Super nice to have you here because today I’m about to share a post, I’ve been burning to share. It’s about one of my absolute favourite places in the world: Lisbon, Portugal.
For those who didn’t know, I’ve done a one year study exchange to Lisbon and am currently still here working as a surf instructor. I was supposed to only stay for six months but because I loved it so much, I extended another 6 without hesitating.
Now that I’ve lived here for such a long time, I really see myself in the position to give you the best advice and tips about this beautiful city.
Throughout my time in Portugal I’ve of course explored a lot of other places here as well, and for the first semester, when I was traveling a lot, I wrote travel diary. So, if you want to get first hand insights into other places around Portugal as well as Lisbon more in detail (I just slightly scratch on the awesomeness behind every district but won’t go into detail as that would exceed the length of this post) go ahead and read those.
But now, let’s get to the guide and give you some helpful information. Here’s the outline of this post, so you won’t get lost:
Lisbon Old Town
Outer districts & beaches
Other places in Portugal
Places to eat
Let’s start with the general information.
As I went to Lisbon to study, had a car and lived in a shared flat I can’t give too much information about things like accommodation, tourist prices and public transport system. But I’ll tell you what I know.
Lisbon is a very cheap city and from some of my friends who’ve visited me, I know that hostels are around 10-15€. Which is super cheap for Europe. There are super nice ones right in the old town from where you can walk everywhere important.
Also, Airbnb is pretty big here and in the summer, you can for sure come with a camper van. There are a couple free long-term parking spots. Without showers and toilets though.
Public transport is very reliable and frequent. There are busses, trains, metros and trams. However, if you just spend time in the old city you can really walk everywhere and don’t need public transport.
The prices are a little bit more expensive than somewhere else. I’m not sure if there are tourist passes but it’s pretty like.
Also, the trains are super great because there are connections to all larger towns around Lisbon like Sintra, Cascais, Ericeira and so on. That makes day trips super easy.
If you want to explore a lot of Lisbon though I can recommend renting a car.
Also from friends I know this shouldn’t be too expensive.
Food and living costs are super cheap in Lisbon, compared to other places in Europe.
If you eat out in a good restaurant meals are from 8 to10€ for a good plate. In smaller restaurants or food markets you can get even cheaper meals.
In the supermarket, you can easily live of <50€ for an entire week. And I eat a lot, trust me!
Also, coffee and beer is super cheap as I’ve heard. A beer in a pub for like 2€ or something and an espresso for 50 cents.
The most amazing though is the pastry. Nothing costs more than 2€ or so.
Attractions can sometimes be a little pricier as they are made for tourists. But there are very little things you have to pay for. Most you can see for free.
Depending on when you go and how unlucky you are, the weather usually is never too bad. Winter is around 10-15° windier and more rain for sure. From March to end of October however its sunny almost every day, nice and warm in the spring (20°) and super-hot in the summer and autumn (36°+).
Even in spring the sun is very strong so make sure to pack sunscreen.
For the ocean lovers. Water is usually cooler in Lisbon as its Atlantic Ocean. In winter, we had 12° or less and in summer its around 17-20°.
Besides my basketball professor (sorry to say), I haven’t met any Portuguese person that wasn’t lovely! They are all so helpful, open-minded and friendly. They’ve got a big hart and a big smile.
In addition, the vibes are very relaxed and laid back which is mostly thanks to the many Brazilians here in Portugal.
Also, most of them, especially the younger generation speak super good English, so don’t worry if you can’t speak Portuguese.
Now that we’ve covered the most important information, let me tell you a little bit about the city.
Lisbon Old Town
Before we start, let me warn you. Lisbon is super hilly, so be prepared to hike a lot. Makes you super fit though ;).
Baixa & Chiado
The first neighbourhood you get to see when you’re arriving at the central station Cais do Sodre is Baixa.
Baixa and Cais do Sodre are a very nice area compared to most other central stations I’ve been to. It’s not at all messy or dangerous.
Baixa is one of the top party locations in Lisbon. You’ll find a lot of bars, pubs and clubs.
Especially pink street is the go to for all night owls.
