Lisbon Travel Guide
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18 Best Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is probably best known for its colonial history, ornate architecture and tradition of Fado music. But some of its best features are in the everyday – spectacular hilltop vistas in Alfama or at St. George's Castle , blue-and-white
- All Things To Do
Tram 28 Tram 28
San Francisco has its cable cars , London has its red double-decker buses and Lisbon has its trams. Tram 28, which extends from Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique, in particular takes riders on a tourist-friendly route. Not only does it pass through some of the city's most notable neighborhoods, including Graça, Baixa and Bairro Alto, but it also travels by popular attractions, such as St. George's Castle and Alfama . Along with a scenic route, the cars themselves are also considered to be part of the experience. Many of Lisbon's trams, including some used on the Tram 28 route, are the same that were used in World War II, so don't expect air conditioning, or a smooth trip up and around the area's hills. But don't worry, recent travelers said it's all part of the tram's charm.
Some visitors recommend taking the tram up the steep Alfama hill and then walking back down to explore the neighborhood. Due to the tram's popularity, the tram cars tend to get crowded quickly, so make sure to arrive early or later in the day to avoid the long, midday lines. Others suggested hopping on the tram in the middle of its route, such as the Se Cathedral stop, to avoid the long lines at either terminus. Also, because of the tram's popularity with tourists, it's a target for pickpockets. Remember to keep an eye on your belongings, especially cameras.
Belém Belém free
The waterfront Belém is a historic neighborhood that houses some of Lisbon's most important monuments, museums and one very popular Portuguese tart cafe, the Pasteis de Belém. Here you'll find the Jerónimos Monastery , the Belém Tower, the Discoveries Monument , the Belém Palace (the official residence of Portugal's president), the Coleção Berardo Museum as well as a number of scenic gardens.
As the Discoveries Monument beautifully illustrates, Belém is important in that it was a popular departure point during the Age of Discoveries. Some notable adventurers that have embarked from Belém include Vasco da Gama, who was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, and Ferdinand Magellan, who was aboard the first ship that successfully circumnavigated the world. In addition, Christopher Columbus also made a stop here on his way back to Spain from the Americas.
Cabo da Roca Cabo da Roca free
Tiny Cabo de Roca (or Cape Roca) isn't just the westernmost point on mainland Europe. It offers beautiful views of nearby Sintra and the coastline, as well as scenic hiking trails. About 400 years ago, there was a fort here; today, there is little indication of its existence, just a lighthouse and a few associated buildings. To escape the region's throngs of tourists, follow the challenging trails to beautiful beaches like Praia da Ursa and Praia da Adraga. Then grab a coffee or souvenir and head back to Lisbon.
Recent visitors use words like "breathtaking" and "gorgeous" to describe this natural area. Many were enchanted by the 250-year-old lighthouse (which is still staffed by a person), while those disinclined to hike said a quick stop here was all they needed. Several reviewers also said they visited the area on a guided tour. Companies like The Cooltours and Inside Lisbon received high praise.
Lisbon Sunset Sailing Tour with White or Rosé Wine and Snacks
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Lisbon: Half Day Sightseeing Tour on a Private Electric Tuk Tuk
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Sintra Full-Day Private Tour - A Journey through Wonderland
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Alfama Alfama free
Some tourists choose to take Tram 28 through the Alfama neighborhood because it's so hilly, but whether you choose to burn some calories or contend with the tram crowds, a visit to the picturesque Alfama is a must. With a history that dates back to the Moors, Alfama is characterized by narrow, cobblestone streets that wind past dozens of quaint shops, cozy restaurants and traditional Fado clubs, all of which are housed within historic yet well-preserved architecture. Popular city attractions like St. George's Castle , Lisbon Cathedral and Feira de Ladra are also located in Alfama.
Travelers come in droves to bear witness to the neighborhood's famed charm (and some street art), and say this is the best place to get to know Lisbon. Visitors also say this isn't a district to breeze through, but rather take your time with and get lost in. Ditch the map and let yourself wander the colorful streets, grab a drink alfresco in an alleyway, or seek out one of the neighborhood's many vantage points, including the popular Miradouro de Santa Luzia, or the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.
Santa Justa Lift Santa Justa Lift
For some sweeping views of Lisbon – particularly Rossio Square and the Baixa neighborhood – you might want to take a ride on the Elevador de Santa Justa, or the Santa Just Lift as it's more commonly known . Designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard (a former student of Gustave Eiffel – creator of the Eiffel tower ), this neo-Gothic elevator is more than a century old and used to be powered by steam. The structure is more than just a means to meet a vista's end, but rather a convenient shortcut for commuters looking to get to Bairro Alto without having to work up the sweat climbing the hill. While the exterior is almost entirely wrought iron, inside visitors will find two old-fashioned wood cabins that take riders up to the nearly 150-foot-tall vantage point.
Although visitors were more than pleased with the views, some visitors found the attraction to be a rip-off, especially since are so many free viewpoints throughout Lisbon thanks to the city's many hills. Travelers also complained of the long lines throughout the day and suggested going either very early in the day or very late at night, but even that isn't a guarantee. Plus, because the elevator's capacity is limited, lines move slow.
Lisbon Cathedral Lisbon Cathedral free
Sturdy Lisbon Cathedral is perhaps more imposing than your average medieval religious site. With very few windows, it resembles a fortress nearly as much as a cathedral. This 1147 building survived the devastating 1755 earthquake. St. Anthony was baptized here in 1195. While parts of the cathedral are nearly 900 years old, it has been heavily altered during that time. Today, interior and exterior demonstrate that with a mix of styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements can be spotted.
Visitors were awed by the outside of the cathedral – most recommend going in, although several felt it was not a "must-see." Travelers enjoyed exploring the various parts of the building, from the altar and choir to the cloister and treasury. Visitors who had seen many other European cathedrals were less impressed, noting its smaller size and lack of English interpretation of the building.
Sintra Sintra free
Located about 20 miles northwest of central Lisbon, Sintra's praises have been sung in literature by the likes of British poet Lord Byron and Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões; Byron described it as a "glorious Eden." A veritable heaven on earth, the small city's rolling hills are clad with vibrant vegetation and fairy tale-like villas separated by cobblestone streets.
The star of the show is the colorful Park and National Palace of Pena, which was built to be a romantic getaway for Queen Maria II and her consort. There's also the Sintra National Palace, whose azulejo-adorned interiors are more elaborate than its gleaming white exterior, the Monserrate Palace, the Castle of the Moors, and the Quinta da Regaleira. What's more, the entire city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)
One of the most notable aspects of Lisbon's alluring architecture is its vibrant ceramic tiles. You might find these Portuguese tiles, or azulejos , adorned on buildings during a walk about town (especially in Alfama ), in gift shops (or at stalls at the Feira da Ladra ), or within the walls of other top city attractions, including some of the palaces or villas that dot Sintra .
If you don't feel like spending time seeking out tiles on the streets, a visit to the National Tile Museum is the perfect alternative. The museum is filled to the brim with tiles of all colors and sizes, some of which date back to the 15th century. Some are simple, with individual tiles decorated with flowers or sailboats, while others are pieced together to create grand murals chronicling people or stories steeped with history. Not only that, but there is information spread throughout detailing how azulejos are made.
Classes & Workshops
Portuguese Cooking Class in Lisbon
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Pastel de Nata Pastry Class
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Pasteis de Nata Baking Class from Lisboa
Plan a daytrip to Cascais Plan a daytrip to Cascais free
The seaside town of Cascais (kush-kaish) is about a 45-minute train ride west of Lisbon's Cais do Sodré station. Once a fishing village, Cascais became a popular respite for the rich and royal in the 1900s. Today, Europeans of all kinds flock to this beachy city for some low-cost fun in the sun. And since it's peppered with luxurious resorts and hotels, a weekend here may be an ideal end to your Lisbon vacation.
Don't be put off by its diminutive size – there is plenty to do here. Take a stroll around the colorful, cobblestone-lined old town, visit one of the area's many forts that helped prevent pirate attacks or relax on one of the area's many beaches.
St. George's Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) St. George's Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge)
Castelo de São Jorge , or St. George's Castle, is perched atop Lisbon's highest hill in Alfama , offering both excellent history and views of the city. The castle served as a fortification for the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors, who turned it into a royal palace before it was eventually taken by Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques. The attraction has kept an array of relics, including canons, which are spread throughout, and 10 towers, one of which houses a camera obscura. There is also a restaurant on-site, gardens where peacocks frequently make appearances and an archaeological center.
Visitors gushed about the incredible views of the city and the sea. But although most were impressed with its quality preservation, many found the attraction to be lacking, as there isn't much to do on-site. If you'd like to get more out of the castle, consider visiting with an organized tour – the advice of past visitors who said there is little historical information posted throughout the site. Past travelers also advised future visitors to wear comfortable shoes, as you'll have to walk up a hill to reach the castle. To avoid long ticket lines at the entrance, reviewers suggest you buy your tickets online in advance.
Torre de Belém and Monument to the Discoveries Torre de Belém and Monument to the Discoveries
What looks to be an idyllic mini castle seamlessly floating on the Tagus riverfront was originally a fort that served to protect Lisbon's port in the 16th century. It served as a departure point for explorers looking to travel the world during the Age of Discoveries. Today, the Manueline structure serves as a monument to that heyday and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby Monastery of Jerónimos . Visitors can go inside and explore the interiors, whose rooms once served as royals quarters, a prison and a chapel, to name a few.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or the Monument to the Discoveries, is just a short walk away, and equally stunning. The waterfront structure was reconstructed in the 1960s in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator's death. Although he wasn't an explorer himself, he was a prince who significantly supported a handful of important explorations during his time. The sail-shaped statue is lined with notable Portuguese figures throughout history, including other navigators, artists and King Manuel. Inside, visitors can climb to the top of the monument for greater views of the river.
Palácio Nacional da Ajuda Palácio Nacional da Ajuda
Anyone who loves neoclassical architecture, decorative arts or history will enjoy a visit to the National Palace of Ajuda, or Palácio Nacional da Ajuda. This palace, built in the first half of the 1800s, is the only palace open to the public in Lisbon. It preserves both the original room arrangements and many decorations, including gold and silverware, jewelry, textiles, furniture, glassware and ceramics, and many forms of visual art. Monarchy in Portugal ended in 1910, when the building was closed down and the royal family went into exile. In 1968 the palace reopened as a museum.
Recent visitors found the site beautiful and engaging, calling it a "must-see." Many were intrigued, and enjoyed getting to see the royal family's real-life items, which were left behind here when they went into exile. Travelers praised the interesting and friendly tour guides – some are already planning their next trip back to the palace.
LxFactory LxFactory free
Lisbon is known for its historic sites perched atop rolling hills. LxFactory still brings old charm, with its 19th-century industrial warehouse setting. However, the feeling here is hip and modern. Housed within this spacious complex are trendy eateries, bars and shops (the quirky Ler Devagar bookstore is a particular favorite among visitors). The vibe here is artistic and bohemian – the area is easily traversed on foot, but has also been called "a city within a city."
Recent visitors enjoyed their time at LxFactory. Travelers marveled at the wealth of dining options, and particularly enjoyed strolling the area in good weather. Despite its removed location (it's located in the Alcântara neighborhood), visitors found a stop here more than worth it for the vintage and handmade items. One reviewer mentioned that on Sundays there is an added market full of individual vendors. Crowds form, so go early on Sunday (by 10 a.m.) to enjoy it fully. Several visitors recommended pairing a visit to LxFactory with a stop in Belém.
Sunset Sailing Tour in Lisbon on a Luxury Sailing Yacht
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Sunset Cruise with Wine & Snacks
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Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian) Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian)
Less than 75 years old, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum houses a world-renowned collection of art. The late Calouste Gulbenkian, a former oil tycoon and distinguished art collector, amassed 6,000 works of art in his lifetime, donating it all to Portugal upon his death. The diverse selection on display includes art of all kinds from all over the world, including Egyptian statues, European paintings from masters Rubens and Rembrandt, and Chinese porcelain, to name a few.
Recent travelers enjoyed perusing the museum, with many saying the 20-minute trip from the city center was worth it. Visitors not only appreciated the museum's diversity of art, but some were delightfully dumbfounded it all came from one person. Others were pleased with the size of the museum, saying it was large enough to fill a few hours of the day, but still manageable. The architecture and gardens received equally favorable reviews.
Monastery of Jerónimos Monastery of Jerónimos
The Monastery of Jerónimos or the Jerónimos Monastery, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Lisbon's Belém district. Exemplifying Portugal's Manueline style – a highly ornate style of architecture named after the king of the time (Manuel I) – the monastery was built during the Age of Discoveries. Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in Portugal at the site before embarking on their famous journey to India in 1498. During the 17th century, the structure served as a monastery for monks, whose job was to comfort sailors and pray for the king. It eventually became a school and orphanage until 1940.
Today, visitors can explore the grounds at their own pace while admiring the detail of the intricately carved pillars, cloisters and vaulted ceilings. Tourists can also stop by the Chapel of St. Jerome and the tombs, which contain notable Portuguese people in history, including a handful of royals and Vasco da Gama himself. Travelers found the attraction's unique architecture to be stunning, and recommended a visit for that reason alone. However, some travelers complained of long entrance lines, even for those who purchased tickets online in advance. Some reviewers suggested planning your visit for after 2 p.m., when the morning tour crowds have dispersed. Other suggested skipping the monastery altogether and instead suggested spending time in the chapel, which is free to visit.
Oceanarium (Oceanario de Lisboa) Oceanarium (Oceanario de Lisboa)
The Oceanário de Lisboa is not just an aquarium, but considering its size, a world in and of itself. The Oceanarium, as it's also often referred to, is the world's largest saltwater oceanarium, holding more than 450 species of sea creatures. Four permanent exhibits represent different habitats that hold the likes of various types of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals. Here, visitors will find the likes of sharks, penguins, rays and sea otters and everything in between. Along with a peek into life under the sea, the Oceanarium also offers a variety of activities, from guided tours to a sleepover with sharks and even a Fado show.
Visitors were blown away by how impressive the aquarium was and suggested stopping by if you need a break from the city's many historic sites. Several reviewers in particular loved the large, central tank, and said the attraction could easily be enjoyed by all ages, and not just children. Travelers advised setting aside at least half a day to see the attraction and warned of large afternoon crowds.
Feira da Ladra Feira da Ladra free
If you're searching for a unique souvenir to take back home, you might want to try your luck at the Feira da Ladra flea market. Located in the Alfama district and spread out across Campo de Santa Clara, the contents of Feira da Ladra can be trash or treasure, depending on what kind of traveler you ask, or what kind of week it is. Either way, you're likely to find some souvenirs, antiques, azulejos (Portuguese tiles), art and a number of second-hand/vintage goods. But the Feira da Ladra isn't your run-of-the-mill flea market. The market is rumored to have been around since the 12th century, with some of the vendors known for selling stolen goods, hence the name ladra , which translates to "thief" in Portuguese.
Some visitors said the market was only worth a stop if you happen to be in the Alfama area, with some likening it to a car boot sale. Others were pleased with the vintage wares they were able to score.
Carmo Convent Carmo Convent
Carmo Convento is actually a ruin of a 14th-century convent that was destroyed by an infamous earthquake and fire. On Nov. 1, 1755, one of the deadliest earthquakes of all time shook Lisbon. Buildings throughout the city collapsed, including this one. Tens of thousands died – the disaster exacerbated by fires spread by candles lit for All Saint's Day. Today, the ruins stand in the city center as a remembrance of the tragic day. From this darkness – the earthquake was felt far beyond Lisbon, though the city was hit particularly hard – much philosophy and art emerged. Additionally, the event inspired new building in area that is considered to be some of the world's earliest seismically sound construction.
In addition to the convent ruins, the site is also home to the Carmo Archaeological Museum, which was founded in 1864 and was the first museum of art and archeology in Portugal. It displays artifacts from the pre-historic era through the Middle Ages, in addition to a collection of medieval religious and heraldic items. Past visitors were particularly impressed with the mummies and the fact that almost all of the exhibits are labeled in English.
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Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon
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Home > What to See and Do > Top 10 Must-See Attractions
Top 10 Attractions and 50 Things to Do in Lisbon
The most extraordinary sights and the most memorable experiences.
1. Jerónimos Monastery
This World Heritage monument is a marvel of Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) architecture. It was built in 1502, and features magnificent stonework inspired by the sea and the East, particularly in the cloisters. Paid for with the profits from the spice trade, it’s the resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama, whose tomb is found at the entrance of the church.
See the Jerónimos Monastery Visitor's Guide .
2. Belém Tower
Lisbon’s most iconic monument rises from the river, where it served as a beacon to the many explorers who departed from this site in the 15th and 16th centuries. Also protected as World Heritage , it looks like a small castle out of a fairy tale, and is a symbol of the Age of Discovery .
See the Belém Tower Visitor's Guide .
3. St. George's Castle
Lisbon’s highest hill has been crowned by fortifications for literally thousands of years. The first ones were built by the Visigoths in the 5th century, then the Moors expanded them in the 9th century, and Portugal’s first king remodelled them in the 12th century. The medieval castle became a royal residence until the 1500s, and what stands today is the restored version of the Moorish and medieval construction. It houses a small archaeological museum, but is mostly visited for the breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
See the St. George's Castle Visitor's Guide .
4. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Businessman and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian was one of the world’s wealthiest men in the mid-20th century, and created a foundation in Lisbon to promote the arts and education around the globe. He put together one of the world’s greatest private art collections , and a museum was built next to the foundation’s headquarters. He only acquired masterpieces, so everything on display is outstanding, from paintings by old masters such as Rembrandt and Rubens, to Egyptian antiquities and unique pieces of Lalique jewelry.
See the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum Visitor's Guide .
Exhibitions related to modern art, architecture and technology are presented in an iconic building of curved lines that descends into the river. Even if you don’t visit the art inside, you may walk around, and even on top of, this waterfront landmark, as it serves as a viewpoint, looking out to 25 de Abril Bridge.
See the MAAT Visitor's Guide .
6. Coaches Museum
Lisbon’s most popular museum became even more so when it moved to a bigger building across the street from its original home. Its collection of magnificent carriages (unique in the world) is now displayed in a modern building designed by Pritzker Prize architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and includes vehicles dating back to the 16th century, ridden by Portuguese and other European royals.
See the Coaches Museum Visitor's Guide .
7. Parque das Nações
Eastern Lisbon was transformed into a futuristic ocean-themed neighborhood when it was chosen as the site of 1998’s World Fair. It’s now home to office and apartment buildings, but also to one of the city’s greatest attractions, the Oceanarium, which puts all of the world’s ocean habitats under one roof. From there, visitors walk along the pleasant waterfront promenade towards Vasco da Gama Bridge (Europe’s longest) and the Vasco da Gama Tower (the city’s tallest building).
See the Parque das Nações Visitor's Guide .
8. Tile Museum
Ceramic tile art dates back to ancient Egypt and is found all over the Mediterranean, but nowhere else in the world did it evolve as much or as imaginatively as in Portugal. Here, tiles became more than just geometric figures decorating walls, they also depicted historical and cultural scenes to cover palaces, street signs and shops. There is only one place on the planet where you can follow the history and evolution of this art form, and that’s Lisbon’s Tile Museum. Set in a magnificent 16th-century convent , this is the city’s most beautiful museum . It’s a unique gallery with a collection of tilework that ranges from Moorish-influenced pieces from Seville to modern examples by contemporary artists. In the splendid church dripping with gold is also a series of Dutch panels, from a time when Europe started imitating Chinese ceramics.
See the Tile Museum Visitor's Guide .
9. Ancient Art Museum
It has paintings by masters like Bosch and Dürer, but the main reason to head to this museum is for a lesson in how the East and the West influenced each other , thanks to the Portuguese “Age of Discovery.” Highlights include Japanese screens illustrating Japan’s first encounter with Europeans as the Portuguese arrived on their ships, a monstrance made with gems brought back by Vasco da Gama, and the 15th-century masterpiece “Panels of St. Vincent” depicting Prince Henry the Navigator and other personalities of the time.
See the Ancient Art Museum Visitor's Guide .
Located next to Jerónimos Monastery, this museum (formerly named Berardo Collection Museum) presents a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art . Most of it belongs to Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo, who collected works by major European and American artists like Picasso, Magritte, Paula Rego, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
See the MAC/CCB Visitor's Guide .
40 OTHER MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
This massive monument is shaped like a ship with 33 people aboard, led by Prince Henry the Navigator. The other colossal sculptures are of other personalities related to the Portuguese Age of Discovery , such as explorers, poet Luís de Camões, and painter Nuno Gonçalves. Inside are temporary exhibitions and an elevator that takes visitors to the terrace at the top, which offers a breathtaking view of the neighboring monuments. Outside, on the ground, is a vast compass with a map of the world tracing the routes of Portugal's heroes of the sea.
See the Discoveries Monument Visitor's Guide .
Rua Augusta Arch
The triumphal arch that once welcomed those arriving in Lisbon by boat, now offers visitors one of the best views of the city from the top . From the feet of its gigantic sculptures is a bird’s-eye perspective of Lisbon’s grandest square opening to the river, the cathedral, and downtown’s cobbled streets.
See the Rua Augusta Arch Visitor's Guide .
Portas do Sol Viewpoint
The most stunning view of old Lisbon can be admired and photographed from this terrace by the castle. This medieval part of the city looks more like a Mediterranean village or a Greek island than a capital city, with white church towers, domes and colorful houses tumbling down the hill towards the waterfront. In the surroundings are several cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating.
See the Portas do Sol Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint
This terrace at the top of a hill was landscaped in the 1800s and is one of Lisbon’s most romantic spots . Locals and tourists take photos of the postcard view , and gaze across to the castle as they enjoy drinks from a kiosk café. It’s found next to the terminal of one of the city’s iconic funiculars , the Elevador da Glória.
See the São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
Santa Justa Elevator
A monumental wrought-iron elevator , designed in Gothic Revival style by one of Gustave Eiffel’s disciples, was inaugurated in 1902 to facilitate the climb of one of Lisbon’s hills. It connects Baixa (downtown) to Chiado and Bairro Alto at the top of the hill, but is now mostly a tourist attraction, as it also offers a panoramic view .
See the Santa Justa Elevator Visitor's Guide .
Santa Luzia Viewpoint
A pergola frames a perfect view of Alfama’s domes and rooftops descending the hill towards the river at this romantic terrace next to a small church. It’s incredibly picturesque from its two levels -- the landscaped upper level with lush bougainvillea is adorned with tile panels, while the lower level has a reflecting pool.
See the Santa Luzia Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
Ribeira das Naus
This promenade connects the Baixa and Cais do Sodré districts, and turns into something of an “urban beach” in the summer. It’s the favorite sunbathing spot in the city center for locals and tourists (who lie on the steps that descend to the water or on the lawn behind them), and the terrace of its kiosk-café is one of the most popular spots for drinks on the waterfront. It’s also one of the best places to catch the sunset in the autumn and winter months, when the sun disappears on the horizon on this more southern location of the city.
See the Ribeira das Naus Visitor's Guide .
An abandoned factory complex dating back to 1846 became one of Lisbon’s trendiest places to be , when it started housing offices, shops, cafés and restaurants in 2008. It’s one of the top destinations for dinner throughout the week and for brunch on weekends, when it also hosts outdoor markets selling everything from locally-grown vegetables to crafts, fashion, and accessories. All of the interiors have kept their industrial architecture and vintage pieces in their décors, and the exterior is a true street art gallery .
See the Lx Factory Visitor's Guide .
MuDe - Design & Fashion Museum
Lisbon has one of Europe’s best design and fashion collections , and it’s displayed in the former headquarters of a bank, in the city’s main pedestrian street. There are creations by many of the world’s leading designers from the mid-1800s to the present, like Charles & Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Philippe Starck, Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. Most of the pieces were amassed by a local businessman, but there have also been donations, including an outfit by Tommy Hilfiger himself.
See the MuDe Visitor's Guide .
Royal Palace of Ajuda
Portugal’s last royal palace was built at the top of a hill in 1795. It was to be one of Europe’s largest palaces, but was abandoned and the project left unfinished during the French invasion of Portugal and later when the country became a republic. However, the neoclassical building is grand enough, and the royal family left behind the crown jewels and a collection of decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, which are displayed in the magnificent rooms . Across the street is the royal botanical garden , laid out in 1768. Split into two levels, it has exotic trees and plants, 18th-century sculptures and fountains, and a beautiful view of 25 de Abril Bridge.
See the Ajuda Palace Visitor's Guide .
São Vicente de Fora Monastery
The world's largest collection of baroque tile panels , including several illustrating La Fontaine's fables, can be seen inside this monastery from 1582. Those panels were added in the 1700s, and line the cloisters and much of the interior. It’s possible to climb up to the roof, for a view over Alfama.
See the São Vicente de Fora Monastery Visitor's Guide .
Lisbon’s fortified cathedral is the city’s second-oldest monument, after the castle. It’s a robust building from 1147, and most of it survived the 1755 earthquake. Its cloisters reveal archaeological remains of the city’s past 3000 years , while the treasury presents a collection of priceless sacred art .
See the Lisbon Cathedral Visitor's Guide .
Igreja de São Roque
Built in the 1500s, this was one of the world’s first Jesuit churches , with a very plain façade but with a number of extraordinarily gilded chapels inside. One of them is a unique masterpiece of European art , and said to be “ the world’s most expensive chapel .” Built in Rome in 1742, using only the most precious gems (ivory, lapis lazuli, gold, silver, marble, gilt bronze, agate, porphyry...), the chapel was shipped to Lisbon to be assembled in this church, where it can now be seen together with other side-chapels equally rich in ornamentation.
See the Igreja de São Roque Visitor's Guide .
Igreja de Santa Catarina
The magnificent baroque and rococo interior of this church is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful sights , but it remains a little-known treasure. It dates from 1727, and most of it actually survived the 1755 earthquake, unlike the majority of churches and everything else in the city. It’s therefore a rare example of Lisbon’s wealth up to the 18th century, with a monumental organ that’s a masterpiece of gilded woodwork and a stucco ceiling that’s considered one of the most outstanding of its kind in Europe.
See the Igreja de Santa Catarina Visitor's Guide .
A pine-shaded terrace at the top of one of Lisbon’s tallest hills is a meeting place for locals, who love to admire their city as much as tourists do. No one can resist taking a photo of the view of the castle and the rooftops below it , and stopping for a drink served from a kiosk standing in the shadow of a baroque church.
See the Graça viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
Santa Catarina Viewpoint
Lisbon’s favorite sunset spot is one of its most central viewpoints. It’s a terrace located close to many of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants, so it’s where many start their night out. There’s a kiosk serving drinks to be enjoyed on the amphitheater-like steps, where bohemian locals and tourists get together in a chill-out atmosphere. They’re overlooked by a sculpture of Adamastor, a mythical sea monster imagined by Portugal’s great 16th-century poet Luís de Camões.
See the Santa Catarina Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
Senhora do Monte Viewpoint
It rivals the Santa Catarina viewpoint as the favorite sunset spot , but here there are no cafés and the view is more breathtaking. It’s a quieter viewpoint, but has become quite popular, as it offers a panorama of almost the entire city . It’s faced by a small 18th-century chapel and an image of the Virgin which gave it its name (“Lady of the Mount”).
See the Senhora do Monte Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .
It perfectly frames a view of the river, so Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo would always be one of Lisbon’s most photographed streets , but what makes it such a picturesque and irresistible place (and arguably the city’s most beautiful street) is the presence of a charming funicular . It has been going up and down the hilly street since 1892, connecting the Bairro Alto district to the waterfront. Its journey takes just 5 minutes, and it carries up to 23 passengers, but it’s now mostly used as a backdrop for selfies.
See the Bica Funicular Guide .
Lisbon’s main market since 1892 became the city’s top food destination in 2014, when it added a food hall managed by Time Out Lisboa magazine. It’s a lively place from morning to night, with stalls offering some of the most creative dishes by some of the city’s top chefs. They’re enjoyed at canteen-style communal tables inside, or outside, facing Dom Luis I Square.
See the Ribeira Market Visitor's Guide .
Docas de Santo Amaro
The best close-up views of the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge are from the warehouses-turned-restaurants below it. They face a marina, and are the starting point of a promenade that leads to the Discoveries Monument and the many other attractions of Belém. This is a popular destination at lunch and dinner time, as well as for afternoon drinks. It’s also the departure point of sightseeing cruises. The bridge is often compared to the Golden Gate in San Francisco, but it was actually modelled after the Bay Bridge in the same city. One of the pillars (across the road from here) has a glassed observation deck at the top, and houses an exhibition explaining the mechanisms that make a suspension bridge work.
See the Docas de Santo Amaro Visitor's Guide .
A gigantic image of Christ standing on a tall pedestal was inaugurated across the river in 1959, as a way for the episcopate to thank God for having spared Lisbon from World War II. An elevator takes visitors up to the terrace by the feet of the statue, from where there's a panoramic view of practically the entire city . From the landscaped surroundings there’s a close-up view of 25 de Abril Bridge , which stands right below.
See the Cristo Rei Visitor's Guide .
The roof of this 14th-century church, which was Lisbon’s greatest medieval building, collapsed in the earthquake of 1755, but its Gothic arches still stand. It was never restored, to serve as a reminder of the disaster, but it remains one of the city’s most impressive monuments . The former sacristy is a small archaeological museum with an eclectic collection of treasures, from Portugal and elsewhere, including a Visigothic pillar, a Roman tomb, and eerie South American mummies. Behind the building are the Terraços do Carmo, terraces now occupied by an open-air café and bar, offering a view of the castle and of the Santa Justa Elevator , which can also be accessed from here.
See the Carmo Convent Visitor's Guide .
A domed church that took 300 years to complete is now the pantheon holding the tombs of Portugal’s most illustrious personalities (from 15th-century explorers, to Presidents, to legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues ). The marble interior is a fine example of baroque architecture , but it’s mostly visited for the terrace surrounding the dome , which overlooks Alfama and the river.
See the National Pantheon Visitor's Guide .
Basílica da Estrela
Inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome and Mafra Palace outside Lisbon, this royal basilica was built according to the wishes of the queen in 1790. The imposing dome stands out in the city’s skyline, and it’s possible to get a close-up view of it from the terrace , which overlooks the city. The marble interior includes a remarkable nativity scene , created by Portugal’s leading baroque sculptor. Across the street is one of Lisbon’s most delightful parks .
See the Basílica da Estrela Visitor's Guide .
It’s way off the beaten path, outside the city center, but it’s worth making the effort to see this palace from 1670, as it’s a fine example of aristocratic architecture. It was influenced by the Renaissance, and has one of the world’s richest collections of decorative tiles , which can be admired inside or in the magnificent gardens .
See the Fronteira Palace Visitor's Guide .
Edward VII Park
Lisbon’s sloping “central park” offers a view of downtown Lisbon, with symmetrical box hedging pointing to the river. On one side is a beautifully-tiled pavilion which hosts special events, and on the other are small lakes and a greenhouse filled with exotic species of plants from tropical climates.
See the Edward VII Park Visitor's Guide .
Jardim do Príncipe Real
The center of Lisbon’s trendiest district is a romantic garden laid out in 1863. It’s shaded by different species of trees, including a gigantic parasol-like cedar. It’s surrounded by mansions, including the exotic Ribeiro da Cunha Palace , which is now a monumental shopping gallery. There are statues of 19th-century poets and a memorial to the victims of homophobia, as well as kiosk cafés serving refreshments throughout the day.
See the Jardim do Príncipe Real Visitor's Guide .
Vasco da Gama Bridge
Inaugurated in 1998 as Europe’s longest , this bridge remains one of the largest in the world. It seems to almost vanish into the distance, and it’s possible to walk under it, following the waterfront promenade of the Parque das Nações district. There’s a park below it, where locals jog, cycle, walk their dogs, and play soccer, as very few tourists pose for selfies on the boardwalk with the bridge as a backdrop. By the promenade is a statue of Catherine of Braganza , the Portuguese princess who became the queen of England when she married King Charles II, who named the borough of Queens in New York in her honor.
See the Vasco da Gama Bridge Visitor's Guide .
The color of the pavement gave it its nickname, but this pedestrian street is officially Rua Nova do Carvalho on the map. It’s quite a small street, but is the epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife , and the New York Times even placed it on a list of “12 favorite streets in Europe.” It hosts a street party throughout the week, mixing locals and tourists, who sit or stand outside the different bars.
See the Pink Street Visitor's Guide .
Divided into five different branches, this museum tells the story of Lisbon and explains the different aspects of its culture. The main branch is an 18th-century palace that the king built for a nun (who happened to be his mistress), and features a formal garden with live peacocks and ceramic animals. That’s Palácio Pimenta , and inside it documents Lisbon’s history, from prehistoric times to the 20th century, through paintings, archaeological finds, and a scale model of the city before its destruction by the 1755 earthquake. Another branch is the striking Casa dos Bicos , a 16th-century building covered in over 1000 diamond-shaped stones that was one of the few survivors of the earthquake. Its ground floor is an archaeological site with traces of Lisbon life from the past two millennia, while upstairs is an exhibition devoted to the life and work of author José Saramago, featuring his Nobel Prize and multilingual editions of his books. Another famous Portuguese personality, Saint Anthony, is celebrated in another branch, next to the church with his name, built on the site where he was born (right in front of the cathedral). A fourth branch is found in the city’s grandest square -- in the western turret of Praça do Comércio, and presents temporary exhibitions. But if you visit only one branch of the museum make it the Roman Theater , which is an archaeological site showing the remains of what was once a sizable theater during Lisbon’s Roman occupation. Pieces unearthed during the excavations are shown in a building next door.
See the Lisbon Museum Visitor's Guide .
As the European power with the longest presence in Asia (Macau was only handed over to China in 1999), Portugal has quite a story to tell about how its culture influenced and was influenced by the East. This museum does just that, with a permanent collection dedicated to the Portuguese presence in Asia . It includes Indo-Portuguese furniture, Japanese screens, paintings, porcelain, textiles and religious artifacts. The restored 1940s warehouse it’s housed in also presents temporary exhibitions covering a variety of themes related to the different Asian cultures.
See the Orient Museum Visitor's Guide .
Medeiros e Almeida Museum
A 19th-century mansion houses one of Lisbon’s most outstanding art collections . Somehow, it remains one of the city’s top secrets, often overlooked by travel guides. It’s the former home of a wealthy businessman, who displayed his treasures in 25 rooms, including a Rembrandt portrait and other paintings by major artists like Rubens and Tiepolo. It also presents one of the world’s largest collections of clocks, some of the first Chinese porcelain imported by Europe, a silver tea set that once belonged to Napoleon, and a marble and bronze fountain that originally stood in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, among hundreds of other surprising pieces.
See the Medeiros e Almeida Visitor's Guide .
Located in the western wing of Jerónimos Monastery, this museum provides a flashback to the Age of Discovery and Portugal’s nautical history. Ancient globes, models of ships, maps and astrolabes explain the pioneering role of the Portuguese in the exploration of the oceans and in aviation , displaying the plane the made the first crossing of the South Atlantic by aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922. Other treasures include artifacts found in shipwrecks, the yacht and barges of the Portuguese royal family, and a wooden figure of Archangel Raphael that accompanied Vasco da Gama on his voyage to India.
See the Maritime Museum Visitor's Guide .
Tropical Botanical Garden
If you have time for just one garden in Lisbon, make it the Tropical Botanical Garden next to the Jerónimos Monastery. Created in 1906 to show the exotic plants and trees from the Portuguese colonies , it’s now a beautiful and peaceful place to escape the crowds of tourists in the neighborhood. Busts of Africans and Asians are dotted around, and there’s a Macanese arch leading to an Oriental Garden, but there are also plants from other lands that were not colonized by the Portuguese. Giant palm trees welcome visitors, as do the peacocks, ducks, geese, swans, chickens, and other fowl that waddle around or swim on the pond.
See the Tropical Botanical Garden Visitor's Guide .
Águas Livres Aqueduct
Lisbon created one of the world’s most impressive water systems in the early 1700s, thanks to a monumental aqueduct. It’s recognized as one of mankind’s most remarkable hydraulic and engineering constructions , and its 109 arches and different reservoirs escaped the destruction of the devastating 1755 earthquake. They make up the award-winning Water Museum , and it’s possible to walk over the aqueduct’s 14 largest stone arches (the world’s tallest when they were built), rising 64 meters (210 feet) from the ground. Smaller arches, decorated with baroque tile panels illustrating human consumption of water over history, can be seen leading to the Mãe d’Água reservoir nearby, whose rooftop offers a view of the arches and of the surrounding neighborhood. Inside, it often hosts temporary art exhibitions. Another reservoir can be visited on weekends below Jardim doPríncipe Real, while the main branch of the museum is located a short walk from behind Santa Apolónia train station, in the former steam pumping station. It preserves the iron and steel machinery in the Victorian and Neoclassical styles, considered treasures of Europe’s historical and industrial heritage.
See the Aqueduct and Water Museum Visitor's Guide .
A group of glass postmodern towers altered Lisbon’s skyline and were therefore controversial when they were built in 1985, but their shopping mall soon became the city’s favorite shopping mecca. Newer and bigger malls are now more popular, but that of Amoreiras is still a destination, as it provides access to an observation deck at the top of one of the towers. There’s a 360-degree view of almost the entire city , from the Parque das Nações district in the east to Belém in the west. The mall below has dozens of stores and an excellent food court.
See the Amoreiras 360º Visitor's Guide .
National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado
Art fans will want to head to this converted convent which houses the biggest collection of contemporary Portuguese art . It’s shown in thematic and temporary exhibitions, but there are always works by the leading national artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Almada Negreiros, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, and Paula Rego. A drink or light meal at the café on the sculpture-filled terrace is a great way to end a visit.
See the National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado Visitor's Guide .
Lisbon’s oldest museum recalls major battles, wars and the military history of Portugal in sumptuous rooms with beautifully-painted ceilings . The room named after Vasco da Gama shows how the country conquered and defended its colonies, while another room is entirely dedicated to WWI. Elsewhere it displays one of the world’s largest collections of artillery , swords used by kings, and replicas of 16th-century armor, among a variety of other pieces. The cannon-filled courtyard features tile panels illustrating some of the most historic battles that guaranteed that Portugal remained an independent Iberian kingdom.
