Before your trip
You don’t want to walk around Lisbon while dragging your luggage. So the first thing you should do on arrival is find a place to stay for the night. In fact, you should book a room in advance (and try to get a written confirmation), especially during the summer holidays. There are several types of accommodation: you can book a hotel room of course, but there are some cheaper options too - hostels, pensions (pensões) and guesthouses (residenciais) are comfortable if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom. Rated from one to three stars, these establishments are often located in the center and prices vary between €15 and €50 for one night. Note that only pensions serve meals.
We would also recommend you buy a Lisboa Card. This tourist card offers free and discounted entrance to over 80 museums, tours and sights in Lisbon, as well as free transportation on the metro, bus, tram and elevadores. Click here to see all the discounts you can get. The Lisboa card can be purchased for 24 hours (€18.50), 48 hours (€31.50) and 72 hours (€39). Once you’ve bought it online, you just need to print the confirmation and show it, with you ID, to one of the following counters: Portela Airport, Foz Palace or Lisbon Welcome Center.
When you arrive in Lisbon
Depending on the time you arrive, you might be able to go to your hotel or pension and put down your bags. Before you go out, don’t forget to put on comfortable shoes - Lisbon has seven hills and cobblestoned streets!
You’re almost ready to start exploring, but before you do, take the time to go to a café and enjoy a few Pasteis de Belem (or pasteis de nata), the very famous Lisbon delicacy whose recipe was kept secret for centuries. You will find this pastry at every cafe and bakery shop in Lisbon, but if you want the typical experience, go to the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the place where they were first introduced to the public. This establishment is actually located right next to the Jeronimos Monastery in Belém, 6 km west of the city centre, which is a must see.
Since you are in town for a very short time, you could book a tour of the city - they have various themes (historical, fado, food and wine tasting) and are often done on foot. Just stop at a tourism office to ask what is available. If you want your freedom though, here are some of the things you can’t miss while visiting Lisbon...
Top 5 things to see and do
1. Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) - This very impressive piece of architecture was built in 1502 on the spot where Vasco de Gama and his crew stayed the night before they left for India. This monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
2. Belem tower - Probably the most photographed building in Lisbon, the Belem tower is a fortress built in 1515 and symbolizes the age of discovery.
3. Christ the King Sanctuary (Santuário do Cristo Rei) - This monument was built as a replica of the Christ of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. The pedestal supporting the statue can be visited. Located in the municipality of Almada, it is over 110m high and allows visitors to enjoy a great view of Lisbon and the River Tagus from the top.
4. Alfama - The Alfama District is great for those who want to see the traditional side of Lisbon, and for foodies - you can find the famous sardine dinner there. This lively and charming neighborhood is a good place to get lost in, discover all the cute cobblestoned streets and little shops full of wonders.
5. Santa Justa Elevator (Elevador de Santa Justa) - It is the only vertical lift for public service in Lisbon. Built in 1902, it was classified as a National Monument in 2002. This elevator is not very high but worth checking out for the panoramic view over the rooftops.