Travel Tips for Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal is an affordable European country to tour around. Even in the touristy areas we found cheap meals, cheap water, cheap everything. Quite a contrast from visiting London or Paris where you feel like you have blown your vacation budget after one meal or taxi ride.

Use public transportation. Buy an all day metro card. It costs 5€ and is well worth the money. The area you will be touring is not spread out but you will be walking on rough streets and hills! Save your feet. The pass can also be used on trams, buses, and lifts.

Think about staying in an apartment for a couple of nights. I think this goes for most of Europe but staying in a neighborhood can provide a much richer experience. We stayed all 4 nights in an apartment and it felt like a home base rather than a hotel. However, if you have the luxury it would be nice to stay in a hotel and an apartment. Hotels of course provide amenities and help in touring the city. I recommend staying in Alfama (we stayed here) or Chiado. Alfama is older and feels very local while Chiado is swankier and has lots of nice restaurants and shops.

Take at least one day trip! I’m partial to Sintra and Cascais because we traveled here but most reviews will always suggest these destinations as well. Between the two Sintra is more unique. The town is very historic and their crowning jewel is the Palace Pena which boasts breathtaking views and architecture.

Try all their pastries and get espresso or lattes as much as you can! They are known for a small custard pastry that is rich and delicious.

Every restaurant has a house wine red, white, or green. Yes green. The green wine or vinho verde is like a mix between white wine and champagne. I’m not sure why this hasn’t shown up anywhere else in the world because I’m certain it has become my new favorite. We did not have a bad glass of wine anywhere (whatever we ordered) and its very cheap. 3€ per bottle at the store.

Portugal is famous for their Port Consequently they have amazing Port.

Other places/things to see: neighborhoods of Belem, Alfama, Chiado, Barrio Alto.  Take a hike to the Castelo Sao Jorge, view the city from Elevador Santa Justa and catch a Fado performance.  Fado is the portuguese version of the Blues or Flamenco.  Soulful tunes traditionally played by one guitarist and one singer.

There seemed to be one traditional cuisine in Lisbon…cod.  Grilled cod, baked cod, cod in phyllo dough, cod in olive oil.  Every restaurant featured a cod dish with a cafeteria menu including hamburgers and cheese pizza.  We ate at a fantastic Portuguese restaurant in Alfama and seafood restaurant in Chiado.  I recommend staying away from the hamburgers and pizza.

View from the Elevador Santa Justa


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