The Ultimate Lisbon Travel Guide (2023)
How to do first-time solo travel to Lisbon, Portugal? Read on with this complete Lisbon Solo Travel Guide, which includes getting to Lisbon and getting around, where to stay in Lisbon, top things to do alone, and solo travel tips for budget and eco-friendly travelers, geared to make planning Lisbon solo travel easy.
This Lisbon Travel Guide is intentionally written for the solo traveler, first time Lisbon, older travel (I am over 50), budget and/or eco-friendly traveler in mind. Yet, anyone can use this travel guide it to plan and book a fulfilling trip to Lisbon.
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- Best Booking Sites for Lisbon Travel
- What is Lisbon Known For?
- Lisbon Packing Essentials
- Best Time to Visit Lisbon
- How to Get to Lisbon
- Getting Around Lisbon
- Is Lisbon Safe for Solo Travel?
- Best Places to Stay in Lisbon on Solo Travel
- Best Things To Do in Lisbon Solo
- How to Spend 4 Days in Lisbon?
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What is Lisbon Known For?
Portugal’s largest city, Lisbon is the second-oldest capital in Europe (after Athens). A port city located on the Tagus River and estuary, Lisbon is 30 minutes to Atlantic coast beaches and 40 minutes south of the Serra de Sintra (Sintra Mountains).
Throughout centuries, major influences have come from the Romans, Germans and Moors, which can be observed today in Lisbon’s beautiful architecture, art, food, and culture. Wander the unique black and white patterned Portuguese cobblestone pedestrian streets to catch glimpses of new designs between the ornate architecture buildings and outdoor cafes.
Unlike Porto, however, Lisbon has been rebuilt multiple times due to many earthquakes experienced since the 14th century, the most notable one Lisbon experienced on November 1, 1755 that was accompanied by a tsunami.
Today, Lisbon is a major influencing European city in terms of commerce, trade, tourism, education, entertainment and more. Popular are Fado music and the infamous yellow Tram 28. The Oceanário de Lisboa (Lisbon Oceanarium) central tank is the largest of any indoor aquarium in Europe.
Lisbon also hosts a UNESCO World Heritage site, Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém, once a prison in the 19th century.
Today, Lisbon represents over 25% of the country’s population and, since 2019, Lisbon has been receiving approximately 2.64 million tourists per year (at time of this writing).
Lisbon is also full of sunshine and warm, friendly Lisboetas furthering the city’s appeal as a tourist destination.
Lisbon Packing Essentials
I’m not one to tell someone else how to pack, but there definitely some solo travel essentials I would recommend taking on your over 50 travel to Lisbon, like the following.
This list of travel essentials combined can make your Lisbon travel easier and more memorable while being friendlier to the environment.
Is Lisbon Worth Visiting Alone?
Visiting Lisbon is a great idea on solo travel in Portugal.
Why should you be going to Madrid alone? Honestly, for all of the same reasons above. Like other European capitals, Madrid holds many attractions that suit any tourist, from art to history, to food and entertainment, to outdoor activities.
Like other large, European capital cities, many Lisbon attractions, sights, and dining opportunities are accessible on foot within the Lisbon city center making it easy to have fun alone in Lisbon.
Add an Alfama walking tour, a small group Portuguese food and wine tour, a segway tour along the Tagus River to Belem, and/or small group day tour to Sintra and Cascais, then you have more opportunity to meet like-minded people, enhancing your solo travel in Lisbon.
Plus, Lisbon has a great public transportation system allowing one to access points within, or beyond Lisbon, easily and inexpensively, whether on a day trip from Lisbon or moving on to the next Portugal destination.
Lisbon is a must to put on your Portugal solo travel itinerary. Just make this guide your Lisbon solo travelers guide to plan your solo travel over 50.
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
When to visit Lisbon best relies on weather, costs, activities and events and offered.
Lisbon Weather & Costs
Lisbon’s temperatures average from mid 50°s F to low 70°s F, with hottest weather (average high 70°s F) in the months of June through September, with slightly cooler weather in May and October.
Summer in Lisbon is the start of the carnival season, adding to the high level of tourists these months. Also peak in the summer are tourist prices.
Weather in Lisbon November through February is the coldest, and rainiest, but offer the least amount of tourists and may be the cheapest time for Lisbon solo travel on a budget. Consider bringing an eco-friendly travel umbrella if you are traveling to Lisbon alone during these months.
The shoulder season months of April, May, September and October are cooler than summer but still nice for tourism with lower costs than peak season. Beaches are also nice in May, September and October, which may be the best time of year to visit Lisbon.
