Touted as a modern metropolis to rival London and packed with sights, Lisbon is a city that truly impresses. There is a wealth of history here, with accounts of everything from Roman imperialists to exotic Berber pirates, Moorish builders and wild Reconquista knights, all gathered in the grand palaces and historic quarters. But here there is also a bohemian atmosphere and the surprise of the new.
take itlisbon mapfor free admission to museums, discounts and unlimited use of public transport
Nightlife doesn't have to go far, as Bairro Alto is a mix of fado houses and stylish cafes. Then you can check out the latest digital art installations at the Museu Coleção Berardo or get a close-up look at a grimacing shark at the Lisbon Aquarium.
Meanwhile, the mysticism of famous Sintra lurks in the nearby hills, while countless pristine beaches abound on the peninsulas surrounding the Tagus estuary and the Atlantic coast.
Let's explore themThe best things to do in Lisbon:
1. Marvel at the Belém Tower
If there is only one attraction to visit on your tour of the Portuguese capital, choose this one.
Rising above Lisbon's waterfront, this grand tower presents a true fusion of architectural styles from Mudejar to Moorish, Gothic to Romanesque.
It has watched over the mouth of the Tagus River since it was built under the patronage of São João in the 16th century.
Since then, it has become perhaps the most iconic monument in the city, famous for being the last sight that adventurers like the lost Vasco da Gama would have seen while sailing across the vast Atlantic Ocean.
2. Ride on the tram 28
Like San Francisco in the United States, Lisbon is a city famous for its historic and noisy tram lines.
None are more iconic than the 28 tram, which for decades has made its way up the steep cobbled streets and into the old Alfama district.
The journey begins below the palm-fringed hills of Graça and meanders towards the winding streets of the Escolas Gerais before stopping under the magnificent domes of the Basílica da Estrela.
The people-watching opportunities through the windows are second to none, and you'll uncover decades of history as you pass the majestic palaces and castles along the route.
Tour Empföhlene:2-hour ride on the historic tram 28 in an eco-friendly tuk-tuk
3. Lose yourself in the Alfama neighborhood
The small and compact neighborhood of Alfama is Lisbon's answer to the old cities of other ancient capitals of Europe.
Like the Forum in Rome, it is believed to be the oldest part of the city, although it dates back to the Moors of Africa rather than the kings of Lazio.
Immersing yourself in the labyrinth of winding streets and alleys that make up the neighborhood is one of the must-see attractions for anyone visiting the Portuguese capital.
Walking around, one discovers great cathedrals such as the Sé de Lisboa and chapels with tiled façades.
There are also the remains of the old city walls and hidden squares with many outdoor cafes.
tour available:Alfama District: 2.5-Hour Walking Tour
4. Take a trip to Sintra
Have you ever been to Sintra? is the usual question from the veterans of the Portuguese capital.
Despite being a completely different city and being over a half hour drive from Lisbon, this one is glorious.sintra cityit remains one of the main attractions here.
Day trips are common, while others may want to spend a few days exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located at the top of the mythical Mountains of the Moon, it has elegant baroque churches, colorful mansions and the great palaces of the former Portuguese kings and queens.
suggested route:Full day tour to Sintra, Cascais and Estoril from Lisbon
5. Appreciate the tiles of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Ask any ceramic lover and they will tell you that Portugal is the place of tiles.
Cue the great Museu Nacional do Azulejo de Lisboa, dedicated to everything baked in the oven.
The institution traces the important history of tile making and related technologies back to the days when the Moors first brought them to the Iberian Peninsula.
Best of all the exhibits are of course the blue colored tiles.
These famous ceramic works of art have given the country its reputation as ceramic artisans.
You'll see all the styles, sizes and designs, and learn about the evolution of the charming motifs that adorn their cobalt blue finishes.
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6. Conquer the bastions of the Castle of São Jorge
Castelo de São Jorge is undoubtedly the most visible landmark of the historic center of Lisbon.
The great citadel stands tall and solid above the streets of old Alfama and was built by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.
Since then, it has been developed by the city's subsequent rulers, from the Berbers to the Knights of the Reconquest.
Today there are mighty crenellated towers and stockades to admire, along with a surrounding dry moat and other fencing features.
Go under the large gate and look for the Portuguese Royal Seal, which represents the country's monarchical strength.
express entry:Skip-the-line entrance to Castelo de São Jorge with a companion
7. Relive the glorious history at the Jerónimos Monastery
Just one look at the ornate towers and magnificent sculptures of the grand Jerónimos Monastery should be enough to deduce the raison d'être of this enormous landmark, located near the banks of the Tagus River.
