Awarded “Europe’s Leading City Destination 2018 and 2017” in the World Travel Awards, Lisbon is among the cities growing in popularity between tourists and visitor from all around the world. Since 1993 this award acknowledges excellence in different fields of the tourism industry, being recognized globally, but furthermore predicting an increase in the tourist number of this city in future years. 2018 Portugal was given 36 awards in total, being considered best European destination to visit and among the best ones to choose from worldwide. Although this might come together with an increase in prices within the tourist sector, for tourist used to prices in other European Cities, Portugal remains a destination where the quality-price ratio will not disappoint anyone. The size of Lisbon, with an area of 100.05 km2 within the cities administrative limits, although it is the largest city of Portugal, makes it possible to enjoy the city in less than a week also as a first time visitor and furthermore save some time for day trips around the city, such as Cascais or Sintra, easily reached by public transportation, without the need if using a car. It is possible to make the most of the visit, due to the fact that the airport is located near the city centre and easily connected with cheap public transportation options. An aerobús, several buses and the metro take you to the city centre in less than 20 minutes, which makes it possible to start tourism the same day of arrival.

A Traveller's guide to Lisbon - Sheet1
Rossio, in the district of Baixa, among the most popular areas of Lisbon for tourists. Photo by Vita Marija Murenaite on Unsplash

The city offers plenty of alternatives for accommodation depending on the type of traveller to be received. For a first time in Portugal, the most popular among tourists and central districts to stay in are Chiado or Baixa, further from the centre of those anything around the city’s main street, Avenida da Liberdade will do as  good as the previously mentioned areas. Other popular districts are the district of Alfama for those not minding the hilly topography of the area or the district of Barrio Alto, for those favouring the nightlife of Lisbon instead of long nights of sleep during their trip. However, if searching for a more Portuguese environment and less tourist crowded offers perhaps the neighbourhoods of Graça or Estrela are worth a visit although at the same time, not the most popular places to stay among tourist, who are willing to be in the touristic city centre. Sites to enjoy the views above the city, given the hilly topography of Lisbon are surely one of the most attractive spots in this city: The Santa Just Lift is an attraction itself, although there are maybe other higher spots worth a visit, from which to enjoy the views for free. The Miradouro de Santa Catarina, and the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, drinks among locals can be enjoyed with spectacular views and a great atmosphere.

A Traveller's guide to Lisbon - Sheet2
Night view avobe Libon’s rooftops. (Photo by Andreas Brücker on Unsplash)

Among tourists visiting the city for even the shortest trip, must visit sites will surely include another district, very popular among tourists, but further from the centre to be popular as accommodation: Belem District. Belem is worth a half-day trip during the stay. It is easily connected to the city centre (Baixa) by tram or Bus, but it is also a nice walk, or bike ride along the coastal promenade for those who rather explore the city while walking around, as the weather is likely to be nice in Lisbon. A short walk along Rua Augusta, full of shops you might already find in every European Capital, mixed however together with local shops but also restaurants, cafes and hostels leads tourists from the upper districts of Lisbon to the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) at the right time of the day, during the warmer days the Cais das Colunas (Pier of the columns) becomes an urban beach, with ephemeral bars to buy food and drinks while listening to music. Along the coast, and the promenade of the Ribera das Naus, another beach like pier can be easily reached Cais do Sodre, especially attractive for sunsets with a view on the Tejo River and the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge.

A Traveller's guide to Lisbon - Sheet3
Ponte 25 de Abril and the view across the Tejo River. (Photo by Nicole Reyes on Unsplash)

Although the coastal promenade and urban fabric from here to Belem might become more industrial after this pier, some nice spots tourists otherwise might miss are located a bit further from the River, but on the way to Belem. Next to Cais do Sodré, on the opposite side of the station Time Out Market Lisbon is located, inside the former market hall, housing restaurants, bars and artists are housed under the same roof worth a visit regardless of during the day or night since 2014. Another spot not to be missed along the way, probably less known by first-timers in Lisbon is Lx Factory, the former industrial complex now housing artist workshops and shops, together with restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

A Traveller's guide to Lisbon - Sheet4
Exterior view of the MAAT, on the way to Belem. (Photo by Sara Depraetere on Unsplash)

For more cultural attraction, perhaps especially attractive for a trained eye regarding architecture the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) by architect Amanda Levete can be found along the promenade by the river, being also worth a visit. Having arrived in Belem, an attraction not be missed is of course the walk to the Belem Tower, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos Monastery and its Church the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and it’s viewing platform and perhaps, for a rest of the touristic spots and a more quite walk the Jardim Botânico Tropical. Another alternative to finish the visit, although surely crowded of tourists is the Pasteis de Belem Bakery, where the famous Pasteis de Nata is made. Some sightseeing can be missed since Lisbon cannot be left without having tried or al least bought such delicious custard cakes!


Alba Calabozo is an architect, design and arts enthusiast having recently graduated from the University of Navarra in Spain. She is specialized in the field of architectonic restoration and rehabilitation. Writing about architecture is her way to share some food for thought while looking for her next career step beyond a traditional career path of an architect.