Car & Motorcycle - Lisbon can be quite stressful to drive around, thanks to heavy traffic, maverick drivers and narrow one-way streets and tram lines. There are two ring roads useful for staying out of the centre: the inner Cintura Regional Interna de Lisboa (CRIL) and the outer Cintura Regional Externa de Lisboa (CREL). There are a few good places for free parking. Campo de Santa Clara, near Alfama, is good on every day except Saturday and Tuesday, when the Feira da Ladra takes over the lot. You can also find free parking on Av 24 de Julho west of Cais do Sodré. Theft is a risk, so always lock up and don’t leave any valuables inside. The cheapest, closest paid car parks are found south of the centre near the coast around Santa Apolónia and Doca de Santo Amaro.
WHERE TO STAY & EAT IN LISBON
Boasting a bar, terrace and views of city, TURIM Boulevard Hotel is set in Lisbon, 1.6 km from Rossio. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel all rooms have a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Guests at TURIM Boulevard Hotel can enjoy a continental breakfast. Dona Maria II National Theatre is 1.7 km from the accommodation, while Ribeira Market is 2.8 km from the property.
Formerly known as a cabaret, the Maxime is now reborn as a hotel. The place where spies and dancers from last century dwelt, is now open to guests and Lisbon’s visitors retaining all its former glory. Always in good care by the mysterious Lady Maxime, guests will enjoy carefully decorated rooms with a variety of themes ranging from the dressing room, the stage or the bondage. Each is air conditioned and comes with a Nespresso machine, a private bathroom with Castelbel amenities, a Marshall speaker and a flat-screen TV. The bar kept its original counter and hosts a restaurant as well. Guests can enjoy a thematic menu next to the glorious stage, under the original ceiling of the cabaret and surrounded by replicas of the original chandeliers. Every Friday and Saturday guests can enjoy the Maxime Restaurant & Bar cabaret shows. Hotel Maxime is just 1-minute walk from the Liberdade Avenue and metro station. Rossio Square is 700 m away and the Chiado shopping area is a 10-minute walk away. Lisbon Airport is 7 km away.
With a prime location is Lisbon's historic downtown, Be Poet Baixa Hotel is just 600 m from Chiado and 300 m from Rossio Square. At just 140 m from the Santa Justa Lift, the hotel is also 450 m from Commerce Square and the Tagus River. All of the elegant units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen satellite TV, air conditioning and free WiFi. All rooms are fitted with a private bathroom with a shower, free toiletries and a hair dryer. A buffet breakfast is served every morning at the property. There is an on site restaurant, where guests will be able to taste Portuguese delicacies. The surrounding area is also filled with a variety of cafés, eateries and bars. Staff at the 24-hour front desk speak English and Spanish and will be able to assist guests in booking an airport shuttle service, at an extra fee. Bairro Alto, the city's most popular nightlife hotspot, is 1.1 km from the accommodation. The nearest airport is Humberto Delgado Airport, 7.4 km from Be Poet Baixa Hotel and is reachable via metro.
- Lisbon Serviced Apartments - Chiado Emenda
Set 1.1 km from Ribeira Market in Lisbon, Lisbon Serviced Apartments - Chiado Emenda offers accommodation with air conditioning and free WiFi. Each unit is fitted with a fully equipped kitchenette with a microwave, a seating area with a sofa, a flat-screen TV, a washing machine, and a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer. A fridge, an oven and stovetop are also offered, as well as a kettle and a coffee machine. Popular points of interest near the apartment include Commerce Square, Rossio and Dona Maria II National Theatre.
With a colourful and classic façade, as well as a modern interior décor, the 4-star Hotel da Baixa enjoys a prime location in Lisbon's historic downtown area. Featuring a restaurant and a bar, it just 200 m from Rossio Square a short walk from the iconic Santa Justa Lift. The property features free WiFi throughout and has accommodation in elegant double, twin and family rooms, as well as in suites. All units come with a 4K TV with internet access, Nespresso coffee machine and Bluetooth sound system. Some units also include a smartphone with free unlimited data provided. All accommodation comes with a private bathroom, including free Uriage toiletries. The daily buffet breakfast is served at the restaurant area and offers vegetarian and gluten-free options. The restaurant has a traditional atmosphere and specializes in international dishes as well as in tasty Portuguese dishes. The surrounding area features a wide range of restaurants, bakeries and cafés for guests to choose from, many within a 5-minute walk. The property is 600 m from Chiado and 350 m from the Baixa/Chiado metro Station. The trendy and lively Bairro Alto is a 10-minute walk away and has various bars, cafés and shops. At a 9-minute walk is Liberty Avenue, which features many high-end shops and boutiques. Lisbon's Humberto Delgado Airport, 9.6 km from Hotel da Baixa.
