When I was climbing my 2,007th hill in Lisbon I was thinking of what I’d write up on this blog about our trip, and along with the ideas for a few posts to come, I was thinking how good it would be to just have a simple guide to the city. Perfect for travelling there for a short time, a list of the basics to know and do.
Lisbon is such a huge city with so many options, and I do have a blog post coming shortly with what we did and ate, but here I wanted to list the basic essentials of what to do, see, eat and drink when you’re there! So, without further ado, here we go…
Currency: Euros. You can use card in most places but check before you order in case they don’t accept card, as some places (LX Factory I’m looking at you) accept Portuguese bank cards only.
Getting There: It’s relatively easy to get to central Lisbon airport (in comparison to London at least!). You can get the underground, the bus or even an Uber as they’re really cheap in Lisbon with a trip costing on average €7.
Travelling Around: Lisbon is hella hilly so expect to walk your little legs off if you only intend to walk everywhere. I am a young, relatively fit (hahahahhaha) individual and I found it a bit tough especially after a huge dinner.
Trams are the famous transport choice of Lisbon, and you can pick up a Zapper card which you can top up – like an Oyster card – and you can use it on the metro and the buses.
Dishes you needed to Eat:
I have a more extensive post on this coming shortly, but when in Lisbon your essential menu checklist should be:
- Sardines – Can be bought either in colourfully wrapped tins, or grilled on top of sourdough, and tasty either way. Thanks to Lisbon being right on the river, their fish is fresh and tasty as a result. The variation of tinned sardines (and other seafood) can be found in specialist shops around the city that are worth visiting to look at even if fish isn’t you thing.
- Pastéis de Nata – The crème de la crème (or the pastry de la pastry, no?) of Lisbon’s food scene, are these little custard pastries that are served almost everywhere, and are a perfect excuse for a pit stop when you’re exploring the city. Everyone genuinely loves them, and it’s completely understandable why – they’re creamy and very moorish, and can also be eaten with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.
- Ginjinha – This portugese liquer is quite strong and sweet, infused with berries and usually served with a cherry at the bottom. Ginjinha shops can be found all over the city if you fancy a pit stop for a shot of the strong stuff.
- Fado – Okay, so this isn’t a type of food, and also something I stumbled across by accident on my first evening in Lisbon, but Fado is ‘Portugal’s soulful national soundtrack‘ and can be found in restaurants – and Fado houses – across the city. If it’s something that’s high up your list of something to do in Lisbon maybe book a spot for dinner, but we were lucky enough to stumble across a Fado performance on our first night.
Bits to see:
- Time Out Market – For a curated collection of food stalls and shops to explore. They also have sit down restaurants at the side, and they also run a cookery class if you’re interested.
- The Santa Justa Lift – but don’t pay to go up it, you can access the middle level for free via the church behind it! Or just admire it from below, as it’s quite a beautiful monument to look at!
- LX Factory – A converted fabric factory has been transofrmed into a quarter filled with unique restaurants, independent shops and places to stop and enjoy the sun with a nice drink. It’s a nice spot to spend an afternoon exploring, picking up some more unique souvenirs and trying out different cuisines.
- Alfama – I was lucky enough to stay in this area as it was, as it’s one of the oldest districts in Lisbon, with steep cobbled streets and tall, colourful houses. If walking isn’t your strong point, you can grab elevators up to São Jorge Castle, or just hop on the tram!
- Tram 28 – This is the tram to take for all the tourist spots, but everytime we saw it at a stop it had a very long queue, and is well known for pick pockets so keep your wits about you if you do decide to take the ride. If you still want to ride a Lisbon tram but don’t want to be stuffed in like sardines, we caught the 15E tram to LX Factory
- Belem – I ended up in Belem by cycle ride (as I was treated to a bike tour on my birthday) and I would really recommend this as cycling down the side of the river was an absolute treat. The final destination was Belem tower, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can either admire the view from outside or queue to tour the indoors.
If you have the time:
- If you’re in Lisbon longer take the time to visit Sintra. You can pop on a 40 minute train there to explore the colourful castle. If you’re more adventurous you can walk up to it, but you can also grab a bus or hire a taxi to take you (warning – the walk takes almost an hour, and it’s entirely uphill). You can either pay 7.50 euros to explore the grounds, or 15 to visit the inside expeditions also.
- Across the river you can find a replica of the iconic Rio statue, Christ The King. It can be admired from across the river, but you can also go up to the statue itself, and explore it’s surrounding gardens.
If you’re planning on visiting Lisbon soon let me know in the comments! More posts in this Basics series will be coming soon, but in the meantime check out my Grundy Travels Instagram for the latest updates!
Thanks for reading x