Top things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is the stunning capital city of Portugal and is one of the most charismatic and vibrant cities in Europe. It is a city that effortlessly blends traditional heritage, with striking modernism and progressive thinking.

As a holiday destination, Lisbon offers a rich and varied history, amazing views, buzzing nightlife, beautiful beaches, and is blessed with a glorious year-round climate.

There s so much to visit and experience in Lisbon that you might find it difficult to create your to-do list. That s why we ve compiled a list of the most exciting and interesting things you must while visiting this amazing city.

1- Walk in Lisbon’s historic districts

Most of the authenticity you will find in Lisbon is while walking through the historic districts and downtown area, absorbing the city’s richness and amazing culture

It is in exploring these areas that you will get the chance to know the most genuine people, taste the typical Portuguese cuisine, see the beautiful building covered in azulejo, walk through the elegant streets that lead to Praça do Comércio and Rossio squares, see the picturesque narrow streets with flowered balconies of Alfama, or take a walk along the beautiful riverside!!

Local tip: Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills. To facilitate the exploration we recommend you use historical trams or elevators; they will save you precious time & energy! See the next articles for more information.

2- Visit São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle, a hilltop castle, is one of Lisbon’s most emblematic scenes. Before the Moors built the fortress in the mid-11th century, the Visigoths settled here. Later, after Dom Afonso Henriques became Portugal’s first king in 1147, it became the domain of royalty and enjoyed a long time playing host to lavish soirees and visiting dignitaries.

It’s the view though, that is the highlight of this tourist attraction. Peering out at the city’s abundance of red rooftops and the Tagus River beyond is one of Lisbon’s most thrilling rituals.

Local tip: Try to come early in the morning or prepare for long cues

Tickets: You can buy the tickets at the entrance or online at their official website here.

3- Ride the famous tram 28

Riding one of Lisbon’s famous Trams is for sure the best way to explore the old city, historic heritage, and typical neighborhoods. None is more iconic than Tram 28 which has been working its way up the steep, cobbled roads and into the old Alfama district for decades.

The journey starts below the palm-spotted hills of Graça, and weaves toward the hair-pin alleys of Escolas Gerais, before pulling up to a halt beneath the gorgeous domes of the Estrela Basilica. The people-watching opportunities from the windows are second-to-none, and you’re bound to discover decades of history as you pass the various majestic palaces and castles along the route.

Local tip: Lisbon is a very safe city, but these sometimes crowded transports tend to attract pickpockets, so be sure to keep your eyes on your belongings.

4- Visit the famous & iconic elevators & funiculars

Lisbon has built a few unique ways to get up and down its many hills: a system of funicular railways & elevators. They not only will save you time & energy getting around the city, they are also picturesque sights on their own and will make for great addictions to your Lisbon’s photo album or Instagram profile!

Santa Justa Elevator- This elegant and decorated elevator is without a doubt one of the truly unique tourist attractions of Lisbon. One of its highlights is the amazing viewing platform sitting on top of it. From there you can get some of the finest and famous views of Lisbon downtown area.

Glória Funicular- It connects the Downtown area with Bairro Alto. At the top of the Funicular, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view over Lisbon from San Pedro de Alcántara viewpoint.

Bica Funicular- Connects the Riverside area of Lisbon to the famous Bairro Alto District. It inaugurated on 28th June 1892, seven years after the Glória Funicular.

5- Try the delicious food

Portuguese gastronomy is one of the best, richest and most varied of the world with a heavy Mediterranean influences, but also from all over the world, thanks to Portuguese conquerors who travelled the world centuries ago.

As a coastal country, with one of the largest maritime areas of Europe, Portugal is a great consumer of fish and seafood, so you will have the freshest the ocean has to offer. Portugal is also known for having great quality meat, and for its expertise in the production of wine, olive oil, cheeses and bread, all of which heavily influence our country’s cuisine.

If you want to know the best restaurants and where you can try the most famous dishes, check the articles we wrote on our section Where & What to Eat in Lisbon.

