Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, as well as one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is situated in the western part of the country, on the north bank of Tagus River, the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula.
Lisbon is a popular tourist destination that is famous for its beautiful architecture, rich history & cultural attractions, as well as a mild Mediterranean climate, vibrant nightlife and attractive beaches.
Some of the best things to do in Lisbon are visiting the ancient Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; exploring the historic Alfama neighborhood; strolling through the colorful streets of the Bairro Alto district; and taking a ride on the city’s famous trams.
There are also traditional Portuguese foods, such as pastel de nata (custard tart) and Bacalhau (dried salted cod), as well as enjoy the vibrant nightlife and listen to the Fado music.
You can also take a day trip to the nearby Cascais coastal town and the charming Sintra town by trains.
28 Best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal
1. Torre de Belém
Belém Tower, also known as Torre de Belém in Portuguese, is one of the top landmarks that you shouldn’t miss while visiting the capital city of Portugal as it is one of Lisbon’s most well-known tourist attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Belém Tower was built in the 16th century during the reign of Manuel I, as a defense against attacks and invasions from the Tagus, by the Portuguese architect, Francisco de Arruda.
You can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city. The tower is also a symbol of the Age of Exploration, as it was from this tower that Portuguese explorers set sail on their voyages of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Belém Tower is conveniently situated in the Belem district, on the north bank of the Tagus River, close to the Monastery of Jerónimos. It is around 3 km from central Lisbon, and is easily accessible by a 25-minute picturesque tram ride from the center of city.
The Belém Tower opens 10 am to 5:30 pm from October to April, and 10 am to 6.30 pm from May to September. Admission fee is 9€ for adults and is free for children under 12 years old and with the Lisboa Card. While in the area, you can also visit the Berardo Museum and Hieronymites’ Monastery.
2. Tram 28
Taking a Tram no. 28 is one of the cool ways to explore the Portuguese capital and see its highlights.Tram number 28 is an iconic yellow tram, and was established in 1914, with a 7km route.
Tram number 28 starts at Martim Moniz, ends at Campo Ourique, and passess through popular neighborhoods such as Baixa, Alfama, Graça, and Estrela.
Famous attractions along the route are the Sé Cathedral,National Pantheon, Miradouro da Graça, Arco da Rua Augusta, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, São Jorge Castle, and Basílica da Estrela.
Tram 28 runs every 15 minutes in normal hours, and every 10 minutes during peak hours. The ride is free with a Lisbon Card, and about €3 for one ride. You can buy it onboard or at its kiosks around the city.
As it can be crowded, it is recommended to take care of your belongings, and be aware of pickpocketing.
3. Alfama District
Alfama District is the oldest district in Lisbon, located on a hill overlooking the city. It is filled with narrow medieval alleys, historic buildings, and colorful houses. You can feel stepping back in time while walking through the neighborhood.
You can just stroll through labyrinthine alleyways, explore shops, bars, cafés, and attractions along the way. Some attractions to see in the Alfama neighborhood are:
- the Castelo de São Jorge, former castle of the Moors, Amalfi’s highest point
- Fado Museum, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Alfama is also known for its Fado music, a type of Portuguese folk music that originated in the area
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia, great viewpoint offers views over the city
- Lisbon’s Sé Cathedral
- Igreja da Madalena
- the Panteão Nacional, has tombs of Portugal’s most famous figures.
In addition to sightseeing, you can ride tram number 28, enjoy a drink at the Memmo Alfama red pool rooftop, shop at the Feira da Ladra, the thieves market, as well as enjoy local food and cafes.
Sintra is located around 30 km from Lisbon, making it a popular day trip destination for the capital of Portugal. Sintra as a whole is a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient castles, villas and palaces.
Sintra is known for its stunning nature, rich history and cultural heritage with attractions such as the Palácio da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, Castelo dos Mouros, and the historic center.
The Palácio da Pena is a multicolored Romanticism palace situated on a top of a hill above the town of Sintra. Quinta da Regaleira is known as the Palace of the Monteiro Millionaire, as its surname of the former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.
