Last Minute Holidays to Lisbon – The Ultimate Reference Guide

trams in lisbon

Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and with a personality split between Western Europe and Northern Africa, Lisbon is a European city like no other. Portugal’s capital boasts as grand a cultural and historical heritage as any other major European city, but also an earthier side that sets it apart. Last minute holidays to Lisbon are an opportunity to enjoy this city that is now a firm favourite with vacationers from the United Kingdom.

Lisbon’s zenith was back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when great explorers and bold sailing fleets edged out of the security of Lisbon in the quest to discover the “New World”. This rich colonial past is still very much in evidence in the suburb of Belém, laden with grand imperial buildings like the stunning Manueline Mosterio dos Jerónimos and the waterfront Torre de Belém. The Monument to the Discoveries is a modern tribute to the age when Portugal was one of the world’s great maritime powers. One name that rides high above any other from this period is Vasco Da Gama, the country’s greatest maritime hero.

The Rio Tejo (Tagus) still dominates Lisbon life, but the main industry is now tourism as the city grows in popularity as a tourist destination. Other key industries include finance, insurance, consulting and telecommunications, with Lisbon very much the hub of Portuguese business, commercial and political life. The city centre is a buzzing grid of grand streets with all the trappings of any other Western European city, but also rumbling old trams, antiquated funiculars and elevadors (elevators) that help negotiate Lisbon’s steep hills.

Further east in the Alfama district the earthier side of the city takes over as the wide streets give way to a tight warren of cobbles, littered with tiny shops, houses and traditional restaurants. Here mobile phones and sharp suits are replaced by haranguing old women selling fresh fish on the street. This is the area of the city that has exotic echoes of Northern Africa, the influence from across the Mediterranean very strong thanks to the many immigrants who have brought their culture and traditions to the city from Portugal’s former African colonies.

Venturing even further east is the site of the successful World Expo 98, an event that demonstrated the Portuguese government’s determined efforts to place Lisbon firmly on the European map. The government has invested heavily to turn the former Expo site into an accommodation, business and nightlife centre, with the initial results of the ambitious project looking promising.

Despite all this new development and the attempts to modernize the city, its easygoing charm has not been lost. In summer Lisbon can be hot and sticky (14C-27C), but this is soon eased by a quick train ride along the coast to the beach resorts of Cascais and Estoril. In winter Lisbon is much cooler (8C-16C) though still boasts many sunny days, making it a popular year round destination.

Lisbon Weather

Lisbon’s weather averages to 63°F (17° C). Summer temperatures average 76° F (24° C), but get higher during the day. Showers normally are expected daily during the late fall. The winter temperatures for Lisbon are 37° to 40° F (3° to 4° C).

Getting to Lisbon by Air

Aeroporto de Lisboa (LIS)
Tel: (21) 841 3700
Fax: (21) 840 1837.
Website: www.ana-aeroportos.pt/eng

The airport, which had the world’s highest passenger growth rate in 1998, is located seven kilometres (four miles) north of the city.

Major airlines: The national airline is TAP Air Portugal (tel: (21) 843 1100; website: www.tap-airportugal.pt). PGA, Portugália Airlines (tel: (21) 842 5500; website: www.pga.pt), is also Portuguese-based. Other airlines include Air France, British Airways, Go, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Swissair and TWA.

Approximate flight times to Lisbon:
• London – 2 hours 20 minutes
• New York – 6 hours 45 minutes
• Los Angeles – 12 hours (plus transfer)
• Toronto – 9 hours 30 minutes (plus transfer)
• Sydney – 22 hours 30 minutes (plus transfers)

Airport facilities: First aid, bureaux de change, post office, left-luggage, restaurant and bar are all open 24-hours. There are also duty-free (and other) shops, tourist information (0600-0000) and a bank. Car hire is available from A Castanheira, Auto Jardim, Avis, Eurodollar, Europcar, Guerin and Hertz.

Business facilities: There is a business lounge (tel: (21) 841 3500) which has basic facilities.

Arrival/departure tax: None.

Transport to the city: The AeroBus departs every 20 minutes (0700-2100) to the city centre (journey time – 20 minutes) and the Cais do Sodré rail station. A one-day ticket is cheap. Local buses 5, 8, 22, 44 and 83 operate 0600-2130 and bus 45 runs until 0115. Taxis are available 24-hours a day. The average time for a taxi ride to the city centre is 15-30 minutes.

