There are many incredible things to do in Lisbon – this is one of the best places to visit in Portugal after all! The Portuguese capital is fast-becoming one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, finally getting the attention it deserves and with very good reason: there’s a wide range of activities. If you ever go on a two weeks trip to Spain and Portugal, you should make sure to visit Lisbon.
If you don’t know where to start in planning your trip, you are in the right place. I have selected the best things to do in Lisbon for you, and I will be sharing a bunch of tips that will help you plan your visit and make the most of it.
The Best Things To Do In Lisbon
Go on a walking tour
A walking tour is definitely one of the things to do to get acquainted with the city. You’ll visit places such as the Terreiro do Paço and the Imperial Arch; the Cathedral and other beautiful churches; as well as Casa dos Bicos.
Ride Tram 28
One in 2 photos of Lisbon you’ll see is that of the yellow tram going up and down the hills – that’s Tram 28, which links Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique. If you think this is just a tourist attraction, think again: locals also ride the tram at the end of their working day. The tram gets packed after 12:00 pm so if you plan on going on a ride, make sure to go earlier – unless you like the idea of mixing up with the locals!
For a tour that follows the route of Tram 28 click here.
Visit the Alfama neighborhood
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in town, having survived an earthquake in 1775. It’s a very pleasant place for a walk. It’s characterized by irregular winding medieval streets and alleyways that have been the neighborhood of fishermen for as long as anybody can remember. This is you’ll find some of the most famous attractions in Lisbon, such as the Cathedral, the Fado Museum, and the Castelo de Sao Jorge.
You can book a guided tour of Alfama here.
Visit Lisbon Cathedral
Lisbon Cathedral, also called the Sé, is located in the Alfama District and dates back to the 12th century (it was built in 1147 by Alfonso I) and is the oldest church in Lisbon. It’s known to have survived many earthquakes, including that of 1755. Having been partially destroyed and restored many times, the church is an interesting mix of architectural styles which include Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.
While visiting, make sure to pay the extra fee to access the cloisters and the treasury.
The church is open daily from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Access is free, but the cloisters and treasury have an admission fee of €2.50. The cloisters are open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm every day except on Sunday, when they open at 2:00 pm. The treasury is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day but Sunday, when it remains closed.
Go to the Castelo de Sao Jorge
Castelo de Sao Jorge, with its 11 towers, lookout points and well kept gardens is a nice place to visit. It was built in the mid-11th century by the Moors and served various purposes, including that of Royal Palace and military barracks. Standing proud on the Alfama, from there you can get views of the Baixa and Tagus River.
St. George’s Castle is open daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. Admission is €10. You can get tickets (including a guided tour) here.
Listen to Fado
Enjoying an authentic Fado music (the traditional music of Lisbon) show is a must when in Alfama. It can get very emotional – yet it’s one of the most popular things to do in Lisbon. Start your Fado experience by popping into the Museu do Fado, then continue with a show.
The Fado Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €5 and tickets must be bought in advance directly on the museum site, here.
If you want to go to a Fado show, you should get tickets in advance. You can get them here.
Visit the Monastery of Jerónimos and Belém Tower
Located in Belém, the Monastery of Jerónimos is one of the unmissable places to visit in Lisbon. This is where Vasco da Gama spent his last days before traveling to Asia! Another one of Lisbon’s UNESCO sites, it was built to mark “the age of exploration” – Portugal’s most glorious period – in a fusion of styles that are meant to symbolize the many cultures encountered by Portuguese explorers.
The Monastery is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm in the winter months and to 6:30 pm in the summer months. While visiting the main chapel is free, the monastery has a €10 admission fee. You can get tickets here.
The Belém Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon. Built for protective purposes, from the tower you can enjoy views of the Tagus River, the April 25 bridge, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Belém Tower is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm in the winter months and from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm in the summer months. Admission is €6 and is included in the Lisbon Card, which you can get here.
Walk up the hills
The capital of Portugal is built on seven hills (something which actually reminds me of Rome!), and walking up them is one of the things to do in Lisbon. The hilly terrain gives the city a depth and distinctiveness unlike any other capital city you may travel to. The mood and aesthetics often differ wildly from one neighborhood to the next – or even the top of the hill, compared to the bottom.