See the Military Museum Visitor's Guide .
There are many places in the city to enjoy the abundant sunshine and the mild temperatures, but luckily there are also several beaches nearby. That makes Lisbon one of Europe’s most blessed cities, and you can have your feet in the ocean or be on your surfboard in just minutes from the center of town. There’s a long stretch of sand to the south, offering everything from lively seaside bars to surfing waves , to secluded spots and nude beaches , and then there’s the coast to the west, easier to reach, and therefore more popular with tourists. Wilder beaches of stunning natural beauty are found to the north, by Europe’s westernmost point . Most can be reached by public transportation, and will make you want to prolong your stay in the city.
See the Lisbon Beaches Guide .
A day trip to Sintra should be included in any visit to Lisbon. This fantasyland was Europe’s first center of romantic architecture, which has made it a World Heritage Site . It’s a magical place with several fairytale palaces and castles , but the must-see is the extraordinary Pena Palace , which looks like something that not even Disney could imagine.
See the Sintra Tourism Guide .
Top Places to Stay
Best Waterfront Hotels: Altis Belém Hotel , MYRIAD by SANA Hotels Best Views: Memmo Alfama , Hotel do Chiado , Solar dos Mouros Best Pools: Olissippo Lapa Palace , Palácio do Governador , EPIC SANA Marquês Best Hotels by the Castle: Solar do Castelo , Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel Best Central Hotels: Pousada de Lisboa , Bairro Alto Hotel , Altis Avenida , The Ivens Best Central Apartments: Residentas Aurea , Chiado Camões Apartments , Flora Chiado Apartments Best Beach Hotels: Farol Hotel , The Albatroz Hotel
Complete Lisbon Guide
Insider's guide with the latest travel tips, information and advice from local experts:
Where to Stay
Hotels in Alfama and the Castle
Hotels on Avenida da Liberdade
Hotels in Bairro Alto
Hotels in Baixa
Hotels in Chiado
Hotels in Príncipe Real
Hotels in Avenidas Novas
Avenida da Liberdade
Cais do Sodré
Campo de Ourique
Parque das Nações
What to See & Do
Top 50 Attractions
Top 30 Museums
Top 30 Viewpoints
Best Day Trips
On a Rainy Day
1 Day in Lisbon
Most Popular Attractions
Castle of St. George
Ancient Art Museum
Pena Palace (Sintra)
Most Popular Beaches
Praia da Conceição
Costa da Caparica
Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo
Praia da Ursa
Tram 15 to Belém
Train to Belém
Bus 101 to Cristo Rei
Hop-On Hop-Off Buses
Santa Apolónia Station
Cais do Sodré Station
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Home » Travel Guides » Portugal » 25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal)
25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal)
Touted as a modern metropolis to rival London and packed with places of interest, Lisbon is a city that is really going places. There is a plethora of history here, with tales of everything from Roman imperialists to exotic Berber pirates, Moorish builders to fierce Reconquista knights, all wrapped up in the grand palaces and heritage districts. But there is also an atmosphere of bohemianism and the surprise of the new here too.
You won’t have to look far for nightlife as you can just dive into the medley of Fado joints and swish coffee shops in the Bairro Alto district. Then, perhaps, you can take in the latest in digital installation art at the Berardo Collection Museum, or go nose to nose with a grimacing shark at the Lisbon Aquarium.
Meanwhile, the mysticism of much-vaunted Sintra hides in the nearby hills, while endless stretches of pristine beachfront abound in the peninsulas around the Tagus Estuary and the Atlantic Coast.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Lisbon :
1. Wonder at the Torre de Belém
If there is just one landmark you visit when touring through the Portuguese capital, make it this one.
Soaring high above the seafront of the Lisbon quays, this great tower displays a veritable fusion of architectural styles from the Mudejar to the Moorish, the Gothic to the Romanesque.
It has stood watch over the mouth of the Tagus River since its construction under the patronage of Saint John back in the 16th century.
Since then, it has risen to become perhaps the most iconic feature of the city, famed as the last sight adventurers like the prodigal Vasco da Gama would have seen as they drifted out into the vast Atlantic Ocean.
2. Ride Tram 28
Like San Francisco in the United States, Lisbon is a city famed for its historic, rattling tram lines.
None are 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.
Recommended tour : 2-Hour Historic Tram 28 Tour by Eco Tuk-Tuk
3. Get lost in the Alfama District
The compact little Alfama District is Lisbon’s answer to the old town centers of Europe’s other ancient capitals.
Like the Forum of Rome, it’s hailed as the oldest part of the city, although this one dates back to the Moors of Africa instead of the kings of Latium.
Delving into the warren of winding streets and alleys that forms the district is one of the top activities for visitors to Portugal’s capital.
As you stroll, great cathedrals like the Lisbon Cathedral and tile-fronted chapels reveal themselves on the corners.
There are also the remains of old city walls and hidden squares with al fresco cafes aplenty.
Available tour : Alfama District 2.5-Hour Walking Tour
4. Make a trip to Sintra
‘Did you go to Sintra?’ is the usual question asked by veterans of Portugal’s capital.
Despite being a totally different city and situated more than half an hour away from Lisbon by car, the glorious town of Sintra remains one of the major attractions here.
Daytrips are common, while others will want to spend a couple of days exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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.
Suggested tour : Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril: Full-Day Tour from Lisbon
5. Enjoy the azulejos in the National Tile Museum
Ask any ceramic aficionado and they will tell you that Portugal is the place to go for tiles.
Cue Lisbon’s great National Tile Museum, which is dedicated to everything fired in a kiln.
The institution traces the important history of tile making and its associated technologies from the days when the Moors first brought it to Iberia.
Of course, the best part of all the exhibitions is the blue-hued azulejos.
These famous ceramic works of art gave the country its reputation for craftsmanship in ceramics.
You’ll get to see all types, sizes and designs, and learn about the development of the enchanting motifs that adorn their cobalt surfaces.
Included in the Lisbon Card
6. Conquer the bulwarks of St George’s Castle
St George’s Castle is unquestionably the most visible landmark of Lisbon’s historic center.
Standing tall and firm above the streets of the old Alfama District, the great citadel was first built more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans.
Since then, it has been developed by subsequent rulers of the city, from the Berbers to the Reconquista knights.
Today it has mighty palisades and crenulated towers to admire, along with an encircling dry moat and other anti-siege features.
Pass beneath the large gate here and notice the Portuguese royal seal, marking the country’s monarchic strength.
Fast entry : Sao Jorge Castle Skip-the-Line Ticket with Escort
7. Trace glorious history in the Monastery of Jerónimos
Just a glance at the ornate spires and grand carvings of the great Monastery of Jerónimos should be enough to deduce the raison d’être for this massive landmark which is nestled close to the banks of the Tagus River.
It was built to mark Portugal’s most glorious age which was called ‘The Age of Exploration’. The fusion of architectural designs, known as the Manueline style, stands as testimony to the cultures encountered by Lisbon’s explorers, while the money used to build the structure came from Portugal’s international trade in cloves, cumin and exotic spices.
It is also another of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Book online : Jerónimos Monastery Entrance Ticket
8. Go underwater in the Lisbon Oceanarium
Located out in the blue waters of the Tagus Estuary, the huge Lisbon Oceanarium rises like a hulking aircraft carrier.
Inside, the structure houses countless exhibits related to marine life, which together pull in over one million visitors each year.
You can get up close to colorful puffer fish as well as watch the marauding sharks.
You’ll see curious moray eels and meet cuddly penguins.
There are also interesting collections of sea anemones and corals, not to mention an artificial boating lagoon out front where you can rent a pedalo if it is sunny.
Ticket available online : Oceanário de Lisboa Entrance Ticket
9. Wonder at the master works of the National Museum of Ancient Art
The National Museum of Ancient Art is the home of Portugal’s prestigious national art collection.
Pieces here range from pious saintly depictions by Nuno Gonçalves to chiaroscuro portraiture by Josefa de Óbidos.
Most of the canvasses date from between the 16th and 19th centuries, and came into public ownership following the Liberal Wars that rocked the country in the early modern age.
Patrons here can also enjoy countless traveling exhibitions, with past collections reflecting Lisbon in the Renaissance period as well as featuring historical paintings from the Age of Discovery.
10. Get a taste of the East in Museu do Oriente
You only need to set foot in places like Sri Lanka and Goa to realize how far the reach of Portugal’s great Renaissance Empire stretched.
These far-flung eastern corners of the realm are the subject of Lisbon’s Museu do Oriente and the space itself is huge.
It is housed in a colossal former fish processing factory, which now enjoys up-to-date exhibition rooms.
The focus here is on all things Asian, with stories of Chinese rituals and seafaring across the South China Sea all part of the tour.
11. Hop aboard the Funiculars
Like Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills.
Unlike Rome, the city planners here developed a series of funicular railways to help with transport to and from the neighborhoods above the city.
It’s a real joy to ride on some of the tracks such as the old Ascensor do Lavra which dates all the way back to the late 1800s and has been honored with a national heritage tag.
There is also the Ascensor da Bica, which winds up the tight-knit cobbled lanes off Largo do Calhariz.
Let’s also not forget the soaring Santa Justa Elevator which lifts people from Baixa to Carmo and offers sweeping views of the Lisbon downtown area along the way.
12. Enjoy the Mercado da Ribeira
There are two distinct sides to Lisbon’s most famous food market.
First of all there is the downstairs part, which throbs with local fruit and vegetable sellers touting succulent legumes and Mediterranean fruits every morning of the week, so make sure to get there early if you want to get the best deals.
Then there is the upstairs section which comes packed with more modern, often quirky food stalls and cutting-edge eateries.
It is there that you will be able to taste the local specialty of custard tarts, sip fine Portuguese wines, and even attempt to conquer a massive francesinha sandwich which is one of the treats to come out of Porto in the north.
Available tour : Local Market, Food, and Culture Walking Tour
13. People watch on the Rossio
The plane tree peppered Rossio Square is where Lisbon’s local life ticks over each day.
Officially titled Pedro IV Square, the spot marks the very heart of the Pombaline Lower Town, which spreads out in wide boulevards between the Tagus and Baixa rivers.
The site of the plaza itself has been famous since the medieval age, when public beheadings and bullfighting showdowns were held on its cobbles.
Today, it’s a fine place to stroll and people watch.
You can relax on the shady benches, watch the locals play dominos in the park, and enjoy elaborate Baroque fountains babbling under the sun.
Related tour : Best of Lisbon Walking Tour: Rossio, Chiado & Alfama
14. Enjoy the modern Berardo Collection Museum
Bringing up the more modern side of Lisbon’s already formidable array of world class museums and exhibition spaces is the acclaimed Berardo Collection Museum.
This massive institution now pulls in excess of 2.5 million visitors each year.
They come to wonder at the smorgasbord of eclectic artworks, which range from abstract expressionism to digital art installations or neo-realism and photography.
Curators are dedicated to maintaining the cutting-edge aspect of the collections, which means there are also regular touring collections so you can expect the likes of French avant-garde pieces and European cubism to be on display.
15. Eat and drink in the Bairro Alto
Apart from being the premier touristic district of Lisbon, packed with al fresco cafes and international restaurants, the Bairro Alto is also the city’s top nightlife spot.
You’ll typically have to wait until early evening for the establishments to really get started, but when they do, it’s all about the authentic pastelaria bakeries and the bohemian drinking joints.
There’s a smattering of old Fado music holes if you fancy a night full of artistic passion, all interspersed with cool new breweries and beatnik style bars.
16. Ride the waves at Caxias
Grab a board, wax it down, and don some board shorts or preferably a wetsuit, because the waters where the Tagus Estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean can get pretty chilly.
Nestled just to the west of Lisbon central, this pretty enclave of sand and sea is where most of the capital’s wave riders will retreat at the weekend.
It’s got some challenging left-to-right breaks, and there are plenty of tour outfitters offering surf lessons on the swells which are perfect if you’re a total beginner looking to escape the city for its beaches.
17. Find your inner explorer at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Now something of a historical monument in its own right, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos marks the shore of the Tagus Estuary with its grand architecture and beige stone.
It’s been here since the early 1960s and is an ornate testimony to the successes of Portuguese exploration during the Age of Discovery.
You can reach the towering landmark by strolling along the waterside of Santa Maria de Belém.
Once you spot it, be sure to pick out the legendary figures of Vasco da Gama (an explorer of India and Arabia) and Prince Henry the Navigator (an adventurer of the Great Sand Sea).
18. Unravel the city’s past at Lisboa Story Centre
Once you’re done wandering the wonderful districts of the Bairro Alto and old Alfama, it’s time to get some background on the sights.
For that, there is arguably nowhere better in town than the Lisboa Story Centre.
The institution, which boasts free entry to all holders of a Lisbon city card, unravels the past of Portugal’s capital from its earliest years until the present.
There are special sections dedicated to the Age of Exploration and the great seafarers who departed from the city.
Not to be missed is also a particularly illuminating piece on the ravaging earthquake of 1755.
19. Regal gardens at the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira
Dating all the way back to 1681 and standing at the outer reaches of Lisbon, on its far north-western edge, the grand Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira is one of the more off-the-beaten-track remnants of the city’s former glory.
Despite its remote location it is still easy to get to and offers a glimpse of the majestic architecture that came to the fore in the 1600s and 1700s in Portugal.
The home was once that of the Marquis of Fronteira, who received his land and wealth after staying loyal to the Portuguese royal name during the Restoration War of the mid-17th century.
20. Wallow in the natural beauty of Tróia
You’ll have to hop, skip and jump over both the Tagus River Estuary and the Sado River Estuary to reach the sparkling beaches of the Tróia Peninsula.
But the approximately two-hour journey is definitely worth it.
Running for mile upon mile down the Atlantic Coast, the region has some of the top beachfronts in the entire Lower Alentejo.
The sands glow a soft yellow under the sun and the seas are surprisingly calm for this western section of the country.
The beautiful Parque Natural da Arrábida can be seen on the headlands opposite, while regular tours depart from Tróia to spot bottlenose dolphins out at sea.
21. Go beach hopping on the Costa da Caparica
Talking of beaches, it’s just a short drive across the Ponte de Abril on the Tagus River to reach the acclaimed and popular summer resort of Costa da Caparica.
This sits on the northern fringes of the Sétubal district, and offers unrivaled access to some of the best sandy spots close to the capital.
Here you are bound to discover empty stretches of acacia-backed dunes and swaying sea grasses, all washed over by some challenging surf.
Closest to the town are the more visited beaches, while a narrow-gauge railway takes travelers to the secluded coves and sunbathing spots further along the coast.
22. Enjoy the seafood and sun in Cascais
If you are in need of a dose of idyllic scenery after the hustle and bustle of downtown Lisbon, then there is arguably nowhere better to go than picture-perfect Cascais.
This old fishing hamlet on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean sits to the west of the city, and has been transformed over the years by an influx of upscale Lisboans looking for sun, sea and sand.
There are no fewer than three cliff-backed golden bays along with a peppering of some of the best seafood restaurants in the region.
For wave riding, consider making a beeline for swell-packed Guincho along the headland.
Available tour : Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais Full-Day Tour
23. Haggle at the Feira da Ladra
Polish your haggling skills for a trip to Feira da Ladra, because this sprawling midweek and weekend market is the place to go for quirky, curious and often downright weird trinkets and antiques.
Believe it or not, the history of the buzzing bazaar goes all the way back to the 12th century, when you can almost imagine a similar array of gypsy traders and motley talisman dealers assembling on the sidewalks of Campo de Santa Clara.
You will need to arrive early if you want to be in with a chance of grabbing anything worthwhile, and you can even travel to the market on historic Tram 28.
24. Marvel at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres
Another of the great visual landmarks of Lisbon is the Aqueduto das Águas Livres.
This eye-popping stretch of stone arches and Italianesque architecture was first created in the middle of the 18th century.
It was conceived to relieve Lisbon’s perpetual summertime water shortages, and was built to fit in seamlessly with the Gothic revivalism of the city proper.
Be sure to check out the section of aqueduct which rolls directly over the rooftops of the Amoreiras district, and then make a beeline for the Water Museum, which chronicles the development of this masterpiece.
25. Discover the Basílica da Estrela
You will almost certainly have glimpsed the gorgeous domes and spires of the Basílica da Estrela as you alighted from the rattling carriages of Tram 28. It’s worth lingering below the whitewashed facades of this iconic church and convent for some time as many visitors consider it to be one of the most beautiful in Lisbon.
Late Baroque design dominates the exterior, with a duo of carved spires piercing the skies overhead.
The interior, meanwhile, reveals a kaleidoscope of colored stone inlays and even the tomb of Queen Mary I of Portugal.
25 Best Things to Do in Lisbon (Portugal):
- Wonder at the Torre de Belém
- Ride Tram 28
- Get lost in the Alfama District
- Make a trip to Sintra
- Enjoy the azulejos in the National Tile Museum
- Conquer the bulwarks of St George's Castle
- Trace glorious history in the Monastery of Jerónimos
- Go underwater in the Lisbon Oceanarium
- Wonder at the master works of the National Museum of Ancient Art
- Get a taste of the East in Museu do Oriente
- Hop aboard the Funiculars
- Enjoy the Mercado da Ribeira
- People watch on the Rossio
- Enjoy the modern Berardo Collection Museum
- Eat and drink in the Bairro Alto
- Ride the waves at Caxias
- Find your inner explorer at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
- Unravel the city's past at Lisboa Story Centre
- Regal gardens at the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira
- Wallow in the natural beauty of Tróia
- Go beach hopping on the Costa da Caparica
- Enjoy the seafood and sun in Cascais
- Haggle at the Feira da Ladra
- Marvel at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres
- Discover the Basílica da Estrela
The 15 Best Things to Do in Lisbon
By Chadner Navarro and Alia Akkam
There certainly isn’t a shortage of captivating ways to spend your days in Lisbon —there’s so much to experience, in fact, you might have a difficult time creating your to-do list. So we’ve done it for you: Devour the city’s iconic pastries at the famous Pastéis de Belém, then hang out with locals on the riverfront plaza of MAAT Museum, Lisbon’s newest art institution. After meandering around the city’s hidden corners and lesser-known neighborhood hangouts, marvel at the city from the perch of São Jorge Castle. These 15 experiences ensure your stay will be a memorable (and action-packed) one. Read on for our picks of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Read our complete Lisbon travel guide here .
This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Ajuda National Palace Arrow
This 19th-century palace was once the royal residence of Dom Luís I when he was king of Portugal. It is now used as a museum that you need tickets to access. The wildly opulent space houses a fantastic collection of decorative art, including chandeliers, marble statues, porcelain, tapestries, and much more. Some of the rooms are also used as gallery spaces for contemporary art exhibits. The property is pretty spectacular and overwhelming in its grandeur. There’s weight to every room considering how much there is to look at, whether it’s an old cabinet filled with porcelain cups or massive gold-framed portraits. If you’re into royal collections, this is likely the best you’ll find in all of Portugal.
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If you’re in search of Belém’s cultural and culinary adventures, you can simply hop on the sleek No. 15 tram from the city center to get around. But it’s the No. 28 that every visitor should weave into their itinerary. These vintage Remodelado streetcars, wooden and painted yellow, are a throwback to another era. In peak season, you could be waiting for an hour to board one of these beauties. But that retro feel, perched on a bench as the tram clatters its way through the city’s narrow streets and blares its horn, is priceless.
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LX Factory is an industrial complex from the 19th century that's now home to a bunch of cool shops, restaurants, bars, and office spaces. Located in the far-west of the city, in the neighborhood of Alcântara, it offers a look into the more modern side of Lisbon. If you’re into checking out cool, of-the-moment venues, it’s worth heading here to take a break from the city’s more historic sights; walk around and pop in and out of the various businesses that call the area home.
Time Out Market Lisboa Arrow
Time Out magazine has curated this upbeat food hall in Cais do Sodre, which successfully merges the worlds of culinary highbrow and lowbrow. Set within the old-school Mercado da Ribeira, where locals buy their meat and fish, it’s one of the best places in Lisbon to while away the day, eating and drinking from more than 50 different concepts. Start with charcuterie from the more-than-a-century-old brand Manteigaria Silva and end with Italian-style ice cream packed into a wafer-biscuit cone from Santini. One of the best reasons to visit is to sample the cuisine from some of Portugal’s most famous chefs, including Miguel Castro e Silva, Marlene Vieira, Miguel Laffan, and Henrique Sá Pessoa.
Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) Arrow
The main reason to visit the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT)—a modern cross-cultural hub that brings together visual arts, urban affairs, technology, and science—is the setting. British architect Amanda Levete’s undulating building is covered in white ceramic tiles and capped with a rooftop terrace, while exhibition spaces can also be found in the newly reimagined central power station. The permanent collection and the rotating exhibitions run the gamut, from pop art to ceramics to wood sculptures. There’s even an archival collection about the history of Portuguese electricity. It’s also home to what is now the most impressive collection of contemporary Portuguese art.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum Arrow
Located in the northern edge of Lisbon, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian feels like an art-filled oasis that travelers rarely visit. Tranquil gardens surround a brutalist building that houses world-class pieces spanning 5,000 years of history—think Egyptian sculptures, John Singer Sargent paintings, and Art Nouveau jewelry. The museum added sculptures around the garden, and it’s great to split the visit up between the indoor galleries with a stroll around the grounds.
Praça do Comércio Arrow
Lisbon certainly doesn’t lack for stunning plazas, but perhaps the most important—the grandest of them all—is Praça do Comércio. Before the earthquake of 1755, it was here where one found the royal palace. Today, with its sunflower yellow buildings, arcades, and commanding statue of Dom José I, the aura is just as majestic. Envisioned as a gateway to the New World, the vibrant transportation hub has a ferry terminal on one side and trams whizzing by on the other, so it’s easy to weave into packed itineraries. This is an ideal place to kick off any Lisbon adventure: It doesn’t take long to wander through the square, but one immediately feels its powerful personality and thrilling history.
We Hate Tourism Tours: Walk in the Real City Arrow
This three-and-a-half hour walking tour gives travelers an off-the-beaten glimpse of the city. (It’s a public walking tour, so make sure to reserve in advance.) The guides have an easy-breezy approach that make it seem like you’re being shown around by a friend—expect a good mix of historical, cultural, and, even political info peppered with personal storytelling. Overall, it’s best for people who would rather learn about Lisbon’s modern-day narrative rather than its history or past. You get some of that history, of course, but this tour is meant to show you parts of the city that don’t often land on the mainstream tourist routes, even if you’re only a couple of blocks away.
São Jorge Castle Arrow
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. This castle certainly has a museum feel, what with its clever camera obscura offering 360-degree views of Lisbon in real time, archaeological site spanning three diverse periods, and ruins of the former royal palace. It’s the view, though, that’s the star. Peering out at the city’s abundance of red rooftops and the Tagus River beyond is one of Lisbon’s most thrilling rituals.
Café A Brasileira Arrow
A bronze statue of Fernando Pessoa greets visitors at Café A Brasileira—the beloved poet frequented this joint to sip absinthe. One of Lisbon’s oldest (and perhaps most famous) cafés, this circa-1905 institution was, in its heyday, a grand place for writers and intellectuals to convene. Today it's a bit of a tourist trap, but don’t let that deter you. The Art Deco backdrop, complete with dark wood, splashes of brass, mirrors, and a black-and-white floor, is like a piece of Portugal’s heritage, reborn.
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Set close to Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery is a limestone-clad Manueline masterpiece that was built for the Hieronymite Monastery on the site of an old church—the one where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in Portugal before their famed seafaring sojourn to India. The massive structure, which commenced building in 1501, took a century to complete. History geeks and architecture nerds will appreciate wandering through here, but it’s not hard for anyone to succumb to the UNESCO site’s staggering size and grandeur.
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In Alfama, a five-minute walk from the Museu do Fado, the Portuguese music adventure continues at Clube de Fado. This warm restaurant and performance venue, awash in red, combines the Portuguese guitar and melancholy fado vocals with homestyle cuisine. Nightly fado performances by artists like Cuca Roseta and Sofia Ramos are buoyed by the guitar wizardry of Clube de Fado owner Mário Pacheco, the son of famed fado guitarist António Pacheco. The performers, whether old-timers or emerging talents, give it their all in a retro setting.
Belém Tower Arrow
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Belém Tower was built on the northern bank of the Tagus River between 1514 and 1520 by architect Francisco de Arruda. Also known as the Tower of St. Vincent, it was originally constructed to defend the city. Later, the fortress acquired new life as both a lighthouse and customs office. No need to be a history buff to enjoy the power of this place. Beware the narrow stairs, though—navigating the building’s five floors and rooftop terrace requires stamina, but the trek to the top is rewarded with killer views.
Pastéis de Belém Arrow
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 this Belém institution. The shop, originally part of a sugar refinery, has been cranking out this proprietary recipe—an ancient one embraced by monks of the adjacent Jerónimos Monastery—since 1837. Buy a six-pack and reserve time to enjoy them leisurely inside the retro, blue-and-white tiled room. Sipping a coffee while watching excited visitors taking their first bite is itself a Lisbon attraction.
Santa Justa Lift Arrow
This might just be the world’s most beautiful elevator. Designed by Portugal native Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, the vertical lift—also known as the Elevador do Carmo—made its debut in 1902. Mesnier du Ponsard was a student of Gustave Eiffel, so it’s not surprising that the public elevator, crafted from cast iron and embellished with filigree, flaunts a distinct turn-of-the-century French style. A seemingly endless queue translates into a frustrated crowd; still, though, visitors stick it out—the gorgeous sliver of transportation and architectural history is well worth it.
The World Is Huge. Don't Miss Any Of It
25 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lisbon
Written by Paul Bernhardt and Lana Law Updated May 3, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
Author Paul Bernhardt lives in Portugal and is based in Lisbon.
Lisbon is one of Europe's most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities with endless things to do. Renowned for its warm and sunny disposition, the city is blessed with a wealth of historic monuments, world-class museums, and a host of other fabulous attractions that can easily be worked into a single- or multi-day itinerary .
You can explore the narrow streets of the old quarter, stroll the riverbank promenade, or wander through verdant parks and gardens. In fact, enjoy Lisbon like the locals do, at an easy and unhurried pace, and you'll quickly fall for its welcoming character and beguiling charm.
For ideas on the best places to visit while you're here, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Lisbon.
1. Castelo de São Jorge: An Iconic Landmark
2. mosteiro dos jerónimos: built in honor of portugal's age of discovery, 3. oceanário de lisboa: a modern aquarium, 4. museu calouste gulbenkian: a priceless collection of western and eastern art, 5. museu nacional de arte antiga: the national museum of ancient art, 6. museu do oriente: showcasing portugal's presence in asia and the far east, 7. torre de belém: a historic tower, 8. museu nacional do azulejo: dedicated to the art of decorative tilework, 9. elevador de santa justa: an antique elevator with city views, 10. sé: lisbon's imposing cathedral, 11. padrão dos descobrimentos: a tribute to the age of discovery, 12. day trip to sintra, 13. arco da rua augusta: a triumphal arch, 14. lisboa story centre: exploring lisbon's vibrant history, 15. igreja do carmo: one of the city's oldest churches, 16. igreja-museu são roque: a simple church with a richly decorated interior, 17. núcleo arqueológico: an incredible journey through hidden lisbon, 18. museu bordalo pinheiro, 19. palácio dos marqueses de fronteira: the home of a 17th-century portuguese aristocrat, 20. aqueduto das águas livres/mãe d'agua das amoreiras, 21. basílica da estrela: the beautiful star basilica, 22. museu nacional dos coches, 23. museu de arte, arquitectura e tecnologia (maat), 24. time out marketplace, 25. umbrella street, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to lisbon, frequently asked questions, how do you get from lisbon airport to the city center, when is the best time to visit lisbon, what are some of the best beaches near lisbon, map of tourist attractions in lisbon, more to see and do around lisbon.
The most recognized of Lisbon's major attractions, St. George's Castle commands a glorious position near Alfama on the crown of a hill overlooking the Portuguese capital.
This is one of Lisbon's most popular tourist destinations. Its impressive battlements, engaging museum, and fascinating archaeological site combine to make the castle a rewarding experience for the whole family, and kids especially will love clambering over the sturdy walls and towers that encircle the grounds.
There's been a stronghold on this site since the Iron Age, but it was a castle that the Moors defended against invading Christian forces before finally being overrun in 1147 by Afonso Henriques . The victorious king built the Aláçova Palace , home to subsequent monarchs until a new royal residence was constructed near the river. (The palace foundations form part of the excavations seen today.)
For the most part, visitors are happy enough to admire the fabulous views from the observation terrace that affords an uninterrupted panorama of the city, the River Tagus, and the distant Atlantic Ocean.
For a different perspective, there's a Camera Obscura periscope, housed in one of the towers, which provides viewers with an unusual 360-degree projected view of the city below.
A highlight of any Lisbon sightseeing tour, the 16th-century Jerónimos monastery is one of the great landmarks of Portugal, a stunning monument of immense historic and cultural significance deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage Site accolade.
Near the riverfront in Lisbon's attractive Belém neighborhood , the monastery, also known as the Hieronymite convent, was commissioned by King Manuel I in 1501. Built to honor Vasco da Gama's epic 1498 voyage to India, Jerónimos is as much a symbol of the wealth of the Age of Discovery as it is a house of worship (construction was mostly funded by trade in the spices brought back by da Gama).
Star features of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos include the fantastically elaborate south portal and the beautiful and serene Manueline cloister. Vasco da Gama's tomb lies just inside the entrance to Santa Maria church.
The Lisbon Oceanarium is one of Europe's finest aquariums and one of the largest in the world. It's also arguably the most family-orientated of all the city's visitor attractions.
Designed by Peter Chermayeff and built for the Expo 98 World Exposition in an area now known as Parque das Nações , the oceanarium is home to a mind-boggling array of fish and marine animals , including dozens of different species of birds.
The ingenious layout represents four separate sea- and landscapes, effectively the habitats of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic oceans. These surround an enormous central tank teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes including graceful rays, bulbous sunfish, and sleek sharks — kids' favorite denizens of the deep.
The wraparound plexiglass allows a fantastic close-up view of this magical undersea world, but you should also seek out less obvious, but no less extraordinary species housed in smaller aquaria, such as the exquisitely delicate sea dragon and the comic clownfish .
The different ecosystems are a delight to explore. The Antarctic habitat, for example, showcases playful penguins, while a pair of spirited sea otters steals the show in the Pacific tank.
The Oceanário de Lisboa actively promotes the conservation of the world's oceans, and besides its envious reputation as one of Portugal's most popular tourist attractions , has garnered global praise for its marine environmental awareness campaigns. But most of all, it's seriously good fun.
Address: Esplanada D. Carlos I, Doca dos Olivais, Parque das Nações, Lisbon
A sparkling gem in Lisbon's cultural crown, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is also one of the most celebrated museums in Europe. The facility, sited in a lush, verdant park in the north of the city, is named after Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian , an Armenian oil magnate born in 1869, who bequeathed his vast private art collection to Portugal shortly before his death in 1955. Following the terms of this endowment, a foundation was created, the centerpiece of which is this purpose-built arts complex.
Gulbenkian's astonishing hoard features priceless artworks from around the world, which span 4000 years, from ancient Egyptian times to the late 20th century. With so many pieces from so many different periods in history to absorb, you can easily spend half a day browsing the exhibition galleries, but your patience will be rewarded with a mesmerizing journey through one of the finest collections of art on the continent.
Outstanding highlights in the Classical and Oriental Art galleries include 11 Roman medallions , part of a hoard unearthed in Abu Qir, in Egypt, struck to commemorate the Olympic games held in Macedonia in AD 242. The 17th-century Persian and Turkish carpets on display are some of the best preserved in the world and are clear evidence of Gulbenkian's keen interest in Islamic art.
Move through to European Art (14th-17th centuries) and among the Rembrandts, Van Dycks, and other masters is Portrait of Hélène Fourment (c.1630) by Rubens — Gulbenkian's favorite painting.
Amazingly, the rare clocks and timepieces displayed in the French 18th-century Decorative Arts hall are all in perfect working order; arrive on the hour and hear them chime. While here, cast your eyes over the armchair that once belonged to Marie Antoinette .
More paintings and sculptures from the 18th and 19th centuries, where Turner's vivid and dramatic The Wreck of a Transport Ship (1810) holds the eye, can be admired as you move through the building. One room is dedicated to Francesco Guardi and his studies of Venice. Look out, too, for Houdan's graceful Diana , sculpted in 1780.
The tour of the museum ends with the fantastic collection of jewelry and glassware crafted by French Art Nouveau jeweler, René Lalique (1860-1945). None of the brooches and necklaces were ever used, except for the startling and flamboyant Dragonfly woman corsage ornament , worn once onstage by actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844- 1923).
Address: Avenida de Berna 45A, Lisbon
The National Museum of Ancient Art is one of Lisbon's great cultural attractions and a "must-see" on any tourist itinerary. This is Portugal's national gallery and houses the largest collection of Portuguese 15th- and 16th-century paintings in the country. An equally impressive display of European, Oriental, and African art adds to the allure.
The museum is set west of the city center within a 17th-century palace, itself built over the remains of the Saint Albert Carmelite monastery , which was virtually destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Fortunately, the chapel survived and is integrated into the building.
Set over three levels, the extensive permanent collection requires a good two hours of your time. Begin by exploring the aforementioned St. Albert Chapel on Level 1 and then meander through rooms exhibiting Portuguese applied art: furniture, tapestries, and textiles, among other objects, many reflecting the influences of Portugal's colonial explorations. (Look out for the exquisite 17th-century casket from India crafted in silver gilt.)
Indeed, Level 1 houses some truly remarkable works. Notable pieces here include Hans Holbein the Elder's Virgin and Child with Saints (1519) and the beautiful 1521 portrait of St. Jerome by Albrecht Dürer. The astonishing fantasy that is The Temptations of St. Anthony (c.1500) by Hieronymus Bosch is a highlight.
Jewelry, ceramics, gold, silverware, and art from the Portuguese Discoveries all hold the gaze on Level 2, but make a point of studying the fascinating 16th-century Japanese Namban screens that illustrate the Portuguese trading in Japan.
Level 3 is devoted to Portuguese painting and sculpture. The "don't miss" treasure is the altarpiece that portrays the Panels of Saint Vincent , painted in 1470-80 by Nuno Gonçalves , the official artist for King D. Afonso V.
The gardens at the rear of the museum deserve a mention. Fine views of the river can be enjoyed from the terrace, and there's a café where you can relax and contemplate the visual feast just encountered.
Address: Rua das Janelas Verdes, Lisbon
West of the city center, near Alcântara, and housing a fabulous collection of oriental art built up by the influential Fundação Oriente , this engaging cultural facility chronicles Portugal's presence in Asia and the Far East.
The permanent exhibition is set over two levels and grouped around several core areas of oriental art, particularly Chinese. Displayed under subdued lighting, but with individual pieces showcased under pinpoint spotlight, the collection takes you on an incredible journey that traces the cultural and trade links forged between Portugal and India, Japan, Myanmar, Macau, and Timor.
An enormous 17th-century teak door from India embellished with iron and bronze greets you on the First Floor and opens the way into a hall that dazzles with artifacts such as the delicate Namban screen depicting Portuguese mariners disembarking from the Kurofune to be met by bemused Japanese locals.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is well represented by eye-catching pieces like the suspended boat-shaped cradle (c.1877) made from carved, lacquered, and golden oriental wood, cane, and iron.
Elsewhere, an impressive display of Chinese Ming and Qing-dynasty terra-cotta figurines is placed near a set of forbidding 17th-century Samurai chainmail armor.
But make a point of seeking out smaller pieces, items like the quirky collection of Chinese snuff boxes and the silver alloy bracelets from Timor .
The Second Floor houses the extensive Kwok Collection comprising more than 13,000 examples of figures and mythological beings cut from cowhide and parchment and used by puppeteers in shadow theaters from Turkey to Thailand.
The Orient Museum will absorb a couple of hours of your attention, but if you time a visit for mid-morning, you can pause for lunch in the 5th-floor restaurant and relive the experience.
Address: Avenida Brasília, Doca de Alcântara, Lisbon
Arguably the most emblematic of all Lisbon's historical monuments, the Belém Tower squats in the shallows near the mouth of the River Tagus as a symbol of Portugal's extraordinary Age of Discovery during the 16th century.
Built in 1515-21 as a fortress and originally sited in the middle of the river (the watercourse has shifted over the years), the tower represents the high point of decorative Manueline architecture . Its ornate façade is adorned with fanciful maritime motifs — all twisted rope and armillary spheres carved out of stone.
Indeed, so valuable and iconic is this monument that it's protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Set over various levels, the most interesting interior feature is the second-floor King's Chamber , where the room opens onto a Renaissance loggia . The royal coat of arms of Manuel I is placed above the elegant arcades.
Climb the impossibly steep spiral staircase to the top-floor tower terrace, and you're rewarded with a fine panorama of the waterfront esplanade and the river.
- Read More: Visiting Torre de Belém: Top Attractions, Tips & Tours
Located somewhat off the tourist trail east of the city center, the National Tile Museum is worth seeking out for its unique collection of azulejos — decorative tiles — and the fabulously ornate Igreja Madre de Deus.
Housed within the church and cloisters of the Convento da Madre de Deus , this is the only museum in Portugal dedicated to this historic art form. The permanent exhibition traces the evolution of tile-making from Moorish days through Spanish influence and the emergence of Portugal's own style.
Exhibited chronologically, some of the earliest examples date from the 15th century and are displayed as complete panels of intricate patterns in vivid colors. Portuguese tile work features the more familiar blue and white azulejos , with one outstanding piece, a 36-meter tiled panorama of pre-earthquake Lisbon, one of the highlights of the collection .
Entry to the museum includes access to the 16th-century church of Madre de Deus . Here, visitors are treated to one of the most ebullient and decorative church interiors anywhere in Portugal, a sumptuous Baroque showcase of gilded woodwork, shimmering 17th-century azulejos, and a stunning Rococo altarpiece .