Getting to Lisbon by Car

Traffic keeps to the right on the right in Portugal and you must follow international traffic norms. You need to be 18 years old to have a driving license in Portugal. Speed limit on the motorway is 120kph (74mph), 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and in towns you’re expected to keep to 50kph (30mph). Tolls are charged on most motorways. Motorways are indicated by the prefix “A”; minor roads by the prefix “N”. Both International Driving Permits and national driving licenses are accepted. A Green Card and third-party insurance are compulsory, as is a warning triangle. Seat belts must be worn and children should travel in the rear seat. The legal maximum alcohol to blood ratio for driving is 0.05%.

The Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) is the national motoring association, Rua Rosa Araujo 24 (tel: (21) 318 0100; website: www.acp.pt), and will assist motorists whose automobile club has a reciprocal agreement.

Emergency breakdown service:
ACP (21) 942 9103

Routes to the city

The A1 Auto-estrada do Norte connects Porto to Lisbon. The A8 connects Lisbon and the from destinations to the north and west of the city. The A9 skirts Lisbon. It links the A1, A8 and the A5, which connect Lisbon with Cascais and the beaches. The A2 Auto-estrada do Sul brings traffic from the Algarve via Almada and the Ponte 25 de Abril. The A12 runs over the Ponte Vasco da Gama, and is a scenic route with lower traffic.

Driving times to Lisbon: from Porto- 3 hours 15 minutes; Faro and the Algarve – 4 hours 20 minutes (longer on summer weekends); and Madrid – 8 hours 55 minutes.

Coach services: The main terminal (especially for international destinations) is near Saldanha metro station on Avenido Casal Ribeiro. Rede Nacional de Expressos (tel: (21) 354 5439 or 310 3111 (24-hour information); website: www.rede-expressos.pt), provides coach services from hundreds of Portuguese destinations. Inter-Centro (tel: (21) 357 1745), operates international services from destinations in France, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Getting to Portugal by Train

Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses – CP (Portuguese Railways) is the national rail service provider (tel: (21) 343 3748; website: www.cp.pt). Lisbon is served by four railway stations: Santa Apolónia serves long-distance and international routes, as well as suburban routes heading north and west. Rossio serves Sintra and Cais do Sodré serves Cascais and Estoril. The Barreiro station, on the south bank of the River Tagus, serves points south.

Rail services: You can enter Lisbon and Porto from any major Portuguese city by using the Intercity trains. Choose the Alfa Service from Porto and the InterCity train from Faro for a pleasant 3 hours 30 minutes journey to Lisbon. Overnight trains from Madrid will bring you to Lisbon in 10 hours and in 18 and half hours from Paris.

Transport to the city: Rossio is connected to the Restauradores metro station. Cais do Sodré has its own metro station. Santa Apolónia is linked to the centre by bus. From Barreiro, CP operates a ferry to the Terreiro do Paço port near Praça do Comércio. A new fast rail link to the Algarve is currently under construction.

Getting Around in Lisbon

Public Transport in Lisbon

Lisbon’s metro system, the Metropolitano de Lisboa (tel: (21) 798 0600; website: www.metrolisboa.pt/index_uk.htm), is an efficient way to get around the city and features works by prominent artists. There are four lines (A-D) and trains run every three to ten minutes 0630-0100. Both one-day and seven-day passes are available. A 30 day pass can also be purchased.

Complementary to this is the city’s network of buses, trams and elevadors (funiculars/street lifts), which are run by the Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa (tel: (21) 361 3000; website: www.carris.pt). Most bus and tram services operate 0600-0100. There are also eight night bus routes, which converge at the Cais do Sodré. Tickets can be purchased on board or at kiosks. Passes are available for one day or three days. Funicular tickets are also available.

Passes valid for bus, tram and metro are available for four days and seven days. These can all be purchased at Carris kiosks. The Lisboa Card tourist pass offers unlimited travel on public transport (except tram 15 and 18 and the Elevador de Santa Justa, see Sightseeing section for details).

Boat and Ferry Travel to Lisbon

Most cross-Tagus ferries are operated by Transtejo (tel: (21) 322 4000; website: www.transtejo.pt) and arrive at Belém, Cais do Sodré and Terreiro do Paço. CP (Portuguese Railways) runs the ferry link from Barreiro (where the CP trains terminate) to Praça do Comércio; for rail travellers the fare is included in the ticket price. There are also 24-hour water taxis, operated by Taxitour (tel: (21) 397 2783), which depart from a number of clearly marked points along the river.


