The 33 best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is the place to visit this summer, so don’t miss out on the 33 best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve just returned from my first trip to this amazing city and I know I’ll be back again. We went for a long weekend in Lisbon and completely fell in love with this beautiful Portuguese city. Even with a packed itinerary of sightseeing, restaurants and bars, I still have so many more places to visit in Lisbon and I can’t wait to go back and experience more. Portugal is the destination on everyone’s lips right now, and it’s easy to understand why, their colourful streets, vibrant nightlife and delicious food is everything we want after two years of missing out on travel. So if you’re planning a trip to Lisbon this summer, make sure you don’t miss out on:
33 best things to do in Lisbon
Stay in a beautiful apartment in Bairro Alto
Looking for a place to stay in Lisbon? I loved staying in the Bairro Alto – it was the perfect location for exploring the city. If you’re looking for hotels, or you fancy a cute little Lisbon apartment with a balcony overlooking the winding streets, there’s great accommodation to suit all budgets. We went for an apartment and loved that from the moment we walked out of the door, we were walking distance from lots of great bars and restaurants. We stayed at Bairro Alto Bronze of Art Apartments and I couldn’t recommend it more! I actually saved over £100 on our apartment by using my Booking.com Genius discount, and we got a free airport transfer.
Enjoy the views from Castelo de São Jorge
All those steep hills make for some spectacular views across the city and its beautiful red rooftops. Take a walk up to Castelo de São Jorge which overlooks the river, old town and the rest of Lisbon. This historic castle dates back to at least 1st Century BC and you can walk around the turrets and remnants of its historic past. Open 7 days a week, you’ll see peacocks as you explore the grounds. Explore the gardens, structures and of course, enjoy the panoramic views of the city. It costs €10 per adult for entry.
Find a bar with traditional Fado singers
One of the highlights of our trip was stumbling upon a gorgeously authentic local bar in the Bairro Alto area where there was live Fado performances all night. This mournful and haunting style of music is traditional for the city and is not to be missed. Usually a solo singer will be accompanied by a classical Portuguese guitar and makes for a spectacular show. Check out this article on the 10 Best Places for Fado Music in Lisbon. I recommend popping into Café Luso or Adega Machado for a show you won’t forget.
Head to Time Out Lisboa Market for delicious food
You can’t go to Lisbon without eating your way round the Time Out Lisboa Market. It’s an absolute MUST and a great way to try lots of delicious foods from this amazing city. It’s a perfect pit-stop to find delicious fresh seafood including cod, tuna, oysters and even lobster cooked in a number of tasty dishes. Find Michelin-starred chefs and the top eateries from around the city curated under one roof with the finest dishes waiting for you to try. Feast on fine foods from Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa Food Corner, Tartar-ia, Croqueteria, Chef Alexandre Silva Food Corner, Monte Mar and many more.
Discover the best street art in Lisbon
Lisbon is such a vibrant, colourful and artistic city with creativity at every turn. Every time you round a corner you’ll marvel at the spectacular architecture, the stunning tiled buildings and the amazing street art and graffiti that lines the streets. There are so many Instagrammable spots and with new art pieces springing up all the time, there’s always something new to be discovered. If you want to be sure to find the best spots, why not book a street art walking tour?
Ride the famous Tram 28
It’s impossible to spend a weekend in Lisbon without seeing a tram. They’re iconic and a great way to get around the city. If you’re going to ride one tram while you’re in the city, make sure it’s Tram 28. The steep route and tight turns makes it unsuitable for modern trams and means you get to ride a historic tram with original features that date back to the 1930’s. It also passes through some of the most beautiful areas of Lisbon and is a great way to see the city. Top tip: Ride the tram early or late in the day to avoid the crowds of tourists. Also, watch for pickpockets.
Drink cocktails at sunset on top of a car park
Who would have thought the top level of a multi-storey car park would be the place to party? Don’t miss a sunset at PARK, it was my favourite rooftop bar in the city with incredible views across the old town and river. It’s THE place to watch the sun set over the water. Plus they make great cocktails and have a DJ, sometimes two DJs per day in peak season. Make sure you arrive early to get a good spot, it gets busy! Check out my guide to the 20 best rooftop bars in Lisbon for sunset.