My latest solo travel in Lisbon was in mid-October. The days and nights were still warm, daylight hours were decent, nearby beaches were active but not crowded, and there weren’t many tourists making lines for attractions minimal.
When planning a solo trip to Lisbon, I suggest checking Lisbon’s festivals and holidays to help determine which month is best.
Prices reflected at time of writing.
Is Lisbon expensive to visit?
For a European capital city, Lisbon is considered somewhat less expensive to visit than other capital cities.
As a large city, there are multiple accommodation options to shop for comparison and a good deal, especially if you book in advance.
As a large city, there are multiple accommodation options to shop for comparison and a good deal, especially if you book in advance. A good deal on a budget hotel in the city center would cost approximately 60€ a night.
Lisbon’s extensive public transportation system makes it easy cover longer distances, or a commute to and from the airport, for minimal cost. A single metro ticket runs 2€.
An inexpensive lunch could run 10€ to 12€. A beer is 3€ to 4€, and a coffee or latte is approximately 2€.
A night out with dinner and drinks could be around 30€ to 40€ or more with tip. This, of course, does not include activities or excursions. Plan your solo budget accordingly.
If budget is a factor, consider traveling alone to Lisbon late October to April, staying on the edge (or outside) of the city center, and/or staying at a hostel. Forgo taxis and rideshares and opt for public transportation and walking whenever possible.
Prices reflected at time of writing.
How to Get to Lisbon
Flying to Lisbon
Lisbon Portela Airport (aka “Lisbon Airport”) (LIS), is the only airport that serves all domestic and international flights to Lisbon. It is the largest airport in Portugal.
The Lisbon Airport is 7 km north of the Lisbon. If you do not have access to an airport shuttle from your hotel, there are several other transportation options from the Lisbon Airport to Lisbon city center.
The following eco-friendly transportation options, however, will save you money if you are traveling Lisbon on a budget.
Portugal Covid Travel Tip
As of January 2023, Portugal no longer requires a Covid test for entry to Portugal unless arriving on a direct flight from China.
Eco Travel Tips
For flights 3 hours or less in duration to or within Portugal, take the train or bus instead. It could also save time and money, and the scenery is much prettier.
When hiring a rideshare, choose the Bolt Green or Uber Green options, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Portugal.
More Eco-Travel Tips & Ideas
- 10 Easy Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Traveler
- 25 Must-Have & Eco-Friendly Solo Beach Trip Essentials
- 15 Eco Long-haul Flight Essentials for Solo Travel
- Top 10 Eco-Friendly Carry On Luggage
- 10 Best Eco-Friendly Personal Item Bags for Flying
- 10 Amazing Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Swimwear Brands
Lisbon Airport Transportation
Lisbon Airport Taxis, Transfers and Rideshares
You could rent a car, which would be costly and you’ll be left dealing with city center parking. Instead, hire a private transfer, rideshare or taxi. Rideshares include Uber and FREE NOW. The cost for these modes of transportation may run €25 – €30 and take approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
The following eco-friendly transportation options, however, will save you money if you are traveling Lisbon on a budget.
Lisbon Airport Metro
The Lisbon Metro will take you from Lisbon Airport to downtown in approximately 20 minutes with a one way ticket cost of €2.
Lisbon Airport Bus
The Aerobus line serves downtown just as efficiently and will cost €5.
Budget Travel Tips
If you buy the Lisbon Card, free unlimited public transportation is included.
More Budget Travel Ideas
- How to Create a Solo Travel Budget
- How To Save Money for Solo Travel
- Guide to European Budget Accommodations
Lisbon receives many trains and buses daily, which are quick, inexpensive, and eco-friendly ways to solo travel to Lisbon.
Lisbon by Train
The four main railway stations for trains arriving and leaving Lisbon are the Gare do Oriente, Entrecampos, Santa Apolonia, and Sete Rios stations.
For solo traveling across Portugal, you can take the Alfa high speed train, which may be a good idea when taking the Porto to Lisbon train or Coimbra to Lisbon train.
First and second class tickets are available for purchase. Confirm which class offers what services (e.g., WiFi or charging outlets) so you book the right train ticket for your solo travel. The further you book in advance, the lower the ticket price.
Lisbon by Bus
Taking the bus to Lisbon is fairly inexpensive and bus tickets can be purchased in advance.
Sete Rios is the major bus station in Lisbon and the main hub for Rede Expressos intercity coaches and express bus services that cover all of Portugal.
ECO TRAVEL PICKS
Getting Around Lisbon
Is Lisbon walkable?
The entire Lisbon city proper is large and would require a car or public transportation to traverse. Luckily, most of the popular and historical sites are within the city center, which can be walked.
