Tram in Lisbon
Europe,  Portugal,  Travels

Lisbon and its beautiful surroundings: Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Cascais

Although Portugal borders our favorite country, we had never had an opportunity to go there. Sometimes we were thinking about the trip to Lisbon, Porto or Azores, but Portugal had never been our main destination.

Sometimes we make exceptions!

Someday I’ve found very cheap flight tickets to Lisbon. From our hometown, Wroclaw, a direct flight to Lisbon cost about 47 E. “It’s our lucky strike! We are going to Portugal.” – I thought.

We travel alone usually, but this time we offered a joint trip to our friends. We had only 4 days in Lisbon, so it was very important to plan everything in detail. We wanted to see the city and its beautiful surroundings.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Visa regulations and currency

If you are a citizen of a country which is the part of Schengen Area you can enter Portugal presenting an identity card or a passport.

For people who are citizens of non-Schengen countries a visa is required. The Schengen visa is short-stay permission that allows a person to travel to any country from Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. A visa fee for adults costs 60 E.

More information about visa you can find on the website: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com

Euro is official Portugal currency. There are a lot of banks and currency exchange offices where you can exchange your money. You shouldn’t have problems with it.

The climate in Lisbon

We know how important the weather is during our trip. If you have an opportunity to buy cheap flight tickets, you don’t think about that. You hurry because you want to catch them at a good price. Do you know what I mean?

Before our trip, I had read an article where I found information about the Portuguese climate. I found out that because of its geographical position Portugal is the country with a mild climate. The winters are hotter than in other European countries. Thanks to that fact you can visit Portugal for the whole year.

Our travel to Lisbon took place in February. Unfortunately, we can’t say that it was the best time to travel there. We realize that this depends on individual preferences. For us, the main reason was the temperature. We had about 12 C degrees. It wasn’t too low, but the frosty wind rendered that we were feeling frozen. On the other hand, sometimes the sun was shining and we had a chance to take off our jackets and hats, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen too often.

People who prefer to swim and sunbathe the best time to travel to Portugal is between June and September. You should remember that August is the most popular month. The prices are higher than in other months and all attractions are crowded.

The season in Portugal starts in May. This month could be the best option for tourists who are interested in sightseeing (no crowd, no higher prices, not so hot). Whereas from November to March lasts rainy season.

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Health and safety in Lisbon

You don’t have a duty to vaccinate before your arrival in Portugal. There aren’t any sanitary-epidemiological threatens.

I consider that Portugal is as safe as other European countries. According to the Portuguese government, exist a low possibility of terroristic attack. Nevertheless, you should follow local authorities’ recommendations.

In Portugal often occur pickpocketing. You should watch out for your documents. Last year my workmate had an untoward incident. Somebody stolen her wallet in a crowded tram. Unfortunately, it involved stress and a lot of paper work.

Fortunately, within 4 days of our trip, we didn’t have unexpected and dangerous situations.

From the airport to the city center

In Lisbon, international Humberto Delgado Airport is situated 7 km from the city center. It’s the biggest airport in Portugal. It has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. If you want to get from first to the second terminal you can take the free shuttle bus, which operates from 03:30 am to 01:30 am the next day and leaves every 10 minutes. The trip takes about 3 minutes.

It’s very easy to get from the airport to the city center. Depends on your needs you can choose the best transportation. Your journey will be very comfortable and quick.

Lisbon has a well-developed transport network. From the airport to the city center you can reach by metro, bus, Aerobus or taxi. Additionally, you can pick Uber, which is also available in Lisbon.

1. Metro

Metro will be the cheapest but not the shortest way to get to the city center. Terminal 1 has a direct metro line (red line), which takes you downtown in 20 minutes. The red line starts from the Airport and ends in Saldanha. If you want to get to the historical city center you must change your line to the green or blue. Metro functions from 6.00 am and ends at 1.00 am. It is situated near to arrivals hall. The way to metro is very good flagged, so you shouldn’t have problems to get there. One-way ticket from the Airport to the city center for an adult cost 1.50 E. More about prices and types of tickets you can find in the public transport chapter.

2. City bus

The second option to get to the city center is the city bus. Several bus lines stop near to Terminal 1, taking you to different parts of Lisbon. Please note that the maximum size of your baggage shouldn’t exceed 50x40x20cm. If your luggage is larger you should take a special bus (Aerobus). Cost of a one-way ticket is the same as for the metro ticket – 1.50 E. You can buy the ticket from a bus driver, but the price will be higher (1.80 E). The journey time is about 40 minutes.