Take the Elevador de Santa Justa
A truly unique experience for your Lisbon itinerary, this gothic 19th century structure was originally part of the Lisbon public transport system as a way to quickly travel between Baixa District and the Largo do Carmo. Over the years, it has been extended with a viewing platform offering some of the finest views in the city. It’s a 45m ride that costs €5.30 for a return. Top tip: Get a 24 hour public transport ticket from any metro station for €6.40 and it will include a ride on the Elevador de Santa Justa for a much better price.
Eat Pastéis de Nata
I can’t get enough of these delicious egg custard tarts, they’re so tasty! Head to a local bakery and pick up a Pastéis de Nata and a coffee, then go find a sunny spot to enjoy. Out of the ones I tried in Lisbon, my favourite was from the Manteigaria stall at Time Out Market Lisboa. They were mouth-wateringly good! But you can pick them up all over the city so try as many as you can while you’re in the city? If you’re taking a trip to Torres de Belém, why not pop into the famous Pastéis de Belém which is considered the home of the original Pastéis de Belém and has been making them since 1837.
Visit the Convento do Carmo for a weird but wonderful museum
Not only is the Convento do Carmo a spectacular building to visit – one of my favourite historic sights in the city – but you also get to explore the strange little museum attached. This former Catholic convent features Romantic gothic ruins left behind following an earthquake in 1755. The archaeological museum attached features an eclectic range of tombs, mosaics and a collection of ancient relics including shrunken heads, South American mummies, sculptures, tombstones and much more. Entrance costs €5 per adult.
Explore the rooftop bars of the city for sunset
Lisbon is the city of rooftop bars and with such great weather, it’s a perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail. Offering amazing views across the city and river, you could find a new spot each night and get a different perspective on the city. Check out this article I wrote on 20 best rooftop bars in Lisbon for sunset.
Take a day trip to Sintra
This was without doubt my favourite thing we did in Lisbon – it was absolutely incredible to visit the Palacio Nacional da Pena. Sintra is a 30 minute train ride from Lisbon, or you can take a 20 minute Uber if you prefer. Make sure to get dropped the Palace and not just in Sintra or you’ll have a steep climb of around 50 minutes from the train station. It combines spectacular surroundings & panoramic views with 19th century Romanticism-style architecture, bright colours & decoration and of course, a rich history. I really recommend getting a ticket to go inside the palace as it’s also amazing
Dine on delicious Portuguese seafood
On our first night in Lisbon, I had one of the best meals of my life. We found a fantastic, authentic restaurant offering Portuguese cuisine and fresh seafood. Hidden away in the Bairro Alto area, Santelmo was just a few streets away from our apartment. We had fresh octopus ceviche and huge prawns to start, then the most tenderly cooked fresh tuna steak of my life, and a pork dish that I was told was also incredible. A must-eat & hidden gem while you’re in the city!
Go to a football match
Football is a huge part of Portuguese culture, so it seemed only right for me to watch my first live football match while visiting Lisbon. We picked up tickets to see Sporting play and it was an amazing experience. Whether you’re a football fan, or haven’t a clue what the rules are, it’s worth going for the atmosphere alone.
Marvel at the beauty of Igreja de São Roque
I love to visit churches when I travel – I’m not religious but they’re always so spectacular and this was no exception. Despite it’s underwhelming exterior, Igreja de São Roque boasts a dazzling decor once you step through the doors. With walls and a ceiling adorned with gold, marble and Florentine azulejos, it truly is a masterpiece of Baroque art.
Take a stroll across the Rossio
A great place for people-watching, this huge plaza leads you to the waterfront and is lined with bars and restaurants. You’ll find street artists and live musicians taking advantage of the great acoustics. A great place to sit and watch the world go by.
Get a Pina Colada on the waterfront
If you head down to the waterfront from the Rossio and start walking to the right you will come across Pitcher Cocktails. It’s a little drinks cart where they serve different cocktails based on Av Ribeira das Naus. When we passed they were serving Pina Coladas in a fresh pineapple and wow they were delicious! Well worth a stop to pick one up as you stroll over to Time Out Market Lisboa.
Spot the Aqueduto das Águas Livres
You’ll likely catch your first glimpse of the Aqueduto das Águas Livres from your taxi as you travel from the airport into Lisbon. It’s a magnificent structure that creates quite the imposing sight as it towers over the buildings.