It was built to mark Portugal's most glorious era, called the "Age of Exploration". Known as the Manueline style, the fusion of architectural designs is a testament to the cultures encountered by Lisbon's explorers, while the money to build the structure came from the international trade in cloves, cumin and exotic spices from Portugal.
It is also another UNESCO World Heritage Site of the city.
online book:Entrance to the Jerónimos Monastery
8. Diving in the Lisbon Oceanarium
Located in the blue waters of the Tagus estuary, Lisbon's massive oceanarium rises like a gigantic aircraft carrier.
Inside, the structure houses numerous marine-themed exhibits, which together attract more than a million visitors each year.
You can get up close to the colorful puffer fish and watch the sharks attack.
You will see curious moray eels and meet cute penguins.
There are also interesting collections of sea anemones and corals, plus an artificial boating lagoon out front where you can hire a pedalo when the sun shines.
Ticket available online:Entrance to the Lisbon Oceanarium
9. Admire the masterpieces of the National Museum of Ancient Art
The National Museum of Ancient Art houses Portugal's prestigious national art collection.
Pieces here range from devotional depictions of saints by Nuno Gonçalves to chiaroscuro portraits by Josefa de Óbidos.
Most of the canvases date from the 16th to the 19th centuries and became public property after the Liberal Wars that rocked the country in the early modern age.
Patrons can also enjoy the myriad of traveling exhibitions here, featuring past collections reflecting Renaissance-era Lisbon, as well as historical paintings from the Age of Discovery.
10. Experience the Orient at the Museo de Oriente
One only has to set foot in places like Sri Lanka and Goa to realize how far the great Portuguese Renaissance empire stretched.
These eastern ends of the empire are the subject of the Museu do Oriente in Lisbon and the space itself is vast.
It is housed in a colossal former fish processing factory that now has modern showrooms.
The focus here is on things Asian, with tales of Chinese rituals and voyages across the South China Sea all part of the tour.
11. Ride the funiculars
Like Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills.
Unlike Rome, city planners developed a series of funiculars to facilitate transportation to and from the districts above the city.
It is a real pleasure to go through some of its routes, such as the old Ascensor do Lavra, which dates from the end of the 18th century and was declared National Heritage.
There is also the Ascensor da Bica, which meanders through the narrow cobbled streets of Largo do Calhariz.
Also, let's not forget the tall Elevador de Santa Justa that takes people from Baixa to Carmo, offering expansive views of central Lisbon along the way.
12. Enjoy the Ribeira Market
The most famous food market in Lisbon has two different faces.
First, there's the lower part, where local fruit and vegetable vendors sell juicy Mediterranean fruits and vegetables every morning of the week. So get there early if you want to get the best deals.
Then there's the upper section, filled with more modern, often quirky food stalls and high-end restaurants.
There you can taste the local specialty cream tarts, taste good Portuguese wines and even try to conquer a giant francesinha, which is one of the delicacies coming from Porto, in the north.
tour available:Local market, food and culture walking tour
13. People-watching in Rossio
Local life in Lisbon unfolds every day at Praça do Rossio, dotted with plane trees.
Officially titled Praça Pedro IV, the spot marks the heart of downtown Pombaline, stretching out in wide avenues between the Tagus and Baixa rivers.
The location of the square itself is famous since the Middle Ages, when public beheadings and bullfights were held on its cobblestones.
Today it is a good place to walk around and people watch.
You can relax on benches in the shade, watch the locals play dominoes in the park, and enjoy the ornate Baroque fountains that splash in the sun.
related tour:The best of Lisbon on foot: Rossio, Chiado and Alfama
14. Enjoy the modern Berardo Collection Museum
The acclaimed Museu Coleção Berardo showcases the more modern side of Lisbon's already impressive array of world-class museums and exhibition spaces.
This massive institution now attracts more than 2.5 million visitors each year.
You'll marvel at the smorgasbord of eclectic artwork, from abstract expressionism and digital art installations to neorealism and photography.
The curators strive to keep the collections fresh, which means there are regular touring collections as well, so you can expect to see works from the French avant-garde and European Cubism on display.
15. Eat and drink in Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is not only Lisbon's main tourist area, packed with outdoor cafes and international restaurants, but also the best nightlife spot in the city.