To explore the hills of Lisbon, you may want to consider a guided tour. There are various on offers – electric bike tours, or tuk tuk tours such as this one.
Take in the views of Lisbon
Lisbon is a city of views and you will have many opportunities to enjoy them. These are the best viewpoints in town:
Miradouro São Pedro de Alcantara – you can get to this viewpoint, located in a nice park, with the Gloria Funicular from Restadaures Square. It’s a great place for sunset views, which span to Praça do Comércio and São Vicente de Fora Church.
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte – probably the best viewpoint in town, it’s best enjoyed early in the morning or at sunset. It’s not far from Castelo de Sao Jorge, from where you can walk to the Miradouro do Graça.
Miradouro do Graça – easy to reach on Tram 28, it offers views of Sao Jorge Castle. Alternatively, you could take a taxi to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and then walk down to Miradouro do Graça, as they are actually quite close.
Miradouro Santa Caterina – easily one of the best sunset spots in Lisbon, from where you can admire the river. You can get there with the Elevador de Bica.
Miradouro Santa Luzia – the best viewpoint in the Alfama District. Close by you will also find the Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
Cristo Rei in Cacilhas – located in the picturesque Cacilhas district, you can get there by ferry from Cais de Sodré. This statue very much looks like the one in Rio! It’s open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €6.
Dome of the Panteao Nacional (National Pantheon) – once a church, this Baroque building was first opened during the second half of the 16th century (but it was restored completely in the 17th century). A gorgeous place to visit in and of itself, the Dome provides stunning views of Lisbon. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Castelo de Sao Jorge – already mentioned above!
Park – a nice bar in Bairro Alto, on the top level of a multi-story car park. Once past the ground level and up the lift the view opens up and it is simply spectacular and there’s a cool young crowd and affordable drinks. Going there for sunset is definitely a must.
Entrentanto – a high-rise cocktail bar at the summit of Hotel Chiado, it has fantastic views over the houses and up to Castelo de S. Jorge.
Ride the Santa Justa lift
Easily one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon, the Elevador de Santa Justa was built in 1902 to connect the lower city streets of the Baixa neighborhood with the Bairro Alto district. It’s located in a 45-meter gothic-style tower that was actually built by Eiffel. Once you get to the top, there is a nice terrace to take in yet more views of the city.
A ride on the elevator costs €5.50. It is open daily from 7:00 am to 10:45 pm.
Take a boat tour along the Tagus
Speaking of sunset and romance, make sure to go on a sail boat tour along the Tagus. You can really find all sorts of options – day tours, and even sunset or evening cruises, some of them including drinks and dinner. I personally recommend a sunset tour, so that you actually get nice views while sipping a glass of champagne or an icy cold beer. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon.
You can book your sailing trip along the Tagus here.
Go to São Vicente de Fora Church
Also devastated by the 1755 earthquake, this lovely, lesser known church is where you’ll find the tombs of various Portuguese kings. Next to the church, the cloisters are another must-see. They are covered in beautiful azulejos and there is a mausoleum containing the tombs of crusaders.
Pop inside the Igreja de Sao Domingos
Much like the Covento do Carmo and Sao Vicente Church, this church suffered the damages caused by the 1755 earthquake and was later on destroyed by a fire in 1959. The roof collapsed and was rebuilt, and the church restored, but to date the church still shows the sign of these natural events on it walls.
Visit the Basílica da Estrela
Built in 1790 by Queen Maria I to celebrate the birth of her son, the church has impressive twin towers and a dome, and is one of the best places to visit in Lisbon. Access to the church is free but if you want to go up the terrace there’s an €4 fee.
Hang out in one of the many gorgeous squares
Squares are among the best places to visit in Lisbon for people watching. Rossio Square – Praça Dom Pedro IV – is located in the Baixa Chiado. The square, which was dedicated to the first emperor of Brazil, is a beautiful place, characterized by white wave-patterned cobblestones and two stunning Baroque fountains. Around the square, the many cafés (the most famous one is Café Nicola) make it a perfect place to hang out.
