Lisbon is fast-becoming one of Europe’s most popular cities, finally getting the recognition it deserves with travelers and with very good reason: there’s a wide range of things to do in Lisbon. I haven’t been there yet, though my sister has, on a two weeks trip to Spain and Portugal, and she keeps nagging me that I should visit Lisbon. She’s told me all about it, and mentioned that there’s at least eleven things to do in Lisbon that should make me want to move it up to the top of my “must-visit” lists.
To view a list of places I have vowed to visit, check my post “10 places I would like to visit.”
I am keen to go, but I have such limited time at the moment (I hardly think I can spend more than 48 hours in Lisbon) that I don’t think I can spend more than a couple of days there, which means I have to plan everything in advance if I don’t want to waste any time scouting for activities. The good news is that a lot of the top things to do in Lisbon can actually be booked online, so I can just show up with my vouchers and enjoy the city.
I have done my research and between that and my sister’s tips, I have come up with a list of eleven incredible things to do in Lisbon that are totally hassle free and can be planned in advanced and enjoyed even by those that have limited time in the city.
Eleven Incredible Things To Do In Lisbon That Are Totally Hassle Free
Go on a walking tour
I always say that walking is the best way of discovering a city, and I would imagine the Portuguese capital is no different. That’s why I recommend going on a guided walking tour of Lisbon as one of the best things to do in Lisbon and to fully enjoy Lisbon attractions, such as the Terreiro do Paço and the Imperial Arch; the Cathedral and other beautiful churches; as well as Casa dos Bicos.
Here’s a list of the best walking tours of Lisbon:
- Lisbon essential tour
- Best of Lisbon walk
- Best of Lisbon walking tour: Rossio, Chiado and Alfama
- Lisbon private customized walking tour with a local guide
- Private 3-hour city walking tour
- Historical Lisbon neighborhood walking tour
- Gourmet walking tour and tastings
Visit Alfama neighborhood (and listen to Fado music)
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in town and a must for those who visit Lisbon. It’s characterized by irregular winding medieval streets and alleyways that have been the neighborhood of fishermen for as long as anybody can remember.
Also in Alfama, one of the top things to do in Lisbon is enjoying an authentic Fado music (the traditional music of Lisbon) show. Apparently it can get very emotional: my sister told me that she was glad she had tissues in her purse. Fado shows tickets can be purchased online in advance. Since it is a popular show, I highly recommend doing that.
Here’s some of the best tours of Alfama:
- Lisbon essential tour
- Lisbon Fado and Alfama tour
- Fado music of Lisbon 3 hour cultural walking tour
- Best of Lisbon walking tour: Rossio, Chiado and Alfama
- Segway tour of Alfama
- 2.5 hours private segway tour of Alfama
- Alfama district 2.5 hours walking tour
Take a street art tour
I love street art, and rumor has it that one of the coolest things to see in Lisbon is its fabulous street art. The thing with street art, though, is that one is either lucky enough to bump into it, like it happened to me in Tel Aviv, or it is better to really know where it is. Taking a street art tour may be one of the most fun things to do in Lisbon, then – and it can be also a cool way to learn more about the city.
These are some of the best street art tours of Lisbon:
Enjoy the amazing nightlife
It’s a fact: one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon is enjoying its fabulous nightlife. People who visit Lisbon will agree that 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! Going to Pink Street, down the hill, is what to do in Lisbon for anyone who wants to carry on partying.
Those who visit Lisbon won’t have a problem finding a street that’s pink in name, and pink in nature. It’s not often that one hat to look down to find out where they are! The nightclubs in Pink Street are bouncing until the sun comes up. Such good fun.
One of the coolest things to do in Lisbon to fully appreciate it’s nightlife is taking a pub crawl tour. They can even be booked online.
Here’s the best nightlife tours of Lisbon:
Eat all the sea food…
My sister and I grew up in Sardinia – we know a thing or two about good sea food. Yet, my sister won’t stop saying that one of the best things to do in Lisbon is eating sea food. She believes it is quite possibly the freshest seafood she’s ever had.
Lisbon is on the Atlantic Coast as well as other cities I have visited last summer during my Camino del Norte to Santiago de Compostela, such as Bilbao and San Sebastian. My sister and I compared the prices of food in Spain with those of Lisbon and it turned out that the food is cheaper and apparently, just as good. Those who visit Lisbon will have to agree!
To read more about my experience along the Camino del Norte, check my post “Places to visit in Spain along the Camino del Norte.”
Speaking to the locals is what to do in Lisbon to get a better understanding of what the main local specialties are. Apparently, 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.
One of the top things to do in Lisbon is eating at Cervejaria Ramiro, potentially the most popular and well-known seafood restaurant in town. Rumor has it that 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 I believe a sound indication of quality. No, it’s not as cheap as some other restaurants. But yes, it’s worth it.
These are some of the best food tours of Lisbon:
- Lisbon gourmet walking tour and tastings
- Private 3 hour food and wine tour
- Lisbon half day food tour
- Lisbon private food tour
… and gorge on the famous pastries
One of the unmissable things to do in Lisbon is trying the most famous pastry, the Pastel de nata or Portuguese custard tart in English.
These delicious treats were created by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem. The Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém is still serving them up. Going to Belem, a tranquil old town just a two-mile walk up the coast, is what to do in Lisbon when in search of a treat.
