Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, will keep you occupied day of night. Here’s what to do on a weekend’s visit.

Lisbon by night

Lisbon comes alive at night. Salsa at the Brazilian bars in Bairro Alto or check out the revamped riverside strip, Docas, where chic outdoor restaurants turn into pumping nightclubs.

You haven’t experienced true Portugal until you hear the melancholic sounds of fado. This traditional music about love and fate combines singing and guitar, and is strongly associated with the districts, 
or bairros, of Mouraria and Alfama. It’s best heard in one of the many small taverns off the winding streets.

Lisbon Portugal

Explore Lisbon by tram

It may be a short tram ride from the city centre, but Belém is an essential part of a visit to Lisbon, with two Unesco World Heritage sites within a short walk of each other.

The riverfront Torre de Belém and the 15th-century Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a masterpiece of the late-gothic Portuguese architectural style known as Manueline.

Catching a ride on one of Lisbon’s famous retro-looking trams is also a must and there are several offering tours up the hills to the city’s historical heart of Alfama, Graça and Baixa.

Eating and drinking in Lisbon

Lisbonites love their food, and with the Atlantic Ocean on their doorstep it’s no wonder their cuisine is top quality.

The Portuguese love sardines, and theirs are always fleshy and full of flavour. Most restaurants will barbecue the fish. Dried cod (bacalhau) is also a typical meal in Lisbon. Other types of fish on the menu include mackerel, swordfish, tuna, cuttlefish, sea bass, monkfish and more. Plusyou’ll also find shellfish of all shapes and sizes.

Portuguese custard tarts are famous the world over, and there’s no shortage of them in Lisbon. Belém boasts the best pastries with their unique pastéis de Belém. They’re made from a secret recipe passed down from monks from the 19th century.

The Portuguese are big wine drinkers and red, white and rosé wines are produced in the country. Beer is hardly forgotten either with Sagres the most popular brew on the market. Portugal’s most famous drink, however, is port, a sweet fortified wine that is drunk throughout the world.

Lisbon Portugal

Essential information on visiting Lisbon

WHEN TO GO: Lisbon springs to life in the summer months, with a raft of festivals lighting up the city.
GETTING THERE: EasyJet ( flies direct from London to Lisbon from about £60 return.
VISAS: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY:  Euro. 1 GBP = 1.20 EUR.
LANGUAGE: Portuguese and Mirandese.
GETTING AROUND: Catch a tram up to Bairro Alto or take the metro to the outer districts of Lisbon.
GOING OUT: A bottle of Sagres beer is about €3.
ACCOMMODATION: Dorm beds at a hostel start from €14 and double hotel rooms from €30.

Related posts:
Destination guide: Lisbon
Portugal travel guide