Lisbon is a city of history, cosmopolitanism and extraordinary diversity. Not only is it the capital and the largest city of Portugal but it is also part of the very exclusive group of ocean-facing Western European cities. With many other appealing features, such as the sunny weather, sandy beaches, delicious food and its vibrant street life, Lisbon’s popularity is fast on the rise.
The name Lisbon comes from “Olissipo”, which has its origins in the Phoenician words “Allis Ubbo”, meaning “enchanting port”. Recent archaeological findings show that the city was probably founded by the Phoenicians around 1200 B.C and styled by the Moores, who ruled for 450 years. In the twelfth century, it was reconquered by the Christians, becoming the capital of the country in the mid-thirteenth century.
In 1755, Lisbon suffered a great earthquake that would change the city’s architectural character forever. After extensive and, what many call, redefining reconstruction, inspired by the philosophy of the Enlightenment, Lisbon became a rare and multifaceted city, where traces of the ancient Moorish invaders can still be found, in contrast to splendid seventeenth century avenues, imposing monuments and futuristic glass-and-steel towers.
Lisbon is located on the right side of the Tagus river in the center of Portugal. The country is located in south-western Europe, bordered by Spain on the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west. Lisbon has an area of 100 sq. km. and a population of 550 000 inhabitants. The Lisbon Metropolitan Area has a population of about 2,8 million inhabitants in an area of 3.015 sq. km.
Lisbon is often called the “City of Light”, because of the almost constant presence of the sun. The winter is mild and the summer is moderately hot, due to the city's proximity to the sea. Spring and autumn also record mild temperatures.
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From Latin origin, the Portuguese language is the third most spoken language in Europe and the fifth most spoken language in the world. It is also the mother tongue of about 200 million people and the official language in several countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe and Brazil. Furthermore, most of the Portuguese are able to communicate in foreign languages.
By plane: Lisbon International Airport, 7 km from the city centre, has daily flights to and from the major cities in Europe and the world. The Portuguese airlines TAP Portugal and PGA - Portugália Airlines, as well as the lowcost airlines Ryanair and easyJet, have daily connections to and from Lisbon.
By car: The city has good road accesses and the most frequently used routes are: the A1 motorway, the 25th April Bridge, the Vasco da Gama Bridge and CREL. For Lisbon's roadmap click here.
By rail: In addition to Santa Apolónia terminal station, Lisbon has the Gare do Oriente station, adjacent to the Parque das Nações. For information on international rail routes, click here.
By boat: The Port of Lisbon is the busiest in the European Atlantic coast and has two terminals for cruise ships: Santa Apolónia and Alcântara. Lisbon also has marinas on the docks of Belém, Santo Amaro, Bom Sucesso, Alcântara and Olivais. For more information on how to get to Lisbon by boat, click here.
Taxi: An ordinary taxi ride to Marquês de Pombal from the airport, including luggage, will cost you around €10. Taxis are normally parked up around major crossroads, including Rossio Square and Restauradores. Taxi drivers charge by the metre and the tip is not included in the price.
Metro: Lisbon’s metro runs from 6.30 am to 1 am. Individual tickets cost €1,40, but you can buy a booklet if you’ll be using the metro often.
Train: Lisbon has several train stations and a network that serves national, regional, suburban and urban areas. For an interactive map of the metro and rail network click here.
Bus/tram: Buses and trams run from about 5 am or 6 am to 1 am. Individual tickets cost €1.80 on board but you can buy a rechargeable card at a kiosk. For a map of the bus and tram network click here. A "VIVA" transport card allows you to travel by bus, metro, train or boat and use carsharing and parking services. More information on "VIVA" cards here.
On foot: In Lisbon’s downtown, walking is the best way to get to know the city. There’s a new cycle/footpath at the riverfront, between Cais do Sodré and Belém.
Citizens of the European Union only need an identity card to travel to Portugal. Agreements with Andorra, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Norway, Romania and Switzerland also enable their nationals to travel with just an ID card. If these citizens are minors, they must also submit a written parental consent to travel.
For visits of less than 90 days the, citizens from the following countries will need a valid passport for at least three months: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican, Venezuela and Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong and Macao.
Citizens from countries not mentioned above will need a Schengen visa, which may be requested at the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin.
