Europe > Iberia > Portugal > Tagus Valley > Estremadura > Greater Lisbon
The Greater Lisbon (Portuguese: Grande Lisboa) is the region surrounding Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It consists of municipalities located on the northern bank of the wide mouth of the Tagus (Tejo) river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The region includes a variety of localities—from historic towns and cities, to ports, industrial areas, beach resorts, and natural reserves. It offers a varied mixture of holiday opportunities to visitors, as they can engage in beach activities, various active sports, and do a fair share of sightseeing.
- 1 Lisbon — the country's capital enchants travellers with its bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy going charm; includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 2 Amadora — bedroom community with sizeable shopping mall and annual comic book festival
- 3 Cascais — one of Europe's oldest holiday resorts with as much sunshine as heritage
- 4 Loures — populous Lisbon suburb with urban, industrial, and rural areas
- 5 Mafra — its sumptuous palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The municipality includes:
- 7 Odivelas — quiet but populous bedroom community at the end of the Lisbon Metro's Yellow Line
- 8 Oeiras — coastal suburb at the mouth of the River Tagus
- 9 Sintra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for a number of palaces spread over its green hills. The municipality includes:
- 1 Cabo da Roca – Europe's westernmost point, which can be accessed from Cascais or Sintra
- 2 Praia das Maçãs — a seaside resort 13 km from Sintra
Grande Lisboa (GRUHN-d(ih) leezh-BOH-uh, /ˈgɾɐ̃.dɨ ɫɨʒ.ˈbo.ɐ/) is a former administrative and EU statistical region. It should not be confused with the Área Metropolitana de Lisboa (Lisbon Metropolitan Area) , which includes the Setúbal Peninsula, nor with the Distrito de Lisboa (Lisbon district), which includes some municipalities to the north, nor with Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (Lisbon and Tagus Valley), a development region that corresponds with Wikivoyage's Tagus Valley region. Even the Portuguese are often confused by the frequent territorial reorganizations and overlapping regions.
There are two airports within Greater Lisbon: Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS IATA), which handles scheduled and charter passenger flights, and Aeródromo Municipal de Cascais (CAT IATA), which is a small airport for general aviation (private planes) in Cascais.
One alternative is to fly to the Francisco Sa Carneiro airport in Porto and then take the Porto Metro to the Campanha station and further take a long-distance train to Lisbon from there. The train alone takes 3 hours in each direction, but you can take advantage of the oftentimes cheaper connections to the Porto airport and include Porto in your trip this way.
In general, long-distance trains calling in Greater Lisbon will stop in Lisbon only. There are trains from the north and south of Portugal, as well as international trains from Spain calling there. You will probably need to change stations from where your long-distance train arrives to your bus or train connection to your destination outside of Lisbon - please refer to our guide to Lisbon for more detailed information.
There is an efficient, if a bit complicated, transportation system within Greater Lisbon. At its backbone are the local railways, supported by the light rail systems and the ferries across the Tagus, complemented by bus connections, all of which have several operators.
The railway system consists of three separate suburban railway lines managed by the state-owned Portuguese railway operator, under the name of Serviços Urbanos da CP. The three lines start from different stations around Lisbon and connect to different destinations:
- the Cascais line (yellow) starts at Cais do Sodre station in Lisbon and goes to Cascais, Estoril and Oeiras.
- the Sintra line (green) has stops at Rossio in the historic centre of Lisbon and terminates in Sintra, with locations in the hills northwest of Lisbon, such as Amadora, on its way. Some trains on the green line go as far as the Oriente station in Lisbon, which is close to the Lisbon Airport
- the Azambuja line (red) starts at Santa Apolonia station and goes through Oriente in Lisbon, taking you northeast along the Tagus to Azambuja and all the municipalities along the way, which are of minor touristic interest
In addition to the normal course of those lines, the red and green line also have trains traversing the railway arc through the north of Lisbon, which includes the Campolide, Sete Rios, Entrecampos and Oriente stations.
Complementing and binding together those railway connections are the underground rail systems - the Lisbon Metro, which connects the various Lisbon railway stations (as do the buses and trams operated by Carris, Lisbon's municipal transit company) and the Metro de Sul tramway system in Almada and surrounding municipalities. To close the gap the Tagus poses, a company called Transtejo operates a number of regular ferry connections between various quays in Lisbon and municipalities on the southern side of the river.
There is an obvious wealth of historic monuments, museums, galleries and other attractions in the grand old city of Lisbon, which is probably where more tourists will start their visit anyway. Do not miss the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra, with numerous royal palaces of fairytale qualities scattered across the lush green hills and magnificent gardens. Head for the beaches of Cascais and Estoril to experience the Atlantic Ocean and some high life of the famous resorts.
- Go from Rossio Station in Lisbon to Sintra by train
- Buy the rover ticket for the Greyhound bus that lets you travel in and beyond Sintra (there is a cheaper one for Sintra only)
- Use the local bus to see the town and the National Palace, the Castelo dos Mouros and the extraordinary Pena Palace.
- Take a bus from the station at Sintra to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe
- Take a bus to Cascais (and very possibly eat there)
- Return by train to the Cais do Sodre station in Lisbon.
You will need to check bus timetables carefully but both train lines are frequent and cheap. if you return from Cascais after dark (avoid the late-night train, for safety reasons), you will get wonderful views in Belem of the floodlit buildings.
Given the natural conditions, it is obvious that Greater Lisbon is a great place to practice many sports activities, especially those related to the seaside.
The Portuguese cuisine is both simple and extremely rich, and there is quite a lot to enjoy year-round. That said, being at one of the largest ports of the Atlantic Ocean, you absolutely need to make sure you experience the fresh fish and other seafood, which come in ample supply.
The Portuguese way of life and typical organisation of the day places a big emphasis on the nightlife, so you will never be out of opportunities to enjoy yourself in the evenings (and oftentimes also well into the night - or morning!) Lisbon is obviously bustling with those, but it does not mean you will not find bustling nightlife in other towns as well.
The region is for the most part safe. Take common precautions, especially in Lisbon's public transportation. Cais do Sodre station should be avoided late at night as well some parts of Bairro Alto nightclubs. Also avoid dark alleys.