Lisbon | Travel Guide
Be holiday ready...
Update July 19: If you're fully vaccinated and returning to England from an amber country you won't need to self-isolate when you get back.
You'll need to take a PCR test 3 days before you travel and a PCR test on or before day 2 after you return.
Children under 18 won't need to self-isolate but will still need to take the precautionary tests. Those aged 5-10 only need to take the day 2 test and those under 4 are exempt from any testing or self-isolation.
UK visitors to mainland Portugal must show proof of full vaccination or will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, children under 12 are exempt.
If you're fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus one on day 2 once you return.
If you aren't fully vaccinated you'll need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus ones on day 2 and day 8 while you self-isolate on your return.
When you're there:
Much like the UK, Portugal has graudally eased its winter lockdown. For more details see the Portuguese government's end of lockdown plan.
Traffic light status:
The whole of Portugal is on the amber list except for Madeira which is on England's green watchlist.
Lisbon Travel Guide
Lisbon is Portugal's effortlessly cool capital which blends the perfect balance of culture and history, while modestly boasting the best custard tarts on the planet!
Mix this all up and you have the perfect recipe for what promises to be an ideal European city break. We're going to take you through our top tips for 48 hours in Lisbon. We've done the hard work for you, meaning that your trip to Lisbon is hassle-free.
Here's what to expect from this guide to Lisbon:
Some interesting facts about Lisbon
Who doesn't love an interesting fact?! Well we do, so here are a few interesting facts about Lisbon.
Lisbon is Western Europe's oldest city. In fact, records for Lisbon predate those for Paris, London and even Rome.
Speaking of The Eternal City, like Rome, Lisbon is also built on seven hills giving it the name A Cidade das Sete Colinas. Lisbon is Portugal's largest and capital city.
It's renowned for its nightlife, bustling food scene, stunning architecture and culture. It also boasts a rich and interesting history and plenty of beautiful beaches to lap up the mild climate.
Lisbon is about 1364 miles from London, which brings us nicely to our next section...
A better start to your trip with Holiday Extras
Of course, most journeys abroad start with a trip to the airport. When we went to Lisbon we left Holiday Extras HQ promptly at 10am. Since our flight was at a reasonable time, we didn't use an airport hotel on this occasion, but had our flight been really early, we would have bookes ourselves into aone the night before to avoid the mad rush in the morning.
We drove our car to an airport car park to leave our car for the few days we were away. We booked as soon as the trip was planned and got a really good deal. The money we saved went towards booking an airport lounge, where we had a hot lunch and lots of treats from the buffet.
Armed with our tickets, passports and comprehensive Holiday Extras travel insurance, we were ready to fly!
Getting to Lisbon from the UK
Our journey from Gatwick took a little over 2 and a half hours. Arriving in Lisbon, we were pleased to find out that the airport is just over 4 miles away from the city, which means that hiring a car and driving, or hailing a taxi, should take about 20 minutes in good traffic. We opted for a taxu and the journey was painless and relatively quick.
As for hire cars, there's nothing quite like the freedom of jumping in a car and driving off into the sunset. However, the streets of Lisbon are old and winding so aren't built for today's traffic. If you're planning on staying in the city it's easier to use public transport instead. If you want to explore local areas like Estoril and Cascais, then hiring a car in Lisbon is a no-brainer.
An alternative to getting to Lisbon by car, is to take the aerobus, which runs two lines to the main hotel areas and costs €4 per person each way.
Like most major cities there are plenty of public transport options to get you to the city centre. For example, the metro runs from 6am - 1am everyday, or there's the city bus. They're cheap compared to private transport but make sure you allow for more time on your journey as they'll certainly take longer.
The Green Green Green list
Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.
Public transport in Lisbon
With all of the hills in Lisbon, we're not going to hold it against you if you want to save your legs – public transport is cheap, reliable and efficient. Some of your options include the metro, trams, buses and funicular lifts.
The metro is good choice if you're traveling long distances, but bear in mind that it doesn't cover all areas of the city. Lisbon's metro system is one of cleanest in Europe and most stations are open 6am - 1am, every day.
Fortunately, there are trams that cover areas of the city where there is no access to the metro. There are two types of trams - the yellow Remodelado trams that route round the old narrow streets and the modern Articulado trams that operate along the flat sections of the city connecting central Lisbon to the Belém district.
The funicular lifts are used to help locals and tourists climb all those hills. The most famous lift is the Santa Justa Lift linking lower and upper Lisbon. It is technically a means of public transport but it also doubles up a a major tourist attraction and has great a view point at the top.
Lisbon has hundreds of buses and with 88 different routes, it's safe to assume that there's one going in your direction. For more information about navigating the buses and other transportation, we've got some tips coming up soon.
How much is public transport?
Working out how to pay for transport in Lisbon can get confusing so here's our simple breakdown:
You can pay for single tickets onboard trams, buses, lifts and at the station for the metro (but this will cost you more). It's more cost efficient to purchase a prepaid Viva Viagem card from the metro station, which works like a TFL Oyster card where you zapp it every time you use it.