Taxis are beige (the older ones are black with a green roof) and have small green lights on top, indicating availability. Taxis can easily be hailed on the street, at ranks or by phone from Radiotaxis (tel: (21) 793 2756, 811 1290, 811 1100). Taxis are metered. The fare increases by 20% after 2200. A supplement is charged for luggage carried in the boot or on the roof.


UNILIS, Rua Actor Vale 25b (tel: (21) 816 0000), offers limousine service with multi-lingual drivers. Check the cost for a full day (0900-1800) with extra charges for tolls, extra hours or mileage above 150km/93 miles and the driver’s meal.

Driving in the City

Driving in Lisbon can be a little nerve-wracking, not only do cars speed around, but road signs are often inadequate. The A9 outer ring road, known as the CREL (Cintura Regional Exterior de Lisboa) and inner ring road, CRIL (Cintura Regional Interior de Lisboa) move traffic efficiently around the city. The Ponte 25 de Abril, however, can take an hour to cross during rush hour and summer weekends.

Pay-and-display parking is in effect Monday to Friday 0800-2000 in many areas of central Lisbon. Parking is also available at the larger shopping centres. A network of underground parking lots is currently being built, these are indicated by large blue “P” signs, they are far more expensive than street meter parking.

Car Hire
Autocerro is located at Quinta de Francelha de Baixo, Bloco 1 (tel: (21) 940 0555). A week’s rental costs varies with the season. Drivers must be at least 21 years old. Other car hire firms include Avis, Campo Grande 390 (tel: (21) 754 7898, www.avis.com), Europcar, Estação de Santa Apolónia: (tel: (21) 886 1573, www.europcar.com), Hertz, Avenida da Republica 64A (tel: (21) 793 3647, www.hertz.com) and Rupauto, Rua da Beneficiencia 99 (tel: (21) 793 3258).

Bicycle Hire
Bicycles can be hired at Adrenalina Gravidade Zero (tel: (21) 892 2300), at the north end of the Parque das Nações; a passport or other ID must be left as a deposit. Bicycles are a good way to get around the large former Expo98 site, but are not very practical for the steep streets of much of Lisbon.

Last Minute Holidays to Lisbon – Sightseeing

Lisbon’s sightseeing is can be divided into four districts. The most central is the Baixa, the very heart of the city, which was rebuilt along a neat grid system after a series of devastating earthquakes, particularly the massive devastation of the 1755 tremor. The impressive Praça do Comercio is flanked by the stately Royal Palace and government ministries three sides and is lapped by the waters of the Rio Tejo on its southern fringe.

Strolling to the east the neat order of the Baixa dissolves in the tumbledown chaos of the Alfama district, the medieval old hub of the city, where the streets are as narrow as the smiles are large on the faces of the colourful women who harangue passers by with the fresh catch of the day.

A train or tram ride in the opposite direction is the suburb of Belém, where the connections with Portugal’s Great Age of Discoveries are the strongest. This is where the brave, or foolhardy, Portuguese sailors set off in search of worlds barely imagined let alone discovered. The legacy today is the epic Manueline architecture of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém, as well as more recent tributes like the Monument to the Discoveries.

Even further out of the city is the Parque das Nações, where the shell of Expo 98 has been imaginatively recreated into a sprawling leisure complex, complete with concert halls, museums and the Oceanario, one of the world’s largest aquariums.

From Lisbon, you can reach Faro via a 45-minute flight and enjoy an unforgettable Algarve holiday.

Tourist Information

Associação Turismo de Lisboa
Palácio Foz, Praça dos Restauradores
Tel: (21) 346 3314. Fax: (21) 346 8772.
Opening hours: Daily 0900-2000.

Other offices are located at Santa Apolónia station and at the airport. There are also kiosks near main tourist sites. The national government operates a tourist helpline (tel: (0800) 296 296).

The Lisboa Card offers unlimited travel and free or discounted entry to more than 25 museums and attractions and a guide to Lisbon. 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour cards can be purchased (concessions available) at Associação Turismo de Lisboa offices.