Still, taking a red or the infamous yellow, Tram 28, which extends from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, helps because Lisbon is full of hills – 8 to be exact – whereby you get a mix of amazing views of the city from different vantage points, like from the Castelo de Sao Jorge offering sweeping views of Portugal’s city center, the Tagus River and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
Plus, keep in mind the pedestrian streets are cobblestone so not only are comfortable walking shoes a must, but dividing the city into sections and taking breaks is ideal.
Many must sees in Lisbon can be accessed by foot if you stay within my recommended location (see below).
Lisbon Public Transportation
The metro is extensive in Lisbon and can cover a lot of ground very quickly. If you are on a very limited schedule, this may be your best bet to crisscross the city.
However, I recommend staying above ground as much as possible, especially if it is your first solo visit to Lisbon.
One way Lisbon metro tickets can be purchased at the metro station vending machines for €2 (cash or credit) with multiple trip passes available for €6.
Ahhh…the famous yellow Tram 28. Another must do in Lisbon, Tram 28 is a great way to see the best of Lisbon.
Since 1930, the E28 tram has been in service. It takes a scenic route from the Marin Moniz to Campo Ourique through Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods you’ll want to explore.
24-hour Lisbon tram tickets can be purchased in any metro station.
Since this a ‘touristy’ thing to do in Lisbon, ensure to keep your belongings securely on you.
Did you also know there is a Lisbon red tram? Also ‘Tram 28’, this red sightseeing tram will also take you through the hills of Lisbon but also includes commentary about Lisbon in 7 different languages. See if you can ride both trams during your Lisbon solo travel.
Eco Travel Tips
Avoid taking a taxi or rideshare in Lisbon, and see the city by foot, public transportation, Hop On/Hop Off bus, bike, or electric bike instead.
Is Lisbon Safe for Solo Travel?
Although it has risen slightly, Lisbon’s crime rate is still considered low. It is safe to walk alone during the day but be more aware walking at night.
As a solo female traveler in Lisbon, I practiced general precautions and stayed within well-lit and populated streets at night. As such, I never felt unsafe in Lisbon as solo traveler.
During high tourist season, in crowded areas or on crowded public transportation, ensure to keep your belongings safe and securely on you with no open pockets or carrying cash or valuables in your pockets.
If you normally feel uncomfortable being out solo at night, you may want to do your Lisbon solo travel when the daylight hours are longest so you have more time to explore Lisbon.
Solo Travel Tips
Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.
Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.
Best Places to Stay in Lisbon on Solo Travel
Lisbon’s city center (indicated in yellow on the map below) is where to stay. That said, the city center is divided into neighborhoods that each hold their own attractions, dining and nightlife opportunities giving you more options depending on your tastes and budget.
The most traditional, and best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon Portugal, are Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto and Chaido. Belém is also nice, but a little further away, so I would not recommend staying in Belém for a short or first-time visit to Lisbon,
Alfama (“Old Town”) is the most traditional of neighborhoods and lies starting near the water and winding up to the base of São Jorge Castle). Parts of Alfama have locations for stunning vistas (e.g., Miradouro das Portas do Sol), churches (e.g., St. Anthony’s and National Panetheon), and charming restaurants and bars. You can walk, take a lift, or catch the yellow Tram 28 to explore Alfama.
Chaido is considered the more bohemian section of Lisbon some compare to Paris’ Montmartre district. Notable squares (e.g. Praça Luís de Camões), lively streets (e.g., Rua do Carmo), and cafés (e.g., A Brasileira) make Chaido popular. Take the Santa Just Lift or Tram 28.
Next to Chaido is Bairro Alto. Take Rua da Misericordia to Bairro Alto to view the graffiti and visit the fado music venues and restaurants.
Baixa is the most central district with large, notable pedestrian streets (e.g., Rua do Augusta), squares (e.g., Restauradores Square and Rossio Square), and plazas (e.g., Praça do Comércio).
Baixa is also full of restaurants and bars and great transportation starting points (e.g., Rossio Train Station and Tram 28). Baixa is definitely convenient and lively. This is why I recommend Baixa (indicated in orange on the map below) as where to stay in Lisbon for first time solo travel.
