The Lisbon Travel Guide

A Collaborative Work By GMIT Tourism Students

Lisbon: The City of Light

Introduction By Róisín Corrigan

Lisbon can only really be explained as a full-body experience, from bumping into people while distracted by the quaint cobblestones or the intricately decorated tiles on the sidewalks, in the Alfama district. At least if you’re having a bad day and your head is held low, you’ve got something to hold your attention or a reason to lift it up!

It’s easy to understand why Lisbon is commonly known as the City of Light, as you are surrounded by bold and vibrant colours that sing out to all the people. But the colour doesn’t stop there… the blue from the Tagus river is emphasised by the sun’s rays that escaped and are now dancing on its surface. The terracotta tiles that adorn the roofs generously lend warmth, even on a grim January’s morning.

On a rainy day you might find yourself gliding (or falling!) down one of the city’s seven hills but, at least you’ll have plenty of scenery to enjoy on your way. The vibrant yellow trams coming from all angles, the blend of pastel houses in the spindling alleyways harmonise with the pop of colour from the flower pots that hang off most house window sills – it’s a pretty good silver lining, in my humble opinion.

Lisbon old town Alfama church

Lisbon’s Colourful, Characterful Districts

Lisbon is divided into different districts and while it makes up one city, each segment distinctively stands out through its own unique characteristics. A palette of colour is on offer in nearly all creeks and corners of the city. After visiting the city I’ve noticed how it speaks to all ages, all visitors. All people. It is a city of depth and knowledge. In each district a different perspective, a different light and feeling will reveal itself. Giving Lisbon an authentic edge yet also offering a contemporary twist all in one bite.

Lisbon Rossio square at sunset

The LX factory and district oozes with art, creativity and all that is cool! The Alfama district combines culture and history, standing almost as an artefact that portals us back in time through the streets that date back to before the 8th century- one could say it is the essence of Lisbon. To the glamour that can be found from the shopping district of Baixa. To Belem, that exemplifies a strong presence, as it houses the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower in all their glory, not to mention if you follow your nose you will come to find the cafe pastéis de Belém where you will enjoy the mouth-watering, tear jerking best Portuguese tart (or pastéis de nata) of your taste buds’ life.

Lisbon food to try pasteis de nata

Not to mention Pink Street, which snatches the attention of all the good people looking for a shindig, reeling them in for what can only be an exhilarating night out. And so many more districts that can be best found by leaving your google maps at home and stumbling across them yourself. All of these areas add such different dimensions to the city yet, they are all tied together through the common thread of colour. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder… Lisbon really helps people out by offering a lot to behold.

Lisbon Portugal Travel guide Pink Street

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Great Events in Lisbon


With an array of viewpoints to be seen, it may be overwhelming to choose if only on a short stay, but the one that stands alone in my memory is the Santa Justa Elevatator (a close second being Castelo de Sao Jorge) we managed to catch the sun set.

Luckily it was a clear sky allowing the pinks, oranges and reds to light it up. Highlighting the red roof tops, soft pastel colours and tracing the silhouettes of shapes from the serene city below. It illustrated a postcard picture (which I’m sure already features in one of the hustling bustling souvenir shops). With the soft melody coming from the acoustic guitar played by a local in the corner, anyone could while away time in this romantic backdrop.

Lisbon Portugal Santa Justa Elevator at night
Is Lisbon a sustainable city?

P.S. For all you travellers who are looking to eco up your travelling conscious; Lisbon is the destination for you. Green stood out in bold to me whilst walking around the city, not in relation to the colour but more in the sense of how sustainability was incorporated through all aspects of the city.

Although I was transfixed by the aesthetic and colour of this beautiful city, I couldn’t help but take the time out to notice the emphasis that was placed on the environment. It was the little things… I barely noticed anyone walking around with coffee cups – locals naturally tended to buy their coffee and sit down and enjoy it (I know shock horror for all you busy bees out there!), this reflected the slower pace and more mindful approach to living that the Lisbon locals seemed to have.