Eurostars Museum is a unique 5-star property situated on the banks of the Tagus River, in a historic building in Lisbon's iconic Alfama quarter. The hotel features a permanent archaeological exhibition, as well as modern facilities, like an indoor pool, restaurant, massage room and Turkish bath. The décor features references to the cultural legacy of the hotel's building. The air-conditioned rooms all come with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV, safety deposit box and a work desk. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. A daily breakfast buffet is available at the property. The in house restaurant features a variety of traditional Portuguese and International dishes. Guests can also find a wide range of restaurants and eateries within a short 5-minute walk. Alfama is famed for its Fado Houses, which pair traditional Fado concerts with tasty Portuguese tapas. A fitness centre is also featured at the property, along with a 24-hour front desk and various meeting rooms. The iconic São Jorge Castle is a 15-minute uphill walk. Commerce Square is just 500 m away, while Rossio is a 16-minute walk from Eurostars Museum. Lisbon's Humberto Delgado Airport is 8.4 km from the property.
- The Visionaire Apartments
Set in Lisbon's historical downtown, The Visionaire Apartments features apartments, studios and suites right across from the iconic Figueira Square. Rossio is 130 m away, while Commerce Square and the Tagus riverside are at a 10-minute walk. All of the property's units come with free WiFi, a flat-screen TV and a seating area. The studios, apartments and suites include a kitchen or kitchenette and a dining area, with plenty of natural light. The units can have views over either Lisbon's streets, Figueira Square or even The iconic São Jorge Castle, for some of the suites. The equipped kitchens or kitchenettes all come fully equipped and allow guests to cook their own meals comfortably. The surrounding area is filled with a range of popular eateries, including renowned restaurants, emblematic cafés and classic pastry shops. The high-end shops and boutiques of Avenida da Liberdade are at a short 5-minute walk away. Popular Chiado is within a 6-minute walk. At 1 km is Bairro Alto, one of the city's most renowned nightlife hotspots. The nearest airport is Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport, 7.6 km from the accommodation.
- WC by The Beautique Hotels
Located in Lisbon's famed Almirante Reis Street, 900 m from the historic downtown, WC by The Beautique Hotels is a uniquely decorated hotel. The property's décor was carefully designed to express the cleanliness and comfort of a modern bathroom. All of the comfortable and soundproofed rooms are elegantly furnished and come equipped with a Smart TV. Each also includes a coffee machine, with complimentary capsules. The rooms also features a private bathroom, with free toiletries. WC by The Beautique Hotels has free WiFi throughout the property. A breakfast buffet is served each morning at the restaurant area. The hotel’s Banho Restaurant features a tasty Portuguese menu, within a romantic and modern ambiance. The WC by The Beautique Hotels also has an onsite bar, where refreshing drinks and cocktails are served. The surrounding area features a wide range of restaurants, many within a 5 to 10-minute walk. Intendente Metro Station is at the doorstep. Historic Rossio is 1.4 km from WC by The Beautique Hotels, while Chiado is 1 km away. Bairro Alto is at 2 km and the property is 1.3 km from Liberty Avenue’s high-end shops and boutiques. Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport is 6.5 km from the property.
- Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel
Situated in Lisbon, 400 m from Chiado, Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel provides accommodation with on-site dining. This 5-star hotel has a chunk of the historical 14th century Muralha Fernandina, along with views over 17th century noble households. Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel offers free WiFi. Rossio is 700 m from the hotel. All rooms feature air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and Blu-ray player. Guest rooms also include a private bathroom with a bath or shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. At Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel every room is fitted with a seating area. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. With staff speaking English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, advice is available at the reception. Dona Maria II National Theatre is 800 m from Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel, while Bairro Alto is 800 m from the property. Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport is 7 km away.
