Lisbon

Written By Lara Silva

Having a hard time figuring out where to go in Portugal? Lisbon should be your first stop. A must-see, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe. The birthplace of Amália Rodrigues, the iconic Fado singer, Lisbon is rich in culture, history, and striking views. 

Walking the calçada Portuguesa (or cobbled streets) in between the buildings, you will be greeted by sweet old women, hanging their clothes up to dry by their windows. 

The streets of Bairro Alto, a trendy neighborhood known for its beer-drinking scene are filled with laughter and the smell of sardines. It is truly a comforting and inviting experience. Lisbon makes anyone feel at home. 

To truly understand the importance of Lisbon, we need to go over a bit of its history. We don’t need to go very far back in time to understand its political significance. Not many know this outside of Portugal, but for over 40 years, the Portuguese lived under a fascist dictatorship. 

To understand a Portuguese person, one must learn about this period in time. On the 25 of April, in 1974 the “Carnation Revolution”, a peaceful military coup, overthrew the fascist dictatorship of António Salazar in Lisbon. 

For many of the generations in Portuguese families, this day signifies the end of decades of oppression, torture by PIDE (Salazar’s police), and the beginning of the end to Portuguese colonization. It’s a day of freedom, “Liberdade”. This is what Lisbon signifies to many! 

Every year on this day, people take to the streets to sing “Grândola, Vila Morena”, the song that triggered the revolution and was played on the radio, letting everyone know that the coup was starting. You will see people handing out free carnations to everyone, the flower that military forces placed at the end of their guns on that day.

Over the following decades, Lisbon was transformed into what we see today. A capital filled with immigration, culture, and economic growth. 

Today, the Portuguese capital gets around 4.5 million tourists per year. For every local, there are around 9 tourists. 

Where to stay in Lisbon?

The great thing about Lisbon is that it has a large variety of places for you to stay. As a city to travel to, it fits into several budgets. You can travel low-cost and stay at affordable, but pleasant places. You can also splurge out if you want and have a luxury vacation, oftentimes at a lower rate than other major capitals like London and Amsterdam. 

But first, let’s talk location! The best place to stay in is near Baixa, Chiado or lastly, Avenida da Liberdade if you want to pay a bit more. These areas are perfect for walking around and are the hotspots for tourism. Another wonderful secret place to look for accommodation is Alfama. Known for its picturesque streets, fado music, and amazing views of the city, Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. 

So where should you stay in Lisbon? We have got you covered – regardless of your budget! From affordable hostels to 5-star hotels, the city has a lot to offer.

Low-cost Accommodation in Lisbon

Lisbon is a great place to visit if you do not want to spend a lot of money. Best to save your money for great wine and seafood. It has thousands of low-cost options for travelers, especially backpackers and young people. 

The prices for low-cost accommodation in Lisbon can range anywhere from €10 to €40 a night for a bed for one person. 

Here are five great options if you want to save a buck, but still, find a sense of community.

  1. Yes! Lisbon Hotel, Chiado

Located in the heart of the city in Chiado, this youth hostel won the best “Hostel in the World” in 2019. You are very close to the best places in the city like Alfama and Bairro Alto. The hostel offers everything you need from a lounge room for socializing, 24-hour reception and security services, laundry facilities, and even a PlayStation and book exchange service. 

You can get a bed in a mixed dorm room for around €15 or opt for a private double room for €60.

2. Urban Garden Hostel, near Avenida da Liberdade

Looking for a place to stay in Lisbon as someone who cares about the environment! Close to Avenida da Liberdade, this is the place for you. Lisbon’s first eco-hostel, Urban Garden wants to minimize its environmental footprint through “green initiatives”. The hostel has an extensive recycling program, dual flush toilets, only use recycled paper products, and more. On top of that, a free breakfast is included!

You can get a bed in a mixed dorm room for €14 – €17 depending on the room size.

3. Selena Secret Garden, Cais do Sodré

Ever heard of a hostel in the middle of a city with a pool? Well, Selena Secret Garden is at your service. The hostel also has a rooftop deck, CoWork space for professionals, and a movie room. In the heart of Cais do Sodré, you are close to art galleries, bars with riverfront views, and within walking distance to Chiado. The cool thing about Selena is that they also have weekly programs with activities such as yoga, meditation, and Portuguese lessons.