You usually have to wait until the afternoon for the establishments to get going, but when they do, it's the authentic Pastelaria bakeries and original pubs.
There are some old fado venues if you fancy a night of artistic passion, all interspersed with new beatnik-style beer halls and bars.
16. Catch the waves in Caxias
Grab a board, wax it up and put on some shorts or preferably a wetsuit because the waters where the Tagus estuary meets the Atlantic can get quite cold.
Located to the west of central Lisbon, this beautiful enclave of sand and sea is where most of the capital's surfers head to spend the weekend.
It has some challenging breaks from left to right, and there are plenty of tour providers offering wave surfing lessons, which are perfect if you're a beginner looking to escape the city to enjoy its beaches.
17. Finden Sie Ihren inneren Entdecker im Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, today a historical monument in its own right, marks the banks of the Tagus estuary with its magnificent architecture and beige stone.
It has been here since the early 1960s and is an artistic testimony to the achievements of Portuguese exploration in the age of discovery.
You can reach the imposing landmark by walking along the edge of Santa Maria de Belém.
Once you've discovered it, be sure to look for the legendary figures of Vasco da Gama (explorer of India and Arabia) and Infante D. Henrique, the Navigator (adventurer of the Great Sea of Sand).
18. Learn about the city's past at the Lisboa Story Center
When you're done touring the beautiful Bairro Alto and Velha Alfama neighborhoods, it's time to get some information on the sights.
There is probably no better place in the city for that than the Lisboa Story Centre.
The institution, which offers free admission to all Lisboa City Card holders, reveals the past of the Portuguese capital from its beginnings to the present day.
There are special sections dedicated to the Age of Exploration and the great navigators who left the city.
Also not to be missed is a particularly illuminating article on the devastating earthquake of 1755.
19. Royal Gardens of the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira
Dating from 1681 and located on the far northwestern outskirts of Lisbon, the grand palace of the Marquês de Fronteira is one of the most isolated remnants of the city's former glory.
Despite its remote location, it is easily accessible and offers a glimpse of the majestic architecture that emerged in Portugal in the 1600s and 1700s.
The house was once the home of the Marquis de Fronteira, who received his lands and wealth after remaining true to the Portuguese royal name during the Restoration War in the mid-17th century.
20. Enjoy the natural beauty of Tróia
You'll have to jump, jump, and jump in both the Tagus estuary and the Sado estuary to reach the sparkling beaches of the Tróia peninsula.
But the two-hour drive is definitely worth it.
The region stretches for miles along the Atlantic coast and has some of the best beaches in all of Baixo Alentejo.
The sand glows a soft yellow in the sun and the seas are surprisingly calm for this western part of the country.
The beautiful Arrábida Natural Park can be seen on the opposite promontory, while regular tours leave from Tróia to spot bottlenose dolphins in the sea.
21. Go to the beach in Costa da Caparica
Speaking of beaches, it is enough to cross the Ponte de Abril over the Tagus River to reach the famous and popular summer resort of Costa da Caparica.
Located at the northern end of the Setúbal district, it offers unrivaled access to some of the best sandy beaches near the capital.
Here you are sure to discover empty dunes covered in acacia trees and swaying seagrass, all washed by challenging swells.
Closer to town are the busier beaches, while a narrow-gauge railway takes travelers to secluded coves and sunny spots along the coast.
22. Enjoy the seafood and the sun in Cascais
If you need a dose of idyllic scenery after the hustle and bustle of central Lisbon, there's probably no better place than Cascais.
Located to the west of the city, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, this former fishing village has been transformed over the years by the influx of luxury Lisboners in search of sun, sea and sand.
There are no less than three golden coves flanked by cliffs, as well as some of the best seafood restaurants in the area.
If you want to catch waves, consider driving along the headland directly towards the wave-filled Guincho.
tour available:Full day tour to Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais
23. Bargaining at Feira da Ladra
Hone your haggling skills with a trip to Feira da Ladra, as this sprawling weekday and weekend market is the place to be to find wacky, wacky, and often downright bizarre trinkets and antiques.
Believe it or not, the history of the bustling bazaar dates back to the 12th century, when you can almost imagine a similar line of gypsy vendors and sellers of colorful talismans gathering on the sidewalks of Campo de Santa Clara.
You'll need to get there early if you want to buy anything of value, and you can even take the historic 28 tram to the market.
24. Admire the Águas Livres Aqueduct
Another of Lisbon's great visual landmarks is the Águas Livres Aqueduct.
