in the middle
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The picturesque port of Lisbon offers shopping, arts, culture and sardines straight from the sea. Often imagined as a smaller, less dynamic Barcelona, Lisbon is a far cry from Spanish cities: with its unique style it hums with life at its own laid back pace. Getting around is easy both within Lisbon itself, and to the many nearby Atlantic beaches which are accessible by train or by hiring a car at Lisbon airport.
With a cheap flight to Lisbon, you can either stay and stroll through the gently sloping city, taking in its restaurants, bars and cafes (their 'pastel de nata', or custard tarts to you and me, are the best in the world and perfect with a coffee), or visit some of the nearby beaches to the west, which vary quite significantly in style. Cascais is cute and villagey, Estoril smarter and swankier (with prices to match): both serve fantastic fresh seafood in view of its origins, and fantastic cold 'vinho verde'. Sardines are an absolute must. Also nearby and accessible from the city is the beautiful town of Sintra, with its romantic palaces set in an oasis of green: well worth a visit.
Alternatively, instead of grabbing a cheap flight to Lisbon why not use our search to find a full holiday package to Lisbon? It can be a cheaper option.
Cheap flights to Lisbon are available from London and some regional airports, including Bristol and Liverpool. Typically, a flight to Lisbon takes just under three hours from London. The airport is only seven kilometres from the city, with taxis and buses running regularly, so a cheap flight to Lisbon needn't mean any further travel hassle when you get there.
There is a good range of airports offering flights to Lisbon from across the UK, so it's never been easier to fly to the Portuguese capital for a short break or longer holiday. Or if you're watching your carbon footprint, a ferry runs from Plymouth to Santander, with a simple if rather lengthy drive through Spain to Lisbon.
The airport is served by both the local bus service and several shuttle buses. The local buses are slightly cheaper but it's much more difficult to travel on them with large luggage. The metro system is a short bus ride away. Taxis and car hire are available as well. Note that taxis in Lisbon charge an additional fee per bag carried.
Lisbon has a comprehensive public transport network with a metro, trams and most of the buses being owned by the same provider, meaning cheaper travel. These operate with an electric card system, similar to the Oyster card in London. Suburban trains can take you further afield. Walking and cycling are great ways to get around, but Lisbon is not very car-friendly. You can also take the ferry to see Lisbon from the water and visit the southern shore.
Regional bus and train networks mean that travelling around Portugal and even into Spain on public transport is very easy. Both networks are very extensive allowing you to explore other parts of Portugal such as the Algarve if you wish. Roads in Portugal are good, although watch out for toll roads if you're on a budget, the charges can really stack up. Organised trips to local attractions such as the village and pilgrimage destination of Sintra are offered daily.
Lisbon enjoys mild winters and warm summers, with rainfall largely confined to autumn and winter, although even then about half those days are dry. Average daytime temperatures in the winter of about 11°C mean that you can sightsee comfortably all year round. Summer highs can reach around 30°C, when this happens make like the locals and head out of the city to the nearby beaches!
Mid-June to September marks the peak of the holiday season in Lisbon, with prices rising accordingly. If you're willing to brave some rain then the winter months will have the best deals on flights and accommodation, but for a great compromise the shoulder months of May or October are perfect. The weather is still fairly good but the prices are lower and the crowds less, allowing you to make the most of your holidays in Lisbon.
€. Banks are the easiest place to exchange your money in Lisbon, although most will charge a small commission so group your money together to get a better price. ATMs are widely available and offer good rates, just watch for charges from your bank. If you're low on cash eat a large meal at lunch, when the daily fresh fish dishes are great value.
Portuguese, English is fairly widely spoken in Lisbon, although not so much if you travel further afield.
+351 for Portugal followed by 21 for Lisbon
Pickpockets. Keep your valuables safe, preferably leave as much at your hotel as possible, and carry things on you in zipped pockets. A money belt can remove the worry if you have to carry important documents or lots of cash around.
A valid UK passport will entitle you to stay up to three months as a tourist. If you did want to stay longer you can, but you'll need to apply for a Registration Certificate from the local town hall. You should make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your holiday for easier return travel.