Cruise from Lisbon – the essential guide

Lisbon was quite spread out, so we explored the city both on foot and by using tuk-tuks! We saw so much in just a few days. We definitely recommend you spend time here before your cruise from Lisbon – it’s fantastic!

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is a city with an intriguing ancient history and a specific cultural vibe enriched by centuries of foreign influences. Start your cruise from Lisbon by spending some time in the city before you board your ship. Easily reachable, Lisbon cruise port is close to the town and marked by the unmistakable monument of the Tower of Saint Vincent, known as the Belém Tower.

Transport options to and from Lisbon International Airport

Here are the transport options you have to get from Lisbon’s international airport – officially called Humberto Delgado Airport – to your city center hotel. But before you leave the airport terminal, we recommend you visit the excellent tourist information office there. It’s the yellow booth with the sign “visitlisboa.com.”

Here you can pick up maps from the friendly staff and purchase a Lisboa Car. The card is great if you plan to use Lisbon’s public transport system over a few days. It costs around 40 euros per person. Included is transportation on the Lisbon Metro subway, buses, trams, the train from Lisboa to Sintra, and more. Check with the staff when you purchase that this information is still valid.

There is also entry into lots of museums and monuments included too. Note! Some of these are closed on Mondays, so always check opening hours before visiting.

Airport Shuttle Buses

Lisbon’s “Aerobus” connects the airport to the city. Buses leave outside of the arrival terminals about every 10-15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased on the spot using euros or a card. The journey cost is about 4 euros per person (please note that prices are such to change). The Aerobus is not included in your Lisboa Card.

They stop very close to many city center hotels. Inform the driver of the name of your hotel when you board the bus and keep an eye on your google maps with your hotel location marked.

Taxi

A taxi will cost you about €40 and takes approximately 30 minutes. This is the most expensive option. However, you don’t have to carry your luggage and all your cruise packing, and you will get door-to-door service straight to your hotel. If you are four people traveling together, then this will be the most convenient option and the best value for money.

Be sure to take a taxi from the official taxi rank outside of the arrivals terminal. It’s signposted. Never take a cab from someone who approaches you, offering you a journey.

Metro

Another alternative is the metro station that will give you easy access to the city center by train. The Aeroporto – Saldanha line will take you to the city in 20 minutes.

The trains depart the airport train station frequently. Follow the signs to the train station. A single ticket costs around 1.5 euros per person if you are not using the Lisboa Card.

Where to stay before your cruise from Lisbon

We’ll try and make your choice of the hotel easy by offering hotel suggestions in the two main tourist areas of Lisbon, in the heart of the city.

Accommodation options in Baixa and Avenida da Liberdade

Baixa

The area of Baixa is right in the heart of Lisbon. Full of beautiful plazas and packed with tourists, this is a lively part of the city to be in, with a lot right on your doorstep. You will find excellent bars, restaurants, and Port wine tasting rooms amongst the busy, bustline chaos of the high season.

  • Baixa Castelo Serviced Apartments – this is an excellent option if you want to do self-catering in the city or are a family. Each bright, modern apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, and clean rooms. Best of all, it’s in a great location, just a 5-minute walk from the cathedral. 
  • Hotel da Baixa – enjoy spacious rooms in a historic building in the city’s heart. The friendly staff will even help with transfers from the airport if you contact them before you leave home.
  • Pestana CR7 Lisboa Hotel – a funky choice with the bright decor in the city center; this hotel is known for its hip vibe and is just a short walk from the main tram stops.
  • Vincci Baixa Hotel – this elegant hotel has an excellent location and often offers a minimum 3-night stay when you book direct. Check their website for special campaigns.

Avenida da Liberdade

Choose a hotel on Avenida da Liberdade if you want to be close to luxurious shopping. This main boulevard hosts city festivals, numerous bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. It will remind you a little of Paris’s Champs Elysees. Enjoy the city’s central park, a green oasis in the jumble of streets and traffic at the northern end of the avenue.

  • Turim Boulevard Hotel   – a stylish, 5-star hotel; we love the hotel bar and terrace.
  • PortoBay Marquês –A great location close to many eateries and shopping. A small rooftop pool for a plunge at the end of a hot day.
  • Holiday Inn Express Lisbon – Ave. Liberdade, an IHG Hotel – a great-priced hotel for its excellent location. Rooms can be small, but breakfast is included in the price. It’s a perfect 3-star option.
  • Hotel Vincci Liberdade – Some rooms have Juliet balconies and views over the tree-lined shopping avenue. And that makes this hotel our favorite choice in this location. What we love is the excellent customer service from the front desk staff.

2 ways to spend the day in Lisbon and one fantastic day excursion

If I were your guide, here is how we would spend our time in Lisbon. In a city with so much history, it’s a good idea to pack a pocket guidebook, so you don’t miss anything. We give you our top picks for the best day trips from Lisbon for your last day.

And at the bottom of the page, you will find information about getting to Lisbon Cruise Port.

Lisbon’s hop-on/hop-off bus is as good as any other city. Yellow Bus Tours runs these tours. A popular way to get around, the bus quickly gets you from A to B and onto C with sightseeing commentary.

We recommend including the tram ticket when you purchase your bus ticket. This way you can use the tram freely around the city without having to pay euros as you go. It’s just more convenient. And if you want a view of the city from the water, include the boat tour too.