Lisbon Key Attractions

Castelo de São Jorge
The Castle of St George sits atop the loftiest of the city’s seven peaks and offers a bird’s eye view of the Baixa and the Mouraria (the Moorish Quarter). The castle housed the royal family till the 15th It contains artifacts and ruins from the times Romans, Visigoths and Moors established their presence here. The site was renovated in the 1940s. Within the castle, you can enjoy multimedia that informs and educates or stroll around taking in the scenery as viewed from the walls, towers and gardens. The castle grounds serve as a venue for festivals during the summer.
Tel: (21) 887 7244. Fax: (21) 887 5695.
Transport: Tram 12 or 28; or bus 37.
Opening hours: Daily summer 0900-2100; winter 0900-1800.
Admission: Free.

Tram 28
Tram 28 is a popular tourist attraction and an important cultural marker in the recent history of Lisbon. A tram ride along the old route from the city centre towards the highest peak, and passing through quaint Lisbon streets is a beautiful experience. The tram ride lets you get a leisurely view of how the denizens of this city go about their lives. It is also a great vantage point for checking out the sweeping vistas of Rio Tejo and beyond. Tel: (21) 361 3000. Website: www.carris.pt

Torre de Belém
This imposing white stone tower goes back to the sixteenth century when it was built to defend from incursions occurring from the river. The tower houses a museum. It’s a fairly basic museum. The tower; though, is very impressive from the outside and a fine representative of the Manueline architectural style. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Avenida de Brasília
Tel: (21) 362 0034. Fax: (21) 363 9145.
E-mail: mjeronimos@mail.telepac.pt
Website: www.cidadevirtual.pt/mosteiro-jeronimos
Transport: Tram 15; or bus 27, 28, 29, 43, 49 or 51; or train to Belém station.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 1000-1700.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
This monastery was built in the sixteenth century and is another fine representative of Manueline architecture. It features naval motifs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vasco da Gama and famous writer, Luís de Camões are buried here.

Praça do Império
Tel: (21) 362 0034. Fax: (21) 363 9145.
E-mail: mjeronimos@mail.telepac.pt
Website: www.cidadevirtual.pt/mosteiro-jeronimos
Transport: Tram 15; or bus 27, 28, 29, 43, 49, 51 or 112; or train to Belém station.
Opening hours: Oct-Apr Tues-Sun 1000-1700; May-Sep Tues-Sun 1000-1830.

Parque das Nações
The site hosted Expo98 and is today a great place for a stroll. It has residential housing tourist attractions and a nice promenade on the Rio Tejo.The Torre Vasco da Gama is the tallest building in Lisbon and a great lookout point. The observation point and restaurant near the top are worth visiting. The Oceanário is among the most massive oceanariums in the world and can be reached from the Vasco da Gama tower by cable car. When you’re in Lisbon, you may want to check if the Atlantico Pavilion is hosting a music concert or sporting event.

Tel: (21) 891 9898 or891 7002 (Oceanário) or 891 8409 (Atlantico).
Fax: (21) 891 9003 or 895 5762 (Oceanário) or 891 8413 (Atlantico).
E-mail: info@parquedasnacoes.pt
Website: www.parquedasnacoes.pt or oceanario.pt
Transport: Rail/metro/bus to Estação do Oriente station.
Opening hours: (Torre Vasco da Gama) daily 1000-2000; (Oceanário) daily 1000-1800 (until 1900 in summer); (cable car) Mon-Fri 1000-2000 and Sat and Sun 1000-2130.

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
This museum is a must-visit for art lovers. It holds rare treasures from all over the world. The displays include great masterpieces from different cultures across the ages – Egyptian, Indian, Grecian, Roman, and Oriental Art. Get your fill of modern art at the Centro de Arte Moderna, which is in the same compound.

Avenida de Berna 45
Tel: (21) 795 0236 or795 0241 (Centro de Arte Moderna).
E-mail: info@gulbenkian.pt
Website: www.ip.pt/gulbenkian/
Transport: Metro São Sebastião or Praça de Espanha.
Opening hours: Tues 1400-1800 and Wed-Sun 1000-1800

Centro Cultural de Belém
This is a shining example of modern architecture in Lisbon where you can see performances, exhibitions, and also visit the Museu do Design. The museum design themes are inspired by luxury, pop, and cool aspects that at various times dominated the 20th century cultural scene. There are courtyards and gardens on the rooftop where you can take a break from the walking.
Praça do Império
Tel: (21) 361 2400 or361 2444 (tickets). Fax: (21) 361 2500 or 361 2560 (tickets).
E-mail: ccb@ccb.pt
Website: www.ccb.pt
Transport: Tram 15 or 17; or bus 27, 28, 29, 43, 49 or 51; or train to Belém station.
Opening hours: Daily 1300-1930.