All this trendiness comes at a higher price. A bed in a shared room ranges from €30 to €40. A private double room starts at €120. However, as you can see below, the beds are larger than in most hostels and provide more privacy.

4. LX Hostel, Alcântra

Often also known as The Dorm, LX Hostel is located within the creative hub of LX Factory, a trendy industrial area with restaurants, art exhibitions, and stores. This makes it the perfect location if you do not want the hustle and bustle of the center of Lisbon, but still want to be close to attractions. The center of the city is only 15 minutes away with transportation. The hostel has a beautiful rooftop terrace and a large kitchen perfect for communal living.

A bed in a shared room ranges from 20 to 30 and a private room costs around 65. But breakfast is free!

5. Goodmorning Solo Traveller, Rossio

On top of an amazing location, this hostel in Rossio has a free breakfast: waffles and Nutella. They also have a free “power hour”, a whole hour of free beer and sangria. If you want a hassle-free vacation, Goodmorning provides all-inclusive rates that give you three homemade meals a day (with vegan options!). Perfect for solo travelers, they organize fun activities to explore the city like pub crawls and themed dinners.

A bed in a shared room is just under €20. If you choose the all-inclusive option, this is around €35, a good price considering you get three free meals. Private rooms range from €50 to €70, depending on whether you choose the all-inclusive option.

Mid-range Accommodation in Lisbon

Looking to spend a bit more for some extra comfort? Boutique hotels and 4-star hotels are great options for this.

Prices for mid-range accommodation in Lisbon range from around €70 to €150 a night for a double bedroom. Let’s take a look at our top 5 recommendations.

  1. Turim Av Liberdade Hotel, Avenida da Liberdade

Located in Avenida da Liberdade, this 4-star hotel has over 150 rooms of different sizes and soon will also have a spa. It also has a reading room, a multimedia room, and a famous pizzeria and steakhouse. 

Double rooms range from €80 up to €150 depending on the season. 

2. Hotel Mundial, Rossio

Want to stay at a hotel that Amália Rodrigues and Simone de Beauvoir have stayed in? Hotel Mundial is a 4-star hotel, known for its panoramic rooftop bar with stunning views. The hotel has around 350 rooms, with many options to choose from. Hotel Mundial has two restaurants if you are looking for a gastronomic experience. We suggest Varanda de Lisboa on the 8th floor offers traditional Portuguese food with a view of the castle. 

Prices for a double room range from €80 to €150 with breakfast included. 

3. Jupiter Lisboa, Avenida da República

This 4-star hotel is located near Campo Pequeno. Although it is not in the center of the city, you can get to Baixa-Chiado in 15 minutes through transportation. Jupiter has everything you need for a luxurious vacation at an affordable price. It has two rooftop pools and bars, a restaurant, and a SPA.

The rooms vary in price but a 30m² Superior Double Room costs around 80. For a large family, for example, for 6 people, Jupiter offers 2 connecting rooms for 190. 

4. Inspira Liberdade Boutique Hotel, near Avenida de Liberdade

Awarded the Best Luxury Green Hotel in 2019, Inspira Liberdade provides a relaxing Feng-Shui vibe for its guests. The hotel has a SPA, fitness room, bar, and a restaurant with Portuguese food called Pen Brasserie Mediterrânica. The restaurant has vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options! You might have never heard of this but Inspira Liberdade is the first hotel in Lisbon to be certified to accommodate guests with allergies.

Double bedrooms range from €100 to €150. Their suites can go up to €300. 

5. Hotel Lisboa Plaza, Avenida da Liberdade

Looking for the Portuguese experience? This 4-star family-owned hotel is decorated in the style of Portuguese homes. With 24-hour room service, a terrace, and a gym this small hotel has been in the same family since the 1950s. The hotel has won many travel awards, including the Experts’ Choice Awards in 2021.

The rate for a double room can go from €80 to €150. 

Luxury Accommodation in Lisbon: what are the best hotels in Lisbon?

Looking to splurge on a luxury vacation in Lisbon? We have got you covered. Lisbon has a variety of 5-star hotels where you can sleep and eat like royalty.

Prices for luxury accommodation in Lisbon can start at €200 and go up to thousands a night.

We have chosen the top three luxury hotels for you in Lisbon.

