Located in the southern region of Portugal and situated near the Tagus River, Lisbon boasts a mild winter and hot summer climate, making it an ideal destination throughout the year. Although small in size, Lisbon exudes a charming village-like ambience, differentiating it from other capital cities.
After being captivated by the stunning Portuguese architecture in Vietnam and Macau, I have developed a strong desire to visit Portugal. As I plan my travels in Europe, visiting Portugal is at the top of my priority list.
The Tick list
- Close to the coast, tick.
- On a major waterway, tick.
- Architecture, tick.
- Unique city vibes, tick.
- Backpacker affordability, tick.
- Friendly people, tick.
- Sunshine, tick.
Let's go to Lisbon.
Oriente Station is the main bus station for international arrivals. It is conveniently connected to the city's metro and public bus systems, making it easy to get around. Additionally, there is a large shopping mall located within the station premises, which features a supermarket and a variety of international retail stores.
When travelling on the metro, a ticket will cost 1.80 euros. To make navigating the metro system easier, it's recommended to download a map beforehand. However, if you did not do so, you can ask the man at the information desk for a free metro map to help you get around.
Free or Almost Free Things to Do in Lisbon
1. Go to Alfarma
If you're planning to visit Lisbon, you should definitely check out Alfarma. This historic neighbourhood is known for its narrow streets, colourful houses, and stunning views of the Tagus River. To get there, you can take tram 28, which is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Once you arrive, make sure to explore the area on foot, as many of the streets are too narrow for cars. You can also visit the São Jorge Castle, which offers panoramic views of the city. Alfama is also home to several museums and art galleries, including the National Museum of Azulejos, which showcases the history and art of Portuguese tiles. When it comes to food, Alfarma has plenty of options, from traditional seafood dishes to trendy cafes and bars. So, if you want to experience the best of Lisbon, don't miss out on Alfarma.
2. Architecture, architecture, architecture
Lisbon is a city with a unique charm that is waiting to be explored. The city is filled with beautiful colours, intricate patterns on tiles, pavements, and small alleyways. The narrow steps and hilly villages add to the charm of this magical city.
Portugal has many attractions that drew me in, and Lisbon in particular is a wonderful destination. To fully appreciate the city's unique character, I recommend exploring the colourful details and charming neighbourhoods. While Alfama is the top pick for this kind of exploration, every neighbourhood in Lisbon has its own distinct beauty.
3. Colours, Patterns, Details
Wherever you look around in Lisbon, you'll notice the vibrant and eye-catching colours and patterns that adorn the city's buildings. From the iconic yellow trams that roam the streets to the intricate tiles that decorate the walls, Lisbon is a city that embraces design and creativity. The buildings in Lisbon are a mix of architectural styles, ranging from Moorish and Gothic to Baroque and Art Deco. This blend of styles gives the city a unique character and charm that is hard to find elsewhere. If you're interested in learning more about the city's architecture, there are plenty of walking tours available that will take you on a journey through Lisbon's past and present. Don't forget to bring your camera, as the buildings in Lisbon make for some stunning photo opportunities.
4. Terreiro do Paco Square
The square located between Arc De Augusta and the river is a spacious area that offers a delightful walk and an opportunity to appreciate the city's aesthetics. The adjoining riverbank provides a serene atmosphere for walking, sitting, and unwinding. It is an ideal spot for visitors to take a break from their exploration of the city.
If you're looking for a coffee shop in the vicinity of the square by the river, there are a few options available. Additionally, the square is surrounded by several restaurants that you may want to explore. However, be cautious of individuals who may approach you with offers to sell drugs, especially if you're a tourist.
It is common for individuals to work in groups, with some posing as fake police officers who may demand a bribe from you in order to avoid pressing charges. It is advisable to be vigilant and keep a close eye on your belongings, especially when sitting by the river, as pickpocket groups are known to operate in the area.
