Wandering through the winding cobblestone streets of Portugal’s colorful capital, it’s easy to fall in love with Lisbon. While you’re lounging in a leafy plaza and sipping the world-class local wine as you overlook the Atlantic, you’ll decide that you never want to leave. With a rich history and fascinating culture, you could spend a lifetime discovering the wonders of this unique, red-roofed city.
What to Expect in Lisbon
Language: The official language of Portugal is Portuguese.
Currency: The official currency of Portugal is the Euro (EUR).
Credit Cards & ATMs: Many shops, restaurants, and hotels in Lisbon accept credit cards. Like many other destinations in Europe, it is wise to keep a little cash on you. An ATM in Portugal is commonly referred to as “multibanco” or “caixa automatica.” These ATMs in Portugal are not only used to withdraw money but also used to pay bills, buy movie tickets, or make transfers. They can be found at most banks, airports, train stations, and shopping centers.
Plugs: The plugs in Portugal are type F, the standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter (make sure it has surge protection) and using a converter for hairdryers and hot tools.
Safety: Overall, Portugal is one of the safest places to visit in Europe, being ranked as the 13th safest country in the world. Crime rates are low and are typically in isolated neighborhoods. The biggest issue is pickpocketing in high-trafficked areas. Exercise caution with your valuables and you shouldn’t run into any issues.
The Neighborhoods in Lisbon
Principe Real: Famous for its striking 19th-century mansions and chic boutiques, this is one of Lisbon’s most-loved neighborhoods. Whether you are browsing local art and antiques on a sunny afternoon or dancing the night away, this is the place to do.
Embaixada Palace: This nineteenth-century Moorish beauty is now a swanky cultural hub. Explore the impressive architecture as you wander amongst the artisanal shops.
Praca Das Flores: A picturesque square is full of lovely little restaurants and cute cafes. If you can find an Airbnb in this highly sought-after spot, grab it!
Santos & Cais do Sodre: This is the perfect place to get away from the tourist traps and crowds of the city center. Only 15 minutes from the heart of Lisbon, this cool little neighborhood will give you a glimpse into local life.
Bairro Alto: Just beside Principe Real, you’ll find this hopping district. Come here after dark and dance the night away. And leave when the party’s over! While Bairro Alto has the best nightlife in Lisbon, that is precisely why it’s not the best place to book a hotel or Airbnb.
Amalfa: Perched atop Lisbon’s highest hill, this was one of the few areas spared by the earthquake of 1755 and is home to some of the city’s most historic sites. For sweeping views and a hearty dose of tradition, this is the place to be.
Chiado: In the historic heart of this district is known for its luxury shops, famous landmarks, and historic cafés. For the quintessential Lisbon day out, come here in the afternoon before an evening out in Bairro Alto.
Alcantara: This trendy waterfront district is famous for its hoping nightlights and iconic views of the river.
Belem: Famous for its ultra-fresh seafood and colorful tiled houses, this quaint neighborhood will give you a glimpse into the seafaring past.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
The best thing to do in Lisbon is to walk and explore! If your goal is to stay in the heart of the city and explore the top neighborhoods that Lison has to offer, I’d look for accommodations in Chiado, Baixa, Principe Real, Bairro Alto, and Avenida da Liberdade.
I’ve compiled my favorite hotels to stay at in Lisbon, as well as the top accommodations in Lisbon below!
VRBO has a variety of apartments and private flats at great prices! This is a good option for those looking to get an authentic taste of life in Lisbon. Just be sure to read reviews and do your research before booking!
Tucked away between Avenida da Liberdade and Bairro Alto, this five-star spa hotel is perfect for a wellness escape, with a fun retro twist.
A four-star hotel at a budget price, this elegant space is a perfect base and home to an ever-changing art gallery.
This boutique hotel sits in the historic center of Lisbon and is just an 8-minute walk from the iconic São Jorge Castle. The location is great for exploring Lisbon on your first visit—and they have a great continental breakfast and á lá carte restaurant onsite.
For a gorgeous four-star option in the heart of the city, this refined property impresses at every turn. And, their in-house breakfast is raved about!
Affordable luxury at its best, this five-star, boutique property is easily amongst the poshest spots in the city. Part of the Relais & Chateaux group, this is the spot for a luxurious Lisbon adventure.
This stylish, five-star boutique hotel is a quiet escape in the trendy Bairro Alto, with stunning rooftop views. The location is impeccable for days of exploring the city!
Where to Eat in Lisbon
One of my favorite things about Lisbon is the availability of fresh produce and seafood, and the amazing markets! Portuguese food is Mediterranean food at its finest—think seafood, wine, and a wide variety of spices. I’ve compiled the best restaurants in Lisbon, and be sure to check out my list of 10 Local Foods to Try in Portugal before you go!
Mercearia da MilaCafe, Market
Start your day with a delicious brunch, fresh bread, and pão de chocolate from Mercearia da Mila! A delicious restaurant and takeaway spot.
Cafe JanisEuropean, Cafe
Cafe Janis is an all-day café serving French-Mediterranean food and healthy vegan options—including brunch faves like shakshuka and banana bread. A popular corner, ‘rendez-vous spot’, they also have tasty cocktails & local wines perfect for an evening hang.
Timeout Market is a food hall located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodré! While this place can be very touristy, it can be a lot of fun for a drink and snack.
Dede’s is an Australian cafe with two locations serving all-day brunch and specialty coffee! They have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options as well. Come here for the okonomiyaki and other global eats executed flawlessly.
Since the 1950s, this has been one of the best places in town for fresh seafood. While it used to be a hidden secret amongst locals, Anthony Bourdain put this place on the map. Truly not with reservations, you arrive and get a ticket. You buy beer tokens and pour your own beer. While the wait can be up to an hour, you will enjoy every minute of it.
Ponto FinalSeafood, Cafe
Pinto Final on the other side of the river is a must in summer. Catch the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas and walk along the river to this quirky little riverside restaurant. Be sure to book ahead—and come for sunset!
What to Do in Lisbon
Watch the sunset from Miradouro Santa Catarina and soak in the stunning view of the river and the bridge.
Saturday morning fresh fruit and veggie market in Principe Real.
To make the most out of your time, I’d highly recommend joining a Take Walks tour! Find the one that speaks to you! I’ve been on tours with Take Walks all around the world and am always so intrigued by what they have to offer—plus it’s a great way to see the city in a whole new light!
Sit beside the river and soak in the sun while listening to buskers in Cais do Sodre.
Take a weekend bike ride from Cais do Sodré to Belem.
Experience the Santo Antonio Festival. Every June, the city comes together for ten days and its streets are alive.
Take a scenic sailboat cruise along the Tagus River.
These unique kiosks are where the city meets for coffee, drinks, and people watching. Find one and take a long pause.
Check out a live music bar hopping in Bairro Alto.
There are so many hidden gems in Portugal and a few are just a day trip outside of Lisbon. I’ve compiled a list of 10 Places to Visit in Portugal (That Aren’t Lisbon)—check it out!
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