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Lisbon © Pixabay
Lisbon © Pixabay
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11 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Lisbon, Ever

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 1 June 2018
Even laid-back and friendly Lisboetas have their limits when it comes to what they can accept from tourists, and as the Portuguese capital becomes an increasingly popular tourist destination, it seems that the list of ‘what not to do’ keeps growing. In short, the principle message is ‘be mindful’. Here is a list of things you should never do when visiting Lisbon.

Don’t throw your trash and empty bottles on the ground

Lisbon is a beautiful and vibrant city that the locals are proud of and throwing trash on the ground is a strong act of disrespect. Do the right thing and find the closest waste bin.
Why litter in Lisbon when you don’t litter in your own city? | © Pixabay

Get drunk and cause problems in your own city, not ours

Along with littering, getting drunk and causing problems is high on the list of things the locals hate. Everyone wants to have a good time when they go out and learning how to hold your alcohol will keep everyone happy.

Don’t announce that you don’t like pasteis de nata

Pasteis de nata are the area’s most loved pastry. Sure, it’s not a big deal if you don’t like it but there is no need to announce it either, is there?

Never exclaim ‘I love how cheap everything is!’

Just like in Porto, don’t announce to Lisboetas that you’re loving the inexpensive prices because they may not see costs in the same way. Remember that the Portuguese economy may not be as strong as where you’re from.

Don’t say ‘gracias’

The word for thank you is ‘obrigado’ pronounced ‘oh-bree-ga-do’ with a slight roll of the r. Portuguese people speak Portuguese, not Spanish, so tourists aren’t doing anyone favours by practicing their Espanhol skills. Assuming that the locals speak Spanish is a sure way to annoy and insult plenty of people.
No, Portuguese people don’t ‘habla espanhol’, they speak Portuguese. | © Pixabay

Don’t assume that everyone will understand English

Yes, many people speak English in Lisbon – it’s a fantastic perk of visiting. Still, don’t assume that every person you come into contact with will speak English. Try learning a few Portuguese words and expressions to get by. If the person you’re speaking with knows English, chances are good that they will begin speaking it upon seeing you trying to speak Portuguese.

Never say ‘In (insert city or country), we do this better’

To put it bluntly, no one cares about how things are done in other countries. Sure, even the locals get annoyed by some things that happen here (does anyone like bureaucracy?) but announcing that another city does something better is annoying.

Please don’t block the roads and walkways

It’s fine to be excited when visiting a new city, and picture taking is part of the experience, but don’t block the roads or entrance/exit to someone’s home for a photo. This is a bigger deal in areas where the roads and walkways are a bit narrower (like Graça) but walking in the middle of the road won’t make you friends in other neighbourhoods either.
Photos are fine but don’t block the roads to take them. | © Pixabay

Don’t make strange food requests or come here on a diet

Lisbon is a city full of pastry shops, bakeries and cozy restaurants serving truly spectacular comfort food. Even if you’re in a high-end restaurant, ordering a meal like Sally in When Harry Met Sally won’t get you very far and will irritate the server and chef. Plus, being on a diet is a sure way not to experience everything that Lisbon has to offer.

Don’t complain about how things are done in Lisbon

Unless you’re in the city centre, restaurants usually close after lunch, around 3pm, and reopen in time for dinner, which is after 7pm. Asking a restaurant to make an exception (if they’re even open) will get you directions to the closest cafe for a toasted sandwich. Of course, this is just one example. Like not comparing Lisbon to other cities, no one wants to hear complaints about this city either.

Don’t forget public transportation etiquette

The buses in Lisbon have special assigned seating for elderly and pregnant women. Unfortunately, people tend to ignore the signs and sit in those seats anyway. It’s common sense and common courtesy to give your seat to elderly and pregnant women while on public transportation, but it’s downright rude to ignore the signs and leave the people in need standing.