Address: Rua da Madre de Deus 4, Lisbon
Looming somewhat incongruously over the rooftops of Lisbon's Baixa (downtown) district is the odd-looking Santa Justa Lift, a neo-Gothic elevator and the most eccentric and novel means of public transport in the city.
At first glance, its riveted wrought-iron frame and battleship-grey paint conjure images of the Eiffel Tower in Paris , and there is a connection: the French architect Raoul Mésnier du Ponsard , an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, designed the elevator, which was inaugurated in 1901. It was built as a means of connecting the Baixa with the Largo do Carmo in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, a trendy area of the city peppered with expensive shops, Fado houses, and small restaurants.
Today, it is curious tourists rather than the commuting public who make the 32-meter jaunt to the top, traveling in wood-paneled cabins that still feature the original polished brass instruments. The cabins creak their way to a platform set just below the top terrace. From here, passengers can either exit and walk across a bridge into Bairro Alto or opt to climb the spiral staircase that leads to the upper terrace.
The views from the top are superb and take in a busy urban canvas of pedestrianized streets, picturesque squares, and the omnipresent castle and River Tagus. You can also enjoy a wonderful perspective of the nearby Igreja do Carmo . Expect large queues throughout the summer season. If you just want to ride the elevator but don't want the wait, consider walking up and riding the elevator down.
Another unique form of transport in Lisbon is the Elevador da Bica , a funicular railroad that was constructed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard and opened to the public in 1892. Today, it still rises above the steep Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo and whisks passengers up to a panoramic viewpoint. The lower station of this funicular railroad is almost hidden behind a facade on the Rua de S. Paulo with the inscription "Ascensor da Bica" (no. 234).
While here, it's worth exploring this peaceful little quarter known as Bica , which runs down from the Calçada do Combro/Rua do Loreto to the Tagus. Only a few cars journey here due to its sloping topography, narrow streets, and densely packed buildings.
Address: Rua de Santa Justa, Baixa, Lisbon
In the city's Castelo district near the ancient Alfama neighborhood , Lisbon's fortified Romanesque cathedral — the Sé — has undergone several design makeovers since the original structure was consecrated in 1150 . A series of earthquakes culminating in the devastating 1755 tremor completely destroyed that which stood in the 12th century.
What you see today is a blend of architectural styles, the standout features being the twin castellated bell towers that embellish the downtown skyline — particularly evocative in the late afternoon when a setting sun burnishes the brickwork with a golden veneer.
Inside, a resplendent rose window helps illuminate a rather gloomy interior, and you're likely to head straight for the treasury where the cathedral's most valuable artifacts are on display, items that include silverware made up of chalices and reliquaries, intricately embroidered vestments, statuary, and a number of rare illustrated manuscripts.
It's also worth lingering in the Gothic cloister , not so much for its series of chapels (including one that retains its 13th-century wrought-iron gate), but for the fact that on-site excavations have revealed the foundations of Roman and Moorish dwellings (the cathedral was built over the ruins of a mosque) and the archaeological dig is a worthwhile visitor attraction in its own right.
Dominating the Belém waterfront is the angular Monument to the Discoveries , an enormous monolith that leans over the River Tagus to resemble the prow of a caravel, the type of ship commanded by the Portuguese navigators in the 15th century to chart unexplored oceans and discover new lands.
The design is deliberate. This landmark structure was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator . It pays suitable tribute to all those actively involved in the development of the golden Age of Discovery by way of an amazing frieze of statues set along both sides of the monument of the most prominent personalities, figures like Vasco da Gama, Fernão de Magalhães, and Pedro Álves Cabral. Henry himself stands at the fore, caravel in hand.
After admiring those immortalized in stone, you can jump in an elevator and be whisked to the top of the monument for a seagull-eye's view of the riverfront and the surrounding vicinity. Sunk into the esplanade below is a huge pavement compass , a giant mosaic map of the world that charts the locations and dates each new land was discovered. It's one of Lisbon's more unusual photo opportunities.
Address: Avenida da Brasília, Belém, Lisbon
Arguably one of the most rewarding day trip experiences out of Lisbon is a visit to the wonderfully romantic town of Sintra, a direct 40-minute rail journey from the city center. Nestling in the foothills of the rugged Serra de Sintra — a rolling landscape of verdant woodland peppered with outcrops of granite — this enchanting destination unfolds as a scenic picture book of regal royal palaces, mysterious mansions, and a mighty Moorish castle dating from the 8th century.
Set against this attractive canvas is the historic old town (Sintra-Vila), a delightful configuration of colorful and ornate townhouses, decorative cafés, and traditional restaurants wedged along a maze of cobblestone streets and narrow alleys. Once the summer retreat for the Kings and Queens of Portugal, Sintra is deserving of its World Heritage Site status and remains a destination of majestic appeal.
The Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon covers all the top things to do in both Sintra and the former fishing village of Cascais. Explore Sintra National Park, see the stunning Pena National Palace and Sintra National Palace , and enjoy an exhilarating drive along the Atlantic coast on this eight-hour, small-group tour.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Sintra
Lisbon's huge riverfront square, Praça do Comércio , is impressive enough seen from the ground, but it's only when viewed from the Arco da Rua Augusta that its vast dimensions can really be appreciated.
The landmark 19th-century arch lies at the northern edge of the concourse near the southern tip of Rua Augusta, the city's main pedestrianized thoroughfare. Designed by Portuguese architect Santos de Carvalho and built to mark the reconstruction of the capital after the 1755 earthquake, the monument was inaugurated in 1873.
It's only recently that the public has been allowed to visit the top of the arch, where a terrace is surmounted by an allegorical statue of Glory, itself crowning figures representing Bravery and Genius and decorated with wreaths. Below this, an entablature supports additional statues of national heroes, including Vasco da Gama and the Marquês de Pombal .
An elevator deposits visitors near the top, after which a steep spiral staircase needs to be navigated in order to reach the terrace. From here, the view south is majestic and stretches away across the square and over the river. Turn north, and the vista takes in Rua Augusta and Lisbon's entire Baixa (downtown) district.
A mechanical clock on the platform, made in 1941, strikes the hour and half hour. The clock's mechanism, based inside the arch, can be admired in all its intricate detail as can an illustrated panel outlining the arch's own historic timeline.
Address: Rua Augusta, Lisbon
Located on Praça do Comércio, the Lisboa Story Centre is the first place you should visit if you're new to Lisbon; there's no better introduction to the history of the Portuguese capital than this marvelous interactive cultural center.
The family-friendly facility consists of six zones arranged chronologically and each dedicated to a particular period, or chapter, in the city's history. Clever use of multimedia applications brings each zone to life, with some areas resembling film sets. Narration and dialogue heighten the sense of realism.
Models, paintings, and photos all help to build up a picture of bygone Lisbon, but it's the 4D film depicting the 1755 earthquake that really brings history crashing into your experience. The room shakes and trembles as the disaster unfolds, and the whole episode is frighteningly realistic.
Equally impressive for the way key moments are brought to life is the hologram of the Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782) surrounded by the city fathers poring over plans for reconstruction shortly after the catastrophe.
Address: Terreiro do Paço 78-81, Lisbon
The skeletal ruins of the Carmo church are among the most evocative of all Lisbon's historical monuments. Built to an almost exclusive Gothic design, this Carmelite treasure was constructed between 1389 and 1423.
Resplendent with its adjacent convent, Carmo was once the city's most distinguished church. But on the Sunday morning of November 1, 1755, which happened to be All Saints' Day, a devastating earthquake struck the Portuguese capital. The violent tremors almost destroyed most of the building, and hundreds of worshippers perished under falling masonry. The chancel withstood the shockwaves, but the rest of the church was never rebuilt.
Today, visitors can wander the open nave, overshadowed by the surviving arches that bow upwards into the sky. The chancel is now the delightfully quirky Museu Arqueológico do Carmo , where exhibits include a Visigoth pillar and a Roman tomb. Among the more bizarre displays are two ancient mummies lying prone in their glass cases.
The church façade overlooks the picturesque Largo do Carmo in Chiado, the centerpiece of which is the filigree Chafariz do Carmo fountain. Reached easily on foot, the square can also be accessed from the nearby Elevador de Santa Justa.
Address: Largo do Carmo, Lisbon
The church and museum of São Roque in Bairro Alto combine to offer an absorbing cultural experience — each complements the other.
Founded in the late 16th century by the Jesuit Order, São Roque's bland and unassuming Renaissance façade belies a sumptuous interior, one of the most impressive of all Lisbon's religious sites. Richly embellished with marble, azulejos, and gilded woodwork, the church is celebrated for its series of side chapels, one of which, the Capela de São João Baptista , simply dazzles the onlooker with its ornate decoration.
Commissioned by King João V in 1742, Italian architects Luigi Vanvitelli and Nicola Salvi created a veritable jewel box, built in Rome and shipped all the way back to Lisbon. Adorned with amethyst, lapis lazuli, precious marbles, and inlaid with gold, silver, and ivory, the chapel's centerpiece is the intricate mosaic The Baptism of Christ by Mattia Moretti completed in 1750.
Another chapel, the Capela de São Roque , features the oldest and most striking azulejos , signed by Francisco de Matos and dated 1584. Above all this is a majestic ceiling — the only example in Lisbon of a painted ceiling from the Mannerist period.
The adjacent museum houses sacred art and the most valuable treasures of the church, including those from the Chapel of St. John. A highlight is the Shrine to São Roque , a series of early 16th-century panels illustrating the life of the saint. But spend time, too, seeking out exquisite individual pieces, like the reliquary casket of Saint Francis Xavier made in Goa in 1686 from pierced silver. The ensemble of 18th-century vestments , resplendent in silk and gold embroidery, is a rare collection.
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, Lisbon
One of the more unusual visitor attractions in Lisbon is this extraordinary archaeological museum set on and beneath Rua Augusta in the city's Baixa (downtown) district. The museum was built around excavations that had revealed the remains of Iron Age dwellings and Roman fish-preserving tanks unearthed by a building team during the construction of a new bank.
Archaeologists were called in, and as work progressed, more artifacts were discovered, including Roman mosaics, a 5th-century Christian burial chamber, and the foundations of Moorish walls and flooring.
The developers had chosen to build over a site that had been occupied by different civilizations over many thousands of years. Indeed, pottery and coins from the medieval period were also found, and 18th-century foundations were identified. Instead of bulldozing over this fascinating multi-layered treasure trove, it was decided to preserve the entire site by building over and around it.
Today, you can join a free, pre-booked guided tour that begins on the ground floor in the exhibition hall with glass floor panels that allow visitors to view sections of the excavated basement. The history lesson continues downstairs, where you are led through a series of eerie, subterranean galleries designed to showcase that which remained hidden for millennia. By coincidence, the name of the bank is Millennium.
Address: Rua dos Correeiros 9 and Rua Augusta 84, Lisbon
At the northern end of the Campo Grande, this wonderful museum celebrates the art of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846-1905).
The Museu Bordalo Pinheiro is located in a lovely old villa dating from 1912. It contains predominantly ceramics, which clearly demonstrate the caricatural bent of the artist. Figures or faces are portrayed in the form of vases, cups, or teapots.
Much of the work alludes to Portugal's history, and the pieces exhibit a mix of styles. Pinheiro's Art Nouveau bowls and tiles decorated with the reliefs of plants and animals are a highlight, and his figure of "Zé Povinho," a caricature of the typically ordinary Portuguese man, has gained great popularity. Various models of the "Zé Povinho" are on display in the museum.
Address: Campo Grande 382, Lisbon
Tucked away on the northwestern outskirts of the city is this charming country manor house, the family home of the Marquês de Fronteira . Built as a hunting lodge for João de Mascarenhas , the first Marquês de Fronteira, in 1640, it was later refurbished as a palace and remains one of the most beautiful and serene private residences in Lisbon.
Fortunately, some of the rooms in this noble retreat are open to the public, as are the wonderfully landscaped grounds, and investing in a guided morning tour of the premises offers a rewarding glimpse into 17th-century Portugal .
Outside of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo , this is the best place in the city to view 17th-century azulejos . The palace is adorned with outstanding examples of tile work, most notably in the Sala das Batalhas (Battles Room). Here, wall panels depict scenes from the War of Restoration, the long and bloody campaign to rid Portugal of Spanish rule. The detail is staggering and truly brings to life the various battles fought that eventually restored the country's independence from its occupying neighbor.
This is not a museum, and none of the furniture or interior decoration is labeled. Tours, however, are instructive, educational, and discreet and allow access to additional areas such as the lounge, library, and dining room, where unique Amsterdam tiles embellish the interior. Art historians will no doubt spy some notable pieces — look out for the Pellegrini portrait.
Included in the tour are the formal gardens, a verdant oasis embroidered with subtropical flora. Here, you'll find the "King's Gallery," a terrace featuring decorative niches that contain busts of Portuguese kings. It's set above a large pond full of carp.
Similarly, the extraordinary chapel terrace is decorated with azulejo panels illustrating Greek and Roman noble arts, as well as several statues, all of which date from the 17th century.
Address: Largo São Domingos de Benfica 1, Lisbon
One of Lisbon's great iconic landmarks, the enormous Águas Livres aqueduct started supplying the Portuguese capital with fresh water in 1748 piped from a spring located to the north of the city.
The section spanning the Alcãntara valley is the most impressive of this remarkable 18th-century water system, and until recently, was off limits to the public. However, it's now possible to walk the entire length of the aqueduct just by turning up at the entrance, and the experience is quite edifying.
Actually, what you see only forms a small part of the main 19-kilometer pipeline. Incredibly, its total length, including its tributaries, is 58 kilometers. Construction is based on the principle of gravity: water would flow unheeded at a constant rate, and the gently sloping design of the aqueduct meant that it could be delivered to Lisbon quickly and efficiently.
The imposing central section is the eye-opener. The 35 arches that cross the valley soar up to 65 meters in height above the city. Graceful and dramatic in equal measure, the aqueduct's design signature is a testament to the Italian architect Antonio Canevari and later, Custódio José Vieira and Manuel da Maia , both Portuguese, all commissioned by King João V.
The precious liquid commodity would have been collected at Mãe d'Agua das Amoreiras, a water reservoir located in Lisbon's Amoreiras district, which can also be visited, but separately. Completed in 1745, this solid, bunker-like stone building, replete with Gothic flourishes, resembles a grotto. Water floods the lower levels of the cistern, but above, a vaulted ceiling sprouts from the pillars that rise above the surface.
The gallery is now used as a cultural venue and hosts regular art exhibitions and music concerts. The roof affords fine views across the city.
The gleaming chalk-white dome of the Basílica da Estrela (Star Basilica) draws admiring glances from all across Lisbon such is its omnipresence on the city's skyline. The church is one of the capital's grandest and is sited on a hill west of the city center.
Commissioned by Maria I , daughter of King José I, construction of the basilica began in 1779 and was completed in 1790. The limestone façade, embellished with a medley of statues and allegorical figures, is balanced by twin bell towers and is similar in design to Mosteiro Pálacio Nacional de Mafra , though on a lesser scale.
The interior is cool and serene (a real plus on a hot day), and architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira's and later Reinaldo Manuel's blueprints are translated into a vast, spacious interior of various shades of marble. Standing near the high altar and gazing upwards, the dome resembles a huge inflated balloon bathed in soft translucent light.
To one side is the tomb of Maria I, but what visitors should definitely seek out is the extraordinary Nativity scene crafted in cork and terra-cotta by Machado de Castro . It's displayed in a room that is sometimes locked. If this is the case, ask the sacristan to see it. Outside, opposite the basilica, is the leafy Jardim da Estrela , Lisbon's prettiest park and a great place to visit for a picnic.
Address: Praça da Estrela, Lisbon
Housing one of the finest collections of horse-drawn carriages in the world, the National Coach Museum is dazzling in its scope and one of the most visited museums in the city.
Located in the historic suburb of Belém, this is where to admire elaborately decorated royal vehicles, anything from berlins dripping with gilded filigree to dainty sedan chairs replete with crushed velvet seats. Must-sees are the three monumental coaches delivered as a gift by Pope Clement to Portugal in the early 18 th century.
Address: Avenida da Índia, Belém
A recent edition to Lisbon's enviable cultural offer, the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology amazes from the outset with its extraordinary curvaceous exterior of gleaming white tiles that resembles a just-landed alien spacecraft.
Inside, national and international exhibitions by contemporary artists, designers, and architects, complemented by mind-boggling displays of technological innovation and conceptual work-in-progress greets visitors.
After absorbing this high-tech treat, climb the roof for a breather and uninterrupted views of the river and the city's south bank.
Address: Avenida Brasília, Belém
One of Lisbon's hot spots for fantastic food (and lots of it!) is the Time Out Marketplace . This wonderfully restored building is home to 26 restaurants and 20 other establishments and shops coupled with a live music venue.
The space is light and airy and encourages lingering with friends and family. With so many dining choices, no one is ever stuck eating what they don't care for. The Time Out Marketplace came to fruition in 2014 and hasn't looked back since. Now, the restaurants here are often written up as some of the best places to eat in the city .
Grab a table inside or, if the weather is nice, take your food to go and munch down in the very pleasant Jardim Don Luis just across the street. Inspired by your meal here and wish you could create it at home? Sign up for one of the regular cooking courses .
If you are looking for a photo that screams color and will make all your friends back home envious of your trip to Lisbon, head down to Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as Umbrella Street.
This short street is a must-see when visiting Lisbon and can easily be combined with a stroll down Pink Street known as Rua Cor de Rosa. The area was once a rough part of town, but the local authorities have cleaned it up and now it's a lively and fun spot, especially in the evening.
- Sightseeing: For a relaxing day or two of exploring the city at your own pace, the Lisbon Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour is the best option. This 48-hour pass, with buses that depart every 30 minutes, is one of the most popular ways of seeing the city. An audio guide provides commentary, so you get the background on what you are seeing. For something a little more adventurous, try a Lisbon Seven Hills Electric Bike Tour . This is essentially a bike tour without all the work of having to pedal up hills and a nice way to spend 2.5 hours exploring Lisbon.
- Day Trips: The Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon is a great way to see some of the most spectacular sites Portugal has to offer, from the quaint mountain town of Sintra to outstanding castles, ruins, and natural beauty. This eight-hour trip includes a stop in Sintra and Cascais, Pena National Palace, and a scenic drive along the Atlantic coast. For something a little different try the Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Small-Group Day Trip from Lisbon and visit the famous pilgrimage site of Fátima, along with a medieval town and a small fishing village with a UNESCO World Heritage-listed monastery.
Lisbon's Humberto Delgado Airport is seven kilometers north of the city center. The airport is served by a Metro system that runs directly to Lisbon. The Aerobus shuttle departs regularly from outside the arrivals terminal to the city center, stopping at many of Lisbon's bigger hotels along the way.
Municipal bus company Carris operates several buses on a daily basis between the airport and the city center. Taxis, meanwhile, are numerous and fairly inexpensive. They can be found outside the arrivals terminal.
While Lisbon is a year-round destination, spring is an especially appealing time to visit the Portuguese capital. It's not too hot, the city is in glorious bloom, and tourist crowds are manageable. The August vacation period sees Lisbon bereft of locals, and the city can be blissfully quiet. However, many cafés and restaurants shut their doors for up to a month.
Accommodation prices tend to drop in autumn, and the weather is generally pleasant. Expect wind and rain in winter, though it's rarely too cold.
Praia de Carcavelos: One of the finest beaches on the Lisbon coast, Carcavelos Beach is easily reached by train from Lisbon's Cais do Sodré rail terminal. Blessed with a generous swathe of sand and hugely popular during the summer months, Carcavelos is served by numerous oceanfront cafés and restaurants, and several excellent water sports facilities. In fact the beach, recognized for its clean environment by a Blue Flag, is a favored surfing location, and benefits from some top-notch surf schools.
Praia do Guincho: If you're a true water sports fan, it's worth driving the 35 kilometers west out of Lisbon to reach Guincho, a wild and windswept beach set north of Cascais and renowned as a premier surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing destination. Alternatively, you can reach this untamed corner of the coast via train out of Cais do Sodré to Cascais and then hop onto a Scotturb bus to Guincho.
Excursions: Day trips from Lisbon to tourist attractions like the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and the Mosteiro Palácio Nacional de Mafra are well worth the effort. And of course, Lisbon's fantastic coastal location means that fabulous beaches lie within striking distance of the city center.
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Must-Visit Attractions in Lisbon, Portugal
Whether you’re here for a few days or longer, Lisbon has something for everyone. Whatever you do, don’t go without Culture Trip’s guide on the city’s biggest hits.
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Spread across seven hills and straddling the Tagus River, Lisbon is home to an attention-grabbing Moorish castle, whimsical Manueline architecture nodding to the Age of Discoveries, and vintage trams rattling from one landmark, gallery and hilltop lookout to the next. Staying longer than the weekend? Then you’ll also have time for day trips to the castles and palaces of Sintra, or to the futuristic Parque das Nações district, where you can discover one of Europe’s most spectacular aquariums.
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São Jorge Castle
Crowning a hill above the historic centre, Lisbon’s fortress transports you back to the Middle Ages. It dates to the 11th century when the city was under Moorish rule, though a settlement has been here since the 7th century BCE, as the archaeological site reveals. Head up here for far-reaching views from the pine-shaded ramparts – it’s a great place to play ‘spot the landmark’- or a peek through the camera obscura and a shot of history at the museum.
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With the arches and pillars of its nave open to the sky, the enigmatic ruins of this gothic convent catch your eye as you wander Lisbon’s smart Chiado district. Founded as a convent for the Carmelite order in 1389, it was ravaged by the 1755 earthquake. Its archaeology museum showcases a chapel, beautifully tiled with Baroque azulejos (glazed, decorative tiles), alongside artefacts from prehistoric tools to Moorish friezes and pre-Columbian pottery.
Vintage tram 28E grinds to a halt in front of Lisbon’s fortified cathedral – one of the city’s greatest icons. It was built high and mighty above the ruins of a mosque by Portugal ’s first king, Afonso I, after the city was recaptured from the invading Moors. After taking in gothic arches and medieval statuary in the vaulted interior, be sure to spend time looking at the Roman and Arabic archaeological remains in the cloisters.
The National Azulejo Museum
Lisbon is famous for the history and artistry of its azulejos and the only the very finest adorn this carefully restored 16th-century Manueline convent, located just east of town – take bus 759 to get there. The collection is a magnificent romp through 500 years of azulejo craftsmanship, from the Renaissance to the baroque and contemporary. Go for a coffee in the spectacularly tiled former refectory.
Cristo Rei Monument
Technically not in Lisbon, the Cristo Rei monument is a short ride across the Tagus River in Almada. It was built during the time of Salazar to resemble Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue and holds religious significance in the country.
The National Museum of Ancient Art
Lodged in a baroque palace, just a short hop west of town, this museum harbours one of Lisbon’s most exquisite collections of ancient art. Among the treasures are Egyptian and Roman sculpture, old master paintings, Portuguese goldwork dating to the Age of Discoveries, plus precious textiles, lacquered furniture and ceramics from Asia. Renaissance genius Dürer’s painting of St Jerome in His Study (1521) and Nuno Gonçalves’s St Vincent Panels (1460) are unmissable.
The centrepiece of Lisbon’s cutting-edge Parque das Nações district, this expansive aquarium is Europe’s biggest, and arguably best, recreating the Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Puffins, penguins, jellyfish, sunfish, stingrays and playful sea otters all splash around in enormous tanks. Should you so wish, you can even spend a night with the sharks.
The undisputed star of the Belém Cultural Centre, this is Lisbon’s go-to gallery for modern and contemporary art. It showcases the collection of billionaire José Berardo, which includes abstract, surrealist and expressionist works to Kinetic and Pop Art. Top billing goes to paintings by the likes of Warhol, Pollock, Man Ray, Dalí and Picasso, as well as sculptures by Antony Gormley and Henry Moore. To save euros, visit on Saturday when entry is free.
Belém Tower is another Unesco World Heritage site, due to its role in protecting Portugal’s coast during the Age of Discoveries and later. Portraying a combination of gothic and Manueline architecture like the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower attracts visitors for its appearance as well as its role in history. Admission Fee: €6 (£5.50).
Ponte 25 de Abril
Take a selfie in front of Lisbon’s most iconic suspension bridge and you can kid people into thinking you’ve been to San Francisco. That’s because the 2.27km (1.41mi) Ponte 25 de Abril, built by the American Bridge Company in 1966, is pretty much the carbon copy of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you hire a car, it’s also a scenic drive you won’t want to miss out on.
When most of Lisbon was rocked by the 1755 earthquake, the old Moorish quarter of Alfama stayed standing. With twisting, cobbled alleys leading past higgledy-piggledy houses in pastel colours, this is hands-down one of Lisbon’s most charismatic neighbourhoods. Melancholic fado (Portuguese folk music) drifts from bars, and locals chatter in front of old-school grocery stores and taverns, with the castle peering down from above and the river stretching out below.
The stiff hike up to Lisbon’s miradouros (lookouts) is worth it for the soul-stirring views that await. Some even have kiosk cafés where you can kick back and enjoy the view. Among the favourites are Miradouro da Graça and, nearby, the highest of the high, Miradouro Senhora do Monte, gazing out over terracotta rooftops to São Jorge Castle and the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge loping across the river. The tree-shaded Miradouro de Santa Catarina has more of a boho vibe.
Monastery of São Vicente da Fora
The crowning glory of Lisbon’s Graça neighbourhood, this monastery was founded in the 12th century, and then revamped in late-Renaissance mannerist style in the 17th century. The atmospheric church and cloisters are exquisitely festooned with blue-and-white azulejos that recount the history of the monastery and the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. The vaulted refectory is now a mausoleum for the Kings of the House of Braganza.
The Fado Museum
One of the most defining characteristics of the Portuguese spirit is saudade (a sense of nostalgic longing), best expressed in fado music. Huddled away in the Alfama, this museum zooms in on fado’s origins and the genre’s most famous singers and guitarists. Audioguides let you listen to recordings while you explore.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
For ancient art, head over to this phenomenal museum, which presents the collection that Armenian mega-collector Calouste Gulbenkian bequeathed to the city. Egyptian funerary masks, Greco-Roman medallions, Assyrian reliefs, Persian carpets, Qing Dynasty ceramics and Flemish tapestries are among the treasures, as are the exquisite art nouveau creations of French jeweller René Lalique.
When King Manuel I wanted to shout about Portugal’s colonial triumphs in 1501, he gave the go-ahead to build this monastery in fanciful Manueline style. Now part of a Unesco World Heritage site, the monastery is a visual feast, with intricately wrought stonework, plaited arches and twisted turrets in the cloisters and the cross rib-vaulted church where navigator Vasco da Gama lies buried. To beat the crowds and get more insight into the monastery’s history, join the Belém Walking Tour.
Praça do Comércio
Down by the river, discover Lisbon’s captivating square, with its grand 18th-century colonnades, triumphal arch, trams, and equestrian statue of King José I. For the inside scoop on the city’s history from Roman to modern times, check out the Lisbon Story Centre – you can skip the queue by pre-booking tickets. If wine tasting is more your thing, check out the ViniPortugal tasting room.
São Roque Church
Climb up the steep Calçada do Duque steps from Rossio square and at the top you’ll find this church – unassuming on the outside, fabulously ornate on the inside. Designed in Rome and shipped to Lisbon in 1747, its baroque chapel is lavishly adorned with gold, lapis lazuli, marble and azulejos. The adjacent museum is crammed with sacred art. The church sits on the edge of the Bairro Alto district.
National Palace of Pena
Of Sintra’s extraordinary clutch of Romantic era palaces, villas and castles, none is crazier than Pena Palace, set high on a wooded hill and framed by folly-dotted botanical gardens. King Ferdinand II’s fervent imagination gave rise to this fantastical Moorish-Manueline creation in the mid-1800s, with its riot of candy-coloured domes, spires and fortifications. It’s a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon Rossio to Sintra.
Castelo dos Mouros
Perched above thickly wooded, boulder-speckled hills in the Unesco World Heritage town of Sintra, the romantic ruins of this Medieval Moorish castle are perfect for views over the city, which reach out as far as the Atlantic on clear days. It’s well worth the hike up for the panorama from the snaking ramparts alone. This article is an updated version of a story created by Nina Santos .
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The 18 best attractions in Lisbon
With a collection of must-see monuments, unmissable museums and more, here’s our guide to Lisbon’s best attractions
As one of the greatest cities in the world, frankly, it's a wonder that we managed to narrow down all the best things to do onto a list. Think of our selection as a taster – something to satisfy your initial cravings and leave you wanting more.
Take Belém Tower, for instance, this waterfront landmark makes for a great introduction to Lisbon's numerous nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites. Or climb up to Miradouro da Graça to take in one of the city's many magnificent views . And don't forget to visit the Time Out Market , of course, for a literal taster of the delicious culinary offerings.
Need a place to stay but can’t decide? Find your perfect getaway spot with our guide to Lisbon’s best neighbourhoods. Or what about our guide to the best Airbnbs in Lisbon , or our list of Lisbon's coolest hotels ?
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Best Lisbon attractions
1. Aqueduto das Águas Livres
Built to supply the capital with fresh water from the hills north of the city, the Aqueduto das Águas Livres is one of the most important engineering constructions from the 18th century. And fun fact: construction was actually funded by special levies on meat, olive oil and wine. It covers a total length of 14 kilometres from its main source in Caneças to its end at the reservoir of Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras. Fast forward to now, it belongs to the Water Museum which organises visits to the inside of the aqueduct. And the reservoir of Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras organises cultural events and temporary exhibitions.
Tue-Sun 10am-5.30pm. Admission: €4; concessions €2; free for under-17s.
2. Convento do Carmo
The ruined Carmo Convent is said to be Lisbon's loveliest church, despite the fact it hasn’t had a roof since it fell in during the 1755 earthquake. It now stands as a reminder of the earthquake and a memorial. The beautiful gothic arches still stand and are well worth viewing. Much of the architecture dates back to the 1300s, while Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) windows and other details were added later, in the 16th and 18th centuries. You'll even be able to spot eerie South American mummies (a young boy and a young girl from Peru) if you like closely.
May-Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Oct-Apr: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. Admission: €5; concessions €4; free for under-14s.
3. Igreja e Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora
- São Vicente
The church itself is worth a look, but the old monastery remains the main attraction. Its cloisters are richly decorated with early 18th-century tile panels, some of which illustrate the fables of La Fontaine. Inside, you’ll also find the royal pantheon of the Bragança family, Portugal’s last dynasty.
Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (last entry 5pm). Admission €5; concessions: €2,50; free for under-12s.
4. Palácio Nacional da Ajuda
Construction began in 1802, but it was interrupted in 1807 when the royal family high-tailed it to Brazil to escape Napoleon’s armies. The palace was never finished and still looks sawn in half. Nevertheless, it served as a royal residence in the late 19th century. Some wings are open as a museum, while others house the Ministry of Culture.
Mon-Tue & Thu-Sun 10am-5.30pm (last entry 5.30pm, no access to the second floor). Admission: €5; concessions €2,50; free for under-12s.
5. Igreja de São Roque
Igreja de São Roque was built for the Jesuits with the assistance of Filippo Terzi on the site of an earlier chapel dedicated to São Roque. Most of the single-nave structure was built between 1565 and 1573, although it was roofless for another decade. The ceiling is a wonder of sorts. The original architect had planned a vaulted roof, but in 1582 a decision was made to build a flat wooden roof, and sturdy timber from Prussia was richly painted. The paintings in the inner sacristy are worth admiring, but the main attraction is the side chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist. Notice the lavish ivory, gold and lapis lazuli, which attest to Portugal’s colonial wealth and extravagance. Built in Rome and shipped to Lisbon in 1749 after being blessed by the Pope, it took four years to reassemble, not least because of the detailed mosaic above the altar. The neighbouring museum contains items from the chapel, including Italian goldsmiths’ work, paintings and richly embroidered vestments.
Apr-Sep: Mon 2pm-7pm, Tue-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu 10am-8pm; Fri-Sun 10am-7pm; Oct-Mar: Mon 2pm-6pm, Tue-Sun 9am-6pm (break for mass Tue-Sat 12.15pm & Sun 12.30pm). Admission: church free; museum €2,50, concessions: €1, free for under-12s.
6. Torre de Belém
The tower was built to guard the river entrance into Lisbon’s harbour, following orders from King Dom Manuel (1495-1521), during whose reign Portugal greatly expanded its empire, namely by reaching Brazil and finding a sea route to India. The tower has stonework motifs recalling the Discoveries era, such as twisted rope and the Catholic Crosses of Christ, as well as Lisbon’s patron saint St Vincent and a rhino.
Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6.30pm (last entry 6pm); Oct-Mar Tue-Sun 10am-5.30pm (last entry 5pm). Admission: €6, concessions €3, free for under-12s.
7. Basílica da Estrela
The ornate white dome of Basílica da Estrela is one of Lisbon’s best-loved landmarks. Construction took ten years (1779-89), with statues sculpted by artists from the Mafra School. The inside of the church is richly embellished by Portuguese marble, although many of the paintings were made by Italian masters. Climb the 114 steps for fine views of the city.
Church: open every day 7.30am-7.45pm. Admission: church free; roof terrace €4, concessions €2.
8. Sé de Lisbon
- Santa Maria Maior
Don’t be surprised if you see a group of openmouthed New World tourists in front of the cathedral. This Romantic-style building is very, very old. Construction started in 1147 and ended in the first decades of the 13th century. The project, which includes three naves and a triforium, a protruding transept and a pew with three chapels, is very similar to the cathedral in Coimbra. Did some of these terms sound odd? Don’t worry. You can always just see this venue as the place where, year after year, in June, young couples swear to love each other forever. If, however, you like history, dive head-first into all the changes the cathedral went through over the years, all according to the preferences of each of Portugal’s rulers. The Gothic-style cloister, for example, dates back to the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325), while his successor, Afonso IV, modified the rear area of the building. In the first half of the century, a large-scale restoration project was undertaken to bring the building back to its original form.
Church: Mon & Sun 9am-5pm; Tue-Sat 9am-7pm. Admission: church free; cloisters: €2,50, concessions €1,25, free for under-11s; treasury €2,50, concessions €1,25; free for under-12s; joint ticket cloisters & treasury €4, concessions €2.
9. Panteão Nacional
The dome of this church was completed in 1966, a mere 285 years after the building started being built – hence the local expression “a job like Santa Engrácia”, which means something that takes forever. The church is on the site of an earlier one, which was torn down after being desecrated by a robbery in 1630. A Jewish suspect was blamed and executed but later exonerated. Before his death, he is said to have prophesied that the new church would never be completed because an innocent man had been convicted. The first attempt at a new Santa Engrácia duly collapsed in 1681 (a construction mistake, compounded by a storm, may have been to blame) and work restarted the following year. The new plan, by master stonemason João Antunes, bears many similarities to Peruzzi’s plans for St Peter’s in Rome, and the interior is dominated by marble in various colours. In 1916, the Republican government decided Santa Engrácia, which was still roofless then, would become the national Pantheon, a temple to honour dead Portuguese heroes. Among those since laid to rest, there is General Humberto Delgado, an opposition leader killed by secret police in 1962, fado diva Amália Rodrigues and football legend Eusébio.
Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (last entry 5.40pm); Oct-Mar: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (last entry 4.40pm). Admission: €4, concessions €2, free for under-12s.
10. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Ordered by Manuel I in memory of Infante Dom Henrique of Portugal (Prince Henry the Navigator), this monastery has been a national monument since 1907 and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. Built in the 16th century, it was donated at the time to the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome, and in 2016 it became part of the National Pantheon. The monastery’s church (Igreja de Santa Maria de Belém) holds the tombs of Luís de Camões, Vasco da Gama and Sebastião I, whose remains were brought there by Filipe I in an attempt to put an end to the popular belief that Sebastião I would return to save Portugal. But few people actually believe that these remains are those of the Desired King. And let’s not forget: the famous Pastéis de Belém are only 500 metres away from the monastery.
May-Sep: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; Oct-Apr: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Admission: church free; cloisters €10, concessions €5, free for under-12s.
11. Castelo de São Jorge
- Historic buildings and sites
- Castelo de São Jorge
The hilltop was fortified even before the arrival of the Roman legions; in later centuries the castle walls were strengthened by Visigoths and Moors, before Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, seized them in 1147. You’ll see his statue in the square just past the main gate. The castle itself has undergone numerous transformations. Back in the 1930s, several government offices and a firehouse were removed from the grounds, exposing the walls, which were duly topped with supposedly authentic-looking battlements. There have been several makeovers since. The battlements of the Castelejo (keep) have ten towers, which you can go up, in one of which there’s a camera obscura (10am-5pm) from which you can see key city monuments and spy on people downtown, and you can learn how the contraption works. Beyond the keep is an area where labelled displays trace out dwellings from prehistoric times and the late Islamic period, as well as the ruins of the last palatial residence on this hill, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
Mar-Oc: every day 9am-9pm; Nov-Feb: every day 9am-6pm. Admission: €10, concessions €5, free for under-12s.
12. Jardim Botânico
- Princípe Real
The botanical garden of Lisbon covers 10 whole acres and is located in the Principe Real district, secretly hidden from the surrounding streets. It was laid out between 1858 and 1873 and has one of the largest collections of subtropical vegetation in Europe. There are also a huge 18,000 species of dense vegetation and exotic plants from all over the world. All of them are clearly labelled too, so you'll be gaining some new plant insight and knowledge.
Apr-Sep: every day 9am-8pm. Oct-Mar: every day 9am-5pm. Admission: €3, concessions €1, free for under-10s.
13. Casa dos Bicos – Fundação José Saramago
The building was erected in 1523 following orders from Alfonso de Albuquerque, son of the second governor of what was then Portuguese India, but it lost its top two floors in the 1755 earthquake. The Albuquerque family sold it in 1973 (to be used as a warehouse and headquarters for cod trade). Today, it houses a foundation dedicated to the life and work of José Saramago, Portuguese Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature. Founded in 2007, it relocated to Alfama back in 2012. They have a permanent exhibition about the writer. But check their calendar to stay posted on book launches, seminars and other events.