If you walk along the river side at Cais do Sodre, which is super nicely decorated with lots of cafes and sun benches, it goes right into Chiado.
Chiado is THE district everyone knows with the Arco da Rua Augusta and the Rua Augusta itself. Here you will find a lot of cafes, restaurants, shopping possibilities and not to forget the lovely river side.
Also a few of the tourist attractions like the Bica elevator or the Arco are here. That’s why during peak times, this is a crazy busy place.
Next to Chiado a little bit more to the north you have Barrio Alto, which is the second party area.
Other than in Baixa, here you will find a lot of small restaurants and bars in very little but super cutely decorated streets.
If you want to experience Barrio Alto in its really beauty, you have to go there at night.
Above Chiado and next to Barrio Alto is Rossio. Here you can see some great street art, amazing Plaças and a lot of steps.
Here is also the famous Calca da Gloria with a Tram elevator and one of many Miradouros from which you can see Saint Jorge castle.
Avenida da Liberdade
Parting Lisbon into two halves’ is Avenida da Liberdade. This is a big avenue with lots of trees on both sides that leads all the way from Rossio square to Marques de Pombal from where you have an amazing view all through the city.
On the other side of Avenida da Liberdade you can find Mouraria, which is a little bit more modern. Here you can find the famous and absolutely pretty Martim Moniz Square.
During summer time, there are a lot of little smoothie bars, outdoor restaurants and fancy other shops to find. Also, if you want to take an escalator outdoors, here is your opportunity.
In addition, Mouraria holds a lot of different cultures. From Portuguese over Chinese, Indian, Turkish everything can be found.
Climbing a few of those stairs in Mouraria will also lead you to some beautiful lookouts like Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte and Miradouro Sophia Mello.
On the intersection of Mouraria and the next district Alfama you can find Saint Jorge castle and one of my absolute favourite lookouts Miradouro do Sol.
Going down from there you come into the lovely Alfama with all its cute little streets, popup stores, healthy and organic restaurants and small shops.
Everything here is nicely decorated, small and quiet. Perfect to escape the business of Chiado during high season.
Back at Cais do Sodre, we are going more to the west, pass the must-see Time out Market with all its delicious food courts and into Santos.
Santos is probably the neighbourhood I’d live in if I’d move to the city center. Here you can find some of the most beautiful mosaic houses and cutest organic restaurants.
My favourites are below.
After Santos, you come into Alcantara. It’s worth taking the train for a stop though as the walk is quite far.
Here nothing really see worthy is placed besides the LX Factory, which is a hip and trendy place to hang out, eat and do second hand shopping.
Even further outside is Belem. One of my absolute go to places. Here you can find a lot more parks, a beautiful river side and the famous Belem tower.
This really is great to go on a relaxed walk without having to climb a million stairs, enjoying beautiful sunsets and eating one or two Pasteis de Nata.
Outer districts and beaches
If you’re wondering where the beaches are here in Lisbon, you have to go a little more outside of the old town and into the outer districts.
For those who didn’t know, Lisbon is parted by a river and united by a huge red bridge that looks exactly like the one in San Francisco.
Carcavelos and Cascais
On the same side as Lisbon City, you can find Carcavelos and Cascais. Two super beautiful areas. Especially Cascais is worth a visit for all who enjoy youthful, uplifting and queerly beach vibes.
Carcavelos is the go to beach for everyone from Lisbon city as it’s very easy accessible by train. Therefore, unfortunately it’s super busy. However, a good place to go for a surf.
Sintra and Ericeira
Even further outside, right after Cascais you will find Sintra and Ericeira. Both absolutely see worthy.
Sintra is the most green and beautiful place I’ve ever been to. It’s a huge national park with amazing coastlines and beaches (to surf and to chill), castles and nature.
Ericeira is my absolute favourite place when it comes down to beach vibes. It’s so alive and with its beach town vibes it could easily be in austraila, Hawaii or south Africa.
If you are there, make sure to taste some delicious smoothie bowls.
On the other side of the bridge, where you can find the Cristo the Rei statue – which by the way is a beautiful lookout for all those who love the bridge – you can find Costa da Caparica.
