Your Guide To The 28 Best Things To Do In Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon (Lisboa), the capital of Portugal, is all things sunny, vibrant, and seafood-y. If you like any of those things, you’re going to really enjoy Lisbon. It’s laidback and lively at the same time and is renowned for its many hills, world-class museums, historical monuments, restaurants, rooftop bars, and a host of other exciting things to do.

Because the city is so compact, you’ll find that you can easily experience a lot in just a few days. If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, continue reading to discover some of our favorite things to do in Lisboa. You’re sure to have a jam-packed few days of fun and culture!

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WHERE IS LISBON, PORTUGAL LOCATED?

Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula, in the southwest corner of Europe. The country is bordered by Spain to its right and the Atlantic Ocean to its left.

Portugal has a population of approximately 10 million people. Its population is concentrated in two major cities Lisbon (the capital), and Porto. Aside from those two major cities, what else is Portugal known for?

The Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal, is famous for its pristine beaches, sunny shores, limestone caves and grottoes, flashy nightlife, and golf courses. Other main cities to visit include Braga in the north, known for its history and architectural treasures as well as the university town of Coimbra in the center of the country. Cascais and Sintra are both great day trips from Lisbon.


BEST TIME TO VISIT LISBON, PORTUGAL

For the best experience, we recommend you visit Lisbon from March to May or September to October. During these shoulder season months, the weather is pleasant (cooler than in the summer), hotel rates are cheaper, and you’ll find far fewer crowds than during the summer.

As with most parts of Europe, the peak tourist season for Lisbon is during summer from June to August. If you do choose to visit during the summertime, expect to deal with crowds, explore in humid and hot weather, and pay more for hotels and accommodations. Having said that, the one advantage of visiting during the summer is that the temperature is ideal for many summertime events and spending time at the beaches near Lisbon!

Winter and early spring (November to March) through in Lisbon are also a great time to visit given that it rarely freezes and snow is virtually unheard of, thanks to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The beaches will be too cold for swimming, but you’ll find way fewer tourists along with the shortest lines, lowest airfare, and discounted hotel rates. That’s right, while the rest of Europe experiences harsher, snowy conditions, Lisbon remains a viable winter destination for travelers like myself who don’t like the cold!


HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN LISBON, PORTUGAL

There is so much to do in Lisbon that you could easily spend a week (or more) just exploring all the historical attractions, shops, restaurants, and bars. And we haven’t even considered the fact that there are so many great day trips you could take from Lisbon including visiting Sintra, Cascais, as well as the many nearby beaches and beach towns.

If you are limited on time, I would recommend dedicating at least 3 days to Lisbon itself, allowing you enough time to see the major highlights of the city. Should you have 2-3 additional days to spare, don’t hesitate to spend more time in this region–you won’t be bored! You can even add on day trips to Sintra or Cascais before moving on to Porto, to other European cities, or flying home.


HOW TO GET AROUND LISBON, PORTUGAL

For the majority of the time, you’ll either find yourself walking around Lisbon on foot or taking the Metro.

Central Lisbon is relatively compact, making it easy to explore on foot. In fact, it’s the only way to see some quintessential neighborhoods like the Alfama. But, there are pretty hilly parts of the city too. In fact, Lisbon is a city of seven hills and no matter what you have planned for the day, you’ll likely find yourself walking upwards at some point. Because the city is so hilly, you’ll find that walking everywhere isn’t exactly feasible.

For cases where you just don’t have the energy to take on another hill or you want to venture farther out to places like Belém, Lisbon’s got your back with their public transportation system that includes trains, buses, and trams. In order to determine which option is best for you, simply pop in your starting point and destination into Google Maps to explore your options.

When I was last in Lisbon, I utilized the metro, the train, as well as the tram once, just for the heck of it. Otherwise, I definitely aimed to tire my feet out by walking to every corner of Lisbon possible!

Lisbon’s buses and trams are among the cheapest in Europe, making them affordable ways to help you explore the city. To use any means of public transportation, you’ll need to buy a Viva Viagem card. The Viva Viagem card is a quick and easy way to pay for rides on public transportation in Lisbon.

Alternatively, if you purchased a Lisboa Card, you can take advantage of free, unlimited travel by all public transportation, including the metro.

