City Guide: Lisbon
Lisbon has quite a few districts - or bairros - each with their own personality and quirks. If you're wanting somewhere central, head to Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Chiado. Baixa and Chiado are the downtown areas of the city: they've got the shops, the hotels and hostels, and the restaurants all within a stone's throw. Bairro Alto is probably one of the most famous areas in the city. Here you'll find a younger crowd, plenty of bars, and lots of art.
I stayed at the Shiado Hostel, located in Chiado, about 5 minutes walk from Praça do Comércio. I couldn't recommend this hostel enough - it's clean, is nicely decorated, and the location is fab. I also got a heavily discounted room for going in December yippee!
If you're looking for somewhere further out of the city centre, try Belém or Alfama. Belém is just a short train or bus ride from the city centre and is where you'll find a host of cultural activities. Alternatively, Alfama is Lisbon's old neighbourhood. It's got the winding streets, small squares, and little art shops that make this a truly charming area!
On a map Lisbon looks fairly compact. It'd seem that, from my hostel, the majority of the sites were within walking distance. One thing I wasn't aware of, however, were the hills. Lisbon's nickname is 'City of the Seven Hills', so my four-day visit morphed into an intense four-day step class of sorts.
Luckily, Lisbon has a pretty useful public transport system. You can use the traditional trams or the more modern metro. Both of these offer single tickets and day passes. The metro also offers two additional types of ticket: the Viva viagem and the Lisboa viva card. The Viva viagem works kind of like an Oyster card: you buy the card (€0.50) then top it up when and if you need. If you're moving to Lisbon long-term, get the Lisboa viva card. Depending on your age, this card will be valid for 3 - 6 years, and works just like the Viva viagem.
Pasteis de Belém or asteis de nata are the little custard tarts you'll find everywhere in Lisbon. The best place to go for these is the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, a little bakery where they've been making these tarts for over 200 years!
Bacalhau is Portugal's national dish, so it'd be rude not to try it, right? Bacalhau is salted cod - although my wonderful description may not do it justice, there are over 365 ways to prepare this dish, the most popular being bacalhau a bris or a stir fry of cod, rice, egg, onions and olives.
Ginjinha or Ginja is a cherry liquor, very popular in Lisbon. It's made by infusing sour cherries with alcohol, and is usually served in shot-form, with a piece of fruit at the bottom of the cup.
Padrão dos Descubrimentos
Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei
Praça do Comércio
Sé de Lisboa
Castelo de S. Jorge