Mon-Sat 10am-6pm (last entry 5.30pm). Admission: €3, concessions €2, free for under-12s.
14. LX Factory
Markets, exhibitions, shops, cafes, gigs and parties. There’s a whole world to discover within the bounds of this cosmopolitan “factory” straight out of 1846 that completely changed the face of Alcântara since it reopened in 2008. It’s a consumer city within the city. Everything in this industrial-site-come-trendy-hub is intentional – all spots for books, clothing, decoration, drinking or dancing are carefully curated, and will likely make you want to splurge (a little).
Mon-Sun 9am-7pm. Admission: free.
15. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
- São Sebastião
It's difficult to know where to start in this, one of Europe's leading fine arts museums, with exhibits dating from 2000 BC to the early 20th century. From the ancient world come Egyptian scarabs, Greco-Roman jewellery and a giant ninth century BC Assyrian bas-relief in alabaster of a warrior.
Perhaps the two outstanding rooms are those containing Islamic and Oriental art: carpets, robes, tapestries, tiles and glassware, mainly from 16th- and 17th-century Persia, Turkey, Syria and India; and porcelain, jade, paintings and lacquered boxes from China and Japan. The section on European art displays medieval manuscripts, and ivory and wood diptychs. Further on are Italian Renaissance majolica ware and tapestries, and a selection of 18th-century French furniture and silverware. Among the painters represented are Domenico Ghirlandaio, Rubens, Hals and Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Manet and Corot. Save time for the final room and its breathtaking glass and metal art nouveau jewellery by René Lalique.
Audio-guides are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese to help you get the most from the experience. There are also excellent temporary exhibitions, with pieces lent by institutions around the world. Downstairs is an art library (which often hosts midday classical recitals on Sundays), an excellent café and a small gift shop. There's a larger bookshop in the lobby of the main building. Don't miss the Centro de Arte Moderna at the southern end of the park.
16. Pilar 7
A viewpoint right on the bridge that you can muse at the Tagus from – while testing your vertigo. The bridge opened in 1966 and has 14 pillars, but the one that’s relevant to you is accessible via Avenida da Índia, in the back of the village Underground. A vertiginous tourist attraction, it invites Lisbon visitors into the pillar and offers them a truly sensorial experience.
Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: €6
17. Elevador de Santa Justa
The industrial-age iron tracery of this 15-metre high lift – also known as Elevador do Carmo – is one of Lisbon’s most beloved landmarks, but it only became a national monument in 2002. It was built by Portuguese-born Eiffel disciple Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, and it officially opened in August 1901. It links Rua do Ouro, downtown, to the square next to Igreja do Carmo, a little further up the hill. At the top, up a spiral staircase, a viewing platform offers 360-degree views of downtown Lisbon. The Elevador is part of the public transport system, so if you have a travel card a one-way trip is equivalent to a bus journey; on board, you can only buy pricey return tickets. For an alternative and more budget view, head to Pollux, a department store on the rooftop of which you’ll find a cafe and bar with good, affordable coffee.
May-Oct 7.30am-11pm every day; Nov-Apr 7am-9pm every day. Admission: €5.
18. Panorâmico de Monsanto
- Towers and viewpoints
This stranded spaceship of a building designed by architect Chaves da Costa has recently gained new life as a viewpoint, which has frankly always been its calling. Abandoned since 2001, it was only occasionally visited by wanderers, tourists, peepers or people equipped with spray paint cans who went there to do what people equipped with spray paint cans do. It can be legally and safely explored since September 2017.
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27 Top Attractions & Things to do in Lisbon
Last updated on November 3, 2023 by Fiona Fiorentino and Spencer Leasca - 1 Comment
The capital of sunny Portugal, Lisbon is situated at the point where the Tagus River estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean. As a travel destination, the riverfront city is as rich and varied as the country’s long history. From the ruins of a Moorish castle perched atop one of the city’s seven hills to a sidewalk café snuggled against an ancient Visigoth wall, remnants of Lisbon’s colorful past are everywhere.
Lisbon is rightfully proud of the role it played during Portugal’s Age of Discovery, and monuments celebrating the voyages of explorers like Vasco da Gama are among the most important attractions in Lisbon.
See also: Where to Stay in Lisbon
While Western Europe’s oldest city has taken steps to overhaul its transportation system, modernize its downtown area and revamp its waterfront, it’s the charm of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods that most attract visitors. Exploring its hilly streets of winding alleys and historic landmarks on foot is one of the most rewarding things to do in Lisbon and somewhere you could spend hours perusing.
The city is also famed for its vibrant arts and music scene, love of soccer (Cristiano Ronaldo started his professional career at Sporting Lisbon) and tradition of Fado music. Overall, it is a destination rich in landmarks, attractions and character that should appeal to every traveler.
In this post, we'll cover:
27. Igreja de Sao Roque
The Igreja de São Roque is one of the oldest Jesuit churches in the world. Built in the 16th century, it is a remarkable structure renowned for its rich history and exquisite architectural beauty.
While its Renaissance façade is rather unassuming, you’ll be captivated by its intricate Baroque and Mannerist design, ornate chapels, and gilded altarpieces when you step inside. The highlight of the church is the Capela de São João Baptista, often referred to as the ‘world’s most expensive chapel’.
Decorated with lapis lazuli, precious marbles and amethyst, and finished with ivory, silver and gold, the chapel’s main focal point is an intricate mosaic. Created by Mattia Moretti it is called ‘The Baptism of Christ’ and will captivate your attention for quite some time.
26. Feira da Ladra
If you are into shopping, check out the ‘Feira da Ladra’ flea market.
Held every Tuesday and Saturday, from dawn until early afternoon, at Campo de Santa Clara – a square by the National Pantheon – the market has a long history. Its name first appeared in documentation during the 17th Century. However, there is evidence it existed as far back as the 12th Century.
Many people believe its name translates to ‘Thieves’ Market’ because the word ‘ladra’ means a woman thief in Portuguese. However, it actually comes from ‘ladro’, meaning a flea or bug found in antiques. Today, several stalls or traders display their goods on a blanket. Shoppers can find everything from hand-made artisan items, books and clothes to coins, military objects, antiques and furniture.
25. Carmo Convent Ruins
The Carmo Convent Ruins are a hauntingly beautiful testament to a dark day in Lisbon’s history. The convent, constructed in the 14th century, was severely damaged during the devastating earthquake of 1755. At this time, many worshipers tragically lost their lives due to falling debris and masonry.
As a poignant reminder of the city’s past, the towering arches and crumbling walls create a captivating and eerie atmosphere. Visitors can explore the site, wandering among the weathered stone columns and imagining the grandeur that once existed. The adjacent Carmo Archaeological Museum houses artefacts that provide further insight into the site’s history.
The church’s front also faces the beautiful Largo do Carmo in Chiado, which features the stunning Chafariz do Carmo fountain as its centerpiece.
24. National Museum of Ancient Art
The National Museum of Ancient Art is one of our favorite attractions in Lisbon. Housed in a beautiful 17th-century palace, the museum boasts diverse works, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts.
Showcasing an extensive collection of art from Portugal and beyond, we saw incredible masterpieces by renowned artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and Nuno Gonçalves. The museum’s main highlights include the ‘Temptations of Saint Anthony’ triptych and an impressive Portuguese Renaissance and Baroque collection.
What we liked most about this museum is that its rich and varied collection offers a fascinating journey through the artistic heritage of Portugal. A place you could easily spend all day at, it provides a captivating insight into the country’s cultural history.
23. Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara
Lisbon’s most famous observation point is the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It is located near the Elevador da Glória and showcases a tremendous city view.
An excellent place to get your bearings when you first arrive in the city, you will be able to observe Restauradores Square and Baixa from this vantage point. You should also be able to make out Avenida da Liberdade boulevard and the impressive walls and verdant pine trees of the Castelo de São Jorge. The Igreja da Graça, a 13th-century baroque-style grand church, can also be seen in detail.
The observation point is situated within an attractive, manicured garden, making it a lovely spot for a picnic or just relaxing after a busy sightseeing day.
22. LX Factory
One of the most fun things to do in Lisbon is a shopping trip to the LX Factory. Previously an industrial textile complex, LX Factory has transformed into one of Lisbon’s trendiest hubs of trendy restaurants, bars, and shops.
Situated under the Ponte de 25 Abril Bridge, the renovated area has a village-like feel with its cobbled streets and street art on rustic warehouse walls. Whilst there, you can buy clothes at Etnik Spring or Coqueta, jewellery at Ana Couto & Valérie Lachuer or Hilary & June, and home furnishing products at Pura Cal.
In addition, you can also enjoy a meal in a former industrial canteen, browse through a multi-story bookstore and witness artists at work in their ateliers and studios. Live music performances or exhibitions are also hosted from time to time.
21. Lisbon Zoo
Lisbon Zoo is no ordinary zoo. It is, in fact, a popular destination that combines entertainment, education, and conservation.
The zoo is home to a diverse range of animal species from around the world, allowing visitors to observe and learn about wildlife up close.
It houses everything from majestic lions and playful dolphins to colorful birds and adorable primates, thus offering a fascinating experience for all ages. It even has crocodiles, lynxes, ostriches and giraffes, which most people don’t get to see every day.
Alongside the animal exhibits, they offer educational programs, interactive displays, and informative presentations promoting awareness and conservation efforts. The zoo also features beautifully landscaped gardens and picnic areas, providing a pleasant and relaxing environment for you to enjoy.
20. Day Trip to Sintra
Lisbon is a great city, and you’ll no doubt want to spend as much time as you can there. However, if you do have time for a side trip, we recommend you visit the wonderful town of Sintra.
Sitting snug within the foothills of the craggy Serra de Sintra, it will take you about 40 minutes to get there by train from the city center. But once you are there, you will find yourself in a place with regal royal palaces, enchanting mansions, and an incredible Moorish castle, dating back to the 8th century.
The historic old town of Sintra-Vila is a delightful mix of colorful, ornate townhouses, decorative cafés, and traditional restaurants wedged along a maze of cobblestone streets and narrow alleys. It’s a place you will want to spend plenty of time soaking it all in.
19. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
The Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is a famous landmark in Lisbon that offers another peaceful place to admire panoramic views of the city.
It’s located near Miradouro da Graça and provides a marvelous vantage point to observe the capital. Visitors can see the church of Graça and the castle, with houses cascading down its hillside, guarding the city.
The river and the Tagus estuary also illuminate the rooftops of Baixa, Carmo’s ruins, and the pastel tones of Avenidas Novas. Interestingly, this is where Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, gathered his troops to conquer Lisbon nine centuries ago. Today, the Lady of the Mount (Senhora do Monte) and her chapel – founded in 1147 – reign supreme here.
18. Ajuda National Palace
The Ajuda National Palace is one of the most impressive buildings in Lisbon. A grand architectural marvel built in the 19th century, it served as the royal family’s official residence, showcasing an opulent blend of Neoclassical and Baroque styles.
As you wander its halls, you’ll discover much about how the monarchy lived. Tourists can explore lavishly decorated rooms with exquisite tapestries, intricate furnishings, and magnificent chandeliers. The palace also houses a remarkable collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
State Rooms occupy most of the upper floor, while there is a spectacular Music Room on the ground floor. Outside, the surrounding gardens provide a serene oasis with beautifully landscaped grounds and scenic viewpoints to take in the palace’s facade.
17. Museu Colecao Berardo
The Museu Coleção Berardo is a world-class contemporary art museum with a remarkable collection of modern and contemporary artworks. José Berardo, a prominent Portuguese businessman and art collector, founded it in 2006.
Located in the Praça do Império in Belém, the museum showcases various art movements and styles, including works by renowned artists. They include the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, and Francis Bacon. The museum’s collection spans multiple mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and installation art.
Its sleek and spacious galleries provide a perfect setting to appreciate the innovative and often thought-provoking artworks within its two permanent exhibitions and several temporary shows. If you do plan to come here, be aware it is closed on Mondays.
16. Se Cathedral
Sé de Lisboa, also known as Lisbon Cathedral, holds great significance as the city’s oldest and most important church. Its construction, dating back to the 12th century, is defined by a predominantly Romanesque style. However, several alterations have incorporated other design styles, giving it a unique character over the years.
The cathedral is protected by its thick walls and two bell towers, which give it a medieval fortress-like appearance. Upon entering, visitors will find a decorative interior, including a fountain where Saint Anthony of Padua was baptized, 14th-century sarcophagi, and a striking 14th-century Gothic chapel.
One of its dominant features is its magnificent rose-stained glass window. At the same time, its intricate chapels and the imposing main altar are also noteworthy.
15. Vasco da Gama Bridge
Completed in 1998, the Vasco da Gama bridge is a modern feat of engineering and a popular attraction. Named after Portugal’s most famous explorer, it was built to alleviate Lisbon’s traffic congestion. Stretching for nearly 17 km (11 miles) across the Tagus River, the cable-stayed bridge is so long that its builders had to take the Earth’s curve into consideration when constructing it.
Built at an expense of 1.1 billion dollars, the six-lane bridge is expected to stand for more than a century, ensuring that visitors can experience its breathtaking architecture for generations to come.
14. National Azulejo Museum
Plastered on structures from churches and shops to metro stations, the colorful ceramic tiles known as azulejos are found everywhere in Lisbon. The National Azulejo Museum chronicles their architectural and cultural significance in the city’s long history.
A tradition that began in the 8th century with the arrival of the Moors, the art of tile-making in Portugal reached its height in the 16th century with the introduction of oxide coatings. The museum’s exhibits feature individual tiles as well as elaborate wall panels. The convent church located within the complex holds some of the most intricate examples of azulejo art.
Showcasing an extensive collection that spans several centuries, visitors can marvel at the intricate designs, vibrant colors, and storytelling elements depicted on these decorative tiles.
The museum explores the history and evolution of azulejos and highlights their significance in Portuguese culture and architecture. Its incredibly detailed displays incorporate everything from religious and historical scenes to geometric patterns and floral motifs.
13. Time Out Market Lisboa
In 2014, the oldest food market in Lisbon reopened as the Time Out Market Lisboa after an extensive renovation. It has since become the city’s most popular tourist attraction.
More than 3 million visitors flock to the food hall each year to explore Portugal’s regional cuisine. Boasting 35 kiosks and multiple restaurants, the marketplace offers everything from sheep’s cheese from Azeirao to Alentejo ham and Arcadia chocolates.
Foodies can enjoy prepared meals, sample treats and purchase beautifully packaged food to take home. The market opens every day at 10 a.m., making it the perfect place to savor a late brunch or early dinner.
12. Cristo Rei Statue
Inspired by Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, the Cristo Rei statue rises up from a hill overlooking the Targus River. The massive monument was built to express gratitude to God for allowing Portugal to escape the worst horrors of World War II.
It was opened to the public in 1959. Standing with arms outstretched, the Christ figure is set atop a tall arch with a rectangular observation deck at the base. An interior elevator takes visitors to a platform beneath the figure’s feet for panoramic views of Lisbon, the Targus estuary and the Golden-Gate-style 25 de Abril Bridge.
11. Praca do Comercio
One of the star attractions of Lisbon’s downtown waterfront, the Praca do Comercio is an expansive plaza flanked by elegant 18th-century buildings. Portugal’s Dom Jose I made his home here until the earthquake of 1755 reduced it to rubble.
Locals still refer to the square as the Terreiro do Paco, or yard of the royal palace. A monument featuring the king on horseback dominates the center of the plaza. A large triumphal arch completed in 1873 anchors the northern side. Hotels, shops and restaurants located nearby make the sunny square a popular destination for visitors exploring Lisbon’s scenic waterfront.
10. Monument to the Discoveries
The mammoth white-stone Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) stands like a ship with sails unfurled at shoreline of the Tagus River where many of Portugal’s most important voyages of exploration began.
It was built as a memorial to Infante Dom Henrique, who later became known as Prince Henry the Navigator. The prince who ushered in Portugal’s Age of Discovery is featured at the prow of the stone sculpture with other national heroes and explorers lined up behind him.
Inside the monument is a museum with interesting exhibits that provide further insights into Portugal’s maritime achievements. Additionally, visitors can ascend to its top level via an escalator to take in stunning panoramic views of the river and surrounding cityscape.
9. Museu Gulbenkian
Lisbon serves as the headquarters for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, a non-profit organization funded by the fortune of the late Armenian oil magnate. Built to display the private art collection that Gulbenkian amassed during his lifetime, the Museu Gulbenkian offers visitors a truly extraordinary experience.
While the collection is small, the quality of each piece is extraordinary. From masterpieces by Monet, Renoir and Rembrandt to Lalique jewelry, Chinese jade and Persian porcelain, it’s a collection that encapsulates the best of every aspect and time period of art history. The museum often plays host to world-class traveling exhibitions as well.
8. Rossio Square (Pedro IV Square)
There’s no better place in Lisbon to soak up the local atmosphere than at Pedro IV Square, Lisbon’s most famous plaza. Located in the elegant Pombaline Lower Town district in central Lisbon, the “Rossio,” has been the city’s main gathering place since the Middle Ages.
During the Inquisition of the 16th century, the square served as a setting for public executions. Today, it’s the place where friends meet up to enjoy a beverage at a café or bar before attending the National Theater located on the north side of the square.
7. Santa Justa Elevator
Located in the downtown district, the Santa Justa Elevator offers visitors delightful views of lovely Lisbon. Built in 1902, the “elevador” was designed by Raul Mésnier, who was inspired by the famous tower in Paris, which his colleague Gustav Eiffel created.
The wrought-iron tower lifts passengers to a platform where a walkway leads to the ruins of Carmo Convent, a Gothic church that was partially destroyed during the great earthquake of 1755. Alternately, visitors can climb a staircase to the top of the elevator structure to enjoy vistas of the entire Baixa neighborhood.
6. Alfama District
The oldest quarter in historic Lisbon, the Alfama district is dotted with architectural landmarks, including some that date back to the city’s Moorish past, but it’s the charm of the neighborhood’s meandering streets, tasty eateries and Fado clubs that make the Alfama a can’t-miss destination.
Lined with Fado bars and clubs, Largo do Charariz de Dentro is the best place to go to enjoy the traditional Portuguese folk music. The plaza is just one of the many observation decks scattered around this hilly neighborhood. For an expansive view of the Alfama and the Tagus River, visitors head to Lisbon’s original Moorish gateway, Largo das Portas do Sol.
5. Lisbon Oceanarium
One of the best modern tourist attractions in Lisbon, the Oceanarium was built as part of the improvements the city made when it hosted the 1998 World Exposition. Located in the Parque das Nações in northeast Lisbon, the Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
It’s organized into four unique habitats, with each representing a different ocean. In addition to all manner of sea life ranging from sharks and sting rays to penguins and otters, flora and fauna from each ecosystem are represented as well. Strolling pasts tank of colorful fish with tropical birds flitting overhead offers an immersive experience not to be missed.
4. Jeronimos Monastery
The Jerónimos Monastery is a magnificent architectural masterpiece, deservedly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
This iconic monument dates back to the 16th century. It is a prime example of the Manueline style, characterized by intricate stonework and maritime motifs. The monastery’s grandeur is awe-inspiring, with its towering spires, ornate cloisters, and beautifully carved details. Your first impression of it will take your breath away.
Once inside, you can also explore the vast nave and chapels adorned with stunning religious art and exquisite stained glass windows. Notably, the monastery houses the tombs of famous Portuguese figures, including explorer Vasco da Gama.
Once you have toured the monastery, pop into the fascinating Maritime Museum adjacent to it, which offers insights into Portugal’s rich maritime history.
Most of the decades-old trolley cars that were once a primary mode of transportation in Lisbon are long gone, but visitors can still enjoy a ride on an antique streetcar on tram line 28.
The historic “eléctrico” takes passengers through the city’s oldest sectors past some of Lisbon’s most popular sights and attractions. Tourists often take tram 28 to the hilltop São Jorge Castle to take in the panoramic views, but the line is used by locals for their daily commutes too. The old tram line offers a great way to get oriented in the city and meet new people.
2. Sao Jorge Castle
One of Lisbon’s oldest treasures, São Jorge Castle (or St. George’s Castle) is situated at the top of a hill in the Alfama District. The city’s most popular attraction evokes the period when Lisbon was under Moorish rule, but the site was fortified centuries earlier when the Romans and Visigoths were in power as well.
After driving out the Moors in 1147, the Portuguese used the castle as a royal residence until the early 16th century. Today, the royal quarters are home to a museum featuring archeological exhibits.
Climbing the castle ramparts is a must-do activity in Lisbon, and it’s easy to understand why. The views from the parapets and battlements are simply breathtaking.
1. Belem Tower
Arguably, Lisbon’s most iconic landmark is The Belém Tower.
An endearing symbol of the city, the fortress-like tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing on the edge of the Tagus River, its Manueline architecture, characterized by intricate details and maritime motifs, is truly captivating.
Occupying a strategic location, it served as a defense structure during the Age of Discovery. You can find out more about its past by touring inside the tower. You will find several levels to explore there, including the Governor’s Hall, its dungeons and its main terrace.
Access to the latter is via a very steep and spiraling staircase, which might be challenging for some people. But if you can successfully negotiate it, you will be rewarded with superb panoramic views of the river and esplanade.
Map of Things to do in Lisbon
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March 22, 2019 at 10:45 am
Lisbon is overcrowded with tourists. I’d spend as little time as possible there. Just rent a car and travel along the coast and you’ll enjoy the authenthic Portugal and not this plastic city that Lisbon turned into over the past 5 years.
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Best things to do in Lisbon
Tuesday June 14 2022, 10:06am
You could stay in Lisbon for a month and still find new things to do. The beautiful Portuguese capital, on the banks of the River Tagus, has enough museums, churches and historic sites to keep you busy no matter how long you’re here. Indeed, the city can feel like an open-air museum in itself, particularly when you set out to explore the labyrinthine old streets of the Alfama district. But it’s not all about the past, and there are plenty of newer attractions to keep you entertained, be it modern art in landmark galleries to coffee shops and flea markets on redeveloped industrial sites. And don’t forget to make time to relax, with a sunset drink at a rooftop bar or some retail therapy in high-class Lisbon boutiques.
Main photo: traditional pastel de nata (Alamy)
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1. Retreat to a monastery
The Jerónimos Monastery, or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, is a Unesco world heritage site, and it’s easy to see why — from the moment you first step into the vast medieval complex, you’ll wander around with your jaw open. Built to commemorate the first voyage of explorer Vasco de Gama to India in 1497, the building is an architectural marvel, with delicate carvings in its white-stone church and cloisters, and a new detail to discover wherever you look. Da Gama himself is interred here, and you can see his ornate tomb in the lower choir. Be sure to book ahead to avoid the ticket queues.
2. Go on a voyage of discovery
Portugal was once one of the greatest maritime nations in the world — its seafaring adventurers setting out to chart unexplored corners of the world from the port of Belém in Lisbon. The nautical exploits of voyagers such as Vasco de Gama heralded the country’s Age of Discovery from the 15th century, and theirs is one of the stories well told at the Museu de Marinha. The city’s maritime museum is in a wing of the Jerónimos Monastery, and displays more than 17,000 maritime artefacts, from model ships and old globes to astronomical equipment and ceremonial barges.
3. Eat in an old market
Experience the best of Lisbon’s dining scene under one roof with a visit to the Mercado da Ribeira. The giant domed hall has been home to the city’s fruit and veg market way back to 1892, and to some of the city’s finest food stalls since 2014. You could spend an entire day here, sampling something from every vendor — pancakes for breakfast from Tartine, octopus stew for lunch from Conzinha de Felicidae, and suckling pig for dinner from Michelin-starred Henrique Sà Passoa, followed by cocktails at Licor Beirao. The hall also hosts club nights and cooking courses; check the website to see what’s on.
4. Walk along the river in Belém
A lovely way to spend an afternoon is to wander the waterfront in Belém, gazing out over the river that marked the start of the country’s seagoing explorations in the 15th and 16th century. You’ll pass two tributes to those voyages: the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discoveries), a mighty stone tribute to the Age of Discovery, with its main players carved in limestone at its base; and the Torre de Belém. The Unesco-listed tower has served as a fortress, lighthouse and customs house, and has long been something of a symbolic gateway to the city.
5. Sample the city’s famous custard tarts
It would be impossible to come to Lisbon and not sink your teeth into at least one pastel de nata. The flaky Portuguese custard tarts are thought to originate in the 18th century from the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, and the recipe passed to a local sugar refinery to reproduce. The only place you can now get their version is at the Pastéis de Belém: a beautiful blue-tiled bakery right next to the monastery, which makes 20,000 tarts a day. The recipe remains a closely guarded secret — only three confectioners are believed to know it.
6. Ride Tram 28
Rattling through the streets of Lisbon since 1890, Tram 28 is the most charming way to get around the city. The historic yellow-and-white tram is still a means of public transportation, but is used increasingly by tourists for sightseeing as it passes through some of Lisbon’s prettiest neighbourhoods, including Alfama and Sao Bento. Try and board at either end of the line (Praça Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique) to avoid the crowds piling on in the city centre, and to bag yourself a seat in the atmospheric, wood-panelled carriage.
7. Find your perfect view
As you’d expect from a settlement built on seven steep hills, Lisbon is not short of stirring viewpoints. These are officially known as “miradouros” and are scattered across the city, with views stretching over the red-tiled roofs of the city and out over the River Tagus. Good ones to help you get your bearings (and some Instagram-worthy snaps) are the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which offers a striking perspective of the district of Alfama, and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, the highest point in Lisbon and the perfect place to head for sunset.
8. Command a castle
The 11th-century Moorish Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George Castle) sits proudly on a hilltop in Alfama, and dominates the city’s skyline — wherever you are in Lisbon, it’s to be in sight. Having served variously as a defensive fort, a palace and a barracks, the castle is now a museum, with displays covering Lisbon’s archaeology and history. The real highlight, though, is the building itself, with its 11 towers and ramparts still intact. There are terrific views from the latter. There are multiple guided tours available, some of them free; check the website for timings.
9. Catch a lift
The Elevador de Santa Justa (St Justa Elevator) is a wonder of early 20th-century engineering — a neo-gothic wrought-iron tower that rises incongruously from street level in the Baixa district and takes its occupants in a clanking wooden lift to a platform 45 metres up. Once at the top, you’ll enjoy 360-degree views of the city. Only 20 people can ride the lift at one time; note that if queues are long, you can access the viewing platform by climbing the steps next to the Bellalisa Elevador restaurant, and then catch the lift back down.
10. Explore the LX Factory
Experience modern Lisbon by heading to the foot of the 25th of April Bridge in the Alcântara district and making a beeline for the LX Factory. The cultural complex has taken over an old manufacturing site that once housed the city’s textile and printing industries. Now, it’s home to a myriad small creative businesses, as well as restaurants, bars, shops and galleries. It’s a lively place to visit at any time, but aim for the weekend if you can — there’s a flea market held on Sundays and a regular calendar of events.
11. Listen to fado
The melancholy songs known as “fado” are the soundtrack to the Alfama district, and you can hear its wistful strains echoing down its streets most nights. Don’t miss the chance to catch a traditional performance while you’re here. There are several venues to see a live band, usually a singer accompanied by one or more guitars, and Mesa de Frades is one of the most atmospheric. The tiny, beautifully tiled venue used to be a chapel, and serves a menu of traditional Portuguese dishes, such as salt cod, before the music starts.
12. Discover Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is one the city’s liveliest nightlife districts, its maze of ramshackle streets home to tiny hole-in-the-wall wine bars and vast rooftop terraces alike. You should plan to have at least one evening here. Highlights include the BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto, which serves Portuguese wines alongside cheese and wine plates; Park, a rooftop bar on the fifth floor of an old car park and an excellent spot for a sundowner; and Pavilhão Chinês, a characterful, antique-strewn cocktail bar. By day, take a walking tour to discover the roots of the bohemian neighbourhood.
13. Walk through Alfama
The tightly packed, winding cobbled lanes of Alfama are some of the most atmospheric in Lisbon, and are ripe to discover on foot. You could easily spend your entire holiday getting pleasantly lost here, stumbling across little courtyards, churches and restaurants as you pad up and down its hilly streets. For a more structured exploration, there are plenty of walking tours to lead you through the city’s oldest district. Most will include a visit to the castle, cathedral and a viewpoint or two, and perhaps a visit to a fado restaurant serving traditional dishes.
14. Admire a private art collection
Lisbon has an Armenian businessman to thank for one of its most fascinating museums. The Museo Calouste Gukbenkian contains the private collection of Gukbenkian, who amassed his extraordinary haul of art and artefacts in the 19th and 20th centuries. Such is the breadth and variety of objects on display here, you’re bound to find something in the permanent exhibitions to satisfy. Examples of treasures include ancient Egyptian funerary masks, Armenian bibles, paintings by Rembrandt and JMW Turner, Lalique glasswear and Persian carpets. You’ll find the museum is in a strikingly modern building north of the centre.
15. Buy Portuguese souvenirs
A Vida Portuguesa is a veritable treasure trove of Portuguese products, and is the place to head to for unique, well-crafted mementoes of your trip. There are three stores — the first is in an old perfume factory and warehouse in the district of Chiado, with its stock displayed in the original, wonderfully preserved cabinets. You’ll find everything you might possibly desire here, and a lot more besides — from toy scooters for kids and embroidered linen tablecloths to sardines in striking tins and Claus Porto soap, all of it in beautiful packaging.
16. Go on a cruise
For a fresh perspective of the city — and to get a proper understanding of all those hills you’ve been climbing on your visit — hop on a boat and see it from the water. Tagus Cruises offers regular and private tours, with daily departures. Its guided Sunset Tour is a particular highlight, taking passengers out on a yacht for two hours at dusk and passing Belém Tower, the 25th of April Bridge and the city’s giant statue of Christ, inspired by the famous monument of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
17. Understand a local icon
One of the hallmarks of Lisbon are its glazed ceramic tiles, and you’ll spot them everywhere — adorning the façade of magnificent churches and tiny grocery shops alike. These are “azulejo” tiles, which have been used to decorate the city from as early as the 13th century. Learn about their history and the craft behind them and admire many beautiful examples of the art form at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Museum of Azulejo). Housed in an old convent, one of the highlights is its chapel, covered in blue-and-white tiles and gilded wood.
18. Soak up the sunset
Its setting on seven hills means that Lisbon is made to make the most of the sunset, and finding the best spot to view it is something of an obsession in the city. Some of the best places are rooftop hotel bars , with a glass of vinho verde or a cold Portuguese beer adding to the experience. Among our favourites are the Terrace at the Memmo Alfama , with views over the red-tiled rooftops of the district and down to the river, and BAHR at the Bairro Alto hotel, with a delicious snack menu to accompany the vista.
19. Visit a dolls’ hospital
You’ll find one of Lisbon’s more unusual attractions in a warren of rooms on a handsome square south of the castle. The Hospital de Bonecas, or Dolls’ Hospital, has been mending children’s toys for close to 200 years. It’s still a functioning repair shop, with local kids (and adults) bringing their broken treasures to be fixed by a team of “surgeons”, and now also operates as a museum. Step inside to discover drawers and cabinets bursting with old parts — among them a slightly macabre collection of dolls’ heads, limbs and eyes.
20. Find shade in a tropical garden
Lisbon’s tropical botanic gardens are a dreamy, cool spot to retreat to on a sunny day, or simply to escape the hubbub of the city for a while. Close to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, the Jardim Botânico Tropical was created in the early 20th century to showcase the flora of Portugal’s former colonies. There are over 500 species of plant on the seven-hectare site, including gingko, palms, dragon trees and bamboo, and several tumbledown old glasshouses, including ones specialising in tea and coffee plants. Keep an eye out for the roaming peacocks as you wander.
21. Get your modern art fix
One of Lisbon’s newest museums, the first remarkable thing about the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT; the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) is its setting. It’s housed in two parts — in a futuristic new building that looks like a giant white wing settled on the banks of the Tagus, and in an old power station. Inside, it has four galleries hosting exhibitions on subjects as diverse as pop art, the science of aquariums and the history of electricity. There’s also a café, with sweeping views over the river.
- Porto v Lisbon: which is better?
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Inspired to visit Lisbon but yet to book your trip? Here are the best places to stay from Easyjet holidays and Expedia . And if you’re still unsure of where you want to go or what type of holiday to book, get in touch here and one of the Designer Travel experts will be in contact to help you arrange your perfect tailor-made break.
25 things to see or experience in Lisbon, Portugal
How should you spend your time in Lisbon? What are the most popular tourist sites in Lisbon? Here are 25 things you must see or experience in Lisbon.
Prior to my first trip to Lisbon, I was determined that I would not miss anything; so I did a lot of research, and I found at least 25 things that you have to see or do while in Lisbon!
Although this city has been shocked by two earthquakes and a tidal wave, it still has some of the oldest structures to be found in Europe. Additionally, Lisbon offers superb food and art scenes and an interesting mix of medieval and modern. In spite of its seven hills, Lisbon is a very walkable city with extraordinary public transportation. Also, the scenery is second to none, and it is a very affordable city.
Look at the Baixa District for some of the top 25 things to see and do in Lisbon
The Baixa, or Lowland, has several of the top 25 things to see or experience in Lisbon. Originally the city center. it was wiped out and then rebuilt. Lisbon’s downtown – Baixa: Everything you need to know
Regardless of where you are staying in Lisbon, you will quickly find yourself in Rossio Square, the more common name of Plaza King Pedro IV. (Praça Dom Pedro IV). Rossio, which means the Commons, has existed since the middle ages and seen bullfights, revolts, the Inquisition and its executions. It was, and still is, the center of Lisbon.
Most of the buildings on the square, except the Palace of the Almadas (Palace of Independence) were built after the earthquake of 1755. Rossio Square is a transportation hub located on both the green and blue metro lines of the http://metrolisboa.pt
Also, Rossio Square is a great place to relax and people-watch, as there are plenty of restaurants and cafes lining the plaza, including the 18th century Cafe Nicola.
Stroll along Avenida da Liberdade
To the northwest of Rossio Square (to the left of the Teatro Nacional) lies Avenida da Liberdade . This beautiful tree-lined boulevard has the most expensive real estate in Lisbon, and offers luxury hotels and high end shopping. In addition, it is also simply an enjoyable (and flat) walk.
There are three metro stations along the Avenida – Restauradores, Avenida, y Marques de Pombal, as well as the Ascensor da Glória – one of the best ways to get uphill to Bairro Alto.
To the northeast of Rossio Square (to the right of the Teatro Nacional) you can find the Praça de Sao Domingo and the Saint Dominic Church. Once the site of the slave market, today it is a popular gathering point for the city’s African immigrants. For more information on this church, read my São Domingos Church in Lisbon
Also off this square you can find two tiny shops that have been selling shots of Ginjinha since the 1800s. The liquor is made from aguardente, ginja cherries, sugar, and cinnamon. To learn more, read my Your questions about Ginjinha answered here
You can pay 1.25 euros for a shot of Ginjinha. It is a fun cultural experience at either A Ginjinha do Rossio, Largo São Domingos 8, or Ginjinha sem Rival, Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 7. If you continue up this street, you will find plenty of spots to eat, as well as theaters, and bookstores.
On the eastern side of Rossio, you can find a farmers’ market in Praça da Figueira . (Fig Tree Square) It is a bus transport hub, and Trams 12 and 15 both leave from this square.
Follow Rua Augusta down to the river
Head south from Praça do Figueiro through a promenade of restaurants and street performers. Soon you will pass through the Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta, Augusta Street Arch of Triumph. At Rua de Augusta 2 you can purchase a ticket for 8 euros to go to the observation deck at the top of the Arch, which offers 360 degree views. What is the story behind Lisbon’s Rua Augusta Arch?
Next, pass through the arch and step across the street into the Praça do Comércio , (Commerce Square). Also known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard), as the River Palace once stood there prior to the earthquake. Now you will find cafes, wine-tastings, tourist information, and government offices.
The majestic buildings currently surrounding the courtyard were all built during the Marquis de Pombal’s reconstruction of central Lisbon during the 1700s.
As you walk down to the river, you will be looking at one of Lisbon’s most calming views- the two columns in the river – Cais das Colunas . Why are there columns in the water in Lisbon?
At one time, there was a pier here, and the columns were the gate to the city. Royal visitors from other nations would pass through the columns and head up the steps to the River Palace.
Today you can sit on the marble steps and enjoy the sunset.
How to find the Convento do Carmo
First, find the Elevador de Santa Justa , Rua do Ouro, 1150. Opened in 1902, this 45 meter wrought-iron elevator moves tourists from Rua Augusta in The Baixa district to Largo do Carmo and the Convento de Carmo . To learn more, read my
Elevador de Santa Justa | Everything you need to know The historic elevator (round trip 5.5 euros) has long lines, and a fantastic observation deck at the top. Admission for the viewing platform is an additional 1.5 euros.
You can, however, get to the upper neighborhoods without the lines and for free!
One block behind the Elevador de Santa Justa there is a shop that has an elevator that will take you up top to the bar, Bellalisa Elevador, which has a nice patio with views of the castle. For more information, read my Lisbon’s secret elevators – free shortcuts to the hilltops
By the elevator you will find a staircase and walkway that will take you to the Convento do Carmo .
Largo do Carmo is a great little plaza to have a drink, people watch, and listen to street musicians. You will find it just in front of the Convento do Carmo.
The convent was built in 1389 and its gothic church was ruined in the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon in 1755.
Unfortunately, all that remains are the walls of the church and the beautiful vaulted arches. It is a very impressive piece of architecture.
Of the 25 things to see and experience in Lisbon, this is one of my favorites. I’m just stricken knowing that 600 years ago the church was nearly destroyed, but those beautiful arches hang on, giving a gorgeous view of the blue sky.
I am sure that any event held there, a Mass, a concert, whatever – is a moving experience.
The Belém neighborhood has some of the top 25 things to see in Lisbon, and maybe Europe!
You could spend a half day in the Belém neighborhood for some of the best old architecture and monuments in Lisbon as well as some of its best eating .
Belém was largely spared by the earthquake, and is where all of the Portuguese expeditions were launched from. Four of the 25vbest things to see or experience in Lisbon can be found in this neighborhood.