  1. Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, Marquês de Pombal 

Nothing says luxury like a Four Seasons, it’s a classic. Whenever celebrities come to visit Lisbon, this is where they stay. The hotel has an updated Louis XVI style and has views of the Lisbon hills. The Ritz has everything you would need: a high-end restaurant called CURA, a bar terrace, a gym, and a spa. If you fancy some shopping, Avenida da Liberdade is a 10-minute walk away.

The Ritz is probably the most expensive hotel in all of Lisbon. Prices start at 500 for the smaller double rooms and can go up to 5,000 for a large suite. Prices for the “specialty” suites like the presidential suite are not available online but they are said to go up to 20,000 a night. 

2. Pestana Palace Lisboa, Alcântara

A member of “The Leading Hotels of the World”, Pestana Palace is located in a 19th century palace. It is the only resort in Lisbon and has a lake pool, a spa, and large gardens. With views of the Tagus river, this hotel includes a sophisticated restaurant that serves iconic Portuguese dishes. 

Prices start at €270 for a double room and can go up to €3,000 for a large suite. 

3. Bairro Alto Hotel, Bairro Alto

This hotel is situated in the best location in Lisbon, between Bairro Alto and Chiado in an 18th-century building. It is uncommon for a luxury hotel of this standard to be located here. It is also the only luxury boutique hotel in Lisbon that has under 100 rooms. The hotel features a restaurant with award-winning Chef Nuno Mendes and Executive Chef Bruno Rocha.

Prices start at €300 and can go up to €1,500 for larger suites.

What to do in Lisbon? 

All year, regardless of the season, Lisbon has a variety of activities for tourists to do. From wine tastings to museums and even free activities, we have selected the best things to do in the capital. Whatever your activity of choice, Lisbon has many affordable things to do where you can explore the city like a local. Most guides will send you to the “tourist traps” and overpriced sightseeing options. Picked out by a local – we offer you the best things to do in Lisbon that are worth it. 

What are some traditional Portuguese things to do in Lisbon?

Fado Houses

You cannot visit Lisbon and not go to a “Casa de Fado” where you can listen to performers sing out the classics by Amália Rodrigues and others. “Casas de Fado” are not always cheap. But keep in mind that they are a once in a lifetime experience. You pay for your meal, and entertainment is covered. Usually, meals start at €30. The best place to go to enjoy fado is in Alfama, a neighborhood known as the home of fado. There are many great options here including Clube de Fado and Parreirinha de Alfama. You can always also ask the locals where to go. 

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting
Photo by Bernyce Hollingworth (Pexels)

Portugal is also known for its high-quality wines. You can find wine bars all throughout the city, perfect for an afternoon tasting. Paired with some cheese and “chouriço” – nothing screams Lisbon like some good wine. For a premium experience, Lisbon Winery has 2-hour wine tastings, accompanied by a selection of wine and food such as cheeses, traditional jams, and bread for €85 a person. For a more affordable option, visit the Wines of Portugal Tasting Room in Terreiro do Paço. This is a large modern tasting room with shared tables and wine starting at €1.

What are some famous historical attractions and monuments in Lisbon?

As the second-oldest European capital city, it is no surprise that Lisbon is filled with historical attractions and monuments. They are easily explored by foot or by tram. We have selected our favorites that you cannot miss the next time you visit Lisbon. 

  1. São Jorge Castle

Open every day of the week, São Jorge Castle is located in Santa Maria Maior and open to visitors. The medieval castle overlooks the historical center of Lisbon. The castle’s construction has an interesting history. First, a small fortress was built by the Visigoths during the fifth century. It was made larger by the Moors in the eleventh century, who invaded the Iberian peninsula. During the reign of Afonso I of Portugal in the twelfth century, it was altered and made into an official Royal Palace. It was then completely restored in 1938 by the dictatorship of Salazar as part of a commemoration of Portuguese patriotism and independence. 

A ticket to visit costs between 5 and 10. 

2. Santa Justa Lift

Known as “Elevador de Santa Justa” or “Elevador do Carmo”, this piece of outstanding architecture is a 45m tall elevator in the center of Lisbon. The Santa Just Lift was completed in 1902 by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, an architecture student of the man who built the Eiffel Tower. The lift is quite similar to the design of the Eiffel Tower. The lift was built to connect the lower streets of Baixa to the higher Carmo Square for the locals. Its purpose was functional, but now it has turned into a tourist attraction. From the top of the lift, you can enjoy a view of the Baixa Pombalina. 