You can also climb up the ruins of Castelo dos Mouros, near the entrance of the Pena Palace. Castelo dos Mouros is a 9th century fortress, built by Arabs. You can view the walls with battlements and towers, the Royal Tower, and the Moorish gate with a horseshoe arch.
In the historic center of Sintra, you can visit the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, a former Moorish palace, as well as enjoy drinks and local food such as Ginjinha, a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries in alcohol.
Sintra is easily accessible by trains which run from Rossio Station in Baixa to Sintra Station. The historic center of Sintra is situated 10 minutes walk from Sintra Station.
5. National Tile Museum
The National Tile Museum, or Museu Nacional do Azulejo, is a must-see museum to learn about Portuguese tiles, or azulejos.
The National Tile Museum has a collection of tiles from the 15th to the 20th centuries, including both glazed and unglazed tiles, as well as tile panels and murals.
There is also a reference library and a workshop where visitors can see tiles being made using traditional techniques.
The National Tile Museum was founded in 1509 by Queen D. Leonor, inside the former Convent where you can find the baroque style Madre de Deus church.
6. St George’s Castle
St George’s Castle, or Castelo de São Jorge, is one of Lisbon’s iconic symbols, located on the top of the São Jorge hill, the highest hill of Lisbon, within walking distance from the Lisbon Cathedral.
The history of the castle dates back to the 5th century, when the Visigoths built a small fortress, and it was extended in the 11th century by the Moors, and converted into the royal palace under the rule of Afonso I of Portugal.
You can spend half a day exploring São Jorge Castle as it is huge. You can check out towers, museums, a bar and a restaurant, as well as enjoy the views over the city of Lisbon.
7. Monastery of Jerónimos
The Monastery of Jerónimos is one of the most important attractions in Lisbon along with the nearby Belem Tower, which are both designed as UNESCO world heritage sites.
The Jerónimos Monastery, also known as Hieronymites Monastery, or Mosteiro Jerónimos in Portuguese, was built to celebrate the return of Vasco da Gama from India.
The monastery was founded by King Manuel I of Portugal from the 16th to the 17th century at the site of the former Ermida do Restelo. It has a Manueline style, which is a Portuguese architectural style characterized by elaborate decorative details and motifs inspired by the sea.
The monastery is home to the tombs of several Portuguese kings and queens, and it is also a popular tourist destination due to its beautiful architecture and historical significance.
8. Lisbon Oceanarium
Lisbon Oceanarium is a popular attraction for families traveling with children because it is one of the largest aquariums in Europe, with more than 450 species of animals.
The oceanarium is separated into four main sections including the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian, and the Antarctic with a variety of marine animals, including fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals.
The oceanarium also has a number of interactive exhibits and educational programs, making it a popular destination for families and marine biology enthusiasts.
Lisbon Aquarium is located in the Park of the Nations, within walking distance from Oriente Station. With the Lisboa Card, you’re free to use buses, trams, funiculars, and trains. Admission fee for adults is 19 euro, and discounted price for children and seniors.
9. National Museum of Ancient Art
The National Museum of Ancient Art, also known as Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, or MNAA, is a great place to visit for history buffs and culture vultures to learn about the ancient art.
The museum is home to a collection of art, including paintings, sculpture, silver, gold and jewelry, from the 12th to the 19th century.
Some of the highlights of the collection include works by Francisco de Zurbarán, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Jacopo Tintoretto.
This museum is situated in the former Palácio Alvor-Pombal and is open to the public and admission is free.
10. Museu do Oriente
The Museu do Oriente, or Orient Museum, is one of the best things to do in Lisbon if you are interested in learning more about the art and history of the Orient.
The Orient Museum is dedicated to the art, culture, and history of the peoples and countries of the Orient, with a particular focus on Portugal’s colonial and post-colonial relations with Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
The museum’s collection includes a range of art and cultural objects from across the Orient, including textiles, ceramics, jewelry, furniture, and other decorative arts.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural events.
Taking a funicular ride is one of the best ways to experience the city. A funicular is a type of cable railway that uses a cable to pull a train of cars up and down a steep slope.
Some of the funiculars and lifts in Lisbon are:
- Ascensor da Bica, the 19th century funicular, linking Rua de São Paulo and Largo do Calhariz.