In order to get to Belém, take the E15 Tram or the 128 bus, or from Cais do Sodré station take the train toward Cascais and get off at Belém.
First of all, when you get off the bus, you will be standing in front of the massive Mosteiro dos Jerónimos . ( Jeronimos Monastery ). Construction on this UNESCO world heritage site began in 1501.
It was funded by taxes levied on the Portuguese colonies during the age of exploration and is a showcase of the kingdom’s wealth during the 15th century.
The monks who lived there were tasked with praying for the soul of the king and the safety of the Portuguese explorers.
Vasco da Gama and national poet Luis de Camôes are buried within.
Admission: 10 euros, 12 euros includes admission to the Belem tower as well.
Next, walk across the boulevard to the waterfront and The Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). This modern monument celebrates a time when Portugal ruled the seas during the 15th and 16th centuries.
This sculpture features a pantheon of 33 national heroes including royalty, explorers, and poets moving toward the open sea. At the front is Prince Henry the Navigator.
You can enter the monument and enjoy the museum as well as the views from the top.
Admission to the museum and viewing deck: 6 euros.
As you approach the monument, you will see a beautiful compass and map mosaic of the Portuguese trade routes, a gift from the government of South Africa.
Lisbon has not one, but two, UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the same street!
Next, continue down the promenade to the second UNESCO world heritage site on this street.
The Torre de Belem (Belem Tower) has been standing guard over the Lisbon harbor since 1515.
It must have been a sight for sore eyes when the sailors returned to the harbor after a year or more at sea.
Admission: 6 euros, 2 euros with a combination ticket from the monastery. Nonetheless, several sources have mentioned that going inside is not worth the time spent in line.
For many, the best thing in the neighborhood is Pasteis de Belém .
We are talking about egg custard tarts. You can get pasteis de nata in any neighborhood in Lisbon, and you should! But this bakery is where it all started!
Located at Rua de Belém 84, they introduced pasteis de nata to the world in 1837, using the recipe of the monks down the street at the Jeronimos Monastery.
For more information on the Belém neighborhood, ready my article, Lisbon’s historic Belém neighborhood | Everything you need to know
Exploring Lisbon’s castle and the Alfama neighborhood
Castelo São Jorge – Perhaps the castle is number one on the list of 25 things to see and experience in Lisbon, as it is Lisbon’s most visited tourist destination.
Occupied by the Romans before Christ, St. George’s Castle was taken over and fortified by the Moors in the eighth century and later won back by Martim Moniz and the Catholic crusaders.
Without a doubt, you will find that the fortress has great views of Lisbon and the Tejo river.
Several peacocks roam freely on the property. Why are there peacocks in Lisbon? They are descended from the ones the explorers brought back from Asia. Admission: 10 euros
Take the 12 tram up to the castle and then walk down through the Alfama neighborhood. Additionally, you can take bus 737 from Praça da Figueira and get dropped off in front of the castle. Much easier than walking up.
As you go downhill, stop at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint and the nearby Miradouro das Portos do Sol.
Also in the Alfama neighborhood you will find the fortress-like Cathedral de Sé , or Lisbon Cathedral.
Construction on the church began in 1147, as soon as the crusaders expelled the Moors.
This Baroque style church is the oldest building in Lisbon. Admission is free. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and cover their legs.
Investigating Bairro Alto – another of the top 25 things to see and do in Lisbon
Bairro Alto Reach this bairro (neighborhood) via the Ascensor da Glória funicular between Praça dos Restauradores and Avenida Liberdade. Bairro Alto can also be accessed by the Ascensor da Bica, a cable car connecting Rua de São Paulo and Calçada do Combro / Rua do Loreto. Round trip on either is 3.80 euros.
Coming off the Ascensor da Glória, to the right you will find the Miradouro de São Pedro, a scenic overlook and park with kiosks selling food and drink.
The viewpoint has views of central Lisbon, the river, and the castle on the opposite hill.
From there, venture up Avenida Principe Real and pass through a neighborhood full of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants on the way to the fantastic Jardim de Principe Real.
You will find a wonderful garden with dining and kiosks, and plenty of ancient shade trees.
Bairro Alto is quiet during the day but thrives at night with all of its bars.
When the bars close, the party usually heads downhill to The Pink Street / Cais do Sodré for the late night festivities. The nightlife might be one of the top 25 things to see or experience in Lisbon.
Enjoying Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré neighborhood
Cais do Sodré Station is on the water just west of central Lisbon.
From here, you can catch a ferry across the river to see the Christ statue and have great views of Lisbon from the far bank.
Once on the far side of the river, you can hop on a bus to get to the Costa de Caparica beaches.
Or in Lisbon, at the Cais do Sodré train station, you can catch a short train ride to the beaches at Cascais.
Near the station you will find lively nightlife on the Pink Street and the alleys nearby.
The famous Time Out Market Avenida 24 de julho offers a variety of some of the best foods to be found in Lisbon.
Attached to the food hall is a huge farmers’ and fish market – Mercado da Ribeira.
Investigate the very old and the very new in Lisbon
It seems that the national symbol of Portugal is the beautiful blue and white Azulejo tile .
The beautiful mosaics can be found all over Lisbon and all over Portugal. You will see wonderful examples in the Jeronimos Monastery and at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
Stop by the Museu Nacional de Azulejo . Built in the old Convento da Madre de Deus, the museum has one of the largest ceramic collections in Europe.
The museum explains how these tiles have been produced and changed over the last 500 years.
Also included is the stunning St. Anthony’s chapel inside the museum.
Buses 718, 742, 794 stop in front of the museum. Admission: 5 Euros
In Alcântara, what was once solely an industrial neighborhood, a section of factories and warehouses has been transformed into a zone of more than fifty bars, shops, restaurants, and art installations at the LX Factory , Rua Rodrigues Faria, 103. Take tram 15E to the Alcântara-Mar stop, or buses 714, 720, 732, 742, 751 or 760.
Aside from the art installations in the area, my favorite spot in LX factory is Livraria Ler Devagar – the Read Slowly Bookstore.
This bookstore was built in a former newspaper printshop. You can sit below one of the old printing presses and read while sipping on a coffee or something stronger.
Named one of the ten most beautiful bookstores in the world by the NY Times.
For more information on the LX Factory, see my Is the LX Factory worth visiting?
If you want to see the most modern architecture to be found in Lisbon, Parque das Nações is the neighborhood for you. Modern and contemporary architecture in the old city of Lisbon
Lisbon is blessed with so many great views
Many of the best things to see or experience in Lisbon are absolutely free! Miradouros, (Scenic overlooks ), for example. Lisbon sits on a river and has seven hills. The views are spectacular, especially at sunset.
Try to see as many as you can! It won’t take much effort to stumble upon some of the better known viewpoints – Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara in Bairro Alto, Miradouro de Santa Luzia and the Miradouro dos Portos do Sol are in Alfama .
The 28 tram stops at the Miradouro de Graça, also known as Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, and has views of the castle.
There are more than thirty public scenic overlooks around Lisbon.
What about the bridge?
Portugal lived under the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar for 48 years. The regime was overthrown in a coup on April 25, 1974.
The beautiful Ponte 25 de Abril (April 25 th Bridge) commemorates this important date in Portuguese history.
You can have lunch on a rooftop with a great view of the bridge. Two very different places to try – upscale dining at the five star Bairro Alto Hotel, Praça Luis de Camões, 2, or a very humble, filling cafeteria style lunch at Cantina das Freiras.
The nuns donate every penny you spend to charity (likely to be six to eight euros). And you still get the view. Travessa do Ferragial, 1. Find the small alley, look for a huge wooden door with a tiny, handwritten sign. Enter and go to the top floor.
Clearly, one of the best things to experience in Lisbon is the food!
Of the 25 things to see and experience in Lisbon, the food is very near the top of the list! – Lisbon is famous for its pastries, stews, and seafood. But in addition to the traditional rustic and maritime cuisine, the city boasts nine Michelin restaurants.
In contrast, my first meal in Lisbon was a humble plate of six grilled sardines for six euros in the Baixa district, and it was great!
I’m very partial to some of the international cuisines that can be found along Avenida Almirante Reis. There is a huge Asian food court at the Mercado Oriental near Martim Moniz metro station.
Near the Intendente metro station you can find a burger that will rival any American burger at Hamburgues, Av. Almirante Reis 10. Or, Further up the road, Darshan Nepal has something a little more exotic at Almirante Reis 48.
But, Portugal and the ocean have a special relationship, and the seafood in Lisbon is outstanding. If you want to experience some of the best seafood you will ever eat, I have some recommendations on where to eat Seafood in Lisbon .
Where to experience football in Lisbon
So you want to experience Football in Lisbon? You have two choices to watch a pro soccer game. Ronaldo’s former team – Sporting Club, Estadio José Alvalade, (Campo Grande Metro station, or current national champions, Benfica. Estadio da Luz , (Colégio Militar /Luz metro station). Sporting wears green and white. Benfica’s colors are red and white. For more information on attending a game, see my article How to go to a Benfica game – lisbontravelideas.com
Tickets to the games can be purchased at the stadiums in advance or at the team shops near Rossio Square.
The season typically runs from September until May.
If you happen to be in Lisbon during the World Cup, Praça do Comércio will host daily viewing parties on a huge screen.
And last, but not least, of the 25 top things to see or experience in Lisbon… enjoy the excellent murals and other street art
Street art murals can be found all over Lisbon. According to http://lisbonstreetarttours.com , Banksy has not yet hit Lisbon, but there is a great local artist named Adres who has a very similar style.
You can find large murals scattered all around central Lisbon.
Then, there is the Blue Wall, a mile – long circular wall surrounding the Julio de Matos Hospital. Located at Rua das Murtas, a ten minute walk from the Alvalade metro station.
Like San Francisco’s Mission District (see my
17 ways that Lisbon and San Francisco are alike )
, the artists of Lisbon have organized and managed to bring color and creativity to large buildings in poorer, working-class neighborhoods.
Galeria de Arte Urbana has organized the Muro Urban Art Festival in the Padre Cruz and Marvila neighborhoods, Padre Cruz, a large public housing complex, is as far away from the river as one can get and still be in Lisbon. It served by buses, but not metro. A tour would be a great idea to see the art in these far-flung areas.
Of the 25 things to see and experience in Lisbon, my favorites were the seafood, the sites in Belém, the Convento do Carmo, the castle, and the street art. I also loved the day trips and the nearby beaches. It was also a lot of fun to work on my Portuguese. I had learned Portuguese in Brazil, and have a gringo accent in Brazil. Yet, the people of Portugal were very complementary and understood me when I spoke Portuguese. That said, it is not necessary to speak Portuguese in Lisbon.
Do you have time constraints? Check my Lisbon 24 hour checklist – what should I see and do? If you have a little more time, there is How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon — a 48-hour itinerary
Is your budget a concern? See my article How to enjoy Lisbon on a Budget
Top 20 of the places to visit in Lisbon
Lisbon, the capital and biggest city in Portugal , is in the top of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The “city of the seven hills” has won the hearts of visitors from all over the world through a sumptuous fusion of tradition and modernity. Have you ever thought of what to see in Lisbon ?
- Here is the top 20 of the places to visit and what to see in Lisbon:
Conteúdos do Artigo - Sommaire - Contents
1. Lisbon’s historic quarters
2. lisbon’s viewpoints, 3. praça do comércio, 4. the cathedral, 5. national pantheon, 6. carmo convent, 7. são vicente de fora monastery, 8. graça church and convent, 9. museu nacional de arte antiga, 10. lx factory, 11. museum of art, architecture and technology (maat), 12. belém national palace, 13. hieronymites monastery (mosteiro dos jerónimos), 14. tower of belém (torre de belém), 15. ajuda national palace, 16. monsanto forest park, 17. fronteira palace, 18. lisbon zoo, 19. cristo rei national sanctuary, 20. oceanário, itinerary to visit the most beautiful places in lisbon, where to sleep in lisbon, where to eat in lisbon, traditions and festivities, what will also interest you:.
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Most of the authenticity you’ll find in Lisbon is at its historic quarters. There, you’ll get to know the most genuine people, taste the most typical meals and, why not, take the opportunity to hear the real Lisbon fado .
The beautiful Alfama quarter is one of the oldest in the city and is one of those places you can’t forget when making a list of what to see in Lisbon.
Located in the heart of the capital , this is definitely one of the most typical locations to discover the Portuguese culture. The narrow streets, flowered balconies, restaurants, fado and daily life scenes are part of the tour. Furthermore, you can ask around – surely you’ll find someone that can tell you what to see in Lisbon.
Tip: take the tram nº 28 to visit Alfama or walk there (wear appropriate footwear). Make a stop at one of many old taverns and enjoy a meal of fresh grilled fish.
Another quarter you should discover in the Portuguese capital is Bairro Alto . The quarter has two faces: ordinary during the day and classy at night. There are many bars , restaurants , bookshops , discos and a superb panoramic view .
Apart from these reasons, you should know that Bairro Alto is also very welcoming and everyone is eager to help you out if you need any information.
Tip: take one of these two elevators: the Ascensor da Bica or the Elevador da Glória.
There are other historic quarters in Lisbon worth a visit but these are definitely two of the most authentic and genuine.
Information: I suggest you book this tuk-tuk tour that will take you to discover the beautiful historic quarters of Lisbon. On this pleasant two-hour guided tour , you will have the opportunity to visit the historic centre, where Lisbon was born, once occupied by Romans and Moors.
Discover the genuine quarters of Alfama , Chiado and Bairro Alto and, along the way, also admire the narrow streets and unmissable points of interest such as the cathedral Sé Catedral , the National Pantheon , the monastery Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora. Also know that you will stop at the viewpoints that offer the best views over the city.
As an alternative to the above-mentioned activity, you can choose this late-afternoon walking tour through the historic quarters of Alfama and Baixa and enjoy a magnificent dinner in a fado house that will give you the possibility to watch live this musical genre so unique and special.
Lisbon is also known as the “city of the seven hills” and, maybe because of that, there are many viewpoints scattered throughout the city offering its visitors some of the best views over the Portuguese capital.
Stroll through the historic quarters and stop at the viewpoints to admire the city and its monuments like São Jorge Castle and the National Pantheon. Among the favourite viewpoints, I must point out the ones of Senhora do Monte , Portas do Sol , São Pedro de Alcântara and Santa Catarina .
The square Praça do Comércio, also known as Terreiro do Paço, is one of the most famous places in Lisbon and is located in Baixa Pombalina (downtown), facing Tagus river. This is definitely a place to consider when thinking of what to see in Lisbon.
It was here that, throughout centuries, many heads of state disembarked for meetings with the Portuguese kings and queens.
But other important historical events took place at this location such as the destruction caused by the major earthquake of 1755 and the regicide of D. Carlos and his son, in 1908, that marked the beginning of the end of monarchy in Portugal.
The Cathedral of Lisbon holds the title of oldest church in the Portuguese capital , having been built in the second half of the 12th century, right after Lisbon being conquered from the Moors.
As years went by, this cathedral was enriched with different architectonic styles , with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque traits and it was here that some Portuguese started to be buried.
Unfortunately, the major earthquake of 1755 destroyed several original parts of the cathedral and, because of that, a reconstruction was in order. In the beginning of the 20th century, refurbishment works returned some of the medieval beauty to this building.
Considered one of the most emblematic buildings in Lisbon , the National Pantheon is the last residence for many important Portuguese historical figures of different areas such as Almeida Garrett, Amália Rodrigues and Eusébio.
Apart from the tombs of presidents, writers and others, you’ll find here some cenotaphs of other Portuguese heroes like D. Nuno Álvares Pereira, Henry the Navigator and Pedro Álvares Cabral.
- Site: www.panteaonacional.gov.pt
Carmo Convent is located in the historic centre of Lisbon and is in ruins. However, it is a place you’ll definitely want to visit since it is one of the memories the city still has from the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most part of the city.
This Gothic-style building underwent some reconstruction works but they stopped when religious orders were banished from Portugal during the 19th century – from this reconstruction remains the pillars and the arches from the nave.
At this location you’ll also find Museu Arqueológico do Carmo , a museum where several pieces stand out, from Pre-History to the contemporary era, including the beautiful Gothic tomb of king D. Fernando I .
São Vicente de Fora Monastery was built between the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Philippine Dynasty, and is considered as one of the most important examples of the Mannerism style in Portugal , despite having Gothic and Baroque features too. Here you’ll also find one of the most beautiful glazed-tile collections in the country .
This monastery is located at a place where another monastery existed before with the same name and commissioned by king D. Afonso Henriques as a way for him to thank the conquest of Lisbon from the Moors, in the mid-12th century.
Today, this Portuguese monument is also classified as a pantheon and here you’ll find tombs of most of the cardinal-patriarchs of Lisbon as well as kings, princes and infantes (children of kings and queens we weren’t firstborn) from the Bragança Dynasty, the last Portuguese Royal House.
- Site: www.patriarcado-lisboa.pt
This building, classified as a Portuguese monument , was built in the 13th century but was rebuilt and restored after the 1755 earthquake that caused destruction throughout the capital.
In this religious set, the Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo features stand out, giving a unique and wonderful charm to this monument and dazzling those who pass by this place. Take the opportunity to admire the painted ceiling and the amazing glazed-tile panels .
Before you leave this area, enjoy one of the most wonderful views over the city of Lisbon in the beautiful Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen viewpoint .
The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Ancient Art National Museum) holds the status as one of the most visited museums in Portugal and here you’ll find works of art since the beginning of Portugal as a country in the 12th century until the 19th century.
This museum was inaugurated in 1884 and has a 40 000-piece collection , some of which considered as “national treasures” in the most different areas such as painting, sculpture and decorative arts originating not only from Europe but also from Africa and Asia.
Save some time to explore and admire works of art in this amazing museum, one of the Lisbon museums you should visit.
- Site: http://museudearteantiga.pt
Located in the beautiful Alcântara quarter , Lx Factory is one of the places to discover in the Portuguese capital and there are several reasons to go visit this place.
Know that you can enjoy some of the most beautiful views over Tagus river and 25 de Abril bridge at this place, especially at an open area with panoramic terrace in the 4th floor, at the restaurant Rio Maravilha – definitely worth your while!
Apart from the beautiful views, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the remaining area of Lx Factory and discover other amazing places with unique designs such as restaurants and bars, a bookshop, a kiosk and even an escape room.
- Site: www.lxfactory.com
Located in Belém quarter and close to other points of interest, this museum is the newest museum in Lisbon and is one focused on contemporary art.
Constituted by two buildings, property of Fundação EDP, MAAT transformed the cultural landscape of the Portuguese capital and it intends to offer its visitors a modern and sophisticated collection .
Take the opportunity to stroll through the landscaped space close to the riverfront and, as a curiosity, know that you can cross the beautiful pedestrian bridge over the busy Avenida Brasil.
- Site: www.maat.pt/en
This magnificent palace was built in the end of the 16th century in Baroque and Neoclassical styles and is composed of a central building facing Tagus river and some beautiful patios and gardens, among others.
Perhaps because this palace is the official residence of the President of the Portuguese Republic , it is one of the most exclusive palaces in the country and people can only visit it on Saturdays (with a guide) depending on presidential agenda.
If you can’t explore the palace, you can visit Museu da Presidência (the Presidency Museum) where you can discover more about the life and work of Portuguese presidents but more – you can also admire documents, personal objects and diplomatic gifts received by the presidents.
- Site: www.presidencia.pt
In 1502, King Manuel I decided to order the construction of this huge and religious monument . Located in Belém historic quarter, this magnificent building mirrors the richness of the Portuguese discoveries all over the world in the 16th century.
Like Tower of Belém, this monument is also one of the most important symbols of Manueline style and it is today one of the most visited places in Portugal. Apart from its architectural beauty, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the amazing tombs of Portuguese figures such as Camões, Vasco da Gama and D. Manuel I.
- Site: http://www.patrimoniocultural.gov.pt/pt/museus-e-monumentos/dgpc/m/mosteiro-dos-jeronimos/
When you think of what to see in Lisbon, one of the first things that comes to mind is Tower of Belém. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 , Tower of Belém was built from 1515 to 1521 to watch over Lisbon’s harbour thus controlling the passage of ships.
About 30 metres high, Torre de Belém is one of the most beautiful examples of Manueline-style architecture , with its very characteristic traits such as the cross of the Order of Christ, the armillary sphere and naturalist elements. From here you can enjoy an astounding view over Tagus river.
- Site: http://www.patrimoniocultural.gov.pt/pt/museus-e-monumentos/dgpc/m/torre-de-belem/
Tip: for about 12 € per person, some companies offer a boat trip from Cais do Sodré to Tower of Belém.
Information: do you want to visit Belém and discover the place from where some of the great Portuguese navigators set sail to new worlds? If so, book this activity and go on a two-hour guided tuk-tuk ride to the time of the Portuguese Discoveries.
In Belém, you will have the opportunity to discover the landmarks of Lisbon, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém , both listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. There are other points of interest to admire, but know that this tour will be even more wonderful after tasting the famous pastéis de Belém .
To make your stay one to remember, board a luxury sailboat and admire part of downtown Baixa Pombalina and Belém as well as its points of interest. However, what will make this tour unforgettable is the fact that it is done in the late afternoon, when you can enjoy a magnificent sunset while enjoying snacks and good wine.
Located in the western part of the city, this is one of the most beautiful palaces you will find in Lisbon.
Despite its construction has started in the end of the 18th century, only now, in the 21st century, the project comes to an end with the conclusion of the west wing of the building where the Portuguese Royal Treasure will be kept .
Apart from the architectural beauty of this Portuguese monument, know that here you’ll find one of the most beautiful museums in Lisbon (and in the country) with wonderful ceramic , sculpture , painting , jewellery collections and much more!
Monsanto Forest Park is considered to be the green lung of Lisbon and the biggest Portuguese forest park with an area of 900 hectares.
As you would expect, this place has the ideal conditions for sports activity and much more – here, you’ll find bike paths , walking routes and football , basketball and tennis areas .
You can take the opportunity to go for a walk with your family and friends and have a picnic at one of the picnic areas; you can also go to one of the viewpoints and enjoy the wonderful views over the Portuguese capital.
Built in the second half of the 17th century, Fronteira Palace is one of the last treasures yet to be found in Lisbon .
The interior of this magnificent building can only be visited with a guide so that you can fully get to know the palace’s history and admire some rooms and the library. Even though this palace is still inhabited, you can get a glimpse of some of the restricted areas.
Despite its exquisite interior, the surrounding area of the palace is also worth seeing and there you’ll find gardens decorated with beautiful statues and fountains and amazing glazed-tile panels . Definitely a place to consider when you visit Lisbon!
- Site: www.fronteira-alorna.pt
Lisbon Zoo is one of the favourite places of people visiting the city, and is mainly adored by children. In this 94 000 m2 space you’ll surely have an amazing day, one to remember!
In its more than 130 years of existence , the zoo has reinvented itself throughout the times and built several facilities so that the different species, that arrived from all over the world, could be as comfortable as possible.
If you don’t know what to see in Lisbon, then go explore this zoo! Apart from the adorable animals , know that here you’ll find a picnic area , a cable car and a mini-train that take the visitors on a different tour through the zoo, without getting too tired. You should also know that you can explore this zoo in the company of a guide that will tell you some of the secrets of this place.
- Site: www.zoo.pt
Located in Almada, on the south bank of Tagus river, Cristo Rei is a sanctuary and a religious monument representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s Christ Redeemer, this wonderful 110-metre high building was inaugurated in 1959.
This sanctuary and the statue, in particular, welcome with open arms people who want to visit Lisbon region and here you can also enjoy this place that is one of the most beautiful viewpoints offering views over the Portuguese capital.
- Site: www.cristorei.pt/en
Tip: take the opportunity of getting to know the glamorous streets of Almada.
Information: take the opportunity to book this activity and discover the two Tagus river banks, always with fabulous views over the Portuguese capital. Start in Belém, where you can admire Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém. Then, head to one of Lisbon’s most recent viewpoints, located right in the 25 de Abril bridge, the Pilar 7 viewpoint , where you can also enjoy a virtual reality experience.
Next, cross the bridge and discover the south bank of Tagus river, where you will literally reach the high point of this guided tour , the National Sanctuary of Cristo Rei . There, you can climb to the top of the statue’s pedestal, which welcomes Lisbon’s visitors with open arms, and enjoy the magnificent views that extend for several kilometres in all directions. A must see!
The Oceanário of Lisbon is definitely one of the cultural buildings that attract more visitors in the whole country and has been considered as the best aquarium in the world on different occasions. It was inaugurated in 1998, just in time for Lisbon’s Expo ’98, and its mission is to raise awareness about the wonderful world of the oceans and species living there.
Today, the Oceanário is composed by two buildings connected by a long corridor decorated by a 55 000 glazed-tile panel. Here you can admire temporary and permanent exhibitions and, of course, get to know all of its beautiful “residents”.
- Site: www.oceanario.pt/en
Necessary days to visit Lisbon : 4 days
If you are visiting Lisbon and your stay is in some accommodation located in the historic centre, I suggest you go on foot to the places up to point 8 of this article. It will be a pleasant walk, but with some ups and downs so I suggest you to wear comfortable shoes.
By walking along the streets and alleys, you will feel the true authenticity of Lisbon’s historic quarters as well as the authenticity of its residents .
If you are staying outside the historic centre, then the best way to get there will be by metro, leaving at Terreiro do Paço station to start your tour at Praça do Comércio (or at Baixa-Chiado station, if you want to start at Convento do Carmo ). To access the map of the metro network, click here .
After visiting downtown Baixa Pombalina, some of the historic quarters and the best viewpoints, the next day will be to visit other points of interest, starting with the Ancient Art National Museum. To do this, you can take the tram 15E at Praça do Comércio and enjoy a ride on one of the most characteristic means of transportation in the city.
For a bus trip, you can take the bus 714 or the bus 728 and hop off at the stops at Rua das Janelas Verdes or Cais da Rocha respectively.
To go to LX Factory, you can take the tram 15E or the bus 714 again and hop off at the Calvário stop.
After visiting LX Factory, head to Belém , one of the most touristy and most beautiful areas in Lisbon. There you can find the next places to visit from my list: the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), Belém National Palace, Hieronymites Monastery and the Tower of Belém.
To get from LX Factory to MAAT, take the tram 15E or the bus 714 again and hop off at the Altinho stop . Then, you just need to take a short five-minute walk to the museum.
For the next points of interest, I recommend that you go on foot in order to enjoy the architecture, the landscape and the authenticity of this historic quarter. Make a stop at the bakery Confeitaria Pastéis de Belém , the original production site for the famous and tasty pastéis de Belém , also known as pastéis de nata (a Portuguese egg tart pastry). Don’t miss this opportunity!
After visiting the monuments classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites (Hieronymites Monastery and the Tower of Belém), take bus 729 at the square Largo da Princesa stop and get off at the Ajuda stop, located 500 metres away from the Ajuda National Palace.
If you want to visit this wonderful place the next day, then take the bus 760 at the square Praça do Comércio and get off at the Palácio da Ajuda stop, right in front of the monument.
From the Ajuda National Palace to the forest park Parque Florestal de Monsanto, you will have to take the bus 729 at the Ajuda stop and go to the Estádio Pina Manique stop.
From Parque Florestal de Monsanto to the beautiful Fronteira Palace, it is about a 2 km walk that you can take in order for you to admire the landscape and enjoy the fresh air present in this area of the city. From the palace to the Lisbon Zoo it is a few minutes walk, but it will be worth it!
Do you want to visit the magnificent Cristo Rei National Sanctuary? Then head to the pier Terminal Cais do Sodré and take the ferry to Cacilhas, on the south bank of the Tagus river. There, take the metro to Almada station and from there to the sanctuary it is a short 1 km walk.
Alternatively, you can take the bus 101 which will drop you off at the stop in front of the sanctuary.
Finally, to visit the last point of interest in my top, take the bus 728 at Praça do Comércio and go towards Oceanário de Lisboa , on a beautiful 35 minute-trip side by side with Tagus river.
Alternatively, you can take the blue metro line at Terreiro do Paço station (Praça do Comércio) and continue to São Sebastião station where you will have to take the red line metro towards Oriente station.
Memmo Alfama – Design Hotel ****
Located in a refurbished, late 19th century building in the typical Alfama district, Memmo Alfama – Design Hotel offers its guests a 24-hour reception. It also features a wine bar, an outdoor swimming pool and lovely Tagus river views.
My Story Hotel Ouro ***
With a themed decoration based on Portuguese tiles, the beautiful My Story Hotel Ouro occupies an 18th century building in the heart of the historic Baixa quarter. Its outdoor esplanade is on one of Lisbon’s traditional pedestrian streets.
Albergaria Senhora do Monte **
Located on top of the highest of Lisbon’s 7 hills, Senhora do Monte offers a panoramic bar with amazing views over Lisbon, the Tagus River and the São Jorge Castle . After a good night’s sleep, guests can enjoy their breakfast on the charming terrace and admire the views of Lisbon.
Information: don’t hesitate to click here to discover all my suggestions for the best hotels in Lisbon.
Frade dos Mares
Há Tapas no Mercado!!!
The biggest popular festivity in Lisbon and one of the biggest in the country is celebrated in honour of Saint Anthony (Santo António), born in the Portuguese capital in the late 12th century and, according to some sources, died in Italy 39 years later.
This festivity, that takes place in the second week of June, has some unique moments that attract thousands of Portuguese and foreigners – one of the most important events is the popular parades .
With over eight decades of history, Lisbon’s popular parades are already a tradition of this festivity and gather people from the different quarters of the capital in a beautiful ceremony. As usual, the parades take place in the 12th June at the beautiful avenue Avenida da Liberdade where hundreds of participants dance and sing.
Another tradition of this festivity is the famous weddings of Saint Anthony ( casamentos de Santo António ) that also take place in the 12th June and gather several couples for the celebration of matrimony – Saint Anthony is the patron saint of wedding couples.
However, this festivity does not stop at popular parades and at the weddings of Saint Anthony. At this time of the year, people adorn their houses, streets and alleys with globe basil and other decorations and the smell of grilled sardine is in the air.
When you visit Lisbon, make sure you try the grilled sardines and caldo verde , the popular Portuguese soup, so typical of this time of the year and so tasty!
Of course I couldn’t leave out the New Year holidays in the Portuguese capital . Lisbon offers many and varied reasons for it to be considered as one of the preferred destinations for the Portuguese and foreign visitors.
This is a very special occasion and, in addition to the long-awaited New Year’s Eve and before they welcome the New Year in Portugal, visitors can spend their holidays exploring the historic quarters that, by now, are all decorated with Christmas motifs.
In quarters such as Alfama , Graça , S. Vicente and Mouraria , you’ll feel the warmth of the people living in this cosmopolitan city.
Other points of interest exist throughout the city such as the Christmas Village in Parque Eduardo VII which has been on display every year and is one of the places of choice for everyone and, in particular, for kids of all ages.
The long-awaited last moments of the year are lived in several places in the city but the one that stands out is Praça do Comércio .
In this wonderful square, flanked by Tagus River, you can enjoy live concerts and the spectacular fireworks that will make the delights of thousands of visitors who descended to downtown, the Baixa Pombalina .
But not only outdoor activities are available in the final hours of the year in the Portuguese capital. If you want to and can, there are several places that also offer unique experiences. Look at the examples of several hotels like Pestana CR7 , very close to the aforementioned Praça do Comércio.
If you want to spend a different night, you can also enjoy one of the packages offered by both Casino Estoril and Casino Lisboa . Here you can enjoy a fantastic dinner and watch one of the shows scheduled for this special occasion – definitely, a unique experience!
When to visit Lisbon
As you may have noticed, Lisbon is a magnificent city, with many points of interest, a pleasant climate, authentic people, great cuisine and much more. Because of all this, this has been a favourite destination in Portugal for several years.
Find out below what are the best times of the year to visit the Portuguese capital, taking into account, of course, your preferences.
Depending on the weather
Lisbon is a very pleasant city with average temperatures that can vary between 8 ºC in the coldest months and 29 ºC in the hottest months. In this regard, know that the hottest months are July and August, but you can enjoy good weather and pleasant temperatures between the months of May and October.
On the other hand, the months in which it is most likely to rain are November and December; the coldest months are November, January and February, but it is rare for temperatures to drop below 5 ºC.
Depending on the festivities
As already mentioned, there are two months that stand out for their celebrations that attract hundreds of thousands of people: June and December, due to Santo António and the New Year’s Eve respectively. If you want to know how residents of Lisbon celebrate these two occasions, there is nothing like choosing the first weeks of June or the last weeks of December. See how the city is decorated at these times and feel the unique atmosphere that characterise these moments.
Best time to visit Lisbon
If you are not a fan of large crowds, then avoid the high season, in particular the months of July and August as they are the most touristy months and those that attract the most people to the city. But don’t worry because, as already mentioned, you can also get a pleasant climate in the months of May, June, September and October.
Although these months are the best to visit Lisbon, know that this is a city that can be visited throughout the year as it has a unique architectural, gastronomic and cultural richness that can be admired and enjoyed at any time.
The Portuguese capital has several museums with the most diverse collections, World Heritage monuments, a unique gastronomy as well as the well-known fado houses , where you can listen to the musical genre that has become known all over the world through the voices of Amália, Carlos do Carmo and Mariza, among others.
How to get to Lisbon
You can travel to Lisbon by plane, car, train or bus.
If you’re travelling by plane , you can go to the historic centre of Lisbon by taxi, metro or bus. If you choose to take a taxi, it will take you 15 minutes. You can also take the metro at the airport (red line) that will take you to the historic centre of Lisbon. If you prefer to take the bus, check here the available lines.
If you’re coming by car, check here the available parking lots in the centre of Lisbon.
Getting to Lisbon by train is a great option for those who are coming from Porto, Coimbra, Évora or Algarve. To know the prices of the tickets check here .
Bus is a good option if there is no train station nearby. Check here the available lines connecting the whole country to Lisbon.
Getting around in Lisbon
Before you think of what to see in Lisbon you should think on how to go to the different places. The best way to get around Lisbon is by public transportation (metro, tram, bus).
I suggest you buy a day ticket if you’re counting on using public transportation on a regular basis.
Buying this ticket will give you the chance to use the metro, buses, trams and lifts the times you want. Using this limitless ticket starts when you get in a public transport for the first time and lasts until the following day at the same hour.
When you buy this ticket you’ll have to buy the Viva Viagem card that you can use to charge other tickets (daily or single).
If you’re going to use public transportation only twice a day, buy single tickets that will allow you to use public transportation for an hour.
Important: Don’t buy a ticket in the buses and trams because the price is more expensive. Always buy in the ticket machines, in metro stations.
You can also use Lisboa card for public transportation, free of charge :
Are you going to visit Lisbon? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below . This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal . Thank you !
- Travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area in 7 days
- Top of the best Lisbon day trips
- Top 10 of the best beaches in the region of Lisbon
- Visit Costa da Caparica, a hidden paradise close to Lisbon!
- Top 10 of the places to visit in Sintra
- Weekend in Lisbon: discover the places not to be missed in 2 days
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Home » Europe » Portugal » Lisbon
10 BEST Places to Visit in Lisbon • Must-See in 2023!
Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon sits at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The city boasts a rich culture and laid-back vibe.
It spreads across a number of hills, and each part of the city offers a wealth of new and interesting experiences. With warm summers and mild winters, you can have a pleasant trip to Lisbon all year round.
Despite being the capital, Lisbon is often overshadowed by other Portuguese destinations. Many travellers seek out the beaches and coastal landscapes of the Algarve and islands like Madeira. Until fairly recently, Lisbon was considered by many as merely a transit point.
Lisbon is, however, starting to come into its own as a terrific place for a city break. It’s well worth planning a trip before it truly booms —it’s always nice to explore away from the crowds! I’ve compiled this list of the best places to visit in Lisbon to entice you to add the charming capital to your travel bucket list.
Be warned: some of these best places to visit in Lisbon are sure to amaze you!
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Lisbon:
Top 10 places to visit in lisbon, faqs on the best places to visit in lisbon, final word on the coolest places to visit in lisbon.
Bairro Alto is the centre for nightlife in the capital. Here you’ll find streets packed with everything from small bars and cosy cafes to upmarket restaurants and rooftop terraces.
- Sip cocktails and enjoy the view at Park Bar.
- Indulge at Belcanto, a two Michelin star restaurant.
- Dance the night away at Incognito.
And now onto the good stuff… Here are the best places to visit in Lisbon.
You’re keyed up and ready to tuck into those Pastel de Natas. I know, they are one of the best things about visiting Portugal .
Although that’s not one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. That’s what you really want to hear about, isn’t it? Well, that’s what I’ve done for you…
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#1 – Alfama – One of the most amazing places in Lisbon!
- Historic neighbourhood
- Regeneration projects
- Home of fado
- Major Lisbon landmarks
Why it’s awesome: Alfama is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Rich in history and culture, it’s also one of the most popular hotspots for tourists to explore in Lisbon . Charming cobblestone streets lined with quaint homes built many years ago wind up the hill. The area boasts several key city attractions and it’s easy to spend a whole day roaming around and taking in the sights and vibe.
Initially thought of as an area for underprivileged people, it has transformed into a hip and trendy area with lots of olde-worlde character. Alfama is also the home of Fado music, a soulful type of music that often stirs up a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness.
What to do there: Stroll the narrow winding streets and soak up the area’s charming ambience. You have to start here while you’re staying in Lisbon . Visit major architectural treasures like the National Pantheon, the Romanesque Se Cathedral, and Saint Anthony’s Church, and travel back in time at the impressive Castelo de São Jorge. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, the castle has imposing walls and looming towers that offer sweeping views, a museum, and archaeological finds.
Give your legs a rest from walking with a ride on the tram. Learn more about the roots of fado at the Fado Museum and experience a haunting performance at a fado dinner restaurant. The offbeat National Tile Museum is a fabulous place for lovers of functional art, and you can also visit the ornate Madre de Deus Church. Discover cute squares, awesome viewpoints, lovely cafes, and a wealth of small unusual shops. Some of Lisbon’s best hostels can be found in Alfama too!
