Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km². Its urban area extends beyond the city’s administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (which represents approximately 27% of the country’s population). It is continental Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost areas of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe.
Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast. Humberto Delgado Airport serves over 20 million passengers annually, as of 2015, and the motorway network and the high-speed rail system of Alfa Pendular link the main cities of Portugal. The city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Milan, with 1,740,000 tourists in 2009. The city occupies 32nd place of highest gross earnings in the world. Most of the headquarters of multinationals in the country are located in the Lisbon area. It is also the political centre of the country, as its seat of Government and residence of the Head of State.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.
Getting around the city
Public transport in Lisbon is inexpensive and useful for negotiating the hills between attractions. The fastest way to get around is by metro, which covers most of the city, and complementing this is a network of trams, buses, funiculars and a vertical elevator to connect the high and low areas of Lisbon. There is also a modern electric train that links the city to all the towns along the Portuguese Riviera, and ferries across the Tagus River. Trams and buses are very inexpensive and the old trams have become a big tourist attraction. It is best to avoid public transport during rush hours, as the crowded conditions are the perfect cover for pick pockets. Metered taxis are plentiful and affordable, and a popular means of transportation, but beware of drivers taking long, indirect routes. A car is not recommended for use around the city.
GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.
The international access code for Portugal is +351. The country is well covered by local GSM mobile phone networks, with roaming agreements in place with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.
The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. There are numerous banks, bureaux de change and ATMs available in main cities and tourist destinations. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and automatic currency exchange machines. Banking hours are generally 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
Lisbon has a warm climate with sunny spring and summer days (June to August), when average temperatures frequently reach 82ºF (28ºC). Winters (December to February) are wet and windy, with average temperatures dropping to 46ºF (8ºC) lows. The best time to visit Lisbon is in the spring (March to May) or autumn (September to October), because the weather is warm, hotels are cheaper, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer peak season.