The Best Lisbon Travel Tips

There is so much to know about Lisbon before you visit. And there is so much that you’ll find out once you arrive and start to experience the city for yourself. It’s a wonderful place to visit for lovers of culture, architecture, and amazing food. But before you visit consider some of the best Lisbon travel tips to help you plan your trip.

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THE CITY IS HILLY

Let’s start with the obvious. So much of what gives Lisbon its character is its many hills. It can make it a bit of a challenge to navigate the city, but it’s what makes Lisbon unique and provides so many wonderful views.

View of Lisbon, Portugal and Tagus River

It’s smart to have good comfortable shoes that will help you to go up and down those hills. Of course, several areas aren’t as hilly such as Baixa in the heart of the city, but for a lot of where you want to go, be prepared to climb.

LISBON IS KNOWN AS THE CITY OF 7 HILLS

Walking up a hill in Lisbon, Portugal

Not only is Lisbon hilly, but it’s known for its 7 major hills in particular. Each hill has its unique area and is situated around some of the most interesting sites and views of Lisbon.

They are:

Chagas: You can get there by taking the Santa Justa Lift

Santa Ana: Gives a view of the Tagus River and Ponte 25 de Abril

Santo Andre: Home to Miradouro da Graca

Santa Catarina: Home to Miradouro Santa Catarina near Bairro Alto

Sao Jorge: Home to the Sao Jorge castle

Sao Roque: The tallest hill in Lisbon

Sao Vincente: Located in Alfama

THE PASTEIS DE NATA IS THE BEST THING EVER

One of the first things to do when you set foot in Lisbon, is to find somewhere to get some pasteis de nata. It should be a priority on your itinerary for each day that you’re there.

Pasteis de nata on a plate

These egg custard treats are an absolute delight. The gooey custard middle is complemented by the slightly crusty exterior to form an extraordinary combination.

Fortunately, they’re found all over the city, especially in the tourist-heavy areas. It will likely be the best part of your trip!

THE CITY IS VERY WALKABLE

Even though the city is very hilly to the point of being built on 7 hills, Lisbon is very walkable. The center of the city is very compact which makes going from one attraction to the next very easy.

Walking up a hill in Alfama, Lisbon

Even interesting neighborhoods like Alfama are a walking distance from the city center. In addition, as you walk, there is so much character to the architecture of the city that just walking around is an adventure all by itself.

When you’re tired of walking you can mix in the use of their clean metro system or trams to get you to where you need to be.

THERE ARE AZULEJOS EVERYWHERE

Portugal is known for the decorative tiles, or azulejos that show up all over the city. They’re most prominently displayed on their buildings and even streets.

These tiles greatly add to the charm of the city so keep a lookout for them as you’re walking around. The colors and patterns are remarkable and are so distinctly Portugal. 

YOU HAVE TO SPEND TIME IN ALFAMA

Of the many outstanding neighborhoods that make up the city of Lisbon, Alfama is the most well-known and possibly the best. Before you even visit, you’re probably familiar with photos of narrow alleyways and back streets winding up and down the hills.

The streets of Alfama, Lisbon

What you were likely looking at were photos of Alfama which have become sort of a symbol for the beauty of Lisbon. 

Alfama is home to Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, several miradouros, Tram 28, and numerous restaurants. Some of the best views of the city and surrounding area are found here. Make sure you have at least a day to explore this wonderful area.

CASTELO SAO JORGE IS THE BEST ATTRACTION IN THE CITY

Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Of all of the great things to see and experience in Lisbon, Castelo Sao Jorge is the best. This castle perched high up above the city is a wonderful mix of panoramic views, history, and exploration. Also peacocks.

You’re allowed to explore the many spaces of the castle grounds including the interior where you can spend time wandering its many elevated walkways, lookout points, and watchtowers.

It’s a spectacular landmark that makes for a captivating experience. Especially because of the peacocks.

You can purchase tickets to visit the castle here.

YOU’LL NEED AT LEAST THREE DAYS (PREFERABLY FOUR)

Yes, Lisbon is a fairly compact city. You’ll likely spend the majority of your time in or near the city center except Belem.

But packed into that space is a dense mixture of amazing experiences. And to enjoy them all, you’ll want to spend at least three days in the city, not including time for day trips. 

Lisbon, Portugal

Four days is optimal since a trip to Belem and Alfama deserves their days alone. This will give you time for two days to explore the other areas of Lisbon. And plenty of time to sample all of the wonderful food.

YOU SHOULD TAKE TRAM 12 INSTEAD OF 28

Tram 12 in Lisbon, Portugal

Tram 28 gets all of the glory, but Tram 12 does much of the same work. While 28 is the main tourist attraction and is often overcrowded, taking 12 will give you similar views and take you where you need to go. With a similar if not better experience because of the reduced crowd. 

LISBON IS AN AMAZING PLACE

View from Miraduouro das Portas do Sol

Lisbon is a standout when it comes to European destinations and is a great choice for a family vacation. While planning for a trip to Lisbon, there is so much to see and do that you’ll want to be prepared. The best way to prepare is to have an itinerary so that you don’t miss anything. Check out our essential four day itinerary for Lisbon as well as our guide on the best areas to stay in Lisbon and money saving tips for booking flights for your family. Safe travels!

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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