5. Visit Other Town Squares in The City
City squares are known for their beauty, often featuring buildings that enclose the area. A prominent feature such as a statue or fountain is usually located in the centre of the square. Visitors can often observe elderly individuals enjoying the atmosphere and pigeons flying about.
6. Sao Roque Church
Sao Roque Church, is a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. Built in the 16th century, the church's ornate and detailed Baroque-style architecture is a sight to behold. Visitors can explore the church's stunning interior, which features exquisite paintings, sculptures and altarpieces. The church is also home to a museum that displays a collection of religious art and artefacts from the 16th-18th centuries. When visiting Sao Roque Church, it is important to dress appropriately as it is still an active place of worship. Visitors should be respectful of the church's religious significance, and refrain from taking flash photography or making loud noises. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the church's history and architecture. Don't miss the opportunity to see this beautiful and historic landmark during your visit to Lisbon.
7. St. George's Castle
St Georges Castle is a must-visit attraction for all history enthusiasts. Located on a hilltop in Lisbon, this medieval castle dates back to the 6th century. The castle was initially built as a fortress to protect the city from invaders and has since then been through several renovations. As you wander through the castle, you'll get a glimpse of Portugal's rich cultural heritage. The castle offers a panoramic view of the city, and you can spot several landmarks like the Tagus River and the Lisbon Cathedral.
The castle's inner courtyard is a perfect spot to take a break and soak in the beautiful surroundings. The castle also houses the Military Museum of Lisbon, which is a significant attraction for history buffs. Don't forget to carry comfortable shoes as the castle involves a lot of walking and climbing. St Georges Castle is an excellent spot to spend a day exploring the city's rich cultural heritage.
8. Street Art and Ruins
While making your way to St. Georges Castle, take a moment to wander through the ruins and discover the vibrant street artworks that adorn the area. These colourful murals add a lively and dynamic atmosphere to the ruins, making it an exciting and unique experience for visitors.
9. Bike the Coast
If the weather is beautiful, head to the coast. Jump on the train to the beautiful small coastal town of Cascais. Here you can hire bikes for free! There are heaps of bike trails along the coast, so pack some snacks and enjoy the day cycling and exploring Cascais.
10. Feia Da Ladra
Feia Da Ladra is a must-visit destination. This stunning building, which translates to “Thief's Market” in English, is a beautiful example of 18th-century architecture. Visitors can climb the tower for breathtaking views of the city or explore the interior of the building, which now houses the National Museum of Azulejos. The museum features a vast collection of Portuguese tiles, showcasing the evolution of this traditional art form over the centuries.
In addition to the impressive collection, the museum provides informative exhibits that instruct visitors on the history and techniques of creating azulejos (Portuguese tiles). Feia Da Ladra is a perfect place to learn about Portuguese culture and history while enjoying the beauty of its architecture and art. Don't miss out on this unique and enlightening experience.
11. Free and Inexpensive Museums
Lisbon offers a wide range of museums that are either free or affordable, making it a budget-friendly destination for museum enthusiasts. Compared to other cities in Europe, the prices for museum tickets in Lisbon are quite reasonable, with an average cost of 1.90 Euros. Despite the affordability, these museums still offer unique and fascinating exhibits that are worth exploring. Take a look at the list on Lisbon museum listings website at https://www.golisbon.com/museums/
The war museum offers a fascinating display of historical artefacts used by the Portuguese military. Visitors can view a vast collection of medical supplies, uniforms, weapons, and pictures, providing a unique glimpse into the military history of Portugal.
If you're planning a backpacking trip to coastal destinations in Europe or considering a trip to Portugal, this post will be helpful for you. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a charming and picturesque city that feels like a small village.
Although Lisbon may not have many large or well-known tourist attractions, it is still a popular destination due to its unique and beautiful Portuguese architecture. Visitors are enchanted by the intricate patterns, colourful tiles, and narrow alleyways that can be found throughout the city. These features make Lisbon a truly special place to explore and experience.