Ah Lisbon… you absolute beaut of a city! We spent 3 nights in Lisbon in January and there was so much to see and do. As always, I’ve written about everything (I can remember :p) to help those of you who are planning a trip. For those who aren’t planning, I hope this post convinces you why you should start! :p
My Lisbon Map
The quickest and cheapest way to get to Lisbon from Ireland is by plane. Ryanair and Aer Lingus usually offer the cheapest direct flights. If you search Skyscanner for your dates though, the results will be ranked from cheapest to dearest.
The flight takes approximately 2 and a half hours from Dublin Airport. You’ll fly into Lisbon Airport which is huge by the way and has over 70 shops!
We got the Aerobus (number 1) for €4 each into Lisbon City. However, a taxi or an Uber cost the same at around €8 in total.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
We stayed in 2 hotels because I had to work for half of the week in Lisbon. They were Turim Terreiro do Paco Hotel and Hotel Eurostars Das Letras and you can see where both of them are located on My Lisbon Map below.
The Turim Hotel was perfectly located (beside landmark Rua de Augusta), clean and the staff were really nice. The rooms were basic but if you do Lisbon right, you won’t spend much time in your hotel anyway!
The Eurostars Hotel was a better looking one but it’s to be expected given it’s a 5 star hotel. If you look at My Lisbon Map however, you’ll see that it is located a bit away from most things and it’s based at the top of a steep road. For location alone, I would go with the Turim Hotel.
For 99% of our trips we use Booking.com. We filter by Star Rating, Distance from the City Centre and then arrange from cheapest to dearest. The pictures will give you a feel for the hotel but the customer reviews is what is most helpful.
Getting Around Lisbon
Like most European cities (besides Dublin) getting around Lisbon is so quick, easy and cheap!
Uber & Taxis
Uber and Taxis are really cheap and the drivers are very friendly and full of knowledge that they’re happy to share with you. Don’t be afraid to have a chat with them, they offer more info than any tour guide.
If you buy a 24 hour Metro Card, you have unlimited use of the Metro, Buses, Trams and Elevators for €6.40.
Tram 28 is the most famous and supposedly one of the best ways to see the city. The queue for the tram was ridiculously long and the tram itself was packed! Top tip: be in the look out for pickpockets. Now, these pickpockets are opportunists so there is nothing to be worried about if you don’t give them that opportunity! Anyway, because it’s so packed, you can’t really see out the windows, so not the best way to see the city in my opinion. Although it does bring you nearly all the way up to San Jorg Castle (see below).
Another way to get around is by Tuk Tuk. We didn’t get one because we preferred the other transport options but the option is there.
The BEST way to get around you ask? BY SCOOTER of course :p If you were following our trip on Instagram, this won’t surprise you. They were so handy, so cheap and SO MUCH FUN. There are a few different companies who offer rentals but we used LIME. You’ll see scooters all over the city and all you have to do to rent one is:
- Download the free Lime App
- Follow a couple of steps to register
- Top up your account. We topped up by €10 and still had some credit after 4 days
- Get scooting!
It costs €1 to unlock a scooter (unlock via the app) and then 15 cent per minute. The only thing is, if your phone dies, you won’t be able to release the scooter (and would continue to be charged) so make sure you have enough battery!
Things to See & Do in Lisbon
Day Trip to Sintra
To be honest, I think I heard more about Sintra than Lisbon prior to our trip. The town is based at the foot of a mountain and surrounded by stunning scenery. It boasts numerous castles, palaces and the tiny, narrow streets are lined with many beautiful restaurants. Some tourists choose to stay in Sintra but I much preferred staying in the city so a day trip was enough for me.
To get to Sintra from Lisbon City, you can get the train for €5 return at Rossio Train Station (pinned on My Map) and it takes about 40 minutes.
In the summer, Sintra is said to be so busy that it’s off putting. The narrow streets are packed with people and, considering there are so many hills, I would find that very stressful. My advice is to visit during the off-season. It was perfect when we visited in January but it was freezing! Sintra is a lot higher than Lisbon City so wrap up!
Quinta da Regeleira
This was probably my favourite part of our trip. It’s a real life fortress and I’ve only every seen anything like it in films!It’s a Mansion but the grounds around it are way more impressive. It’s full of tunnels, caves, hidden entrances and stairways, and I could not get enough of it. On the way up to the Mansion from Sintra Centre, there is a little waterfall on the left hand side. I recommend getting some goodies and stopping there for a few minutes, it’s so nice. It was so worth the ticket price of €8 each.
I seen this picture of Pena Palace on Instagram one day and was blown away! I love castles and this just looked amazing…
We got the bus from Sintra to the Palace for about €7 each return. It was about 30 minutes in total and when we got to the top, we were literally in the clouds. It was actually really cool but it was freezing! There were a couple of ticket options, we just got the Park Only Ticket but you could add on a shuttle bus and entry to the palace.