Bus lines:

705 – from Lisbon Oriente Station to Roma-Areeiro railway station

708 – from Park of the Nations to Martim Moniz Square

722 – from Londres to Portela district

744 – from The Marquis of Pombal Square to Moscavide

783 – from Amoreiras to Portela

3. Aerobus

The third option to get from the airport to the city center is a shuttle bus. There is the Aerobus which provides a link between the main city points (eg. the Sete Rios bus terminal, the Entrecampos railway terminal, Cais do Sodré, Areeiro-Martim Moniz and the two terminals at the Lisbon Airport) and stops near the city’s most popular hotels. There are two lines, running daily between 7:30 am and 11 pm. Ticket price for an adult costs 3.60 E. The ticket is valid 24 h of unlimited journeys in the Aerobus network. You can buy ticket on board or online. The shuttle bus is a good solution for passengers with bigger luggage.

4. Taxi

The most expensive solution to reach to the city center is taking a taxi. Taxi ranks are located outside the departures and arrivals terminals. At the official Airport website, I have found information that the approximate cost of journey is between 10 and 15 E (the price depends on traffic jams), including luggage fees. If you choose this option, make sure the meter is turned on at the beginning of the journey and remember to take a receipt/invoice.

Public transport in Lisbon

As I mentioned Lisbon has a well-developed transport network. In our opinion, public transportation in Lisbon is clean, comfortable and punctual.

Among tourists, the most convenient and fast mean of transport is the metro. There are four metro lines: red, yellow, green and blue. Interesting fact about the Lisbon metro is that on some metro stations you can admire very beautiful and outstanding artworks made using typical Portuguese tiles. Some of them allude to locality or history, another are only adornments. It’s worth to see it.

1. Trams

Surely the most popular attraction in Lisbon is a yellow historic tram. In our opinion, every tourist visiting Portugal should once take a tram and go around the city.

There are 5 tram lines in Lisbon. Mostly serve as a tourist attraction, not as a mode of public transport. Mainly you can meet historical little unicompartmental trams named Remodelado. The most popular tram is 28. It takes you through a lot of historic districts of Lisbon, eg. Sao Bento, Estrela o Alfama.  Another tram number 15 goes along the Lisbon’s coast towards Belem district. It’s a modern, low-floor tram line. 

Tram in Lisbon

Remember that in high season the trams are crowded. Watch out your belongings.

2. Elevators

Another popular mean of transport is an elevator. In Lisbon, there are 4 lifts and the most famous is the Santa Justa Elevator, which is located in Baixa district. It stands 45 m tall and its structure is similar to the Eiffel Tower. The lift was built by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, the pupil of famous Gustave Eiffel. At the top of the Santa Justa elevator is an observation deck which offers stunning views over Baixa. Is one of the most popular viewpoints in Lisbon. It’s daily open during high season from 9 am to 11 pm (from March to October) and out of the season from 9 am to 9 pm. Two-way ticket on board costs 5.30 E for an adult.

The next lift, the best known of the cable cars is the Glória Elevator. It connects Restauradores Square with Rua San Pedro de Alcántara in Bairro Alto. From the top, you will enjoy magnificent views over Lisboa. It’s daily open from Monday to Thursday between 7.15 am and 11.55 pm, on Friday from 7.15 am to 00.25 pm, on Saturdays from 8.45 am to 00.25 pm and Sundays and vacation between 9.15 am and 11.55 pm. Ticket price is 3.70 E.

Other funiculars are Bica Elevator, which connects São Paulo Street to Calhariz Square and Lavra Lift, which goes through the Câmara Pestana Street to the Anunciada Square. The ticket price is 3.70 E.

Additional information

If you are interested to get to the stunning surroundings of Lisbon, you can find some practical information below.

From downtown to Sintra you can get by train from the Rossio railway station. From Sintra, you can take a bus to Cabo da Roca. To Cascais, you should take a train from Cais do Sodré railway station. One way ticket from Lisbon to Sintra o Cascais costs 2.20 E.

Additionally, if you want to reach Porto or Fatima choose Santa Apolonia railway station.

Tickets types and prices

Surely you are interested in the types and prices of tickets for municipal transport in Lisbon.

Firstly, if you want to use public transport, you should buy a special card named Viva Viagem or 7 Colinas. It costs 0.50 E and is reusable. You can buy it in ticket machines or customer service points.