#2 – Igreja-Museu São Roque – One of the most underrated places to see in Lisbon
- Stunning interiors
- Religious art from around the world
- Spiritual air
- Historic features
Why it’s awesome: It would be easy to walk past Igreja-Museu São Roque without giving a second glance. The exterior of the 16th-century Renaissance church-turned-museum is fairly plain in appearance. The inside, however, is one of the most opulent places in Lisbon! Some of the interior details were made in Rome in the 1740s and sent to Lisbon to embellish the religious building.
In one of the stunning chapels, visitors will find some of the oldest decorative and colourful tiles in all of Lisbon. There’s also a feature that was made in Goa in the 1680s. As well as precious metals and jewels, the church also contains a number of fine pieces of art and religious artefacts.
What to do there: Be dazzled by artistic gleaming beauty when you step into the magnificent Igreja-Museu São Roque and explore the various small chapels around its edges. The Capela de São João Baptista, largely created in Rome, showcases a stunning mosaic called The Baptism of Christ. It has gold, silver, marble, amethyst, and lapis Lazuli details.
Enter the São Roque Shrine to admire painted panels from the 16th century that depict the saint’s life, and see the glorious frescoes and tiles in Capela de São Roque. Visit the museum to see religious artworks and treasures and marvel at the woodwork, tiles, and marble found throughout the spectacular church.
#3 – Jardim do Torel – A nice non-touristy place to visit in Lisbon
- Pretty park
- Lovely views
- Children’s play area
Why it’s awesome: A somewhat off-the-beaten-track and hidden outdoor gem in Lisbon. Jardim do Torel is a peaceful park with a romantic air great for relaxing in after a night of partying in Bairro Alto. It’s the perfect spot to find a great Airbnb in Lisbon . Perched atop one of Lisbon’s hills, the park offers lovely views across the city. As well as open spaces with lots of flowers and trees the park has a children’s play area, a beautiful mansion, and a cafe. It’s a great place to unwind away from the crowds when visiting Lisbon’s more popular attractions.
What to do there: Walk to Jardim do Torel from Liberdade and take in the lovely homes and street art along the streets. Alternatively, give your legs a break and ride the Ascensor do Lavra funicular. Take a seat on one of the benches and bask in the peaceful ambience as you listen to the chatter and singing of birds. Let kids cut loose in the play area and admire the scenic views of the harbour, river, and various city areas. Look out for various landmarks in Lisbon spread out beneath you. Feeling peckish? Call into the quaint café for lunch before leaving.
#4 – Belém – An awesome place to visit in Lisbon for half a day!
- Many interesting buildings
- Popular tourist destination
- Outdoor spaces
- Culinary treats
Why it’s awesome: One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Belém boasts a number of famous landmarks and architectural treasures. Once a bustling port, Belém sits alongside the Tagus River. Boat rides are a great way to see the area from a different perspective. There are plenty of green spaces, such as parks and tree-lined plazas, to enjoy. With romantic spots, art, culture, history, and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone in Belém. Furthermore, the area is where explorers set sail to visit new lands and where the delicious Pasteis de Nata were born.
What to do there: Explore the iconic UNESCO-listed Torre de Belém, built in the early 1500s as a defensive fort and filled with sublime details. Go to the top of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos for terrific views and stroll along the nearby waterfront to see statues of historical figures.
Visit the official presidential home of Belém Palace, a beautiful 16th-century building. Learn tons of interesting new things at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, and admire art at the free-to-enter Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Lisbon isn’t always expensive . Take a romantic stroll through the pretty botanical garden. The Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Lisbon must-do. It was established to celebrate Vasco de Gama’s journey to India in the late 1400s and the famous explorer’s remains are contained there still. This was also where the delectable Pasteis de Nata were created by the monks.
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#5 – Carcavelos Beach – A perfect place to visit in Lisbon if you are on a budget!
- Relaxation opportunities
- Seaside activities
- Surfing hotspot
- Laid-back bars and cafes
Why it’s awesome: One of the closest sandy beaches to the heart of the city, Carcavelos Beach is a great place to enjoy a budget day trip in Lisbon at the seaside. There are good facilities for visitors and the vibe is energetic. Whether you want to chill or join in with diverse activities, the beach has something for everyone. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the beach attracts couples, families, and groups of sun-seeking friends.
What to do there: Relax on the soft golden sands and top up your tan as you laze in the sunshine, or take a dip in the cool and refreshing water. The waves make for great surfing too. Join in with a spirited game of beach volleyball, toss a Frisbee, build a sandcastle, play beach football, and stroll barefoot along the stretching sands. You can also unwind in one of the ocean-facing cafes and bars to soak up the vistas while enjoying refreshments in the shade.
#6 – Núcleo Arqueológico – One of the more unique places to visit in Lisbon!
- Archaeological excavation site
- Hidden underground
- Unusual attraction
- Travel back in time
Why it’s awesome: Located downtown, visiting Núcleo Arqueológico is one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. The cool archaeological museum was constructed around the discovered remains of homes from the Iron Age, Moorish buildings, and structures from the Roman era. Various ancient artefacts were unearthed during excavations, reflecting different time periods and groups of people that once called the area home. Free tours are available on the interesting site. What makes the museum particularly interesting is the fact that it lies hidden beneath the Millennium BCP bank.
What to do there: See a collection of eye-catching paintings by 20th-century artists while waiting for your free one-hour underground tour to begin. Descend into the chambers and passageways underneath the bank to travel back in time through Lisbon’s long and varied history. Peer through glass floors to see remains from different eras, including a Christian burial chamber from the 5th century and Roman mosaics, and see a range of items uncovered at the site.
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#7 – Cemitério dos Prazeres – A nice quiet place to see in Lisbon
- Serene ambience
- Striking monuments
- Awesome vistas
Why it’s awesome: Something of a hidden gem, the peaceful Cemitério dos Prazeres is well worth adding to your Lisbon itinerary . It’s the biggest cemetery in the city, founded in the 1830s following a devastating outbreak of cholera. As well as cholera victims, the burial ground is also the final resting place for a number of famous local people, including politicians, authors, and artists. There are many interesting graves and tombs and the attractive cemetery also offers terrific views away from the masses.
What to do there: Wander around the tranquil cemetery and admire the ornate and elegant funerary architecture. There are grand mausoleums to honour the dead, many built in a Baroque style. The cemetery is a great place for photography fans too, so make sure you bring a good travel camera with you. Soak up the excellent views that include the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Tagus River.
#8 – Time Out Market – A must-see for foodies!
- Variety of food stalls
- Good price range
- Typical Portuguese fare
- Popular place to eat
Why it’s awesome: Time Out Market can be found in the renovated Marcado da Ribeira market hall. There are some 30 stalls selling a tempting assortment of foods, and the prices range so as to suit all budgets. Open every day, the market is easy to reach, thanks to its location right across from Cais do Sodre train station.
What to do there: Let your senses guide you from stall to stall as your nostrils inhale the tempting aromas, your eyes soak up the lip-smacking sights, and your taste buds start to tingle. Grab a selection of items for a picnic, sit down for a larger meal, and buy a range of mouth-watering snacks to enjoy throughout the day.
Whether you’re looking for traditional Portuguese fare, quick and easy fast food, international dishes, sweet treats, or something else, the market is sure to satisfy most cravings. It’s definitely among the great food experiences in Lisbon!
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#9 – Hospital de Bonecas – Quite the quirky place in Lisbon!
- Off the beaten track
- Nostalgic atmosphere
- Purchase doll accessories
Why it’s awesome: The Hospital de Bonecas is one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. Tucked away along Praça da Figueira and well and truly away from the typical tourist trail, it’s a combination of a repair shop for dolls, shop, and whimsical museum. People have been taking their precious dolls here to be lovingly repaired since the 1830s. It all grew from an elderly lady who used to sit outside a herb shop sewing clothes for dolls, later branching out into repairs to pacify upset children.
What to do there: Peek inside the Hospital de Bonecas ( Doll Hospital ) and absorb the sense of history as you view dolls and antique toys from through the ages in the museum. You’ll see everything from plush stuffed animals and old toy cars to fine porcelain dolls and games from yesteryear. If you have a treasured doll yourself that needs fixing, this is a great place to visit! Pick up quaint miniature furnishings for dolls houses and a wide selection of gorgeous tiny outfits and accessories.
#10 – Take a Ride on the Santa Justa Lift
- Great Views
- Vintage Landmark
- Great way to visit two areas of the city
Why it’s awesome: The Santa Justa Lift is an elevator in Lisbon and is the fastest way and most exciting way to get from the Baixa neighbourhood to the Bairro Alto district, two places you should explore whilst you’re riding this vintage elevator! Opened on 10 July 1902, it was intended as a way for the people of the city to easily move between these districts in this hilly city. It was a huge hit and on the first day, over 3000 people used the lift! Today, it’s a landmark of the city!
What to do there: Taking the lift isn’t just like any old boring trip to your apartment! This one is all about the experience, you know what they say, enjoy the journey and not just the destination! Take a ride on this neo-gothic cast iron icon of the city designed as a tribute to Gustave Eiffel. Once you’re at the top, take time to enjoy the view over the city before exploring the beautiful Bairro Alto district.
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Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Lisbon
What are some unusual things to do in Lisbon?
I mean, a doll hospital is pretty weird. The Núcleo Arqueológico is an unusual place to visit too – it’s an archaeological museum constructed around ancient ruins found in the city.
What are some great places to visit in Lisbon for free?
The beach! Spend the day chilling at Carcavelos Beach. It’s the closest seaside location to the city and a great place to save a few pennies.
What are some awesome places to visit in Lisbon with family?
Head to the peaceful Jardim do Torel park. It’s away from the crowds and offers not only great views over the city but a super fun kids play area too.
What are some fun places to visit in Lisbon?
Alfama is my top recommendation. You can’t beat the historic centre of the city for a fun day taking in the main site of the city including the Gothic Elevador de Santa Justa.
So, there we have it! The best things to do in Lisbon! Prepare yourself for an epic time exploring all these and discovering even more.
Don’t forget to save some time to just follow your feet and let this beautiful city guide you. Be sure to stay in a good place to soak it all in too. Get off the beaten path and create your own destiny.
Take day trips from Lisbon to places like the pretty Praia da Figueirinha , the wine regions of Cheleiros and Bucelas . Sail through stunning Sintra , religiously significant Fatimá , the medieval gem of Óbidos , historic Tomar , and the stunning Arrábida National Park .
Check out Bairro Alto at night time, with its many excellent restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. I could go on forever.
There truly are many awesome places to visit in Lisbon! Go and find out for yourself.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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I recently applied for a Portugal Visa from UK. Although our plan was to visit tourist attractions across, your blog has nudged us to take stock of the current pandemic situation and visit only those places that are safe. Since we won’t be staying there for long your informative guide might just help us to experience Portugal in a short span of time. Apart from tourist attractions, I & my wife would love to try out local delicacies as we are hard-core foodies.
Along with these things one more place to visit is 140,000 square metres, Centro Cultural de Belém which is one of the most impressive buildings in Lisbon. Best place for the family with kids.
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20+ Amazing Places To Visit In Lisbon, Portugal
With magnificent castles, colorful red-roofed houses, and the gentle Tagus river, Lisbon has the charm of a city with thousands of years of history.
This comprehensive Lisbon travel guide introduces the best places to visit in Lisbon, Portugal, and tips for ticket prices, opening hours, and how to get to these attractions.
Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Miradouro de Santa Luzia is one of the most impressive viewpoints in Lisbon, Portugal.
This romantic terrace offers an outstanding view of Alfama and the sea. From here, you can see the bright red-roofed, tile paneled white houses, the Tagus River, and the dome of the Panteon Nacional.
You can also find a small market around the corner and a tunnel with a beautiful display of graffiti explaining the history.
How to get to Miradouro de Santa Luzia
It’s about 10 min walk from Praça do Comércio and en route to the iconic yellow Tram 28.
Elevador de Santa Justa
Elevador de Santa Justa, or Santa Justa Lift, is a unique elevator built in the 19th century. It’s located at the end of Rua de Santa Justa, connecting the Baixa neighborhood and the Largo do Carmo hilltop area.
The Santa Justa Lift has a height of 45 m and opened on July 10, 1902.
It was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake by the famous Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard and is an excellent example of anti-earthquake construction in Lisbon.
You can take the elevator, then follow the spiral staircase to the rooftop for a panoramic view of the Tagus River.
Elevador de Santa Justa admission fees and opening hours
- Ticket price : The round trip fee for the elevator is €5.15. The viewpoint costs € 1.50 (elevator not included).
- Opening hours : The elevator is open every day from 7 am – 11 pm (May to October) or 7 am – 10 pm in the winter (November to April).
How to get there
Since the elevator is also part of the Lisbon public transport system, you can get there for free using a day pass or Viva Viagem card.
- Address: R. do Ouro, 1150-060 Lisboa, Portugal
- Metro: Baixa / Chiado, blue and green lines.
Carmo convent ruins
About a 1-minute walk from Elevador de Santa Justa is the Carmo Convent Ruins, one of Lisbon’s most unique places to visit.
This hauntingly ruined medieval convent resulted from the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 1755, also known as the Great Lisbon earthquake.
This earthquake struck Lisbon at 8.5 – 9 magnitude, with its epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 290 km southwest of Lisbon. Then, 40mins later, a giant tsunami wave came to the harbor and downtown, sweeping away people, boats, and buildings.
Although a reconstruction program started within the years after the earthquake, people deliberately decided to leave the ruins to commemorate the loss and destruction.
What you notice these days are the uncovered arches standing bare against the sky.
Also, you shouldn’t miss the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo on your trip. Carmo Archaeological Museum displays a great collection from all periods of Portuguese history.
The center of the church has a series of tombs, fountains, windows, and other architectural relics from different places and styles.
Carmo ruins admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : Carmo convent is open from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm (to 7 pm from May to September). It’s closed on Sundays, January 1, May 1, and December 25.
- Entrance fee :
Address : Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa, Portugal
Museu do Fado
Museu do Fado is a must-see for music lovers.
We stumbled upon Fado Museum while wandering through the Alfama neighborhood, and it was a pleasant discovery.
The museum presents the heart and soul of Portugal’s peculiar brand of music, the Fado. With films, audiovisual presentations, and objects, it shows the cultural and social influence of Fado since its origins.
Here, you can also learn about the historical and technical development of the Portuguese guitar and “Fado houses.”
The exhibitions are excellent, and you should use the audio to listen to the different artists and the sound for the projected videos.
Museu do Fado admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : Fado museum is from Tuesday to Sunday (10 am to 6 pm) with the last admission at 5.30 pm. It’s closed on Mondays, 1st of January, 1st of May, 24th, 25th, and 31st of December.
- Address: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, 1 Alfama
- Buses 728, 735, 759, 794
- Metro: Estação de Santa Apolónia
- Train: Santa Apolónia Train Station
Oceanário de Lisboa
Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the best oceanariums we’ve visited.
The aquariums are arranged according to four main habitats: Antarctic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and North Atlantic. In each habitat, you can hear different recorded sounds in each part of the world.
The main highlight of Lisbon Oceanarium is the massive central tank system that holds a substantial 5 million liters of seawater. It has an area of up to 1,000 m² divided by transparent glass panels.
Some marine species you can find here are sea urchins, corals, groupers, moonfish, barracudas, sharks, otters, octopuses, and penguins. There is a separate area for amphibians.
There are clear descriptions in two languages: Portuguese and English.
Oceanário de Lisboa admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours: Lisbon Oceanarium opens from 10 am to 8 pm. The last entry is 7 pm.
- Ticket prices:
* 2 adults + 2 children up to 12 years old, extra child 6€; ticket available at the ticket office.
Igreja de São Roque
The earliest Jesuit church in Portugal, the Igreja de São Roque, was built in the 16th century. At the time of its construction, it was the most expensive chapel in the world.
Although this church may not look too big and prominent outside, the interior dazzles with its baroque richness and intricate decorations.
Interestingly, this church is one of the buildings that survived the tragic 1755 earthquake in Lisbon.
Next to the church is the Museu de Sao Roque, where you can see the collections of religions and beliefs.
Address : Largo Trindade Coelho, 1200-470 Lisboa, Portugal.
Igreja de São Roque admission fees and opening hours
- Ticket price : Admission to the church is free. However, if you want to visit Museu de Sao Roque, you must buy a ticket for €2.5/person.
- Opening hours : It opens from 10 am to 6 pm and closed on Monday. The Church of Saint Roch is one of the oldest and most important religious churches in Lisbon.
Castelo de São Jorge
Castelo de São Jorge is one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon, and with good reason.
The castle was built in the middle of the 11 th century, which means it’s one of the best places to learn about the history of Lisbon.
On top of that, Castelo de São Jorge has some of the best viewpoints over Lisbon because it sits on a hilltop. And as if Lisbon’s castle wasn’t great enough already, it’s also home to many beautiful peacocks.
Castelo de São Jorge is such a special place that it has been recognized as a national monument of Portugal since 1910. It’s one of the must-visit attractions on a trip to Lisbon.
It’s best to visit the castle in the morning before the big crowds arrive.
Castelo de São Jorge admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : São Jorge castle is open every day from 9 am to 9 pm (March – October), and 9 am to 6 pm (November to February).
- Ticket price : The ticket costs €10. However, you can get a discount if you’re a student or above 65 years old.
Castelo de São Jorge is located in one of Lisbon’s most beautiful neighborhoods, Alfama. There are so many great things to see in Alfama, which is why walking to the castle is recommended.
However, you can also hop on bus #737 towards “Castelo” or go on the historic tram #28 if you don’t want to walk up the hill.
- Address: R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal. At the top of São Jorge Hill.
- Tram: Miradouro Santa Luzia, line 28.
- Bus: Castelo, line 737.
Praça do Comércio
One of the most famous plazas in Lisbon, Praça do Comércio is a large, open square bordering the harbor on the south and opening to Augusta Street on the North.
The majestic Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta) serves as a gateway from the famous square to central Lisbon.
The plaza, known as the Square of Commerce in English, is not only a popular attraction for tourists, it’s also a National Monument of Portugal.
It served as the heart of commerce and Portugal’s economy in the 18th century. Merchants and sailors would come and go from this harbor, trading their goods from abroad.
In the center of the square, a bronze statue of King Jose I riding a horse and cruising snakes in his path towers over onlookers and passersby.
Praça do Comércio is always bustling with activity. It hosts numerous events and celebrations throughout the year and is always filled with tourists sightseeing, dining, and shopping, as well as locals passing through to catch a tram or bus.
The plaza is also home to the oldest cafe in Lisbon, Martinho da Arcada, established in 1782.
If you visit Lisbon with kids , stop inside Lisboa Story Centre on the southeast corner of Praça do Comércio.
This interactive museum is dedicated to the history of Lisbon and presents the story and the events that have shaped the city in a playful and fun way.
- Metro: Terreiro do Paço, blue line; Baixa / Chiado, Green and blue lines.
Time Out Market Lisbon
In one of the most vivid neighborhoods of Lisbon, Cais do Sodré, right across the ferry terminal and metro station, you will find the Time Out Market.
It is located in the original, historic Mercado da Ribeira, built in the 1890s.
Time Out Market is not your typical food hall. Planned by the famous Time Out Group, an innovative media group that creates city guides, you will find the city’s best food experiences, combined with special performances and unique retailers.
Bring your appetite or plan on visiting this food hall more than once. We had a really tough time deciding which of the more than 50 stalls to eat and drink from when we first entered the massive hall.
You will find a great introduction to traditional Portuguese cuisine and delicious global foods. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try the Pastel de Nata, little custard tarts, which Lisbon is famous for.
Even though some of the foods are created by famous Michelin chefs, you don’t have to spend a fortune on this culinary experience. Plan around $25 for a drink, full meal, and dessert.
Best time to visit
For your best chances to snag a seat in the middle of the food hall, we recommend visiting when the doors open at 10 am, since it is usually very packed during the day.
If you don’t mind walking a little, it is also a great idea to grab some snacks and a drink and make your way to the waterfront to enjoy a little picnic outside.
Since 2014 the Time Out Market in Lisbon has attracted food lovers from all over the world. That is why the media group decided to expand to cities like Montreal and New York City . Even more Time Out Market openings are planned for the future.
One of Lisbon’s most famous attractions is the National Pantheon, also known as the Church of Santa Engrácia.
This national monument built in the 17th century was initially meant to be a church and later converted into a Pantheon. It is a stunning monument that is well worth a visit.
The Pantheon is located in the Alfama neighborhood, one of the best places to stay in Lisbon , on a privileged spot, as it overlooks the city of Lisbon and the River Tagus.
In the Pantheon, you can visit the tombs of Portugal’s most famous personalities like Luis de Camões (famous poet), Vasco da Gama, and Henry the Navigator, the fado singer Amália Rodrigues, and the football player Eusébio.
Fun fact about the Pantheon
The original church started being built in 1663 and was only finished in the 20th century, 350 years later. There is even an expression in Portuguese, “Como as obras de Santa Engrácia,” which means “like the construction of Santa Engrácia,” which refers to when something is never completed.
Next to the Pantheon, there is a flea market where you can find cool souvenirs and antiques every Tuesday and Saturday.
National Pantheon admission fees and opening hours
- Ticket price : The entrance fee is €4.
- Opening hours : It is closed on Mondays and is open from 9 am to 6 pm (from April to September).
The UNESCO recognized Jeronimos Monastery is truly a wonderful place to visit in Lisbon. This landmark is called Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese.
The monastery was built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s successful expedition to India, so perhaps this modern Gothic-Renaissance style resembles the Taj Mahal in India.
Visiting the monastery, remember to visit the grave of Vasco da Gama located at the entrance.
Jeronimos Monastery admission fees and opening hours
There are two main parts of Jerominos: the monasteries (must buy a ticket €10 but it is worth it, the tour time is also quite long) and the main church. This part of the church is free to enter.
The ticket price per adult is €10. If you add in Belém Tower, it’ll be € 12 or € 16 for the combination of Belém Tower and The National Archaeological Museum.
- The Monastery of Jeronimos is open from 10 am to 6:30 pm (May – September), or 10 am to 5:30 pm (October – April).
- It’s closed on Mondays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December.
- Address: Praça do Império, 1400, Belém.
- Tram: line 15.
- Bus: Mosteiro Jerónimos , lines 727, 28, 729, 714 and 751.
- Train: Belem , Cascáis Line.
- Boat: Belem Ferry Terminal
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia
The National Archaeology Museum exhibits the most impressive archaeological collection in Portugal. This museum is adjacent to the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belem district, so we recommend visiting it if you have time.
We love the Egyptian and Islamic halls in this museum.
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : The National Archaeology Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday (10 am to 6 pm). It’s closed on Mondays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, and 25 December.
- Ticket prices : The entrance ticket is €5.
- Bus: Mosteiro Jerónimos , lines 27, 28, 29, 43, 49, 51 and 112.
Another must-see place in Lisbon is the Belem Tower. This 15th-century tower fortress was used to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s port. Now, it’s a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Belem Tower is located at the mouth of the Tagus River, about 6km from the city center. Because of its popularity, you can see a long line of visitors here.
Buy a ticket and climb about 200 steps. You will reach the top and have a beautiful view of the Tagus River.
Belem Tower admission fees and opening hours
- Ticket prices : The entrance ticket is €6.
- Opening hours : Belem Tower is open from 10 am to 6:30 pm (May – September), or 10 am to 5:30 pm (October – April). It’s closed on Mondays.
- Address: Belém Coast, 6 kilometers west of Lisbon.
- Bus: lines 27, 28, 29, 43, 49, 51 and 112.
- Train: Belem, Cascáis Line.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
After seeing the Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower, we visited the Museu Nacional dos Coches.
The National Coach Museum displays extensive and beautiful collections of horse-drawn carriages, coaches, and early motorized cars, dating back to the 17th century.
The earliest was 1619, and the fanciest ones were from the 1700s, but there were also some from the 1800s and 1900s. Each carriage is richly decorated, showing the status of its owners.
There are many interesting coaches, such as The Mail Coach, The Ocean Coach, and The Processional Coach. You can also see the coach where the last king of Portugal’s father and brother were assassinated in 1910.
Museu Nacional dos Coches admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : The National Coach Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday (10 am to 6 pm). It’s closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, Easter Sunday, June 13th, 24th, and 25th December.
- Ticket prices :
- Address: Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, 1300. Belém.
- Bus: lines 14, 27, 28, 29, 43, 49 and 51.
The Monument of the Discoveries
The Monument of the Discoveries, or Padrão dos Descobrimentos as it’s known in Portuguese, is one of the most spectacular landmarks in Lisbon.
This dazzling white monument, sitting on the banks of the Tagus river in Belem, celebrates Portuguese sailors’ exploration of the world.
Boats would depart from here to distant places in the Portuguese world such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Goa, Macau, and Timor.
This monument is as much a celebration of the powerful maritime culture of Portugal as it is of foreign cultures arriving back in Europe.
The beautiful, 52-meter tall monument is adorned with 33 figures of Portuguese sailors and explorers, such as Magellan, Vasco do Gama, and Bartolomeu Dias, amongst others, peering out over the blue waters of the Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
For an incredible view over Belem, you should ride the fast elevator to the top of the roof. From here, you’ll have a sweeping view across the river, the Belem Tower, and the Jeronimos Monastery.
The massive compass and map that you’ll see from the top was a gift from the South African government to Portugal. After coming down, check out the map and trace the wonderful discoveries of the Portuguese explorers.
Visiting Belem and its incredible monument is a must-do on any Lisbon itinerary .
Monument of the Discoveries admission fees and opening hours
It’s free to look at the monument from outside, but it costs €6 to go up to the observation deck. Lisbon Cardholders get a 30% discount.
- October – February: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. Mondays are closed.
- March – September: Every day from 10 am to 7 pm.
- The last admission is 30minutes before closing time.
- Closed: 1 January, 1 May, 25 December
- Address: Belém Coast, very close to Belem Tower.
- Bus: 28, 714, 728, 729 and 751.
- Train: Belem, Cascáis Line.
MAAT, also called the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, is the latest addition to Lisbon’s rich museum collection and a new popular spot located at the city’s riverfront.
The museum is a 21st-century iconic symbol with its futuristic design.
MAAT is dedicated to art, architecture, and technology. The museum’s design connects deeply with the river without losing sight of the city.
Designed by British architect Amanda Levete, MAAT is a work of art, standing amongst the many historic buildings and monuments in Belém, including Monument of the Discoveries, Tower of Belém, and Jerónimos Monastery, with a great view of the Tagus River and the city on its back.
For a day in Belém , have a stroll by the river, taste an authentic Portuguese tart at the Pastéis de Belém, and appreciate its sleek curves on the outside.
Then, enter the museum to visit international exhibitions featuring contemporary artists, architects, and more.
The museum is part of a bigger campus, including the old Tagus Power Station and a landscape project by Lebanese architect Vladimir Djurovic.
How to get to MAAT
It is easy to take a tram from the city to Belém, and both the MAAT and the Tagus Power Station offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month.
MAAT admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : 11 am to 7 pm.
Pena Palace and Park
Don’t forget to take a day trip to visit the colorful, whimsical, and fairytale Pena Palace and Park .
Pena Palace and Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Its uniqueness and fusion consist of different architectural styles, from Neo-Gothic to New-Manueline to New-Islamic to Neo-Renaissance.
Pena Palace sits high in the Sintra hills, surrounded by Pena Park. The park consists of a forest and lush exotic gardens with 500 different species of trees originating from around the globe.
How to get to Pena Palace
Pena Palace is located just outside of Lisbon in the historic town of Sintra. Take the train, the Sintra Line, and you’ll arrive at the town’s center in less than 45 minutes.
Next, hop on the tourist bus 434, taking you up the steep hairpin that turns up the mountain to Pena Palace and Park.
Pena Palace admission fees
There are two different entrance fees – a “Palace and Park Ticket” and a “Park Ticket.”
- The Palace and Park ticket allow full entry to the Palace – exterior and interior and the Park.
- On the other hand, the Park ticket provides entrance to the Palace exterior only and the Park.
Pena Palace and park opening hours
- Park: 9 am to 7 pm
- Palace: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
Best time to visit Pena Palace
This place is one of the most visited attractions in all of Portugal.
Therefore, the best time to visit Pena Palace and Park is in the morning or at the end of the day. Otherwise, it will be difficult to appreciate this majestic place as there are far too many people.
Quinta da Regaleira
After Pena Palace, we visited the quaint Quinta da Regaleira and explored its enchanting beauty.
There are many things to see and do here. Stroll through vast tunnels and descend a spiral staircase to reach the mysterious underground tower known as the Initiation Well.
There are also numerous pits and underground passages, impressive statues, shortcuts hidden among paths, mysterious homes, and underground corridors carved into the rock.
Quinta da Regaleira admission fees and opening hours
- Opening hours : The Quinta da Regaleira is open between 9:30 am – 8 pm (summer season) and 10 am – 6:30 pm (winter season), with the last admission 1 hour before closing.
Castelo dos Mouros
The Castelo dos Mouros is a fascinating and must-visit on any Portugal road trip . Much less popular than the pretty (but busy) Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros is an excellent alternative if the queues at the Palacio are too long for your liking.
This ancient castle dated back to the 8 th century and was built by the Moors (hence the name).
Perched on a 450-meter hill, this well-restored castle can be reached by hiking a lovely (though challenging) trail through the forest. This will take less than an hour if you are reasonably fit.
We had no issues getting to the top. Bring a bottle of water and wear proper footwear. You don’t need heavy-duty hiking boots, but flip-flops aren’t suitable either.
One of the highlights of the Castelo dos Mouros is the breathtaking views. You’ll be able to see the colorful Palácio da Pena as well as the beautiful coastline.
It’s also a lot of fun walking around the walls, though please mind your step as steps can be uneven.
Castelo dos Mouros admission fees and opening hours
- Ticket price : Once you reach Castelo, you’ll need to purchase tickets. A ticket costs €8.00 for adults and €6.50 for kids.
- Opening hours : The castle is open between 9:30 am – 8 pm(summer season), or 10 am – 6 pm (winter season).
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Ha is an avid traveler and writer with a background in marketing & hospitality. She's lived in a few countries and traveled to more than 30. When she's not traveling or writing, Ha loves trying new recipes.
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I would love to visit Portugal and Lisbon is definitely on my list. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and travel tips!
Okay. You made me feel like visiting Lisbon right away. That’s a beautifully detailed guide. I love the way you have put the prices in the table format.
I would love to travel to Lisbon at some point! The city looks amazing and there are so many fantastic things to see and do here which is ideal!
This is so perfect. I’m literally about to board a plane to Lisbon right now! Saving this.
Pena Palace and Park look so stunning! I didn’t get a chance to do this when I was in Lisbon, so I need to go back for sure! <3
Wow, such lovely places. I would love to visit these soon. Thanks for sharing!
I would love to visit Portugal someday. Museu do Fado reminds me of the Czech Museum of Music in Prague. I too love discovering places while exploring a city.
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The 11 best places to visit in Portugal
May 11, 2023 • 7 min read
From the viewpoints of Lisbon to the beaches of the Algarve, here are the best places to go in Portugal © Gabriel Mello / Getty Images
Lisbon and Porto get all the love, but there's so much more to Portugal than its captivating historic cities.
From golden beaches and mountainous peaks to lush river valleys, every region has its own diverse highlights across this small Iberian nation.
Finding the best places to go here depends largely on your own interests. If you’re after sun-kissed beaches and aquatic adventures, head to the Algarve ; for historic architecture-filled towns with a rich, traditional dining scene , aim for Évora. These are the 11 best places to visit in Portugal.
Best for nightlife
Seven iconic hills overlook Lisbon 's postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, white-domed cathedrals and grand civic squares – a captivating scene crafted over centuries. The Portuguese capital is packed with things to do , from browsing galleries (including the Museu Nacional do Azulejo with its trove of ceramic tiles) and exploring castles (such as the hilltop Castelo de São Jorge ) to satisfying your sweet tooth with the city's incredible pastel de nata (custard tart). By night, Lisbon’s party people take over, filling old-school drinking dens, brassy jazz clubs and open-all-night clubs that burst into life once the sun goes down.
Planning tip: Lisbon has an emerging craft beer scene that you can experience at the city's breweries and bars .
2. Douro Valley
Best place to drink wine
One of Portugal’s most beautiful areas lies just east of Porto. Here, the meandering Rio Douro flows past towering hillsides covered by the steeply terraced vineyards that make up Europe’s oldest demarcated wine region. Whether you come by boat, train or car to the Douro Valley , you’ll be rewarded with astonishing views at every turn, especially as you near the lovely village of Pinhão in the heart of the region.
Planning tip: Many travelers dash in on a quick day trip, but to make the most of the region, spend the night at one of the vineyard-surrounded guesthouses in the area, such as Quinta Nova or the Casa Cimeira .
Best for a fantastical escape
Less than an hour by train from the capital Lisbon, Sintra feels like another world. It's a great day trip away from the city hubbub. Like a setting from a fairy tale, this historic hillside township is sprinkled with stone-walled taverns and lorded over by a multicolored palace .
Forested hillsides form the backdrop to this storybook setting, with imposing castles, mystical gardens, strange mansions and centuries-old monasteries hidden among the trees. The fog that sweeps in by night adds another layer of mystery.
Planning tip: Chilly evenings are best spent by the fire in one of Sintra’s many charming B&Bs.
Best hilltop village
Wandering the tangle of ancient streets in the historic town of Óbidos is enchanting at any time of year, but come during one of its festivals, and you’ll be in for a special treat. Whether you fancy the idea of a mock-up jousting match at a medieval fair or delving into the written word at Folio – Portugal's biggest international literature festival – you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop.
5. Setúbal Peninsula
Best for wild, cliff-backed beaches
South of Lisbon, the Setúbal Peninsula has long been the weekend playground of Lisboetas (Lisbon residents). A ferry ride, followed by a short bus or bicycle ride, takes you to the Costa da Caparica, a seemingly endless beachfront that gets wilder and less crowded the further south you go. If you want a surf lesson, some downtime on the sands or a meal overlooking the lapping waves, this is the place to come.
If you’re seeking a bit more solitude, head down to the Parque Natural da Arrábida at the southern end of the peninsula. Here, you'll find cliffs covered with thick vegetation, picturesque coves and beaches such as Praia do Portinho da Arrábida, with fine sand, azure waters and the ruins of an ancient site that dates back to Roman times.
Best for urban exploring
It would be hard to dream up a more romantic city than Porto . Portugal’s second-largest urban center is laced with narrow pedestrian lanes, baroque churches and cafe-dotted plazas, leading the eye down to the Douro River and its landmark bridges. Needless to say, there's no shortage of great experiences here . Start in the Ribeira district – a Unesco World Heritage Site – then cross the bridge to explore centuries-old port wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia , where you can sip the world’s best port.
You can also learn about Porto’s history (both the drink and the city) and other facets of Portuguese identity at the World of Wine , a sprawling complex of museums, restaurants and bars overlooking the city. Though Porto is defined by its air of dignified history, modern architecture, cosmopolitan dining, vibrant nightlife and artistic activity are injecting new life into the city.
7. The Minho
Best for traditional villages and wilderness trails
The Portuguese have a special fondness for the Minho , a verdant region of vineyard-covered valleys, mountainous wilds, isolated beaches and picturesque river towns that seem little changed by time. The gateway to the region is Braga , a city with Roman ruins, a fabled medieval cathedral and tranquil flower-trimmed plazas sprinkled with outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Further north, you’ll find Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês , a vast, rugged wilderness of dramatic peaks, meandering streams and frozen-in-time stone villages. Dozens of hiking trails crisscross the reserve, taking walkers past old Roman roads, castle ruins or sparkling waterfalls.
Planning tip: If you're here in summer, cool down in the idyllic swimming holes – these are one of the best places to be in Portugal during the hot weather.
Best for historical architecture
The heart of the Alentejo region, Évora is one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns, and it's an enchanting place to spend a couple of days. Inside the 14th-century walls, narrow, winding lanes lead to striking monuments, including an elaborate medieval cathedral, Roman ruins and a picturesque town square. But this isn't a musty museum piece – Évora is also a lively university town, and its many restaurants serve up some excellent, hearty Alentejan cuisine.
Best for a student vibe
Portugal’s most atmospheric college town, Coimbra , rises steeply from the Rio Mondego, and its handsome medieval quarter houses one of Europe’s oldest universities. Students roam the narrow streets clad in black capes, while the sound of fado (Portugal’s soulful traditional style of music) drifts through the Moorish town gates towards the stained-glass windows of the historic Café Santa Cruz .
Planning tip: Grown-ups may well appreciate the town’s student-driven nightlife and the medieval lanes of the steeply stacked historic center. Visitors with younger kids can keep busy at Portugal dos Pequenitos , a theme park with miniature versions of Portuguese monuments.
10. The Algarve
Best for a relaxing family holiday
Sunseekers have much to celebrate in Portugal. Along the south coast, the Algarve is famed for its gorgeous and varied coastline, and you can join the crowds on the people-packed sands at major resorts or find seaside peace on dramatic wild beaches backed by wind-carved cliffs. Days are spent playing in the waves, taking long oceanfront strolls, or surfing some of Europe's most memorable breaks.
The Algarve is also one of the best places in Portugal for kids. You’ll find family-friendly beaches, water parks and plenty of outdoor adventures (from boating to hidden sea caves to exploring undeveloped islands).
Planning tip: There’s never a bad time to visit this region, with its 300 days of sunshine each year, though you’ll find the best prices and thinnest crowds in winter.
11. Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela
Best for hiking and alpine activities in winter
The Serra da Estrela – Portugal’s highest mountain range – is the place to come for rugged scenery, outdoor adventures, and glimpses of a vanishing traditional way of life. Hikers can choose from an expansive network of high-country trails with stupendous vistas, and the region's fascinating mountain villages make perfect bases for outdoor adventures.
At the country’s highest point – the summit of Torre, artificially pushed to 2000m (6561ft) by the addition of a not-so-subtle stone monument – you can slalom down Portugal’s only ski slope. Oh, and did we mention the furry sheepdog puppies that frolic by the roadside? You’ll long to take one home.