6- Take a trip to picturesque Sintra

Despite being situated more than half an hour away from Lisbon by car, the glorious village of Sintra remains one of the major attractions for anyone spending a few days in Lisbon and a perfect 1 day trip for families!

It sits high up amidst the mythical Mountains of the Moon, displaying elegant baroque churches, colorful mansions, and the grand palaces of former Portuguese kings and queens. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will be for sure one of the highlights of your trip to Lisbon!

In case you might be interested we offer a Tour to Sintra. This tour will take you to all the famous places and you can spend as much time as you want in each as long as your return at the scheduled time.

If you want to book a Tour to Sintra, you can do it directly with us

7- Explore Lisbon’s best viewpoints & Rooftops

Lisbon's superb natural setting, spread across seven hills facing the Tagus River, offers a network of terraces from which to contemplate the beauty of the city.

Called "miradouros" (viewpoints), they re usually located at the highest points of each hill, and all have spaces to sit and rest. Some even have cafés serving snacks and light refreshments.

    Viewpoints

  • Graça
  • São Pedro de Alcântara
  • Portas do Sol
  • Nossa Senhora do Monte
  • Santa Justa Elevator

    Rooftops

  • Topo Martin Moniz
  • Park Rooftop
  • Hotel Mundial Rooftop Bar
  • Topo Chiado

8- Visit Fátima and the nearby historical sites

Your visit to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without visiting the remarkable Fátima Sanctuary. Visit Fátima, the most remarkable center of Catholic faith in Portugal and one of the most famous in Europe, and feel the atmosphere that leads pilgrims from all over the world to visit it.

Fátima is one of the biggest sanctuaries in the world, with over 5 million visitors a year. The most important pilgrimages happen on May 13th and October 13th. The modern sanctuary church is 125 meters in diameter and it was built in 2007. One of the main attractions is the house of the three shepherds, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared.

Along the way will get the chance to visit other impressive historical sites such as Monastery of Batalha, the largest gothic church in Portugal, or admire the pretty village of Óbidos, surrounded by medieval walls and whitewashed houses.

If you want to book a Tour to Sintra, you can do it directly with us

9- Watch an authentic Fado show

If you want an authentic Portuguese experience you must go to a “Fado” show during your stay in Lisbon.

For those unfamiliar with it, “Fado” music is an expressive and profoundly melancholic form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs, cafés, and restaurants. This music genre officially originated in Portugal around the 1820s, though it is thought to have much earlier origins. The best places to watch “Fado” are in Lisbon’s historic districts., such as Alfama or Bairro Alto.

Local Tip: The best places to watch “Fado” are located in Lisbon’s historic districts, such as Alfama or Bairro Alto. Some of the places you might try are: Adega Machado, Parreirinha de Alfama or Clube de Fado. If you are a fan, you can also visit the famous Fado Museum.

10- Visit historical Belém

Belem is the charming district to the west of Lisbon and is the setting for many of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions. Belem is one of the finest areas of Lisbon and offers outstanding tourist attractions, informative museums, and beautiful views along the Tejo Estuary.

Belem is unlike the rest of Lisbon, being filled with parks, tree-lined plazas and green open spaces, and is a breath of fresh air from claustrophobic and chaotic central Lisbon.

To get there the easiest way is to get a Tram, Bus, or if you prefer you can also take an Uber. Once you get there you must see the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, National Coach Museum, Belem Cultural Center, and of course, don’t forget to try the famous pasteis de belem!

11- Try the Famous Pastéis de Nata

You can find delicious versions of pastel de nata, Portugal’s signature confection, throughout Lisbon. But none of these cinnamon-dusted egg custard tarts are as entrenched in Portuguese history as the ones served at the famous and iconic Pastéis de Belém café.

Buy a six-pack and reserve time to enjoy them calmly inside the retro, blue-and-white tiled room. Drinking your coffee while watching excited visitors taking their first bite, is in itself a Lisbon attraction.