It was only when I realised, we were spending a lot of time walking on the cobbled streets and roads instead of the paths that the lack of cars compared to other cities like Dublin was very obvious. This is definitely because of all the amazing forms of public transport available – the trams, metro, amazing bike initiatives and scooters (which are as practical as they are fun!). I also noticed, there was an abundance of electric vehicle charging points. One of our walking tour guides told us that Lisbon had achieved 50% reduction in C02 emissions since 2002. And, later after arriving home, I found out Lisbon is the 2020 European Green Capital Award winner – absolutely no surprise there!

As the topic of sustainability is so important, you may be interested to learn more about Why Lisbon Is A Top Sustainable Destination by Eduardo Lera Latorre

Lisbon sustainable city

Food & Tipples In Lisbon

By Ryan Henehan

Pick a street in Lisbon, take a stroll down and take in your surroundings, from its ancient quarters, beautifully tiled buildings and gorgeous food you will feel as though you have taken a step back in time. A lack of dreary, grey office buildings, modern technology and hectic city traffic seems to create an otherworldly sense, as if living in a romance novel where time stands still and everything you‘ve ever wanted is at your fingertips. In a big city that feels like a small, sleepy town you will be welcomed with open arms and leave with full stomachs

Lisbon bar terrace at sunset

Lisbon is a city that has been making waves in the culinary world as of late and for good reason. There is a certain joy of discovery in the capital in that it is often outshined by the more prevalent cities throughout Europe such as Rome, Paris and Madrid. Many of us ventured to this somewhat more elusive city having not experienced all Portugal had to offer previously and not knowing much about the hidden gastronomic gems to be discovered.

Each cobbled sidestreet appeared to host some unqiue culinary experience and to truly immerse oneself in the city I would recommend talking a wander and discovering flavours and scents the likes of which you have never known before.

On a cool, calm morning in January what better way to wake up and warm up than with a coffee. Take a short trip to the Madragoa district, an area that once was home to some of the city’s finests convents and architecture is now a haven for coffee and pastry lovers alike. Boasting some of Lisbon’s oldest producers, the aroma is incredible. The smell of rich, fragrant beans fill the streets and excite the nostrils as the scent pours over the vast roasters, wood-fired as they were once upon a time.

Lisbon food and drink

Photo credit: Bulgarian on the Go

It would be a crime not to pair your morning macchiato with one of the Lisbon’s beloved Pastels de Nata, a multi-layered crisp pastry containing custard in a state between liquid and set. A crispy crunch with a warm, sweet custard filling perfectly offsets the dark, bitter goodness that is the coffee. It truly is amazing how some ground beans accompanied by eggs, cream, custard and sugar can kick start your day in the best way possible.

A definite bucket list item for anyone slightly food-obsessed, like myself, is the Time Out Market, or to call it its full title, Time Out Mercado da Ribeira in Cais do Sodre. Perfect for tourists with limited time, Time Out plays host to an assembly of Lisbon’s finest gastronomic delights. Many of the city’s celebrated chefs such as Henrique Sa Pessoa, Susana Felicidade and Jose Avillez have concessions in the market.

Top Places To Eat In Lisbon Timeout Market

Like a year round food festival, Time Out offers every possible culinary concoction from foie gras tartare, fresh fish and crustaceans and sweet treats post dinner such as hand-made chocolates filled with pistachio, almonds or dried fruit. Wash it all down with a glass of aromatic Duoro white wine, or a pint of the locally brewed beer, Sagres, or the nations favourite liquor, the herbal remedy that is Beirao, or all three, you are on holidays!

Dont forget to pick up a can of tinned horse mackerel or sardines in tomato on your way out. While canned fish may be considered a cheap, convenient alternative in most places, in Portugal it is an artform and the ultimate foodie souvenir.

They say when in Lisbon, do as the Lisboetas do, at least i think that’s the phrase. What could be considered more Portugese than sitting in one of the many historic squares such as Praca do Comercio, sipping a glass of port and listening to the sounds of the melancholic Portugese blues known as Fado, watching the world meander by.

To know Lisbon is to eat and drink Lisbon, to live like the locals. Venture to the same spots they do and eat and drink what they suggest, dont be afraid to introduce yourself or ask questions as they are a warm and inviting nation who encourage the culturally curious.

