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After TWO solo trips to Lisbon (as you can see from the photos in this post, in some I’m wearing jeans in December and others I’m wearing skirts and dresses in May), I know the city pretty well.
In this guide, I’ll discuss solo female travel in Lisbon including safety, what to do, where to stay & other useful tips!
Porto and Lisbon are pretty different so I can’t pick a favourite. Porto still has a cosy, traditional feel with many parts not yet gentrified. Lisbon is your ultimate cosmopolitan, touristic city. Although some authenticity has been lost, it’s truly one of my favourite cities not just in Portugal but all of Europe.
Visiting Porto? I have blogs on everything from what to do, how to plan an itinerary, the food, day trips, brunch, coffee, pastel de natas, street art, sunset spots, bars and more. Basically, I’m your Porto-obsessed gal!
Portugal’s capital is cool, arty, quirky, colourful and vibrant. Better yet, Lisbon is safe for solo female travellers!
Read next – my tried & tested 3 day Lisbon itinerary
How to get to Lisbon
It’s an easy city to reach. Here are the options:
By air: Humberto Delgado Airport connects other European cities and further afield destinations. I use Skyscanner to find flights, setting my search radius as ‘whole month’ to see the cheapest dates for travel.
To get downtown, catch a bus or the Metro. Board the pink Vm line to Alameda then the green Vd line to the city centre. Alternatively, call a taxi using Uber, Bolt or FREENOW.
By train: most arrive into Santa Apolónia station. To reach the city centre, head downstairs and board the blue Metro line destined for Reboleira. Use Omio to book your train journey in Portugal.
By bus: I love Flixbus for getting around cheaply in Europe. Travel to Porto in 3 hours and the Algarve in 4 hours. Book your Flixbus journey into Estação do Oriente or use Omio for destinations Flixbus doesn’t service.
From the bus station, board the red Metro line to São Sebastião and change to the Blue line for Baixa-Chiado.
How to get around Lisbon
Solo travel in Lisbon is easy because you don’t need to rely on taxis. Here’s how to get around:
Walk: the best way to see the sights! There are lifts and escalators up particularly steep hills. Female travellers in Lisbon will be pleased to learn it’s a safe city to walk at night.
Cycle: Unlock a Gira bike using the mobile app. Select the daily pass (€2) which allows you to hire bikes for free for up to 45 mins. I’d recommend this option if you’re cycling to Belem but generally Lisbon is so hilly that a bike may hinder you!
Metro: I found the underground to be clean, efficient and easy to navigate. The green line services Cais do Sodré and Rossio, two popular central locations. Tap in when you enter but not when you exit.
Bus: these are efficient although often slower than Google Maps suggests due to traffic. Tickets are around €1.80 if you pay in cash or €1.50 using an Andante card.
Trams: these tend to be a slower and more touristic way to travel. Many people will tell you to ride famous Tram 28 although I found this underwhelming with long queues in the summer.
Via Viagem cards – I would suggest getting one of these. Not only do they make Metro and bus travel cheaper but they save time buying tickets: the machines in Metro stations are surprisingly old-school and clunky.
Lisbon solo travel – where to stay
According to Hostelworld, a bunch of the best solo travel hostels in the world are in Lisbon. High praise indeed!
Some of the best include:
- Yes!Hostel – with a lounge, bar and comfy quiet 4 or 6-bed rooms, this is a great hostel for socialising and still getting a good night’s sleep. There are hostel dinners, free shots and walking tours. It’s located near the Time Out Market and Praca do Comercio. Check availability from €35.
- Goodmorning Solo Traveller Hostel – as the name suggests, this place is specifically designed for solo travel in Lisbon – better yet – includes 3 free meals a day as well as free beer and sangria! They have privates, 4, 6, 8 or 10-bed dorms and female-only dorms. Check availability from €27.
- Lost Inn Lisbon – looking more like a boutique hotel than a hostel, this is a beautiful venue in the heart of town with an onsite co-working room (perfect for remote workers like myself). With Netflix, PS4, guitars and board games, it’s a great place to chill. Check availability from €18.
- We Love F Tourists – within a 10-minute walk to most attractions, this hostel is attached to La Frutaria Cafe where you can enjoy a boujee brunch each morning. The hostel offers tapas & fado nights, bar crawls and daily Sintra trips. Check availability from €33.
