Lisbon, Portugal

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyEuro
Local languagePortuguese
Country Portugal

Introduction

Situated on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Portugal, Lisbon is a unique combination of Western Europe and Northern Africa that boasts a great cultural and historical heritage. Portugal’s largest city is the capital and hub of Portuguese business, commercial and political life. Built on the hills overlooking the harbor, the Rio Tejo (River Tagus) dominates life in Lisbon. The city’s various quarters are linked by a web of cobbled streets running up some unbelievably steep gradients served by Lisbon’s trams, funicular railway and street lift!

The Great Earthquake which struck Lisbon in 1755 destroyed much of the city and killed 40 000 of its inhabitants. The disaster shocked the rest of the continent and also marked the end of Lisbon’s ranking as one of the most active ports in the Europe. In more recent times the city has been the object of much development and modernization, especially in light of the fact that tourism has become its key industry. Named European City of Culture in 1994, successfully hosting the World Expo 98 and a triumphant bid to stage the European Football Championships in 2004 are examples of the direction and ambition of this city.

Going to Lisbon?

Use our Trip Planner and start your trip here.

Things to do

For orientation purposes Lisbon can be divided into four main districts. At the heart lies Baixa, the main square with the Praca do Commercio and surrounding areas offering extensive shopping opportunities. To the east lies the Alfama district; much narrower streets characterize this area of the city. Having suffered the least damage from the earthquake it has been able to preserve much of its medieval character. It is clearly the oldest, most fascinating part of the city, Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George’s Castle) for example, offers splendid views of the Lisbon. At the opposite end six km (3.5 miles) to west of the city center lies Belem, easily reachable via an inexpensive and enjoyable journey on tram fifteen. Once there you will find the sixteenth century monastery Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and the Torre de Belem. Situated on Avenida de Brasilia these are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Beyond this point further east is the Parque das Nacoes. This site is where Expo 98 and subsequent development into a leisure complex including the Lisboa Oceanario, one of the largest aquariums in the world, have taken place. The sight’s landmark the Torre Vasco da Gama is Lisbon’s tallest building and has an observation platform with views over the city. Lisbon’s nightlife district Bairro Alto can be reached by taking the Elevador da Gloria (funicular) from Praca dos Restauradores. Meanwhile the city’s central park, Parque Eduardo VII offers some welcome greenery.

Local transport

Lisbon’s metro network is an efficient way to get around the city, it comprises of four lines (A-D) and runs very regularly. Single or ten journey tickets as well as daily and weekly passes are available. The city also has a bus, tram and elevadors (funicular/street lifts). The Lisboa Card is definitely worth investing in, as it provides unlimited travel on all pubic transport as well as free entry to museums, monuments and other attractions.

Day trips

The resort towns of Cascais and Estoril along the beautiful beaches of Costa do Estoril are only thirty minutes away by train. Taking the train from Cais do Sodre Estoril offers sandy white sun drenched beaches, golf courses, casinos and some charming markets. Just another four minutes on the train takes you to Cascais.

Taking the train from Rossio Station a forty-five minute journey takes you to Sintra. With its ancient castles and palaces it is the former home of Portuguese royalty. Nestling in the foothills of mountains and the beauty of the National Park, the surroundings are simply breathtaking.

Consider a trip to the Algarve when in Portugal, with its renowned scenery and relaxed pace it's the ideal destination for anyone wishing to unwind. Consider staying at Casa das Oliveiras for excellent Alarvge villa accommodation at a reasonable price.

Recommended places and events to visit in Lisbon

Plan your trip to Europe

European Trip Planner

Use our trip planner to put together your list of destinations to visit on your trip.


European Rail Passes

Compare rail passes and point to point tickets.


Travel Articles

Find inspiration in our travel articles and journey suggestions.