Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon: First Timers Guide

Even though Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, it still has lots of charm and is a great city to explore. It can be daunting planning a trip to a big city like this. This is a guide for what you need to know before going so that you don’t miss out on any of the amazing sights and can enjoy your time. Don’t forget to check out our suggested itinerary as well. 

When to go to Lisbon:

You can visit Lisbon any time of the year. During the summer it tends to be busy, it’s best to visit in the shoulder seasons of April/May and September/October. That way it will still be nice weather, but less crowds. 

How do you get there:

Most people will either fly in or out of Lisbon, at Lisbon International Airport (LIS). You can easily catch an uber or taxi into the city. It’s about a 20 minute ride. 

Lisbon has 4 main train stations and can easily be accessed by trains as well. 

If you are driving by car, I recommend either dropping it back at the rental car station or finding a great hotel with parking. Lisbon is not a town where you want to be driving around. There are lots of small one way streets that can make it confusing. 

Where to stay in Lisbon:

There are many different areas of Lisbon. We stayed at AlmaLusa Baixa & Chiado that had an amazing location. I would recommend trying to stay in the Baixa or Chiado area near Rossio square. 

How to get around Lisbon:

Lisbon is a big town, with many of the sights spread out. I do not recommend driving as there are many narrow one way streets and there are some areas that are not even accessible by car. 

Uber or taxi is the best way to get around. they also have little Tuk-Tuks that can be used to get around or you can do a tour on them. Beware that you need to haggle with Tuk-Tuk drivers and they are often more expensive than a taxi. 

Lisbon has lots of public transport as well. If you get the Lisbon card, you can use public transport for free. 

Even if you like to walk, you should take transportation to the top of the hills and walk down. This city is spread out and you will be getting your steps in here. 

Tram 28, Lisbon, Portugal

Lisboa Card:

I highly recommend getting the Lisboa card for when you are there. It also you to use public transport for free, including the trams, funiculars, and elevator. It also allows you to get into many monuments for free or at a discount. On top of that, most sights have a shorter line for people holding a Lisboa Card. We picked ours up at the Visitors center at Praca do Comercio. 

How much time do you need:

You can easily see all the sights if you have 2 full days in Lisbon. I recommend adding an extra day and doing a day trip to Sintra. 

Tagus River and view of the 25th of April Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal

What to know before you go:

  • In 1755, an earthquake and a resulting fire destroyed most of the lower parts of the city. 
  • I recommend good walking shoes. You most likely will be walking up and down hills on cobblestones. 
  • There are 4 main areas of Lisbon: Belem Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto, and Alfama 
  • You will see Pastel de Nata’s everywhere. It is a Portuguese custard tart that is amazing. Try it with cinnamon or powder sugar. They are best warm out of the oven. 

Top Sights you don't want to miss:

Sao Jorge Castle

Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal

Belem Tower

Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal

Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal
Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon, Portugal
Santa Justa Elevator, Lisbon, Portugal


Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

Check out the Miradouros

Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Lisbon, Portugal

Tram 28

Tram 28, Lisbon, Portugal

Recommended day trip from Lisbon: Sintra

Sintra is an easy day trip from Lisbon. You can drive there yourself, but my recommendation would be to do a tour so you do not have to worry about parking or navigating there. You can easily arrange either group or private tours with your hotel. Expedia also offers several as well. 

Everything you need to know before you go to Lisbon
Everything you need to know before you go to Lisbon
Everything you need to know before you go to Lisbon
Everything you need to know before you go to Lisbon

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