We were in Lisbon for 5 days in May 2013. I wanted to thank everyone on the Forum for answering my many questions. Lisbon is a great city and we enjoyed our visit.
I just wanted to jot down some of my thoughts on the questions I had before our trip.
Weather - The five days we were in Lisbon, we experienced a full range of temperatures. From downright cold (50F - yes, this is cold to us. We're from Southern California.) to hot and sunny (75F). Mostly sunny but a few days of cloud. No rain.
Clothes - I see a lot of people asking on various forums on what they should wear. I always have that question myself before I visit a country I've never been to before. I know I'll look like a tourist no matter what (I'm Asian with a camera! ha ha) but I don't want to look too much out of place. Lisbon is a big city and I saw every style of clothing you can imagine. People in head-to-toe designer duds to people in shorts and slippers. Most people were somewhere in between. So my thought is - not to worry. Wear what you normally wear and be comfortable. My only recommendations are to wear layers (see Weather) and wear sensible shoes. Ladies - no matter how good you look in your high heels, they don't work so well on Lisbon's beautiful cobblestone streets.
Language - Portuguese is a very beautiful language but I don't speak a stitch of it. I had a phrase book with me but with my horrible pronunciation, no one understood what I was saying. Even with that, we were able to get by. People were very nice and tried very hard to help us. Use pantomime, it works. Always say Obrigado/obrigada.
Food - Very, very good and reasonably priced (compared to other European countries). We didn't know what we were ordering most of the time but it was fun and everything was tasty. My Husband ordered Polvo without knowing what it was and we both loved it! (It's Octopus.) I loved the Pasteis de Nata from Belem. Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Huts are everywhere so if you want to stick with American food, no problem. Although I think you'll miss out on a great experience.
Drinks - We never ordered anything other than house wine and it was always good and cheap. Try Blanco Verde. It's a bubbly, refreshing white wine. Beer is good and cheap (1.50 euro). Coca-Cola zero is everywhere. Ginginha was fun to try too.
Crime - I read everywhere to be careful of pickpockets! I was getting a little worried about that but when I got to Lisbon, we both felt very safe. Luckily we didn't experience any pickpockets. We did see an older Japanese woman tourist almost get pickpocketed on the tram but she caught him before he took anything and yelled "no!" really loud. Three guys walked away and got off the tram right away. My thoughts are - Lisbon is safe. Just be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine. I wore a crossbody purse. My husband used a wallet that hooked on his belt. His camera was on a holster (w/lock) on his belt as well.
Where to stay - We stayed in an apartment on Rue Mae de Agua, near Jardim Botanica, the nearest metro is Avenida. I'm not sure if the area is Principal Real or Restauradores. Very nice area. Near everything but in a quiet, semi-residential area. Up a steep hill from Avenida Liberdade, pass a small park Praca da Alegria. Avenida Liberdade is a very posh, tree-lined avenue with high-end stores (like LV, Todd) that we never went into. Lot's of shops and restaurants within walking distance. We found the apartment on Airbnb, $67.00 per night. It was a bargain! Very nice one bedroom, unit has a cloth washer and bldg. has a lift. Easy walk to Baixa-Chiado area.
We loved Lisbon! We also loved Porto and Nazare.