Another square you may want to see is Praça do Comércio, one of the largest in Europe. You’ll find it right by the Tagus River in the Baixa Chiado. At its center you’ll be able to spot the equestrian statue of King José I. At the back of the square, make sure to observe the Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta – you can go up the terrace for a small fee. Much like Rossio Square, in Praça do Comércio you’ll are various cafès and small restaurants perfect to relax for an hour or so.
Admire the Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument
A short distance from the Belém Tower, on the way to the river, the 170-foot tall Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument (Monument to the Discoveries) is an interesting landmark. The monument was inaugurated in 1960 and is meant to commemorate the age of discoveries. It’s a cool spot to see – as it literally rises from the banks of the river. You can also pay a small fee to climb to the observation deck for impressive views.
The monument is open daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm March to September and Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm October to February. Admission is €6.
Visit Museu Coleção Berardo
If you are into modern art, one of the best things to do in Lisbon is visiting this art gallery located close to Belem. You will find two permanent exhibits with works of Picasso, Miró, Warhol and other contemporary national and international artists; and two temporary exhibits.
If you are traveling with children, you will be happy to find an educational program that is specific for them!
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €5; free on Sundays.
Visit Carmo Archeological Museum
Visiting this museum is one of the quirkiest things to do in Lisbon! Located in the old nave of Convento do Carmo Church, which was completely destroyed during the 1755 earthquake, Carmo Archeological Museum houses an interesting collection of objects that were donated in the 19th century and which include the tomb of King Ferdinand I; two Peruvian mummies and an Egyptian one; a collection of azulejos and more.
Visit in the summer for the chance of attending one of the concerts held in front of the ruins.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (October to April) and from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (May to September). Admission is €5.
Visit the Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira
Built in 1640, this palace is still inhabited and an incredible place to visit. Inside, you can admire some of the most impressive oil paintings and tilework in Lisbon, and the gardens are fantastic to explore too, with fountains, statues and more.
The Palace can only be visited on guided tours that must be previously arranged and is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is €11 for both the palace and the garden, and €6 for the garden only.
Gourmet Things To Do In Lisbon
Eat all the sea food
Eating seafood is one of the best things to do in Lisbon. It’s quite possibly the freshest seafood you’ll ever have!
Lisbon is on the Atlantic Coast, and with so much fish on offer the prices of seafood are quite convenient here.
Speaking to the locals is a good idea to get a better understanding of what the main local specialties are. One type of fish comes up time and time again: sardines. Always listen to what the fishermen – who know this land, and this ocean better than anyone – recommend.
Make sure to eat at Cervejaria Ramiro, the most popular and well-known seafood restaurant in town. It’s busy no matter the time of day: in the middle of the afternoon or in the middle of the night. It’s better to book ahead. It’s also equally as popular with locals as it is with travelers – which is a sound indication of quality. No, it’s not as cheap as some other restaurants. But yes, it’s worth it.
Go on a food tour
There is no better way to discover the flavors of Lisbon than going on a food tour. It definitely is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Lisbon.
Gorge on the famous pastries
You really have to try Lisbon’s most famous pastry, the Pastel de nata or Portuguese custard tart in English. It’s one of the unmissable things to do in Lisbon.
These treats were created by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. The Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém is still serving them up. If the short journey to Belem seems too much, then Manteigaria does a killer pastry and is located right where the areas of Bairro Alto and Chaido meet.
Ginjinha is a strong berry liquor that you can find in most cafés and that, despite being extremely sweet, locals seem to enjoy. You can have a shot or even try it with a wafer biscuit.
Head to a food market
Food markets are usually my go to places to get a bit of local action, wherever I go. I find that browsing through the stalls, looking at what people buy and eat, I get a better understanding of the local culture. For sure, going to a food market is one of the most fun things to do in Lisbon.
Make sure to head to Mercado de Alvalade Norte, a farmer market where you can buy directly from the farmers. Visit the fish and seafood section to get fresh fish, and try out the breads in the bakery section.
The Mercado de Alvadade Norte is open Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Another more local market you may want to visit is the Mercado 31 de Janeiro, in the Saldanha neighborhood.
