Lisbon Basic Information
Want to see a real cross-section of Lisbon society? Head to the hilly hangout of Bairro Alto. Here, students mingle with buttoned-up executives, the queer crowd mix with straight, Goths go head to head with hipsters and punks run riot with scene queens in the narrow, cobblestoned streets of the historic neighbourhood. Head here at night for the boho street party! For more essential Lisbon info, here are our top tips.
Portugal is one of the Schengen Convention countries so Australian passport holders going to Portugal on holiday for less than a total of 90 days within a 180-day period do not need a visa to enter the country. While you are in Portugal, direct any queries regarding visa requirements, entry and extending your stay to the Portuguese Immigration Service. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Portugal.
Portugal is part of the European Union and uses the Euro as currency. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Euro changes constantly so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Euros when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
As the ocean is a significant shaper of Portugal’s heritage, Lisbon is one of the best cities for fresh, inexpensive fish and shellfish dishes. Staples of Portuguese cuisine include the national dish, bachalau (dried, salted cod), grilled sardines and arroz de marisco (seafood rice). For an uniquely Portuguese dining experience, have a meal in a casa de fado in Bairro Alto or Alfama where you can enjoy authentic cuisine accompanied by the mournful tradition of fado music. Said to convey the sailors’ longing for home and their women, fado folk music is performed by a solo singer backed by 2 guitarists on 12-stringed Portuguese guitars. Make sure you also sample the traditional pasteís de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts) at a pastelaria. The ones from Antiga Confeitaria de Belém are considered to be the best and are served right out of the oven. International fusion and contemporary cuisines are also flavour of the month in Lisbon.
One of Europe’s top clubbing nightspots in the ‘90s, things have eased off a bit and while it’s not quite Ibiza, the after-hours scene in Lisbon is still hella lively. With dinner around 8pm, Lisboêtas usually hit the bars after 11pm and continue on to the clubs around 2am. For barhopping, Bairro Alto is the place to be. With heaps of small, laidback bars within the area, the party spills out onto the street on weekends with cheap caipirinhas and beer the drinks of choice. For a more low-key drink, head to a cocktail lounge or wine bar to sample some of the wine-growing country’s best drops. You’ll also find gay bars around Principe Real and Bairro Alto. Most clubs open on Fridays and Saturdays and the local hotspots are Avenida 24 de Julho on the riverfront and the former red light district of Cais do Sodré. Local fave Lux, co-owned by John Malkovich (!), is a converted riverfront warehouse with high-end design, DJs and clientele (hence the name). Musicbox in Cais do Sodré is the hip hotspot to check out live bands and DJs.