Are you interested in travelling to Lisbon solo? The great news is that Lisbon solo travel is easy and quite straightforward. I travelled to Lisbon three times on my own in my 30’s. As a solo female traveller I found it to be an easy and culturally rewarding solo destination. I hope that you find my solo travel guide helpful.
Arriving in Lisbon
When you arrive in Lisbon, you will probably fly into Lisbon airport. It’s very easy to get from there to the city centre on the Lisbon Metro. Buy a Lisboa Viva Card that you can top up and just scan at the gates. The airport is at the end of the red line (Vermelha) and you can take that route into the city centre. Change at Almeida for the green line (Verde), Saldanha for the Yellow (Amarela) and Sao Sebastao for the blue (Azul).
If you have a lot of luggage there are taxi drivers at the airport and also you can get Ubers in Lisbon as well. All of the taxi drivers and airport staff at the airport spoke English.
Getting a Portuguese Mobile
I travel to Portugal often and find it helpful to have a Portuguese mobile number for things like train bookings and taxis. The most popular companies are MEO and Vodafone. There are stands for these at the airport, and it will pay off to tale with you an old handset and get a pay as you go top up SIM card with a bit of credit and data.
If you are content on travelling with your own smartphone you can consider using Airalo if you have a dual SIM. This won’t give you a Portuguese mobile number but it will give you data. This is helpful for maps and navigation.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
If you arrive late at night you can stay overnight in the TRYP Lisboa Aeroporto hotel. It’s really luxurious and comfortable and has 24 hour check in!
There are some great reasonable priced hotels in the centre Lisbon. I have stayed at the Rossio Garden Hotel several times. It’s very well positioned and has a great breakfast.
I also recommend Air BnB’s or hostels if you are travelling solo to Lisbon, because you will have more opportunities to meet people. The Yes Lisbon Hostel and the Home Lisbon Hostel both in Baixa / Chiado are great options. I also used to love the Oasis Backpackers, but as far as I am aware, they have not reopened since the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s hope that they are also taking bookings again soon.
I stayed in an Air BnB in Bairro Alto – it’s a great party area, but don’t stay in Bairro Alto if you like your sleep! There are many bars that will keep you up until around 2am! I would recommend staying in areas such as Saldanha or Campolide which are a little cheaper but still have Metro stations for getting into the busier areas for shopping, eating and socialising.
You might also like to read: What is the best area to stay in Lisbon?
Most tourist attractions, restaurants and cafes will have staff that understand English in Lisbon, so you don’t need to worry too much about the language barrier. But it’s good and fun to learn a bit of Portuguese. I recommend downloading the Duolingo app in Portuguese to learn the basics. You can do this in the run up to your trip if you have time.
Using the Lisbon Trams
The trams in Lisbon are very easy to use and very cheap, so it’s worth jumping on them for both the transport from A to B and for the novelty factor!
One of the things that tourists love to do in Lisbon is travel on the yellow trams – tram number 28 is a great way to see the city and the elevator trams (Funiculars) will help you to climb the steepest hills. Remember I told you to get a Lisboa Viva card? Well you can use it for these trams – just make sure that you are topped up!
Many Lisbonites eat out alone for lunch, so you won’t feel out of place as a solo traveller in restaurants and cafes. It’s the one thing that I always worry I might feel uncomfortable about when travelling solo, but not in Lisbon!
One of the things you may find strange in Lisbon is the concept of ‘couvert’. Every starter that they bring you you will have to pay for. Things like bread and olives are not complimentary. If you eat it, be prepared to pay for it (they should tell you how much but often don’t) and if you don’t want to eat or pay for it then tell them to take it away!
Many of the portion sizes are massive, so you might want to take some away with you. I once ordered a fish stew that lasted me for 3 days! You can say ‘posso tirar isso’ and point to what you want to take away.
Safety in Lisbon
Safety is not too much of an issue for those engaging in Lisbon Solo Travel. I have to admit that I felt extremely safe in Lisbon as a solo female traveller – on the whole people are very respectful and polite. The only problem that I have heard of (though not experienced) is petty theft on the Metro – some tourists have reported getting their phone or wallet swiped. So be careful and hold on to your personal belongings especially in busy areas.
There have been some reports of police brutality, especially in the Coronavirus pandemic. Be conscious of staying within barriers and following police instructions where there is a police presence.
Things to see and do in Lisbon
There are some amazing things to see and do in Lisbon and you can see the main sites of the city in just 3-4 days, although I would recommend staying at least a week to enjoy the Vibe and fully enjoy the city.
Don’t miss the following main sites:
- Sao George Castle
- Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift)
- Belem Tower
- Jeronimos Monastery
- Se Cathedral
- Sao Bento Monastery
- Shopping in Baixa Chiado
- Fado Music and the Alfama District
- Going for drinks and Karaoke on Pink Street!
One of my favourite places to go out on pink street was an Indian restaurant called ‘Cinnamon’ which gets transformed into an expat party house on an evening!
You can read more about Things to do in Lisbon here.
Walking Tours and Excursions
Taking a Lisbon walking tour is a great way to get to know the city and learn about its history. I took the best free Lisbon walking tour with Chill Out Tours. It’s run by locals, rather than a large international company so you are supporting local guides.
You can also book tours beyond Lisbon with Air BnB and Get Your Guide. I did a couple of tours from Lisbon with Antonio from Jumpin Tours. This allowed me to easily get to places including Tomar’s Convent of Christ and the town of Monsaraz, which would have been a challenge without a car. I also had a local’s insight into the history and culture whilst travelling.
Train travel is really easy from Lisbon – you can get the Metro to Sete Rios or Santa Apolonia station and the trains go to most other destinations that you will be eager to explore such as Obidos, Coimbra and Porto. You can book your tickets in advance online here and they will be sent to your mobile (this is where having a Portuguese Mobile number will help). Remember to take your passport on all train journeys because the conductors will ask for it to check your identity.
I hope that you enjoyed my Lisbon Solo Travel Guide and found it helpful. Perhaps I have inspired you to finally go for it and take the trip? So, what are you waiting for?
If you have any tips on Lisbon Solo Travel then please feel free to comment on my blog below.