Best neighbourhoods for solo travel in Lisbon
You may feel overwhelmed when it comes to the various areas… There are lots! Here’s a quick summary…
- Bairro Alto – this cobbled, historic hood is now a cool area with fantastic nightlife
- Baixa – the commercial centre is home of many key monuments
- Chiado – centered around Rua Garrett, this is Lisbon’s shopping, entertainment and cafe hub just moments from Baixa
- Alfama – this hilly area is known for fado, elevated viewpoints and ocean views
- Principe Real – an upscale area lined with 19th-century mansions and fancy stores
- Cais do Sodré – the tourist-friendly waterfront is fun to wander with attractions like Praca do Comercio and the Time Out Market
- Belém – west of Lisbon along the coast and known for historic attractions like Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, this is a half-day trip for history lovers.
Is Lisbon safe for solo travel?
Yes! Overall, Lisbon is super safe for solo travel. The main crime to be aware of is pickpockets, especially in the crowded summer months. Wear a secure cross-body bag and keep an eye on your valuables.
Portugal is a progressive country with a positive safety rating for LGBTQ travellers. It’s also a diverse city with a longstanding African diaspora so travellers of colour are unlikely to face attention or discrimination.
If you’re concerned about solo female travel in Lisbon, don’t be: Portugal has progressive attitudes to gender. I never experienced catcalling or harassment.
Best season to visit Lisbon
In my opinion, March-May (avoiding Easter) and September-November are the best times to visit with mild weather, moderate prices and fewer crowds.
Summer (June-August), particularly the peak of mid-July to August, can be VERY hot and crowded. Prices are high so I would avoid travelling in this season myself. But it’s undeniably atmospheric with bars overflowing into the streets and St Anthony Festival happening throughout June.
Winter (November- February) is a surprisingly good time to visit. Unlike European destinations popular for winter city breaks like Vienna, Budapest, Copenhagen and Hamburg, don’t expect a snow-capped Christmas market vibe: Lisbon averages around 9 degrees in December. I was fine in jeans and a jacket.
Basically, it’s a great year-round destination!
Is Lisbon expensive?
Well, this depends what you’re used to. After my travels around Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Balkans, I find anywhere in Western Europe kinda pricey. Lisbon is certainly the most expensive part of Portugal aside from the Algarve.
However, compared to other Western European countries like the UK, France, Germany and Italy, it’s quite affordable. For cheaper prices, avoid eating in Baixo and Chiado. Check Airbnbs a few Metro stops from the city centre like Arroios and Alameda. Here, you’ll find restaurants meals for under €5!
A few price examples include:
- Metro or bus ride – €1.50
- Bottle of wine in a Barrio Alto bar – from €8
- Coffee & pastel de nata – €2
- Ride on Santa Justa Lift – €5
- Ride on touristic Tram 28 – €3
- Museum entry – €5
- Meal in the Time Out Market – €12
- Main dish in a central restaurant – €7-16.
Best things to do for solo travellers in Lisbon
In my 3 day Lisbon itinerary, I outline ALL the best things to do in a sensible order (as well as lots of foodie inspo) whether you’re travelling solo or not.
However, here are some specific activities I think are suitable for those travelling to Lisbon alone.
This is a beautiful area with plenty to do and see. As well as Jerónimos Monastery and the Discoveries Monument, I enjoyed browsing contemporary art at Museu Coleção Berardo. Visiting museums and galleries solo is great because you’re not distracted by other people’s interpretations.
Then, of course, there’s Pastéis de Belém. It’s worth braving the queue outside for these delicious golden custard tarts.
Shop for crafts & books at LX Factory
If you’re travelling solo in Lisbon (or anywhere) there are few better activities than finding a new book to read.
Ler Devagar bookstore has become an Insta hit, often voted one of the world’s coolest book stores thanks to its colourful interior and flying bicycle. They also exhibitions and events, plus there’s a coffee shop inside. Winning!
On the topic of photo-worthy book shops in Portugal, Harry Potter fans may think visiting Livraria Lello is one of the best things to do in Porto although it was far too crowded for my liking!
But Ler Devagar isn’t the only attraction at the LX Factory. Once a Lisbon hidden gem located inside a historic textile warehouse, this collection of shops, restaurants and bars has become a hipster playground. It’s well worth visiting, halfway between Belem and the city.
Get lost in the Alfama backstreets
Alfama is my favourite area in Lisbon despite the many hills you have to climb. It was once its own village, eventually encompassed into the urban sprawl.
Alfama is a maze of historical buildings, cobbled streets, cute shops and less-touristic restaurants. Due to its elevated position, there are lots of miradouros offering beautiful ocean views.