Here are a few more details about each of the transportation methods available:

TRAM

Lisbon has six tram lines operated by Carris, as well as a few elevators that will allow you to skip the need to manually walk up the city’s steep hills. If you’re not in a rush to get anywhere fast, taking these can be a fun way to discover the city and get those photo ops. A tram ticket will set you back €2.90 (about $3.50 USD). Costs to ride the elevators vary.

Do note though, Tram 28 is now a tourist attraction, making it the most popular tram line. It’s no wonder it’s the most popular because It runs through some of Lisbon’s most iconic neighborhoods including the Alfama, Graça, and Chiado. And because Tram 28 and the Santa Justa Elevator double as attractions, expect crowds during the majority of the day.

Tram 24 - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

METRO

The metro is the quickest and most practical way to travel around the city. The metro network has a total of 4 lines that serve 55 stations, each denoted by a different color: green, blue, yellow, and red. One of the reasons why it’s so convenient (and our preferred method of traveling around Lisbon) is that the metro operates every single day from 6:30am to 1am with trains running every 6 to 9 minutes.

If you’re a germophobe that tends to stay away from subways, don’t worry because they are very clean and well maintained! Lisbon’s Metro stations are designated by large M signs. A single ticket costs €1.45 (less than $2 USD). A day pass, which includes the use of buses, trains, and trams, costs €6.30 (less than $8 USD).

You’ll need to swipe your Viva Viagem card (or Lisboa Card) both when you enter and exit the metro, so keep it within arms reach for a speedy entrance and exit.

BUS

Lisbon’s bright yellow buses are cheap, quick, and efficient. Similar to the trams and elevators, the buses are operated by Carris. With a total of 170+ routes, buses can take you to a wide variety of destinations, including those you can get to by metro or tram. Bus rides do usually take longer than the metro, so if you had the option to choose between bus or metro, I’d recommend going with the metro.

Buses in Lisbon run from around 5am-1am. A single ticket purchased on board for a bus is €1.85 (about $2.25 USD). You can either pay the driver as you enter the bus or swipe your VIVA Viagem travel card or Lisboa Card.

If you are waiting for the bus at a bus stop, it’s completely normal to wave at the driver of the bus so that it doesn’t drive past you. Hop on via the front door, get off via the back door.

TRAIN

If you plan on visiting Sintra and Cascais, the commuter train (or comboios) will be the best option for you. In total, there are 67 stations within the four lines: Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja and Sado. If you’re a tourist, you’ll mostly be interested in the Sintra and Cascais lines.

Train services to Sintra depart from Rossio Station. Sintra is served by regular trains that run every 15-20 minutes and the entire trip takes about 45 minutes.

Train services to Cascais depart from Cais do Sodré Station. Trains run every 10-30 minutes and the journey takes about 40 minutes.

Remember to validate your ticket at the station before actually boarding the train. Your ticket will most likely be inspected once on board, so you don’t want to be on there without having paid for your trip!

TAXI/UBER

If you’re not interested in public transportation, your other options include taking a tuk-tuk, taxi or Uber. These are relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of Europe and tend to be the most convenient method of getting around. If you’re traveling with a larger group and plan to split the costs of taxiing or Uber-ing, this may be a viable method of transportation. Also if you’re going to be out late into the night, this will probably be the best option for you.

Do note that during rush hour, you’ll be sitting in your cab/Uber for a while thanks to all that traffic in the city!

LISBOA CARD

If you plan on visiting a bunch of sites, landmarks, and tourist attractions and you plan on taking a lot of public transportation in and around Lisbon, you should consider getting the Lisboa Card.

With the Lisboa Card, you can choose between a 24, 48, or 72-hour card that will give you free admission to 37+ museums and historic buildings, various discounts around the city, and unlimited free access to the public transportation system. Not only will you save on admission costs and precious time waiting in ticketing lines, but you’ll also save a bunch on transportation costs!

The price of the Lisboa Card ranges from approximately $23 to $50 USD depending on the duration of the card you select.


28 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LISBON, PORTUGAL

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the logistics out of the way, let’s get into some of the best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal.

TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR OF LISBON

Guide To Getting Around Lisbon By Public Transportation - TravelsWithElle

As with any major city, I always recommend people to start their trip off with a free walking tour of the city to get their bearings. With a pay-what-you-wish walking tour, not only will you get a better understanding of the city’s layout, but you’ll be able to learn some history and appreciate the local culture more.