Because we didn’t add on the shuttle, we had to walk up a hill to the Palace for about 15 mins (I would have purchased the shuttle in hindsight :p). When we got to the Palace, we literally couldn’t see it behind the clouds and fog, until we got right up to it.
This was really disappointing because the view from the Palace is supposed to be the best view of Lisbon. The Palace itself wasn’t as pretty as Instagram either, it badly needed a lick of paint!
We visited the Belem Tower at night time and I think that’s what made it interesting. It was so eerie and honest to god, if you go to my Instagram Lisbon Highlight, somebody whistles! It was so freaky because I only heard it when I listened back to the video and Darren was miles away :s
You can go inside the Tower but it’s closed in the evening. I wouldn’t fancy waiting in the queue though, I’ve seen pictures and it is ridiculous. While you’re here, hop on a scooter down to Pateis de Belem (see below) and take a few minutes to look at the 25 de April Bridge.
San Jörg Castle
Tram 28 brought us up to San Jorg Castle. Well… most of the way up. It’s about a 10 minute walk after you get off.
Entry to the Castle was €10 each and while the view was really nice, I don’t think it was worth the money (and I love castles!).
When you get off the tram, there is a gorgeous restaurant there with the same view. You could get yourself a drink or a bite to eat for the same price as entry to the Castle. Oh and there is an unbelievable Crepe place there! It’s called. (pinned on My Map).
The Oceanarium in Lisbon is essentially an aquarium. It was good but I found it expensive for what it was at €18 per ticket. In saying that, the Oceanarium is also a Conservation so I was delighted to hear that. Read more about what that means here.
Shopping in Lisbon
Generally I don’t like shopping on holidays because I feel that my time could be better spent! The only rule I have is, if I can’t buy it in Ireland, I’ll have a look :p Naturally I took a trip to Sephora :p
Centro Vasco da Gama, Centro Colombo, Amoreiras Shopping Centre are some of the popular places to shop and the main shopping street is called R. Augusta or Rua Augusta. You can see where they’re all located on My Lisbon Map below.
Bairro Alto is the place to go in the evenings! It’s full of quirky bars and restaurants. If you want to try traditional Portuguese food, while listening to Fados (trad Portuguese music), there is nowhere more perfect! Bairro Alto is lined with cobblestones so leave the heels at home. It has a real laid back atmosphere anyway!
Places to Eat in Lisbon
While you’re in Bairro Alto, I strongly recommend you to try this tapas restaurant! It was delicious. Just order one of everything :p It is really busy every night so I recommend you book it in advance here.
The Time Out Market
Before we left, everyone we spoke to about Lisbon recommended this place. It’s an unusual set up and it really is like a market (indoors). There are loads of restaurants and cuisines to choose from and they all serve alcohol too if you fancy one or too. In fact, many people go for dinner and stay until closing drinking (there is some light music playing). Highly recommend the chow mein from Asian Lab, the pizza from Zero Zero, the sushi from Confraria and a burger from Ground Burger. For dessert, get the famous Manteigaria Pasteis! They’re one of the best in Lisbon… but not THE best…
Pasteis de Belem
This is said to be home to the best, and the original, Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon. Only 2 people in the whole world know every ingredient and legend has it that they don’t do anything together… just in case! What is a Pasteis de Nata, you ask? It’s basically a small, custard tart and the people of Lisbon are very proud of them altogether!
We set ourselves a bit of a challenge to taste as many as we could and we have to agree… these are THE BEST! They’re the only ones that actually tasted like custard! The only thing is, these are based in Belem, which is a bit outside of the city. Although, while you’re visiting the Belem Tower and the 25 de April Bridge, you could pop in! We were told by locals that in the summer they sell about 40,000 Pasteis per day!!
Guilty by Olivier: This Italian place does a bit of everything! I got the Guilty Mac n’ Cheese and it was so good! At the weekends, it turns into a disco bar after midnight so that’s something to bear in mind. Read the menu and make a booking here.
Downunder by Justin Jennings
This was hands down the best meal we had in Lisbon. It’s an Australian restaurant and as well as serving the usual steak and fish, they also serve Kangaroo and Pork Belly. I recommend the steak and oh my god you must get the Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart… UNBELIEVABLE! Read the full menu here.
I had some of the best sushi I ever had here. If sushi is your thing, I recommend you pay this place a visit! Book a table here.
Nice (not AMAZING) place for breakfast, brunch or lunch. If you’re down that way, pop in, but don’t go out of your way for it. Oh mind you, the 100% freshly squeezed orange juice was divine! The omelette was decent too.
Nice for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The service wasn’t great but the food was nice. I got the pancakes with Nutella and fresh strawberries :
As you can see, you certainly won’t be bored in Lisbon, there is so much to do (and eat :p).