Whilst the small towns and villages of Portugal constitute its soul, Lisbon is Portugal’s heart. It beats to a different rhythm, driving the pulse of the country and acting as a gateway for change and modernization.
Lisbon is a fantastic city, to visit and to live in. Culturally, gastronomically, socially and historically, Lisbon is very rich, and it offers its visitors and residents a wide selection of options and variety. Whether you want to explore the city’s history and culture by wandering its streets and visiting its monuments and historic buildings, or spend a day enjoying wide open spaces in its parks, river-front areas and beaches, or indulge yourself in a day of shopping and pampering at luxurious hotels and spas, Lisbon will delight you and seduce all your senses. Spend a few days in Lisbon and get to know the beating heart of Portugal!
The weather in Lisbon is quite mild throughout the year, so you can comfortably enjoy the city life in either winter (with average highs of 15°C) or summer (with average highs of 29°C)! As far as practical transportation matters are concerned: getting to Lisbon and around town is very easy. Just fly into the Lisbon International Airport and, from there, take relatively inexpensive taxi rides to anywhere in town.
As you’ve probably discovered by now (a simple Google search will do the trick!), there are many websites dedicated to telling people where to go and what to see in Lisbon. Rather than repeat what has already been written about in many other forums, we would rather redirect you to one site in particular that we feel has done an excellent job of identifying the best that the city has to offer (not just for tourists, but for locals as well!). This site is http://www.lisbonlux.com/, and it highlights almost everything we would recommend that you visit. Best of all, they distill the typically endless list of “must see” spots into a short list of the top places to visit, restaurants to eat in and hotels to stay at. We love the site and hope you like it as much as we do!
While in Lisbon, try to make sure you visit the main areas: Avenida da Liberdade, Avenidas Novas, Principe Real, Chiado, Bairro Alto, Baixa, Alfama, Mouraria, Cais do Sodré, Belém, Santos, and Parque das Nações. Each of these areas is unique in its own way and each acts as a little window into the history and culture of Lisbon and Portugal!
If you’d like a quick reference list, below are the locations we recommend you include on your list of places to see, restaurants to eat at, cafés to go to for an afternoon coffee and/or pastry, and bars/lounges to go to for an early evening drink!
Top places to see in Lisbon: Avenida da Liberdade, Jardim Miradouro do Torel, Parque Eduardo VII, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Jardim do Príncipe Real, Jardim Botânico, Solar, Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, Igreja e Museu de São Roque, Igreja de Santa Catarina, Elevador de Santa Justa, Arco da Rua Augusta, Catedral Sé de Lisboa, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Castelo de São Jorge, Casa dos Bicos, Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, Viúva Lamego, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Cristo Rei, Oceanário, and the waterfront area (along the Rio Tejo/ Tagus River) of Parque das Nações.
Best Restaurants in Lisbon (serving Portuguese cuisine): Restaurant Casa da Comida, Restaurant Feitoria (Chef: José Cordeiro), Restaurant Panorama, Restaurant Valle-Flôr, Restaurant Chapitô à Mesa (Chef: Bertílio Gomes), Restaurant Pedro e o Lobo (Chef: Diogo Noronha), Restaurant Assinatura (Chef: Henrique Mouro), Restaurant Belcanto (Chef: José Avillez), Restaurant Na Ordem (Chef: Luís Suspiro), Restaurant Taberna Ideal (Chef: Susana Felicidade), Restaurant Tasca da Esquina (Chef: Vítor Sobral), Restaurant Bica do Sapato, Restaurant Pap’Açorda, Restaurant As Salgadeiras, Restaurant Gambrinus, Restaurant Eleven (Chef: Joachim Koerper), and Restaurant Tavares (Chef: Aimé Barroyer).
Places to go for a coffee and/or pastry in the afternoon: Café Pastellaria Versailles, outdoor coffee kiosks located along Avenida de Liberdade, Confeitaria Nacional, Café Fabulas, Pois Café, Pasteis de Belém, Cultura do Chá and Poison d’Amour.
Places to go for a drink in the early evening: Sky Bar (on the rooftop of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel), Terrace (on the rooftop of the Bairro Alto Hotel), Silk Club, Solar do Vinho do Porto, and Cinco Lounge.
If you want to escape the city for a day and head over to a beach, there are many options for you to consider (although you’ll probably need to rent a car to do so). The closest beaches to Lisbon are those to the North, between Lisbon and Cascais: Carcavelos beach and Tamariz beach (although these tend to get quite packed). In and near the town of Cascais are Praia da Conceição beach and Praia da Rainha beach (which also get quite busy), and Guincho beach (which tends to get less busy and is famous for its wind-surfing). To the south of Lisbon are long beautiful stretches of white sand: Costa da Caparica, Sesimbra, Troia and Comporta.
If you’re less interested in beaches and more interested in visiting small neighboring towns and villages, some very charming and interesting options are Cascais, Sintra, Arraiolos, Fatima, Óbidos and Mafra.
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in and around Lisbon, no matter what your preferences may be. So come, discover, enjoy and allow yourself to be seduced by the many hidden pleasures of Lisbon and Portugal!