Known for its lush landscapes, sundrenched shores and winding cobblestone streets, Lisbon is not surprisingly one of Europe's most popular destinations for business and leisure travelers alike. Centrally located between one to three hours away from most European cities, and just five to eight hours from the Americas, Lisbon offers easy access from points around the globe. Even more convenient, Portugal's largest airport, Lisbon Airport, is uniquely situated within the city limits just four miles north of the city center. Seeing more than 13 million passengers each year, the airport offers regular flights to major European destinations including Barcelona, Lisbon and London as well as North American hubs Boston and Toronto.
In addition to being a convenient destination, Lisbon is also an affordable one. The city is one of the region's most budget-friendly locales, and its endless hotel accommodations have some of the most competitive prices in all of Europe. But in Lisbon, inexpensive does not mean inferior. In fact, the city offers a host of award-winning properties, many of which offer top-notch meeting space. The Art Deco Hotel Britania features seven private event rooms in its historic space, ranging in size from 50 to 150 square meters, while the 140-room Hotel Eduardo VII offers elegant meeting rooms, a full-service business center and state-of-the-art technology.
When it comes to hosting large-scale events in Lisbon, planners can set their sights on the phenomenal International Fair of Lisboa (FIL) Meeting Centre. Founded in 1957, this 40,800-square-meter venue is comprised of three auditoriums, four meeting rooms, an exhibition area, a registration area and a restaurant. One of Europe's most well-equipped facilities, the International Fair of Lisboa has been revitalized several times and features the latest in information technology as well as wireless Internet access.
Not to be overlooked, the Lisbon Congress Centre is also one of Lisbon's most dazzling convention destinations. Situated on the banks of the Tagus River, it features 9,000 square meters of space including eight auditoriums, five halls and 25 conference rooms. Meanwhile, the conference rooms, auditoriums, halls and foyers of the striking Centro Cultural de Belém make for versatile event spaces for parties as large as 2,000 guests.
Planners looking for a unique taste of Portugal's capital will have no trouble finding a host of alternative venues for events large and small. Known for its vast array of museums, Lisbon's cultural and educational attractions are the perfect backdrop for cocktail receptions, seminars, formal dinners and more. Host a meeting in the light-filled Trio of Windows at the delightful Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. Enjoy a reception surrounded by Portugal's nautical history at the Museu de Marinha. Or, bask in the majestic atmosphere at the lavish Ogival Hall at the Castelo de São Jorge.
Considered the second most important financial and economic center in the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon enjoys a thriving economy. In fact, the city produces 45 percent of the nation's GDP per capita. Lisbon's economy is based primarily on the service industry, with most of the headquarters of multinational companies concentrated in the greater Lisbon area. In addition, several colleges and universities are located in the city including the Technical University of Lisbon, the New University of Lisbon, the Portuguese Catholic University, and, Lisbon's oldest university, the University of Lisbon.
A picturesque, romantic city known for its lush landscapes, medieval architecture and superior quality of life, Lisbon boasts a city population of over 550,000 people and a staggering 2.8 million residents in its greater area. As such, it is the largest city in Portugal, as well as the capital. From its location spanning 84.8 square kilometers across the country's coast where the Tagus River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon beckons visitors with its endless array of historic and cultural offerings.
With a history that includes Roman rule, Moorish conquest, and Christian Crusaders, Lisbon's winding streets and quiet pockets are speckled with remnants of a long and storied past. Visitors should not miss a trip to Castelo de São Jorge. Perched atop the highest hill in Lisbon, this 5th century castle located in Alfama was built by the Moors and once served as a residence of the Royal Family. Although partially destroyed during the earthquake of 1755, the castle today offers some of the best views of the city.
