They may feel like to vastly different worlds, but Paris and Lisbon share a continental quarter, and though many miles lay between them, they are still fairly convenient to combine together as one trip.
There are numerous ways to cover the distance, and they are all pretty flexible when it comes to budget. Here is everyone you need to know to take your Parisian dream into Portuguese territory.
Things to know about Lisbon
Lisbon is the Portuguese capital, and it’s fair to say that there is nothing quite like it elsewhere in Europe. The culture, the food, the flair — Lisbon is the heart of Portugal’s eclectic nature, and the port of entry for most who venture to this land from international territory.
It’s best to picture Lisbon as a melting pot of fantastic entertainment, wonderful hotels, a great nightlife scene, mind-blowing gastronomy, sterling architecture and a general good vibe throughout.
A city that has survived earthquakes that would have taken down Buckingham Palace, only the sturdiest and most impressive structures remain. On ground level, there is much to love about Lisbon, especially if you are into music, good fun, and great memories.
Lisbon from Paris
Getting from Paris to Lisbon isn’t the easiest journey. 1738km lies between them, as well as the entire country of Spain. That said, if you have the time and the patience, this can be one of the most memorable and enjoyable journeys to embark on.
An array of different terrain and countryside lies between the two cities. If you opt to travel by land, then you’ll get the opportunity to bask in all of it. But let’s dive into your exact transport options before you commit to anything…
What are the transport options to go to Lisbon?
There are 4 ways to travel between Paris and Lisbon. They are plane, train, car or bus. Your choice of transportation will depend largely on your budget, and on the time of year during which you intend to visit. Remember, a budget can be big during off season, and during peak season the same budget is worth a lot less.
Lisbon by plane
To fly from Paris to Lisbon takes 2 hours and 25 minutes. Add an hour one each end for transport, as well as an additional hour for check in, and you’re looking at a journey of 5 and a half hours total. Generally speaking, this is actually a largely inexpensive way to get from Paris to Lisbon, as tickets can go for as little as twenty euros (if you book well, well in advance). That said, during peak season, the very same tickets can sell for hundreds of euros, so it really all depends on timing with this one.
Lisbon by train
At this time, there is actually no such thing as a direct train journey between Paris and Lisbon. The two countries have yet to intersect in this way, but one can still make the most of a some ground travel by taking the train from Paris to Bordeaux, and then flying to Lisbon from there. This gives you more of an adventure en route to Lisbon. It divides the journey in half and offers you a chance to see the best of the French countryside, before hopping on a plane to bypass the Spanish territory altogether and land in Lisbon in just two hours. Alternatively, look into taking the train between Paris and Hendaye. From there, there is another train that runs through the night into Lisbon.
Lisbon by car
Naturally, there is no better way to see all that Europe has to offer than by traveling by car at your own time and pace. Renting a car in France is simple enough, and with the right clauses you’ll be able to take your car through international territories.
Driving from Paris to Lisbon takes a total of 16 hours, provided one does not stop. Realistically, most people need to divide this journey in half and tend to stop over in Bilbao, Spain for an overnight stay. 8 hours of driving a day is much more manageable than 16! Alternatively, one could divide this joinery into three parts and stop once in the South of France, once in the center of Spain, and then finally in Lisbon. Ideal stopping points would be Toulouse, Madrid and, of course, Lisbon.
Lisbon by bus
Yes, one can take a bus between Paris and Lisbon! It’s a lengthy journey, totaling a bit over 26 hours, with one change in between. If you’re adamant to see the land, this is a great way to do it, but rest assured the journey is tedious and tiring, no matter how optimistic the traveler.
At most times during the year, it is actually cheaper to fly than to submit to the bus route. Keep and eye on your options and consider this a last resort!
Transport in Lisbon: What you need to know
I maintain that the best way to get around Lisbon is always by foot. This is a walking city through and through, and with the correct sun hat and comfortable shoes you can lose an entire day on your feet, making your way up and down the sloping street and hillside suburbs.
For lengthier distances or when moving luggage, however, public transport is a welcome savior. Lisbon is well connected and easy to move through. Here’s everything you need to know about getting around.
The Metro in Lisbon
Lisbon’s metro is one of the simplest transportation systems I’ve encountered all my travels. While most metro systems in Europe opt for multiple lines, featuring multiple different trains per line, Lisbon kept it simple and only offers a single train per each route.
The system itself is incredible simple as well; there are only four metro lines that connect the entire city center. There is a red line, a green line, a yellow line and a blue line.
Taxis and Uber in Lisbon
Ground transportation in Lisbon in the form of taxis and Uber are another popular way of getting from A to B.
Lisbon is one of the most affordable travel destinations in Europe and this extends through to cost of transportation.
