Lisbon – A City Of Seven (But Really, Eight) Hills

Portugal is part of the Schengen Agreement, meaning that entering Portugal from most other parts of the EU is pretty easy. There are no border checkpoints or customs. Document and customs checks remain standard if arriving from (or departing to) a non-Schengen country.

If you are an EU or Swiss citizen, you can travel to Portugal with your national identity card alone. All other nationalities need a valid passport. Visas are not generally required if you are staying less than 90 days (or at all for EU citizens), for citizens of countries including, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA.

If you are entering Portugal for more than 90 days or for any reason other than tourism (such as study or work) you may need a specific visa, visit schengenvisainfo.com or contact a Portuguese consulate for details.

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your departure date from Italy.

Lisbon is probably one of the best cities to visit for solo travelers, especially for women. Strolling in Alfama district, checking out local markets are safe and locals are incredibly friendly. There’s a very low crime rate and rare violent crime. During the day, you can pretty much roam everywhere without any worry. If there are certain areas to avoid after hours (you probably won’t be visiting these areas anyway,) you should probably stay away from Martim Moniz, or Intendente areas.

In an emergency situation, the free of charge phone number in Portugal for medical service is: 112. In fact, this is the number you can use throughout Europe which is directed to the local police dispatch center.

Going to the bar alone might be frowned upon in Portugal in general, but there are many female solo travelers nowadays so it’s quite alright in Lisbon.

If you’re an expat woman, you’ll be treated with respect in business. Since chivalry is still strong with Portuguese men, so they probably won’t let you pay for a meal.

The best two seasons to visit Lisbon would be spring and autumn, when the temperature is warm and you’ll avoid the summer tourist crowds. You might be able to even squeeze in a few days on the beach during either season, in addition to cheaper hotel rates.

Winter is a nice period to visit if you’re not itching for summer heat. In all of Europe, Lisbon might be one of the best places to visit during winter months when other parts of Europe are freezing cold.

Portugal has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Continental Portugal and Madeira use UTC+00:00, while the Azores use UTC–01:00.

In comparison to the UK, Portugal is just like most states in Europe, Summer Time (Daylight Saving) is shifted forward by 1 hour which is 1 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT+1 ). After summer, time is moved back by 1 hour to Western European Time (WET) or (GMT).

Portuguese is the main language of Portugal, not all Portuguese understand English even if they work in the service industry (your Uber driver, for example, might not all speak English.) So below are a few words to get you through a trip.

PS. If you speak French or Spanish, DO NOT expect Portuguese to understand you. In fact, many who work in the hospitality industry absolutely do not like that you instantly speak either language to them, they find such behavior quite rude.

Hello/Goodbye = Olá

Good morning/Hello = Bom Dia

Good afternoon/Good evening = Boa noite

Goodnight = Boa noite

Goodbye = Tchau

Yes = Sim

No = Não

Please = Por favor

Thank you = Obrigada (if you’re female.) Obrigado (if you’re male.)

You’re welcome = De nada

I’m sorry = Eu sinto muito

Excuse me/I’m sorry = Com licença

Do you speak English? = Você fala inglês

I don’t speak Portuguese = Eu nao falo Portugues

With locals: Folks will greet each other by kissing on both sides of the cheek. And DO NOT speak Spanish or French to local Portuguese, they find this behavior quite rude. Portuguese are also extremely hospitable, if you meet a local who invites you to their home…this is normal because he/she most likely wants to show you the Portuguese culture.

In churches: When entering churches, DO NOT interrupt or take photos during Mass. Portugal is still considerably traditional, conservative, and Catholic.

In restaurants: You will be charged for bread, water, butter…etc. This is common and not a trick. There are lots of fish heads, bones and probably animals cooked in ways you haven’t seen back home. Don’t be rude by making disgusted faces, be respectful about local cuisine.

Portugal uses Euros (€) as their currency. You’ll be able to find ATMs everywhere throughout the country. Most places will accept credit cards but prefer you pay with cash. They also don’t like splitting the bill with multiple cards so keep that in mind if you’re with a group.

Tipping! A simple rule in restaurants/bars is to leave 1-2 euros on top of your bill. If you’re at a bar without table service, then no tip is necessary. At hotels, it’s customary to tip 1 per luggage. Cab drivers don’t expect tips, but it’s nice to just round up your fare.

Like the rest of Europe, Portugal uses one of the two European standard electrical socket types, with voltage of 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts.) Your converter should look like this:

You can drink tap water in Portugal, though it may not taste as nice as it does in other European countries. If you discover that you don’t like the taste, then stick to bottled water.

In Lisbon, most hotels and restaurants will have free Wi-Fi. Lisbon Airport also has free Wi-Fi service. If you’re someone who always needs Wi-Fi on-the-go, then it’s highly recommended that you get a portable or pocket Wi-Fi so that you can avoid data roaming.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ride-sharing apps available in Lisbon, here’s a list of them:

  • Uber
  • Taxify
  • MyTaxi
  • Chauffeur Privé
  • Cabify
  • 99
  • MEOTaxi

If you’re riding a city taxi, know that all driver are registered so they’re safe to ride even late into the night.

Another plus of traveling to Lisbon is its high acceptance toward the LGBTQ community. In Portugal, there’s a ban on discrimination toward sexual orientation. In addition, the laws and its governmental system is progressive toward: gay rights, gay marriage, same-sex adoption, and legal gender identification. Hence, it’s safe for gay travelers to visit Lisbon.

Bairro Alto is where you’ll want to hang out, especially on Rua Barroca – the famous gay street. There are also plenty gay tours, hostels, and luxury hotels in Lisbon that cater to the LGBTQ community.

Some LGBTQ events include: Lisbon Gay Pride that happen during summertime. Queer Lisboa in September every year, is a Portuguese Film Festival specially for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual themed films. Hot Season Festival is also an international gay and lesbian music festival.

Livraria do Simão is one of the smallest bookstores with only 3.8 sq meters, but you can still find 4,000 books in there.

Prepare for Portugal with this packing list from Jetset Times SHOP (yes, you’re going to need just a little bit of everything.