Top Travel Tips for Lisbon, Portugal (June 2023)

1. Travel and logistics:

Travelling around Lisbon is very convenient and there are multiple methods of travel to help you get around. The Lisboa card is a very uaeful tool for public transport and tuis travel pass gives you unlimited travel by bus, metro, tram and CARRIS funiculars. Free access to the famous 28 Tram, Santa Justa Elevator and train travel to Sintra and Cascais included. Prices start from €22 and you can use the Lisboa card for up to 72 hours. Taxis are also convenient with Uber being the most effective and quickest methods but rides can take longer to arrive during peak times.

Alternatively, car hire is extremely cost effective. Pre-booking your car hire prior to traveling is highly recommended for cheaper deals. You can use the global brands (Axis, Hertz, Europcar etc) but we used a Portuguese company called Record Go Rent A Car. They were very professional and easy to deal with. We were collected from Lisbon airport by their courier minibus which drove us approximately a mile away to their car depot. Here, we exchanged contracts and paperwork before collecting our vehicle. The average price for a three day car rental a hatchback car was €56 and an additional $70 for insurance (which covers any accidents etc). Car rental companies usually take a small deposit for toll charges and then issue you with a toll card, which allows you to cross tolls without paying each time and simply takes off payment from the card automatically each time you go through a toll crossing. There are several toll bridges and crossings in Lisbon!

Driving around Lisbon is very straightforward and roads etc are well marked. There is limited free parking and you have to be very careful as to where you park. Be sure to check the local parking restrictions and download some useful car parking apps (easypark is an app I had used in Lisbon and it was very easy to find and pay for car parking). Also, as Lisbon is a fairly small capital city (compared to other European capital cities), getting from one end of Lisbon to another takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

Lastly, if you are into historical travel, you can ride on the Funicular from central Lisbon. There are a total of 3 funiculars in Lisbon: Elevador do Lavra, Elevador da Glória, and Elevador da Bica. Each of these funiculars is considered part of the public transit system. Tickets are €3 per person or €1.50 with the Viva Viagem card.

    2. Sim card and data

    Depending on your mobile phone tariff/contract, you should be able to use your minutes and data whilst in Lisbon. However, most network companies now have a small daily charge for this (as we are now out of the European Union). Just try to avoid watching videos and downloading content, as it will use up a lot of data. Wherever possible, try and connect to wi-fi so that you save data usage.

    3. Museums & Excursions
    The sunset cruise in Lisbon is highly popular and you can enjoy breathtaking sunset views of Lisbon whilst cruising on the boat throughout the Tagus river. The Benfica and Sporting Lisbon stadium tours are a must if you’re into your Football. You have to pre-book the tours in advance and they can get booked up rewlly quickly during peak periods.

    The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most important tourist attractions in Lisbon and definitely the most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is one of Europe’s finest private museums, the Gulbenkian offers visitors a carefully curated tour of world civilizations, laid out in a series of beautifully arranged rooms that span the length of the equally impressive modernist building. Every item, be it a Grecian ceramic or a Central Asian textile, is a masterpiece.

    In addition, there are Art museums, transport museums and historical museums situated throughout Lisbon. The Belem Tower is another famous tourist attraction, which is officially the Tower of Saint Vincent is a 16th-century fortification located in Lisbon that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. There are beautiful walking and cycling routes nearby to the tower too.

    The Ponte 25 de Abril is one of the longest bridges in Europe and was designed by the same architect who had designed the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (USA). You can appreciate some breathtaking skyline views of Lisbon whilst travelling on the bridge. The Arco da Rua Augusta and Lisbon Cathedral are other popular tourist sights too in Central Lisbon. Lastly, Cascais is a beautiful coastal city which is approximately 30-45 minutes drive from Lisbon. They have some beautiful sandy beaches and holiday homes situated throughout Cascais.