Catching a taxi begins with a base fare of anywhere between €2.50 and €4, depending on the company. You then receive a few kilometers of free travel before the €0.70 – €1 per kilometer starts tallying up.
Ubers can be ordered via the app from anywhere in the city and the cost of your journey will be give to you prior to confirming your ride.
It is recommended that you have access to Uber if you are expecting to have a late night out on the town. Public transport in Lisbon stops at 1am, and depending on where you are in the city there may not be any taxis lingering around to take you home. Calling an Uber is the most reliable way of getting around late at night.
The Tram in Lisbon
Most people who come to Lisbon are excited to make use of the old school tram system that still connects the city today. The outdated tram cars lurch through the city, picking up riders along the way.
There are some of the most photographed attractions in Lisbon; if you’ve ever seen photographic work of the city, it likely featured a tram and some historic looking buildings behind it.
There are 5 tram lines running through the city. 58 trams live on the lines and operate a collective distance of over 48km.
The tram is the best way to get from Lisbon city center into neighborhoods on the west coast such as Belem. The metro doesn’t run this far out and taxis can be expensive.
A single tram journey will cost you €3 and you can purchase your ticket from the driver as you climb on board. If you intend to make your way around the city all day using a tram you’d be better of purchasing the €6 day card that gives you unlimited access. Unfortunately these can only be purchased in any of the Lisbon metro stations and not on the tram itself.
Trains in Lisbon
For everywhere that the metro and tram system can’t get you, there are the Lisbon trains.
Travelers to Lisbon usually keep a day or two reserved for day trips outside of the city center. Areas like Sintra and Cascais are around an hour outside of Lisbon, and offer unique attractions that the city does not; beaches and castles included.
If you imagine landing on the coast of Lisbon, in the south of the city center where you only have the option of heading either further west or further east up the waters edge, this is where the trains come into play.
The Santa Apolónia train station will take you up the east and northeastern edge of Lisbon, toward the Lisbon Aquarium and Parque das Nações.
Not far away, the Cais do Sodre train station covers the western landscapes and will stop along all the beach towns en route to Cascais 40 minutes out.
A train ride out of the main train stations in Lisbon will set you back around €2.50 one way. It is recommended that you purchase your return tickets at the same time to avoid long queues at day end and overcrowding of trains.
When catching a train out of Lisbon be sure to note the last train time if you need to return that same day. Train service usually stops around 9pm in Lisbon; you’ll be left stranded should you miss it.
Things to know before moving to Lisbon
So you’re moving to Lisbon, are you? Well before you do, there are a few things that I’d like to share that I wish someone would have told me before I did the same! Lisbon is a fantastic city to dwell in, but a big move like this doesn’t come without some level of culture shock and nuanced shifts in daily activities.
1. You’re going to have to make an effort with the language: Most Lisbon locals speak English, but there is a certain level of trust and familiarity that they will show toward you once they see that you are making an effort to speak the local tongue.
2. Get an international license before you arrive: So long as you possess a valid driver’s license from any country in the world, you’re allowed to drive in Portugal for 6 months from your date of arrival, before you’ll need to start the process of getting a local license. You’re international license is valid so long as you can show proof of adequate car insurance, covering any vehicle you’ll be in possession of during your stay.
3. Get familiar with the food: This is an important point, as a lot of people underestimate how they’re going to feel about the cuisine in their new city/country. Portuguese food is very different to a lot of cuisines in the Iberian region; there are distinct flavors that are uncommon in other cuisines, so it’s highly likely you’ll be tasting a lot of things for the very first time.
4. Find a place long in advance: One thing to note about Lisbon, is that while there are thousands of properties to buy at any given time, there are very few available for rent. This is due to local tendency to buy instead of lease, because Portugal makes it very easy for its citizens to own homes.
Keep your options open and start talks over properties as far in advance as you can. Something will come up, it may just take some time!
5. It’s colder indoors than it is outdoors, in the winter season: Wrap your head around that one for a second. The first time someone tried to alert me to this I though they must be smoking something. Turns out, they were totally spot on and this weird phenomenon occurs due to the fact that Portuguese architecture was designed to keep inhabitants cool in the summer… no thought was given to the winter. Central heating is largely unheard of, particularly in the more historic properties. You’ll need to invest in heating systems once you move in; the winters in Portugal may be mild compared to the rest of Europe, but they are brutal.
6. Forget about high heels: Okay, maybe not the occasional pair for a dinner where you arrive and leave in an Uber, but for all other occasions, these are not an option. Lisbon is a walking city; public transport is available when necessary, but for the most part its likely you will stick to your immediate neighborhood for all errands, entertainment and socializing. This means rarely taking transport, and mostly walking on foot. Due to the hills and cobblestones that flood the city center, your heels are of very little value here!
