Beautiful Lisbon is one of Europe’s oldest cities, second only after Athens. However, it remains largely unknown as a tourist destination. With its colourful Alfama district, its vast food scene, enticing night life and nearby beaches, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Portuguese capital. It is, after all, a city where you can spend your days tucking into a delicious Pastel De Nata, browsing for vintage treasures at The Fiera Da Ladra or enjoying some fresh seafood at the Time-Out Market.
I recently took a well needed post-Covid holiday and spent five days exploring the city. Although there’s plenty to see, the centre of Lisbon is fairly compact and walkable, meaning that it’s a great place for holidaying, solo travellers and families alike.
For the more eco-conscious traveller, Lisbon is also a great sustainable travel destination. With the COP26 summit taking full precedence in the news at the moment and with sustainability at the forefront of many of our minds, I thought I’d share some of my top sustainable travel tips for the city.
Drink the tap water
Unlike some other destinations in Europe, tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Save on the packaging by bringing a refillable drink bottle with you. Also, be sure to ask for ‘agua da torneira’ (tap water), in restaurants. If you don’t, you will likely be given bottled water, which is both damaging to the planet and an unnecessary waste of euros.
Being located right on the coast, it’s no surprise that Lisbon has some of the best seafood around. However, it’s not just sardines and cod that Lisbon does well. The region also produces fantastic cheeses, bread, wine and organic vegetables that many of the restaurants in the city utilise to full advantage. Make sure you do your research and source out smaller family-run taverna’s that place an emphasis on using ingredients that are local and seasonal. One place you must try is Taberna da Rua da Flores, a small bustling place where the menu changes daily based on what is readily available. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings so turn up early for a table at dinner.
Walk or make use of Lisbon’s extensive public transport network
Lisbon has a vast and efficient public transport network with trams, buses, bikes and trains serving most parts of the city. Not only is public transport a cheap way to get around Lisbon, but it’s also a lot more eco-friendly than renting a car or taxi. Be sure to download the CityMapper app for ease of transport. This free app will provide you with many different transport options to get between destinations, and tells you everything from how long the journey will take, how much it will cost and where you need to leave from.
You can buy a Viva Viagem card which you can top up and use on all public transport. Alternatively, if you are planning on mainly travelling by foot, you can pay for trams and buses on board. Travelling around Lisbon by tram is something that should be on every Lisbon travel itinerary. The Tram 28 journey is the most popular and it runs down Lisbon’s steep and narrow hills past iconic locations such as the Se Cathedral and the National Pantheon.
Look for sustainable accommodation
Accommodation sites such as Booking.com now make it easier to find eco-friendly accommodation. Look for properties that are labeled as ‘travel sustainable’ which means that the accommodation provider has sustainable certification or practices in place.
Research your airline
Air travel is never going to be great for the planet however some airlines are trying to do their bit for the planet. In particular, EasyJet is focusing on minimising carbon emissions and currently offset 100% of the carbon emissions used by the fuel in every flight. There is still a long way to go in sustainable air travel however it is something to bear in mind, particularly when looking at the alternative such as Ryan Air.
I hope that you found this Lisbon sustainable travel guide helpful. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you had any questions or additional that would fit well into this guide.