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The Web Summit Survival Guide: 2018

I was a first time visitor to Web Summit last year, and fell in love with Lisbon. I wanted to pass on a few observations for fellow first time attendees, and anyone returning to the summit. You might have missed out on it's better features! Enjoy!

Web Summit has been described as ‘Glastonbury for geeks’ by The Guardian, and since moving to Lisbon in 2016 the event has become a big draw for the tech and digital community. This year there are estimated to be over 70,000 attendees and 1,200 speakers from over 170 countries. It is huge, and the speakers it draws are A-list; Al Gore, Sophia Bush, Wladimir Klitschko, Steve Huffman and Dustin Moskovitz from previous years. This year is no different…

Having so much choice spread across four days can be bewildering. It isn’t just your daytime activities you need to coordinate - Web Summit moves pretty seamlessly from Evening Summit and Night Summit. So what should you do to survive and make the most of your time there?

Last year I was a first time attendee… so (as at least 10,000 of you must be this year) here is a short list of tips that might help you enjoy you time in Portugal!


  • First off the city has an awesome underground network. Travel passes (Zapping) that will cover your trips for the week (Oyster-style for Londoners) are cheap and easy to pick up from the airport when you arrive. No need for lots of expensive taxis! Carris is the company that issue tickets, but there is plenty of info if you register for the summit at the airport.

  • If you’re planning your trip last minute and you don’t know where to stay DON’T stay near the summit or Marques de Pombal (where you will find many of the bigger hotels). All the action at Web Summit tends to happen around Pink Street and the nearest stop is Baixa-Chiado. Try and get close to that part of town. When you fall into your hotel at 2am or 3am, it’ll be much easier……..

  • Don’t know where to eat? Don’t have friends (I don’t) GET ON SLACK! Last year I joined the channel WebSummit 2017. It was invaluable as a lone attendee. I found out where events were going on, and in which bars groups of friendly people would be! Worried about dinner on your own? I suddenly had 20 potential dinner friends. Slack at an international event is a MUST. It will improve your time exploring the city no end.

  • Don’t be surprised to be offered drugs at every imaginable hour of the day. Portugal has some very forward thinking laws that treat drug related issues as a health, not criminal issue. Just avoid visiting with anyone called Charlie.

  • The Castle is so worth the walk up the hill. Views are stunning. Plus if you take a short walk off the tourist route and into the narrow streets that surround it, you might hear Fado music drifting through the open door of a traditional bar; you will feel like you’ve stepped into a different world entirely.

  • Finally, visit Park bar. A converted car park with amazing views over the city. Well worth a visit as your first evening turns to night. Great place to kick off your Web Summit adventure.

The Summit

  • If you’re keen to get into the summit for 10am (for example) don’t rock up at 9.45am. The queues are enough to make a Brit a little ashamed… and not every nationality observes queuing etiquette. It took me around 40 minutes to get in on the first morning. Set aside time accordingly!

  • Charge your phone and take portable charging units!! The Web Summit app is excellent. A full list of attendees makes it very easy to find like minded people via tagged key-interests. The summit is spread across four huge exhibition halls, each with several stages, and the main area. The Altice Arena is massive… so you’ll need that app to schedule your day and not miss events. Good news, the wifi is surprisingly good!

  • Hungry? Lunch in Web Summit is a major investment of time. Nothing is quick. Again, maybe plan ahead.

  • Got a busy day with meeting back-to-back. It takes a good 10 or 15 minutes to walk from one end of hall one to the other of hall four. Build time to get around into your day!

If you’re still not too sure what to expect head over to Tech Talks - my experiences are detailed on these two episodes published from Lisbon just under a year ago.

I can’t wait to dive back into Web Summit. Again we’re capturing the thoughts of the exhibitors, speakers and leaders descending on Lisbon. This time we’re sharing all the fun with an even bigger audience!

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