As you fly into Lisbon airport, two stadia come into view, no more than two miles apart. These are the homes of great city rivals Benfica and Sporting, in place for more than half a century. Both stadia were completely rebuilt for Euro 2004 and now would be the envy of most clubs over the border in Spain. Geographically, at least, the Lisbon giants have always been close.

In terms of achievements, it’s a different story. Benfica won four league titles in a row from 2014, Rui Vitória leading The Eagles to the double in 2017. Sporting were last crowned champions in 2002.

Welcome to Lisbon/Liam Dawber

Benfica originally played on pitches around Campo Grande and the north of the city – exactly where Sporting were based. Benfica’s legendary Estádio da Luz, once the biggest stadium on continental Europe, might translate as ‘Stadium of Light’ – but ‘Light’ refers to the Luz district Benfica eventually settled in.

They were always known as the people’s team, their stadium originally financed almost entirely from supporters’ donations. Sporting named their stadium after Jose Alvalade, the viscount landowner who played a pivotal role in the club’s foundation. Today’s clubs represent neither specifically working class nor landowning nobility. They count some 350,000 members between them, spread all over the city, in the same districts and social classes.

But the perceptions and prejudices run deep – and the stadia in question remain less than two miles apart. Lisbon has another club in the top flight, Belenenses, whose Estádio do Restelo sits in Belém, setting off point for Vasco da Gama and the great Portuguese explorers of the 15th century.

Meanwhile, relegated from the third tier in 2017, Atlético Clube de Portugal are based in Lisbon’s waterfront Alcântara, whose glory days were back in the 1940s. Now in the third tier, Oriental in eastern Lisbon have enjoyed recent campaigns in the Segunda.

In a city of curios, Lisbon also contains a national stadium like no other. Set deep in the woods of Oeiras, the Estádio Nacional is where Celtic won the European Cup in 1967.

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Residencial Teixeira Pinto: 38.752477, -9.206543
Radisson Blu Lisboa: 38.759494, -9.153769
HOTEL JERÓNIMOS 8: 38.698554, -9.205100
Hotel do Chiado: 38.710739, -9.139406
Pensão Ninho das Águias: 38.714706, -9.133806
VIP Executive Diplomático Hotel: 38.724266, -9.152737
Hotel Avenida Palace: 38.714836, -9.141189
Pensão Londres: 38.715587, -9.145944
Portas Largas: 38.712746, -9.145064
Bar Arroz 12: 38.712615, -9.145006
Primas: 38.713645, -9.145126
Jürgen\'s Bar: 38.712304, -9.144101
Oita Nove: 38.712083, -9.144582
A Tasca do Chico: 38.711628, -9.144132
Hennessy\'s Irish Pub: 38.706583, -9.142742
O\'Gilíns: 38.706882, -9.143792
British Bar: 38.706869, -9.143147
Estádio da Luz: 38.752711, -9.184774
Estádio do Restelo: 38.704033, -9.207107
Alcântara: 38.709441, -9.180880
Estádio Nacional: 38.708827, -9.260866
Santa Apolonia Station: 38.714176, -9.122615
Sporting/Estádio José Alvalade: 38.761230, -9.161796
Pestana CR7 Lisboa: 38.709150, -9.135948
Museu da Cerveja: 38.708322, -9.135768


Lisbon’s Portela Airport is only 7km (4 miles) north-east of town, a short taxi journey to either stadium.

The airport is at the terminus of the red line of Lisbon’s four-line metro network, accessible with a viagem (€0.50) card. A single ticket is €1.25, a 24-hour pass €5 that also allows use of the city’s various transports of delight – buses, rickety trams and public lifts – all run by Carris.

A taxi (+351 21 811 1100) from the airport should cost about €10-€15 to town and take 15 minutes.

Hotel do Chiado/Dave Gee


The Tourist Office in the Palácio Foz on Praça dos Restauradores has a hotel database.

The best lodging close to the Estádio da Luz is the upscale Lisbon Marriott, with fine views from the balcony adjoining each room.

Nearer Sporting, on the other side of the ring road from Campo Grande you’ll find upscale chain, the Radisson Blu Lisbon.

Jerónimos 8 was Lisbon’s first design hotel – and right by Belenenses too.

Pestana CR7 Lisboa/Liam Dawber

Near main Praça do Comércio in town, the Lisbon branch of the upscale Ronaldo-themed hotels that now stretch from Madeira to Madrid to New York, the Pestana CR7 Lisboa, features a CR 7 sports bar (with XI cocktails), resident DJ, Wi-Fi at 1GB/sec, gym and restaurant, as well as 82 chic rooms. A video screen in the lift shows the player in action, an audio backdrop in the corridors echoes with cheering fans. You half expect the quiffed wonder to walk into the bedroom at any time.

By Baixa-Chiado metro, directly connected with both Benfica and Sporting, the four-star Hotel do Chiado offers panoramic views. Good internet rates can be found for the VIP Executive Diplomático Hotel, surrounded by many others, and the landmark Hotel Avenida Palace couldn’t be more central.

The Pensão Londres is well priced and close to the bar action of Bairro Alto.

OITONove/Peterjon Cresswell


Lisbon’s nightlife hub of the Bairro Alto has long been gentrified and better bar life moved elsewhere, most notably to the Cais do Sodré, but it’s still worth a stroll. To access this tangle of steep, cobblestoned streets, take the Elevador da Glória, a tram that scales the short climb up there, from alongside Restauradores metro station. You soon stumble onto the main stretch of rua da Atalaia, where friendly Primas (No.154) echoes old-school Bairro Alto, with its museum-piece table-football table and jukebox, plus affordable beers. Further down at No.126, Cheers shows games on five large plasma screens while regulars and tourists set about some serious drinking.

Matches are also shown at trendier OITONove, one street over at rua da Barroca 89, while fado music and football merge at A Tasca do Chico (Rua do Diário de Noticias 39), done out in teams’ scarves of many colours.

Hennessy’s Irish Pub/Peterjon Cresswell

On the way down to Cais do Sodré, it’s probably worth popping into Spot Lisboa (Rua Nova do Almada 14), a sports bar with screens everywhere, close to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Pestana CR7 Lisboa hotel on Rua do Comércio, with its own sports bar and bistro. A block away by focal Praça do Comércio, the Museu da Cerveja is literally that, a beer museum with a convivial bar/restaurant on the first floor and an expansive terrace looking over the river.

Football-focused expat bars, Hennessey’s Irish Pub and O’Gilíns, are two minutes from each other tucked in from the Cais do Sodré, with the century-old British Bar in between at rua Bernadino da Costa 52. In the same vicinity behind O’Gilíns at Rua do Alecrim 21A, The Couch is a late-opening sports bar filled with 32 LED TVs offering 800 (!) different channels and seating for 100 punters.