The Mercado 31 de Janeiro is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12:30 pm to 3 pm and 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm; and on Sundays from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm.
Finally, you really can’t skip the Time Out Market, an immense food court enjoyed by both locals and tourists, and where you’ll find specialties from all over the world.
The Time Out Market is open daily from 10:00 am to 10:30 pm.
Fun Things To Do In Lisbon
Take a street art tour
Lisbon if packed with excellent street art, and you may come across several murals on your wanderings across town. The best spots for street art are the Bairro Alto, around Rua de São Boaventura and Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus; Alfama and Graça; and the Mouraria neighborhood, with entire murals beautifully dedicated to Fado.
If you want something a bit more structured, opt for a guided street art tour. You can book it here.
Enjoy the amazing nightlife
It’s a fact: if you visit the Portuguese capital, you have to enjoy its fabulous nightlife. The Bairro Alto is the liveliest district in central Lisbon – well known for its vibrant bars and quirky pubs. People tend to spill out of the different bars and drink together on the thin, winding, cobbled streets. It is popular with students too so the prices of drinks are highly competitive.
Bairro Alto shuts down around midnight – but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! Go to Pink Street, down the hill, to carry on partying. You won’t have a problem finding a street that’s pink in name, and pink in nature. It’s not often that you have to look down to find out where they are! The nightclubs in Pink Street are bouncing until the sun comes up.
If you fancy a pub-crawl, you can book it online here.
Go to Feira da Ladra
If you have a passion for anything vintage, going to Feira da Ladra is one of the ultimate things to do in Lisbon. At this flea market, you can find literally anything – what’s a person’s garbage may well be your next treasure!
Feira da Ladra is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Shopaholics beware! Lisbon is packed with incredible shopping opportunities. Whether you like shopping for yourself or you are in search for the ultimate souvenir, shopping is a lot of fun in Lisbon.
Among the quirkiest souvenirs you can get in Lisbon there is high quality canned food (yes, that’s right!). Conserveira de Lisboa, in Praça do Comércio, is the place to go for that. It became popular in the 1930s when canned food was a cheap alternative to fresh food, but now the quality of canned stuff has significantly increased! The best sellers are all the fish goodies – tuna, mackerel and the like.
Another great place for a shopping spree is LX Factory, an old textile factory in what was an abandoned part of town, which has been converted in a fun, creative space with lots of nice independent shops (especially vintage!) and cool restaurants. You’ll also find lots of street art; cooking classes; dance classes and more. It’s open every day, but if you are hoping to find a bit more of a local scene (it’s actually become quite a touristy spot) head there on a Sunday. That’s when there’s also an open air market.
Finally, Príncipe Real is another fantastic, artsy and definitely less touristy area where you can get your shopping done. Make sure to hit Praça do Príncipe Real, a nice small garden with mansions-turned-designer studios. Once you are done with your shopping, you will find plenty of cool bars for a drink – the best cocktails are at Cinco Lounge!
Become a kid again at the Oceanarium and Pavilhao do Conhecimento
One of the best things to do in Lisbon for families with children is visiting the Pavilhao do Conhecimento (Pavillion of Knowledge). Located in Parque das Nações, this is a contemporary science museum with lots of interactive exhibits, experiments and workshops that are fun for children and adults alike.
The Pavillion of Knowledge is open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €10 for adults; children pay between €7 and €8 depending on their age.
Another cool place is the Oceanarium, which is home to over 8,000 sea creatures and around 500 species. Children will love admiring the penguins, sunfish, jellyfish and much more!
The Oceanarium is open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Admission is €19. Tickets can be bought here.
Go to a soccer game
Portuguese people are massive soccer fans, so one of most fun things to do when in Lisbon is going to a soccer game. Luz Stadium is home of SL Benfica Football Club, one of the most famous Portuguese teams. If you don’t fancy going to a game, or there is no game at the time of your visit, you may still opt to go: the stadium has an interesting museum where you can learn more about the history of soccer in Portugal.
For a guided tour of the stadium, click here.