Local tip: If you don’t have time to go Belém, you can also try the pastel de nata served in Manteigaria in the Bairro Alto area.

12- Boat Tour in Tejo River

If you want to relax after a full day of walking and sightseeing, you can always book a private tour and discover Lisbon from the amazing Tagus River.

Most of Lisbon’s historical area is facing the river, so you will get the chance to sail next to famous attractions and monuments from a different and remarkable perspective.

Some Boat Tour will even get you to some lovely swimming spots in the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful beaches, and offer barbecue or open bar options if you want a complete experience.

If you want to book a Private Boat Tour, you can do it directly with us

13- Relax on the Beach

It might come as a surprise to many visitors who are new to Lisbon, but there are many beautiful beaches close to the city. The best beach, which is easily accessible from Lisbon, is the Praia de Carcavelos and it boasts golden sands, clean sea waters, and excellent tourist facilities.

To the west of Lisbon is the delightful resort town of Cascais, while to the south of Lisbon is the Costa da Caparica, a 15km coastline of pristine beaches and powerful surfing waves. During the summer a city break to Lisbon could also include time relaxing and sunbathing on the beaches. For those renting a car or van, there is even the option to visit the famous and award-winning beaches of Arrábida, surrounded by green mountains and calm crystalline waters.

For more information about beaches close to Lisbon, please check our section Beaches near Lisbon. Also, there are plenty of Surf Schools near Lisbon that can teach you how to surf Portugal’s amazing waves.

If you want to book Surf Lessons, you can do it directly with us

14- Visit Lisbon’s amazing Museums

From modern art to history & culture, there are plenty of options for you, and even some for children!

  • Calouste Gulbenkian Museum- One of the most important museums in Lisbon where you can admire more than a thousand impressive works of art.
  • National Tile Museum- Learn all about the development and history of the famous Portuguese hand-painted tiles, called azulejos.
  • Museu do Fado- Listen to the history of fado from its origins in Alfama to international recognition.
  • Coleção Berardo Museum- A reference in Portugal’s cultural landscape. Here you’ll find works from artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Paula Rego.
  • MAAT- Dedicated to contemporary culture, debate, discovery, critical thinking and international dialogue. Enjoy the amazing panoramic views and take amazing photos!
  • Puppet Museum- Learn about the story of puppets. It is also a great and fun option for families with kids.
  • National Coach Museum- Walk around the museum to admire the design and story of these majestic carriages!

Tickets: Click on the name of the museum to enter their website and know how to buy the tickets

15- See Lisbon from the other side of the River

While visiting Lisbon you will eventually see a majestic giant statue with its arms opened blessing the city. That is the Sanctuary of Christ the King, a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

The main highlight of this monument is the 80m high viewing platform and the amazing panoramic views over Lisbon and the 25 Abril suspension bridge. The journey by public transport is not difficult, requiring a scenic ferry ride and inexpensive bus. There are also plenty of nice restaurants and cafes facing Lisbon that are an excellent spot to rest and have a few drinks or meals while enjoying the beautiful view of Lisbon

Local Tip: If you have the time, stop at Ponto Final restaurant & café, and enjoy the magnificent view!

16- Enjoy Lisbon’s Nightlife

Lisbon is a city of contrasts. Streets that are quaint and sleepy during the day become buzzing and crowded once the sun goes down. And make no mistake: Lisbon nightlife is fast making a name for itself as one of the most exciting, innovative scenes in Europe. Whether you’re looking for cocktail bars or to dance till the sun comes up, there’s something for everyone.

Like much of Southern Europe, the Portuguese tend to eat late, with dinners starting at 9 and some time at 10 pm, so don’t expect to see crowded bars before 11 pm or discos before 3 am.

The main night out areas in Lisbon are the historical Bairro Alto with its small pubs, narrow streets and people hanging out in the streets, and Cais Sodré area, with its increasingly famous Pink Street and bars all around it.

If you want to hit the discos there are plenty of offers, such as the famous LUX Frágil, Urban Beach, and the trendy BOSQ.