    4. Food & Drink
    There are so many delicious halal eateries across Lisbon! The ones that we liked the most were: Zahir Kebab is like the equivalent to a Piri Piri fast food restaurant in the UK. The food was delicious and freshly prepared. They specialise in: chicken/lamb wraps, rice boxes, wings, grilled chicken and a range of burgers. Indian Thali is a vegetarian restaurant specialising in South Indian thali cuisine. Their mango lassi is a must try and the main thali platter meal was delicious. The basement restaurant at the Lisbon Central Mosque serves a range of meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes. We had ordered a 1/4 chicken meal and lamb steak. The meat was cooked to perfection and the sauces/spices were an additional wow factor.

    Whilst researching online, there were other highly recommended halal restaurants in Lisbon (but unfortunately we did not get the chance to visit): Zubir Churrasquiera, Taste of Punjab and Taste of Pakistan. There is a very busy cafe in Central Lisbon named Fabrica de Nata. They serve the best Pastel de Nata (a very famous and traditional Portuguese pastry) as well as a range of various sweet and savoury items. Galão (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡɐˈlɐ̃w]) is a famous hot drink from Portugal made by adding foamed milk to espresso coffee. If you’re a coffee lover, this hot drink is a must try!

    But there are several more halal eateries based in Lisbon. Interestingly, now oversees the halal food industry in Portugal (similar to a HMC or HFA in the UK). You can browse through their website for updated halal restaurants in Portugal.

    5. Mosques and Islamic Education
    The Central Mosque of Lisbon is the most busiest and largest mosque in the whole of Portugal. The Lisbon Central Mosque is truly magnificent in its architecture and design. Such an amazing and serene atmosphere. There are facilities for the entire community and ample space for sisters to pray too. It’s Europe’s third largest mosque outside of Turkey. It can accommodate over 3,000 worshippers for prayers at any one time. The central mosque also has: a library, cafeteria, restaurant, sisters prayer hall, courtyard, meeting and conference rooms and educational facilities. In addition, there are approximately 10-15 Mosques situated throughout Lisbon.

    Furthermore, in Palmela (outskirts of Lisbon), features the only Islamic school in the whole of Portugal (International School of Palmela). Built in the late 1990‘s, the school now caters for over 300 pupils (male and female) and provides a comprehensive Islamic and secular educational curriculum. The school facilitates for a Qur’an Memorisation course, Alimiyyah course and further advanced Islamic studies. Pupils get the best out of both worlds and thrive in a progressive environment of learning. It’s worth noting here that the President of Portugal visited the International School of Palmela in 2019 and praised the Islamic ethos and high quality standards of education offered by the institution.

    6. Hotels & Accomodation
    Lisbon is home to several global hotel brands as well as local Portuguese hotel chains. We stayed at Hotel Alif Avenidas (they have another branch named Alif Campo Pequeno) which is run by a Muslim family from Mozambique. The hotel rooms were very clean and extremely well maintained. Parking is very limited at both hotel sites but there is ample parking available at nearby side streets. The hotel offers a halal breakfast and facilities for prayers too.

    However, there are other highly rated hotels throughout Lisbon. The closer you are towards the city centre, the easier it is to travel around. My advice would be to check hotel booking websites and always check for the best reviews etc.

    7. Shopping & Money Exchange
    The currency of Portugal is euros. You can get really good euro rates towards the central parts of Lisbon and most shops take card and contactless payments. There is a famous shop in Central Lisbon which is called The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines. They sell a range of sardines and there is a famous historical backstory behind this shop. If you’re a seafood lover, I would highly recommend a visit to this shop! There are a wide range of businesses around Lisbon city center which sell a variety of Portuguese souvenirs and gifts.

    8. Research & Language
    It’s handy to make a brief plan of what you wish to explore in Lisbon prior to visiting. Even if it’s a one-page bullet pointed list. Research which excursions or activities you have to pre-book due to popular demand in peak periods. Also, compiling a list of the most common Portuguese phrases tourists use in Lisbon is very handy but the vast majority of locals speak English.

    Please feel free to share so that others can benefit!