Listed among the top European destinations, Lisbon offers a great place to explore within a few day trips. Discover the top best things to do in Lisbon.
In this guide you will discover that Lisbon grants plenty of things to see and do in this mid-sized city built on the Tagus River, promising you a memorable stay.
Exploring the narrow streets of Lisbon, you will discover the unique charm of this city, recognized by the UNESCO collection and travel lovers alike.
Table of Contents
- Top things to do in Lisbon
- What to visit in Lisbon
- Where to stay in Lisbon:
Top things to do in Lisbon
One of the best options to visit the heart of Lisbon and experience the top things to do in Lisbon is by walking or using public transportations.
Here you will read about the best walking tours that you can do in Lisbon, with our guides. And the best thing: they are all free.
Alfama walking tour:
Alfama is a perfect destination to get in touch with Lisbon’s historical past and beauty. Here you can indulge in the Moorish-inspired maze of narrow streets and alleys blended with the local artisanal character. This secular district is where you will discover the old spirit of Lisbon and its inhabitants. And don’t forget to visit the “Feira da Ladra”, the flea market where locals go.
Lisbon downtown walking tour:
Being the proud work of the post-earthquake reconstruction held by Marquis de Pombal in the 18th century, the downtown area of Lisbon stands for the modern urban planning winner.
The entire area comprises several squares, and avenues covered in charming Pombaline architecture and fountains. An extensive row of cafes and shops in Rua Augusta and Avenida de Liberdade is going to make your Baixa tour complete.
Bairro Alto and Chiado walking tour:
Chiado will grant you the joy from a place where the past and present meet again. The solemn ruins of the Carmo Convent are the first to greet you in this district. Once the most important Gothic church in Lisbon, it was damaged during the 1755 earthquake and never rebuilt. And until this day, the church is open but with no roof.
And in this district, you will find the most culture-filled square with plenty of religious buildings, museums, and stores dotted around the statue of the poet Antonio Ribeiro, also known as Chiado, which seems to have few rivals in whole Lisbon.
Tram 28 and Tram 12 self-guided tour:
Going back to the beginning of the 20th century, Lisbon still has a few tram cars that are public transportations.
For those in a hurry or as an option of what to do in Lisbon when it rains, taking these vintage tram cars in Lisbon offers most of the highlights of Lisbon comfortably.
Going through all the historical districts, the Tram 28 and the Tram 12 are excellent ways to visit Bairro Alto, Baixa, Chiado, Alfama, Mouraria and more.
What to visit in Lisbon
Lisbon Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Lisbon today. Dating 1147, the original construction reveals Romanesque features enriched with Gothic cloister and chapel in the 13th century. After that, several other alterations were done in Baroque and Neoclassical styles that add a unique appearance to the Cathedral.
In 1755 there was an enormous earthquake that destroyed most of the buildings in the city center. The rebuilding of the Lisbon Cathedral began and assumed its present-day image at the beginning of the 20th century.
St. Anthony’s Church:
Around the corner of the Lisbon Cathedral, the St. Anthony’s Church is another must-visit site. Built-in 1195 on the site where Fernando de Bulhoes, most commonly known as Saint Anthony, was born. This religious building also underwent many changes before reaching its final design in the Baroque-Rococo style in 1767.
Special Saint Anthony celebrations occur on June 13, for those in search of love adventures might well find entertaining the tradition of coin throwing in the saint’s book’s statue in front of the church.
Saint Jorge Castle:
In the highest point of Lisbon, you will find Saint Jorge Castle. Built when Portugal was under Arab control, this impressive citadel still holds the ruins of the royal palace and stays high over Lisbon.
The privileged viewpoint allowed the Arabs to control the people of Lisbon during their invasion.
Its terraced square welcomes visitors for admiring spectacular panorama views of Lisbon and Tagus River.
Portas do Sol viewpoint:
Having many viewpoints in various districts, Portas do Sol appears to be a favorite place for travelers and photographers.
This balcony-like lookout surrounded by red-roofed white houses and sacred buildings presents amazing views over Alfama and the Tagus River.
Savoring coffee and Portuguese pastry in this tourist-filled area is a great way to surrender oneself to a break during your lively tour of Alfama.
Senhora do Monte viewpoint:
Although Portas do Sol is one of the most visited viewpoints in Lisbon, the Senhora do Monte viewpoint is one of the most beautiful.
Here you can see the Castelo de São Jorge, you can see the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge, the Baixa including all the city’s hills, providing views with unique beauty.