This article was first published June 2021 and updated May 2023
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Where To Stay in Lisbon: A Complete Guide For Your First Visit
Written By: ThePlanetD Team
Published On: October 31, 2023
For hilly streets and coastal views, a stay in Lisbon is precisely what the doctor ordered. We spent 3 days in this incredible city and got to explore a lot of its best areas and neighborhoods. Lisbon is the Portuguese capital and has long been loved as a city getaway in Europe, but it is not only for Europeans. We loved it too! The city is full of pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets and has an amazing location for day trips . In short, Lisbon is a superstar when it comes to European getaways, and if you are visiting Lisbon, be prepared for beautiful views and tons of culture.
And naturally, this means it is just a fact that the city has tons of beautiful neighborhoods. So, which of the Lisbon neighborhoods should you choose? When wondering where to stay in Lisbon, there are plenty of options. After spending time in the city you can see that it may be a little confusing for the first-time visitor. Fear not, that is what we are here for. We will let you know if it is best to base yourself along the Avenida da Liberdade, or if is it better to be more centrally located in the Baixa district. Picking the best Lisbon neighborhood is an exciting choice and we are going to give you our first-hand experience so you can have an easier time in this beautiful city.
Table of Contents
Where to Stay in Lisbon: Our Complete Guide on the Best Places To Stay
This guide will cover where to stay in Lisbon, including the best neighborhoods for the main tourist attractions and different atmospheres. It is easy to see why Lisbon is such a famous city in Portugal ; just look at its sense of personality, strong culture, and beautiful waterfront location. Whether you want tours, nightlife, or attractions, Lisbon has many neighborhoods to match your ideal holiday. Here’s our introduction to where you should stay in Lisbon.
Baixa is where it is at if you are looking for the tourist scene in Lisbon. The compact neighborhood in central Lisbon is the city’s hub – with all things tourist attractions dotting its narrow streets and pedestrianized shopping areas. Think souvenir shops and delicious but pricey restaurants, and you’ve got a great idea of what an afternoon in Baixa is like. This Lisbon neighborhood is what comes to mind initially when asked where to stay in Lisbon. It is the Lisbon city center, full of things to do and see. And everyone has got the memo to pay a visit to the Baixa neighborhood.
So, what exactly is there to do and see in these busy streets? Well, there’s plenty of neoclassical architecture to admire. Unfortunately, an earthquake in 1755 ruined the original architecture, so most of Baixa’s architecture was built after that. Therefore, if you want historic sites, it is not necessarily one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon. However, Baixa does have lots of culture.
You can visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Praca de Comercio, and – of course – there’s the Elevador de Santa Justa, a glass elevator that whisks users up a steep inner-city hill with gorgeous views of Lisbon’s skyline. What’s not to love? There’s Cais do Sodre, which you can walk to along the waterfront. Cais do Sodre is the former red light district and has some of the city’s most seedy history to uncover. There’s also Baixa Chiado metro station, which you can use to take day trips or venture out to less central attractions.
As you can see, Baixa is a great place to stay in Lisbon if you want to be in the thick of it. When visiting Lisbon, you want to embrace its city center and culture. Baixa is a central neighborhood with many tourist attractions to fill an itinerary. The only thing to note is that Baixa does get busy. Naturally, as the city’s tourist hub, it not only attracts people during the day but also those wanting hotels in a central area. This means that in peak seasons, Baixa gets busy both during the day and at night.
We recommend choosing Baixa as your place to stay in Lisbon only if you are visiting in the shoulder or off seasons. Otherwise, the crowds can get a bit much. Similarly, if you only visit for a day or two, this neighborhood is more feasible than a digital nomad looking to stay in Lisbon for a month or two. Baixa is ideal for those who want to have all the action at their fingertips and be within walking distance of all the activities and sightseeing opportunities. The neighborhood is full of restaurants, shops, and attractions. So, if that sounds like a bit of you, look at our pros and cons list and our rundown of Baixa’s highlights and best hotels for each budget level.
Pros of Baixa
- Great attractions
- Exciting and action-packed
Cons of Baixa
- Busy and crowded
- More expensive
- Less chance to get authentic experiences in Portugal
Highlights of Baixa
- Pink Street
The famous pink street is called the Rua Nova do Carvalho. It is – quite literally – a bright pink-painted lane that runs through the Cais do Sodre neighborhood, which is an easy walk away from Baixa. Cais do Sodre is the city’s old red light district, and it still retains some light-hearted hedonism with its party culture. You can jump between the different clubs and bars and attend the concerts that regularly run. Pink Street is where to head to have fun when staying in Lisbon, and also one of the highlights of staying in neighboring Baixa.
- Elevador de Santa Justa
Elevador de Santa Justa is a famed glass elevator that sits in Baixa and gives users a lift from the ground level to the top of one of the area’s most giant hills. It was first constructed in 1902 to connect the ground level with Carmo Square and has been used as a functional landmark for decades. However, it is also a renowned tourist attraction, as people take an elevator ride to appreciate Lisbon’s panoramic views.
- National Museum of Contemporary Art
This is easily one of Baixa’s highlights. The National Museum of Contemporary Art is a great art museum with a fantastic collection and reasonably priced entry tickets. An afternoon or early evening at the museum is a cultured and relaxing activity for your Lisbon itinerary. And the museum is centered right in the middle of Baixa – easy to add to even the busiest itineraries when staying in this neighborhood.
- Money Museum
This slightly more unusual museum is another highlight of this area. The museum covers everything from coin-making to banknote printing and is set in a beautiful baroque-era church. Visiting the Money Museum is easily one of the most interesting things to do in Lisbon, and it is just proof of how versatile the museum scene is in Baixa.
Budget: Living Lounge Hostel
The Living Lounge Hostel is one of the best hotels in Lisbon if you are on a tight budget. Regarding cheap hotels in Lisbon, hostels are often the best choices. This hostel has private rooms, as well as mixed dormitories. The communal kitchen is great for saving money and cooking at home, and you can book breakfast included options.
Mid-range: Lisbon Art Stay Aparthotel
Lisbon Art Stay Aparthotel is one of the leading mid-range boutique hotels in Lisbon. The quirky 4-star property is a beautiful place to stay right in the middle of Baixa, and you can book certain rooms with Juliet balconies or a penthouse. You can book everything from rooms to studios and apartments. The vibe is arty and funky – brilliant for an aesthetic base in central Lisbon.
Luxury: Hotel do Chiado
Hotel do Chiado is a fantastic luxury hotel to choose from in Baixa. The property overlooks the Tagus River and offers a private terrace with city views. There are even massage and babysitting services on-site. And you can splurge on suites with separate living spaces or upgraded rooms with private terraces overlooking the river.
Alfama is Lisbon’s old town – so think winding cobblestone streets and ancient Moorish architecture that miraculously survived the 1755 destruction. If you want a historic aesthetic and who doesn’t want to stay in Lisbon’s historic center, then Alfama is ideal. This Lisbon neighborhood has impressive buildings everywhere, including the cathedral and Castelo de São Jorge. Not everyone wants a relaxing vacation by the pool.
When it comes to exploring Lisbon, the winding streets of Alfama are the prime location for uncovering more about the city’s history. Its well-preserved architecture and leading tourist attractions like the castle and cathedral make it highly sought-after for anyone interested in history. The whole neighborhood is like a giant maze, with traditional houses and historic sites all over Alfama. Leave plenty of time to ‘get lost’ and plan to dine al fresco at one or two cafes.
In terms of attractions, Castelo de São Jorge is the leading tourist attraction in Alfama. The castle is stunning and so intact that you can still walk its battlements- enjoying beautiful views over Lisbon. Lots has been invested to keep the castle in its shape, and a major restoration was completed in the 1940s to ensure that the castle was still safe to welcome tourists. It was initially built back in 200 BC, so it’s safe to say it has been on quite the ride.
Alfama is also famous for its number 28 tram – that bright yellow tram that chugs its way up steep, narrow streets. You can jump on for a novelty ride or snap pictures from the pavement. Finally, Lisbon Cathedral is worth a visit, especially to learn about all its different architectural revivals after many natural disasters.
Alfama was once the unreputable area of Lisbon, famed for crime-ridden streets and poverty. Now, it is where those wanting a deeper cultural and historical immersion in Lisbon head. The neighborhood has been gentrified and indeed recognized and invested in as a place of rare historical and cultural importance. This more recently established respect really shines through when visiting Lisbon. Alfama is located just east of the busy city center of Baixa, although still situated alongside the waterfront. It is full of character and tradition, and all in all, just a wonderful place to stay in Lisbon.
Alfama naturally gets busy in peak seasons, but you can still visit in peak season if you visit significant attractions in quiet periods. Just time your sightseeing, right, and you should be fine. Shoulder seasons also reign supreme and are a brilliant time to visit Alfama as you just avoid tourist crowds and enjoy it more serenely.
Pros of Alfama
- Full of tourist attractions
- Authentic Portuguese culture
Cons of Alfama
- Still quite busy in peak seasons
- Can be expensive
- Not as upmarket
Highlights of Alfama
- Castelo de São Jorge
The castle is a huge highlight when it comes to going to Lisbon, and specifically Alfama. The castle dates back to the 11th century. It has beautiful Moorish architecture, palace ruins, an archaeological museum, and castle walls where you can walk and admire stunning Lisbon views. It should definitely be on your list when visiting Alfama.
- Fado Museum
The Fado Museum is entirely dedicated to the preservation of and education around the music genre. You can learn about fado songs and the most famous artists, including Celeste Rodrigues. You’ll probably hear fado music while dining at local restaurants and visiting more traditional bars, so it is nice to know its history. The museum itself is set in an old industrial building and is scenic in its own right. And the entrance fee is a humble price of around 5 euros.
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia
This beautiful observation deck is a stunning place to admire the view of Lisbon. You can also catch a traditional yellow tram to get there, which adds to the experience. And when you do get to the actual deck – which is set out like a terrace with columns and beautiful blue and white tiles, you can see as far as the Tagus River. For a scenic view, Miradouro de Santa Luzia is one of the top places to visit in Lisbon, and it definitely warrants it as a highlight in Alfama.
- Museu de Lisboa – Teatro Romana
The Roman Theater Museum of Lisbon is a massive highlight of Alfama. The ruins date back to the ancient city of Olisipo and are a precious archaeological site. Visitors can get up close to the excavation, observing original columns and findings. You can also visit the adjoining, more formal museum space, which houses all the artifacts.
Budget: Hostel do Castelo
Hotel do Castelo is one of the best hotels if you are looking for cheap hotels within walking distance of central Alfama. The property has a mix of private and dormitory rooms and access to shared bathrooms. You also get a daily continental breakfast, although only some rooms have free WiFi, so you may wish to invest in a SIM card.
Mid-range: Hotel Convento do Salvador
Hotel Convento do Salvador is a trendy mid-range property set in an old convent – talk about novelty. At reasonable nightly rates, this chic property is a fantastic choice for accommodation in Alfama, and it has a really artistic aesthetic, with local artwork adorning the hotel walls. You can grab a drink at the on-site bar, which extends into a private courtyard. And certain rooms come with river views.
Santiago de Alfama
Santiago de Alfama is one of the best hotels in Lisbon, and this five-star property is set in a restored 15th-century palace. What more could you want from a luxury hotel stay? The rooms are outstanding, with dramatic features, including vaulted stucco ceilings and free-standing baths. And what better way to recover from sightseeing than with a few hours in the hotel’s spa? Santiago de Alfama is the best choice for luxury accommodation in the neighborhood.
3. Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is where to stay in Lisbon if you love to party. This is undoubtedly the best neighborhood if you want a ‘Downtown Lisbon’ experience, and you can enjoy a central location for sightseeing yet also all the draws of a nightlife hub after sundown. The nightlife scene at Bairro Alto is fantastic, with hip bars and thriving nightclubs lining its narrow roads. Despite being located just north of Baixa, it has a different vibe. You’ll find much cheaper takeout restaurants and budget-friendly dining options. While you still get beautiful architecture and historic sites, this neighborhood is just cooler. It has a reputation as the party district of Lisbon.
You won’t be stuck for choice when debating things to do in Bairro Alto. You can check out the traditional funiculars, yellow tram-like vehicles operating up some of the area’s steepest hills. You can also take food tours and pub crawls. And furthermore, there’s architecture to be admired at places like Sao Roque Church. It is impossible not to love. Bairro Alto has something going on at every hour and is an entertaining choice for places to stay in Lisbon. Lisbon residents and tourists alike are drawn to Bairro Alto.
What we love most about this neighborhood is its split personality. You can enjoy art galleries and traditional sightseeing by day or just walk into Baixa. However, you can enjoy a full dusk until dawn nightlife experience at night. At Bairro Alto, everybody and their mother has come for a night out. You’ll meet a wide variety of people, which makes it a popular choice amongst backpackers and singles. This balance caught our eye and quickly earned Bairro Alto a place in this guide as one of the best neighborhoods in Lisbon. If you want that electric atmosphere, definitely consider Bairro Alto. It embodies Lisbon’s sense of ‘fun’. It is an incredible place for partying, letting your hair down at night, and sightseeing by day. Its central location and strong personality are hard to beat.
Bairro Alto is always busy, but you may notice that accommodation books out quicker in peak seasons. For this reason, book in advance if you want to stay in Bairro Alto. You shouldn’t let seasons but you off otherwise – chances are, if Bairro Alto is up your street, you are an extrovert who likes the crowds anyway. And if you are a solo traveler, get ready to make many new friends, especially if you stay in a hostel or book a pub crawl.
Pros of Bairro Alto
- Incredible nightlife
- Great for socializing
- Very central location
Cons of Bairro Alto
- Gets very busy
- Not very family-friendly at night
- Accommodation can book out quickly
Highlights of Barrio Alto
It goes without saying that the nightlife is a highlight of Bairro Alto. The neighborhood is alive with partying and socializing; the best way to experience this is through a pub crawl. You can book pub crawls quickly online, and all the hip bars and clubs along Bairro Alto’s narrow roads make this option one of the most exciting.
- Igreja de Sao Roque
The Church of Saint Roch falls into Bairro Alto’s ‘daylight sightseeing’ category. This stunning Catholic church is free to enter and is a beautiful example of architecture in Lisbon. The church dates back to the 16th century and is one of the earliest Jesuit churches. You can admire Igreja de Sao Roque from the outside. Still, we recommend allowing time to enter and admire the internal furnishings and elaborate decorations.
- Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara
This beautiful viewpoint is free to enjoy and consists of a spacious, landscaped terrace with sprawling views over Lisbon. The terrace has a fountain that lights up beautifully at night and trees for shade in the midday heat. If you want somewhere to really put Lisbon into perspective or a romantic spot for an evening date, Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is where to be. It is a definite highlight of Bairro Alto.
- Custard tarts
It might seem a strange highlight of Bairro Alto, but Rua do Loreto is a main road that runs at the neighborhood’s southern end and sells loads of great custard tarts. Custard tarts are among the most delicious Portuguese desserts for those who don’t know. And on this street, you can find multiple cafes and bakeries selling this sweet treat. You should definitely head down there if you are staying in Bairro Alto.
Budget: Independente Principe Real
Independente Principe Real is one of the top cheap hotels in Lisbon – which is shocking given its central location in sought-after Bairro Alto and trendy vibe. It even boasts two rooftop restaurants. Guests can enjoy a breakfast buffet, served scenically at the rooftop restaurant, and sophisticated rooms at cheap rates.
Mid-range: My Story Hotel Ouro
This three-star boutique hotel has spacious rooms and a beautiful outdoor pool. If you want a mid-range place to stay in Bairro Alto, this hotel is brilliantly located on the outskirts. There’s everything from hardwood floors to Juliet balconies, and you can opt for a breakfast buffet for a small surcharge. My Story Hotel Ouro is an excellent accommodation along the historic Rua Aurea.
Luxury: Le Consulat
Le Consulat is one of the best hotels in Lisbon. This gorgeous boutique guesthouse will be up your street if you love luxury hotels. Le Consulat has a fine dining restaurant on-site, a cocktail bar, and an art gallery. And the hotel overlooks the dramatic Praca Luis de Camoes public square. You can even book apartments with their own kitchenettes and separate living areas.
Belem is one of the furthest neighborhoods from the city center. Yet, it is easily in the top five if you are looking for the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon. This sleepy neighborhood is known for its food scene, especially seafood – which makes sense considering its coastal location to the west of the city center. If you love seafood and a more relaxed vacation vibe, Belem is where to stay in Lisbon. Belem is historic, too, with the Torre de Belem a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite these draws, Belem is primarily residential and not on most tourists’ radars. Tourists tend just to stray to Belem on sightseeing half-day trips. This is a shame because Belem makes a beautiful base for those happy to use public transport to venture into the city center. The area is famous for traditional houses decorated with colorful tiles and is a lovely place to stay in Lisbon.
Regarding activities in Belem, the Belem Tower (aka Torre de Belem) is the main draw. The tower dates back to the 16th century and was heavily relied on as a defense post to defend Lisbon from sea attacks. There’s also Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Palace, where the President of Portugal lives. As a whole, the neighborhood has plenty to offer in the way of history. The thing that puts people off is the hour-long public transport ride into the city center. But if you are happy with that and staying longer than just a few days, Belem is the perfect place. You’ll get access to quieter attractions and a more residential vibe. Belem feels like a bonus destination when going to Lisbon. And the last public transport available is not until 3 am, which is a huge plus. Using public transport to travel between Belem and central Lisbon is really feasible.
Similarly, if you want to avoid the tourist crowds during peak season, Belem is equally brilliant. You’ll have a less chaotic and packed neighborhood to head back to. And while you might not be within walking distance of the Lisbon Cathedral, you will have quieter streets outside your hotel room and the joy of free tables at street-side restaurants. Belem is historic, quieter, and a loveable destination. It is an easy pick if you are okay with extra time on public transport.
Pros of Belem
- Residential vibe
- Amazing seafood
- Lots of history
Cons of Belem
- Not as central
- Not as many attractions
- Will need a taxi if traveling back from city center after 3 am
Highlights of Belem
- Torre de Belem
The Belem Tower is a big deal. This historical landmark dates back to the medieval period and juts out dramatically on a river island, formerly used as a defense post against water attacks. Nowadays, its estuary views are purely recreational, and it attracts those wanting to climb to its rooftop terrace for beautiful views of Lisbon and the river. Tickets are very cheap, and it is full of history. The Torre de Belem is definitely a highlight of its neighborhood.
- Belem Palace
This modern museum is set on the grounds of the Presidential Palace. It covers the history of Portugal’s presidents and political history. The pink-colored building contains tons of engaging exhibits. It is a fascinating attraction for anyone interested in history or culture. The Portuguese Republic was established in 1910, and it is interesting to see how the presidency shaped the country.
- Lisbon Earthquake Museum
The Lisbon Earthquake Museum is an immersive museum and a definite highlight of Belem. As one of the most unusual museums in Lisbon, it lets you live the experience of the 1755 earthquake – of course, under much safer circumstances. You can experience what the tremors would have felt like with special effects and simulators. The 1755 earthquake impacted Lisbon and created the city we see today, so not only is the Lisbon Earthquake Museum a novelty, but it is also historically interesting.
- Jeronimos Monastery
This Gothic-style monastery is one piece of architecture you should tick off. The monastery has both archaeology museums and maritime museums in its wings. It is easily a half or full-day attraction. The beautiful attraction is one of the best places to visit in Lisbon, and if you stay in Belem, you will be within walking distance. You should invest in skip-the-queue tickets if you are visiting during peak season.
Budget: Terrace Lisbon Hostel
Terrace Lisbon Hotel is a brilliant addition to the best hotels in Lisbon. The hostel has dormitories that offer mixed and female-only accommodation in colorful rooms. You can also book private rooms if you wish. Many amenities include a garden, shared kitchen, and even a library. You can also rent bikes and motorbikes, as well as walking tours.
Mid-range: Hotel Jeronimos 8
Hotel Jeronimos 8 is a beautiful mid-range property in Belem and is adjacent to the iconic Jeronimos Monastery. The stylish hotel has a private courtyard and serves a daily breakfast. You can choose from a generous range of modern rooms, some of which feature private terraces. It is an upmarket option, ideal for someone wanting to treat themselves to a comfortable stay in Lisbon.
Luxury: Altis Belem Hotel & Spa
Altis Belem Hotel & Spa is a gorgeous five-star boutique hotel. The posh hotel is an easy walk from the riverbank. It has stunning Tagus River views, especially from its café and restaurant terraces. It is one of the prettiest hotels in Lisbon if you want to base yourself near the waterfront. The luxury hotel has outdoor pools with spa facilities that include a sauna, as well as a gym and a garden.
5. Principe Real
Principe Real is different from the other neighborhoods. This upscale neighborhood is full of designer and luxury shops – a dream for any shopaholic. Principe Real symbolizes everything high-end and has wide streets lined with 19th-century mansions. When you aren’t window shopping or splurging on designer goods, you can be admiring the dramatic residential areas. Traditionally, only the mega-rich lived in Principe Real. Yet this is slowly starting to crack, and plenty of young professionals base themselves in this straight-collared neighborhood. It is more of a residential place to stay in Lisbon than a chaotic tourist neighborhood. But it is an ideal spot to consider if you want a more laid-back base.
In terms of things to do in Principe Real, while it isn’t full of attractions like more touristy areas, it does have a select few attractions. One is the National Museum of Science & Natural History, located next to the adjoining Botanical Garden of Lisbon. There’s also a beautiful exhibition space and reservoir complex called the Reservatorio da Mae d Agua das Amoreiras Projetado. This unique attraction celebrates the arrival of Lisbon’s water and has dramatic fountains and rotating exhibits. And lastly, there is the Portuguese Cinema Museum. This museum acts as both a museum with equipment and historical exhibits. It also plays actual movies and is the perfect evening or rainy day attraction.
Principe Real is one of the least central neighborhoods but still has a great location. You have easy access to a metro station or just walk 25 minutes into the city center. You aren’t sacrificing much in the way of location and really get an insight into residential Lisbon in exchange. If you are going to Lisbon in the peak season, staying in Principe Real is a great idea just to avoid the crowds. You also get more access to green spaces, like Eduardo VII Park, which is perfect for sunny picnics. Life staying in Principe Real is laidback and scenic. And you have the temptation of all the luxury shops on your doorstep. It is a win-win for many tourists when debating where to stay in Lisbon.
Pros of Principe Real
- Less touristy
- Retail opportunities
Cons of Principe Real
- Less central
- More Residential
- Fewer attractions
Highlights of Principe Real
- National Museum of Science & Natural History
The National Museum of Science & Natural History is one of Lisbon’s best places to visit and a definite highlight when staying in Principe Real. Who doesn’t love natural history museums? This spot is ideal for having a serene afternoon with minimal fuss. The entrance fee is modest (under 10 dollars), and you can spend a few hours admiring the different anthropological artifacts and preserved specimens.
- Botanical Garden of Lisbon
Botanical gardens have a similar vibe to natural history museums – they are all about wandering around and reconnecting with nature. The landscaped gardens feature different plants and trees, and the garden is vital for flora conservation in Lisbon. A beautiful place to collect your thoughts and reconnect with the natural world, the Botanical Garden of Lisbon is a brilliant addition to your list of Principe Real highlights.
- Reservatorio da Mae d’Agua das Amoreiras
Reservatorio da Mae d’Agua das Amoreiras is a unique attraction entirely dedicated to celebrating the origins of Lisbon’s water supply. You can walk through slightly eerie tunnels and a network of projected exhibit spaces showcasing artwork and past water features. The attraction is a beautiful place to visit and a memorable addition to Principe Real.
- Parque Eduardo VII
Parque Eduardo VII is another major highlight of staying in Principe Real and is one of Lisbon’s largest green spaces. The sloped park features a vast maze, and trees line the paths around manicured lawns to create the perfect spot for a morning stroll. Parque Eduardo VII is a beautiful place to visit in Lisbon. And it is free, which is excellent for those on a budget. Get there early and bring a takeaway coffee.
Budget: Lisboa Central Hostel
If you are looking for the best hotels in Principe Real, Lisboa Central Hostel is your best choice. This is one of the top cheap hotels in Lisbon, boasting modest prices and a great location. You can choose from private and dormitory rooms, all with free WiFi, walking tours, and continental breakfast each morning. You also get access to a lounge with a PlayStation and a shared kitchen – great for cutting costs when eating out. There are laundry facilities as well, a real bonus. For Principe Real on a budget, Lisboa Central Hostel is perfect.
Mid-range: Mama Shelter Lisboa
Mama Shelter Lisboa is hands down one of the coolest hotels in Lisbon. This eclectic property has beautiful views of the Tagus River and colorful rooms that just pop. You can access an on-site restaurant and a boho rooftop bar with regular DJ sets and table tennis matches that get pretty fierce by midday. You can also upgrade your rooms to gain additional living spaces or private terraces to enjoy indoor meets outdoor living. For mid-range accommodation, Mama Shelter Lisboa is fantastic.
Luxury: TURIM Boulevard Hotel in Lisbon (Where we Stayed)
TURIM Boulevard Hotel is right on the iconic Avenue da Liberdade and is one of the city’s best luxury hotels. The hotel has a stunning rooftop pool, its most eye-catching feature. Hardly anywhere has a rooftop pool in Lisbon, and you can enjoy the unique angular layout that treats you to city skyline views. The hotel also boasts a cocktail lounge and meeting facilities. In terms of rooms, you can expect ultra-comfortable, plush room choices, all of which come with the opportunity to opt-in for room service. Oh, and a buffet breakfast is available downstairs. Sold? We were.
Where to Stay in Lisbon: FAQs
So now you know where to stay in Lisbon, what about some quick FAQs? You never know what little detail could transform your Lisbon trip entirely. And you should definitely get answers to your main burning questions before you go. So, let’s take a look together. These questions could just make a difference – or at least get you a bit of clarity.
Which is the best area of Lisbon to stay in?
The best area to stay in is Baixa. You’ll find all the main attractions and tourist draws in the Baixa district. If you are going to Lisbon for the first time, it provides the best possible experience. You will have a central location and be within walking distance of everything you need.
What is the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon for walking?
Baixa or Bairro Alto are the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon if you want to be able to explore Lisbon on foot. These two neighborhoods are more central than other neighborhoods, meaning they are closer to the main attractions. You won’t need public transport unless you venture on a day trip.
How many days is best to stay in Lisbon?
Three days is the perfect time to get an entry-level introduction to Lisbon – ticking off the main sightseeing attractions and perhaps hitting the beach for a day. We’d suggest longer if you want to enjoy all the day-tripping opportunities or have multiple beach days. Four or five days is perfect for numerous beach days and day trips.
What is the main city area in Lisbon?
The main city area in Lisbon is around Baixa and Bairro Alto. This is where you’ll find the ‘city center’ vibe, with plenty of nightlife, many restaurants, and all the attractions.
Why We Love Lisbon
Lisbon has some beautiful neighborhoods. You might wish to keep it central with Baixa – who doesn’t want everything to be an easy walk, right? You could party it up in ever-lively Bairro Alto, booking pub crawl tickets and heading to concerts. You could also choose to stay in Principe Real, go shopping for luxury goods, and wander in Eduardo VII Park. Alternatively, you could check out historic sites in Alfama or try seafood in Belem on the city’s outskirts. These five options are the absolute best places to stay in Lisbon. There are other neighborhoods too though, so don’t forget to take a look when it comes to planning places in Lisbon to visit.
Are you excited about your Lisbon trip? Now that you know where to stay in Lisbon, you can start thinking about the rest of your trip. There’s much to do in Lisbon, even if you are just there on a layover . Don’t forget to look into day trip choices, too – you can check out these best day trips from Lisbon . Lisbon has many metro stations, so you can easily use public transport and plan a day trip while visiting Lisbon on a budget. Whether you stay in Baixa or Principe Real, we hope you have a wonderful trip.
Plan Your Next Trip To Lisbon With these Resources
- 22 Best Day Trips From Lisbon
- How to Spend a Layover in Lisbon, Portugal
- How to Visit Lisbon on a Budget
19 Fun and Interesting Facts About Portugal You Should Know
- Portuguese Food: 26 Traditional Dishes to try in Portugal or at home
Travel Planning Resources
Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.
Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner
Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor
Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO .
Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:
- Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
- Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.
Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.
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20+ Best Day Trips From Lisbon Portugal & How To Visit
Scoping out the best day trips from Lisbon?
Lisbon is undeniably an enchanting city, and it ranks high on my list of favorite European destinations. Its picturesque beauty and old-fashioned charm are so alluring that leaving becomes difficult. With an abundance of entertaining activities, one can easily be occupied for days and never run out of things to do.
Should you feel the urge to explore beyond the city limits, fret not. There are plenty of day trips and weekend getaways from Lisbon that are well worth the effort.
These destinations include quaint villages, UNESCO heritage sites, magnificent beaches, and awe-inspiring architectural wonders. The best part is that with so many options, there’s bound to be something that caters to everyone’s interests and preferences.
I’ve found it easiest to drive around Portugal. With a car, you have ultimate flexibility and can sometimes combine a couple sites in one day. Just be sure not to drive into the center of an ancient town. Park on the outskirts.
READ : Tips for Renting a Car and Driving in Europe
You can also visit these by bus, train, and guided tour. I also explain how some of the Lisbon day trip destinations can be combined in a single day for maximum sightseeing punch.
Here’s a complete guide to all the train stations in Lisbon . You can click here to check bus schedules for the Rede Espressos buses.
Day Trips From Lisbon At A Glance
Here are the 21 best day trips from Lisbon that we’ll explore in this blog post:
1. Obidos 2. Sintra 3. Batalha Monastery 4. Alcobaca Monastery 5. Evora 6. Coimbra 7. Queluz Palace 8. Marvao 9. Cascais 10. Tomar 11. Fatima
12. Aveiro 13. Mafra 14. Conimbriga 15. Monsaraz 16. Abrantes 17. Estoril 18. Montserrate Palace 19. Alcacer do Sal 20. Porto 21. Belem
20+ Best Day Trips From Lisbon
Here’s my list of 21 of Portugal’s most beautiful towns and destinations near Lisbon that make great day trips.
1. Obidos: the Queen’s Present
Located just an hour’s drive north of Lisbon, lies the charming and cobbled old-world town of Óbidos Portugal, which boasts a cornucopia of medieval architecture. It’s a perfect and effortless day trip from Lisbon.
Compared to the bustling tourist hub of Sintra, the town of Óbidos has a more laid-back vibe. In fact, I believe that Óbidos may be the most adorable and authentic village in Portugal.
This UNESCO-designated town is situated atop a fetching hill, encircled by sturdy medieval walls. The town’s whitewashed homes are adorned with splashes of blue and yellow paint and covered with bougainvillea, creating a picturesque and romantic aura.
Its beauty and shabby chic ambiance are sure to captivate you.
What You Can’t Miss In Obidos:
You can check out my guide to the best things to do in Obidos , but here are some things you can’t miss.
• Rua Diureita : After entering the gate, you arrive at the cobbled main drag, Rua Direita. It runs from the Porta da Vila to Óbidos Castle. It’s stuffed with whitewashed buildings, quirky bars and cafes, exquisite shops, and ginjinha stands.
• City Walls: The fortified walls give you stunning views over Obidos’ pretty town center and tiled rooftops.
• Obidos Castle: Though the doughty castle is dominates the skyline. The fortress-like castle is one of the seven wonders of Portugal. It’s been converted into the luxurious Pousada do Castelo de Óbidos , which is a great place to stay in Obidos.
• Bookstores: Obidos is a UNESCO city of literature and overflowing with adorable bookstores.
• Ginja: Ginja is the local specialty in Obidos, a cherry flavored liquor served in shots. The one from Óbidos is renowned for its quality and strength and is typical served with chocolate.
How To Get To Obidos From Lisbon:
Obidos is a one hour drive from Lisbon. There are car parks outside the town.
An express bus service leaves from the Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon. The train is not a good option because it takes 2 hours.
Taking a guided day tour is a great way to explore Obidos as well and makes logistic easier. This full day trip tour from Lisbon takes you to Obidos, Fatima, and Nazare. This full day tour also includes Batalha Monastery.
2. Sintra Portugal: UNESCO Palaces Galore
Sintra undoubtedly holds the top spot among the most popular day trips from Lisbon. Its irresistible charm and rock-star allure draw visitors from all over the world.
The town is dotted with ancient castles and palaces, each more impressive than the last. Its vibrant colors and romantic ambiance enhance its appeal, while the artisan shops and hidden gems scattered throughout the quaint town offer endless opportunities for exploration.
Despite living up to its reputation as a must-see destination, Sintra can be overwhelming due to its immense popularity. With so much to see and do in just one day, careful planning i
To help you along, here are my must know tips for visiting Sintra .
What You Can’t Miss In Sintra:
• Quinta da Regateira : This is absolutely my favorite palace in Sintra. It’s divine and bewitching, a misty Gothic building seeped in opulence and mysticism and set amid leafy palms and hot pink bougainvillea.
• Pena Palace : The romantic and colorful Pena Palace is a must see Sintra site, one of the seven wonders of Portugal. Built by King Ferdinand II, it’s a Disney-like mishmash of architectural styles that still dazzles.
• Moorish Palace: The Moorish palace is a 9th century fortress-castle that offers the best views in Sintra. It’s a hike up to the ramparts, but well worth it.
• Sintra Historic Center: The town is lovely. There’s not an abundance of food. But you can wander the cobbled streets and snap up some souvenirs.
• Sintra National Palace : Dominating the old town, this is Portugal’s oldest palace. The 800 year old edifice, with superb decorations from the Manueline period. The patio has a stunning grotto with walls faced in azulejo tiles.
How To Get To Sintra From Lisbon:
You can drive, park outside the town, and walk into the town.
Alternatively, you can take the 434 train from Rossio Station in Lisbon and walk 15 minutes into town from Sintra’s train station.
If you’d understandably want to go on an organized tour for this must see city, here’s an excellent full day trip to Sintra from Lisbon tour .
Sintra can be combined with : nearby Monserrate Palace, a beautiful palace just 10-15 minutes away, or with Queluz Palace, which I discuss below.
3. Batalha Monastery: A Gothic Masterpiece
If you’re exploring Portugal’s monastery trail, make sure to add a day trip from Lisbon to Batalha to your itinerary. The highlight of this small town is the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria de Vitoria, a breathtaking masterpiece that is sure to leave you in awe.
This UNESCO-listed complex is a beautiful fusion of Gothic and Manueline architecture. Construction began in 1388 and continued for several centuries. The resulting historic structure still stands today and is a testament to the skill of the builders.
The monastery was built to commemorate the pivotal Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, where Portugal emerged victorious against the powerful Spaniards. King Joao I, a renowned builder in Portugal, oversaw the construction of the monastery and its church, where his tomb can be found today.
As you explore the monastery, you’ll be amazed by the intricate floral and marine elements that characterize Gothic-Manueline architecture. This landmark is a must see for anyone interested in history, religion, architecture, or warfare.
You can visit the church for free, but must pay to see the beautiful cloisters.
How To Get To Batalha Monastery From Lisbon:
It’s a 1.5 hour drive from Lisbon. It’s over 2 hours by bus from Lisbon’s Sete Rios station.
You can also book a guided day trip from Lisbon that includes both Batalha and Alcobaca monasteries.
Batalha can be combined with : Fatima, Obidos, or Alcobaca Monastery
4. Alcobaca Monastery: Portugal’s First Gothic Building
If you love history or architecture, the UNESCO-listed Alcobaça Monastery is a must see site in Portugal. Alcobaca is a pretty town on the Silver Coast.
It lies between Coimbra and Lisbon and can be accessed as a day trip from either city or visited en route between them.
The town is dominated by the austere and atmospheric 800 year old Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça. It’s the largest Gothic religious structure in Portugal.
Alcobaca is one of Europe’s oldest and best UNESCO sites. Alcobaça is a 12th century masterpiece of Gothic Cistercian art. Its vaunted architecture and history are bewitching.
I found it more beautiful and compelling than the vastly more crowded Jeronimos Monastery outside Lisbon. Inside, you’ll fine the ornate tombs of King Pedro I and Ines de Castro , Portugal’s own star crossed Romeo and Juliet duo.
How To Get To Alcobaca Monastery From Lisbon:
It’s about a 1:20 minute drive from Lisbon. There’s a parking lot in front of the monastery. It could be full in high season. If so, just park on a street nearby.
If you’d prefer to take a guided tour, this 8 hour full day trip from Lisbon covers Alcobaca, Obidos, and other monasteries.
Alcobaca can be combined with: Fatima, Batalha, Obidos, or Coimbra.
5. Evora: Strategic Roman Town
The UNESCO-listed town of Evora is a wonderful day trip from Lisbon. The attractive town is tucked away in the Alentejo region of central Portugal.
Evora was untouched by the great earthquake of 1755 and its historic center is well preserved.
Evora is topped by a grand 14th century cathedral, commonly refered to as Evora Cathedral. While not particularly pretty itself, it’s worth it to go inside just for the beautiful vistas over Evora from its balcony.
The star of Evora is an ossuary, the Chapel of Bones, attached to the large Royal Church of St. Francis. Franciscan monks slaved away in the early 17th century building this unusual site when cemeteries were overflowing.
Evora was also an important Roman town, lying on a trade route to Rome . In Evora’s center, you’ll see 14 Corinthian columns rising to the sky.
What You Can’t Miss In Evora:
• Praca do Giraldo: This is Evora’s atmospheric main square. Sit in the sun and watch the world go by, preferable while sipping a suitably chilled beverage. You can admire the 16th century fountain and the Church of Santo Antao.
• Historic Center : Evora is a maze of cobbled streets where you’ll easily get lost. Around each corner, there’s a piece of exceptional Gothic, Renaissance, or Manueline architecture.
• Igreja de São Francisco : This Gothic-Manueline Church dates from the years of Manuel I and Joao II. As a result, it has some beautiful Manueline decorations.
• Chapel of Bones: But the highlight of São Francisco is the Chapel of Bones. 17th century monks created this chilling chapel to solve the problems of overflowing cemeteries. The bones and skulls of 5,000 people line the chapel.
