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Lisbon, Portugal

The capital of Portugal, Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa) has experienced a renaissance in recent years, with a contemporary culture that is alive and thriving and making its mark in today's Europe. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is one of the rare Western European cities that face the ocean and uses water as an element that defines the city. Lisbon enchants travelers with its white bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy going charm that makes it a popular year round destination.

In case of Emergency:
Ambulance, fire brigade, police: call 112.
Same number is used with both land line and mobile phone. The number works on any mobile phone, whether it is keylocked or not and with or without SIM card.

Weather in Lisbon

Lisbon enjoys a warm climate, with mild winters and very warm summers. It is very close to the ocean and that brings windy and fast-changing weather, so you'd better bring a an extra pair of underwear or an umbrella with you, at least in winter, spring and autumn.

The typical summer's season lasts about 6 months, from May to October, with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) during the day and 16.2°C (61.2°F) at night, although also in November, March and April sometimes there are temperature above 20°C (68.0°F) with an average temperature of 18.5°C (65°F) during the day and 11.2°C (52.2°F) at night. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summer is very dry.

Transportation in Lisbon

Lisbon's public transport network is extremely far-reaching and reliable. The Lisbon Metro as its main artery, connecting the city centre with the upper and eastern districts, and now reaching the suburbs. Ambitious expansion projects will increase the network by almost one third, connecting the airport, and the northern and western districts. Bus, funicular and tram services have been supplied by the Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Lisboa (Carris), for over a century.

Yellow Bus Tours operate a bus service that runs between Lisbon Portela Airport and Cais de Sodre Railway Station stopping at many places in the city centre. Pick up a leaflet at the airport and on the back you will be able to find out which stop is closest to your hotel.

Buses run everyday between the hours of 7 am and 11 pm at intervals of 20 minutes so you won't need to wait long for the next bus to turn up.

Adult tickets are 3 Euros 50 cents and child tickets are 2 Euros. Tickets are valid on the Aerobus and Carris transport services including the Santa Justa lift for a 24 hour period.
Aerobus is the shuttle bus that connects Lisbon Airport to the city center. It departs every 20 minutes and operates daily from 7. 45 a. m. to 8. 45 p. m.

This bus stops at various places in the city; as Marques de Pombal square, Avenida da Libertade; Restauradores square, Rossio square, Comercio square and Cais do Sodrè.

Tickets can be bought from the driver and you can use them for the whole day on the city buses, trams and funiculars; also on the Elevador de S. Justa.

The Tram is a must do experience in Lisbon. Its also a great way to get a cheap guided tour. Day long passes are availble for a few euros which are good for the trams, busses and the Elavador de Santa Justa.

The Metro system in Lisbon isn’t extensive, and is more used by residents than by visitors, but it can be useful for some trips as well as journeys to and from the airport. We used it a few years ago when staying in the city for a football match at the Sporting Lisbon stadium and again on our latest visit for travel to Benfica's Stadium of Light.

The system is easy to use for anyone used to similar ones elsewhere. The four lines are colour coded and intersect at a few points. You buy a ticket from the machine, and validate it on entering the platform. This ticket will take the form of a card which can be charged with any number of journeys and used interchangeably with other public transport in the city. The current fare (2013) for a single trip in one zone is €1.40, plus an additional 50 cents for a rechargeable multi-use "viva viagem card" (you should add you subsequent journeys to this rather than buying one each time). A 30 day pass will cost €35 should you be staying long enough to merit buying one. Alternatively the Lisbon Card will allow you to use public transport for free.

Things to do in Lisbon

  • Rossio is one of the main squares in Lisbon. Its official name is "Praca Dom Pedro IV". Long ago it was used as cattle market, public execution place, bullfight arena and carnival ground. In the middle of this square a tall column with a statue of king Pedro IV is located. It is surrounded by the Dona Maria II National Theatre, various cafes, shops and some restaurants.
  • Instead of paying for a ride on one of the costly tourist trams, try Tram 28. Tram (or "Eléctrico" in the Portuguese) Line 28 is one of only three traditional tram lines that still operate in Lisbon. These trams, which until the late-1980's ran all through-out Lisbon, were manufactured between 1936 and 1947. Tram 28 winds its way through the "Old Town" of Lisbon (dating from the 17th century) beginning in Graça then down to the Alfama and to the Baixa then up through Chiado to Bairro Alto and then down to Campo Ourique, taking you by many of Lisbon's most famous and interesting sites including monuments, churches and gardens. The trip is hilly, noisy and hectic but it affords many beautiful glimpses of the city. And, although the tram can sometimes be overrun with tourists, you will definitely get a flavor of the locals, as many "Lisboetas" commute daily on these historical trams. Tickets cost €1.05 if payed by "Viva Viagem" card and €2.85 if purchased on-board or at a vending machine (note that these machines do not accept notes, and are sometime even out of change, so make sure you have the correct change!). From start to finish the ride takes around 30 minutes. Beware of pickpockets!
  • Cine Theatro Gymnasium, Rua da Misericórdia nº 14, 2º Andar 1200-273 Lisboa. Fado In Chiado - Daily show (except on Sundays) with a duration of 40 minutes - A chance to become acquainted with Fado, a widely popular traditional Portuguese music style that has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO. The music is usually based on a vocalist accompanied by the sound of Portuguese guitar.  
  • Have a picnic in Jardim Botanico.
  • You cannot come to Lisbon without exploring Alfama - the city's oldest district. You will enjoy simply getting lost on its labyrinthine streets and alleys with architecture ranging from late medieval to 19th Century buildings. The area is old and slightly run down, although renovation efforts have been undertaken in the past two decades. There is a wealth of small historical and cultural landmarks and pleasant restaurants, cafés and Fado clubs can be found all over the place. Highlights include the Castle of São Jorge, Santa Luzia scenic view point, and the medieval Lisbon Cathedral ("Sé de Lisboa").
  • Take a walk in the lush gardens of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, one of Europe's most respected cultural institutions. Check out the Gulbenkian Museum (which is also an architectural landmark in itself) and its classical art collection; the newer Gulbenkian Modern Art Museum and the concert hall with a continuously ongoing programme of classical, jazz and world music. During the summer, concerts are held in the Gulbenkian gardens' open-air theatre.
  • If you are on a cultural trip and looking for more concerts, theatre, dance and arts, you can also check the Centro Cultural de Belém near Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, and theCulturgest arts center near the Campo Pequeno area.

