I’ve mentioned before in articles here that having Portuguese friends helps when you’ve living in Lisbon, but if you’re just here for a short spell, and don’t have time to cultivate a friendship, I’m here to help.
I sat down with a good friend of mine who is born and raised in Lisbon, and they were kind enough to share a few tips that the locals know to make navigating Lisbon that little bit easier for you all.
Work on Your Calves and Bring Good Shoes
Many cities in Europe describe themselves as “The City on Seven Hills” but Lisbon is one of the few that backs up the boast.
You will feel like you’re going uphill in every direction while you’re wandering through the gorgeous winding streets of the city, so if you’ve got some time before you come, a few calf exercises wouldn’t hurt!
Above all else, bring comfortable shoes, either trainers or walking boots, and make sure they have good grip. The streets are slippery enough at the best of times, but when it rains, they can become terrifying!
Beware the Taxis
Taxi drivers in Lisbon are known amongst locals for taking the long route, especially when it comes to tourists.
Using taxi apps tends to be the better option, because if you’re taken the long route, you can complain and get yourself a refund.
If you don’t know the way to where you’re going, and can’t direct your taxi driver, be aware you may be taken the scenic route for a higher price.
Use Zapping and Season passes on the Metro
You can top up your Viva card at any metro station, if you use Zapping, you can save a bit of money on each trip, and also use various other modes of transport around Lisbon, and it saves the queues.
If you’re here for a while, consider a monthly pass, for €30 you can get any form of transport around Lisbon, and if you go up to €40, this also covers boats across the river and other trips to outside of the city.
Two Kisses, Every Time
Every culture has a different way of saying help, in Lisbon, expect a kiss on each cheek. You won’t be considered rude if you don’t do this, but it is the expected greeting.
Fado for Locals is Different to Fado for Tourists
Fado is a huge thing in Portugal, and that counts in Lisbon too. However, if you visit one of the big, tourist centred Fado places, while you may have a lovely time, you won’t be getting the full experience.
Aim for a Fado house that is aimed at the locals, if you’re not sure how, come along to one of our Fado tours and we’ll help you find a few.
The Best Portuguese Food Isn’t in the Prettiest Places
If you’re looking for a top quality Portuguese meal, then you won’t find it in the places that are aimed primarily at tourists.
Look for the small little café/bar/restaurants, and check the clientele. If the place is full of Portuguese people tucking into tasty looking plates of meat and fish, head inside. If it’s full of tourists, the chances are the locals avoid it because there’s a better place nearby.
And there you have it, if you run into me in Lisbon, say hi, and if my friend who helped me write this list is with me, you can buy them a drink as a thank you!