Lisbon Travel Guide

Lisbon Summary


  • Beautiful, colorful city
  • Rich in culture, with historic buildings and numerous museums
  • Lively nightlife, with fado clubs and street parties
  • Great shopping, particularly for silver, gold, and antiques
  • Long, warm summers and mild winters


  • Hilly terrain and slow trams means getting around can be difficult; taxis, however, are inexpensive
  • Can be dangerous in some areas at night
  • Lots of traffic and frenetic drivers

What It's Like

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a beautiful, colorful city overlooking the Atlantic. Like Rome and San Francisco, Lisbon is a city built on seven hills. Though many buildings were destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1755, Lisbon still has a rich history, and its historic buildings and cobblestone streets are juxtaposed against the newer buildings of modern Lisbon.

Originally referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world," Lisbon was a major importer of exotic goods from Europe and Asia. But nowadays, Lisbon can be overlooked due to the popularity of quaint, seaside beach towns nearby. But those who love the city can tell visitors the many things they miss when skipping over Lisbon; it is a city of iconic historic buildings (such as St. George's Castle), extensive museums, and fabulous shopping -- particularly for gold, silver, and antiques.

Lisbon is also known for its lively nightlife. Thanks to its Moorish roots, Lisbon is (unofficially) the fado capital of the world. Fado clubs play the beautiful, mournful music all night long in areas like Barrio Alto and Alfama, and street parties are a nightly occurence. Before partying, locals and tourists dine on the restaurants' fresh seafood and Portugese cuisine. Like in other urban areas, visitors should be wary at night; Lisbon has a reputation for having moderately high crimes rates.

Where To Stay

Avenida de Liberdade, Lisbon's main artery, is a tree-lined street packed with high-end hotels and shops.

Barrio Alto is a bustling area in Lisbon. Popular due to its lively nightlife spots, it is also home to vintage and antique shops. The cobblestone streets are often crowded with people, as are the area's bars and restaurants. Largely spared during the earthquake, Barrio Alto has some beautiful historic monuments and sights. Like in other areas of Lisbon, visitors should be careful in Barrio Alto at night, especially on the side streets; they have a reputation for loitering drug dealers. Nearby Alfama, a Moorish area, is a fishing town with great fado clubs. Like Barrio Alto, it can also be a bit dangerous at night.

A residential area where Lisbon's river opens up to the sea, Belem has numerous historic monuments, as well as museums, that make it worth a visit. Baxia, the financial district, attracts mainly business travelers. But it does have good shopping, particularly for gold and silver. West of Baxia, Chiado is the main shopping district.


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Languages: Portugese
Airports: Lisbon Portela Airport
Peak: June - August; Carnaval (in February or March)
Vaccines: No
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 230 V, 50 Hz
Tipping: About 10% in restaurants is expected and appreciated
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