It’s hard to follow Google Maps as the streets are so narrow, so your best option is wandering to your heart’s content!
Cafe-hop in Chiado
Coffee culture has been huge in Portugal since the 1800s. When you consider their connection with the world’s largest coffee-producing country (Brazil), it’s hardly surprising. Sitting and sipping coffee is a key way to socialise for locals and you should join them!
Although some of the cafes in Chiado can be overpriced and touristic, it’s a great neighbourhood to enjoy grand, classic cafes frequented by the upper classes over 100 years ago. A Brasileira and Confeitaria Nacional both have centuries of history.
Order a café and you’ll get an espresso, also known as a bica. Luckily a cappuccino is universal!
Browse at Feira de Ladra ‘Thieves Market’
Whether or not you make a purchase, one of the most atmospheric places in Lisbon come Tuesday or Sunday morning is Feira da Ladra, otherwise known as Mercado de Santa Clara or the Thieves Market.
From books to jewellery, bric-a-brac, broken tiles, kids toys and more, it’s somewhere between a market and a jumble sale. I bought three gorgeous silver and moonstone rings for €25 that I’ve worn every day since.
Saint Jorge Castle
Wander this impressive castle complex with impressive views and strutting peacocks. It’s open ’til 9pm in the summer (until 6pm in winter) and tickets cost €10.
Find some viewpoints
Translating as viewpoint, there are countless miradouros to find in this hilly city. Pictured above is the lovely Miradouro de Santa Luzia that I found while strolling Alfama.
Other miradouros in Lisbon include
Tours & activities in Lisbon
Although there are lots of things to do independently in Lisbon for solo travellers, I always enjoy joining group tours and activities as a way to meet people while travelling.
Food tour with Taste of Lisboa
One of the best things I did during my solo travels in Lisbon was a food tour with Taste of Lisboa. I love taking food tours because you get to share the dishes with a group and therefore try so many different things.
The team at Taste Lisboa are enthusiastic and passionate about their city and cuisine, plus the food you get to try is fantastic!
Related read: group tours vs solo travel
If you’re travelling solo in Lisbon and want to experience the nightlife, a pub crawl is a great place to start. These cost around €20 and often include open bars for beer and sangria! Not bad at all.
Failing this, meet other travellers at hostels to enjoy the nightlife with. Another option is to simply show up at Jam Club in Bairro Alto. The owner, João, is a legend and will be sure to introduce you to other travellers.
Take a free walking tour
I love free walking tours when travelling solo because you learn from a local guide and often befriend other travellers. I’ve taken Sandemans New Europe Tours in several cities now. For Lisbon, they have 4.9 stars on Google. If you enjoy the tour, leave a tip: I usually go with €5-10.
Remember to make a reservation in advance, they’re mighty popular! English tours run at 10am and 2pm daily.
Free Tours by Foot offer a wider range of walking tours including specific areas and an alternative walking tour. For Lisbon, I’ve noticed they’re now charging a €2.50 booking fee. While this kinda defeats the point of a free tour, it’s not a huge price to pay.
Find street art
After discovering the Porto street art, I made it my mission to find the Lisbon street art, too. There are plenty of animal murals by Bordalo II made from colourful trash, illustrating the wastefulness of humans.
Find the creative murals when travelling solo in Lisbon by taking a guided street art tour with a group. This is a good way to learn from a local and meet like-minded travellers.
Join local meet ups
Try Couchsurfing events, join the Gone Girl International Facebook page (you could also post in Girls Love Travel to see if anyone else is around), find events on Meetup or browse supper clubs and other foodie activities on EatWith. I like the look of this pastel de nata class; I took one in Porto and it was great!
On that note…
Where to eat & drink in Lisbon
In my opinion, one of the few downsides of solo travel includes doing all the research yourself. Since I never want to miss the best food in a destination, this means hours of research for me! Luckily, not for you as I’ve done the hard work…
For pastel de nata – you can’t do better than Manteigaria but Fabrica da Nata is also a great shout. If you head over to the Belém region, you can try the OG versions at Pastéis de Belém dating back to 1830. Wash down your pastel de nata with an indulgent hot chocolate and order some snacks like rissóis, coxinha and croquettes.
For a nice, sit-down dinner – Versículo d’O Faia serves delicious Portuguese dishes from €14-18 including fresh octopus. I didn’t feel uncomfortable eating solo and even managed to bag a table without a reservation (although this was in December.)
