If it's your first time to Lisbon, I hope you're excited for a memorable time. I recently went to Lisbon for a short trip with a couple of friends. I was ill prepared due to a lack of research on my part, but I had the best time accidentally finding amazing places to eat and visit. So, here is a guide to some great places to go, where to stay, and what to expect.
We decided to go on a trip to Lisbon during the first week of March because it's the start of spring there. If you're coming from a cold town, it'll be a great break from the cold weather by visiting Lisbon between the months of March and May or September and October. From March to May, the foliage is beginning to blossom, people are lounging or walking outside, and you can break out your spring attire since the weather is getting warmer.
This page may contain affiliate marketing links.
The quaint and beautiful city is filled with old hilly cobblestone roads, narrow sidewalks, and short colourful buildings decorated with wrought iron railings. It looks like a place right out of a European painting.
The locals are receptive to foreigners. It's a touristy city without being overly crowded unlike New York City's Time Square or London's Soho, where walking through crowds can be nearly impossible.
It's also one of the most affordable travel destinations. The cost of food, clothing, and travel in Lisbon is pretty inexpensive while it's still of good quality. Your time in Lisbon will be a memorable and enjoyable vacation of a beautiful city filled with history and culture. What better place to go than Lisbon?
Where to Stay
I chose to book a room at The Lumiares Boutique Hotel & Spa after comparing prices on TripAdvisor and making sure the ratings were 5 out of 5. Since I was traveling with friends and my husband, we wanted to spend time together outside of touring around Lisbon. So, we looked for hotels that would provide common areas where we could hang out for coffee or a glass of wine to unwind.
Since each soundproof suite at The Lumiares has a stylish and inviting family room and kitchen, there's plenty of space to invite friends over to meet up at your room before heading off on a day's adventure. Or you can come back and unwind together over some free wine from the mini fridge even after the bars are closed.
It's currently at a competitive rate of £160 per night for a Queen size bed suite, but we were able to find it cheaper at around £95 per night when we booked in February. I recommend you look to book your rooms in advance during off peak times using sites such as TripAdvisor to get the best deal.
TIP To Save Money
If you're coming to Lisbon after being in another part of Europe, book the hotel while in Europe, not before. We found that it was cheaper to book a room while your mobile or laptop is physically in Europe than outside of it (as opposed to the States of the United Kingdom). I'm not entirely sure why but our friends in France had a far cheaper rate to choose than we did trying to book in London using the same website, so they booked a room for us.
The great deal about this beautiful suite at The Lumiares - besides the rainfall shower, the beautiful balcony, and separate partition for the toilet within the bathroom - has to be the kitchen for me. With the SMEG kitchenware and a Nespresso, the first round of mini bar items are all free including the wine, beer, and cola. I don't know about you, but I love being pampered with free items, especially from the sacred word "mini fridge".
In addition to the suites that make you feel at home, The Lumiares provides top quality services including excellent room service and it has the best location right in the heart of Bairro Alto.
The Lumiares also has a rooftop bar, a restaurant, a spa and a fitness centre that includes a sauna. I noticed that even locals came to the bar inside the hotel so you didn't feel separated from the townspeople despite staying in a hotel. What more do you need?
When to Visit
If you're visiting in the warmer weathers from March to May or September to October,, you're in for a treat. The weather was gorgeous the entire time we were in Lisbon. Cloudless, blue skies were all we woke up to each day, and the sun warmed up the air everywhere we went.
The breeze from the river was just enough to keep us cool. There are over 30 or so lounge chairs along the water for the public to just come and hang out. People enjoyed lounging around outside so much that there wasn't a single empty seat left. But no need to worry if you can't find a seat here.
There are plenty of restaurants or areas along the water where you can take a seat and watch the sunrise and sunset. I grabbed some gelato from Fiori Gelateria nearby and walked along the river on the road called Cais Gás.
What To Pack
Lisbon, like many of Europe's urban cities, is a very walkable city. It's easier and possibly faster to walk to places than to take a cab. Considering the city's roads are not built on a grid system and are narrow, it takes a bit of time to get from one place to another by car.
I never knew Lisbon was all hills. With this in mind, sneakers and a water bottle were a necessity everywhere we went. So don't forget to pack at least one pair of durable walking shoes.
Here are the things I wish I packed based on the weather and activities:
Sunglasses / Hat - The sun is out 100% and there are is no cloud coverage, so be very careful especially if your eyes or skin are sensitive to the sun.
SPF / Sunscreen - For the same reason as above, you SPF should not be optional underneath Lisbon's cloudless skies. Carry it around with you on your excursions.
Sneakers or Comfortable Walking Shoes - I'm so glad I usually wear sneakers on vacations because if I had brought flip flops or sandals on these long uphill walks on cobblestone, I would have twisted an ankle or tripped and fallen. Also, my feet would have been in so much pain. Be aware that you're going to be walking a bit if you follow my itinerary so make sure you stay comfortable.
Layering Clothes - During these spring/fall seasons, the afternoons are warm while the mornings and evenings can get a little chilly. With the wide range of temperatures, you may be too warm one moment and cold another moment. It was easiest for me to wear a thin shirt and put a thick vest over that when I left the hotel in the morning and then just take the vest off when the afternoon hit.
Jacket - If you plan on being out during the early mornings and late evenings, make sure you bring a jacket in these seasons. Once the sun is gone, the temperature can drop to a jacket-necessary temperature. I made sure to bring a thin poly filled parka when going our after dark.
Dressed Wear / Going Out Outfit - I won't tell you what to wear since that's up to you, but based on the environment, I will tell you what to avoid. Stilleto heels are not ideal when walking on cobblestone. If you'll be wearing heels, choose a wedge heel. Since there is a bit of hilly cobblestone roads to walk on, you may want to wear shoes that have a decently gripping sole and are comfortable to walk in.