Hostelworld Guide for Lisbon

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Built on seven hills, Lisbon is quickly becoming one of Europe's most popular capitals. Small enough to explore in a day but with enough going on to keep you here for a week, it also boasts one of the continent's most pleasurable climates. Plan your visit here and take one of the old yellow trams past the city's sights, crunch into a sweet custard pie, enjoy the breathtaking vistas, and treat your hedonistic tendencies to the countless bars in one of the world's craziest districts, the Bairro Alto.

 

 

In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop






 The Essentials


 Climate


Getting There

By plane: Lisbon's airport is remarkably close to the city centre, located just 7km away. The easiest way to the city centre is via the AeroBus. The journey takes 20 minutes, costs €3.50, and terminates at Praca do Commercio. The ticket is then valid on public transport for the rest of the day.

By train: If you travel to the Portuguese capital via train your journey will end at one of five different train stations around the city centre.

By bus: The city's main bus terminals are Gare do Oriente at Parque das Nacoes and Sete Rios terminal beside 'Jardim Zoologico' metro stop.

Getting Around

On foot: Lisbon is a compact city and, while you will need to use public transport at some stage, much of the city centre is traversable on foot.

By metro: Lisbon's metro system has five lines. Trains come frequently and the network is very useful for getting to different parts of the city.

By bus/tram/elevador: Lisbon's old yellow trams which rattle through the city centre from morning till night pass by some of the city's best-known attractions. You may not need to use buses or elevadors, but the latter are a tourist attraction in their own right.

 Useful phrases

Hello: Olá
Goodbye: Adeus
Please: Por favor
Thank you: Obrigado
You're welcome: De nada
Yes: Sim
No: Não
Of course: Com certeza
Excuse me: Disculpa (Sorry) / Com licença (with your permission)
How are you?: Tudo bom?
Open: Aberto
Closed: Fechado
What is your name?: Qual é o teu nome?
My name is...: Meu nome é...
How much does it cost?: Quanto custa?
The bill please?: A conta por favor?


The Portuguese capital boasts a moderate climate and, with a mean annual temperature of approximately 17°C, is Europe's second-hottest capital after Athens. Summers are extremely hot and dry with temperatures regularly climbing over 30°C, while winters are wet and windy with temperatures floating around 10°C. Like most hot capitals, spring and autumn are the most pleasant months to visit.

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 Good to know...

Language: Portuguese
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 220V/50Hz, 2-pin plug
Telephone Codes: +351 (Portugal), 021 (Lisbon)
Emergency Codes: Police 112 / Ambulance 112 / Fire 112
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time
Central Post Office: Praca do Commercio
Main Tourist Office: Ask Me Lisboa, 25 Rua de Arsenal, Baixa (open daily from 10am-6pm)

Embassies

USA: +351 (0)21 727 3300
Australia: +351 (0)21 310 1500
UK: +351 (0)21 392 4000
Canada: +351 (0)21 316 4600
South Africa: +351 (0)21 319 2200
Ireland: +351 (0)21 392 9440
Germany: +351 (0)21 881 0210
Spain: +351 (0)21 347 2381
Italy: +351 (0)21 351 5320
New Zealand: +39 (0)6 853 7501*
France: +351 (0)21 393 9100

* Embassy in Rome

 
Hostelworld Guide for Lisbon www.hostelworld.com

 Cheap Eats


 After Dark


Bacalhoeiro, Rua do Sapateiros 224, Baixa Considering its extremely central location, this restaurant where fish is the speciality is surprisingly frequented by mainly locals. Those who do eat here, come to try the numerous variations of cod, squid and other types of seafood. Open Mon-Sat 10am-3pm & 6pm-9pm.

Cabacas, Rua des Gaveas 8-10, Bairro Alto There aren't many restaurants that let you cook your fillet steak yourself. But ask for the 'slice on the stone' here and you can do just that. Served on a piping hot stone, you can let it sizzle until it's cooked to your liking. Open Tues-Fri 12pm-3pm & 7pm-11.30pm, Sat & Sun 7pm-11.30pm.

Malmequer Bemmequer, Rua de San Miguel 23-25, Alfama Specialising in charcoaled food, here you can choose from all types of fish, including the Portuguese staple 'bachalau'. There's lots of meat too, and the lamb cutlets doused in rosemary are particularly scrumptious. Open Tues 7pm-10.30pm, Wed-Sun 12 noon-3pm & 7pm-10.30pm.