It costs 5.15 (return) to ride the elevator and enjoy the view. 

(Pixabay)

3. Palace of Ajuda

The Palácio da Ajuda was constructed for the royal family after the 1755 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of Lisbon. Throughout its construction, there were many architectural issues and political turmoil, including Napoleon’s invasion of the palace in 1807. It was finally ready in the 19th century and became the royal family’s permanent residence during the reign of King Luis I (1861 – 1881). Queen Maria Pia, the King’s wife lived in the castle even after his death, until the republican revolution in 1910 where the royal family went into exile. 

Since then, it has been classified as a national monument. 

You can visit the palace and enjoy the neoclassicist construction, as well as the actual rooms where the King and Queen slept for only 5.

4. Lisbon Cathedral (or Sé)

Often simply called Sé, this cathedral located in Baixa was built in 1147 and is the oldest church in the present-day capital. It has been altered throughout time, particularly after the 1755 earthquake by Marquês de Pombal. The main chapel was rebuilt in neoclassical and Rococo architectural styles. Also known as the Brave, King Afonso IV, who died in 1357 is buried in the cathedral. The cathedral is free to visit!

5. Jerónimos Monastery

“Mosteiro dos Jerónimos” is a former monastery in Belém constructed in Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style. Construction began in 1501 to celebrate Vasco da Gama’s return from sea. Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer and the first man in Europe to reach India by sea. However, it was only finished in the seventeenth century. Vasco da Gama’s tomb resides inside the monastery. In 1833, the monastery was secularised and was given to a charity called Real Casa Pia de Lisboa. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO, this monument is a must-see. 

You can visit the church inside for free, but the monastery’s two-story cloister costs 10 to visit. 

Photo by Maria Orlova (Pexels)

Also, make sure to stop by “Pastéis de Belem”, a 2-minute walk away, where the traditional Portuguese custard tart was first invented. The recipe from this place is a secret. You´ll have to wait in line, but it is so worth it. 

Photo by Nick Fewings (Unsplash)

6. Belém Tower

The 30m Belém Tower was built in the 1500s in Manuelino style, like the Jerónimos monastery. It was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1983. The tower was built to defend the city as it is located near the Tagus River. It also served as a place for the embarkation of Portuguese explorers and so is often seen as a symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries. 

You can go up to the roof terrace and enjoy a stunning view of the river and Belém, as well as get a tour of the inside of the tower. Children under 12 years do not pay and adults pay 6.

Photo by Tania Mousinhon (Unsplash)

7. Monument of the Discoveries

A 10 minute walk away from Belém Tower, you can see the “Padrão dos Descobrimentos” which stands 52m tall. This monument was made in 1939, during the dictatorship, and represented the glorification of Portuguese exploration and colonialism during this period. However, at this time, it was built with perishable materials for the Portuguese World Exhibition. An official one was erected in 1960 to honor the 500-year death of Henry the Navigator. Many have criticized the romanticization of this monument as a symbol of colonialism and have asked to have it taken down. 

Photo by LoggaWiggler (Pixabay)

Day trips from Lisbon 

One of the greatest things about Lisbon is that you are very close to other towns and cities in Portugal that are perfect for tourism. It would be a waste to not take advantage of its location. We have selected the two best places for a day trip: Sintra and Cascais. 

  1. Sintra

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra is a town known for its forested terrain, astonishing palaces that once belonged to royal families, and the delicious “Travesseiro de Sintra”. 

Sintra is only a 30-minute drive from Lisbon. If you do not have a car or do not want to spend the money on an uber (around €20 – €30), you can always take the 45-minute train from Oriente station (around 2). 

What to do on a day trip to Sintra?

Visit Pena Palace or “Palácio Nacional da Pena”. The exterior of this palace is painted in multiple colors and is in a romanticist style. You can also wander around the castle and see the beautiful green area that surrounds it. You’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale. Tickets cost around 15.

Photo by Julia Solonina (Unsplash)

Then, walk for 10 minutes. towards the Castle of the Moors. This medieval castle that sits on a hilltop was built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. From the castle, you get the loveliest panoramic view of the whole of Sintra. 