This impressive stretch of stone arches and Italian architecture was created in the mid-18th century.
Conceived to alleviate the constant shortage of water in summer in Lisbon, it was built to integrate perfectly with the Gothic revival of the city itself.
Be sure to check out the section of the aqueduct that runs through the rooftops of the Amoreiras neighborhood, then head straight for the Water Museum, which documents the development of this masterpiece.
25. Discover the Basilica da Estrela
You almost certainly caught a glimpse of the magnificent domes and pinnacles of the Basílica da Estrela when you stepped off the carriages of the 28 tram. It's worth spending some time under the whitewashed facades of this iconic church and convent, considered by many visitors to be one of the most beautiful in Lisbon.
Late Baroque design dominates the exterior, with a pair of sky-piercing carved spires.
The interior, on the other hand, reveals a kaleidoscope of colored stone inlays and even the tomb of Queen D. María I of Portugal.
where to sleep:The best hotels in Lisbon, Portugal
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How can I spend 7 perfect days in Lisbon? ›
- Day 1: Embrace your inner tourist.
- Day 2: Marvel at Calouste Gulbenkian.
- Day 3: Visit Belem.
- Day 4: Explore the town of Sintra.
- Day 5: Adventure with a picnic.
- Day 6: Stroll through Lisbon's Botanical Gardens.
- Day 7: Discover Lisbon's heritage.
- Related Articles.
- Palace of Pena Sintra.
- Famous old yellow tram 28.
- Old colorful traditional house in Alfama.
- The Castelo de Sao Jorge Lisbon.
- Hop-on hop-off bus in Lisbon.
- Custard tart in Belem.
- Belem Tower on the Tagus river.
- Cais do Sodre.
In general, Portugal is not a tipping culture, there are no established rules, and different people follow different rules. There is no obligation to tip in restaurants, hotels, bars, or personal service locations like salons and spas.What is the dress code in Lisbon? ›
In Lisbon the locals dress in a smart, casual and understated elegant style. Opt for a smart casual look with nice shoes. Jeans are very popular especially with younger people, but they are always smart and clean.Can you wear shorts in Lisbon? ›
Shorts, t-shirts and camisoles are perfectly acceptable. In the summer wear plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection) and a sunhat. Pack sunglasses whatever time of year you go.What should I not do in Portugal? ›
- Don't get the language etiquette wrong. Language etiquette in Portugal is something of a minefield – especially in the Algarve and Lisbon, where most people speak English. ...
- Pointing. ...
- Getting too drunk. ...
- Rushing. ...
- Questioning authority.
How much money will you need for your trip to Lisbon? You should plan to spend around €105 ($113) per day on your vacation in Lisbon, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, €34 ($36) on meals for one day and €19 ($21) on local transportation.What month has the best weather in Portugal? ›
September and October are two of the best months to visit Portugal. The weather is still warm and pleasant, and the temperatures are much more manageable for sightseeing or hiking. It's also a wonderful time to visit many of Portugal's wineries with the grape harvest in full swing. The beaches are also much quieter.Which city is more beautiful Porto or Lisbon? ›
Lisbon has more tourist attractions, sights, and museums
While Porto has some worthwhile cathedrals and sights (like the Harry Potteresque bookstore), Porto is more about enjoying the city, strolling the streets, taking in views, and tasting Port wine at the Port lodges. Lisbon wins the Lisbon vs.
Lisbon is, among other things, known for its unique historical center, stunning architecture, colorful azulejos (ceramic tiles), and fantastic food. It also has a fascinating history, filled with rulers, invasions, destructions, and re-constructions. History aside, Lisbon is a fantastic place to visit.
Is Lisbon a walkable city? ›
Lisbon is famously surrounded by seven hills, but you don't have to be super-fit to explore. The city centre is level and easily walkable.What is the best way to explore Lisbon? ›
One of the best options is, of course, the metro. A few lines that Lisbon has get to the most important places in the city. Trains are not that crowded, but during the day they leave on average every 10 minutes. Lisbon trams are very popular.What is a typical breakfast in Portugal? ›
The most common items you'll find in a Portuguese breakfast are: bread, sliced cheese, sliced ham, bread, jam, and a milky coffee. Sometimes it's just toast without the ham and cheese, but the common denominators are almost always bread and a milky coffee like a galão or a meia de leite.Do you tip when breakfast is included? ›
“It is customary and appreciated to tip during breakfast when there is a server who takes your order or serves coffee and juice.”Can you drink tap water in Lisbon? ›
Drinking tap water in Portugal is considered safe in all regions and the water meets all EU standards. Lisbon tap water is of a medium hardness, rich in minerals and has chlorine added during treatment. It can have a strong taste, so most Lisbon residents drink bottled water and use tap water for most everything else.What can't you bring into Portugal? ›
- All forms of asbestos fibers.
