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Afternoon and evening in Lisbon

We'll make a 10 hour stop in Lisbon (13:00 hr, to 23:00 hr,) on a Friday in mid September on a repositioning cruise. I don't know if we'll arrive at the Alcântra or the Santa Apolónia terminal. I would appreciate suggestions for what to visit between 13:00 hr, and 19:00 hr.(or later so long as we can safely return to the ship) I'd also be grateful for help with using public transportation to get from the cruise ship dock to the suggested place(s). It seems logical to begin with a visit to the furthest place from the ship, and work our way back. I have an older edition of RS' "Snapshot" for Lisbon, and it notes Trolley #15E from Alcântra to the city and a bus from the Santa Apolónia train station to the city (if arriving at the Santa Apolónia terminal). Are these modes still the preferred means of transportation? We'd prefer to use public transportation for the entire visit. Based on the same earlier edition of RS' "Snapshot" the stroll through Bairro Alto and Chiado, as well as the strolls through Alfama and Baixa would seem to give us a sense of the city. Will restaurants, shops etc. be open after 17:00 hr. on a Friday? We'd also like to ride a couple of the trolley's while we're visiting.

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3287 posts

Hmmm? No mention of Lisbon's fabulous metro system? We went on it just to see all the beautifully tiled stations! Take a look:

We stayed in an Alfama apartment right up the hill from the Santa Apolónia station and saw the ships dock there. And I do mean up the the hill. Lisbon is so hilly that there is an elevator downtown.

Feet, bus, trolley, metro, all are good methods of getting around, even taxis, it just depends on where you want to go in your very limited amount of time. Based on our experience, I would plan to take the fast way back to the terminal rather than work your way back due to potential fatigue and feeling rushed.

We don't do much shopping, so I don't know about shops in the downtown pedestrian area being open after 17:00. I do know that the pedestrian area is a good hunting ground for pickpockets because we saw some action of that type there. Wear your moneybelt.

We took the famous #28 tram around town. It was not crowded in early June, so it might not be at the time you are there either. It's also infamous for pickpockets, but we saw no action on it at all. You can get on and off at various sites and avoid the hill-hiking.

I was somewhat confused about your timetable. If I'm reading it correctly, you will probably not have enough time to go to a Fado performance because those happen later at night. You should be able to have a good meal (or two) and maybe some coffee and a sweet. Lisbon is a great place for that.

You can Google Lisbon and finds lots of stuff to do. This guide -- -- can get you started, along with this RS website and Trip Advisor.

Of course you can find lots of info on restaurants in Lisbon, but these are two places we had good meals:

Martinho da Arcada -- We had lunch there. It's right on the main square and might be considered to be touristy, but we enjoyed sitting outside under the arcade and watching the world go by. The website is in Portuguese, but if you click on Ementas, the pdf of the menu has English as the 2d language for each dish. And you can say "yes" to the Google translate option when it pops up at the beginning. Note that lunch is from 12:00 to 15:00 and dinner is from 19:00 to 22:00. It's a tragedy that I didn't find a dessert menu online. Lisbon is known for being the place for coffee and dessert. I got the Alentejano coffee cake. It was divine. They also have the traditional Pasteis, which you might want to try because you will not have time to go to Belem for them.

Our last night there, we ate at Restaurant Faz Figura -- It is right up the hill from the Santa Apolónia station and overlooks it, the Tagus River and your ship if it is docked there. As before, the website is in Portuguese, but you can say "yes" to translating it into English. The pictures are worth a thousand drools. It is open for lunch from 12:30 to 15:00 and for dinner from 19:30 to 23:00.

We stayed in Lisbon for a week in June 2011. When we were there, the cash machines limited the per ATM/Debit card cash withdrawal to 200 Euro per transaction and 400 Euro per day. Online information is a little confusing about this, so you might want to research that. We used my Visa when we could. I got cash with my debit card(s) at the Santa Apolónia station and elsewhere in town.

Posted by
696 posts

Goodness; thanks for all the information. While we have meals available on the cruise ship, your recommendations sound great, so we’ll eat while in Lisbon. You mentioned ATM machines; regarding this I have another question. We have a Barclay’s Card but it is a US-issue and we’re not certain if the Chip-n-Pin advertised will work overseas—this will be our first visit since receiving the Chip-n-Pin card. Will automatic kiosks for transit passes accept US credit cards or will we have to purchase tickets from a human? Any specific district/street of the city you would suggest a walk through. Since our schedule is limited by the ship’s schedule, our introduction to Lisbon will be rather serendipitous—more casual walking and observing (maybe some casual shopping) but no time for museums, performances, or anything that we would have to stand in line for a admission ticket. Is there any item—garment, jewelry, fabric, etc—that Lisbon is known for that would make a pleasant gift for the person(s) back home yet be compact to pack?

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3287 posts

We don't buy many souvenirs and Lisbon's big things are Fado, tile, barnacles and pasteis, none of which is very packing-friendly. Around the main square and pedestrian shopping area you are likely to find some typical souvenir shops that might have linens that would be suitable. If I had the room in my luggage and was willing to take the weight, I'd look for a Fado CD, preferably by someone local and a stunning ceramic tile.

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3287 posts

About the CC, I'm not going to be much help. I'm not familiar with the type of card you are talking about. Perhaps others could help with information about whether or not it would even be accepted in Europe.

I have a Visa CC and a MC debit card from one credit union. I also have a Visa debit card from another credit union. I only use the debit cards for ATM cash withdrawals. I did not buy any kind of a transit pass using a machine at Santa Apolónia. I did use my Visa CC to buy one for my husband and I at the Tourist Information at the main square. I don't know if they have a pass that would be appropriate for your short time there or if pay-as-you-go would be best. I do suspect that if you do the latter, cash in correct change would be the preferred thing.

We walked downtown from our apartment in the Alfama, just up the hill from Santa Apolónia. Many people "tour" the Alfama. We just lived there for a week and still didn't see all we wanted to see. You will need to be very selective!

If you use Google maps to get directions from Santa Apolónia to Praça do Comércio (the main square) you will see that you can walk it along the Tagus River or through the Alfama or take a bus or take the Metro and get there in about the same amount of time -- 20 minutes or less.

Also be sure to do a Google images search for Lisbon and enjoy the pictures.

I will PM you with the links to my Travels with Trout (husband) blog that are about Lisbon, including walking around and taking the trolley. Even with a short time there, you will have a blast. I couldn't keep my eyes off the tiled pedestrian walkways and especially the patterns in the square where you get on the trolley.