After that, go to the historical center to find a place for lunch. We suggest Romaria de Baco (under 25 with a glass of wine), a 10-minute walk from the castle. 

Hungry for dessert? Grab a “travesseiro”, a Sintra staple at Piriquita., only two minutes walking distance. 

If you are not too tired after lunch, take a 10-minute walk from there to “Quinta da Regaleira”

The “Quinta” was designed in the early 1900s and has overgrown gardens, caves, and buildings with romantic architecture. 

If you drove to Sintra from Lisbon and want to also see some beaches, they are a 20-minute drive from the center. Transportation is not great to the beaches, this would take over an hour. Try out the beaches that the locals go to, not the tourists. For example, “Praia da Adraga” and “Praia do Magoito”.

2. Cascais (and Estoril)

Located on the Portuguese Riviera, Cascais is one of the richest municipalities in the whole of Portugal. It is known as one of the most pleasant places in the country with great restaurants, hotels, and beaches. 

You can take a 40-minute train from Cais do Sodré to Cascais (around 2). You can also drive for 30 minutes, but the train is the best option as you get an incredible view of the coastline. 

What to do on a day trip to Cascais?

Photo by Jeroen den Otter (Unsplash)

Firstly, take the train but instead of getting out at the Cascais station, get out around 5 minutes earlier in the Estoril station. This is a great place to start. 

Estoril is part of the municipality of Cascais and is known for being an international luxury destination. It is also home to the largest casino in Portugal, but avoid it during the day – pretty depressing. 

Instead, walk to the iconic bakery “Garrett”, a few minutes away, for breakfast. Try some baked goods like a “bola berlim” or a “mil folhas” with an espresso – a “healthy” Portuguese breakfast.

Take a short walk through the casino gardens and then get back on the train. Ride it for 5 more minutes until you reach Cascais station. 

A short walk away is “Praia da Rainha”, a secluded beach with a wonderful view, perfect for a family photograph. 

Then, walk for a minute toward “Frederico Arouca” street. This is essentially the high street with the major stores, as well as smaller vendors selling Portuguese souvenirs. 

From there, walk toward the City Hall of Cascais in “Praça 5 de Outubro”. This beautiful building with traditional Portuguese architecture stands in the middle of the square. The floors are made of traditional Portuguese cobblestone. The city hall square overlooks a small beach called “Praia da Baía de Cascais” and a fishermen’s wharf. Fun fact: the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa lives near here and is often spotted at this beach tanning.

After this, go up through “Avenida D. Carlos I” toward the Citadel of Cascais. These are a set of fortifications built between the 15th fifteenth and seventeenth century to defend the Cascais coastline and protect Lisbon. 

Ready for lunch? Cascais has many options. For vegetarians, House of Wonders is great and under €15. If you want to try the traditional Portuguese meat dish called “bitoque”, “Solar do Bitoque” near the city hall is a classic at around 10 per meal. Another great option is to walk to Yellow Street or “Rua Amarela” at Rua Afonso Sanches. This quaint street has been painted yellow and features a range of restaurants with outdoor terraces. Our favorite here is “Taberna Clandestina”, a restaurant that offers a Portuguese twist on tapas. A meal will cost you between  15 and 20 here.

After lunch, ice cream at “Santini” is a must – even if it’s winter. “Santini” is the most famous ice cream shop in Portugal and is over 70 years old. They are known for using the freshest ingredients. Tip for the vegans: all their fruit-flavored ice cream is plant-based and dairy-free. 

If you’re still energized and the weather is good, exploring the Guincho beach is next. A 10-minute ride from the center of Cascais, Guincho is the of the best beaches in Portugal. Not only is it perfect for swimming and tanning in the summer, but it is also beautiful to walk through in the colder months. Have a drink at “Bar do Guincho”, at the end of the day, a bar on the beach that has been around since the 80s. 

Photo by Callum Hilton (Pexels)

What are some activities for kids in Lisbon?

Traveling with kids can be stressful. But don’t worry, Lisbon is a very child-friendly capital. There are many activities for kids in Lisbon, the kind that parents can also enjoy. One of the top favorites is the “Hippo” tour, an amphibious sightseeing tour of Lisbon (around 30€ per person). The tour bus covers top attractions like Avenida da Liberdade and then transforms into a boat and sails the Tagus River. 