- All products containing the biocide dimethylfumarate (DMF)
- Atlantic red tuna fish (Thunnus Thynnus) originating from Belize, Panama, and Honduras.
- Certain U.S. Beef hormones.
- Cologne and Perfume, Haz and Non-Haz.
Shoes are easy in Portugal. Walking around in sneakers is easy, and boots are also a good choice if it rains. Comfortable, high-quality shoes because you'll probably be walking on cobbled streets in actual medieval castles.What jewelry is Portugal known for? ›
In particular, Portugal is known for its gold filigree jewelry. This type of gold can be formed into pendants, necklaces, bracelets and rings. Sometimes the jewelry is adorned with religious symbols such as hearts of Viana.What is Lisbon Portugal known for? ›
Lisbon is, among other things, known for its unique historical center, stunning architecture, colorful azulejos (ceramic tiles), and fantastic food. It also has a fascinating history, filled with rulers, invasions, destructions, and re-constructions. History aside, Lisbon is a fantastic place to visit.What should I be careful of in Portugal? ›
Crime rates are low but pickpocketing, handbag snatching and theft from cars and holiday properties are common in major tourist areas and can be accompanied by violence. Be alert, keep sight of your belongings at all times and beware of thieves using distraction techniques.
Are there areas of Lisbon to avoid? ›
There aren't any no-go areas in Lisbon, but the neighborhoods around Intendente, Martim Moniz and Anjos are best avoided at night.How do I not look like a tourist in Portugal? ›
Be mindful of your clothing
Most Portuguese go out dressed nicely and don't normally wear super casual clothing like sweatpants in public. You don't have to get completely dressed up to go sightseeing, but dressing a bit more smartly will help you to fit in with the locals.
Pasteis de Nata
They're the most famous food from Lisbon! And the recipe is under lock and key: Apparently, only three people in the world know it! Pasteis de Nata is golden puff pastry circle with a barely firm rich egg custard in the middle.
Some of the most famous Portuguese dishes include piri piri chicken, francesinha, bacalhau, and pastel de nata. Portugal is also quite famous for its wines.What are 5 things Portugal is known for? ›
- Fado music. Fado has a special place in every Portuguese person's heart. ...
- Cristiano Ronaldo's birthplace. ...
- Codfish obsession. ...
- Home to Port wine. ...
- 300+ days of sun. ...
- The largest cork producer in the world. ...
- The site of the Miracle of Fatima. ...
- The country of azulejo tiles.
Portuguese dress code
The Portuguese dress conservatively. Women usually wear dresses, and men's clothing is based primarily around a jacket and tie. Business etiquette dictates suits and ties or sports jackets and ties for men. Women wear dresses, skirts, and jackets or trouser suits.
Portugal. Yes, you read it correctly: it's against the law to pee in the ocean in Portugal. Local laws actually aim at keeping beaches family-friendly which means no urinating while taking a plunge. So if you happen to swim into an unusually warm patch of water at a Portuguese beach, someone's broken the law!What is negative about Portugal? ›
A major downside to living in Portugal is finding a well-paying job. Whether you are making minimum wage or the average salary, do not expect to make a lot of money. In 2022, the national minimum salary in Portugal is €705 a month before tax.How safe is Lisbon at night? ›
Is Portugal safe at night? Lisbon is considered one of the safest cities to visit. There are criminal records of tourists being targeted, but it's rare.What is the coolest neighborhood in Lisbon? ›
Cais do Sodré in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, ranked not just as the second-coolest neighbourhood in the world, but the coolest in all of Europe. So why Cais do Sodré? Well, for starters the area is one of Portugal's buzziest nightlife hubs.
Do I need to carry my passport in Portugal? ›
In Portugal, all citizens of over 16 years of age, whether national or foreign, are required by law to carry a valid document identifying them to the authorities. This document may be an identity card, passport, residence certificate or residence card.What is the number one tourist attraction in Portugal? ›
Saint George's Castle or Castelo de São Jorge in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon is the number one tourist attraction in Portugal. The castle receives over 2 million visitors every year.