Things To Know Before Visiting Lisbon

Minha Lisboa querida! Lisbon is by far my favorite city in the whole wide world. It’s the place I feel the happiest, I love the vibe of the city, I love how it looks and I absolutely adore its people and its atmosphere. A few years ago I was lucky to call Lisbon my home during an Erasmus exchange and I keep on returning to the city as often as I can.

Even though Lisbon is gaining in popularity, there are still some things that are good to know before visiting the city of hills, sunshine and amazing street art!

Wear comfortable shoes

First things first, bring comfortable shoes! Ladies, leave your fancy high heels at home and bring sneakers instead. Lisbon is a very hilly city, also known as “The City of Seven Hills”. Even though you can rent tuk-tuks, ride scooters or uber your way around I’m sure your trip will also include a fair amount of walking. Especially be careful when it rains as the cobblestones tend to get quite slippery.

View from theMiradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.

Bring cash with you

The majority of the places (especially the small shops, local restaurants, street kiosks, and bars) won’t accept bank cards. So it’s always a good idea to have some cash on you. But no worries, there are ATMs on literally every corner.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol

Portuguese are late

When in Lisbon – take it easy! Portuguese people are known for their laid-back personalities and chilled-out vibes. If you’re meeting with a Portuguese, don’t be surprised if they show up 15 minutes late. This is more the rule rather than the exception. Generally, their mornings also start a bit later and they eat dinner later. The nightlife usually starts later as well, at around 10 or 11 pm.

Beautiful Alfama.

One of the best budget cities in Europe

Lisbon is probably one of the best budget-friendly capitals in Europe. Which makes it a great destination for backpackers and budget travelers. It has cheap public transport, reasonably priced accommodation and great value local restaurants. And cheap beer. Lots of cheap beer. Which brings me to the next topic …

When in Lisbon, make sure to try Ginjinha, a Portuguese sour cherry liquor. Order one at “A Ginjinha“, the oldest cherry liquor shop in Lisbon!

Awesome nightlife

Lisbon is also known for its amazing nightlife! You can start the night off by visiting the Bairro Alto area, where you can get lost in the narrow streets full of little bars. The bars are usually open between 10 pm and 2 am (3 am during Fridays and Saturdays) and after that, the party moves down to the riverside – to Cais do Sodré and Santos area.

Pensāo Amor – once a brothel, now a popular bar for Lisbon’s artistic crowd. The walls are full of funky frescoes or vintage posters of burlesque dancers and the whole place is decorated with kinky accessories.

They speak Portuguese

How to offend a Portuguese person in under a second? Tell them “gracias” or “Buenos Días”. In Portugal, they speak Portuguese and even though it is similar to Spanish, those two are completely separate languages.

The majority of the people (especially the younger generation) will speak English fluently. However, it doesn’t hurt to know a few Portuguese words.
Here are some easy peasy words everyone can remember: bom dia (good morning), obrigado/obrigada (thank you), por favor (please), até já (see you later).

Panteāo NacionalThe National Pantheon, housing the tombs of Portugal’s major historic celebrities.

Lisbon bakeries are to die for

With the number of amazing bakeries in Lisbon, you will be grateful for all the hills to burn some calories off! Try their famous pasteis de nata (an egg tart pastry with cinnamon), pāo de Deus (a bun with a grated coconut-based cream), or ovos moles (a delicacy made of egg yolks and sugar).

Pastel de nata – a heavenly pastry made in Portugal. In my opinion, the best one can be found at “Manteigaria” near Praça Luís de Camões.

Ignore sketchy “drug dealers”

It may come as a surprise but if you’re traveling to Lisbon I’m sure you’ll probably stumble upon some dodgy characters trying to sell you “drugs”. The things they’re selling are not actually drugs, so don’t worry. Simply try to ignore them or politely tell them “No, thanks. I’m not interested”.

Metro from the airport directly to the center

As the airport is situated very close to the city you can grab a metro directly to the center of Lisbon. The ride will take around 45 minutes to reach downtown. You can of course also grab a taxi or an uber if you want a more comfortable ride.

Ponte 25 de Abril

Paying for “free” starters

When you sit down at the restaurant they will usually bring some bread, butter, olives or cheese on the table. While those are some tasty starters, bear in mind they are not actually free and will be put on your bill. If you don’t want to eat them, politely decline them and they will take them away.

Traditonal bacalhau with eggs; rice with duck and chorizo and homemade bread.

Lisbon has the best hostels in the world

I’m not exaggerating, Lisbon actually has some of the best-rated hostels in the world. I’ve stayed in quite a few of them and even volunteered in one for a few months. So I can honestly say that the quality of hostels in Lisbon is generally very high.

Beautiful fasades made from colorful azulejos (tiles).

It can get pretty cold

Lisbon is generally sunny and warm, but keep in mind that during winter it can get pretty cold and windy. If you’re staying in an older apartment, there is a big chance the place won’t have a good heating system. Instead, there will be small electric heaters put in each of the rooms. So make sure to bring an extra sweater or two just in case.

Praça do Comércio – Lisbon’s principal square.

Lisbon is known for its amazing street art

Last but not least, Lisbon is also known for its amazing street art. Besides looking at colorful buildings decorated with lovely azulejos (tiles), check out some of the stunning graffiti pieces around the city.

Fado graffiti tribute Fado Vadio, a wall located in the Mouraria neighborhood.

Those are just some of the things that I find interesting every time I return back to Lisbon. If you’ve been to Lisbon, what other things did you find different than in your home country?

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3 Comments

  1. Zdravo, Lisbona je ze dolgo na nasi “Must visit” listi. Po prebranem pa sem se toliko bolj navdusena. Najlepsa hvala za deljne izkusnje. Zanima me se, od kod bi se tja najbolj splacalo leteti?

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