These cards cost €0.50 and can be topped up as you go. Here are the differences in price:
If you're planning on making at least 5 journeys over 24 hours sve money and buy a 24-hour day pass. It costs €6 and includes unlimited travel on all trams, metro, buses and lifts including the famous Santa Justa which usually costs €5 alone.
A good tip is to pick up the transport map, Rede de Transportes de Lisboa, from the tourist office for timetables and prices. We think the best tourist office in the city is in Praça dos Restauradores inside the Palácio Foz, so if you're in the area head there for any help. We would also recommend downloading google maps to help you navigate your way around without having to rely on wifi.
Top things to do in Lisbon
In all honesty, there's a lot to do and our 48 hours was jam-packed, so to help you out here are our 5 favourite things to do in Lisbon:
Firstly, they're a novel way of seeing Lisbon and since the city is so big, they're a great way to see as much as possible for very little money. Plus you're effectively killing two birds with one stone, particularly when you take the number 28 tram. This tram takes takes a circular route round the city and will also save your legs from a lot of walking. It's especially savvy if you've bought a 24-hour transport ticket since it's included.
Torre de Belém
The Torre de Belém is an iconic tower built in the 16th century as part of Lisbon's defence system. This stunning piece of architecture wouldn't be lost in Gondor with it's beautiful white bricks and ornate decor. You'll find it by the harbour and it can only be reached via a walkway across the water. Definitely one for Instagram.
Jardim de São Pedro
Speaking of Instagram, budding photographers looking for panoramic views of Lisbon castle need to make their way up to Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara. Fortunately you can take the Elevador da Gloria funicular lift to get there, otherwise, it's a hefty walk. It's worth it for some traditional market stalls and plenty of live music.
Eat Portuguese custard tarts
Treat yourself to a Portuguese custard tart, otherwise known as Pastel de Nata, at the original cafe that sold them back in 1837. Pastéis de Belém has queues outside everyday because of their secret recipe that makes them the best in town. These tasty treats were first created before the turn of the 18th Century by the monks in the Jeronimos Monastery. Much like Guinness in Dublin, these delicacies definitely taste better on their home turf and if you don't believe it, have two just to make doubly sure.
Hit the town and experience Lisbon nightlife
Start and end your evening with a drink in the Bairro Alto area. The bars flood the streets with locals and tourists who come to drink portuguese beer, mojitos and caprinis until the early hours of the morning. If you want something a little more sophisticated head down to the waterfront on the river Tagus for cocktails and see where the night takes you!
What's the food like in Lisbon?
Lisbon is a cosmopolitan city so you'll find every type of cuisine here. You'll probably stumble across many tascas along the back cobbled streets near the Bairro Alto area, serving rustic Portuguese dishes like stews, steaks, and fried or grilled fish.
For something a little more quick and fun check out Mercado de Ribeira. Mercado da Ribeira has been Lisbon's main food market since 1892. A few years ago it was taken over by Time Out Lisboa magazine, who added canteen-style dining selling anything from traditional portuguese cuisine to burgers and sushi.
What language do they speak in Lisbon?
It should come as no surprise that Portuguese is the most-spoken language in Lisbon. In fact according to UNESCO, Portuguese is the fastest growing European language after English. While English is widely spoken, it's great to give the locals an opportunity to laugh at us, so here are a few tips and some phrases to get you by during your Lisbon trip.
Firstly, you need to know that in Portuguese there are masculine and feminine variations of certain words, with masculine ones often ending with an 'o' and feminine ones ending with 'a'.
- Hello - Olá
- How are you/greeting - Como você está?
- What's your name? - Qual o seu nome?
- My name is - Meu nome é
- Numbers 1-5 - um, dois, três, quatro, cinco
- Thank you - Obrigado / Obrigada
- Goodbye - Tchau
Money tips while you're travelling in Lisbon
The Portuguese currency is Euros. There are plenty of ATMs around and debit and credit cards are accepted in most places.
Take a look at what we spent to give yourself an idea of what you can expect to pay:
- Return flights with easyJet from Gatwick - £88 per person
- 3 nights in a Lisbon apartment for 3 people - £248.39
- Worldwide travel insurance from Holiday Extras - £16 per person
- Our Holiday Extras hire car - £153.60 for a large Audi
- 6 x Pasteis de Belém - €6,30
- A pint in Bairro Alto - around €3-5
Like the rest of Europe tipping is a done thing throughout the whole of Portugal, including Lisbon and other cities.
A service charge is not usually added to bills but double check first, especially if you are in the tourist areas. If it's not been added, it's custom to give 10% of your bill, but only if you feel the service was exceptional.
So That's it for our Lisbon city guide. Lisbon certainly captured our hearts and we'll definitely be back again. If you're after a beautiful city that packs in loads of history and culture, and you don't mind walking up lots of hills, then Lisbon is the place for you. PLUS, they have those delicious custard tarts, which are worth the visit alone!
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
At Holiday Extras we're all about hassle-free travel - so we've read all the documents and done all the research so you don't have to.
Thu Jul 15 2021 11:07
In our guide to Covid testing for travel - find out everything from current PRC Covid testing requirements for your holiday to Covid-19 test procedures.
Mon Jul 19 2021 09:49
All the latest news about the return of travel this year.
Mon Jul 19 2021 10:40