Lisbon Hotels and More
There are multiple Lisbon hotels and hostels within the city centre across all budget types. Going in the off season, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Lisbon accommodation prices.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or Travel Sustainable rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
For location, price, breakfast, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my Lisbon hotel recommendations for over 50 solo travel (i.e., where I would stay):
Eco-Friendly Places Stay in Lisbon In Great Locations
- The 7 Hotel
- My Story Hotel Ouro
- My Story Hotel Augusta
- Casual Belle Epoque Lisboa
- My Story Hotel Tejo
- Hotel Convento do Salvador
Although my last hotel, Hotel Lis Baixa, did not check a lot of ‘sustainability’ boxes, they did have water efficient fixtures and key-card electric access, and did not use single-use plastics. It also checked all other boxes I look for, including being very welcoming to me when I had to switch from the sub-par hostel in the middle of my solo trip to Lisbon.
I believe Hotel Lis Baixa is one of the best hotels in Lisbon for solo travelers because it’s in a great location within walking distance to top sights, restaurants and bars, and Lisbon public transportation. It was a very comfortable hotel, decently priced with great staff and breakfast. I would definitely stay there again.
Eco Travel Tips
In addition to Booking.com’s Lisbon’s Travel Sustainable properties, Green Globe and Green Key Global also have eco-friendly certified lodging options.
A hostel is an option for solo travel over 50 and where to stay in Lisbon on a budget. Using the same conditions above, and the ability to get a private room, it is hard to find a hostel in Lisbon in a location I would prefer. However, in a pinch, my recommendation for best Lisbon hostel for solo travellers over 50 would be HI Lisboa – Pousada de Juventude.
For location, and on a budget, I chose to stay at Lisbon Destination Hostel. However, for too many reasons to list here, I cannot recommend this hostel to any solo traveler over 50. I highly recommend finding a different hostel.
Budget Travel Tips
There are Lisbon hostels that could start from around €30-40/night, depending on what amenities and location you want. Note, these are usually a bed in a dorm room. A private room in a Lisbon city center hostel could cost the same, if not more, than a budget hotel.
Best Things To Do in Lisbon Solo
There are simply too many attractions and sites of Lisbon to list in this Lisbon Solo Travel Guide alone.
However, here are some of the top things to do in Lisbon for a traveling single that may interest you. Most can be done in a short visit. Better yet, many of them are free things to do in Lisbon.
Is the Lisbon Card worth it? It could be. The Lisbon Card is available for 24, 48, or 72 hours with free admission to top Lisbon attractions, additional discounts, and free access to unlimited Lisbon public transportation. This flexible card can be reserved now while paying later.
Depending on your length of stay or desired attractions, the Lisbon Card may save you time and money.
Churches & Cathedrals
- Igreja de Sao Domingos (Church of St. Dominic)
- Igreja de São Roque (The Church of Saint Roch)
- Santa Maria de Belem Church
- Basílica da Estrela
- Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa (Church of St. Anthony)
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Igreja & Convento da Graça (Church of Our Lady of Grace)
- Largo do Carmo
- Igreja do Loreto (Church of the Italians)
Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites and Castles
- Castelo de S. Jorge (Castle of St. George)
- Panteao Nacional (National Pantheon of Portugal)
- Estacao Gare do Oriente (Oriente Train Station)
- Camara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon City Hall)
- Foz Palace
- Biblioteca Palacio Galveias (Galveias Palace Library)
Lisbon Neighborhoods of Note
- Alfama (Old Town)
- Bairro Alto
Lisbon Landmarks, Points of Interest & Monuments
- Praca do Comercio (Terreiro do Paco) (Commerce Square)
- Arco do Triunfo
- Tram 28
- Rua Augusta
- Avenida da Liberdade
- LX Factory
- Mosteiro De Sao Vicente De Fora (Monastery of São Vicente de Fora)
- Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) (UNESCO)
- Vasco da Gama Tower
- Cais das Colunas
- Rossio Square
- Rossio Train Station
- Rua da Bica
- Elevador de Santa Justa
- Elevador da Gloria
- Praca dos Restauradores (Restauradores Square)
- Pavilhão Carlos Lopes (Carlos Lopes Pavilion)
- Capela de Santo Amaro
- Torre da Paroquial (Parish Tower)
- Parque das Nacoes
Lisbon Museums & Aquariums
- Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
- Oceanário de Lisboa (Lisbon Oceanarium)
- Museu Coleção Berardo
- National Museum of Ancient Art
- Museu Do Aljube (Aljube Museum Resistance and Freedom)
- Museu do Dinheiro (Money Museum)
- Museu Benfica – Cosme Damiao
- Fundação José Saramago
- National Coche Museum
Parks, Gardens & Beaches
- Torre de Belém Garden
- Estufa Fria
- Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara
- Gulbenkian Garden
- Jardim do Principe Real
- Jardim da Praca do Imperio
If you’re looking for beaches while in Lisbon, don’t fear. Although Lisbon does not have beaches, there are many top beaches near Lisbon within 20-30 minutes away by train or bus. For one of my favorite beach destinations in Europe, see the Day Trips from Lisbon section below.