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
This is the most popular gallery in Portugal. It is an impressive building with paintings and sculpture from the 12th National and international artists have their work featured in this gallery. Essentially Portugal’s national gallery, the museum’s collections of painting and sculpture date from the twelfth century and include a wide range of works by Portuguese and international artists.
Rua das Janelas Verdes 9
Tel: (21) 397 6001. Fax: (21) 397 3703.
Website: www.ipmuseus.pt
Transport: Tram 15 or 18; or bus 27, 40, 49, 51 or 60.
Opening hours: Tues 1400-1800 and Wed-Sun 1000-1800.

Sé (Cathedral)
This cathedral was constructed in the 12th century under the patronage of Dom Alfonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king, This cathedral follows Romanesque architectural traditions and also exhibits later influences incorporated after the famous earthquake.  The cloister is from the thirteenth century. The sacristy is Baroque in design and this is where the faithful can see the spot where St. Anthony’s remains are. St. Anthony is the patron saint of Lisbon.
Rua do Castelo / Largo da Sé
Transport: Tram 28; or bus 37.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0830-1800 (cathedral); Mon-Sun 1000-1300 and 1400-1700 (museum/treasury).

Lisbon Nightlife

The nightlife here is salty, fun, and raucous. Folks in Lisbon know how to party, and reach your destination early if you wish to avoid traffic jams on the weekend. Fado clubs in Bairro Alto, along with the traditional, old-fashioned bars, attract patrons. There are discotheques here, as well. You can go venue hopping till you find one that’s a good fit for your mood. Order an imperial or a caneca – half pint and pint, respectively – as you see fit. You need to be 16 years at least to order alcohol. Note that many bars have a lock-in, and they stay open till 0400.

A short walk to the east from the Ponte 25 de Abril will take you to the Docks area, or Docas. This district has a lively night scene with rows of bars functioning out of warehouses along the Doca de Santo Amaro. The promenade is lively on Saturday and Sunday. Bars woo people with tables spread outside. The hip crowd and those with a little more money to spend head to the Doca de Alcântara. From the bars, the crowd usually heads to the discos at around 2 am. The discos operate till around 6 am.

Bars in Lisbon: Popular bars include Celtas Iberos Irish Bar and Café Ponto, the latte favoured by those seeking a quieter atmosphere.

If you are looking for a good bar in Bairro Alto, be prepared to walk from the Chiada Metro Station or the Praça Luís de Camões until you reach Rua da Atalaia. Here you’ll find the following cool bars –

  • Portas Largas,at number 105, which is the starting point for most bar hoppers.
  • Arroz Doce, at number 117-119, favoured by those who enjoy canteen-themed bars. They are known for serving a mean pontapé na cona.
  • Fátima Lopes, at number 36, is where the hip set goes for relaxing in their cool sofas and shaking a leg on the dance floor. Shop exclusive garments here.
  • Work in Progress (WIP), at Rua da Bica Duarte Belo 47-49, exudes cool vibes with exposed brickwork and nice music.
  • Cosmos, which is on 78 Rua Misericordia, is where people in the know head to for artisan beer, cushy seating, and some great reading.

Casinos in Lisbon: Casino Estoril, located on Praça Jose Teodoro dos Santos, Estoril (tel: (21) 466 7700; website: www.casino-estoril.pt), is famous with punters all across the world. Gain access to the gaming rooms for a small fee (apart from slot machines). You need to be above 18 years, can wear casual attire but not appear sloppy, and carry ID.

Clubs in Lisbon: Lux, on Rua Gustavo Matos Sequeira Sequeira 42, is easily the most popular club in Lisbon and a famous one in Europe. On any given evening, you might catch a big-name DJ at the controls getting people to dance to his beats. Chill upstairs with your friends and take in the fabulous view of the river. Other clubs worth mentioning include the Kings and Queens, Kremlin, on Escadinhas da Praia 5, and Kapital, on Avenida 24 de Julho 68. The last mentioned actually plays three styles of music on each of its three floors.

Lisbon Other Attractions

Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)
Located in the Convent of Madre de Deus (built in 1509), this museum catalogues the history of the decoration that makes Lisbon so unique, with examples of azulejos from the fifteenth century to the present.
Rua de Madre de Deus 4
Tel: (21) 814 7747 or 814 7799. Fax: (21) 814 9534.
Website: www.ipmuseus.pt
Transport: Bus 18, 42, 104 or 105.
Opening hours: Tues 1400-1800 and Wed-Sun 1000-1800.

