A Quick Guide to Lisbon

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Pastel, pretty and (literally) tiled in rustic, worn charm, this hilly and enchanting city perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean has it all. Built on seven hills, Lisbon – the capital and largest city of Portugal – stretches along the river Tejo. Downtown, you’ll find narrow and winding storybook alleyways, impressive Gothic cathedrals and so much prettiness, everywhere you look. Lisbon boasts a warm, Mediterranean climate and a thriving foodie culture – and also offers plenty of daytrip options to neighbouring towns like Cascais and Sintra. Lisbon has undoubtedly experienced a revival in recent years – and the world is taking notice! Here is a quick guide to to Lisbon. Lisbon_Guide

Population: 530,000+
Known for: beaches, castles, colourful Azulejos (ceramic tiles) and an abundance of Portuguese tarts!
Climate: Subtropical-Mediterranean climate – with hot summers and mild winters

A quick guide to Lisbon

Prior to Arrival 

Lisbon is a part of the European Union, and very accessible by air from most European cities. Lisbon is also a wonderful gateway to exploring further afield in Portugal, in beachside and coastal areas like the popular Algarve region (just a two hour drive from the city).

On Arrival 

If arriving by air, the easiest transfer into the centre of Lisbon is via the metro (red line) – taking about 25 minutes, with one line change required (€1.90 one way, or buy a day pass which allows you to access the metro, bus, trams and trains for €6 (24 hour pass).

A taxi from the airport to downtown Lisbon will be around €15-20.

There is also an Aerobus that operates three routes to main areas of the city – every 20-30 minutes.



Getting Around 

Lisbon is quite a large city and has many beautiful areas to visit. Public transport – including buses, trams, funiculars and the metro is reliable, efficient and cost effective for getting around. Lisbon is also a beautiful city to experience by foot – especially in the old town, Alfama.


Getting By 

The language spoken in Lisbon is Portuguese, but English is widely understood by the Portuguese. You will find English translations on lots of transport signage and English menus available in eateries, so it is quite an easy city to visit as a foreigner.

It is always nice to memorize some Portuguese phrases – here are some basics:

Hello: Olá

Excuse me: Com licença!

Thank You: obrigado (men) / obrigada (women)

You’re welcome: De nada!

Bye: Adeus

What to See 

Lisbon is comprised of several key districts – all with their own charm and atmosphere. Must explore areas include Chiado (historical streets, popular shopping district), Baixa (downtown), Praça do Comércio (the beginning of the downtown) Belém (home to the original Portuguese tarts) and Alfama (the oldest district, with winding, labyrinthine and utterly charming streets).

Viewpoints of the city are best seen from Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol (Alfama rooftops), Miradouro da Graça (overlooking the city and castle) – the view from Castle of São Jorge, and also from the rooftop of the Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon.


There are many must-see monuments – notably the Castle of São Jorge (a Moorish castle sitting on the Alfama hilltop, overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon) and the Lisbon Cathedral – a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the oldest church in Lisbon.

We also recommend visiting the LX factory – a hidden gem not known by all tourists! Here you’ll find an urban creative strip of alfresco bars and dining, hipster cafes, a burger joint, chocolate shop, curated gift shops offering locally made goods by locals like well-known ceramist Anna Westerlund, a magazine shop housed in a shipping container and creative design studios.



What to Eat & Drink 

Your first stop in Lisbon should definitely be at a pastelaria – where you can buy the quintessential pastéis de nata (Portguese custard tarts). You’ll find the original and best at Pastéis de Belém – who have been making the tarts since 1837 and are rumoured to make around 14,000 per day.


For some of the best food in town, we recommend booking in for the tasting menu at Mini Bar – a popular restaurant by well known chef José Avillez – the WoW team dined here and we all agreed the night was one of the best food experiences we have ever had!


While brunch is not widely available in Lisbon, Varanda (inside Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon) is a popular and well-loved exception to the rule and definitely worth experiencing on a Sunday.


Other typical Portuguese foods to try include caldo verde, (a soup made with potato, shredded kale and spicy Portuguese sausage), seafood such as fresh sardines and bacalhau (cod) and Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (a clam dish).

For those inclined, Lisbon offers a lively nightlife – especially in the Bairro Alto district.

Get Out 

Wondering where to go beyond Lisbon? There are plenty of fantastic options! Sintra is less than an hour drive from central Lisbon, and is like stepping into a storybook. Here, you’ll find green mountains dotted with palaces befitting a fairytale.