 O sacred cake

Pasteis de Belem, Rua de Belem 84-92, Belem No trip to Lisbon is complete without visiting the famous 'Pasteis de Belem', home to the sacred cake of the same name. There are only three people living and breathing today who know the secret recipe. After consumption you will see why as they really are truly delightful, and cheap too. Open daily from 8am-10pm.

Casa da India, Rua do Loreto 49-51, Bairro Alto You would think the chefs here could whirl up a curry in a matter of minutes, but this isn't the case. Instead you'll find plenty of 'peixe' (fish) and 'carne' (meat). But rather than opting for either of the above try their barbecued chicken which they are famed for. Open daily from 12pm-3pm & 7pm-midnight.


Pavilhao Chines, Rua dom Pedro 89, Bairro Alto If the door of this bar is closed when you arrive don't fret - simply hit the doorbell, nod to the concierge and step inside one of Europe's most unique bars. Decorated with literally thousands of collectable items, go and you'll find yourself studying model aeroplanes, sipping on cocktails and tapping your feet to the sounds of the 80s. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 9pm-2am.

Mezcal, 20 Rua Travesa Aqua de Flor, Bairro Alto This tiny bar in the ever-lively Bairro Alto serves arguably the best (and cheapest) caipirinhas and mojitos in town. Opened in 1950 by Manuel, he'd be lucky to squeeze ten rogues into his beloved bar. But he never complains as the line going into his bar for shots and cocktails seldom shortens. Open daily from 10am-4am.

 Gay / Lesbian Lisbon

Lisbon has a relaxed attitude when it comes to homosexuality and the gay scene is very open. Most gay bars and clubs are around the city's Principe Real (note you must ring a bell to get into most bars). Bric-a-Brac Bar (Rua Cecílio De Sousa, 82-84) is one of the city's bigger and better known gay bars, while nearby Bar 106 (Rua De São Marçal 106) is a friendly, small bar. Finalmente (Rua Da Palmeira 38) is one of Lisbon's most popular gay clubs.

Club de Fado, Rua San Joao D Praca 94, Alfama A night of Portugal's most famous music 'fado' is obligatory for those who want to spend one night soaking up some Portuguese culture instead of beers and cocktails. This club in Alfama is touristy but a good place to witness some traditional tunes nonetheless. Open daily from 8pm-2am.

Lux, Avenida Infante D, Henrique Santa Apolonia Regarded by many as one of Western Europe's best haunts, this club part-owned by John Malkovich attracts Lisbon's coolest kids who flock to hear the world's top DJs. Not as difficult to make your way past the bouncers as you would expect, the hefty admission charge includes a number of drinks. Open Mon-Sat from 6pm-7am.

Incognito, Rua Polais de Sao Bento 37, Sao Bento Part bar, part club, Incognito doesn't have a sign on the front door but inside the atmosphere speaks for itself. Totally unpretentious, you can try all sorts of moves on the dancefloor downstairs, or look at others from the bar on top. Open Wed-Sat from 11pm-4am.


 Don't Miss


 Mark Your Calendar


Sao Vicente de Fora, Calcada de Sao Vicente, Alfama This huge church and monastery high in the Alfama hills dates back to the 17th century. Upon entering one can visit the cloisters, the sacristy and the Royal Pantheon. The classical music in the church itself makes a visit all the more dramatic. Open daily from 10am-4pm; admission free (church)/€4 (others).

 A city fortress

Castelo de Sao Jorge, Alfama Lisbon's iconic castle dates back to the 6th century and is worth a couple of hours of any visit to this city. Aside from the breathtaking views and walk around the castle's walls, you can see 360° views through the camera obscura and learn the history of the castle via a short film in 'Olisiponia'. Open daily from 10am-5pm; admission €5.

Oceanario de Lisboa, Ave Dom Joao II, Parques das Nacoes Once home to Europe's largest tank, Lisbon's oceanarium promotes a concept where species from all oceans share the same waters. Four of the five oceans are represented in centres around the tank that over 1,500 animals like to call home. Open daily from 10am-7pm; admission €10.50.