- Ascensor do Lavra, links Largo da Anunciada and Rua Câmara Pestana in 10 minutes funicular ride.
- Ascensor da Glória, links Praça dos Restauradores in Baixa district to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara Bairro Alto neighborhood.
- Elevador de Santa Justa, a public vertical iron lift that connects the lower streets of the Baixa district with the higher streets of the Bairro Alto, built in 1902.
12. Mercado da Ribeira
Mercado da Ribeira is one of the best things to do in Lisbon for foodies and for experiencing the local daily life. Mercado da Ribeira is conveniently located close to Chiado, Baixa, and Cais do Sodré.
Mercado da Ribeira was known as Mercado 24 de Julho from its first opening in 1892, later known as the Time Out Market because the Time Out Lisboa magazin has a popular food hall.
The market provides a wide range of Portuguese and international cuisine with many small restaurants, bars, and food stalls, as well as a selection of fresh produce, seafood, and other local products.
In addition to its food offerings, the market also hosts cultural events and has a lively atmosphere.
13. Rossio Square
Rossio Square, officially called Praça Dom Pedro IV, is a lively square, packed with restaurants and bars, in the Baixa neighborhood. It is the gathering place of both locals and tourists to enjoy the sun, cafes, and people watching.
On the square, you can find two baroque fountains, and the Column of Pedro IV with four female figures at the base represent wisdom, justice, moderation, and strength. There is also the Dona Maria II National Theater, a monumental neoclassical building built in the 19th century.
The Rossio Station is attached to Rossio Railway Station, a popular place to catch train trips to nearby towns and cities such as Cascais.
You can also grab a coffee at Café Nicola, a very popular coffee shop in the city of Lisbon with a stunning art deco façade.
14. Berardo Collection Museum
The Berardo Collection Museum is a modern and contemporary art museum located at the Exhibition Center of the Centro Cultural de Belém.
The museum is home to a large collection of artwork by some of the most renowned artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum’s collection is constantly evolving, with new works being added on a regular basis.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions featuring works by contemporary artists. The Berardo Collection Museum is a popular destination for art lovers visiting Lisbon.
15. Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is one of the best places in Lisbon to go for nightlife. You can explore many shops and art galleries during the day and at night, the streets come alive with music and people enjoying the bars and clubs.
Rua do Norte is one of the best streets in Bairro Alto to go for lively nightlife with many bars and Fado houses. It’s also a good area for traditional Portuguese cuisine, with a wide variety of restaurants offering seafood, meat dishes and pastries.
Barrio Alto is a central neighborhood, within walking distance from Chiado. As it is located on the hill, there are numerous funiculars leading to it such as the Elevador da Gloria and Elevador da Bica.
You can stroll along its narrow cobblestone streets, and explore attractions such as the Church of Sao Roque with its Chapel of St. John the Baptist.
There is also the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, which offers stunning views over Baixa below with its Cathedral and the Castle.
If you want to take a break from sightseeing and nightlife, you can visit the Botanic Garden, featuring more than 2500 spices.
If you feel like shopping, you can browse shops on the popular streets of the neighborhood such as the Rua do Norte, Rua da Atalaia and Rua do Diário de Notícias.
Caxias Beach is located only around 20 minutes by train from the Cais do Sodré Station. Praia de Caxias is a great place for swimming and sunbathing. There are also beach facilities such as restaurants, toilets, and lifeguards in a peak season.
Caxias Beach has three sandy areas including the biggest one between the mouth of the Ribeira da Lage and Giribita Fort, and two smaller beaches, separated by the Fort of São Bruno.
17. Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Padrão dos Descobrimentos is an imposing Monument to the Discoverie, set on the bank of the Tagus river.
The Monument to the Discoveries was founded in 1960 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, one of the main figures in the Portuguese Age of Exploration, who discovered the Azores, Cape Verde, and Madeira.
The monument has a 52 m concrete pillar, shaped like a sword, with a group of statues at its base representing some of the most important figures of the Portuguese Age of Exploration.
