218 100 340) north east of Santa Apolonia housed in a 16th century convent and showcasing the history of the tile. West of the station is the Baroque Museu Militar (Tel: 218 842 300) the world's largest collection of artillery.
Modern Lisbon is characterized by the new development of the Lisbon Exhibition Center and Parque das Nações built for Expo 98 served by the stunning modern architecture of Gare do Oriente Station on the city metro. The riverside area contains the Oceanario (Tel: 218 917 002) which is Europe's largest aquarium and the 140m tall Torre Vasco da Gama designed in the shape of a sail.
Festivals & Fairs in Lisbon
9-25 June. International Fair, organized by Portuguese Industrial Association.
13-29 June. Popular Saints' Festivals. Decorated streets and houses, processions, fireworks, nightly dancing, competitions, etc. Communal celebration of 60 marriages at Cathedral on 13th.
Belém, accessed by tram #15, is where Vasco da Gama and the explorers set sail for India, Mozambique and Brazil. The huge Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - an extraordinary 16C monastery and church; the Torre de Belém fortress and the Museu de Marinha (maritime museum) are all well-worth catching.
Sintra within easy reach of Lisbon is a must-see for its woodland setting and extravagant palaces.
Associação Turismo de Lisboa.
Centro de Representação, Informação e Animação
de Lisboa (CRIA) in the Praça do Comércio.
'Turismo' in Palácio Foz Building on Praça dos Restauradores.
Lisbon Airport also has turismo information desks.
Calling Portugal from abroad.
International dialling code: 351
Pick up free pamphlets: "Follow Me Lisboa"; "Your Guide: Lisboa" and "Lisboa City Walks".
Santa Apolonia Station has trains to central and northern Portugal.
Not a relaxing option in central Lisbon. The country as a whole has one of the highest accident rates in Europe, but driving with care is not a problem.
Bus - the AeroBus leaves the airport every 20 minutes from Arrivals calling
at Marques Pombal, Avenida Liberdade, Restauradores, Rossio, Praca do
Comercio terminating at Cais do Sodre.
Taxi - beware of rip-offs. Luggage carried in the boot (trunk) of the taxi costs extra. There are ferries across the River Tejo from Cais do Sodre and Santa Apolonia.
The Metro system (6.30-1am) is convenient for travelling outside the city center which is best covered on foot, tram & elevador. A one-day travel pass allows unlimited travel on metros, buses, trams & elevadors.
Avenida Palace Hotel
Book Hotel Accommodation in Lisbon
There are numerous camp-sites heading south from the Costa da Caparica south of the Tagus and the Parque Municipal de Campismo 6km west of the city centre - bus #43.
For all sorts of cut-price deals, the following cards are useful:
ATMs are abundant in Lisbon, accepting Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Access and other cards.
Public toilets are not common.
Major airline phone numbers
[808 numbers are charged local rate from any phone in Portugal].
Air France 808 222 324
Rossio Railway Station, Lisbon, Portugal
Portuguese Embassy in London
11 Belgrave Square, London, UK. SW1X 8PP
The food is simple and hearty in the main. Check out the Prato do Dia (daily special) for good deals. The seafood is good in Lisbon, though you tend to pay more for this. Sardines are cheap, though. Fans of tripe (tripas) won't be disappointed.
There are also fine foreign restaurants from Portugal's former colonies: Goa, Brazil, Macao, Mozambique and Angola.
"The bill, please." = A conta, se faz favor . See our Portuguese language page for more useful expressions.
O'Gilins Irish Pub:
The Pump House (a traditional English style pub)
Good red, white and rosé wines; port; beer (mostly Sagres); the strong aguardente; Martini com cerveja; and Espinheira Ginjinha (cherry liqueur) are all available in Lisbon at reasonable prices.
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See our Port Wine and Madeira page for more information on these fortified wines.
Local football teams
Sporting Clube de Lisboa
Lisboa e Benfica
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.