Centro De Arte Moderna, Rua Dr. Nicolau de Bettencourt, Sao Sebastiao Portugal's flagship modern art museum which opened in 1983 houses over 10,000 pieces of art. Some of its most fascinating pieces are by famed local artists such as Vieira da Silva and Paula Rego. Open Tues-Sun from 10am-6pm; admission €4.

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Praca do Imperio, Belem Built in the 'Manueline' style', Belem's monastery took over 40 years to complete. The attention to detail is amazing and the site is listed as a World Heritage Site. Open Tue-Sun from 10am-5pm (winter) & 10am-6.30pm (summer); admission €4/€8.


February - Festival das Musicas e dos Portos For this ten-day festival in February, Lisbon invites another city port to exchange music and culture. The Portuguese capital always uses it as an excuse to showcase its famed 'fado' music.

March - Lisbon Half Marathon This race is the most important athletic event in the city and attracts thousands of athletes, with the finishing line at Mosteiro do Jeronimos in Belem.

May/June - Lisbon Village Festival This festival is a digital cultural event divided in three areas - Village International D-Cinema Festival, Village Art and Village Lounge. Innovative film, music and more is showcased throughout the festival.

May/June - Rock in Rio in Lisbon In 2004 the Portuguese capital decided to stage its own version of the iconic festival and it hasn't looked back since. Lenny Kravitz and Metallica have appeared here.

June - Festos dos Santos Populares Arguably the biggest festival on the Lisboan calendar, streets around the city are decorated in celebration of the patron saints of Lisbon. Street festivals and more take place everywhere.

July - Superbock Superrock Festival This music festival which is now held in Parque das Nacoes, was the first international rock music festival to take place in the city. Beck, Mika and Duran Duran have all performed here.

July to September - BaixAnima Street Festival This is one of the year's most colourful events and takes place every weekend from July to September. It is also one of the most central, taking place in the city's Baixa district. Enjoy street drama, circus acts and more for free.

August - Festival dos Oceanos The annual 'Oceans Festival' is held in areas such as Belem Tower and Parque de Nacoes and stages music, drama and dance performances.

August - World Bodyboard Championship Held in Praia Grande in Sintra, just outside Lisbon, this is now one of the main events on the international bodyboarding circuit.

December - Noite Magica While there are parties held throughout the city, the best place to ring in the New Year in Lisbon is at Belem Tower in the suburb of the same name.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Lisbon www.hostelworld.com

 Neighbourhood Watch


 Retail Therapy


Bairro Alto Ask any respecting Lisbon native where is the best place to party and they will reply with two words - Bairro Alto. Its two main drags, Rua da Italia and Rua da Barroca, are lined with bars, but instead you'll find that all the fun takes place out on the streets. At weekends it's hard to walk two meters without having to dodge somebody.

 A maze of labrynthine lanes

Alfama With its distinct Moorish influences, narrow streets, and numerous vantage points, Alfama is one of the most enticing parts of the Portuguese capital. After idling through Sé Cathedral and Castelo de Sao Jorge, one can wander aimlessly around its streets for hours. Alfama is also famously the home of the largest concentration of 'fado' bars.

Belem Pronounced 'Belei', Belem is twenty minutes from the city centre via tram #15. Most who take the trip to the district do so to visit the monastery and to indulge in tasty little cakes, although not enough stay to appreciate its peaceful location on the banks of the River Tagus. Best appreciated by a visit to the monastery, a cake in 'Pasteis de Belem' and a stroll down to the Golden Gate-esque Ponte 25 de Abril.

Baixa/Chiado These two districts side by side collectively make up the area that is downtown Lisbon. In Baixa the emphasis is on shopping, and its main thoroughfare Rua Augusta is Lisbon's premier shopping strip which ends at Praca do Commercio, the city's best known square. Next door in Chiado you'll encounter cafés on streets such as Rua Garret and squares like Largo do Carmo.

Parque das Nacoes Pretty much founded when Lisbon hosted Expo '98 ten years ago, this part of town contrasts to the rest of the city greatly which is all thanks to the architecture. Here buildings such as Oceanario de Lisboa and Pavilhao Atlantico have a far more modern edge to them.


Rua Augusta, Baixa Lisbon's flagship shopping strip is a pedestrianised street laid with Portugal's unique ceramic 'Azulejo' tiles. While it is minus many of the world's best-known brands, this simply lends to its charm as many stores are stocked with local goods. In saying that, you will still find a few recognisable brands, such as H&M and Zara.