Day 1- Praça Comércio & Arco da Rua Augusta to Rossio Square

Two hills flank downtown Lisbon. You will spend your time in 3 distinct neighborhoods: Baixa, in the lower part of the city close to the water, Alfama on the hill to the east, and Bairro Alto, rising in the west.

Start your first day at Commerce Square (Praça Comércio), the large beautiful plaza facing the harbor. The statue in the center of the plaza is of King Joseph I. This is a good meeting point if you and your friends want to do different things during the day. You can use this location to meet up later on.

Walk towards the water and look to your right. You’ll see the Ponte de 25 Abril – the 25 April Suspension Bridge. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were suddenly looking at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Lisbon’s striking suspension bridge stretches across the river Tejo for 2 km.

Opposite stands the Arco da Rua Augusta. The vast arch dominates the plaza, which marks the end of one of Lisbon’s busiest shopping streets. This stunning architectural building was built after a disastrous earthquake that hit the city in 1755. It celebrates the reconstruction.

Entrance is free of charge if you have purchased a Lisboa card. Climb to the top for a great view of Lisbon and the river.

Directly opposite is the Lisboa Story Centre. During a one-hour interactive museum tour, visit to learn more about the city’s history.

Praça do Comércios is where you will find the kiosk selling the Yellow Bus Tours tickets. Alternatively, choose your tour and buy from their website before you leave home.

If you are ready for lunch, find a local restaurant and try the Bacalhau, the traditional dish of salted cod fish.

Walking through history

Head through the arch and enjoy time browsing the fantastic shops along Rua Augusta. Be sure to visit again in the evening when the whole area is alive with bars, cafes, and music. The long pedestrianized street joins the city’s two main squares, Praça do Comércios and Rossio Plaza, up ahead.

As you are walking, you will cross Rua Conceição. This is the route the number 28 tram takes. So if you are tired of walking, find the nearest bus stop. You can hop on the tram – it’s one of the best routes for sightseeing around the city.

You will soon reach Dom Pedro IV square, known locally as Rossio. This beautiful square, the starting point of many guided city tours, has two fountains and a fantastic calçada pavement made of limestone. At Christmas, it transforms into a beautiful holiday market.

A trademark unique to Lisbon is the ornate paving along the streets. So remember to look down when you're walking, as well as looking up. Lisbon's calçada portuguesa is reflective paving of limestone, handmade by local craftsmen. It gives the street you walk on a real artistic flair.

Day 2 – Alfama. Castelo de S. Jorge & Lisbon Cathedral

Alfama is a jumble of medieval streets built on a hill. Visiting is fun as you can ride the tram up the steep roads. This cobbled area is home to many artists, unique local craft shops, and traditional cafes. It’s a shaky, bumpy, narrow ride – always keep your hands, head, and feet inside!

Take the Remodelado tram on route 28 at a tram stop on Rua da Conceição up to Castelo de S. Jorge and start your day here. You can pay for your ticket onboard the tram; it will cost around 3 euros per person.

Located at the top of the hill, the 11th-century castle and its garden are open daily. Inside, you can pick up a guide and headphones and find out more about their tours on their website.

From the castle walk to Miradouro das Portas do Sol. This is a fantastic place to see the views over Lisbon. Follow the winding streets of Rua do Remedios offers plenty of cafes and souvenir shopping. Ahead is Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa).

Wear comfortable walking shoes as hills and cobbled streets can be steep and quite a climb sometimes!

Day 3 – Explore Cascais, Sintra & Cabo da Roca

Situated between the two picturesque locations of Cascais and Sintra is Cape Roca (Cabo da Roca). This is the most westerly point of the Sintra mountain range and the western European continent. Be camera ready for the magnificent views.

We recommend booking a full-day tour with a trusted provider such as Viator. You will have time to explore these areas and enjoy the views. And you will be driven in a comfortable air-conditioned mini-van with your guide. Choose the tour that includes Azenhas do Mar, a stunning coastal village overlooking a sandy beach.

Cascais, a fishing village that became a summer resort

Your first stop will likely be Cascais, which is closest to Lisbon. It takes around 45 minutes to get there. Originally a fishing village, it became famous as a summer destination for Portugal’s royalty in the late 1900s. Now it’s popular with locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why. The beautiful towns, the coastal walking routes, and available water sports make this an idyllic location.

If you are there on a Wednesday or Saturday, don’t forget to visit the fantastic Cascais fish market!

16 km north of Cascais is Sintra, a picture-perfect romantic village in the mountains surrounded by pine forests. Walk around the town, then head to Pena Palace for the view. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and there is plenty to see and do in this beautiful place.

If you are visiting during July and August, that’s when the Sintra Festival takes place. If you’re lucky, you will be able to see the outdoor classical music performances of gifted musicians from all over Portugal.

How to get to Lisbon Cruise Terminal for your Cruise from Lisbon

The new Lisbon Cruise Terminal was opened in 2017. It has excellent visitor facilities, only a 15-minute walk from the city. It is also only 11km from Lisbon international airport, about 20 minutes by taxi.

You will find a guest information center at the terminal should you need on-the-spot help.

While walking to the cruise port can be done, it takes about 15 minutes from downtown Lisbon. With cruise luggage, we recommend a taxi from your hotel. This way, you get door-to-door service and will be dropped right at the entrance to the cruise port terminal.

Always check your cruise ticket for the address of your departure terminal.

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Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..