The Oceanário de Lisboa in Parque das Nações, the city ‘s aquarium, is one of the largest in Europe. With over 8,000 sea creatures and incredibly cute otters, this is the perfect activity for the whole family. Kids under 3 years old get in for free and for kids up to 12 years old tickets cost 10.

Another great option is the Lisbon Zoo in Quinta das Laranjeiras, Sete Rios. Inaugurated in 1884, this zoo has a variety of different species from the animal kingdom. From snakes and tigers to dolphins, there’s an animal for every kid. Kids up to 2 years old do not pay and kids up to 12 pay €14,50.

What are some free things to do in Lisbon? 

It’s true, at least in Lisbon: the very best things in life are free. As one of the greenest capitals in Europe, Lisbon has a lot to offer. 

A great thing to do in Lisbon for free is to discover the wide variety of parks and green spaces. Bring some wine with you and have a picnic at some of the most beautiful parks, many integrated within the center of the city. Some great options are Jardim da Estrela, Parque Eduardo VII and the Gulbenkian Gardens. 

Photo by JR Harris (Unsplash)

Lisbon is known for its “miradouros”, city lookout points where you get incredible panoramic views of the capital. The “miradouros” are always filled with people drinking beer and playing music. They are the perfect spot to take photographs and watch the sunset (or the sunrise after a night out). The best lookout spots are Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Alfama, Miradouro da Graça, and Miradouro de Santa Catarina. Oftentimes these places will have a small kiosk selling drinks and coffee, but you are free to purchase your own in a supermarket to enjoy. 

Photo by Tom Byrom (Unsplash)

Lisbon nightlife: Where to go out partying in Lisbon? 

Lisbon’s nightlife is one of the best in all of Europe. From bars filling the cobblestoned streets to larger clubs, the city has a lot to offer. Best avoid the touristy places and experience the best bars and clubs like a local. 

In Lisbon, and all of Portugal really, you don’t just go out to a club. You start off at a bar until around at least 1 am and then you head out to your favorite club for some dancing. If you decide to go to the club earlier, chances are it will be mostly empty. Clubs usually close at 7 am. Also, be prepared to smell like an ashtray the morning after. Although smoking cigarettes inside indoor public spaces is forbidden, this is not enforced.

If you’re overwhelmed by the options, we have selected our favorite bars and clubs to go partying in Lisbon. 

What are the best bars in Lisbon?

  1. Park, Bairro Alto

Located in Bairro alto, Park bar is one of the trendiest rooftop bars in Lisbon. Everyone knows it. Prepare to be confused when you arrive at the address. You’ll only see a huge parking garage filled with cars. Take the elevator in the parking garage and take it to the top floor. You’ll be surprised to see one of the best views of Lisbon and a terrace filled with greenery and wooden tables. 

2. Pensão Amor, Cais do Sodré

This unique bar located in the city’s old red-light district was once a brothel house. The name of the bar translates to “Love Inn” and is decorated with burlesque and peep show memorabilia. There are mirrors and paintings of naked people covering the inside of the dim-lit bar, as well as in the bathrooms. 

3. O Palheta, Cais do Sodré

Under three years old, this bar in Cais is always filled with young people having a drink before going out clubbing. You can expect good music, cool vinyl records, and cheap drinks. The inside of the bar is quite small, as well as cozy and well decorated. Most people stand outside the bar anyway, socializing and having a drink: the “Lisboeta” way.

Photo by Dario Gomes (Unsplash)

If you’re looking to bar hop, just head on to the main streets of Bairro alto and you´ll see hundreds of people drinking outside cheap bars. If you stick to beer, any of these are good options.

What are the best clubs in Lisbon?

  1. Lux Fragil, Santa Apolónia

The best club in Lisbon is Lux Fragil, which opened in 1991. This is also the most exclusive club in Lisbon and is renowned all over Europe. The club has a view of the Tagus river and the rooftop terrace is open in the summer. Major DJs from all over Europe play in Lux every week and the club mostly plays techno, especially downstairs.

The best time to go to Lux is between 2 and 5 am when the doors close. It’s usually open until 8 am. 

The dress code for Lux is not formal so no need to wear heels and a dress – you’ll be the only one. However, you should try to dress nice, even if you´re wearing sneakers. Men wearing shorts will probably not be allowed in. Even then, you might still be denied entrance at the door. If the bouncer says that you need to spend a minimum of over €100, don´t go in. Entrances to clubs in Lisbon never go over 15. 