• Evora Cathedral: Guarded by rose granite towers, Evora’s fortress-like medieval cathedral boats fabulous cloisters and religious relics.
• Roman Temple : The temple, erroneously dedicated to Diana, is regarded as the best preserved Roman ruin in Portugal.
How To Get To Evora From Lisbon:
Evora is a 2 hour drive from Lisbon, the best way to get there. There’s free parking right outside the historic center. Four trains per day go to Evora.
Evora’s train station is a beauty, decorated with azulejos. It’s a 20 minute walk into the town center.
If you’d rather take a guided day tour from Lisbon, click here to book one.
Evora can be combined with: Monsaraz, a stunning town just 50 minutes away. which has spectacular pottery. It’s whitewashed homes nestle in a hill topped by Monsaraz Castle.
6. Coimbra: The “Athens of Portugal”
You should definitely put the charming town of Coimbra on your list of the best day trips from Lisbon. Known as the “Athens of Portugal,” Coimbra’s unique and melancholic beauty sets it apart from other destinations.
Coimbra is famous for its distinctive pottery style, its own version of Fado music, and an irresistible attitude. The town boasts a stylish vibe, with black-caped students, elegant cafes, and ancient monuments all coexisting harmoniously.
The UNESCO-listed Coimbra University, perched atop the town’s hill, is the main attraction. It is one of the oldest universities in the world, predating even Oxford University. Its ornate and richly decorated buildings are a sight to behold, leaving visitors in awe.
What You Can’t Miss In Coimbra:
• Coimbra University : Be sure to see the Royal Palace, the Hall of Great Acts, the Private Exam Room, and the glorious Baroque Joanina Library. Climb the 18th century bell tower for panoramic views.
You can also book a guided tour of this magnificent UNESCO site. Or book a private tour here .
• Coimbra’s Old Cathedral : The austere 12th century Sé is Portugal’s finest example of Romanesque architecture. The Sé has a crenellated fortress-like exterior and narrow slit-like lower windows. There’s also a delightful 13th century Gothic cloister.
• Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha : This 17th century Gothic convent was founded in 1330 by the saintly Queen Isabel.
• Coimbra pottery shops : Stop in at Carlos Tomás Studio to inspect the unique style of Coimbra pottery.
• Santa Cruz Church : This grand church sits in a lovely square, Praca 8 de Maio. It was founded in 1131 by the canons of St. Augustine. The interior has beautiful blue and white azulejo tiles, which line both sides of the church.
How To Get To Coimbra From Lisbon:
Coimbra is a 2 hours drive from Lisbon on the A1. High speed trains run every hour, taking 2 hours. You can also book a 9 hour guided day trip from Lisbon to Coimbra .
Coimbra can be combined with: Coimbra really merits an entire day. The best attraction to combine it with is the Conimbriga Ruins, just 30 minutes away.
Coimbra also makes a good base in Portugal. From there, you can easily access Tomar, Batalha, Alcobaca, or Aveiro.
7. Queluz National Palace: the “Versailles of Portugal”
Discover one of Portugal’s hidden gems just 15 minutes from Lisbon or Sintra — the stunning 18th-century palace known as “Lisbon’s Versailles.” Queluz Palace is a national monument that should not be missed on your trip.
Originally commissioned as a hunting lodge by Dom Pedro III in 1747, the palace was later transformed into a lavish Rococo residence by an architect. Over time, it was expanded to include a pavilion, gardens, a throne room, and a music room.
While Dom Pedro and his wife Maria resided in Queluz Palace, their history was a tragic one. Maria suffered from severe melancholy, and after her son Jose passed away from smallpox, she was overcome with grief and went mad. She was subsequently confined to the palace and experienced hallucinations.
The palace facade is stately and sober. It overlooks the spectacular Neptune’s Fountain.
The formal gardens were decorated with mythological statuary and used for entertaining. There’s also a canal decorated with azulejos depicting the royal family.
The highly decorated interiors are stunning. The highlights are the Ambassadors Hall, the Throne Room, and the Music Room. Click here to purchase skip-the-line tickets for the palace.
How To Get to Queluz Palace From Lisbon :
Queluz is located between Lisbon and Sintra. It’s a 20 minute drive from Lisbon. The train ride from Rossio Station is 20 minutes, with a 15 minute walk from Queluz train station.
Queluz Palace can be combined with : Sintra, although it’s best done as a day trip from Sintra or Lisbon.
8. Marvao: Hidden Gem in the Alentejo Region
Looking for a scenic day trip from Lisbon? Look no further than Marvao, a stunning medieval hamlet perched on a craggy escarpment overlooking Spain.
Marvao has a rich history, having been occupied by the Romans, Moors, and Christians in turn. The village is enclosed by ancient city walls and features a collection of charming, whitewashed sugar cube homes.
Dominating the village is the well-preserved Marvao Castle, built in 1299 by King Dinis to help drive out the Moors.
Today, visitors can explore the castle and even visit the artist’s shop located inside. With breathtaking views from its lofty perch, Marvao Castle is a must see for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Portugal’s rich history and culture.
What You Can’t Miss In Marvao:
• Marvao Castle: Built by King Dinis in 11299, Marvao Castle is a perfect example of a crusader era medieval castle. It’s impressively set among granite mountains.
• Marvao Museum: The museum is housed inside St. Mary’s Church. It houses quirky artifacts, including archaeological finds from Paleolithic to Roman times.
How to get to Marvao from Lisbon: The easiest way to get to Marvao is by car. It’s a 2.5 hour drive.
Marvao can be combined with: Marvao is pretty remote. But the pretty spa town of Castelo de Vide is just 20 minutes away. It’s a better spot to find restaurants and such.
9. Cascais: Beachy Paradise
Cascais, just 19 miles away from Lisbon, is a breathtakingly beautiful destination adorned with shades of blue and yellow. It’s an ideal spot for a day trip from Lisbon, especially if you’re seeking a relaxing day at the beach.
There are some incredible beaches near Cascais, such as Carcavelos Beach and Guincho Beach, that offer stunning views and excellent sunbathing opportunities.
Apart from its pristine beaches, the historic town center of Cascais is also a sight to behold. You’ll find 19th century villas belonging to the Portuguese nobility, adding to the town’s charm.
For art lovers, Cascais has plenty of museums and artsy enclaves to explore. And if you’re a foodie, the culinary scene in Cascais will surely delight your taste buds.
What You Can’t Miss In Cascais:
• Cascais Fortress: The Cidadela de Cascais is a 15th century fortress. It sits on a promontory overlooking the bay and harbor, offering up lovely views. The fortress is now home to a Pousada and fashionable restaurants.
• Condes de Castro Museum : This museum is housed in a Revivalist style mini-palace. The sumptuous interior displays paintings, decorative arts, period furniture, and ancient artifacts.
• Boca do Inferno : This is the most visited site in Cascais. It’s a scenic spot where white waves tumble through a gorge.
• Parque Marechal Carmona : Pretty park in Cascais, the perfect place for a stroll amid peacocks and turtles.
How To Get To Cascais From Lisbon:
Cascais is a 35 minute drive from Lisbon. Use one of the public car parks.
Trains leave frequently from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre train station, which is connected to green line metro. Get off at the last stop, Cascais Station. Once there, you can book a ticket on the Sintra-Cascais hop on hop off bus .
You can also visit Cascais on a guided day trip tour from Lisbon , along with Sintra.
Cascais can be combined with: Estoril, another resort town with gleaming white sand beaches, is only 15 minutes away.
10. Tomar: Architectural Wonderland
Tomar is a hidden gem in central Portugal. It’s often overlooked, but is a fantastic day trip from Lisbon.
For those who love history, Tomar is a paradise. It was the headquarters of the Knights Templar, an elite crusading force, for 700 years until they were later renamed the Order of Christ.
One of Portugal’s most important buildings is located in Tomar – the complex of the Convent of Christ. It has Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline architectural elements as an ancient building. It became a UNESCO site in 1983.
Tomar itself is a charming town, split in two by the Nabao River. Republic Square is the main square, filled with lovely homes, a 15th-century church, and black and white checkerboard pavement.
Take a picturesque stroll down Via Rea de Serpa Pinto while trying one of Tomar’s special sweets, Beija-me Depressa (kiss me quick).
What You Can’t Miss In Tomar:
Here’s my complete guide to the best things to do in Tomar . But here’s a quick summary.
• Convent of Christ: Founded in 1160, the UNESCO-listed convent is a magnificent complex consisting of a medieval castle, churches, and Manueline cloisters.
The Templar Church has a massive Gothic nave, ornate ribbed vaulting, and an intricate altar. You can book a small group guided tour or a private tour of the convent.
• Basilica Nossa Senhora da Conceicao : This is a beautiful 16th century basilica on the slopes of a hill. It’s the oldest medieval cathedral in Portugal. The interior boasts three towering naves, Corinithian columns, and Manueline designs.
• Pegoes Aqueduct : Dating from the 17 century, this is a four mile aqueduct that was used to transport water from Pegoes to the Convent of Christ.
• Tomar Synagogue : This 15th century building is also a Portugeuse national monument.
• Tomar Castle : This castle was the headquarters of the Knights Templar, the most important Portuguese military building from the 12th century. The castle walls actually wrap around the convent and are adorned with the Cross of Malta and other arcane symbols.
How To Get To Tomar Fom Lisbon:
To day trip from Lisbon to Tomar, it’s a 1:30 drive on the A1 and IC9. You can also take a 2 hour train ride from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia and Oriente stations.
You can also book a full day guided day trip from Lisbon .
Tomar can be combined with :
A visit to the nearby almourol castle, a hidden gem on an island of the tagus river just 20 minutes from tomar., you can also combine tomar with a visit to portugal’s other must see architectural/religious sites: fatima, batalha, or alcobaca..
11. Fatima: Modern Religious Architecture
The tiny town of Fatima, like so much else in Portugal is steeped in legend. This particular legend holds that three shephard children saw visions of Mary, the so- called Marian Apparition.
They returned to the same spot and learned three secret prophecies. The final one was stored in the Vatican until 2000.
From 1928-54, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima was built on the miraculous site. It’s now a popular pilgrimage stop for Catholics. The architecture is impressive with a sweeping circular courtyard, a basilica housing the children’s tombs, and the chapel of apparitions.
How To Get To Fatima From Lisbon:
Fatima is a 1.5 hour drive from Lisbon on the A1. Rede Express buses run from Lisbon’s Sete Rios station, taking about 90 minutes.
There are no train stations in Fatima. You can also book a guided tour from Lisbon .
Fatima can be combined with: Batahla or Obidos. Or channel your inner paleontologist and visit the Natural Monument of Dinosaur Footprints, Pedreira do Galinha.
12. Aveiro: Art Nouveau Lagoon Town
Situated on a lagoon, Aveiro is a charming town that attracts visitors traveling from Lisbon to Porto. The town is bustling with Art Nouveau architecture and high-end restaurants that offer a delightful culinary experience. Upon arrival, the ornate train station adorned with azulejo tiles will leave you mesmerized.
Although often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro has a small canal network, and unlike Venice, it does not have gondolas. Instead, colorful boats known as moliceiros are used to take tourists on scenic cruises.
Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s lovely patterned streets and admire the pretty pastel architecture. Make the most of your time in Aveiro by indulging in the local cuisine at one of the town’s charming eateries.
What you can’t miss in Aveiro:
• Canal ride in a moliceiro : You can take a canal ride in one of Aviero’s colorfully decorated gondolas. The rides last 45 minutes and, from the boat, you can see some of Aveiro’s landmarks.
• Igreja da Misericórdia de Aveiro : A pretty 16th century church completely tiled in blue and white azulejos.
• Mosteiro de Jesus : Built between the 15th to 17th centuries, this is Aveiro’s prized historic monument.
• Art Nouveau Museum : Aveiro has six museums, but I liked this one best. It’s worth it just to see the highly decorated interior. There, you can pick up a map of Aveiro’s Art Nouveau buildings.
How To Get To Aveiro From Lisbon:
It’s a 2.5 hour to Aveiro on a day trip from Lisbon. You can also visit Aveiro on a guided day tour from Lisbon to Porto .
Aveiro can be combined with : Costa Nova Beach, with its pretty striped homes and fresh seafood, is only 20 minutes from Aveiro. Or combine Aveiro with Coimbra, only 50 minutes away.
13. Mafra: Grand Palace Town
There’s really one reason to visit Mafra — to see the enormous, extravagant and grand Palace of Mafra .
It’s one of Europe’s most beautiful palaces . Built in the mid 18th Century by the Portuguese ruler King John, it was intended to impress and intimidate.
A lavish display of wealth and power, the palace was built when Portugal’s maritime fortunes were at their zenith. You can spend hours exploring the chambers, corridors and rooms.
How To Get To Mafra From Lisbon :
Mafra is an easy day trip, just 45 minutes from Lisbon by car. Buses to Mafra depart from Campo Grande station and take 1:20. You can also book a guided tour that includes Mafra and Obidos.
Mafra can be combined with : Obidos, which is about 30 minutes away. Ericeira, a seaside resort famous for its beauty and surf break, is 10 minutes away.
14. Conimbriga: Ancient Ruins
If you’re a fan of history and archaeology, the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga are a must-see day trip from Lisbon. These ruins are some of the best-preserved remains of the Roman Empire and are sure to captivate visitors.
Conimbriga dates back to the first Iron Age and was one of the largest Roman settlements outside of Italy. As early as the 9th century B.C., the Romans built an amphitheater for over 10,000 people, city walls, three bathing complexes, temples, and several residences in the town.
Although it wasn’t excavated until the late 19th century, about 20% of the entire city is still visible today. The highlight of Conimbriga is its stunning and well-preserved collection of colorful mosaic floors. The House of Fountains boasts some of the most remarkable mosaics.
How To Get To Conimbriga From Lisbon
It’s a 2 hour drive to Conimbriga on a day trip from Lisbon. The train takes 2 hours and the bus take 2.5 hours.
15. Monsaraz: Pretty Alentejo Town
Monsaraz is a tiny hilltop village near Evora in the Alentejo region. It’s full of lovely whitewashed homes set against Guadiana Valley.
The stunning walled enclave is known for producing some spectacular pottery. So Monsaraz is a good day trip from Lisbon for ceramic lovers.
You can book a 1.5 hour guided walking tour to find out all the secrets of the town. This is also a common place for a balloon ride over the Alentejo .
What You Can’t Miss In Monsaraz
• Monsaraz Castle : The town castle sits at the town’s tallest point. It was controlled by the Knights Templar and later the Order of Christ. From the top of the keep, you’ll have glorious views of olive groves and the river.
• Church of Santa Maria da Lagoa : This is the village’s parish church. Though it dates from the 13th century, the church was rebuilt in the 16th century and then again after the great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755. It has an austere facade and some 14th century marble tombs.
• Museum of Sacred Art : The museum is right next to the church. It’s housed in the Gothic Pacos da Audience palace. It houses a collection of religious artifacts and a notable 14th century fresco.
How To Get To Monsaraz From Lisbon
The best way to get to Monsaraz is by train, which takes 2:15. If you’re driving, Monsaraz is also a 2:15 hour day trip from Lisbon.
You’ll need to park in a lot some distance from the main gateway, the massive Porta da Vila.
16. Abrantes: Castle Town
Abrantes is a medieval town on the banks of the Tagus River. The old town has quaint squares and cobbled streets. It’s known for its renovated 12th century castle and nationally listed churches.
What You Can’t Miss In Abrantes:
• Abrantes Castle : The castle crowns a plateau in the narrow streets of Abrante’s medieval quarter. Within the castle walls, you’ll find a Visigothic necropolis, a governor’s palace, and the beautiful 15th century Santa Maria Church (now a museum).
• Santa Maria Church : The church houses some exceptional Manueline tombs, Roman artifacts, and a Gothic-Manueline retable.
• Igreja de Sao Vicente : This is another church worth visiting. The church was built by the Order of Christ. It’s a Mannerist style structure with nine altars inside.
How To Get To Abrantes From Lisbon
It’s a 1.5 hour drive to Abrantes on a day trip in Lisbon. You can also take the bus in 1:45 or the train in 1:50.
Abrantes can be combined with : Tomar is just 30 minutes away.
17. Estoril: Beach Resort
Estoril is a lovely resort town if you need a city break. You can hit the beach and relax on an easy day trip from Lisbon.
Estoril has a similar vibe to Cascais and a magnificent riviera-like golden beach promenade. Across from the beach is a palm-lined park flanked by grand buildings.
Estoril also has a popular casino (the largest in Portugal) that attracts high rollers. It’s thought to have inspired Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale .
How To Get To Estoril From Lisbon
Estoril is a 30 minute drive from Lisbon. You can also take the train from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre train station. It takes 36 minutes.
Estoril can be combined with : Cascais, Sintra, or Montserrate Palace
18. Monserrate Palace
Looking for a romantic day trip from Lisbon? Look no further than the Palace of Montserrat, a hidden gem that offers a unique experience compared to other palaces near Lisbon. Built in 1790, this Gothic Revival mansion was owned by several Anglo owners throughout its history.
The palace was first owned by an English merchant, and then later became the home of English novelist William Beckford, followed by English millionaire and art collector Sir Francis Cook. Over time, the palace fell into disrepair and almost became a ruin until it was rescued and restored by the Italian state in 2000.
The Palace of Montserrat is a beautiful blend of architectural styles, including Neo-Moorish and Neo-Gothic. The dome, inspired by Brunelleschi’s dome on the Florence Cathedral, crowns the ornate palace. Inside, visitors can explore the library, chapel, and music room, all of which feature stunning walls and ceilings.
The palace’s highlight is its lush and lovely garden, landscaped in the 18th century by Beckford.
The romantic green space is a veritable jungle of exotic flowering trees and shrubs. There’s a rose garden, Mexican and Japanese gardens, and subtropical plantings.
How To Get To Montserrate Palace
Montserrate Palace is just 30+ minutes drive from Lisbon. You can also take the bus, Line 403.
You can also visit the palace from Sintra by taking the 435 tourist bus or by bus from the Sintra train station.
The palace can be combined with : You could easily visit the palace in 1-2 hours and combine it with a visit to Sintra, Cascais, or Estoril.
19. Alcácer do Sal: Hidden Gem In Alentejo
Alcácer do Sal is an off the beaten path day trip from Lisbon. The ancient town sits peacefully on the bank of the Sado River in the Alentejo region.
The town has an imposing medieval castle, a superb museum, and pleasant cafes along the riverside promenade.
What You Can’t Miss In Alcácer do Sal
• Alcácer Castle : The imposing castle was a hill fort as early as the 6th century B.C. It was used by the Romans, rebuilt by the Moors, and conquered by Afonso II in 1217.
• Castle Archaeological Crypt : Beneath the castle lies 27 centuries of subterranean galleries. The collection includes artifacts from the Iron Age, Roman, Moorish, and Medieval periods.
• Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo : This is a simple whitewashed church within the castle dating from 1217. It has a striking stone pulpit and other works of Manueline, Gothic, and baroque design.
How To Get To Alcácer do Sal From Lisbon
By far the easiest way to Alcácer do Sal on a day trip from Lisbon is to drive. The drive takes approximately 1 hour. The trains and buses are closer to 3 hours.
20. Porto: Postcard Perfect Azulejo City
If you’re a photography enthusiast, Porto is the ideal Lisbon day trip for you. With its vintage charm and vibrant scenery, it’s currently one of Europe’s most popular tourist spots.
While it’s possible to explore Porto as a day trip from Lisbon, keep in mind that it may be a long day, so it’s best to start early.
Porto has an abundance of cultural sites, and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll be awestruck by the magnificent Baroque churches, exquisite azulejo tiles, and enchanting cobblestone streets.
Be prepared for a bit of a workout, as there are many hills in Porto. However, these hills offer the best viewpoints for capturing the city’s visual wonders.
Explore the winding streets and alleys of Miragaia, Ribeira, and Massarelos, and discover the Porto’s top photography spots , including sky-high miradouros (lookouts) and rooftop bars.
Don’t forget to cross the iconic Luis I bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia to savor a glass of port and relax in the serene Jardim do Morro.
What You Can’t Miss In Porto:
Here’s my 2 days in Porto itinerary . But these are the sites you need to visit on a day trip from Lisbon.
• Porto Cathedral: This hilltop cathedral boasts one of Porto’s best views from its terrace and has a pretty Gothic cloister.
• Bolsa Palace: This Neo-Classical monument was Porto’s former stock exchange. Inside, you’ll be dazzled by the Hall of Nationals and the gilded Arabian Hall.
• Livraria Lello : This bookstore is a neo-Gothic fantasy full of carved wood, boasting a stunning stained glass ceiling and a Harry Potter association.
• Igreja de São Francisco : Outside its austere, but inside this ornate church is smothered in gold.
• Capela das Almas: This little charmer of a church is completely wrapped with an ornate blue and white tile mural on its entire exterior.
How To Get To Porto From Lisbon:
It’s a 3 hour drive from Lisbon to Porto. Frequent trains leave from Santa Polónia and Oriente stations. The high speed train takes 3 hours.
Buses leave from the Sete Rios bus terminal or Oriente station and take 3.5 hours.
You can also book a guided day trip tour to Porto . Or, once there, you can book a guided walking tour of Porto , which includes Lello bookstore.
Porto can also be combined with : A visit to Vila Nova de Gaia across the river.
21. Belem: Lisbon’s UNESCO Suburb
Belem is a charming suburb that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, with a rich architectural heritage to explore.
In Belem, you’ll find a refreshing Atlantic breeze and grandiose Manueline monuments. Belem is associated with Portugal’s Age of Discoveries, as many of the country’s famous explorers departed from here to chart new lands across the globe.
The top attraction is Jeronimos Monastery. It was built in the 16th century and is known for its stunning Manueline architecture and ornate decoration.
Here’s my guide to the top attractions in Belem . You may want to book a small group walking tour .
What you can’t miss in Belem:
• Jeronimos Monastery :
The monastery is a glorious 500 year old UNESCO site. It’s the premiere example of Manueline architecture in Portugal and the #1 site in Belem. The church is free.
But you have to pay to visit the absolutely dazzling cloisters. There will be long lines. You can pre-book a skip-the-line ticket here .
• Tower of Belem : UNESCO has listed the bewitching Game of Thrones-like building as a World Heritage monument. There will long lines for this attraction too. But you can pre-book a skip-the-line ticket here .
• Monument to the Discoveries : Monument to the Discoveries is the cement and rose-tinted stone monument poking out over the Tagus River. It honors Portugal’s maritime age.
• Pasteis de Belem : Portugal is famous for its custard tarts. The best place to taste these treats is at the Pastéis de Belém .
• Bernardo Collection Museum : A hidden gem museum just packed with modern and contemporary art.
How To Get To Belem From Lisbon :
Take the number 15E tram or 729 bus from Praca do Comercio. This journey takes 20-30 minutes. It’s a quick drive, but you need to leave early to secure a parking space.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the 21 best day trips from Lisbon Portugal. You may enjoy these other Portugal travel guides and resources:
- 10 day itinerary for Portugal
- Historic landmarks in Portugal
- 4 day itinerary for Lisbon
- Hidden gems in Lisbon
- 2 days in Porto itinerary
- Best day trips from Porto
- 1 day in Coimbra itinerary
- Guide to Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood
- Guide to Lisbon’s Belem neighborhood
- Guide to Pena Palace
- Day trips from Lisbon
- Tips for Visiting Sintra
If you’d like to take some day trips from Lisbon, pin it for later
2 thoughts on “20+ Best Day Trips From Lisbon Portugal & How To Visit”
Leslie, in one of your itineraries concerning leaving Portugal on train and traveling into Spain to a town. Once you cross over into Spain, there was a place ,you can pick up a rental car and drive around in Spain. Then you could turn it back in at a designated place of your choosing in Spain. I have searched and searched for that article but have been unable to find it. Any suggestions? thank you, Kathy
Hmm … That does not ring a bell to me. I have a Portugal-Spain 10 day itinerary. But that involves picking up your car in Lisbon and just getting hit with a drop off charge in Spain. You can take the train from Lisbon into Spain. But off the top, it doesn’t look like there’s any easy and fast way. They all involve transfers.
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Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Leslie Livingston
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It’s important to note that if you previously acquired a “Viva Viagem” card to use on the
metro or trams, it can only be used for the train if it has no fares left. Your balance has to
be zero, otherwise you must buy a new card for the train. The card is valid for just one
person, meaning everyone in your group will need their own.
Does this mean we need to purchase a second Viva Viagem card because we have used our original cards for the metro or purchase train tickets online? Wouldn't our Via Viagem cards work as long as they have enough funds? If so, do we just tap as we enter the train?
I don't know why that statement from the tourism site confuses me, but it doesn't make sense to me.
7 replies to this topic
So the simple answer is to load zapping tickets onto your cards. Each Metro or bus ride in Lisbon is deducted at €1,47, the train ride to Sintra €1,90 each way. Don't load too much money. Unused money is not refunded.
Cynthia, we used Uber to get to Sintra and took the train back. It worked out well! And as the always helpful Cubsur says, just use the zapping option on the Viva Viagem card. You will not need to purchase a new card. We used our cards interchangeably for trains to Sintra and Cascais, Metro, Funicular, etc. It was a very easy system to use.
Thank you Cubsur and jtwiz,
The issue is lost in translation.
Cubsur has it correctly:
"This card allows you to use only one type of ticket at a time. You cannot reload it with new tickets until you have used all the old ones."
For this reason we use Navegante card and load it with money only.
Can we just load the Viva Viagem card with money?
On our first metro ride, we would purchase the cards and add money to them to cover all of the above.
If I put money on the Viva Viagem card would this work? I am not adding or buying tickets, or at least I don't think that is what I'm doing -
The Viva Viagem card is your ticket. You tap in and out of metro and railway stations, tap on boarding tram or bus.
Thank you Cubsur,
Appreciate it, that is what I thought we should do.
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The best things to see and do in alentejo, portugal.
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Alentejo is just an hour's drive south of Lisbon but provides a calmer, more rural getaway. Photo / 123rf
Never heard of Alentejo? Even those who have tend to keep it to themselves. Easily Portugal’s best-kept secret, once you discover this place, you’ll never want to leave, writes Steve Jermanok.
An hour’s drive south of Lisbon , the traffic lessens as you enter the Alentejo region of Portugal . Rolling hills are blanketed with vineyards, olive groves, centuries-old cork forests, and country estates housing cattle, sheep, and horses. Quiet roads lead to charming towns and cobblestone streets, where every now and then you spot a wall, castle, or fortress dating as far back as Roman and Moorish times. Portugal’s largest region, reaching the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Algarve to the south, and the Spanish border to the east, Alentejo contains a mere 5 per cent of the country’s population. The result is a quiet escape away from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a land known for its top-notch wines, meats, and cheeses. After spending a week biking in Alentejo this past September, these are the highlights that should not be missed:
All it takes is one glance of the remarkably preserved Roman Temple of Diana, dating from the first century AD , backed by the conical spire of the largest medieval church in Portugal to understand why Unesco classified Evora as a World Heritage City. Evora will be the European Capital of Culture in 2027, so it would be wise to get here before the crowds to walk the narrow streets and peer at the whitewashed houses decorated with Dutch tiles and wrought-iron balconies.
The small city is so majestic that it was chosen by the kings of Portugal to serve as their residence starting in the 15th century. Be sure to make your way down from the main square to the Royal Church of St. Francis, home to the ghastly Chapel of the Bones. Catholic Monks, in the late 16th century, worried about the rising popularity of the Lutheran faith, dug up corpses from surrounding cemeteries and created a church nave decorated with thousands of skulls and bones as a reminder of our mortality to all who enter.
Dona Maria Vineyards
Northeast of Evora in Estremoz, a town gaining traction as a foodie destination due to its Michelin-starred restaurants like Mercearia Gadanha, you’ll find Quinta Dona Maria. In 1718, King Joao V built this estate for his lover, Dona Maria. When she died, the current owner’s ancestors purchased the land and surrounding gardens where they have been making wine ever since. By all means taste the wine , which is terrific, especially the full-bodied red Dona Maria Grand Reserve. But also tour the grounds that include a building storing large amphora vases from the mid-1700s when wine production first started, including one from the 1200s discovered underground. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be there during the harvest in late August/early September where workers still stomp the grapes by foot.
Royal Horse Stud Farm
Every good monarchy needs strong horses. So it comes as no surprise that King Joao V, the same king from above who had not one, but at least two lovers out of wedlock including a nun with whom he had two children, founded the Royal Horse Stud Farm in Alter do Chão in 1748. Today, it is the oldest continuously operating stud farm in the world and currently holds 400 grand Lusitano horses. Tour the Royal Stables to see this elegant breed of horse and then, as a bonus, see the hawks, owls, falcons, and yelping dogs that still engage in this centuries-old sport of falconry. If you want to spend the night, a new property recently opened on the premises that offers an outdoor swimming pool, a spa with heated indoor pool, and a restaurant serving traditional Alentejo cuisine.
Almost everywhere you look in Alentejo, you’ll find the thick gnarly bark of centuries-old cork trees. Indeed, Portugal produces close to 50 per cent of all cork products in the world with its main competitor being France . If you look closely at the trees, much of the bark has been harvested by hand, leaving a bare trunk with a number on it. Every nine years, the bark regenerates, so the number tells the cork producer the next time to harvest. To see the unique process of manufacturing the cork, visit Cortiçarte in Azaruja where you’ll find bark stacked high, then lowered into a boiling pit to soften, before being made into all types of products like handbags, placemats, and most importantly, cork for wine bottles. The vineyards are, after all, the number one buyer of cork.
The hidden coastline
Portuguese football superstar , Ronaldo, billionaire Richard Branson, and the singer, Madonna, are just a few of the glitterati found on the beaches of Comporta, Alentejo’s best-known beach resort. Yet, keep heading south and you’ll find some of the most exquisite coastline in Europe, where cliffs fall to sheltered coves and very private strips of beach. Approximately 30km south of Comporta in the relatively untouched town of Melides, the 13-room boutique hotel, Vermelho, was recently unveiled by French shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. Expect more hoteliers to follow in his footsteps now that this region is starting to be discovered.
For more places to discover in Portugal, see visitportugal.com/en
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Tax Treat: 10 Places To Travel To Once You Get Your Tax Refund
Posted: October 29, 2023 | Last updated: October 29, 2023
- Lisbon, Portugal: Enjoy the vibrant neighborhoods and historic architecture in budget-friendly Lisbon. Spend more time exploring landmarks and splurge on dining and entertainment with a cost of $138 per day or $978 per week.
- Queenstown, New Zealand: For adventure seekers, Queenstown offers thrilling activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, and glacier hikes. Afterward, savor the best views and famous Fergburger, all for an average cost of $105 per day or $719 per week.
- Phuket, Thailand: Escape to crystal blue beaches and indulge in authentic Thai cuisine in Phuket. Splurge on luxury activities like canoeing at James Bond Island, Phi Phi Island tours, and luxury boat trips for an average cost of $110 per day or $784 per week.
Tax season is something everyone dreads. It's not the most fun responsibility in the world, but it's something everyone collectively goes through every year. For those who are receiving a tax refund this year and are looking for something to splurge on, taking a relaxing vacation or traveling to a bucket list destination may be the best way to spend it.
There are plenty of incredible destinations around the world that will allow travelers to get the most bang for their buck, like these budget-friendly islands in the Maldives. The key is finding them and booking ahead of time! Here are the top 10 best places to travel to where travelers' tax refunds will stretch the furthest.
Related: 10 Of The World's Best Hidden Family Vacation Spots To Visit In 2023
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is one of Europe's most enjoyable, budget-friendly cities to visit. With its colorful neighborhoods, delicious cuisine, and fantastic historic architecture, there is no shortage of activities here in Lisbon.
Because Lisbon is so inexpensive, vacationers may opt to spend more time here and splurge on a hotel upgrade and enjoy exploring more historical landmarks! Landmarks like Castelo De Sao Jorge, Belem Tower, and Jeronimos Monastery are all under 15 Euros, leaving more room to splurge on entertainment, dining, and other goodies. Lisbon is definitely one of the best places to travel once one gets their tax refund.
- Average cost: $138 per day, $978 per week
- Things to do: National Museum of Ancient Art , Belem Tower, Campo de Santa Clara
- Best time to visit: Fall
Queenstown, New Zealand
For travelers looking to go out of their comfort zone and experience some wild adventures, Queenstown, New Zealand, is the best place to spend a tax refund!
Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital and is home to some of the craziest adventure sports in the world. Adrenaline junkie travelers can enjoy tandem skydiving, zipline tours, glacier hikes, canyoning, and the sport that started it all, bungee jumping. Visitors can bungee jump off of Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge , where it first originated. Afterward, travelers can enjoy a night out in Queenstown, eat the famous Fergburger, or ride a gondola to Bob's Peak for the best views in New Zealand.
- Average cost: $105 per day, $719 per week
- Things to do: Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown Gardens, white water rafting on Kawarau River
- Best time to visit: Summer (December-February)
Visitors can also find these Lord of the Rings filming locations in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Phuket, Thailand, has become one of Thailand's most popular holiday destinations, and with good reason. Phuket is surrounded by crystal blue beaches, stunning islands, and authentic Thai food around every corner; travelers will never want to leave!
For those who are looking for the ultimate vacation destination away from everyday life and the stresses of tax season, Phuket is the perfect location. If vacationers are looking to splurge more here, Phuket offers a variety of luxury and adventurous activities like canoeing at James Bond Island, Phi Phi Island tours, and luxury boat trips.
- Average cost: $110 per day, $784 per week
- Things to do: Kata Noi Beach, Patong Beach, Wat Chalong Temple , Big Buddha Phuket
- Best time to visit: November-April
Volcanic landscapes, pristine blue beaches, and spectacular nature preserves are what make Honolulu, Hawaii, the most coveted vacation destination in the world.
Honolulu is a great summer vacation destination to take with the entire family. Travelers can book a beautiful hotel on Waikiki Beach , surf the waves, go snorkeling, eat incredible local foods, and maybe even swim with sharks. A week out in the Hawaiian sun and Pacific Ocean is the perfect way to spend a sizable tax refund.
- Average cost: $284 per day, $1,985 per week
- Things to do: Pearl Harbor National Memorial , Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, Iolani Palace
- Best time to visit: March-September
Related: Escape To Perfect Temperatures: Best Spring Climate Destinations Around The World
Prague, Czech Republic
Forget Paris, London, and Milan for a tax refund treat. The Czech Republic's Prague is the perfect European destination where tourists can get the most bang for their buck.
This romantic city has so many landmarks and activities to do that visitors can easily spend 5 days to a week here. Classic sites like the awe-inspiring Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the Malá Strana district make Prague a true bucket-list destination. Prague is also very budget-friendly which means tourists can splurge on other areas, such as hotel accommodations or special day trips if they choose!
- Average cost: $112 per day, $783 per week
- Things to do: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle , Old Town Square, St. Nicholas Church
- Best time to visit: Spring and Fall
Not only is Brussels the capital city of Belgium, but it is also the chocolate capital of the world. Also renowned for its Belgian beer, fries, and waffles, Brussels is a must-visit destination for foodies who are looking for a literal tax treat.
There are magnificent parks, ornate buildings, and street corners where tourists can smell the Belgian waffles. Visitors who are looking to do high-end shopping or chocolate-tasting can walk inside the Royal Gallery of St. Hubert. For the best chocolate in Brussels, tourists should check out Neuhaus Chocolates in the Royal Gallery of St. Hubert .
- Average cost: $145 per day, $1,020 per week
- Things to do: Grand Place, Parc du Cinqantenaire, Royal Gallery of St. Hubert , Brussels Park, Neuhaus Chocolates
- Best time to visit: Summer and Fall
Commonly known as the "heart of Spain," Madrid is a dreamy city that's rich in food, wine, and stunning architecture. The spring or fall season is the perfect time to visit Madrid after travelers receive their tax returns.
One of the best ways to get an authentic taste of Madrid is to experience their Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour while learning about the city's history. Visitors will get the chance to try 10 outstanding tapas dishes while wine tasting and walking around the city. Some other must-do things in Madrid include the El Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, and taking a tour of Madrid's Old City!
- Average cost: $144 per day, $1,015 per week
- Things to do: Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace of Madrid , Temple of Debod , Catedral de la Almudena
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Taking a vacation anywhere in Scotland will guarantee amazing landscapes, culture, and intriguing history. And the Isle of Skye in Scotland is no exception. Located in the northwestern part of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides and is filled with a wide mix of leisurely activities and adventurous ones for every vacationer.
The Isle of Skye is considered a more expensive destination, so for those who are looking to splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation and want to contribute their tax refund to a trip, this remarkable spot in Scotland is the place to go!
- Average cost: $140 per day, $976 per week
- Things to do: The Fairy Glen, The Storr , Kilt Rock, Neist Point
- Best time to visit: Summer
Related: These Are The 10 Best Workcation Destinations Around The World For Remote Work Travel
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town's stunning mountains, pristine beaches, and energetic nightlife make this city one of the best destinations to travel to after tax season! Whether visitors are looking for thrilling adventures like paragliding or relaxing on the white sands of Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, has it all.
After a full day of abseiling, hiking, or ziplining through South Africa's terrain , guests can enjoy a night out on the town in Cape Town's wide variety of restaurants and bars. Cape Town has a vibrant food culture that blends Indian, African, and Malay dishes that travelers will savor long after their trip.
- Average cost: $94 per day, $664 per week
- Things to do: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden , Table Mountain, Cape Point Nature Reserve, Camps Bay Beach
- Best time to visit: December-April
While Munich is arguably the most expensive city in Germany, it's a picture-perfect travel destination for those who are willing to splurge a little bit more on their vacation.
Munich is a colorful city with a wide array of cultural and seasonal festivals all year round that showcase the beauty and history of Bavaria. A great day trip near Munich is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen, Germany . The showstopping castle that inspired Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, located within the Bavarian Alps, is a great vacation activity for the whole family to enjoy.
- Average cost: $159 per day, $1,118 per week
- Things to do: Day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle , Marienplatz, Asamkirche, English Garden, Oktoberfest (September-October)
Tickets can be purchased in advance for Neuschwanstein Castle tours. Tours are offered both in German and English.
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