City Trip Lisbon: The Ultimate Guide
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and also the oldest city in Europe. According to historians, Lisbon was founded as early as 1200 BC by sailors and traders. This has everything to do with its location on the Atlantic coast and the Tagus River.
Lisbon has many attractions, restaurants, shops and a pleasant atmosphere. The nature in the area is beautiful. Lisbon is a popular destination for a city trip for a day, weekend or full week. You can combine a visit to the city with relaxing on the beach or a nice walk in nature.
Did you know Lisbon is the city of records? The Vasco da Gama bridge with 17 kilometers is the longest bridge in Europe. With 14 million supports, the Benfica football club has the largest supporters base in the world. In the centre you will find both the oldest and the smallest bookstore and the largest casino in the world.
1. Lisbon: characteristics of the city
We'll take you to the nicest and most populary sights in Lisbon that you shouldn't miss.
City trip LisbonCharacteristics
|Lisbon population||0.55 million|
|Number of international tourists per year||4.5 million|
|Flight travel time (direct flight)||3 hours|
|Time difference with the Netherlands||In Lisbon it's 1 hour later|
|Distance from Utrecht||2,200 kilometres|
|Best travel period||Lente, autumn|
|Activities||City, culture, art, nature, history, shopping, beach|
2. Castles, palaces and towers in Lisbon
The Torre de Belém is an impressive defensive tower on the Tagus River. It was built around 1520 and for a long time served as a prison. During a visit you can climb the spiral staircase to the commander's room and the King's Hall. At the top of the tower you will be treated to a magnificent view over Lisbon.
Torre de Belém
Dom Afonso Henriques and the remains of the Royal Palace. In the corner of the fortress is the castle with battlements and watchtowers. From the highest point you have a beautiful view over the city of Lisbon. Inside the fortress you'll find some restaurants and souvenir shops.
The Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira is a 17th century palace north of Lisbon city centre. The exterior of the palace is a real eye-catcher thanks to its painted tiles. Also inside you will find beautiful ornamental tiles and various antique furniture. Take a walk through the impressive gardens.
3. Religious buildings in Lisbon
At the Torre de Belém you will find the famous Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This large monastery consists of several parts: the church of Santa Maria de Belém, the cloister, the chapter house, the dormitory, the refectory and the sacristy. The monastery is built in the Manueline style. This is the Portuguese variant of Gothic and named after King Dom Manuel I. Both on the outside and inside the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is beautiful to see. Common ornaments are laurel branches, exotic animals, anchors, shells and aquatic animals.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The Basilica da Estrela is one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon. The church is located on a hill and its high white dome is therefore characteristic of the city's skyline. In the basilica you will find several beautiful statues and paintings. From the roof of the church you have a magnificent view of the surrounding area and you can walk around the white dome.
4. Historic tram, monument and aqueduct
Tram 28 is one of the most famous sights of Lisbon. The historic tram runs through the tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. The route takes you through picturesque narrow streets with traditional buildings. On the way you will pass several sights of Lisbon. The church Igreja Anjos, the monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora, the cathedral Sé de Lisboa, a statue of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and the park Jardim da Estrela.
4.1. Monument Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Padrao dos Descobrimentos is a monument built in 1960 in memory of the Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. The more than 50 metres high monument contains 33 statues of Luis de Camões, Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias and Henry the Navigator, among others. Padrão dos Descobrimentos stands on the Tagus. In the basement there is a cinema where you can watch a film about the history of Lisbon. The top can be reached via an elevator. Here you can enjoy beautiful views of the harbor and the river.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
4.2. Aqueduct Aqueduto das Águas Livres
In the middle of Lisbon stands a gigantic stone aqueduct Aqueduto das Águas Livres. This structure has provided drinking water to many generations of the local population since 1744. The aqueduct is over 14 kilometres long and has 35 arches. The highest arch of 65 meters high and 29 meters wide is the largest aqueduct arch in the world. Another record to put on the list. It is possible to take a walk over the aqueduct.
5. Visit one of the many museums in Lisbon
Art and culture lover? Then you can visit one of the many museums during a city trip to Lisbon. Some popular museums are
5.1. National Azulejo Museum
The National Azulejo Museum is a tile museum in an old monastery. Here you can follow the development of the Portuguese ornamental tile (Azulejos) from the 15th century to the present day. Take a look at the extensive collection of valuable works of art by various artists. A highlight is a blue-white work of art depicting Lisbon before the great earthquake of 1755.
5.2. Museu do Oriente
The Museu do Oriente is situated in an old warehouse. Here you will find Asian art: Indo-Portuguese pieces, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian ceramics, textiles, furniture, paintings and masks. The museum is also a cultural center where live shows are regularly given. You can also follow courses in the field of Asian culture and cuisine.
5.3. Museu Coleção Berardo
The Museu Coleção Berardo is a museum of modern art. Originally you only found here an art collection of the Portuguese José Berardo. Nowadays you can also see works of art by other artists, such as Picasso, Warhol and Mondriaan.
6. Popular areas of Lisbon
Lisbon has a number of beautiful neighbourhoods, such as Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto.
Alfama is one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Lisbon. Think charming narrow streets, stairs and small passages. The laundry above the streets and the bird cages in front of the windows contribute to a special atmosphere. You will also find cozy fado restaurants in the district. Here you can listen during dinner to live fado music.