Explore Torre de Belém
Make sure you get there early as it gets very busy by the afternoon, but this sight is well worth a look. Overlooking the river, Torre de Belém is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a monument with a rich maritime history. It costs €6 per adult, with student/child/concession prices available.
Head to LX factory for live music
LX Factory is a must-see when visiting Lisbon. It’s a vibrant area of the city packed with art and music. This former industrial factory is now home to lots of restaurants, bars and arty retailers. It’s a great place to go any day of the week for street art and parties, but on a Sunday it really comes to life with a thrift market and live music that fills the streets with dancing crowds.
Enjoy sun and surf at Caxias
If you want to escape the hubbub of the city and get sand between your toes, hop on a train to the closest beach to the centre of Lisbon. It’s on the same train line as Cascais which is a bit further out, and makes a great day trip on a sunny day.
Wander the streets of the Alfama District
The oldest district of Lisbon, these winding streets are great to explore and get lost in. If you love photography, this area is perfect for you to explore and gives you a taste of authentic Lisbon with cobbled streets, Medieval alleys and traditional houses.
Bar crawl from Torre de Belém to LX Factory
The walk from from Torre de Belém to LX Factory follows the waterfront with great views across the water. It’s around a 45 minute walk without stopping and takes in a few sights along the way. A perfect activity for a sunny day, you could hire scooters or bikes, or simply enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk. Along the way there are lots of bars and restaurants to stop off at and enjoy a glass of Portuguese wine or a cocktail in the sunshine.
Visit the Miradors (viewpoints) around the city for amazing views
One of the benefits of Lisbon being built on seven hills facing the Tagus River is that scattered around Lisbon there are lots of Miradors with beautiful views across the city. These scenic spots are a great place to watch the sunset, take in the views, take photos and get a different vantage point on this wonderful city. The most photographed Lisbon viewpoint has to be the Miradouro das Portas do Sol which is a favourite with tourists, but other great ones include Miradouro da Graça, Mirador Of Santa Luzia and Mirador of Santa Catarina.
Ride the cable car at Parque das Nações
There’s so much to do around Parque das Nações including a huge aquarium, bars, restaurants, a shopping centre and the cable car. If you get a clear day, it can give you great views across the city.
Take a peek at Lisbon’s maritime past
If you’re taking the walk from Torre de Belém towards the city, you’ll come across Padrão dos Descobrimentos. It’s a monument that pays tribute to Portugal’s history of exploration of the world, along with its maritime heritage.
Enjoy the best brunch in Lisbon
Hailed Lisbon’s favourite brunch, The Mill is a great spot in Bairro Alto that you won’t want to miss. Just two streets away from the apartment we stayed in. It quickly became our favourite haunt and had the best coffee in Lisbon! They use locally sourced arabica beans which have been roasted in Lisbon. They also sell bags of their coffee in-store. The menu is delicious with a range of eggs/breakfast dishes, pancakes, bagels and much more to choose from.
Check out the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
This ornate former monastery is one of the most visited sites in Lisbon and well worth a look. Dating back to 1502, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is rich in history and will appeal to anyone with an interest in architecture. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a ride on the funiculars
Another great way to get around the city, these Lisbon funiculars are kind of like lifts that carry tourists and locals up steep areas of the city. These iconic elevators were previously run on water, but are now electric and provide a unique travel experience during your weekend in Lisbon.
Visit the peaceful fishing hamlet of Cascais
If you want to head further afield, Cascais is just a short journey from the centre of Lisbon by train. It’s a great place with beautiful beaches and calm waters for swimming, but there are also great areas for surfers.
Find a bargain at Feira da Ladra
One of Lisbon’s oldest markets, Feira da Ladra is a flea market and a great place to go looking for treasures. Held every Tuesday and Saturday, the market is open from dawn to early afternoon.
Explore the Jardim Botanico
Who doesn’t love exploring a botanical garden when visiting a new city? It’s such a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find some tranquility.
Watch and listen to the street performers
There are some very talented buskers and street performers around the winding streets of Lisbon. Be sure to take a moment to pause, enjoy and soak up your surroundings. From saxophonists, to bands, to Fado musicians and much more.
Have you been to Lisbon, Portugal? What are your favourite things to do in Lisbon?