Miradouros (Viewing Points)
With its seven hills, Lisbon offers a number of places to see and see from. The Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, at the top of the Elevador de Glória funicular, offers views over the Baixa and across to the Castelo de São Jorge. It is worth getting off tram 28 to see the view over the Alfama and the Rio Tejo from the Miradouro Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Further along tram 28’s route, up the hill, is the Miradouro da Graça, which overlooks the Mouraria and the Castelo.

The Elevador de Santa Justa is another great vantage point. Located at the end of Rua Santa Justa, it costs the same as other forms of public transit and is free with travel passes; although not with the Lisboa Card.

Tours of Lisbon

Walking Tours
Lisbon’s many unique neighbourhoods, such as Chiado, Bairro Alto, Mouraria and Alfama, are best explored on foot. You many want to purchase Turismo de Lisboa‘s publications for information on self-guided walking tours.

Bus & Tram Tours
Standard bus tours are offered by Cityrama (tel: (21) 319 1090; website: www.cityrama.pt), (full day; includes Sintra, Cascais and Estoril). Similar tours are offered by Portugal Tours (tel: (21) 351 1220, website: www.portugaltours.pt). Carris (tel: (21) 361 3000, www.carris.pt) offers two open-top bus routes.  A tour in a restored tramcar is a cool experience.

Boat Tours
Transtejo (tel: (21) 882 0348) offers two-hour tours of the Rio Tejo, departing from the docks just to the east of Praça do Comércio and travelling as far west as the Belém Tower. Tours depart daily at 1100 and 1500 from the Terreiro do Paço river station, April to October.


For a Half Day

Estoril and Cascais: The resort of Estoril has long attracted the wealthy, who have built villas in the green hills above the beaches. Cascais has had a somewhat humbler history, operating more as a working fishermen’s town than a hideaway for the rich. Now, both attract crowds of tourists from Lisbon and abroad to their wide Atlantic beaches and watersports. Cascais is renowned for its seafood restaurants and Estoril has one of Europe’s largest casinos. Trains to both destinations depart from Cais do Sodré station. Further information is available from Estoril Tourist Board, Arcadas do Parque (tel: (21) 466 3813; fax: (21) 467 2280; website: www.estorilcoast.tourism.com).

For a Whole Day

Sintra: The many palaces, villas and gardens around Sintra, in the mountains west of Lisbon, have earned it a place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sintra is dominated by the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (tel: (21) 910 6840; fax: (21) 923 4118), a royal summer palace that was largely developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and now houses the world’s most important collection of Mudejar azulejos (glazed tiles). The palace is open 1000-1700 (closed Wednesday) and can be reached by train from Rossio station. The Sintra Tourism Office, Praça da República 23 (tel: (21) 923 1157; fax: (21) 923 5176; website: www.cm-sintra.pt), provides further information.

Lisbon Shopping

Out of town mega malls may be gradually strangling many of Lisbon’s smaller shops, but the Baixa quarter still thrives. Pricier shops can be found on Avenida da Liberadade and in the attractive Chiado district, to the west above Baixa. Local handicrafts include baskets and other objects made of wicker, copper utensils, embroideries and lace, pottery and other ceramics.

Shops are generally open Monday to Friday 0900-1300 and 1500-1900 and Saturday 0900-1300. Shopping centres are open daily 1000-2300/0000. Centro Colombo is the largest shopping centre on the Iberian Peninsula. Lisbon has always been renowned for conservative dress, but the renaissance of the city has also translated into a wave of new funky fashion stores. Pick of the bunch are Agencia, Rua do Norte 117, a Seventies style shop with a hairdresser’s and a bar, Fashion Gallery Atelier, Rua do Salitre 169, with its outrageous designs and Godzilla, Rua dos Douradores 120, with its cutting edge club gear.

Lisbon’s most famous market is the Feira da Ladra (Thieves’ Market), which springs up on Tuesday and Saturday on the Campo de Santa Clara (yet another excuse to take tram 28).

The Lisboa Shopping Card, available from tourist offices offers discounts at more than two hundred stores. There is a sales tax of 17% included in prices. Part of this may be reclaimed by visitors who are leaving the EU by asking for a refund cheque for purchases over a certain amount at participating stores. The cheque must be stamped by customs and a refund claimed before passing through passport control.

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