Difference between revisions of "Lisbon"
Revision as of 15:35, 31 March 2008
Lisbon (Portuguese: Lisboa)  is the capital of Portugal. Known for thrilling nightlife,it`s famed monuments,in the last few years it has become recognized as Europe's cosmopolitan gambling centre, due to its two huge casinos.
The sparkling new Lisboa Ask Me Centre (Pç. do Comércio, 21 0312815, open 09:00 - 20:00 daily) will help you find accommodation and is happy to dispense advice, maps and brochures. Smaller Ask Me Lisboa kiosks are dotted about the Rossio district and airport and their multilingual staff also have maps and brochures.
The Lisboa Card, which can be purchased from tourist information outlets, offers free use of all public transport in the city and free or reduced price tickets to many museums, galleries and tourist attractions. They can be purchased in 24 hour (adult / child: €14.85 / €7.50), 48 hour (€25.50 / €12.75) and 72 hour (€31.00 / €15.50) denominations. They are not very good value unless you plan to visit a lot of museums. Especially so if you are a holder of a student identification card (international or national) since the student discounts to these attractions are often the same as for the Lisboa Card.
Portugal's largest international & main air hub for Tap/Air Portugal is the Aeroporto da Portela,located between Loures & Lisboa (IATA: LIS; Alameda das Comunidades Portuguesas, Tel: 21 841 35 00, Fax: 21 841 36 75, web: http://www.ana-aeroportos.pt) which is linked to the city centre by an Aerobus (line 91) every 20 minutes from 07:00 - 21:00 and bus lines 5, 8, 22, 44, 45, 83 (board fare €1,35 or 7 Colinas can be used which can be bought at the airport post office).
There are two big train stations in Lisbon: Santa Apolónia and Gare do Oriente. Although if entering Lisbon from the south you may want to get off at Entrecampos or Sete Rios: their metro stations are a few stops closer to the central and old town. If arriving from the north[Porto,Gaia] and center[Aveiro,Coimbra] of Portugal use Santa Apolonia,close to Alfama/city centre. Cais do Sodré is another important train station, connecting Lisbon to Cascais/Estoril coast.
Lisbon can be accessed from six main highways.
Coming from the south (A2) or east (A6 - the main route from Madrid), there are the two bridges:
The A2 goes all the way to the 25 de Abril bridge, which usually has lots of traffic getting into Lisbon, specially weekday mornings. This is the best option if you want to go to the center of Lisbon or to the west (A5 - Estoril, Cascais, Sintra);
If you branch from the A2 into the A12, you'll get to the Vasco da Gama bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, it usually has less traffic than the older 25 de Abril bridge (but a more expensive toll). This is the best option to go to the eastern/northern section of Lisbon (to the airport and to the Parque das Nações - the former Expo 98 site), and also to take the A1 or A8 going north.
Coming from the north, there is the A1, that connects Lisbon to Santarém, Fátima, Leiria, Coimbra, Aveiro, Oporto. The A1 ends near the airport. There's also the A8, which goes to Torres Vedras, Caldas da Rainha, Alcobaça, Leiria.
From the west, there is the A5, which connects to Estoril, Cascais, and the IC19 that crosses all the suburbs and ends near Sintra.
Lisbon has three ring roads: The 2ª circular, which connects the A1 to the IC19; the CRIL IC17 (still incomplete), which connects the Vasco da Gama bridge with the A1 and A8; and the CREL A9, which connects the A1 with the A8, IC19, A5, and goes all the way to the Estoril coast.
Regarding toll highways - Portugal has a unified electronic toll paying system - it's usually on the one or two left most lanes of the toll booths, marked with a green "V" (Via Verde - "Green Lane"). If you don't subscribe to the system, pay the toll at the manned booths (cash and most debit and credit cards accepted). If you by chance get distracted and go through the Via Verde lane, you have 48 hours to go to a Via Verde office and pay the toll without a fine.
All nearby cities and most major cities in Portugal have direct buses to Lisbon. The main bus terminal is at Sete Rios (metro: Jardim Zoológico) Rede expresso is one of the largest inter-city bus companies.
You can get a boat to Lisbon from the following stations: Barreiro; Trafaria; Montijo; and Cacilhas. Recommended for excellent sightseeing from the river Tagus to Lisbon.
Due to the relative proximity of Lisbon's airport to the city centre, it is quite easy to cycle from the airport to the centre, and could be recommended if you arrive for a cycling trip. Cycling in Portugal can be a challenge, though Lisbon offers far easier cycling than what you may find outside of the city. The further you get from Lisbon, however, the easier the cycling gets. You may wish to take advantage of certain regional trains that take bicycles in a separate luggage carriage, allowing you to start your cycling some 50 or 100 kilometers outside of the city.
After leaving the airport and negotiating a roundabout, merge onto the long and straight dual-carriageway Av. Almirante Gago Coutinho (you should be able just to follow the "Centro" ("Downtown") signs.) After merging, the route to Baixa is simple and straight. This street later turns into Av. Almirante Reis, and then Rua de Palma, at the end of which you will be right in Baixa.