18. Lisboa Story Centre
Lisboa Story Centre is a great place to visit if you want to learn about the history of Lisbon from its foundation to modern times through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays.
You can learn about the main events of Lisbon’s history including the New World discoveries and the earthquake of 1755. There are also exhibits on art, architecture, culture, and everyday life.
The museum also has a souvenir shop where visitors can purchase gifts and books about the history of Lisbon.
The Lisbon Story Centre is located in Praça do Comércio, and is easy to reach by public transports such as tram and bus.
19. Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira
Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira, also known as Fronteira Palace, located in the Benfica area, northwest of the city center. You can book a guided tour to explore the palace.
The palace was built by Francisco de Arruda, a wealthy merchant, and was later acquired by the Fronteira family, who were prominent nobles during the 17th century.
There are also gardens and fountains, as well as the Battle room, the Panel room, Four Seasons room and Juno room, the Library, the Liberal Arts Terrace and the Chapel.
20. Tróia Peninsula
Tróia Peninsula is one of the best places to stay in Portugal for the whole family. It is located in Setúbal, one hour by ferry from Lisbon through the Sado river.
Tróia has long stretches of beach offering plenty of opportunities for swimming, and watersports such as windsurfing and sailing.
You can take a boat tour to see dolphins at the meeting point of river Sado and the ocean. There is also hiking and bird watching in the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve or the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park.
If you love golf, check out the Troia course, which is one of Europe’s best golf courses. There are also the Roman ruins of Cetobriga by Phoenicians to see the remains of Roman bath-houses, burial tombs, and fish-salting tanks.
Around the marina, you can have a modern resort with a casino, cafes, and seafood restaurants. Within walking distance from the marina, you can find Praia Troia Mar, and a bit further is Praia Bico das Lulas, Praia Atlântica, and Praia da Comporta.
During the summer months, Troia becomes a popular destination for tourists, many of whom come to enjoy the beaches and the warm weather. The region is also known for its excellent seafood and wine.
21. Costa da Caparica
Costa da Caparica is a beautiful beach area, located 20 km south of Lisbon’s city center. It has a 26 km coastline on the western side of the Setubal peninsula with fine golden sand, blue water, and laid back vibe, making it a great place for relaxing and swimming.
The Fonte da Telha is one of the best beaches of Costa da Caparica. This former fishing village is a great place to hangout and party. There are also the Praia 19, a nudist and gay beach, as well as Praia da Mata or Praia do Rei.
The waves here are strong, making it a great place to surf. If you are interested in surfing, you can book a surf lesson.
In addition to the beach and its activities, you can visit the Capuchos Convent, Cristo Rei, which is Sanctuary of Christ the King, and Costa da Caparica town.
Costa da Caparica can be reached from Lisbon by driving across the bridges, taking a bus and ferry. You can travel along the coast with Transpraia, a miniature train with 20 stops.
Cascais along with Sintra is the most popular day trip from Lisbon. It is a beautiful seaside town, located only 30 minutes west of Lisbon by train.
The beach here is beautiful with some of the town’s beaches are Praia da Rainha, Praia da Ribeira, and Praia da Conceição. The beach is equipped with amenities such as lounges, and umbrellas.
There are also plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy seafood, and local dishes. You can go shopping at shopping malls like CascaiShopping and Cascais Villa, as well as Mercado Da Vila, which has farmers’ markets and flea markets.
Other places of interest are the Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) natural rock formation, Farol Museu de Santa Marta, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, and Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães.
23. Aqueduto das Águas Livres
Aqueduto das Águas Livres, or Free Waters Aqueduct, is a huge aqueduct with 109 stone arches, crossing Lisbon, providing locals with fresh water until the 1960s.
It was constructed in 1744, during the reign of João V, and survived the Great earthquake in 1755.
If you are interested in this system, you can take a guided walking tour.
24. Basílica da Estrela
Basílica da Estrela is one of the most eye-catching monuments in the city of Lisbon. You can reach its dome and enjoy the fantastic views over the city.
It was built by Queen Maria I of Portugal in 1790 where she gave birth to a boy. The building has a baroque and neoclassical architecture style.