Take a day trip out of the city
There are many places you can visit on day trips from Lisbon, so if you have enough time definitely make sure to spend a day or two out of town!
One of the most popular places to visit at easy distance from Lisbon is Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hills, woods, lavish palaces, and ancient castles. The highlight there is the 1855 Palácio da Pena, which you’ll recognize from the painted red and yellow towers. Another interesting place is the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the one with the two white conical chimneys. Finally, you could also visit the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), an 8th century castle built by the moors fully restored in the 19th century.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €10 and tickets can be bought here.
Castelo dos Mouros is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Admission is €8. You can buy tickets here.
You can get to Sintra is by train from Lisbon Rossio station. Once in Sintra, take 434 bus as this visits all the main sights. You can also go on guided day trips from Lisbon to Sintra. Find out more here or here.
Cascais is one of the closest beach towns to Lisbon. It’s a lovely place with a pretty center and the nice Praia da Ribeira beach. It’s a good place to hang out, get out of the city and enjoy some sun.
You can get there with the train that departs every 20 minutes from Cais do Sodré station. Or else, you can go there on one of the tours that also go to Sintra and Cabo da Roca. Book it here.
Evora and the Alentejo
Evora is the main city in Alentejo, one of the most famous wine producing regions in Portugal. It’s an easy day trip from Lisbon, during which you can discover the city – a series of narrow cobbled streets, a Roman temple, an aqueduct, the Evora cathedral, and the famous Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones); and also go wine tasting.
You can easily get to Evora by bus or train from Lisbon. Alternatively, you can book your guided tour here.
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Lisbon
When to visit Lisbon
The best time to visit Lisbon is the shoulder season – March, April and May; and September and October. That’s when the days are nice and warm, without being too hot, and there are less crowds – which means the city is also not as expensive as it may get in the peak season. If you are lucky enough you may even squeeze in a beach day in September!
Where to stay in Lisbon
There are lots of great places to stay in Lisbon. Given the good value for money, I recommend staying at a fabulous hotel.
Here’s a selection of amazing places to stay in Lisbon:
- Hotel Solar Dos Mouros has lovely rooms and offers a scrumptious breakfast. Click here for the latest rates.
- Lisbon Cheese and Wine Suites caters to people in search of unique experiences. Click here for the latest rates.
- Hotel Convento do Salvador is located in Alfama. Click here for the latest rates.
- Belem 147 Apartment is perfect as a self-catering option. Click here for the latest rates.
- Yes Lisbon Hostel is a great boutique hostel catering to budget travelers. Click here for the latest rates.
Money saving tips
One of the tips to save even more money is buying the Lisbon Card. This can be valid for a period of 24, 48 or 72 hours; it gives you access to 23 museums in Lisbon and even works as a public transportation ticket. Keep in mind that doesn’t include Sintra Palace. For a Lisbon Card that also includes Sintra Palace, click here.
How to get to Lisbon from the airport
Getting to Lisbon from the airport is very easy.
BY METRO – The most budget friendly way. The metro will take you to the financial district in around 15 minutes and for a mere €1.50. You may have to change to get to your final destination.
BY BUS – Aerobus 1, 2 and 3, various city buses (numbers 705, 722, 744 and 783) and the night bus regularly connect the city center with the airport.
BY TAXI – Taxis cost an average of €15 to get to the city center, though the final price depends on the time of day and on traffic.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER – You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city center via Welcome Pickups here.
How to move around Lisbon
Public transportation in Lisbon works well. If you are visiting for a short time chances are you’ll be staying in the city center so you probably won’t need to use the bus or the metro (except to get to the airport).
If you do need to use the public transport, you can count on various tram lines, buses and metro and that it is actually very convenient. Here’s a breakdown of public transportation costs:
ONE WAY TICKET – €1,50. If you buy it directly on the bus or tram it will cost €2 or €3.
DAY TICKET – €6,40, valid for 24 hours.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Make sure to read my other posts:
- 10 Fantastic Day Trips From Porto
- The Best Restaurants In Porto For The Best Porto Food
- The Best Places To Visit In Portugal
- 18 Cool Things To Do In Porto