Getting off the beaten path in a capital city such as Lisbon may be difficult, but not impossible. Here are some ideas for things to do in the city and close to it:
  • Put on your walking shoes and explore the narrow streets of Alfama district. The Baixa district and Belem are also nice places to explore on foot. Just remember that Lisbon is hilly.
  • Plan a day trip to Sintra. The Moorish Castle is the highlight of the city. Pena Palace is another interesting place to visit.
  • Jardim Calouste Gulbenkian is a great choice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You can walk, seat on a bench or enjoy a picnic here.
  • Take a day trip to Obidos and explore the Medieval heritage. It’s possible to walk around the city walls. Arrive early in order to avoid the crowds.

Why you should add Lisbon to your RTW travel list

Of course visiting Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the sights the city is famous for. Here are some ideas on what to do if you’ve never been there or plan on staying for a while.
  • The fortification of Castelo de São Jorge is not only one of the city’s most important historical attractions but also offers incredible views.
  • For another bird’s eye view of Lisbon, take the Santa Justa Elevator. You’ll see the city from 45 m high.
  • Visit the Jeronimos Monastery, one of the most impressive and most beautiful buildings in Lisbon. It was built by King Manuel I to commemorate Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India.
  • See Belem Tower. It once was a fortress guarding the harbor’s entrance.
  • Worship at Sé Catedral de Lisboa. The city’s cathedral was built in 1147 but collapsed during an earthquake. It was rebuilt several times and fortress-like bell towers are impressive.
  • Take a ride on the yellow Tram 28 , which passes by the most important sights in the capital.
  • Liston to Fado music in a bar in Alfama district. End the night with a bottle of Porto.
  • Enjoy the nightlife in Bairro Alto. By day, the district is ideal for shopping.
  • Indulge your senses and try some pastries. There are many Pastelarias in the city and you can find a lot of delish sweets to try.

Why you should not add Lisbon to your RTW travel list

  • While not as expensive as London or Paris, Lisbon is not exactly a very cheap destination to visit. To save money you can plan your visit from March to May or in October. Since the winters are the mildest in Europe, you won’t be freezing if you visit Lisbon during the cold season, either.

Overview

Lisbon (or Lisboa to the locals) is the gorgeous capital of Portugal that has much more of a “European” feel to it than the large cities of next-door Spain. There’s no siesta here and the smartly-dressed locals and their café culture feel more like Paris than Madrid, but Lisbon has things that make it unique as well. The main part of the city fronts a river with important parts of town on hills flanking either side. It’s compact and easy to get around and the main sites can all be seen in just a couple of days.

What To Do

St. Jorge’s Castle is on one of the hills and is a great place to start your visit. It’s interesting on its own, but also offers great views of the entire city and also a good place to start a walking tour of the Alfama neighborhood just below. Bairrio Alto is atop the hill just across from the castle and is a great place for a stroll and to experience a traditional meal while listening to one of Lisbon’s traditional fado singers.

The city contains an entire museum dedicated to the fado music it gave birth to. The songs are sung in Portuguese, but the sad songs you’ll hear have a universal appeal to them. Santa Justa’s elevator is an unusual attraction in the center of town. It was built to take people from the lower central part of town to the old Bairrio Alto, but you can just ride to the top and take in views of the city from platform there, which features a small café.

Getting There

If you are adding Lisbon on to a tour of Spain you can certainly arrive in the city by train, but most will want to book a flight into Lisbon’s Aeroporto da Portela. It’s a major airport so good deals are often available from destinations all over Europe as well as the Americas. The airport isn’t too far from the center of town and the helpful Aerobus can quickly shuttle you back and forth for a reasonable price.

Where To Stay

Lisbon is fairly compact, but some neighborhoods are better for travelers than others. There are several hostels in Lisbon and of course many hotels in Lisbon as well. Some of the cheaper places are further from the river, but it’s probably worth paying a bit more for a place closer in since the neighborhoods closer to the river are more central and also more charming.