25. Fado Show
Fado is a traditional music style that is often associated with the city of Lisbon, where it originated in the 19th century and continues to be popular today. Fado was used to sing in taverns and is now a UNESCO-listed musical genre.
If you’re interested in a Fado show in Lisbon, you can find venues that regularly host a daily live traditional fado show in Chiado, or Alfama neighborhoods.
26. Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata, also known as custard tarts, is Portugal’s most famous pastry. If you visit Lisbon, you must try this local dish.
Pastéis de Nata are made from puff pastry and a custard filling, and are typically topped with a bit of cinnamon and sugar.
Pastel de nata was created by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém in the 18th century.
The recipe was eventually passed on to local bakers, who began to sell the pastries at the nearby Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, near the monastery, which claims to be the only place in Portugal serving up the authentic pastéis de nata.
27. Livraria Bertrand
Livraria Bertrand is the oldest bookstore in the world. If you love books, you should make it on your list of things to do and see in Lisbon.
Livraria Bertrand is located in the Chiado district, where you will find the best sellers book in both English and Portugge.
The bookstore was established in 1732 by two French brothers, and it was moved to its current location after the 1755 earthquake.
28. LX Factory Sunday Market
LX Factory is an abandoned industrial area that has been converted into a creative and cultural area. The Sunday market is one of the most popular features of LX Factory, offering a wide variety of vendors selling food, drinks, fashion, and handmade crafts.
The market typically starts around midday and runs until the early evening. The vendors vary from week to week, so each Sunday offers a slightly different experience.
There are also live music & street art performances, as well as food trucks for some street food experience. While it’s a popular spot on Sundays, it’s also a great place to visit any day of the week to see the galleries and independent shops.
LX Factory is located in Alcântara, about 3 km from the Lisbon city center. You can take taxis, tuk tuk, and public transport to reach the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Lisbon Portugal known for?
Lisbon is best known for being the capital of Portugal that offers thriving nightlife, delicious local food, colorful houses, fado music, and warm Mediterranean climate. It is also home to famous landmarks such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower.
What to do in Lisbon for a day?
Some of the best things to do in Lisbon in one day are exploring charming neighborhoods of Alfama and Baixa, visiting top attractions like the Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower. You can also take a ride on the city’s iconic yellow trams, indulge in the traditional Portuguese food, and visit one of Lisbon’s many museums and gardens.
What are Unusual things to do in Lisbon?
Some of the unusual things to do in Lisbon include visiting the Doll Hospital, listening to live Fado music, visiting the Ruins of the Carmo Convent, and exploring the Bordallo Pinheiro Garden.
What are the best things to do in Lisbon at night?
Some of the best things to do in Lisbon at night include visiting one of the city’s rooftop bars or clubs, attending a live music performance, or taking a stroll through the Bairro Alto neighborhood, known for its vibrant nightlife.
Is 3 days in Lisbon too much?
It is up to personal preference, but three days in Lisbon may be enough to see the main sights and get a taste of the city’s culture. It may not be enough time to fully explore all that Lisbon has to offer, but it can still be an enjoyable and memorable trip.
Is 4 days in Lisbon too much?
It depends on your interests and how much you want to see and do in Lisbon. Four days is a good amount of time to see the main sights and spend some time exploring the city, but you may find yourself wanting more time to fully experience everything Lisbon has to offer.
Is 2 days in Lisbon enough?
Two days in Lisbon may not be enough time to fully explore the city and all it has to offer, but it can still be a short and enjoyable trip. It is possible to see some of the main landmarks and get a taste of the local culture in a short amount of time.
How many days should I spend in Lisbon?
It is difficult to give a specific recommendation for how long to spend in Lisbon, as it depends on your interests and how much time you have available. However, most people spend 3-5 days in Lisbon, which allows them to see the main attractions and get a taste of the city’s culture.
How can I spend 7 perfect days in Lisbon?
To spend 7 perfect days in Lisbon, try visiting popular landmarks such as the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery, eating at local seafood restaurants, and taking day trips to nearby beaches and quaint towns. Be sure to also experience the city’s vibrant nightlife by attending a fado music performance and trying the local port wine.
So there you have it, the best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.