City Break: Lisbon — TripIt Blog

city ​​break (noun): a short vacation spent in a city, such as during a business trip.

Before the adventure travel, there were city breaks—short spaces of leisure time that give you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities have to offer. In this series on TripIt, we explore some of the best cities in the world to plan a quick getaway or extend a work trip.

Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Lisbon.

where to fly

Lisbon is served by Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), located seven kilometers (less than four and a half miles) from the city center.

Once on the ground, passengers have a myriad of public transit options to continue to their final destination, including metro, bus, rail and shuttles. For example, if your hotel or vacation rental is located in the city center, you can take the ‘Aeroporto – Saldanha’ line (aka, the red line) from the airport to downtown Lisbon in about 20 minutes.

Alternatively, cabs and ride shares are also available from LIS.

Where to stay during your city break

City break Lisbon

Speaking of downtown Lisbon hotels, Brown’s Central Hotel is true to its name—centrally located with easy access to the city’s attractions (it’s just a two-minute ride on the Santa Justa elevator), the metro, as well as shops, restaurants and cafes.

The Evens, a nod to Portuguese explorers Roberto Evens and Hermenigildo Capello, has 87 rooms, several restaurants and a jazz club. The rooms are designed with a mind to offer “a place where an adventurer can relax”.

Looking for an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Memo Alfama, located in Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, has great views from its rooftop terrace – not to mention its pool is perfect for cooling off after a day of sightseeing.

After more budget-friendly digs? The Independent—part hotel, part hostel—offers a relaxed, yet trendy atmosphere. Perfect for solo travelers, budget travelers or those just looking for a unique stay.

Vacation rentals booked through Airbnb are also available in Lisbon.

How to get around

City break Lisbon

Part of Lisbon’s charm is its easy walkability. Plan accordingly by packing comfortable shoes for walking from place to place.

When walking isn’t possible or desirable, Lisbon offers countless public transit options, including four metro lines, a bus system, and of course its iconic trams.

There are two types of trams in Lisbon: the traditional (and more tourist-oriented) trams that ply the city center streets. There are also modern trams that are purely transit-oriented, that is, designed to get you from A to B, and operate both in and out of the city center.

Alas, we can’t forget the funiculars—Lisbon’s hill-climbing trams—Asensor da Bica, Asensor da Gloria, and Asensor do Lavra.

At the time of publication, a single tram ticket costs €3. In traditional trams, you can buy a ticket from the driver; Modern trams have a ticket machine on board. There is also a 24-hour Viva Viagem transit pass, worth €6.40, which allows you to ride any tram, bus and metro. You can buy this pass from a metro, ferry, or local train station.

Thinking about exploring Lisbon on two wheels? There are several micromobility options for you to get around, including bike- and scooter-sharing programs offered by Lime, Bird, Gira, and Hive (now via free apps).

Uber is also available in Lisbon.

Pro tip: Use TripIt’s navigator feature to search for transportation options available to you It will show you the estimated cost and travel time for each option, so you can decide which one works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat below), Navigator helps you find the best transportation options to get to your table. You can find the navigator within your plan details screen.

If you plan to travel outside of Lisbon to other cities in Portugal (eg, Porto), you have several options for doing so, but perhaps the most affordable and environmentally friendly option is via the Comboios de Portugal train. If you want to do this, I would definitely recommend booking in advance and taking the Alfa Pendular (vs. Intersides) as it offers a higher-speed train (ie, fewer stops) and more comfortable, modern cabins.

where to eat

Lisbon

Breakfast on the brain? For a caffeine fix and delicious pastries, pop into Copenhagen Coffee Lab. There are several organic coffee shop locations in Lisbon, including one within walking distance of Brown’s Central Hotel.

Market more in your view? Time Out Market Lisbon is your one stop shop for light bites, traditional food, drinks, desserts and more. You can also take a cooking class and learn how to make (among other things) the classic Portuguese pastry, pastel de nata (pictured above).

A former fabric factory, LxFactory is now home to more than 50 restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as shops (more on what to do in Lisbon below), and its dining options are well worth a visit.

Looking for an overview of Portugal’s wine regions? Book a tasting at From the Vine, Portugal’s first wine-tasting bar. Learn about the country’s wine-producing regions while you sip wine and sample local cheeses and clothing.

Finally, let’s talk about dinner plans. For traditional Portuguese cuisine, choose from delectable dishes at Taberna da Rua das Flores, Belcanto, Boi-Cavalo, or (my personal favorite) the charming Alfama Cellar.

Craving Asian cuisine? Consider Yakuza for a blend of Eastern and Western flavors; Boa Bao for adventurous culinary flair; Or Bonsai, Portugal’s first Japanese restaurant.

Looking for vegetarian or vegan options? The Food Temple, Os Tibetanos, or Arkhe – with the latter, budget accordingly.

More of a meat eater? There are many steakhouses in Lisbon, including Taberna do Lopes First Floor, BYF Steakhouse and Sala de Corte.

Suggestion: When possible, book restaurant reservations in advance. Download an app like The Fork to make booking (and searching) easier. Then, forward your reservation confirmation(s) to TripIt to keep all your bookings in one place.

What to do on your city break

City break Lisbon

If you haven’t heard of fado before your trip to Lisbon, that will soon change. Fado – the genre of music that traces its roots to Lisbon in the 1820s – is often melancholic, sometimes mournful and entirely unique to the region. Of course, the best way to understand fado is to experience it for yourself – and one place to do that is A Baiuca. Can’t make it to a show, or want to immerse yourself further? You can visit the Museu do Fado (Fado Museum) in Alfama—”to see, hear and feel Fado.”

As I mentioned above, be sure to spend some time at LxFactory—especially if your trip falls on a Sunday, when even more local vendors and artisans will be present.

Want to support independent bookstores on your travels? The same. Check out Ler Devagar located at LxFactory. (Hint: You’ll want to snap some photos for Insta while you browse!) Close to the Chiado neighborhood? Visit Livraria Betrand—the oldest operating bookstore in the world. The English-language display is modest, but worth a browse nonetheless.

Less interested in shopping and more in street art? Lisbon is a mural hunter’s dream! Explore the street art scene on your own, or book a walking tour with Street Buddha Tours for a guided experience from a local street artist.

Since Lisbon is located on the banks of the Tagus River, you’ll have plenty of options for enjoying a day on the water, including booking a scenic sailing ride and/or learning to surf (at nearby beaches). Even strolling along the riverfront gives you plenty of opportunities to see some of Lisbon’s most iconic sights, including the Belém Tower, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the Cristo Rey statue—the latter located across the river, but easily seen. From the Lisbon end of things.

Want to get out of town for the day? Keep It Local Tours has loads of nearby excursions worth your time, including catching the train to the magical town of Sintra and/or seaside Cascais.

Note: Be sure to consult and adhere to all local guidelines and travel restrictions as destinations around the world reopen, as they vary widely and will continue to change. One way to stay on top of guideline changes is to consult COVID-19 travel guidelines TripIt app features for destination-specific information, including testing and vaccination requirements, current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, and other information you need to know before visiting the area.

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