If the short journey to Belem seems too much, then Manteigaria does a killer pastry (the best in town according to trip advisor) and is located right where the areas of Bairro Alto and Chaido meet, which are other Lisbon attractions.
Walk up the hills
Lisbon is built on seven hills (something which actually reminds me of Rome!), which are definitely among the top Lisbon attractions. The good news is that they provide a great way to burn off all the delicious food and drink that anybody who visit Lisbon is bound to have. Walking up the hills is one the things to do in Lisbon, for sure.
In any case, those who visit Lisbon but are too lazy to have a work out can enjoy a tuc tuc guided tour or even an electric bike tour. I may give it a try, I do enjoy going around on a tuc tuc.
To find out why I like tuc tucs, check my post “Why I toured Sardinia on a tuc tuc.”
The Seven Hills of Lisbon, as they are known, are what the Portuguese capital is built upon. The hilly terrain gives the city a depth and distinctiveness unlike any other capital city one 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. That’s why the Seven Hills are among the things to see in Lisbon.
Here’s some of the coolest tuk tuk tours of Lisbon:
- Lisbon 2 hour tuk tuk tour
- 7 Fado hills by tuk tuk
- Lisbon 1 hour tour by tuk tuk
- Lisbon 3 hour sightseeing tour by tuk tuk
- Lisbon 2 hour historic tram 28 tour by eco tuk tuk
- Lisbon guided city of hills tour by tuk tuk
Appreciate the outstanding value
One of the reasons I have yet to visit Lisbon is that the flights aren’t super cheap (I have been looking!), but apparently once there the cost of living is actually minimal. So it is worth investing a bit.
Eating and drinking out does not have to be expensive at all. As always, my recommendation as a seasoned traveller is to stay away from the main pedestrian areas and city-centre squares. One of the things do to in Lisbon is to wander down towards the water for the cheapest sea food.
Eating out is what to do in Lisbon, and doing it regularly is very much part of the Portuguese culture, therefore locals dine out as readily as tourists, this keeps standards high and prices low.
Portuguese wine is also under-rated and much, much cheaper than imported wine from Spain, Italy or France. If interacting with the locals is one of the nicest things to do in Lisbon, asking the waiters for recommendations is a must – they’re a friendly bunch and as proud to sell local wine as they are to up-sell the imported variety!
One of the things to do in Lisbon to save even more money is buying the Lisbon Card online. This can be valid for a period of 24, 48 or 72 hours (perfect for flash-packers); it allows free access to 23 museums in Lisbon and even work as a public transportation ticket.
Travelers coming from outside the Euro-zone may find that exchanging currency is what to do in Lisbon. In my case, as I come from the Euro-zone, I won’t need to exchange any currency. For those who do, I suggest using WeSwap, known as the people’s currency exchange. WeSwap allows travelers to swap currency among themselves so that they can avoid paying transaction or exchange fees and save money that they can better spend on their holidays.
Enjoy the colors and the sunsets
A bit like it’s more lauded Spanish cousin, Barcelona, Lisbon is a place synonymous with color. Taking in all the colors is one of the things to do in Lisbon.
Given all the hills, it’s easy to miss sunset and important that to try and time the day and position to enjoy it at least one or two. The sun kisses off the multi-colored buildings delivering an incredible spectacle. Watching the sunset is definitely among the best things to do in Lisbon.
My sister gave me an incredible insider’s tip (she’s good at looking for those!). She mentioned that one great vantage point can be found from “Park” bar in Bairro Alto. Park is situated on the top level of a multi-story car park but don’t worry, it’s not as grey as it sounds. 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 (standard for Lisbon). The sunset is definitely one of the things to see in Lisbon.
Another great find for a high-rise cocktail is “Entrentanto” at the summit of Hotel Chiado. This has fantastic views over the houses and up to Castelo de S. Jorge, another one of Lisbon attractions.
Take a boat tour along the Tagus
Speaking of sunset, one of the top things to do in Lisbon is going on a sail boat tour along the Tagus, and actually enjoy the sunset views from there, sipping a glass of champagne or an icy cold beer. I wonder if I would get sea sick there, as I did when I attempted to sail in Panama.
These are some of the best boat tours in Lisbon:
- Lisbon sunset sailing tour
- Lisbon private 2 hour sunset sailing tour
- Lisbon 2 hour Tagus river sailing cruise
- Lisbon 2 hour small group afternoon sailing tour
- Sailing in Lisbon 2 hour tour
Take a day trip out of the city
My sister showed me marvelous photos of Sintra and Cascais. I thought I would not have time to go, but then I realized they are so close to Lisbon and easy to reach that I may, actually. I am pretty sure that one of the nicest things to do in Lisbon is to actually go on a day trip out of the city.
These are some of the best day trip tours from Lisbon:
- Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais full day tour from Lisbon
- Sintra and Cascais full day group tour from Lisbon
- Best of Sintra and Cascais full day tour from Lisbon
- Sintra Pena Palace full day tour from Lisbon
- Sintra full day tour from Lisbon with wine tasting
- Half day Sintra tour from Lisbon with transfers
- National Palace of Sintra fast track ticket
Where to stay in Lisbon
As one of Western Europe’s absolute top cities, Lisbon is packed with good accommodation options for all budgets: there’s simply lots of great places to stay in Lisbon. Given the good value for money, one of the best things to do in Lisbon is staying at a fabulous hotel. My sister stayed at Solar Do Mouros and told me wonders about it.
Have you ever been to Lisbon? What did you like the most about it?
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