Secondly, before your journey, you should charge your card. The amount of charge depends on what type of ticket you want. You can choose:

  1. single ticket for a bus, tram, metro or elevator – costs 1.50 E
  2. 24 h ticket for a bus, tram, metro or elevator – costs 6.40 E
  3. 24 h ticket for a bus, tram, metro, elevator or Transtejo do Casilhas ferry – costs 9.50 E
  4. 24 h ticket for a bus, tram, metro, elevator or CP train – costs 10.55 E
  5. zapping option – you can charge your card of the amount from minimum 3 E to maximum 40 E and you can use it to pay-as-you-go on all of the modes of transport in Lisbon. This option is cheaper than paying for individual journeys.

More information about public transport and fares you can find on the website: http://www.carris.pt/

Accommodation

It’s not a problem to find accommodation in Lisbon, especially in the lower season. For us was important to book something close to the main attractions because we didn’t want to waste time reaching the city center. Very good and budget option for us was Brothers Hostel, located less than 2 km away from downtown. For a one shared room for 6 people, we paid 110 E. A breakfast was included in a final price. The room was little but clean with 3 bunk beds. The shared bathroom was on the corridor. I think it was enough for us because most of the time we spent outside. Additionally, thanks to good localization of our hostel we could get anywhere on foot.

How to enjoy 4 days in Lisbon and its surroundings

It was very important for us to making a good plan for the trip. On the first day, we decided to commit our time to explore the city center of Lisbon. The next all day we spent outside the city. We visited stunning Sintra, the farthest overhanging to the west point in Continental Europe called Cabo da Roca, and Cascais on the way back home – the best known harbourside town. The rest of the time we were wandering through Lisbon to places which we haven’t seen before.

1. Lisbon

From the first part of the article, you could find out how to move around Lisbon. We lived near the city center, so we could get almost everywhere on foot. But to Belem district, we got by tram. Additionally, we took a ride historical tram – I recommend it to you!
As you guess Lisbon offers a lot of attractions. Except for the most popular trams and elevators, you can enjoy a lot of interesting places. 

Belem

Let me start from Belem district, which I like the most (despite the weather). The Jerónimos Monastery impressed me from the first sight. It’s one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. The construction began in 1501 and finished 100 years later. The Hieronymites Monastery is the most visited place in Lisbon.

The Jerónimos Monastery – Belem in Lisbon

Next to the monastery is located Belem Tower, which was built in the early 16th century. The tower was played a very important role in the defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The tower also served as a prison, military area and a customs house for ships.

Belem Tower – Lisbon

Another very popular attraction in Belen is Monument to the Discoveries, which celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery. On the top of the monument is located view terrace from which you can admire the beautiful view over Belem district.

Monument to the Discoveries – Belem in Lisbon

If you are going to Belem, don’t forget to go to a very famous bakery – Pasteis de Belem, which is located near to the monastery (Rua do Belém 84-92). You have to try delicious pastel – Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon.

Barrio Alto and Baixa

Barrio Alto is a central part of Lisbon. You can stay for a moment at Rossio Square (it is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square). In the middle point of the square is located The Column of Pedro IV. Behind column, you can see The Queen Maria II National Theatre, whereas in front of the column are located fountains.

A fountain at Rossio Square – Lisbon

From Rossio Square through Rua Area street towards Tagus river you can get to Commerce Square. On the way, you can admire a beautiful view from the top of the Santa Justa Elevator.

Commerce Square, better known as Palace Yard is one of the main squares in Lisbon. It’s a meeting place not only for citizens but also for tourists. At the central point of the square, you can see the Statue of King José I. Looking towards Rua Augusta street you can behold The Rua Augusta Arch. At the top of the Arch is located a viewpoint.

The Statue of King José I – Lisbon

If you need a rest and you will be at Commerce Square you can break at Cais das Colunas – a historical place of Lisbon. There are remains of marble steps and two columns, which are in the middle above the water. The steps are used as a noble entrance to the city for heads of the state and other prominent figures. Don’t be suprised if somebody offers you weed there.

Alfama

Alfama is the oldest and the most popular district of Lisbon. It is known for its narrow and steep lanes and fado music which reverberates there. You can move around Alfama on foot, but I recommend you to take a famous tram number 28, which goes close to Alfama attractions.

Alfama streets – Lisbon

You can visit Saint George Castle there – Moorish citadel which towers above the city.

Near to the castle is located the oldest church in the city – Lisbon Catedral, often called simply the Sé Catedral.

Additionally, I recommend you to go to the Gates of the Sun – you can admire a stunning view there which stretches above Alfama.