2. Lust in Rio, Santos

Lust in Rio is known for its “Swag On” night every Wednesday where hip-hop is played. In the summer, this club is completely outdoors and overlooks the river. The club offers a VIP section that often is filled with football players and celebrities. You can get a private table with bottle service for around €250 for 8-10 people, as well as order some shisha. Lust in Rio is open until 5 am. 

3. Trumps, Príncipe Real

Trumps is the most iconic gay club in all of Lisbon. Open since the 1980s, it is a part of Lisbon’s LGBT history. The club is mostly full on Saturday nights and plays house and dance music, as well as pop. They also have drag queen nights. The club is also very popular with straight women. The club also hosts art exhibitions showcasing queer art during the day. 

Where to eat in Lisbon? 

Lisbon is culinary heaven. The food scene is renowned all over Europe. You can get a meal that fits your budget everywhere in the city. From traditional Portuguese food like seafood and steak to vegan and Michelin star restaurants, Lisbon is perfect for everyone’s taste. The options are endless. To help you, we have chosen some of our favorite restaurants that fit what you’re looking for. 

Portuguese food: where to eat traditional Portuguese food in Lisbon?

Before we get into listing our favorites, keep the following list of dishes and desserts to try with you when you visit Portuguese restaurants. You can call it your “comida tuga” (portuguese food) bucket list:

  • “Bifana” (pork sandwich)
  • “Sardinhas” (sardines)
  • “Frango de churrasco piri-piri” (piri-piri chicken)
  • “Bacalhau” (codfish) 
  • “Polvo à la lagareiro” (octopus)
  • “Bitoque” (thin steak)
  • “Secretos de porco preto” (Iberico pig)
  • “Caldo verde” (green soup)
  • “Cozido à portuguesa) (meat stew)
  • “Pastel de nata” (custard tart)
  • “Baba de camelo” (camel drool or condensed milk mousse)
  • “Arroz doce” (rice pudding)
  • “Bolo de bolacha” (portuguese biscuit cake)

Now that you know what to order, here are our 3 favorite traditional Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon.

  1. Zé dos Cornos, Rossio

It doesn’t get more authentic than the “tasca” (portuguese tavern) Zé dos Cornos. So authentic that they only take cash. For a Portuguese person, this place is like arriving at your Avó’s (grandma´s) house for dinner. Everything off the menu hits the spot, but try their codfish with potatoes or their rabbit. You can have a large full meal here with wine for under 15. 

2. 1 de Maio, Bairro Alto

Also an authentic “tasca”, 1 de Maio. This hidden restaurant offers delicious fresh seafood that you can see from the window and a variety of meats like lamb. This is a great place to try a “bitoque”, a traditional Portuguese steak with fries, rice, and salad. The seabass is also amazing. They offer lunch menus with bread and olives, the main course, glass of wine, dessert, and coffee all for €9. 

3. Alfaia, Bairro Alto

Open since 1880, Alfaia is one of Lisbon’s oldest restaurants. It serves traditional Portuguese food the old-fashioned way. Try the “cozido à Portuguesa”, a classic Portuguese stew with beef, pork, blood sausage, and vegetables, or their “pataniscas” (codfish cake). They also have a unique wine cellar with an irresistible wine list. 

This place is not considered a “tasca”, it is a bit fancier than that. However, it’s still quite affordable at around  15-€20 for a meal with wine. 

For the plant-based: where to eat vegan food in Lisbon?

In recent years, Lisbon has seen a boom in new vegan restaurants. If you’re plant-based, don’t worry, the capital is pretty vegan-friendly (if you avoid “tascas”). Here are our three favorite vegan restaurants in Lisbon. 

  1. Ao 26 Vegan Food Project, Chiado

Ao 26 is the best vegan restaurant in Lisbon or even all of Portugal. If you are vegan and upset that you won’t be trying traditional Portuguese food, this restaurant will save you. Ao 26, founded by Catarina Gonçalves offers traditional Portuguese food that is 100% plant-based. The food here does taste authentic. This restaurant has accomplished what many thought impossible for Portuguese cuisine. Try their selection of Portuguese starters that include octopus, codfish, and cheeses. For the main, their mustard sauce steak is delicious (all plant-based). You can also ask for the “chef’s suggestion”, a new plate that they make every day. People spend on average 40 for two people here. 