Budget dinner – O Gaiteiro serves authentic Portuguese fish and meat dishes for under €10. I loved the camarão e bacalhau arroz (prawn and cod rice).
For Portuguese food in trendy surrounds – we can’t forget the Time Out Market! The prices are inflated but it’s a real institution with pop-up stalls by the city’s top chefs and restaurants. As an extra benefit, the informal setting is perfect if you’re travelling solo to Lisbon and feel uncomfortable eating alone in a restaurant.
For brunch – Barbica serve tasty breakfast and brunch dishes with excellent coffee. It’s definitely ‘tourist prices’ but the owner is friendly and there’s a cafe dog! Fauna & Flora is also a stylish cafe with great brunch options.
For budget bifanas – O Trevo, approved by the late Anthony Bourdain, make mean meaty sandwiches slathered with mustard. I paid €3 including a beer. If you’re travelling on a budget, you can’t get much cheaper than that!
For Indian food – Jesus é Goês just north of the city centre is a colourful restaurant that came to fame with Netflix show, Somebody Feed Phil. The dishes are unusual and creative: try the holy burger topped with a poached egg, the fish masala or any of the veggie curries.
Tips for solo female Lisbon travel
- Choose your accommodation based on location: for example, if you’re keen to spend time in charming Alfama, consider staying nearby. If you like nightlife, aim for Barrio Alto
- Consider a Lisboa Card – there are 24, 48 or 72-hour passes including entry to top attractions and unlimited public transport usage
- In peak season, buy tickets for popular attractions like Sintra’s Pena Palace in advance
- If there’s somewhere you want to eat, make a booking in advance in peak season. This can feel cringy as a solo traveller but gal’s gotta get her food! 😉
- Bring a bank card that doesn’t charge international fees to withdraw money. I like Wise and Revolut. UK travellers can also opt for Monzo or Starling
- Avoid Tram 28 in peak season; it’s so crowded!
- Don’t wait in line for busy Santa Justa Lift: you can walk to the top and pay €1.50 to climb the spiral staircase
- Avoid eating in Baixa or Chiado (unless it’s somewhere specific you’ve heard good things about) as the restaurants are pretty pricey.
What to pack & wear
- Comfy shoes – this is so important! There are lots of cobbles and hills so wear comfy shoes with grip. No flip-flops, please!
- In summer – dresses, shorts, tops… Whatever you want!
- In winter – jeans and a light coat or warm jacket
- In shoulder season – long-sleeved tops and a cardigan/sweater
- A secure cross-body bag to deter pickpockets.
Events in Lisbon
Liven up solo travel in Lisbon by timing your trip around one of the following Lisbon events:
- IndieLisboa Film Festival (April) – hundreds of independent movies are streamed across the city. A must for movie buffs!
- St Anthony Festival (June) – this festival dedicated to the city’s patron saint lasts a whole month. Streets overflow with music, dancing, drinks and, of course, famous Portuguese sardines
- Gay Pride (June) – visit for the parade down Avenida da Liberdade and the street party in Comercio Square
- Jazz em Agosto (August) – Portugal’s biggest jazz festival comes to town
- New Year’s Eve – celebrate in Comercio Square with fireworks and live music!
Day trips from Lisbon
Although Portugal’s capital could keep you busy for weeks, there are a few popular day trips you may want to take. These include…
- Sintra – this charming town is a tourist favourite with its 19th-century palace set atop a jagged clifftop. However, I’d highly advise going in off-season or not at all… My May visit in 2022 was one of the most crowded, frustrating experiences in my 10+ years of travel!
- Cabo da Roca – at the westernmost point of the European continent, this rugged headland is an amazing place to watch the crashing waves
- Cascais – this upmarket region on Portugal’s coast is THE place to see how the other half live. From parks to mansions and beaches, it’s hardly surprising that wealthy Portuguese holidaymakers love it.
Where to go next?
If solo backpacking in Portugal has gone well, why not continue your Portugal adventures? After 3 months living in Porto, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a great base to explore attractions in Northern Portugal like the Douro Valley wine region, Peneda-Gerês National Park and historic towns like Guimarães and Aveiro.
I also love the Algarve. Destinations like Faro and Lagos are lovely bases to explore the nearby beaches, go kayaking, hiking and more.
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING PORTUGAL
Getting there by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online.
For trains, I use Omio. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website. This is also a handy tool to compare trains and buses in one search.
For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys between European countries from €1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!