Lisbon is much talked about for its cuisine. Some consider it a best kept secret. Those who go to Lisbon know, however.
On the water, it’s a no brainer that seafood is a staple in Lisbon. Plentiful are sardines and codfish dishes. In fact, one of the national dishes is Bacalhau (dried salted codfish), a must try food in Lisbon.
Of course, Lisbon is famous for dishes made from octopus, mussels, sea bass, clams, beef, pork, and chicken. I would think it hard to be a vegetarian in Lisbon.
Similar to tapas in Spain, you can find petiscos in Lisbon, small dishes made to share.
For breakfast, you can expect coffee with pastries, breads and spreads, meats, eggs, and fruit.
Traditional Portuguese cuisine to try in Lisbon is:
- Grilled sardines (fresh sardines only available June through October)
- Bacalhau à Bràs (cod with scrambled eggs, potatoes, parsley, and black olives)
- Caldo Verde (kale and sausage soup)
- Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato – (clams in a garlic, olive oil, white wine and lemon juice sauce for bread dipping)
- Carne de Porco à Alentejana (pork with clams)
- Cataplana (seafood stew)
- Prego (beef sandwich) or Bifana (pork sandwich) – juicy meats on a roll with your favorite sauce on top.
- Bitoque (steak with egg on top served with potatoes)
Dining in Lisbon would not complete without trying Pastéis de nata, the famous custard tarts that are a must eat in Lisbon.
Oh, and definitely try a sip of Ginjinha, a sour cherry liquor, after dinner. You may go back for seconds.
Solo dining in Lisbon is a breeze. The only problem is choosing amongst the abundancy of cafes, restaurants, markets and outdoor bars and patios.
Obviously, there are too many Lisbon dining choices to list here, but let me provide some tips in each neighborhood.
The Alfama neighborhood has great traditional food options. Here are some of the 10 best restaurants in Alfama.
For a one-stop-shop on multiples bars and restaurants, with music, there is the Time Out Market.
In the morning, plan on a late breakfast (8am) like in Spain. Grab breakfast at your hotel or grab a coffee and, yes, a Pastéis de nata, at Manteigaria or other top Lisbon bakeries and cafes.
Don’t feel like dining in Lisbon alone all of the time? Consider mixing it up with some tours, like a small group food and culture tour with tastings.
Lisbon nightlife can also be enjoyed in all of the traditional neighborhoods of Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto and Chaido.
If you want night out dancing, Lisbon’s top clubs to keep you happy.
What I like about Lisbon, however, is being lazy with finding a great spot on a hill for the best views or sunset in Lisbon and having a cocktail. Alfama is perfect for this.
The Alfama neighborhood has great terraces and bars for grabbing food and a cocktail while watching the sun go down. The Portas Do Sol Terrace is one of my favorites.
Lisbon also has multiple rooftop bars with views you can explore.
Don’t forget Fado music. You are in Lisbon afterall. From Alfama to Bairro Alto to Chaido, check out the 10 best Fado restaurants in Lisbon.
Shopping in Lisbon is also plentiful within these same neighborhoods. For high-end shopping, walk the Aveninda da Liberdade. This long, tree-lined street also has upscale restaurants and bars.
Another good option is the Rua do Augusta pedestrian street in Baixa where you can find chain and local shops alike.
Rua Garrett in Chaido is also popular for eclectic shopping choices.
For more unique shopping in Lisbon, try the LX Factory or the Time Out Market.
Day Trips from Lisbon
Recall that Lisbon is only 30 minutes away from beaches and the mountains are not much farther? Well, that means fantastic day trips from Lisbon, which I highly recommend.
One of the most popular day trips from Lisbon is to Sintra. This is for good reason. Sintra is a World UNESCO Heritage site and will astound you with its landscape and historic sites, like the National Palace of Pena, the Castle of the Moors, and Quinta da Regaleira, to name a few. Sintra is a must on a solo trip to Portugal.
Another must do in Lisbon is a day trip to Cascais. If you want some of the best Europe beach destinations close by, Cascais will not disappoint.
Consider these and other day trips from Lisbon on your Lisbon solo travel.
How to Spend 4 Days in Lisbon?
Now that you know how to plan for Lisbon solo travel, do you want to know how to see the best of Lisbon in 4 days? Check out my best of Lisbon in 4 Days solo travel itinerary to capture some of the best experiences in Lisbon, with amazing day trips, on first-time Lisbon solo travel over 50.
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if my Lisbon Solo Travel Guide was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!