Porto or Lisbon, where to go? That’s the question many people ask themselves (and friends, colleagues, Google,…), when planning a short trip to Portugal. When we went on our very first trip abroad we decided to go to Portugal. And Porto was our choice back then. Now when we have been to both of them we can affirm, that Lisbon like Porto is a very nice, charming and interesting city where to travel to.
Lisbon is Portugal’s capital city. And with a little bit more than half a million of people living there it’s largest city by population in Portugal, too. Porto on the other hand is second largest. What makes Lisbon more appealing is its location at about the middle of Portugal and thus warmer weather.
Read on to learn few more helpful things and to be better prepared for your trip to Lisbon! Or to finally make that decision to travel to Lisbon or Porto.
Public transport in Lisbon is easy to use & the best choice for getting around
To get from Lisbon airport to city by metro you don’t need to buy special, more expensive ticket. It costs just like any metro, bus or tram ride within Lisbon – 1,4 euro. Well, Lisbon airport is located within the city, but it doesn’t change the fact, that getting from and to airport is easy and cheap.
While Lisbon doesn’t seem to be very big city, it’s hilly. Which means getting around city is much easier and faster with public transport, especially metro, than by foot or, for example, cycling. However, walking and going up the stairs, sometimes very narrow and steep ones, will be necessary to fully experience Lisbon and see more of it’s historical face.
24 hour public transport ticket is THE BEST
To use public transport in Lisbon at first you need to buy a transport card, on which you then can load tickets. You put it in ticket vending machine, choose how many and what kind of tickets you want, pay money and tickets are loaded on your card.
Transport card costs 0,5 euro. Single ride – 1,4 euro. But 24 hour public transport ticket for all Lisbon and for all metros, buses, trams and funiculars – only 6 euro. And with it you can even go on those funiculars, 1 ride with whom otherwise costs almost 4 euro.
24 hour ticket is valid for 24 hours after the first validation. Don’t throw out your Lisbon transport card once your 24 hour ticket expires, because card itself can be used again and again. You can load new 24 hour tickets on it and you can buy single tickets, if you will not be using public transport that much anymore.
For possible changes in fares check out site of Transportes de Lisboa before traveling to Lisbon.
Lisbon is packed with nice and affordable hostels
Even cheapest hostels in Lisbon are located close to many of the most popular attractions and sights. Choice of hostels is wide. And, what’s even more important, there are a lot of good, as rated by other travelers, and affordable hostels is Lisbon.
Hans Brinker hostel was our choice when we were in Lisbon for the first time. We choose dorm bed in 6 bed room. And we weren’t disappointed. They have both dorm beds for as low as 10 euro and also private rooms.
What we loved most about Hans Brinker Lisbon hostel apart from it being a cheap and good place for sleeping is that they have good breakfast. You know, we like to eat, and we eat quite a lot, though, it might not look like that. So it was nice to see, that our 14 euro, which we paid for a bed each, included also a big breakfast. There were 2 types of bread, 3 types of tasty Portuguese cakes, juice, tea, coffee, ham, cheese, bananas, oranges, and everything was really well organized.
Do check out also Airbnb, if you want to stay in an apartment instead and live like a local in Lisbon! Register using my Airbnb link and you will get a 18 euro discount for your first booking of 75 euro or more.
Portuguese like to eat well
Of course, it’s a subjective observation, but when I think about Western Europe, then for me it seems that people living there tend to spend a lot of money on expensive electronics, household appliances and clothing. Food there is something you buy, often already prepared, eat quickly and forget about.
Portuguese at the same time like Spanish and Italian take food more seriously. It’s not just something to keep you going.
There aren’t many groceries and supermarkets in Lisbon. At least, they aren’t really visible. And so you need to search for one in advance to be sure, that you will really find it. Not too good if you are on a tight budget and just like anywhere else in Europe want to just buy some ingredients and cook yourself, or to make a sandwiches and eat in a park.
But at the same time there are a lot of smaller and bigger restaurants. There seems to be one restaurant just around every corner. And in all most unimaginable places as well. It seems that there is no place too small to make a Portuguese restaurant. It may be small, but cozy and serving tasty food, nevertheless.
In a picture above you can see Time Out Market (Mercado da Ribeira). That’s one of the places where to go for a lunch or dinner, when you are in Lisbon.
Check out this great article for ideas what and where to eat in Lisbon!
What to see and where to go in Lisbon
Our favorite method of getting to know some new and unknown for us place is to go and wander around, and look what we can find there. And Lisbon is just perfect to simply wander around. Though, you may want to take a metro or tram in some places to not walk all the time.
Central part of Lisbon is throughout packed with old buildings and interesting street art. There is life going on everywhere.
To see how Lisbon looked centuries ago, head to Alfama. In 1755 there was a big earthquake in Lisbon, which destroyed most of the city. Except for Alfama, which nowadays still looks quite a lot like it looked back then.
For a good view of Lisbon from above, go to area around Castelo de Sao Jorge or Bairro Alto. There are several spots from where you can have a good view of the city from above.
Taking a tram and/or funicular in Lisbon can be a small adventure itself, too. As they are the same like in old days. Get in the vehicle as one of the last ones or last one and stand near driver to see how he is driving it. If you have a valid 24 hour public transport ticket this trip will not cost you a cent. Just validate a ticket once you got in.
For a different lunch or dinner experience head to Time Out Market (Mercado da Ribeira). Wide variety of different food could be found here. For all price levels.
And it’s not just about food. It’s also about the eating process. Time Out Market in Lisbon isn’t just a café or restaurant, it’s a huge food court, where everyone buys food from where he or she likes most, but eats together, sitting by long tables. Look on that picture above once again and you will get a better idea of what I’m talking about.
Few interesting attractions in Lisbon – National Tile Museum, Discover Walks Lisbon (Number 1 attraction in Lisbon, as voted by travelers on TripAdvisor), Vasco da Gama Bridge – Europe’s longest bridge (an interesting sight, and walking path on the riverside there is just a perfect place for an evening stroll).
If you still have some questions about traveling in Portugal, contact us!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.