Cycling within the city is not easy due to traffic and the surprisingly hilly outlet of Lisbon. There are very few bike lanes in town (most of them located between Entrecampos and Telheiras) and car drivers are not used to bikes so be very careful. Good spots to cycle are along the EXPO coast, the waterfront between Cais Sodré and Belém. Just outside of Lisbon -you can take a bike on trains or ferries- along the coast from Estoril towards the beautiful beach of Guincho, reach Sintra, Cascais or Caparica.
If you take a bicycle in public transportation beware of the following: Metro: During working days it's not allowed to carry bicycles in the metro. On weekends, it's allowed and it's free of charge. Suburban trains: On weekends and holidays it's allowed to carry bicycles in the trains free of charge. On working days it's allowed only outside the morning and evening rush hours with a special ticket for bicycles. In this case you must buy two tickets, special one for the bicycle and another for the passenger. Please check beforehand the bicycle permission hours, before buying bicycle tickets. Ferries: It's allowed with a bicycle ticket.
Bike shops in the centre are rare. You can find a SportZone near Rossio or in Amoreiras shopping mall. Ask there for specialist shops, shop assistants are usually very helpful. For bike the sights and bike rentals you can always check bikeiberia (Phone: +351 96 242 3455 Web: http://bikeiberia.com/) located in Baixa-downtown, next to Cais Sodre and the Praca Comercio square, they are professional, friendly and very helpful on providing tours, bikes&equipment and insider's knowledge.
Lisbon's recently refurbished metro system is quick and efficient. Single trip tickets within Zone 1 (which covers most of the city) cost €0.75, although you can buy a 10 trip card for €6.50. However, a more economic choice is the all-day (til 01.00am) pass which costs €4.00 . The all-day pass is also valid on city buses and tram lines.
The extensive bus and electrico (street-car) network is run by Carris. The only way to ride is buying a 7 Colinas card, which is also valid on the metro and electricos. You can buy a 7 Colinas easily for 0.50 euros and charge it. The 7 Colinas card is rechargeable, but you can charge on it only one type of ticket a day (e.g. you can't charge it with a single ticket and a day ticket at the same time, but you can use it with a day ticket and then charge a single ticket the next day). Be sure to check out the public transport one- and multiple-day tickets which work on both the metro and busses, you will save a lot of money using them.
If you plan to be in Lisbon for an extended time, you can purchase an unlimited pass that covers buses, metro, and funiculars at the Carris station in Santo Amaro. It's 10 euro for the Lisboa Viva card, plus 25 euro for a one-month unlimited pass. You can also get them in week-long or two-week unlimited denominations. Bring a photo ID (passport) and cash.
Think twice before using a car in the city unless you are prepared to spend hours in traffic jams. Parking in certain areas can also be a pain. The busy traffic and narrow streets with blind corners can be overwhelming to tourists as well.
If your accommodation is in the centre of the city, walking is a great alternative. Many of the attractions of the city, such as the Castelo and the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, are within easy walking distance of the Baixa. While walking around Lisbon, if you become lost or cannot find the location you are looking for, try to locate the nearest Carris bus or tram stop. Most of these stops (not all) have a very good map of the city with your current location clearly marked on the map. All the prominent tourist sites in Lisbon are also shown along with an index at the bottom of the map. A quick consultation with one of these Carris maps should point you back in the right direction.
You may also use the funiculars and elevadores. Day passes for public transportation are also valid for those.
Although not really on the Atlantic, Lisbon is very close to ocean and that brings windy and fast-changing weather, so you'd better bring a jacket or an umbrella with you, at least in spring and autumn.
Instead of paying for a trip in one of the tourist trams, try line 28. It takes you by many of Lisbon's most famous sites, and although it is overrun with tourists, you still get a flavor of the locals.
Go out at night to the central Bairro Alto, or 'High Neighbourhood'. Just up the hill from Chiado, this is the place to go out in town. In the early evening go to a fado-themed restaurant near the Praca Camoes, and head upwards as the evening goes on. If you're in Lisbon on the night preceding a Feriado or public holiday, you have to check this out. Tiny little streets which are empty in the daytime become thronged walkways which it's difficult to get through. .
One hidden gem is the Botanic Gardens, Jardim Botanico, which you can find between the Avenida de Republica and Bairro Alto. It was created several hundred years ago, by a King of Portugal at the time of the Discoveries. The story goes that this king wanted one of every type of plant in the world, and although that's unlikely, there is a huge collection dating back by three or four centuries which is worth checking out. Also some weird and wonderful bizarre grafted trees - the roots hang down like fingers and toes where one tree has been grafted onto another, sometimes completely different, species. And there's something quite eerie about seeing plants or huge trees from completely different climates growing next to each other in apparent harmony. There is an entrance fee of one euro eighty for adults, and concessions are available for kids, OAPS and students. A great place to take a picnic - this green oasis is completely surrounded by city but even the city sounds filter out.