History buffs also have a number of opportunities to delve into Lisbon's notable role in discovery and exploration. Walk through the beloved neighborhood of Belém, where Portuguese explorers once set sail and where Christopher Columbus stopped on his return from the New World. Here, guests encounter reminders of the massive riches of Lisbon's heyday with monuments such as the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Also in Belém is the notable Monument to the Discoveries, a 52-meter-high concrete slab sculpted to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.
Gracefully blending its past with its present, Lisbon is also a modern and sophisticated metropolis populated by fast-paced urban districts. Visitors can take in the multicultural atmosphere of Bairro Alto, one the city's most popular neighborhoods, where trendy boutiques nestle next to funky design shops and quaint coffeehouses. Or, enjoy the dazzling Avenida da Liberdade. Once a favorite spot for Lisbon's 19th century elite, this glittering district is a shopper's paradise featuring only the finest international labels. Meanwhile, over at the Chiado, visitors find a vibrant youthful atmosphere of art schools, theaters and a smattering of iconic cafes, including the famed A Brasileira.
Heading outdoors is a joy in Lisbon. Known as the “White City”, Lisbon is renowned for its beautiful climate and clear skies. It's also the only European city with Atlantic beaches. Only a half-hour from the city, visitors can enjoy the sun-drenched shoreline of Europe's largest beach – Costa de Caparica. Populated by breezy bars and quaint cafes, Costa de Caparica stretches for 30 kilometers and offers a place for visitors to sunbathe or swim in the sea.
In addition to Lisbon's superior surf, a slew of other recreational activities provide outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to enjoy Lisbon's phenomenal climate. From sailing in the blue waters of the Lagoa de Albufeira to leisurely afternoons observing the wildlife at the Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais, Lisbon leaves travelers no choice but to relax and unwind – and they wouldn't have it any other way.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Similar to other cities in Southern Europe, Lisbon enjoys a delightfully warm climate most of the year with an average temperature of 16°C. The dry season usually begins in May and lasts through October. The hottest months of the year are July and August, when temperatures can peak at 37°C, but cool Atlantic breezes provide a fresh relief from the heat.
During the months of November to March, Lisbon becomes a bit chillier with temperatures dipping to between 1°C and 15°C. Although sometimes cool, Lisbon never sees snowfall nor negative temperatures. The rainiest months are January, February, April, November and December. Lisbon sees approximately 100 rainy days per year.
Lisbon enjoys beautiful weather year-round, but the very best time to go is during the spring and summer months. Whether strolling past historic monuments or basking along the sun-drenched shores, Lisbon is a city best enjoyed outdoors.
FIL Exhibition Centre
Founded in 1957, the International Fair of Lisbon (FIL) is the leading tradeshow, fair and exhibition organizer in the country. Its amazingly diverse and modernized space, located in the Parque das Nações, is one of Europe's most sought-after sites for conventions and meetings.
The FIL Meeting Centre's four interconnected pavilions encompass an area of 40,800 square meters. Additionally, the facility boasts three auditoriums, four meeting rooms, an exhibition area, a registration area, a restaurant, and a parking lot with more than 800 parking spaces. Amenities include state-of-the-art audio-visual, wifi access and banquet services.
Lisboa Congress Centre
On the banks of the Tagus River sits one of Lisbon's most dramatic and breathtaking convention destinations. The Lisbon Congress Centre is easily accessible via public transportation and features a parking lot of 1,100 spaces
The Lisbon Congress Centre offers incredible flexibility and functionality for meeting planners. The facility includes 9,000 square meters of space spanning across eight auditoriums, five halls and 25 conference rooms. Featuring the latest in audio-visual and IT equipment, the Congress Centre can provide wifi service throughout the buildings.
Additionally, the venue is home to a beautiful waterfront restaurant with space for up to 400 diners and scenic vistas of the charming waterfront area.
Centro Cultural de Belem
Located in one of the most significant historical areas in Lisbon, the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) offers stunning views over the river and the Jerónimos Monastery. Its various auditoriums, conference rooms, halls and foyers are well-equipped for private events, offering high-quality audio-visual equipment and flexible seating options.