Lisbon offers a wide range of excellent, high standard accommodation options, from historic or ultra modern luxury hotels to seaside and golf resorts. Lisbon's B&Bs, guesthouses and internationally awarded hostels are also popular choices among travellers, inviting all kind of budgets. For a list of accomodation options, click here.
In Lisbon, you'll find the finest culinary specialties, from traditional Portuguese gastronomy to contemporary, exotic and ethnic cuisine. The national dish is codfish (bacalhau), but sardines (sardinhas) and horse mackerel (carapaus) are also popular. Lisbon's most typical delicatesse is called Pastel de Nata, an egg tart pastry originally from a pastry shop in Belém. For a list on Lisbon's most emblematic restaurants, click here.
There are some areas in Lisbon specially devoted to shopping, namely Chiado and Lisbon’s Downtown, called Baixa. The main shopping street is Rua Augusta, where you will find all the main high-street brands such as Zara, Benetton, Lanidor, or H&M.
To shop for luxury brands, go to Avenida da Liberdade. You’ll find brands like Louis Vuitton, Armani, Burberry’s among others. There’s also a big variety of shopping centres, almost everywhere in the city, namely Armazéns do Chiado, Amoreiras Shopping Center, Centro Vasco da Gama and Colombo Shopping Center.
Commerce: During weekdays shops are open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm. On Saturdays, they generally close at 1 pm, although some downtown shops may remain open during the afternoon. In shopping centers opening hours are longer, usually from 10 am to midnight.
Banks: Work from Monday to Friday between 8.30 am and 3 pm.
Pharmacies: During weekdays pharmacies work from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm. On Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. When closed, they indicate the nearest 24 hour Pharmacy Service.
Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are synonymous with nightlife. With a huge variety of bars, these areas will give you a taste of Lisbon’s eclectic atmosphere. The party goes on until dawn and it may end up at the Pink Street or in Lux, Lisbon’s most famous nightclub.
If you don’t enjoy clubbing, classical music is well represented at various institutions such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Culturgest. You may also attend a fado performance in a fado house, or go to a concert in the former Atlantic Pavillion, now called MEO Arena, and Coliseu dos Recreios, often hosting some of the world's top artists.
1) Ride a Historic Tram: Lisbon’s trams are not just tourist attractions but are a real part of the city's transportation system, the most famous being Tram 28. But there are hop-on-hop-off sightseeing trams too. Beware of pickpockets!!
2) Explore Alfama: As you walk through the medieval neighborhood Alfama, the narrow black-and-white cobblestone streets, the laundry hanging from windows and balconies and the famous fado restaurants will take you back into the past.
3) Visit Parque das Nações: Lisbon’s most outstanding contemporary project is a modern, multi-purpose quarter, with the world-famous aquarium and a beautiful riverfront area overlooking the Vasco da Gama bridge, the longest in Europe.
4) Visit the Jeronimo’s monastery: The resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama is a church built in the 1500s as part of a monastery. Considered a World Heritage by UNESCO, its cloisters are among the most beautiful in the world.
5) Go to a Fado Show: Fado, Portugal’s most traditional music genre, is included in UNESCO’s list of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Most fado shows in Lisbon take place in restaurants (which may require a reservation), often in the Alfama district, but you can also find good performers in Bairro Alto.
6) Visit the Belem Tower: Lisbon’s most iconic sight and also a symbol of the Age of Discovery. Built in the early 1500s, this ornate watchtower has been declared a World Heritage monument by UNESCO.
7) Try a Pastel de Belém: The Antiga Confeitaria de Belém makes the best custard tarts. Though they may look very similar to the ones you'll see throughout Lisbon, these are of a much higher quality. You may top them with cinnamon and sugar.
8) Go to the Berardo Museum: This museum hosts an outstanding modern art collection, owned by a Portuguese billionaire. It includes works by Andy Warhol, Picasso and Dali, among others.
9) Take a Walking Tour of Lisbon: With so much to see in Lisbon, a guided tour is an excellent way to get acquainted with the city's best historical sights, like Praça do Comércio or Lisbon’s Cathedral (Sé).
10) Discover Lisbon’s viewpoints: Lisbon offers a network of viewpoints, called Miradouros, where you can sit an relax, while enjoying the beauty of the city.