When you think of world capitals for business travel and event planning, Lisbon, Portugal, may not be the first to come to mind, but it certainly has an allure that can compete with other major cities.

Lisbon offers modern convention facilities, unique venues housed in centuries-old buildings to modern spaces or the sea – not to mention St. George Castle. It also has excellent business and luxury hotels. Those organizations that haven’t given Lisbon some thought should give it a look.

Approximately 600,000 people live in Lisbon, but more than 3.7 million live in the Lisbon Region, which extends to Estoril/Cascais, an area that’s appropriately described as the Portuguese Riviera. With its location near the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year with temperatures averaging 71 – 79 degrees F between April and September.

It’s helpful if international planners view the city of Lisbon into four different sections: the city center (which includes Baixa, Chiado, Barro Alto and downtown), Nations Park (which is located in the eastern part of Lisbon), Belém, and Estoril/Cascais (which is more of a resort area on the Atlantic coast).

The city center retains Lisbon’s character from its past, while adding modern conveniences. Nations Park is Lisbon’s contemporary region, a riverside area that was established for the World Expo ’98 and has since developed into its own business and leisure destination. The Belém quarter is located opposite from Nations Park within Lisbon along the riverside, and is where the largest number of historical sites that are connected to the Portuguese people – and where pastéis de Belém were created, the famous Portuguese custard pastries. Estoril/Cascais is a charming and picturesque destination of its own.

The Coach Museum is a popular venue where private receptions and other special events are held in Lisbon.

And each of these areas within Lisbon is prepared to achieve any meeting objective, but they have moved into the 21st century while retaining an authentic Portuguese character. You’ll find that tourists aren’t lining the streets the way they may be in other cities; instead, walking through Bairro Alto or Chiado (both in the city center) and other parts of Lisbon you’ll encounter the friendly demeanor of local Portuguese who are living their daily routines, whether they’re shopping or simply enjoying their coffee (the Portuguese love their coffee) at a café.

By the way, Rua Augusta is the main street in Baixa (also the city center) which serves as a pedestrian shopping street where you’ll find dozens of shops and street artists – a great spot to find event gifts for your guests.

Lisbon offers meeting and event planners the opportunity to experience the authenticity of the Portuguese people — in a European city that has somehow retains its own character. It’s the warmth of its people and Portuguese cuisine that will help contribute to a memorable meeting or event in Lisbon.

Popular Business Travel Hotels in Lisbon (Region)

More than 65 hotels fall into the four and five star categories and roughly 11,000 guest rooms. Here are some standouts in the area:

Other hotel highlights include Bairro Alto Hotel, Dom Pedro Palace, Lapa Palace Lisbon and Palacio Estoril Hotel & Golf, among others.

Popular Event Venues & Restaurants in Lisbon (Region)

Casa do Leao, Casino Estoril, Casino Lisboa, Coach Museum, FIL Meeting Center, Fortalezo do Guincho, Hard Rock Cafe, Jeronimos Monastery, Lisboa Congress Centre, Nations Park, Quinta da Regaleira, St. George Castle, The Cultural Center of Belem,

Other restaurant suggestions from the Lisbon Convention Bureau include Elevan (Michelin star), Bica do Sapato, Kais, Taveres, Clube de Fado, Travessa, Estufa Real, and Restaurant Valle Flor. The Lisboa Convention Bureau offers several group activities.

Convention Centers in Lisbon, Portugal
  • FIL Meeting Center (Nations Park)
    – Auditoriums: 3
    – Meeting Rooms: 4
    – Foyer: 2 (500 m2)
    – Restaurant: International Fair Lisbon Facilities (400)
    – Total Meeting Area: 1000 m2
  • FIL – International Fair of Lisbon (Nations Park)
    – Pavilions: 4 with more than 10,000 m2
    – Multi-Purpose Pavilion: 1,200 m2
    – Meeting Rooms: 10 in each pavilion (15-35 capacity)
    – Total Area: 100,000 m2
    – Loading Bay: More than 300 vehicles
    – Cafeterias: 4
    – Snack Bars: 4
    – Grand Hall: 1,900 m2
    – Restaurant Capacity: 400
  • Lisboa Congress Centre (Belém)
    – Auditoriums: 8
    – Halls: 5
    – Meeting Rooms: 28
    – Foyers: 6
    – Exhibition Space: 10,000 m2
    – Total area: 30,000 m2
    – Cafeterias: 2
    – Restaurant Capacity: 400
  • Cultural Centre of Belém
    – Comprised of three buildings
    – 3.990 m2 feet of exhibit space
Meetings Venues and Activities in Lisbon, Portugal

For more information, contact, Visit Lisboa.

Updated. Initially published August 16, 2010.