Voya’s guide to Portugal’s beautifully tiled coastal capital.
Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and is Europe’s second oldest capital (after Athens) so it bursting with history. With stunning tiled buildings and a mix of traditional architecture and contemporary culture, it is an increasingly popular city-break destination.
Being a capital, there is plenty to see and do, though built on seven hills it can be quite a climb in places! A really easy way to see the sights is by tuk-tuk tour which is a great way to navigate the narrow streets of the city. Also be sure to hop on the iconic Tram 28, which takes you through the steep cobbled streets to the old Alfama district.
As you’re wandering the beautiful streets you’ll notice some common themes, cork shops are everywhere as Portugal produces over 50% of the world’s cork! You’ll also notice the Portuguese are great lovers of sardines, with many shops dedicated entirely to the little tinned fish. If you’re looking to buy some sardines to take home, we recommend avoiding the tourist shops in the centre and visiting Conserveira de Lisboa in the downtown district which is the real deal.
LX Factory, Lisbon’s super cool art district, is well worth a visit. This industrial complex was once the home of Lisbon’s thriving fabric factories, but nowadays houses an eclectic mix of art houses, street art, retailers, bars and restaurants.
Bairro Alto is the place to be in the evening, it is buzzing with restaurants, bars and clubs. One of our favourite spots was Park Bar – a hidden rooftop terrace on top of a carpark with spectacular 180 degree views of the city. We recommend getting here early to grab a seat and a cocktail and watch the sunset over the beautiful Tagus River.
Our must-visit food recommendation is Time Out Food market. Here you can find the best of Lisbon’s food all under one cleverly packaged roof. Its food heaven, with over 20 restaurants serving up some of the best food in the city. There’s something for everyone here – from sushi, to steak to fine wine. Grab yourself a stool at one of the shared tables and spend the evening eating and drinking your way through a variety of excellently cooked cuisines. Some of our favourites were Sea Me and Tartar-ia.
Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate with mild wet winters and hot dry summers. The average annual temperature is 17 degrees. August is the hottest month with temperatures around 25 – 32 degrees. We visited in October and the temperature was a cooler 22 degrees.
Portuguese is the official language but unsurprisingly, Spanish is the second most popular. You’ll find a lot of the younger generation in particular speak English. We advise not relying too heavily on your Spanish, but brushing up on a few Portuguese phrases before you go.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
If you want to experience the real Lisbon and get a true understanding of Portuguese culture, we recommend booking a tour with We hate tourism tours. The tours are run by really friendly and knowledgeable locals who enjoy meeting travellers and aim to show them something a little less-touristy. We booked the day trip to Sintra (UNESCO world heritage site) and Cascias and
saw some breath-taking sites such as the viewpoint at Cabo De Roca, the most Western point of continental Europe. The tour is 57 euros per person which includes all travel and an authentic Portuguese lunch in a family-run rustic restaurant which was another highlight of our trip!
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
Voted one of the best places to stay in Lisbon, Memmo Principe Real is situated in one of the most exclusive and central locations and has a gorgeous outdoor pool and stunning panoramic city views!
VOYA FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
You can’t visit Lisbon without trying their world-famous Portuguese custard tarts – or Pastel de nata. You can find these in the many bakeries of Lisbon and they are lovely little sweet treat. We also recommend Fabrica coffee which is a very trendy coffee shop and roasters for incredible coffee and delicious banana bread!