Digress from the tourist recommended routes and amble into crammed little shops with walls filled with tawny and ruby ports and taste the aged goodness and feel as tho time has stood still for a moment. Experience the local version of tapas, petiscos and never miss an opportunity to raise a glass and toast to good health by proclaiming Saude!

Lisbon Alfama food stall

There is something familiar about Lisbon, something that made me feel as tho I had been there before and at the same time never want to leave. A warmth and hospitality which radiates from the locals as if they want to share their home with the world rather than keep it to themselves.

Cant skip Portugal, a mantra the Lisboetas take very seriously, Lisbon’s charm is undeniable. It is a city that is easy to fall in love with from the The Castelo de São Jorge in the sky right down to the limestone mosaic footpaths and cobbled streets.

The Portugese introduced tempura to Japan, Chillies to India and coffee to Brazil. They boast beaches like Barcelona, squares like Rome, corner store coffee shops like Paris and the homely welcome like us Irish.

The Portugese are a nation of explorers, influencers, entertainers, lovers and very few fighters. They celebrate their surroundings and arent afraid to do things a little different than their European neighbours. So as we celebrate this perfectly preserved slice of the past lets keep it as is, lets not change a thing and consider Lisbon a step back in to a simpler time and a slower pace of life. An often overlooked capital city, they say Can’t Skip Lisbon, but why would anyone want to!

Discover 6 Local Dishes To Try In Lisbon & 10 Top Places To Eat In Lisbon by Amy Creighton.

Lisbon Portugal during saints fesitival

Lisbon’s Superb Architecture

This sustainable, cultural city is full of centuries-old architecture and monumental statues along with its hilly winding streets and vibrant captivating yellow trams. Lisbon has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire which is captured through the city’s architecture. The story of Lisbon truly lies within its architecture and winding streets of the city.

Here you can discover 9 of Lisbon’s iconic architectural landmarks by Tara Smollen

And also, why not discover 10 favourite Instagrammable places in Lisbon by Emer Mc Hugh

Lisbon Portugal Rossio Square


The 1755 Earthquake

The force of nature has long played havoc with human lives. In Lisbon, on 1st November (All Souls Day in the Catholic religion), the city’s people were at church to worship that day. At 9.30 am, suddenly, an earthquake struck the city. It was as if Lisbon had been shaken by a type of invisible gravity, according to survivors.

Discover how glorious Lisbon was before the earthquake and how the city rose up once again afterwards in an interesting read with a focus on architecture and history, by Xijie Zhang.

Lisbon Portugal from Tajo River

City of Ceramics and Azulejos (Tiles)

If you enjoy beautiful things and have even the slightest interest in architecture, then you will love the role that tiles and ceramics play throughout Lisbon. Known in Portuguese as azulejos, these vibrant tiles can be seen everywhere. Colourful ceramic tiles adorn numerous facades throughout Lisbon.

This tradition is a Moorish one, and believe it or not, it comes from a fear of empty spaces.

Find out more about: Lisbon’s Ceramics, Tiles and Azulejos by Ciara Enright


Lisbon ceramics and tiles

Understanding Fado music

It would be a shame not to experience Fado, the melancholic soulful Portuguese music that is said to have begun in the early part of the 19th century, around Lisbon and Coimbra. Fado singers can send shivers down your spine if you are attuned to music. It is beautiful and sad at the same time.

Fado features a feeling that can only be explained properly by a native Portuguese. The feeling, Saudade, is a deep, intense feeling of longing, of missing someone or something terribly. There is actually a Museum of Fado in Lisbon, where you can discover lots about this music genre that is an integral part of Portuguese culture.

A funny coincidence is that the word Fado in Irish means a long time ago! The only tiny difference is that in Irish it has an accent (fada) – Fadó.

This feature explains Fado in more detail, plus it tells you about some of the best places in Lisbon to experience Fado by Peter McGrath.

Fado Museum Lisbon Portugal

Reminders of Royalty in Lisbon

After the double assassination of the King of Portugal and his son, on a cold day in February 1908, the dead King’s younger son took the throne. However, the Portuguese monarchy never made a full recovery from that fateful day in 1908. The rise of the Republican movement, a weak monarch and a revolution led to the fall of Portuguese Royalty, the House of Braganza, in 1910.