2. Sintra

From Lisbon to Sintra you can get by direct train from Rossio Railway Station. The train leaves every 20-30 minutes and the journey time is about 1 hour. Get out at the last station named ‘Sintra’. The single ticket price is 2.20 E. Also, you can reach Sintra by bus, but I don’t recommend this option, because of the need for changing the mode of transport. From Lisbon, you should take a train to Cascais, next a bus to Sintra Mira (15 km away from Sintra), and then another bus to Sintra. As I said it’s not the fastest way to get to the city. A good option is also to hire a car. From Lisbon to Sintra leads off a highway. 

Why Sintra is the greatest place for tourists? Because it offers a lot to see: stunning palaces, castles, residences, and mysterious gardens. During years Sintra was known as the summer residence of Portuguese lords. The second reason is the location of Sintra because the city is located up to the hill named Serra de Sintra from which stretches the breathtaking view .

How to move around Sintra?

You can wander through all of Sintra attractions on foot, but it’s very exhausting and time-consuming. As I mentioned Sintra is located up to the hill. But don’t worry, the city offers tourists buses, which go around the main attractions. If you choose this option, take bus number 434 (goes to Pena Palace and to Moorish Castle) or 435 (goes to Monserrate Palace and Seteais Palace, and stops near to Quinta da Regaleira Gardens). The buses leave near to Sintra railway station and go several times per hour. You can buy a single ticket or two-way ticket (costs 5 E and gives the possibility to get out and get in at every bus stop). In high season buses are crowded.

Sintra’s attractions

As I mentioned Sintra offers a lot to see: castles, palaces, residences, and gardens. Close to Sintra railway station is located National Palace of Sintra (with characteristic white chimneys). It is known of its beautiful elements of Arabic interior design and ornamental ceilings. 10 minutes away from National Palace (you should turn right and follow the signs) is situated Quinta da Regaleira – the Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire, which consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and mysterious park with lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, and fountains. The main attraction of it is The Initiation Well – underground towers lined with stairs, which were used for masonic ceremonial purposes.

Additional worth see attraction which towers above the city is Moorish Castle – nowadays the ruins of the ancient fortress. The castle was built by Arabs during Al-Andalus times. In 1147 castle was conquered by Christians. Over time the castle lost its defensive position and started to perish. In 1775 the Moorish Castle was destroyed by the earthquake. 

Moorish Castle – Sintra 
Moorish Castle – Sintra

15 minutes by walk from Moorish Castle you can get to Pena Palace – resembling a fabulous palace of Disney World because of its colored facade. Is surrounded by huge and beautiful Pena Park. The Palace is the most popular attraction in Sintra. Attracts a lot of tourists from the whole world.

Pena Palace view from Moorish Castle – Sintra
Pena Palace – Sintra
Pena Palace – Sintra
Pena Palace – Sintra

More information about opening hours and ticket prices of palaces you can find on website: https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/plan-your-visit-en/opening-times-and-prices/

Our trip plan

We got to Sintra in morning hours. We have known that is not possible to see all attraction which offers the city so before our trip, we established which places we wanted to visit. We took a tourists bus from Sintra railway station and our first stop was the Moorish Castle. The journey started behind the gate near to ticket office. The route to the castle led through the park. A view which stretched from the castle was breathtaking.  We were wandering through the ruins of the fortress. We recommend this place – it’s worth to see.

From Moorish Castle, we walked to Pena Palace. As I mentioned it was about 15 minutes away. The palace resembled the palace from Disney World – colored facade, characteristic carves. We felt like in a fabulous world. Despite of many tourists, we think that is the place worth to visit.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had more time to see other places in Sintra. We had to take a bus to Cabo da Roca.

3. Cabo da Roca

From Sintra, you can get to Cabo da Roca by bus number 403 towards Cascais. The bus leaves near to the railway station. The journey lasts about 45 minutes.

As I said Cabo da Roca is the farthest overhanging to the west point in Continental Europe. It’s surrounded by high cliffs. The views were breathtaking. You can wander along the shore of the ocean – but remember about your safety!

Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca
4. Cascais

On the way back home to Lisbon, we visited Cascais – the best-known harbourside town. From Cabo da Roca you can take bus number 403. The popular attraction in the city is the cliffs of Boca de Inferno. It is an interesting rock formation, from which escapes a sound of characteristic whistle like a sound from an inferno.

Cascais

To summarize Lisbon and its surroundings are beautiful places worth to visit. I hope someday you will have the opportunity to get there and my information will be useful for you.

If you have any question please let me know about it.

I hope you enjoyed my article. See you soon

Have you ever been to Portugal? Which places did you like the most? Please let me know about your opinion and experience.

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