The Marqee and Main Auditorium are the largest facility spaces, accommodating 1,500 and 1,400 guests, respectively. A number of smaller rooms, including Carlos Paredes, Vianna da Motta and Daciano da Costa, can host 15 to 30 guests. The Conference Centre at CCB is a member of the International Congress & Convention Association, Lisbon Tourism Association and Portuguese Association of Congress Companies.
Lisbon Airport (LIS)
Approximate taxi fare: 11 EUR
Uniquely situated within the city, Lisbon Airport, also known as Lisbon Portela, is Portugal's largest and busiest airport. Just four miles north of the Castelo de São Jorge at Lisbon's city center, the airport handled over 13 million passengers in 2007 and is currently the hub for TAP Portugal, the national carrier.
The airport features a number of restaurants and cafes as well as a host of shopping options for the comfort of its travelers. Visitors wishing to pick up last-minute mementos from their trip should be sure to stop at Vista Alegre/Atlantis for beautiful and artistic porcelain and ceramic pieces. For a quick bite or a sit-down meal, the dining options at Lisbon Airport are endless. The menu at Passarola is delectable and diverse, while the convenience of Astrolábio makes for a satisfying start to a day of travel.
Since the land surrounding Lisbon Airport has been completely developed, there is no additional room for expansion. As a result, the Portuguese government has decided to build a new airport in an uninhabited region north of the city. Completion of the new facility is not expected until 2017. However, great strides have been made to improve the efficiency and convenience of Lisbon Airport in the interim.
Airline carriers serving Lisbon Airport
Lisbon's two major train stations allow for easy access throughout Portugal and Europe. The stations are easily accessible via Lisbon Metro and enable visitors to reach all corners of the city.
The public transit system in Lisbon consists of the Lisbon Metro and Carris' electric trams and buses. Combined fares are available for both the Metro and Carris. A one-day Metro and Carris ticket on the 7 Colinas/Viva viagem support cards is €3.70. This ticket is good for an unlimited number of trips throughout the networks for 24 hours after first use.
Lisbon Metro is a safe, easy and economical way to travel throughout the city. The first subway in Portugal, the system consists of four color-coded lines stretching over 39 kilometers and encompassing 46 stations. Transfer between lines can be made at six stations in or near the city center.
The metro system has undergone significant expansion in recent years. Additional tracks are under construction to link it to Lisbon Airport.
Lisbon Metro only offers fares charged on cards. The 7 Colinas/Viva viagem support cards can be used to charge several tickets of a single type of fare. A single fare on the 7 Colinas/Viva viagem is €0.80 in one zone or €1.10 for one trip in the entire Metro network.
In addition to trams and buses, Carris also operates a network of four funiculars, or elevators, to help visitors navigate the cities larger hills. On-board fare, valid for one trip on the Carris network, is €1.40.
Carris operates Lisbon's electric tram, the traditional form of transportation in the city. Today's tram system consists of five lines, three of which operate in the city center.
In addition to the modern-day trams, Carris operates a few small yellow trams that date from the early 20th century. These trams are a great tourist attraction.
Carris operates 184 bus lines stretching to all corners of Lisbon. The Aero-Bus, line 91, runs from Lisbon Airport to the city center every 20 minutes. After 1 AM, a small number of night buses operate in the city and are the only public transportation option for late-night travel.
Lisbon Airport features seven on-site rental car companies. Check-in counters for Auto Jardim, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt can be found in the atrium of the arrivals hall.
Taxis are available at two stands at Lisbon Airport. There is a per-kilometer fee for travel to the city and an additional charge of €1.20 is applied for each item of luggage. Average fare is €10.
Visitors can also purchase an €18 taxi voucher at the airport, good for travel anywhere in the city with any number of pieces of luggage.
Photo Credit : Turismo de Lisboa / Gustavo Figueiredo
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