Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, is a cosmopolitan city that offers amazing value and incredible sights, rich with history and filled with stories. It is loaded with an exciting atmosphere, charm, delicious food, wild nightlife and wonderful people. In a city that has been influenced by many different far-off cultures over time, there is still a village feel in each historic neighborhood. Lisbon is perfect for a city-break holiday of 2-3 days. Enjoy a selection of Top 8 Things To Do In Lisbon.
Alfama – In order to really experience Lisbon’s authentic Portuguese way of life, spend some time navigating the district of Alfama, the capital’s oldest and most historic district. Step into the maze of its winding medieval alleys and crumbling houses, peeking into tiny shops, flowerpots and intriguing tile panels that create an outdoor gallery of baroque tiles in Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood. Check out Alfama self-guided walking tour itinerary before going there.
Castelo de São Jorge – Located on top of the highest hill in Lisbon, above the old Moorish quarter, overlooking the Portuguese capital. The hilltop citadel of Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George Castle) is a fascinating place to contemplate Lisbon’s long history. The site was occupied by the Romans, Visigoths and Moors before being transformed into the Royal Palace in the 14th century. Visitors can climb the towers, walk along the reconstructed ramparts of the castle walls and enjoy extraordinary views over the city and Tagus river. Its impressive battlements, engaging museum, and fascinating archaeological site combine will make the castle an unforgettable experience.
Praça Do Comércio – Praça do Comércio is the largest and grandest of Lisbon’s squares. The area was constructed as the gateway to Portugal, connecting trade from the colonies with the merchants and traders. The best view of the Praça do Comércio is from the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta, which is the main pedestrianized shopping street that links the central Rossio square with the riverfront Praça do Comércio,
Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos – Built in the 16th century, the Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos is the most extravagant religious building of Portugal, an impressive example of Manueline architecture and a World Heritage site. Standing at the entrance to Lisbon harbor it exemplifies Portuguese art at its best. The nearby Tower of Belém, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama‘s expedition, is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.
Gulbenkian Museum – The Gulbenkian Museum is a magnificent museum featuring a renowned and eclectic collection of ancient and modern art from 2000 BC to the early 20th century. The collection was donated by Calouste Gulbenkian, a philanthropist and patron of the arts of Armenian descent.
Feira da Ladra – In the old neighborhood of Alfama, you will find the oldest market in Lisbon. A legendary flea market with many different objects that vintage-lovers visitors will love. Feira da Ladra means more or less ‘thieve’s market ’, so you should take this quite literally and keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price. It’s part of the game. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday, from dawn to dusk.
Lisbon Oceanarium – The Oceanário de Lisboa (Oceanarium) is Europe’s largest indoor aquarium. Exhibits correspond to different oceans, with more than 8,000 sea creatures from 500 different species, including Red Scorpionfish, Alaskan sea otters, striped catsharks, tropical birds and coral reefs.
Torre De Belém – Built in the 16th century in the Tagus river, The Torre de Belém is a beautiful and original monument and a delightful fortification that once guarded the entrance to the city from the sea. It is Portugal’s classic landmark and often serves as a symbol of the country.
Just So You Know…
- Lisbon is also known as “the town of seven hills” which are comprised of the seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela.
- Lisbon is a mecca for street art. Head to the Saldanha neighborhood to see buildings dominated by super-sized street art.
- Lisbon has one of the mildest climates in Europe. The city is sunny throughout the year, with an annual average of 2900-3300 hours of sunshine.
- One of the smallest bookshops in the world is in Lisbon. The ‘Livraria Simão’ only has 3.8 squared meters. It’s so small that when a customer walks in, the shopowner usually has to leave.
- Lisbon’s trams were originally called “americanos” and the first operational route was inaugurated on 17th November 1873. And yes, the typical Lisbon tram is in fact American.
- Beneath the streets of Lisbon’s downtown shopping area lies a hidden Roman Underworld with chambers, rooms, bridges and corridors. The entrance to this fascinating world is marked by a block of metal at the top of Rua da Conceicao which is only open to the public two days a year due to the dangerous conditions lurking below.
- Watch the sunset from Miradouro da Graça – Situated on the hill of Santo André, with a view that can reach the old neighborhoods like Mouraria, Alfama, Downtown, the Castle, the river and 25th April Bridge.
- Take a tour with ‘We Hate Tourism‘ company: with Local drivers, local knowledge, lots of personality and lots of fun. They will take you up and down Lisbon’s 7 Hills in a convertible UMM Jeep, explore surrounding parks, sites, and villages outside the city in one of their stories and unique 7-passenger vans.
- Taste a Pastéis de Belém – This is a highlight of Portuguese cuisine and its recipe is a closely guarded secret that makes them unique. Not to be missed! A sweet pastry that Lisbonites like to eat along with their coffee. Try ‘Pastel de Nata’, it will be the best custard tart you will ever eat.
- Go out – The main action is in the Bairro Alto, where more than 250 appealing bars line a web of streets between graffiti-plastered walls.
- Favorite Restaurants: Pap’Açorda Portuguese delights with lots of shellfish & stews, in a trendy spot with a lively bar and fashionable people. Bonjardim with great Chicken Piri-Piri. Belcanto is a chic dining room serving modern takes on Portuguese classics from chef Jose Avillez. Cervejaria Ramiro the seafood temple of Lisbon. Atira-te ao Rio a small restaurant in an old unassuming building on the other side of the river, with a great view and excellent meal. Restaurante Tavares a suit-and-tie, gilt-and-mirrors place, one of Lisbon’s classiest establishments. Bica do Sapato with Mediterranean dishes in a trendy spot with river views.
- Favorite Bars: Clube Ferroviário near Santa Apolónia, with a relaxed yet sophisticated environment and a great view over the river. Trobadores is a medieval bar that will make you travel in time. British Bar with Guinness on tap to satisfy homesick Brits. Maria Caxuxa is the trendiest bar in Bairro Alto.
- Get Some Culture: Medeiros e Almeida Museum with a huge private collection of fine arts. MUDE with design & fashion from the 19th century to the present. Aqueduto das Águas Livres ornate 18th-century reservoir complex with fountains that herald the arrival of Lisbon’s water. Museu do Chiado is a contemporary art museum hosting exhibitions showcasing Portuguese art from 1850 to the present. Navy Museum is dedicated to all aspects of the History of navigation in Portugal. Ancient Art Museum is an Oriental and European art museum. Berardo Museum another great collection of modern art.