Best areas to stay in Lisbon
For you to properly enjoy the city of Lisbon, you will need to stay in one of the best areas of the city! Today I’ll be sharing my top 5 best areas to stay in Lisbon with you.
Lisbon has many different and fun areas that will suit everyone’s interests. Staying in a central area is the best option, because you’ll be close to the many highlights of the city and well served by public transportation. Even though you can visit Lisbon on your own, you can also join a walking tour.
1. Baixa or Chiado: The Baixa area is the shopping center of Lisbon. In the Baixa and Chiado areas, you will find plenty of restaurants and cafés, and you will get to experience the old Lisbon. f you choose one of these areas to stay in Lisbon, you will be able to visit the main landmarks of the city on foot. When necessary, you can use the elevators that will get you to Bairro Alto. The neoclassical area of Baixa has more office buildings, but has become more touristy these last years with the appearance of cafés and restaurants. While the Chiado is more lively, with its many stores, bookshops, theatres that always keep the streets busy!
2. Alfama: Alfama is the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon. It dates back to the Middle Ages. Alfama represents the city before it suffered an earthquake in 1755, because it remained intact. This area is a unique neighborhood where you’ll be able to enjoy traditional restaurants and Fado establishements.
Even if you decide to stay in another area, you’ll have to visit the lovely Alfama if you want to experience the most traditional aspects of the city! However, since it is located on top of a hill, we wouldn’t recommend people who don’t particularly like walking to stay there.
3. Rossio: Most of the time, Rossio is the preferred area for visitors, because it is very close to all the landmarks and highlights of the city. From there, you can easily get to them without having to take the public transports. Plus, since the area is flat, it is the ideal area for those of you who don’t like switchbacks. There, you can catch the Elevador de Santa Justa, which will get you to Bairro Alto. You need to know that the prices are likely to be a little more expensive, so check all the area’s options in advance, so you can get the best offers and rooms!
4. Cais do Sodré: From the Cais do Sodré, you’ll be able to reach the other side of the Tejo river. Staying in the Cais do Sodré area is a great idea if you like the idea of being well located, with many public transportations around and a train network that will get you to other cities as well. It is close to Lisbon major landmarks and the area’s nightlife is worth experiencing!
5. Bairro Alto: The Bairro Alto is a charming neighborhood! The cobblestone pavements and the historical buildings in the narrow alleys are emblematic of the city. There, you will find many excellent restaurants and the Bairro Alto nightlife is simply the best! In the old Bairro Alto streets, the daytime is quiet and the nights are busy! Note that in this area there’s no metro, so you will have to take the elevators to get there.
Weather in Lisbon: What to expect by season?
Spring in Lisbon (MARCH – MAY) :
Spring is a magical time in Lisbon. The climate shifts very quickly from winter into spring, leaving ,little to no trace of the colder months behind. The temperatures in spring in Lisbon range between 60 and 75 degrees F. This is considered extremely mild and closer to summer than it is to winter. One can expect to see activities on the Tagus river back in full swing as early as mid March!
Summer in Lisbon (JUNE – AUGUST):
We probably don’t have to say much about the summer in Portugal. Experiencing this first hand is at the top of the bucket lists of many around the world, and the Iberian coasts are prime real estate for European summer shenanigans. Lisbon experiences hot, sticky summers with temperatures ranging between 73–95 °F. Everything comes to life during this time, and people spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the street culture, food and activities on the Tagus.
Autumn in Lisbon (SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER):
Once September hits, most of Europe is well on their way toward a much cooler climate. In Lisbon, September is technically Autumn, but you wouldn’t know it if no one ever told you. This time in Portugal is still very much summer vibe. The temperatures don’t drop very much until around early/mid October. At this time, they’ll drop to around the same temperatures seen in spring, only with a more recurrent chill in the air on the milder days.
Winter in Lisbon (DECEMBER – FEBRUARY):
As you can imagine, even the winter in Lisbon is going to be substantially more mild than winter elsewhere in Europe. Temperatures range between 59 to 61 °F during the day, and drop a little lower at night. In winter, the closer one is to the Tagus, the colder one is going to feel. This river sends an icy chill up into the streets that surround it, so the city center, Chiado and Bairro Alto do require an extra layer or two when you’re galavanting at night!
Great Wine experiences near Lisbon
The Lisbon wine region is ones of the most famous wine regions in Portugal. Not far from the city, you can visit top wineries like the estate of Quinta do Monte d’Oiro. Known since the 19th century, this renowned Portuguese winery benefits from a privileged terroir to create fresh, elegant and balanced wines. The winegrowers are more than happy to open their doors to you and share their story through tastings, visits and countryside picnics. There is no best way to enjoy Lisbon wines than at a Lisbon winery!