Shops open a little later than other places in Europe, usually around 9:30-10am, and the lunch breaks can be quite long, usually from 1pm to 3pm. They usually close by 7pm. They are usually closed on Sundays, but you'll find that some are open for a couple of hours. Most malls, however, are open on Sundays, such as Colombo (beside the Colegio Militar/Luz metro station), the Armazens do Chiado, the Vasco da Gama (beside the Oriente metro station), and Amoreiras (not far from the Marquês de Pombal metro station). Malls open at 9:30-10am and close by 11pm or midnight, although the film theatres within them usually run a late session starting after midnight. Grocery stores are closed on Sundays, after 1PM, except those smaller than 2000m2. However, from November 1st to December 31st, Grocery stores are allowed to remain open all day through Sundays.
You can buy a Lisbon Shopping Card, which gives you discounts at major stores around the city for a period of 24 hours.
From Praça do Comércio (aka Terreiro do Paço) to the Restauradores, the Baixa is the best shopping district in the city. Stroll along the pedestrian Rua Augusta, with everything from tourist stores to European chain clothing stores like Zara, H&M, Campers and many others.
Eat dinner out one night at a traditional Portuguese restaurant at the Bairro Alto, preferably one that has traditional fado music.
Most restaurant are very small, family run and generally cheap. Almost everyone has a sheet on the door with the "pratos do dia" (dishes of the day) written on. These are usually cheaper and fresher, and unless you're looking for something specific, they're the right choice. During the dinner probably the waiter will bring you some unrequested starter dishes: as those are not free, feel free not to touch them and they will not be charged on your bill.
If it's traditional Portuguese that you're after, then the area of Alfama is the place to go. There, you have plenty of choice, with a street full of restaurants. Try the seafood rice (arroz de marisco).
Try the magnificent pastéis de nata at any pastelaria or the even better, Pastéis de Belém next to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. Have them warm and profusely showered in cinnamon... Yuummmm
At Café Buenos Aires, Calçada Escadinhas do Duque No. 31, you can find a good and selected combination of cheap and mid range dishes. During New Year's Eve they have a set for the night that will delight you. The owners are very friendly and speak Spanish, as well as English and Portuguese.
DOM Pedro Palace Nice place
Lisbon is known for its lively night. For going out, stroll around the old neighborhood of Bairro Alto ('high neighborhood') for an after-dinner caipirinha or ginjinha and people-watching. It's located on the top of one of the hills and you can get there by subway (Baixa/Chiado station) or by taking the marvelous funicular from the Restauradores plaza. Its small streets, full of people, are packed with high variety of bars. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, but the Bairro is rocking every night until dawn.
Alcântara, Santos, Parque das Nações, and the castle area are all neighbourhoods with a thriving nightlife. The whole area near the river/Atlantic, known as the docas, is a huge hub for nightlife, as Lisbon has never lost its ties to the sea.
If you are interested in the less touristy but more alternative and local scene, this ERASMUS student guide has up-to-date information on events and listings of bars, clubs and restaurants in Lisbon.
If you are in the center, finding a sleeping place should not be a big problem. There are many small, unlisted hostels that will offer you enough comfort, and offer a fair price. Expect to pay between €45 and €60 for a double room.
There is a tourist service center in the airport, where the nice ladies will book a room for you.
Private international call centres and public telephone booths are common throughout Lisbon. Be warned, however, public phones can be less generous than slot machines: many times they'll swallow your change and give you no credit. You're better off purchasing a Portugal Telecom pre-paid card you can insert into the phone, or even a discount calling card which connects you via a toll-free number. These can be purchased from street kiosks and convenience stores. Most payphones also allow you to pay by credit card, although support for this feature is somewhat expensive.
Internet cafes are also abundant in the Rossio and Restauradores districts as well as in the Bairro Alto (opening late there). Expect to pay between €2 - €3 per hour.
Although Lisbon is a relatively safe city by European standards, crime rates are said to be on the rise. The most common crime against travellers is pickpocketing and theft from rental cars or on public transport (especially tram line 28). Lisbon has also seen some gang-related nightclub violence in recent years. Be careful at late night in the Bairro Alto. Travellers can get mugged being on their own or when they "bond" with a local gang. Also be careful with bank machines in the City Centre.Avoid some of the train stations late at night:Cais do Sodre station should be avoided at night.
A lot of the hash and marijuana smuggled into the EU from Morocco is channelled through Lisbon (actually most is through the huge and not well guarded Portuguese coast, from the Algarve, where most of it gets in, to the very south). Chances are you'll be approached at least a few times by certain types offering 'hash' or 'chocolate'. A firm 'no thank-you'"não, obrigado",if you`re a male;"não, obrigada",if female. Should be enough to deter them.Taxis cabs are recomended,especially at night.Carry a money belt.
If however you are into that sort of thing, you should know that most of what these "types" are selling is not worth buying. It's just stuff that they throw together (i.e. not drugs) and coat with resin to sell to tourists. Not worth your money or the risk to your health.
=south of Lisbon(south of the Tagus river/rio Tejo)=:
Monument of Christ-King(Cristo-Rei)is located in Pragal,Almada.