2. Vegan Junkies, Pena

Known for having Lisbon’s best vegan burgers, this place is trendy and affordable. Their motto: “enjoy the taste of junk food without any cruelty”. They also serve barbecue wings, nachos and all kinds of greasy stuff. Try the mac and cheese, as well as the “Notorious Big Poppa” burger. You won’t spend more than 25 for two people here. The owners also own the amazing “Plant Base”, a vegan pizza place in Bairro Alto that opened in 2021. 

3. The Green Affair, Saldanha or Chiado

This vegan place is fancy – perfect for a date. Open since 2018, the Green Affair serves Portuguese and international dishes. We recommend the boneless “lagareiro”, their plant-based take on the traditional octopus dish. The restaurant offers lunch menus for less than €11 including a starter, main, and drink. For dinner, you’ll pay around  €30 for two people. 

Luxury dining: what are the best Michelin star restaurants in Lisbon?

People usually associate fine dining with Paris and London, but Lisbon has a thriving food scene with incredible chefs. If you are looking to have a once in a lifetime experience, Lisbon has nine Michelin star restaurants. We have chosen our two favorite Michelin star restaurants if you are willing to splurge. 

  1. Belcanto, Chiado

José Avillez´s restaurant, Belcanto, is known worldwide for its outstanding dishes. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and is considered the best restaurant in Lisbon, as well as number 42 on the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. You can select one of the tasting menus or choose your favorites off the menu. For the full experience the “menu evolução” offers you innovative dishes that explore different tastes, textures, and sensations for 195 per person. 

2. Alma, Chiado

Henrique Sá Pessoa´s, Alma also has two Michelin stars. The menu includes Portuguese dishes with influences from his worldwide travels. Alma offers a refined taste, perfect technique, and an excellent final product. Once again, you can opt for à la carte or get the full experience through a tasting menu. The menus start at 145 per person and do not include drinks. The wine tasting menu costs 80 per person. 

Getting around: How does transportation work in Lisbon? 

Transportation in Lisbon is cheap and accessible. The best way to discover the city is by far by foot, but you can access a wide range of transportation services such as trams, metros, buses, and trains. 

You can purchase a 24-hour unlimited ticket for metros, buses, and trams for 6.40. This ticket is charged to a reusable “Viva Viagem” card which you can purchase at metro and train stations for 0.50. The 24-hour travel ticket is perfect for tourists as it includes main sightseeing points such as Elevador da Glória and Elevador de Santa Justa. 

The train is great for day trips, if you want to visit Cascais or Sintra (under €2) . The train stations Oriente and Cais do Sodré are best for this. The  €6.40 24-hour ticket does not include train rides. For this, you need to buy a more expensive 24-hour ticket of  €10.55 that includes the train lines in Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja, and Sado. In station Oriente, you can also get a train to further away cities like Porto, for a weekend trip.

The metro (€1.50 single fare) is the fastest way to travel around Lisbon and many of the stations are decorated with traditional Portuguese “azulejo”. There are four metro lines and 55 metro stations. The metro is open from 6:30 am to 1:00 am. 

The trams (€1.50 single fare) are a perfect way to see the city and they can access areas of the city where there are no metros. While there are newer modern trams, there are still many iconic yellow metros in the center of the city which provide a great experience. The number 28 tram is a tourist favorite as it covers the popular districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. A lot nicer than taking a tourist bus!

Photo by Julian Dik (Unsplash)

You can also take the bus (€1.50 single fare), if necessary. The bus covers 172 routes and runs from 5 am to 1 am. Don’t forget, in Portugal, you wave for the bus so it doesn’t drive past you. Buy and top-up your “Viva Viagem” card beforehand as it is more expensive to buy it with a driver. Taking the bus is good if you need to, but by far the best modes of transportation are the metro and tram. 

Final thoughts

From the astonishing views to the nightlife and food, Lisbon has made a mark as a top capital to travel to in Europe. It is no surprise that around 4.5 million tourists travel to Lisbon each year. The capital has something for everyone’s taste: from activities to do with kids, to historical monuments and clubs to dance the night away. Hopefully, this extensive Lisbon city guide has taught you everything you need to travel to the Portuguese capital. Pack your bags and safe travels!

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