What to see in Lisbon

The city of Lisbon is rich in architecture; Romanesque, Gothic,  Manueline, Baroque,  Modern and Postmodern constructions can be found all over Lisbon. The city is also crossed by historical boulevards and monuments along the main thoroughfares,  particularly in the upper districts; notable among these are the Avenida da  Liberdade (Avenue of Liberty), Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, Avenida Almirante Reis and Avenida da República(Avenue of the Republic).
There are several substantial museums one can visit in the city. The most famous ones are the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art), the National Azulejo Museum, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian(Calouste Gulbenkian Museum)
Lisbon's Opera House, the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, hosts a relatively active cultural agenda, mainly in autumn and winter. Other important theatres and musical houses are the Centro Cultural de Belém, the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, the Gulbenkian Foundation, and the Teatro Camões.

The monument to Christ the King (Cristo-Rei) stands on the southern bank of the Tagus River, in Almada. With open arms, overlooking the whole city, it resembles the Corcovado monument in Rio de Janeiro, and was built after World War II, as a memorial of thanksgiving for Portugal's being spared the horrors and destruction of the war.

Shopping in Lisbon

While most stores are closed on Sundays, many malls are open 7 days a week. They usually open around 9:30AM and close by 11PM or midnight, although the film theaters within them usually run a late session starting after midnight.

Centro Comercial Colombo, Av. Colegio Militar (Metro: Take the Blue Line to Colegio Militar/Luz Station). 9AM - Midnight. One of the largest malls in Europe, this shopping and leisure complex also houses dozens of restaurants, a bowling alley, health club, multiplex cinema, funfair with rides including a roller coaster, and a go-cart track.  
Armazéns do Chiado, Rua do Carmo 2 (Metro: Baixa-Chiado Station). A massive mall that draws a young hip crowd shopping for books, CDs, and DVD.   

Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama, (Metro: Oriente Station). A large mall in the Parque Expo.

Night life in Lisbon

Lisbon is known for its lively nightlife. For going out, stroll around the old neighborhood of Bairro Alto ('high neighborhood') for an after-dinner caipirinha or ginjinha and people-watching. Its small streets, full of people, are packed with a high variety of bars. On weeknights bars close at 2 am, weekends at 3 am. The party continues in a night-club after that. Just follow the hordes of people down the hill.
  • Alcântara, Santos, Parque das Nações, and the castle area are all neighborhoods with a thriving nightlife. The whole area near the river/Atlantic, known as the docas, is a huge hub for nightlife, as Lisbon has never lost its ties to the sea.
  • Garrafeira Alfaia is a nice wine bar with an impressive selection of good wines and appetizers. Good place to spend the late afternoon, before going out to dinner.   
  • Chafariz do Vinho, Rua da Mae d'Agua. Perfect place to linger over a glass of wine at this wine bar that is under the arches of the city's former acquaducts. With a great selection of appetizers that are matched perfectly with the wine, it's a pleasant way to spend an evening.   
  • Ritz Bar, Four Seasons Hotel, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 88. Designed by Pierre Yves-Rochon, you'll enjoy deep, sumptous sofas and an impressive collection of contemporary art displayed on the walls. And with decorated bartender Paulo Costa serving you drinks, its a great place to peruse a crowd of sophisticated clientele.   
  • Bar Foxtrot, Travessa Santa Teresa 28 (Half way between Principe Real Garden and Assembleia da República), 6pm to 3am. decoration "Art Deco", music; Cooking service until 3 am, which highlight the Foxtrot Steak and the delicious steak sandwich. 10€.   
  • Bar Trobadores, Rua de São Julião, 27. Medieval bar in downtown with a cozy atmosphere and a diverse range of traditional Portuguese delicacies. National and international beers.

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Map of Lisbon »

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