- Upon Lisbon Prime Residences
Upon Lisbon Residences features elegant apartments and studios, with views over SL Benfica's Stadium of Light. Featuring an on site restaurant and bar on the rooftop area, guests can enjoy a meal with a view to the stadium. Alto dos Moinhos Metro Station is 600 m away and connects with the city centre. The studios and apartments all feature a modern décor, with plenty of natural light. Each is air conditioned and includes a flat-screen cable TV, as well as a sofa in the comfortable living area. The private bathrooms come with free toiletries and there is also a full kitchenette, including a coffee machine. Guests are welcome to cook their own meals in the kitchenette, which comes fully equipped. Alternatively, guests can visit the on site restaurant or enjoy drink at the bar area. The nearby Colombo Shopping Centre has an extensive food court, along with various shops, boutiques and even cinemas. The building's rooftop area also boasts an outdoor swimming pool, which all guests of the Upon Lisbon are welcome to use. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. Rossio, in Lisbon's historical downtown area is a 20-minute metro ride away, while Liberty Avenue's high end shops are a 17-minute metro ride from Upon Lisbon Residences. The lively bar areas of Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are at 10 km and 11.3 km, respectively. The nearest airport is Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport, 7.2 km from Upon Lisbon Residences and is reachable via metro.
ACTIVITIES TO DO & PLACES TO VISIT IN LISBON
Crowning a hill above the historic centre, Lisbon’s fortress transports you back to the Middle Ages. It dates to the 11th century when the city was under Moorish rule, though a settlement has been here since the 7th century BC, as the archaeological site reveals. Head up here for far-reaching views from the pine-shaded ramparts (it’s a great place to play ‘spot the landmark’), a peek through the camera obscura and a shot of history at the museum.
With the arches and pillars of its nave open to the sky, the enigmatic ruins of this Gothic convent catch your eye as you wander Lisbon’s smart Chiado district. Founded as a convent for the Carmelite order in 1389, it was ravaged by the 1755 earthquake. Its archaeology museum showcases a chapel, beautifully tiled with baroque azulejos, alongside artefacts from prehistoric tools to Moorish friezes and pre-Columbian pottery.
Vintage tram 28E grinds to a halt in front of Lisbon’s fortified cathedral – one of the city’s greatest icons. It was built high and mighty above the ruins of a mosque by Portugal’s first king, Afonso I, after the city was recaptured from the invading Moors. After taking in Gothic arches and medieval statuary in the vaulted interior, be sure to glimpse the Roman and Arabic archaeological remains in the cloisters.
Lisbon is famous for the history and artistry of its azulejos (glazed, decorative tiles), and the only the very finest adorn this carefully restored 16th-century Manueline convent, located just east of town (take bus 759). The collection is a magnificent romp through 500 years of azulejo craftsmanship, from the Renaissance to the baroque and contemporary. Go for a coffee in the spectacularly tiled former refectory.
Technically not in Lisbon, the Cristo Rei Monument is a short ride across the Tagus River in Almada. It was built during the time of Salazar to resemble Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue and holds religious significance in the country.
Lodged in a baroque palace, just a short hop west of town, this museum harbours one of Lisbon’s most exquisite collections of ancient art. Among the treasures are Egyptian and Roman sculpture, Old Master paintings, Portuguese goldwork dating to the Age of Discovery, plus precious textiles, lacquered furniture and ceramics from Asia. Renaissance genius Dürer’s painting of St Jerome (1521) and Nuno Gonçalves’ St Vincent Panels (1460) are among the unmissables.
The centrepiece of Lisbon’s cutting-edge Parque das Nações district, this whopper of an aquarium is Europe’s biggest (and arguably best), recreating the Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Puffins, penguins, jellyfish, sunfish, stingrays and – ramping up the cute factor – playful sea otters all splash around in enormous tanks. Should you so wish, you can even spend a night with the sharks.
The undisputed star of the Belém Cultural Centre, this is Lisbon’s go-to gallery for modern and contemporary art. It showcases the collection of billionaire José Berardo, which reaches from abstract, surrealist and expressionist works to kinetic and pop art. Top billing goes to paintings by the likes of Warhol, Pollock, Man Ray, Dalí and Picasso, as well as sculptures by Antony Gormley and Henry Moore.
