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Lisbon Travel Guide: Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal

This comprehensive travel guide to Lisbon tells you when to go visit, what to see, what to eat, and the cheapest way to do it (so you can sit back and enjoy your pasteis de nata and Fado music!).

An Introduction to Lisbon, Portugal

Once home to some of the world’s most famous explorers, today nearly 4 million people travel to Portugal to explore its capital city each year. Built on seven scenic hilltops along the Rio Tejo in the heart of the Mediterranean, Lisbon is known for its palaces, panoramas, and people. Just a two-hour flight from most major European cities, it’s the perfect place for a city break. Here is your Lisbon travel guide, brought to you by our travel experts at Skyscanner Canada!

underground station in Lisbon. Lisbon travel guide.
Underground in Lisbon | Skyscanner Canada

Top Attractions in Lisbon

As Europe’s second-oldest capital city, historic sites line Lisbon’s cobbled streets. Nestled on a hillside overlooking downtown Lisbon, Castelo de São Jorge is one of the city’s most popular points of interest. Built in the Iron Age, the former Moorish settlement now serves as a museum and archaeological site. Another must-see attraction, Mosteiro Jerónimos, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that honours Vasco da Gama’s 1498 voyage to India. Located near the riverfront in the Belém area, be sure to check out the monastery’s Manueline cloister, Santa Maria Church, and Vasco da Gama’s tomb.

For a more modern attraction in this Lisbon travel guide, head to the Oceanário de Lisboa, one of the world’s largest aquariums, to check out a vast array of marine life and bird species. From clown fish to sharks and penguins to sea otters, the aquarium’s exhibits flawlessly mimic a variety of natural habitats. Other popular attractions in Lisbon include Basílica da Estrela, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antigua, the Sé, Jardim Botânico, and the Parque das Nacoes.

Get outside the city for the day with a visit to Sintra. This quaint hilltop town looks like a scene from a fairy tale. Another great option for a day trip is Cascais, a fishing village that was once popular with the royal family. Refer to this Lisbon travel guide for hiking around the city!

Lisbon Travel Guide: Where to Eat

Whether travellers are looking for a gourmet dining experience or to grab a bite to eat on the go, there’s something for everyone in Lisbon. Alheira de Mirandela, a type of smoked Portuguese sausage, is a popular and affordable dish. It’s typically deep-fried, topped with a fried egg, and accompanied by French fries and a small salad. Fresh fish and seafood are common delicacies in Portugal, and no trip to Lisbon is complete without trying bacalhau, a local favourite made from dried, salted cod. Two other dishes worth trying are arroz de tamboril, or monkfish cooked in laurel, garlic, and tomato stew with rice, and polvo à lagareiro, a boiled octopus that is then roasted with garlic and olive oil. Is your mouth watering yet?

Portugal is well-known for its sweet treats, and there is no shortage of pastry shops and bakeries around the city. Tourists who have a sweet tooth should try pudim flan (caramel flan), leite creme, salame de chocolate, and pasteis de nata (the famous egg tarts).

Portuguese egg tarts. Lisbon travel guide
Egg tarts. A Lisbon Travel Guide | Skyscanner Canada

Lisbon Nightlife and Entertainment

A great way to spend an evening in Lisbon is to take in a Fado show. Fado is a type of traditional folk music that is popular in Portugal. Melancholic and dark, it features instruments like mandolins and guitars. Many venues offer a dinner and Fado show package. After the show, there’s still plenty of time to hit the clubs. Most don’t start to fill up until at least 11 p.m. Start the night with a caipirinha in the Bairro Alto district and then head to Avenida 24 de Julho and Santa Apolónia to hit the dance clubs.

Find Cheap Flights to Lisbon

Getting Around Lisbon

Lisbon is a very walkable city, but for people who prefer to get a lift, the easiest way to get around Lisbon is via the extensive network of buses, trams, and trains. Tourists who plan to use public transit as their main mode of transportation can buy an all-day or multi-day pass for extra savings. Consider riding one of the city’s four funiculars or a ferry-boat to get a different view of the city.

Taxi is another reliable and affordable way to get around Lisbon. While driving in the city isn’t recommended due to traffic congestion and lack of parking, it is a great option for anyone wanting to explore the countryside. With a variety of suppliers at the airport, it’s easy to rent a car in Lisbon.

Lisbon Climate

Thanks to the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is known for its warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. With about 3,300 hours of sunshine each year, Lisbon’s average annual temperature is approximately 21 Celcius during the day and dropping to an average of 13.5 Celcius in the evenings. For those who prefer to stay dry, avoid Lisbon in November, the wettest month.

When is the Best Time to Visit Lisbon?

Visit Lisbon from March through May or September to October to take advantage of warm weather and fewer crowds. There are too many hotels and guesthouses to list them all in this Lisbon travel guide, but use Skyscanner’s hotel search to find the best accommodation for you on your trip. Summers are hot and tourists tend to flock to the city, causing congestion at many area attractions. June through August is the peak season. Hotel prices soar, but it’s also the best time to visit the beach. For the best rates and smallest crowds, head to Lisbon from December through February.

Ever wondered about staying in hostels on your next trip? Check out these reasons why hostels might just be the right choice for you. Lisbon has no shortage of backpacker hostels for different travel styles and tastes. 

Flying to Lisbon

Serving more than 22 million passengers each year, Humberto Delgado Airport is the main airport in Lisbon and the largest in Portugal. Located just 6.5 kilometres north of the city, the airport is easily accessible by shuttle bus or metro for between $2 and $4. For a quick airport connection, grab a taxi or an Uber, which shouldn’t cost you more than $20.

With more than 50 partner airlines flying to nearly 120 destinations around the world, it’s easy to find affordable flights to Lisbon. Considered Europe’s gateway to Brazil, the airport is also an important hub for flights to Africa and other parts of South America. There is a free shuttle between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, which caters to low-cost airlines.

More Travel Inspiration from Skyscanner

Liked this Lisbon travel guide? See the list below of our other guides for cities around the world. Plan all of your travels here with us at Skyscanner Canada.