In my opinion (I might be a little biased because I lived here), this is the best beach in Lisbon. You have a lot of different piers which divide the coastline into smaller beaches. This provides amazing waves all year and makes the beaches always look empty.
Worth seeing in Portugal
Besides those outer districts of Lisbon there are some other towns I really recommend you visit in Portugal that are within the Lisbon area.
Places to eat in Lisbon
Now let’s talk food. Like already mentioned above, Lisbon is a great city if you are into seafood lovers and vegan, healthy, organic eating fanatics. There are plenty of alternative, cute and lovely restaurants all around.
There are so many I haven’t had a chance to try them all. But I’m on it.
Here are the ones I loved most:
Tapas n’ Friends in Alfama
A super cosy Tapas bar with real oven. They have the best goat cheese and sea food tapas. Make sure to make a reservation as they have very limited space
Pizzeria Romero in Alfama
Best Pizza I’ve ever eaten. They don’t have to many choices about some fancy ones with pesto and mozzarella.
And it’s real Italian, as far as I was told.
Time out market in Baixa
A lot of different food choices from Asian over cake to seafood. Perfect for a quick and easy lunch break.
Poke House in Baixa
For real poke and smoothie bowls.
Buddha Sushi in Barrio Alto
Cheapest all you can eat sushi restaurant with take away options.
Heim Café in Santos
Best juices in town. Also, very small so be prepared to maybe wait a little until you get a place to sit.
Fauna and Flora in Santos
Very cute decorated with a lot of plants and trees. They have many vegan and vegetarian plates and I absolutely love their sandwiches.
LX Factory in Alcantara
A bunch of cute, organic restaurants which all have amazing food. Portions are a little small and more expensive though.
Doca do Preixe in Alcantara
This is a little fancier restaurant right on the river front. But they have the most amazing, fresh octopus. Pricier however.
Padaria Portuguesa in everywhere
This is a bakery chain that is all over Portugal and they have the most delicious Pão de Deus! You MUST try it!!!
This is a food truck that travels through the city and has super amazing flavours of the famous Bola de Berlim. From coconut over cookies and cream to Oreo or Nutella they have everything. They also have vegan options.
Sushi n’ Paradise in Caparica
Most delicious sushi plate I’ve ever eaten. The menu for 16€ for lunch and 20€ for dinner with soup, starter and huge sushi plate is quite cheap for sushi. Especially if you consider the freshness and tastiness of this delicious mix of sashimi and nigari. A must go if you are on this side.
Açai bowls in Caparica
This is not a specific restaurant, but many cafes in Caparica offer açai bowls for very little money. You can get a medium bowl for 5 euros, which is amazing if you like healthy ice cream. And who doesn’t!
To finish things up, I want to tell you about my favourite photo spots, for all those who come here to take some Instagram shots.
In general, you can say though, Lisbon is a very photogenic city and you can really take pictures on every corner.
Arco do Rua Augusta
Calca da Gloria
Miradouro do Sol
Belem river side – Belem tower
Praia da Ursa
Praia da Guincho
Praia das Moitas – Cascais
Costa da Caparica
Miradouro Boco do Vento – Cacilhas
To sum things up and draw a conclusion I can only repeat myself and say, Lisbon is amazing.
Lisbon is colourful, vibrant and full of little things. It might be not big in size but there is so much to discover and to explore.
If I can recommend you one thing to do when you are here then it is to get lost within the small and stunning streets of Lisbon. Put away your phone, your map, go and just explore.
Life in Lisbon is a 1000 out of a 100. There is so much positivity, happiness and joy in this city that it fills up everyone who comes here.
This city, where ocean and culture meet is a perfect place to combine beach vacation with city trip.
It truly is a magical place that has undiscovered potential to become your new favourite holiday destination.
That’s it. I know this was a lot of information, but I hope you could take something out of it and I hope you now want to come here and see for yourself, why this city is so amazing.
If you loved this post, feel free to share it and spread the stoke about Lisbon all around the world.
In addition, if you want to see more pictures of this amazing city, come by my Instagram. Here I share daily insight into my life here.
Lastly, here are more posts about Lisbon and what to do here, so feel free to dive in:
And then, don’t forget to come back Monday for a new post.