Centro Vasco da Gama, Avenida Dom Joao II, Parque das Nacoes One of the city's largest malls, yet still not unmanageably big, this mall is frequented by locals who visit to shop and eat, and tourists who are en-route to the nearby Oceanario de Lisboa. Stores are spread out over two floors and some of those brands that might ring a bell include Timberland and Levis. Open daily from 10am-midnight.

Feira da Ladra, Campo de Santa Clara, Graca Lisbon's best-known flea market (it means 'thieves market' when translated) has been taking place every Tuesday and Saturday since 1881. On the market's numerous stalls you will find everything from vinyl to vintage clothing. Open every Tuesday and Saturday from 8am-1pm (Tues) & 5pm (Sat).

Avenida de Liberdade Lisbon's answer to the Champs Elysees (it was modelled on Paris' boulevards) is awash with designer boutiques and chic cafés. Worth a stroll at least if you're not in the market for some designer clothes.

 The rebirth of cool

Bairro Alto The stores in the funky Bairro Alto stock some of the coolest threads in the city and are easily missed at night when crawling from bar to bar. The self-explanatory Sneakers Delight (Rua de Norte 32) is one of many stores along Rua de Norte specialising in sneakers. Others include Mister Geek (Rua de Rossa 130) and Global Effect (Rua de Rossa 80) which both stock funky t-shirts and more.


 Budget Tips


 A Day in Lisbon...


Visit museums on Sundays If your visit to Lisbon is at the weekend, save yourself a few Euro by leaving the museums until Sunday when many of them are free. This includes the city's premier art museum Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and Centro de Arte Moderna which are both in Sao Sebastio, and Alfama's Museu Nacional do Azulejo which tells the history of Portugal's celebrated tiles.

Chill out in Lisbon's parks While the Portuguese capital isn't as busy and bustling as some other European capitals, it's still nice to get away from the crowds and chill out in one of the city's parks. The most central green areas are Parque Eduardo VII at the top of Avenida da Liberdade and Jardim Botanico just north of Bairro Alto.

 Jump on board

Take a trip on tram #28 Rather than spending over €15 for a tour on Lisbon's red tourist tram, jump aboard tram #28 somewhere along Rua do Loreto in Bairro Alto. Make sure it's going in the direction of the city centre, then sit back, relax, and enjoy a journey by Sé Cathedral, Sao Vicente de Fora and more landmarks. The journey will cost you just €1.40.

Invest in a day-ticket for transport If you're planning on utilising public transport during your stay (it's pretty inevitable that you will), don't waste your time and money by buying single tickets. Instead invest in an all-day ticket. Costing €4, they cover the metro, tram, and the city's elevadors which are a tourist attraction in their own right.

Visit Lisbon's churches Many of Lisbon's most beautiful buildings are its cathedrals and churches, and thankfully most are free to enter. Sé Cathedral in Alfama is the city's best-known cathedral and a must-see. Others worth visiting include the Baroque Igreja de Loreto and Igreja de Encarnacao which are both on Praca Luis Camoes.


Start your day in Lisbon's best-known square Praco do Comercio. Once home to the royal palace, it is still widely referred to as 'Terreiro do Paco' (Palace Square).

Walk under Arco da Victoria and take a right up Rua de Conceicao until you reach Sé Cathedral. Explore the cathedral and don't miss the cloisters at the back.

From here go further up into the Alfama district and visit the historic Castelo de Sao Jorge. The castle is fascinating and the views of the city are breathtaking.

Walk up to Largo das Portas do Sol for an aerial view of the Alfama district before jumping on tram #28 back into the city centre for lunch in Bacalhoeiro.

Stroll through the Baixa district to Praco do Comercio and get on tram #15. Enjoy the view of Ponte 25 de Abril before jumping out at Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Belem.

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After wandering through Belem's famous monastery give your feet a rest with cup of tea or coffee and a famous 'Pasteis de Belem' in the café of the same name.

That evening dine in 'Cabacas' in Bairro Alto. Their specialty is steak, but they have lots of fish to choose from also.

Bairro Alto is undoubtedly one of Europe's most hectic areas at night. Jump from bar to bar along Rua da Atalia and Rua da Barocca.

If you are in the mood for really making it a day to remember, finish the night off dancing in 'Incognito' or 'Lux', two of Lisbon's coolest clubs.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Lisbon www.hostelworld.com