Baixa is the historic center of Lisbon and is located on the Tagus. One of the most famous squares is the Praça do Comércio. Here you will find many restaurants to have a nice meal. On the square are several shopping streets, including the famous Rua Augusta. The beach on the Tagus is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. In the district of Baixa is the famous Praça do Rossio. This square is the nerve center of Lisbon. Here you will find all kinds of restaurants, bars and shops.
6.3. Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is located just above the historic centre of Baixa. The district is mainly known as a shopping and entertainment area and has picturesque narrow streets. There are several restaurants and cozy cafes where fado is regularly played. The neighborhood is busy and lively until late at night. Bairro Alto and Baixa are connected by the gothic Santa Justa elevator. From the top at a height of 45 meters you can enjoy the view.
7. Palaces, gardens and ancient ruins
Sintra is a charming town near Lisbon. Special palaces, beautiful gardens, old ruins, impressive mansions and lots of Portuguese tiles. The cultural landscape of Sintra is not for nothing on the UNESCO World Heritage List. By public transport or car you can reach Sintra within an hour from the centre of Lisbon.
Familiar palaces and castles in and around Sintra are:
- Palacio Nacional (palace)
- Quinta da Regaleira (palace)
- Castelo dos Mouros (Morel castle)
- Palacio de Pena (palace)
8. Peninsula of Troia and Costa da Caparica
Troia is a beautiful peninsula on the coast of Portugal. Are you on a long weekend or full week city trip to Lisbon? Then a visit to Troia is definitely recommended. Here you will find large pristine sandy beaches, crystal clear water and pine forests. In addition, you can look for cosiness in one of the trendy bars, cozy restaurants or the large casino.
8.1. Costa da Caparica
During a city trip to Lisbon you can also relax on the beach at Costa da Caparica. To get here, cross the Ponte 25 Abril and continue for another 30 minutes towards the Atlantic coast. Costa da Caparica is a popular resort for locals and tourists alike. There are several restaurants, hotels and nightlife to find.
Costa da caparica
9. Visit one of the largest aquariums in the world
The Oceanarium of Lisbon is one of the largest aquariums in the world. You will find fish in all shapes and sizes, but also different birds. Especially the large tank with sharks, rays, tuna and a manta ray is impressive. The aquarium is located in the district Parque das Nações that was built for the 1998 World Exhibition. The building has a special architecture and stands on a number of poles in the Tagus.
10. Shopping, eating out and going out
Lisbon has several restaurants in different price ranges. Especially in the centre you can have lunch or dinner. And if you are in Portugal, you should of course at least take a glass of port. There are also plenty of places to go out, for example in the district Bairro Alto.
10.1. Time Out Market of Mercado da Ribeira
The Time Out Market or Mercado da Ribeira is an absolute must in the culinary field. This is a food hall in the centre of Lisbon with all kinds of food stalls and in the middle a large wine bar. You can eat anything here: sandwiches, sushi, pata negra, pizza and much more.
10.2. Shopping in Avenida de Liberdade
Shopping is fine in Lisbon. The Avenida de Liberdade is a chic boulevard on the outskirts of the Baixa district. Think of luxury shops with brands like Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. In Baixa you will also find other shopping streets, such as the Rua Augusta. In addition, the district Bairro Alto is known as shopping area.
11. How to get to Lisbon?
On a city trip to Lisbon? For a city trip of a day or long weekend in Lisbon, the airplane is the preferred means of transport. From several Dutch airports you fly in about 3 hours to the capital of Portugal. The airport of Lisbon, Aeroporto Humberto Delgado, is located north of the center. Within fifteen minutes you are in the heart of Lisbon. Once in Lisbon you can travel by bus, tram, train, bike, metro, taxi or on foot.
By train or car on a city trip to Lisbon is not really an option. Unless you find a ride of more than 20 hours a nice challenge. Do realize that you also have to go back 20 hours. The distance from Utrecht to Lisbon is about 2200 kilometers.
12. A day, weekend or week on a city trip to Lisbon? Our tips!
- Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes during the city trip. During a day or weekend and especially during a week in Lisbon you usually walk a lot.
- The price level in Lisbon is fine. There are restaurants, shops and accommodations for every budget in Lisbon.
Do you want to visit several places of interest during your city trip to Lisbon? Then you can choose the Lisboa Card. This pass gives you access to 26 museums and monuments, including the Torre de Belém, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Sant Justa lift. You can also travel unlimited within the city limits by public transport, including the world-famous Tram 28.
You can plan a city trip to Lisbon during all seasons. Spring and autumn are most ideal. In summer, however, it can get very hot. Temperatures above 30 degrees are not uncommon. So make sure you have sunburn, sunglasses and light clothing.
In autumn and spring the sun is often in the sky and temperatures are regularly above 20 degrees. Even in winter the weather is fine for a city trip. Moreover, during the winter months it is often quieter than in other seasons.
13. Book a city trip to Lisbon
Lisbon has everything you need for a successful city trip. Impressive sights, beautiful nature, fine sandy beaches, interesting museums, excellent accommodations, restaurants, pubs and many shops. And let's not forget the fine sunny climate. During a city trip to Lisbon you can spend the night in a hotel in the center. Or for a simple and cheap guesthouse, a luxury hotel with 5 stars or an accommodation in between. Camping outside the city is also an option or choose for a small bed & breakfast or a hostel.
Kortom, Lisbon is an excellent destination for city trips of a day, weekend or full week!