National Coach Museum:
The National Coach Museum brings together a unique coach collection from the 16th to 19th centuries.
With an excellent selection of coaches that shows the technical and artistic evolution of the means of transport of animal traction, used by European courts until the appearance of motor vehicles.
Seventy vehicles are on display, the oldest dating from the 16th century and the most recent a 19th-century coach. Besides the collection of motor vehicles, the Museum also has a set of pieces that were in the service of vehicles and gala processions and others related to the art of chivalry and equestrian games and a collection of portraits of the Portuguese Royal Family.
On the west wing of the Jerónimos Monastery, the impressive Navy Museum is one of the oldest museums in Portugal. Here you will discover all the achievements of the Portuguese Navy and how the Portuguese navy had a prominent part in becoming Portugal one of the most important world powers during the Age of Discoveries.
Here you will see centuries-old real vessels, mock-ups, navigation instruments, and navy weapons.
The Navy Museum is considered to be one of the most prestigious museums in Portugal.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum — Founder’s Collection:
With many interesting temporary exhibitions, the Gulbenkian Foundation houses a permanent and attractive modern collection: Collection of the Founder. It includes rooms well organized by sections focused on antiquity, Asian art, Western painting, sculpture, and decorative art.
Besides the magnificent interior, splendid gardens surround this museum that allows you to take a break in the middle of a busy city. Great for just reading a book and relaxing. These gardens will make you feel completely abstracted from the city.
In 2017, TripAdvisor considered the Oceanarium of Lisbon the best oceanarium in the World. Built for Expo 98, it is still maintained and updated frequently.
Here you will discover all about the ocean’s life, with its 7,500,000 liters of water divided by over 30 aquariums and 8,000 organisms, including animals and plants, of five hundred different species.
The principal attraction is the central aquarium, with 5,000,000 liters, representing the Global Ocean where several species of fish coexist, such as sharks, barracudas, rays, tunas, and small tropical fish.
Visiting the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery will put a perfect touch on your Lisbon trip. This building is going to stun each visitor regardless of age and nationality.
With an eclectic construction and its marvelous gardens built in the 16th century to host sailors during their pre-voyage prayers appear to assume the entire image of Portuguese architecture. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and relaxing at the same time.
Another symbol of the Age of Discoveries as a caravel prow awaits you in Belém. In steel and cement, the Discoveries Monument reaches 52 meters high on the Tagus riverbank.
It pays tribute to Portugal’s golden era filled to the brim with famous navigators like Vasco da Gama, monarchs, cartographers, and scientists.
The Belém Tower is probably one of the most recognized emblems of Lisbon. And represents the whole of Portugal’s architectural and functional aspirations of the medieval Portuguese population.
The architecture had inspiration from the North African style, and the construction finished around 1519. The Belém Tower served as a waterfront defense for decades, with its usage as a prison and customs house.
The Belém Tower tour provides its visitors the opportunity to witness extraordinary sculptures inside and enjoy spectacular views over the Tagus from its roof.
Time Out Market:
The Time Out Market is a place in Lisbon that you cannot miss. Built inside an old food market, Mercado da Ribeira, you will taste the best flavors that Portugal offers.
There are many restaurants in this area, in a concept of common dining space. Most of them are from very famous Portugues Chefs. When there, try the food from the restaurant of Henrique Sá Pessoa. A two time Michelin Star Chef!
Here you can indulge yourself with many traditional dishes, appetizers, desserts, sweets, beer, and of course wine!
Where to stay in Lisbon:
Lisbon has a lot of options for lodging, from hostels to luxury hotels, there is always an option for everybody.
If you are looking for where to stay in Lisbon, these are our most recommended areas for staying in Lisbon.
Historic City Center:
The best location for walkers and brief stays. Close to all the best things to do in lisbon, here you will feel like a local and all the old city energy. Step out of your hotel and have breakfast with the locals. However, we do not recommend it for traveling by car, because traffic can be difficult and parking expensive.
Cais do Sodré:
A superb choice for nightlife lovers. Extremely close to the Bairro Alto and the Pink street, Cais do Sodré offers a great location for those seeking great nightlife and entertainment. However, we do not recommend it to families, because of the noise during night of the great nightlife and because the rooms in this area are tiny. And for those traveling by car, it is like the Historic City Center, traffic is difficult and parking expensive.
Parque das Nações:
Great for families and travelers with cars, Parque das Nações offers few but great options. Parque das Nações is the new area of Lisbon, with great outside areas, with an immense walk alongside the River, and in the same area as the Oceanarium, it is great for kids.