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10 Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon: What to Avoid

10 Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon | What to Avoid in Lisbon as Tourists

When visiting Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal, tourists often find themselves enchanted by its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively culture. However, without proper planning and local knowledge, it’s easy to make common mistakes that could hinder the full experience of the city. Here are what to avoid in Lisbon and the exact mistakes tourists make while visiting Lisbon.

This guide addresses these mistakes and offers practical advice to enhance your visit.

This photo was actually shot in Lisbon - what a crack (appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon)
This photo was actually shot in Lisbon – what a crack (appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon)

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1. Overlooking Local Etiquette

Mistake: Failing to learn basic Portuguese greetings and manners.

It’s crucial to learn a few basic phrases in Portuguese. Simple words like ‘Obrigado’ (thank you) and ‘Por favor’ (please) can significantly enhance your interactions with locals, showing respect and politeness. Additionally, understanding dining etiquette, such as waiting to be seated at restaurants and using “Senhor” or “Senhora” to address older individuals, will go a long way in showing your respect for local customs.

2. Misjudging Weather Expectations

Mistake: Assuming Lisbon is always warm and sunny and not packing for cooler evenings and occasional rainy days.

The weather in Lisbon can be deceiving. While known for its sunny disposition, evenings can be cool, and rain is not uncommon. Pack versatile layers, including a light jacket or sweater. Always check the weather forecast close to your travel dates to be prepared for any conditions you might face.

3. Underestimating Hills and Walking Distances

Mistake: Planning too many activities without considering Lisbon’s topography, which is known for its steep hills.

Exploring Lisbon means preparing for its hilly terrain. Wear comfortable walking shoes and plan strategic breaks to make the most of your sightseeing. Consider using public transportation or the iconic trams for longer journeys or when navigating particularly steep areas.4.

4. Ignoring Pickpocketing Risks

Mistake: Carrying valuables in easy-to-reach pockets or bags in crowded tourist areas.

Like many popular European cities, Lisbon has areas where pickpockets are more active. Protect your valuables by using a money belt or a securely closed cross-body bag. Remain vigilant in crowded areas such as Tram 28, Baixa, and Alfama to prevent potential thefts.

Portuguese Cuisine - appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon
Authentic Portuguese cuisine should be a part of your trip to Lisbon (appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make while Visiting Lisbon | Image via Riccardo Pelati/Unsplash

5. Not Going for Authentic Dining Experiences

Mistake: Eating at tourist traps or main squares without exploring local eateries.

Rather than settling for convenient but often overpriced tourist-oriented restaurants, seek out popular dining spots among locals. Neighborhoods like Campo de Ourique and Alvalade offer authentic culinary experiences away from the main tourist hubs, where you can taste traditional dishes such as Bacalhau a Bras or Pasteis de Nata.

6. Failing to Pre-book Popular Attractions

Mistake: Expecting to buy tickets on the spot for popular sites like Jerónimos Monastery or São Jorge Castle results in long waits.

To save time and ensure entry, purchase tickets online for popular attractions. This is especially important during peak tourist seasons when lines can be exceedingly long.

7. Overpaying for Souvenirs

Mistake: Buying souvenirs from the first shop you visit or in highly touristic areas.

Explore a variety of shops before making souvenir purchases. Markets and less tourist-centric districts often offer more unique and reasonably priced items. Comparing prices can help you find better deals and more authentic souvenirs.

Cascais Portugal - appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon
Do you know that Lisbon actually has a Riviera side? This is in Cascais Lisbon | Mistakes Tourists Make When Visiting Lisbon

8. Sticking only to tourist areas.

Mistake: Only explore Lisbon’s most famous tourist spots.

Lisbon’s charm extends beyond its well-known sites. Explore areas like LX Factory or the coastal town of Cascais to experience a broader spectrum of what Lisbon has to offer. These places provide a glimpse into the everyday life and culture of the locals.

9. Neglecting Safety at Beaches

Mistake: Swimming on non-supervised beaches or ignoring safety flags.

Beach safety is paramount. Only swim at beaches with lifeguard supervision, and always pay attention to flag warnings. Red flags indicate dangerous conditions where swimming is not advised.

Tram in Lisbon - appeared in Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon

10. Forgetting to Validate Transport Tickets

Mistake: Not validating metro or tram tickets before boarding can lead to fines.

Avoid fines by ensuring that your transport tickets are validated. Use the machines available at metro stations and on buses and trams to validate your ticket before you board.

By being mindful of these common errors and adopting the suggested precautions and local practices, tourists can enjoy a more authentic and enjoyable visit to Lisbon. This guide will help visitors navigate the city like seasoned travelers and enjoy Lisbon’s rich experiences.

Our Final Thoughts on What to Avoid in Lisbon and the Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Lisbon

Visiting Lisbon offers an unforgettable experience filled with captivating history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. By being aware of the common mistakes outlined in this guide, you can navigate the city more confidently and enjoy a smoother trip. Remember, the key to a fulfilling travel experience lies in preparation and a willingness to embrace the local lifestyle.

Take the time to learn about the local customs, prepare for the weather, and plan your itinerary with Lisbon’s unique geography in mind. Stay vigilant in crowded areas, choose authentic dining experiences, and make use of online resources to book tickets for popular attractions in advance. Exploring beyond the typical tourist paths and respecting local beach safety can further enhance your visit.

With this knowledge, you can fully immerse yourself in Lisbon’s offerings. Enjoy the journey, indulge in the rich Portuguese culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy travels!

FAQs – What to Avoid in Lisbon and Mistakes Tourists Make in Lisbon

What is the best time of year to visit Lisbon?

The best times to visit Lisbon are spring (March to May) and fall (September to October), when the weather is pleasantly warm and the tourist crowds are smaller compared to the peak summer months.

What should I pack for a trip to Lisbon?

Pack light, comfortable clothing, a good pair of walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sunny days. Don’t forget a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings and an umbrella or raincoat for unexpected showers.

Is Lisbon a walkable city?

Yes, Lisbon is quite walkable, especially in the historic areas. However, the city is known for its seven hills, which can be quite steep, so comfortable footwear is essential.

What are the must-see attractions in Lisbon?

Don’t miss visiting Jerónimos Monastery, São Jorge Castle, Belém Tower, and the Alfama district. Also, try to catch a ride on Tram 28 for a historic tour of the city.

How do I avoid tourist traps in Lisbon?

To avoid tourist traps, dine where the locals eat, shop away from main tourist areas, and use public transportation instead of tourist-only buses. Also, always check reviews and prices before making purchases or choosing a place to eat.

Is public transportation in Lisbon reliable?

Yes, Lisbon has an extensive and reliable public transport system consisting of metros, trams, and buses. It’s an affordable and convenient way to get around the city.

Do I need to tip in restaurants and taxis in Lisbon?

Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated. In restaurants, leaving a 5-10% tip is common if you’re satisfied with the service. For taxis, rounding up to the nearest euro is generally sufficient.

Are there any safety concerns I should be aware of in Lisbon?

Lisbon is generally a safe city for tourists. However, like in any major city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings to avoid pickpockets, especially in crowded or tourist-heavy areas.

What local food should I try in Lisbon?

Be sure to try pastéis de nata (custard tarts), bacalhau (salt cod) dishes, bifana (pork sandwich), and caldo verde (kale soup). Also, enjoy a glass of Ginjinha, a local cherry liqueur.

Can I drink tap water in Lisbon?

Yes, tap water in Lisbon is safe to drink. It’s economical and environmentally friendly compared to buying bottled water.

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