Belém Tower is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its role in protecting Portugal’s coast during the Age of Discoveries and later. Portraying a combination of Gothic and Manueline architecture like the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower attracts visitors for its appearance as well as its role in history.
Take a selfie in front of Lisbon’s most iconic suspension bridge and you can kid people into thinking you’ve been to San Francisco… That’s because the 2.27-km Ponte 25 de Abril, built by the American Bridge Company in 1966, is pretty much the carbon copy of the Golden Gate Bridge. For more of an insight into its construction and head-spinning views of the city and river, check out the Pillar Bridge Experience.
When most of Lisbon was rocked by the 1755 earthquake, the old Moorish quarter of Alfama stayed standing. With twisting, cobbled alleys leading past higgledy-piggledy houses in pastel colours, this is hands-down one of Lisbon’s most charismatic neighbourhoods. Melancholic fado (Portuguese folk music) drifts from bars, and locals chatter in front of old-school grocery stores and taverns, with the castle peering down from above and the river stretching out below.
The stiff hike up to Lisbon’s miradouros (lookouts) is worth it for the soul-stirring views that await. Some even have kiosk cafes for kicking back and enjoy the view. Among the favourites are Miradouro da Graça and, nearby, the highest of the high Miradouro Senhora do Monte, gazing out over terracotta rooftops to São Jorge Castle and the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge loping across the river. The tree-shaded Miradouro de Santa Catarina has a more boho vibe. For an overview of the city’s seven hills, hook onto an electric bike tour.
- Monastery of São Vicente da Fora
The crowning glory of Lisbon’s Graça neighbourhood, this monastery was founded in the 12th century, and then revamped in late-Renaissance Mannerist style in the 17th century. The atmospheric church and cloisters are exquisitely festooned with blue-and-white azulejos that recount the history of the monastery and the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. The vaulted refectory is now a mausoleum for the Kings of the House of Braganza.
One of the most defining characteristics of the Portuguese spirit is saudade (a sense of nostalgic longing), best expressed in fado, the nation’s soulful folk music. Huddled away in the Alfama, this museum zooms in on fado’s origins and the genre’s most famous singers and guitarists. Audioguides let you listen to recordings you explore.
For ancient art overload, head over to this phenomenal museum, which presents the collection that Armenian mega-collector Calouste Gulbenkian bequeathed to the city. Egyptian funerary masks and stele, Greco-Roman medallions, Assyrian reliefs, Persian carpets, Qing Dynasty ceramics and Flemish tapestries are among the treasures, as are the exquisite Art Nouveau creations of French jeweller René Lalique.
When King Manuel I wanted to shout about Portugal’s colonial triumphs in 1501, he gave the go-ahead to build this monastery in fanciful Manueline style. Now part of a Unesco World Heritage site, the monastery is a visual feast, with intricately wrought stonework, plaited arches and twisted turrets in the cloisters and the cross rib-vaulted church where navigator Vasco da Gama lies buried.
Down by the river, Lisbon’s showpiece square captivates from the first, with its grand 18th-century colonnades, triumphal arch, trams, and equestrian statue of King José I. For the inside scoop on the city’s history from Roman to modern times, check out the Lisbon Story Centre.
Climb up the steep Calçada do Duque steps from Rossio square and you’ll emerge at this church: unassuming on the outside, fabulously ornate on the inside. Designed in Rome and shipped to Lisbon in 1747, its baroque chapel is lavishly adorned with gold, lapis lazuli, marble and azulejos. The adjacent museum is crammed with sacred art.
Of Sintra’s extraordinary clutch of romantic era palaces, villas and castles, none is crazier than Pena Palace, set high on a wooded hill and framed by folly-dotted botanical gardens. King Ferdinand II’s fervent imagination gave rise to this fantastical Moorish-Manueline creation in the mid 1800s, with its riot of candy-coloured domes, spires and fortifications. It’s a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon Rossio to Sintra.
Perched above thickly wooded, boulder-speckled hills in the dreamy Unesco World Heritage town of Sintra, the romantic ruins of this medieval Moorish castle wow with views reaching as far as the Atlantic on clear days. It’s well worth the hike up for the panorama from the snaking ramparts alone.