Lisbon - a few tips

Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 12:04 AM
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Lisbon - a few tips

Just got back from three days in Lisbon.
While I am not good at writing true trip reports, I just want to share some personal observations and suggestions.

Taxis from the airport to "downtown" Lisbon (we stayed in Baixa) are cheap. We paid less than €11, including luggage. So no need to fuzz around with ticket machines of the Metro upon arrival.

Getting around - in general
While the fare system is fairly simple in Lisbon (anything in Lisbon and Belem is just one fare zone), choosing the right ticket depends on your travel plans. Any ticket or stored value needs to be loaded on a chip card (machines work in English and ask if you need one). If you opt for loading an amount of € on the card ("zapping"), you have the most flexibility. When you think you want day passes, then you have to know if you need just Metro and city buses, or also the Transtejo ferry, or the suburban trains (CP).
Most metro stations we used did not have escalators from the platforms to the connector levels. There are elevators, but you need to look for them, and expect delays.
Taxis are very cheap - in case you have mobility issues, it won't break your bank to use them more frequently as in other cities.

Getting from downstairs to upstairs Lisbon (Baixa-Chiado, Baixa-Alfama)
The most famous means of transport to navigate the hills of central Lisbon, i.e. Tram 28, is always very very crowded during the day, and the Santa Justa elevator is quite pricey, but there are alternatives.
Baixa > Chiado. Use the Metro station and the escalators to go uphill from Baixa to Largo Chiado. You don't need a ticket to go from one side to the other. Caveat: The escalators are not always working. Actually, the downhill escalators seem to be out of work permanently. As an alternative you can use the elevators inside Armazens do Chiado shopping center at the end of Rua Garrett to go up and down.
Baixa > Alfama. Bus 737 starts at the Northern side of Pr. Figuera (Metro Rossio) and takes you (almost) all the way to the entrance of Castelo S. Jorge (with some stops in between). The 737 bus is integrated in the Lisbon fare system and does not require a special ticket.

Tram 28
As said before, we found it always crowded to super crowded during the day. And this was in February. After 9pm it was not a problem to find an empty seat. And the nightly ride through Alfama is quite magic, IMO.

Most people seem to think that Tram 15 is the only way to get to Belem. You will find masses of people at the central stop in Pr. do Comercio. Try Google maps to find alternatives, like the city buses 732 or 714. Or take the suburban train from Cais do Sodre, and walk appr. 500m to the monastery.
The Monastery - long, but fast moving lines shortly after opening (10am), no lines around midday (12noon). I was a bit underwhelmed as I expected to see more of the Monastery, but that was probably due to poor preparations. The largest/longest part of the Monastery is a museum for whatever. The church is free to visit, by the way - but closed for mass from time to time.
Torre de Belem had a crazy long line, so we skipped it and just took some pictures from the outside.
Pasteis -- the famous bakery / pastelaria near the Monastery has curbside take-away (always super crowded), and deep inside the building (it's much larger than you'd expect from the outside) an area where you get served at the table. I think we had our coffees and pasteis in less time than the people lining up outside on the street. And it costs hardly any surcharge to sit down (appr. €3.30 for coffee and two pasteis de nata).

Miradouros / Viewpoints
Aside from the usual suspects (mostly along Tram 28) like Santa Catarina, we found the one inside the castle area (after you paid for entrance) very nice to see Baixa and Chiado.
And the one on the other side of the Tejo river at the Cristo Rei monument. The latter can be reached by ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas, and then by bus 101 from Cacilhas ferry port. Bus is not included in the Lisbon fare system, and costs €1.45 each way. Caveat: Cristo Rei monument is currently under renovation, and the elevators to the observation platform are posted to be closed from March on. I forgot when they are supposed to open again. But the view from the vista point at the bottom of the monument is hardly any less spectacular - with the 25 April bridge below you.

I cannot give true recommendations, but one of the best lunches ever we had in a pastelaria (they usually do not serve only sweet pastries) opposite of the tram museum (not exactly a touristy area). You can find fixed price daily menus (usually with a surprising choice of meat and fish) for little money. We paid €7.50 for a 3-course menu incl. water/wine and coffee.
A very nice (though somewhat pricey) find was Madame Petisca near Miradouro Sta. Catarina. You eat/drink on top of the building (outside dining area also available), and food comes in smaller portions to share (think Spanish raciones, not tapas). Since the rooftop space is quite limited, I think you want to make reservations.

That's it.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 02:05 AM
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Great report - thank you!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 03:58 AM
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Thanks for all this very helpful info
Will use for my upcoming trip
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 07:56 AM
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Thanks. Glad that you can make some use of it.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 09:00 AM
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So glad you enjoyed Lisbon. We love it!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 10:19 AM
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You did so much in 3 days. Wish you could be our tour guide! Anyhow, we will use your info for our trip in May. Thanks.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2017, 11:12 AM
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Oooh, now I want to go back to Lisbon. Thanks for your observations!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 11:58 AM
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Thanks, very helpful as we will be there later in the month for the first time.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 01:10 AM
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Was thinking of doing a 3 day trip from London - so sounds a possibility
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Old Mar 5th, 2017, 05:57 AM
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You can obviously spend more than just three days in Lisbon. But you can see and do a lot in three days. It depends a bit on whether you are satisfied with what the city has to offer, or if you want to include a day trip to Sintra (or the beaches, in summer).

There are also many choices for a rainy day (we never had one, though) - from the bigger museums and cultural venues like the Gulbekian or the Centro Cultural de Belem to the smaller ones like the Museu Nacional do Azulejos. A museum dedicated to tiles might not sound a bit dull, but it's very nice (visited on a prior trip).

I think that Lisbon is a very unique destination and very much worth a visit. A definately not "more of the same" in case you have already visited other cities on the Iberian peninsula.
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Old Mar 5th, 2017, 06:24 AM
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Obrigada Cowboy1968!!! Very helpful indeed.

We are very much looking forward to our first time trip at the end of this month. Does anyone have a suggestion for a a non touristic Fado restaurant in Lisbon?

Also: has anyone visited Tomar, the city of the Order of the Knights Templar? It's history interests me very much and I am thinking of including it in our
(7 day stay) itinerary
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Old Mar 7th, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Great info for a trip we are thinking about doing next January!
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Old May 13th, 2017, 11:19 PM
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Bookmarking! Thanks for the tips
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Old May 30th, 2017, 02:41 AM
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Great report!
Given below are some more tips and recommendations for Lisbon for future travellers!
mewanderlost is offline  
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