Also, be sure to visit the popular fishing port of Cascais – also less than an hour from Lisbon. Here you’ll find beautiful beaches perfect for swimming – and a beautiful old town begging you to wander around.

Further afield, you can venture to the exquisite Algarve.


The World of Wanderlust team recently visited Portugal and stayed as guests at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. Thank you for such a wonderful visit!

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    January 30, 2016 at 8:59 am

    […] A Quick Guide to Lisbon; Portuguese Tarts […]

    Julia (at
    November 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Beautiful pictures and lots of useful information. I was there in October and I wish I’d known a few phrases of Portuguese! Although, most people do speak English it would have been nice to say a few words in their language. The city is beautiful and the views from the Castle of São Jorge are spectacular – especially at sunset. Despite only being there for a week-end we managed to see most of the sites, including Belém, Baixa and Alfama and even managed a trip to Sintra. (but unfortunately not the lx factory!)
    We didn’t take it ourselves, as we had a car, but if you are planning to use public travel a lot and visit museums, then it would probably be worth investing in a “lisboa” card, which includes free travel and free entrance to 26 museums (more information on my blog ‘’, as well as how to see Lisbon in a weekend.

    November 12, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Great guide! We were there just a few weeks ago and you definitely did the city justice!

    November 8, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Beautiful pictures! I love Lisbon, great post :).

    November 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I’ll be here in early January so this guide will come in handy. I’ve heard such good things about the Lisbon foodie scene; can’t wait to try lots of food!

    Did you find it cheaper than other European cities?

    November 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Gorgeous photos! Lisbon is another must-see on my list for my time abroad in Spain, since it is so close.
    It is so nice to think about the next trips, especially since I am home for a few weeks and can´t wait to go abroad again.

    November 3, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Oh, how I would love to visit Lisbon! It looks like such a beautiful place. I’ve been to Portugal once but never made it to Lisbon.

    Love your photos!

    November 3, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Reading your post I have decided to visit Lisbon as well. And soon!

    November 3, 2015 at 10:01 am

    As a Cascalense (Cascais inhabitant) I advise you to go to Guincho and Boca do Inferno, and to try the amazing Santini ice creams.
    When it comes to Lisbon, the best place to try Caldo Verde (the soup), Pão com Chouriço (bread with slices of portuguese chorizo), and a Pastel de Bacalhau (deep-fried codfish and potato batter) while drinking Sumol de Laranja (a portuguese beverage made from oranges) is A Merendeira, in Santos, near he train station! It’s delicious, specially after a night spent at Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré

    November 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Nice photos. I live in the Algarve and love coming to Lisbon, but would never, in a million years, dream of staying at The Four Seasons! We prefer to stay in Baixa, as there’s always much to see and do. There are also plenty of cafes everywhere that cater to different types of brunch needs. One of our favourite eating spots is the Time Out market, which just has to be the most amazing eating experience! Thanks for the new info and I’m already planning a new trip!

    Katelyn McPhee
    November 2, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    What a cute little place to be!

    Abbie E.
    November 2, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Gorgeous photos!
    Abbie E.

    Sunsets & Bubbles
    November 2, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Oh Lisbon, that beautiful city! Great post, great memories! 🙂

    November 2, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Loved reading this post about my country! 🙂 I am originally from the algarve but I am living in Lisbon now for university. I still feel very much like a tourist here as there as still sooo many streets to discover 😉

    Xoxo Jessy

    November 2, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for the post, it’s really useful 🙂 I plan to visit this city very soon x

    Ana Matias
    November 2, 2015 at 8:16 am


    It’s not ‘Argalve’, it’s Algarve 🙂

    November 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Pasteis de Belem <3
    Don't miss Cabo da Roca when visiting Lisbon 😉

    xx Lisa |

    November 2, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Just recently got back from Lisbon, absolutely love the city! Can’t wait to go back. Making a note of Mini Bar to check out next time. I ate so much in the Time Out market that I barely made it to any restaurants!

    For those who are on a budget – Portugal, Lisbon especially, has some of the best hostels in all of Europe.

    May Simpson
    November 2, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I absolutely love Portugal and it has been my favourite country since I went when I was 7.
    It’s so beautiful and you have done it so much justice with your photographs.

    Now I want to go back!

    Thank you 🙂


    November 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Nice post!
    But, we have long winters, it is wrong to say that they are ”short”, october/november till March.
    Bom dia doesn’t mean ”hello” but good morning.