Regardless of this, in 21st century Lisbon the days of the Royalty are still evident. This article explores 4 Beautiful Reminders of Royalty in Lisbon Portugal by Gerard Ronan Keane….coming soon

Lisbon Palace of Pena in Sintra

Sports Tourism in Lisbon

It might not surprise you to know that Lisbon is also an exciting sports tourism destination. Of course with Portugal being the country of one of the world’s most famous footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo, this gives it a bit of an edge. That said it isn’t only soccer related sports tourism that visitors to Lisbon can enjoy, there is also great golf and spectacular surfing available.

Follow James Dempsey as he highlights some of the main reasons that Lisbon Is A Spectacular Sports Tourism Destination.

sports tourism Lisbon West Cliffs Golf Course

Coastal and Marine Tourism

Cruise ships stop off to let their guests enjoy the day in Lisbon, where they can bask on the beach and swim, and enjoy some absolutely delicious seafood for their lunch. Or some may decide to take part in the wide range of watersports on offer. For those visitors who are in Lisbon of an evening, the sunset over the river Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean is postcard perfect.

Explore Why Lisbon Is A Superb Coastal and Marine Tourism Destination by Declan Foyle….coming soon

Coastal and marine tourism Lisbon

Lisbon For Families

Lisbon is one of those places that appeals to many different types of people, as well as being a city that has the ability to cross over generations. Naturally the city’s hills might seem like a bit of a struggle for those with either younger or older families, but the reality is the transport options are very good and there are number of excellent reasons to visit Lisbon as a family.

Let Rhiannon Hoey help you explore Lisbon For Families-Treacherous Hills But Lots To Do With Children.

lisbon for families

Lisbon For A Girls Weekend

From beautiful boutique hotels to budget accommodation to suit all tastes, warm and hospitable Lisbon has somewhere perfect to stay for all the girls …of all ages. This World’s Leading City Break Destination has all the ingredients you and your girlfriends need to have a wonderful weekend bonding with your close friends and female family.

In this feature, Hannah Smith highlights 15 Reasons Why Lisbon Is A Great Girls Weekend Destination.

lisbon for girls weekends

Is Lisbon LGBTQ+ Friendly?

By Eoghan Kavanagh

Lisbon is one of the most progressive places for LGBTQ+ people(s), with same sex adoption and discrimination against sexual orientation considered to be one of the backbones of the laws.

2010 was a time of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community, with Portugal legalising same sex marriage.The city is trendy and hip. The gay friendly area of Lisbon is in the Bairro Alto area with an abundance of bars and nightclubs.

From my recent to trip to Lisbon, I found it to be accepting of LGBTQ+ culture and the ‘norms’ associated with that, the mix of gay-straight mixed wonderfully, and so it should be. Though controversially, this opinion is divided with some only wanting LGBTQ+ bars and not for there to be a mix both heterosexuals and homosexuals… some feel that the mix is an example of Homonormativity, which is sometimes is the case.

The colourful city of Lisbon is a huge attraction to all tourists and with the acceptance and wonderful approach the Portuguese people and LGBTQ+ culture.

The annual festival of Pride is held during the month of June, the festivities are over a week with a colourful parade and many street parties leading late into the night!

lisbon LGBTQ+

Lisbon For Millennials/Gen Z

“Over the three days, what I loved about the city was the sense of freedom I felt. Every day I found myself wandering down to the water’s edge to simply listen to the talented buskers, to watch the water taxis go by, and to just sit and observe people as they went about their daily lives. There were many young people to be seen chilling on the funky benches living their best life. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a student studying in Lisbon, possibly coming down to the water’s edge in between classes, just enjoying the warm friendly atmosphere.”

Read more in this article, by Max Reid, about the appeal of Lisbon for Millennials

Getting Around Lisbon and the Surrounding Areas

Within the city of Lisbon itself it would almost be a sin not to take the tram at least once. However, it would also be a shame not to travel around 70 to 100 km or so to the absolutely stunning seaside towns of Peniche, Ericeira and Obidos the Chocolate Capital of Portugal. These places are inspirational and if you pick up a rental car at Lisbon airport you can include them in your itinerary when you travel to Lisbon, Portugal.

Portuguese, English is widely spoken
Lisbon Portela
€100 per day
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