The following activities are all accessible from the city center.
Bullfighting -- Bullfighting was once the sport of Portuguese noblemen. Unlike in neighboring Spain, the bull is not killed -- a prohibition the Marquês de Pombal instituted in the 18th century, after the son of the duke of Arcos was killed in the sport. Much ceremony and pageantry attend the drama: The major actors are elegantly costumed cavaleiros, who charge the bull on horseback, and maços de forçado, who grapple with the bull. Many find this face-to-face combat the most exciting component of the bullfight.
Warning: Bullfights are not spectacles fit for every taste. Even though the animal is not killed, many spectators find the event nauseating and object to the notion that it's a beautiful art form. The spears that jab the bull's neck draw blood, of course, making the animal visibly weaker. One reader wrote to us, "The animals are frightened, confused, and badgered before they are mercifully allowed to exit. What sport!"
The bullfighting season in Lisbon runs from Easter until mid-July. Lisbon's 8,500-seat Campo Pequeno, Avenida da República (tel. 21/793-21-43; www.campopequeno.com; Metro: Campo Pequeno), is the largest ring in the country. Bullfight aficionados may also commute to Montijo, an industrial town on the Setúbal peninsula, across the Tagus from Lisbon. Here, in Montijo, bullfights on a much smaller scale are presented on a somewhat erratic basis with the Praça de Touros Montijo (tel. 21/231-06-32).
The details of each tourada and the names of the stars who will appear are usually announced well in advance of each event. Your hotel concierge can usually help you arrange tickets, or try Agência de Bilhetes para Espectáculos Públicos, Praça dos Restauradores (tel. 21/347-58-24). Tickets generally cost 20€ to 65€, depending on whether they're in the sun or the shade.
Soccer -- The Portuguese love football (known to Americans as soccer). Nothing -- not even politics, boiled codfish, or fado -- excites them more. When favorite teams are playing, soccer has a following of startling passion and hysteria. "It's better than sex," one fan told us, although his wife disagreed. It's also a way for pickpockets to earn a living. They work the intent crowds, lifting wallets during intense moments.
Lisbon has a trio of teams that play almost every Sunday, but the season stretches only from September to May. You'll miss out if you visit in the summer. Try to arrive at least an hour before the match is scheduled to begin; pregame entertainment ranges from marching bands to fireworks.
The best-known team is Benfica, which holds matches in northwest Lisbon at the new and gigantic Estádio da Luz, Avenida General Norton Matos (tel. 21/721-95-00; Metro: Colégio Militar/Luz or Alto dos Moinhos). One of the largest sports stadiums in Europe, it evokes memories of the legendary Eusébio, who led his team to five European championship finals in the 1960s. All young soccer players in Lisbon grow up with dreams of becoming the next Eusébio.
The Sporting Clube de Portugal plays at the Estádio do José Alvalade (tel. 707/20-44-44), in the north of the city, near Campo Grande. The third team is Belém's Belenenses, which plays at the Estádio do Restelo (tel. 21/301-04-61). The team might not be as good or nearly as famous as Benfica, but don't tell that to a loyal fan during the heat of the game.
Tickets vary in price depending on the event but average 25€ to 80€. You can buy them on the day of the game at all three stadiums. However, when Benfica plays Sporting, tickets usually sell out; buy them in advance at the booth in Praça dos Restauradores. Tickets also go fast when FC Porto, from the northern city of Porto, Lisbon's main rival, is in town to play Benfica or Sporting.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.