Each guide has his or her own unique route, but typically they’ll take you through the areas of Bairro Alto, Chiado, Baixa, Alfama and Graça. Once you have a better understanding of these neighborhoods, feel free to come back later and explore them in more depth.

Another benefit that we love to take advantage of?  Being able to ask the local tour guide for food recommendations! Some of our best meals abroad were a result of tour guide recommendations.

While there are many more tour companies out there, Lisbon Chill Out and Take Lisboa are great options that offer a variety of different tours with specific focuses (Downtown, Belem, Alfama, and even Sintra or Cascais).

SEE THE CASTELO DE SAO JORGE

Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George’s Castle, sits atop a hill near the Alfama neighborhood with a commanding presence overlooking the city. This is definitely one of Lisbon’s most popular tourist destinations. Originally built as a place for military troops to protect the city from invaders, the castle was restored in the 1940’s and is now open to the public to explore.

You can walk along the ramparts, enjoy sweeping views of the city from the watchtowers, stroll among the tranquil gardens, as well as learn about the fascinating early history of Lisbon and Portugal. From there, check out the castle museum that showcases artifacts excavated from the hilltop, such as Iron-Age cooking pots and centuries-old tiles.

The entrance fee is €10 for adults and €5 for young adults between the ages of 13 and 25. Tickets can be purchased here, but I recommend opting for the skip-the-line option that comes with a 15-minute guided introduction to the castle and its history.

On your way in or out, enjoy the surrounding streets! Around the Castle of St. George, you will find several small shops selling a variety of really cool gifts and souvenirs.

TAKE TRAM 28

Guide To Getting Around Lisbon By Public Transportation - TravelsWithElle

The city of Lisbon is very hilly and you might find yourself wanting a break from all that walking around. While the train is the most practical option for getting around, you can also consider taking the tram. Tram 28, in particular, is arguably the most popular tram in all of Lisbon thanks to all the landmarks and sites you can see along the way.

Not only does it pass through some of the city’s most walkable neighborhoods including Alfama, Graça, Baixa, and Bairro Alto, but it also passes by popular landmarks including São Jorge Castle, Basilica da Estrela, and Miradouro da Graça.

Wondering where to get on or off? We recommend taking Tram 28 from anywhere up to the Alfama District (because who wants to walk that steep hill on foot) and then walking back down while exploring the picturesque neighborhood.

The tram costs €3 (less than $4) one way and tickets can be purchased either on board or at kiosks dotted around the city. If you purchased a 24-hour public transport ticket or a Lisboa Card, your tram fare is included.

Pro Tip: Due to the tram’s popularity, the cars tend to get crowded quickly, so be sure to arrive super early or much later in the day to avoid long lines. We’ve heard horror stories of Tram 28 lines taking one whole hour to board.

Alternatively, you can take the tram going in the opposite direction–instead of starting where everyone starts (Martim Moniz), start your ride at its final destination at Campo Ourique. You are much more likely to get a seat this way!

LISTEN TO FADO MUSIC

Fado Music - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

When in Portugal, you’ll hear that you have to make time to listen to Fado music. But what is Fado and what’s it all about? Fado music is a traditional style of Portuguese singing that originated in the 1820s. It is traditionally associated with pubs and cafés, renowned for its expressive and melancholic character, often reflecting on the difficulties of daily life.

As it’s the heart and soul of Portuguese music and culture, you’ll see Fado advertisements all over the city. The best way to experience it is through dinner and a show. One of the best spots to experience it is at Tasca do Chico. There are 2 locations, one in Barrio Alto and one in Alfama (the Alfama location is usually less busy and more frequented by locals).

Do note that some establishments charge an entrance fee while others may have a minimum spend in order to sit at a table.

Not interested in the dinner part? Consider this ticketed event – Live Fado Show Ticket in Lisbon: ‘Fado in Chiado’

VISIT THE ALFAMA NEIGHBORHOOD

Alfama Neighborhood Lisbon Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Lisbon’s oldest and arguably the most picturesque neighborhood is one not to be missed. As my tour guide once told me, getting lost in Alfama is no time lost at all. It’s a wonderful area to walk around and get lost in thanks to its medieval alleyways and views. When you’ve finally made it there (expect a hilly walk to get there), stop everything you’re doing and just listen to the sounds of locals living their everyday lives through their cracked open windows/doors.

The neighborhood is also home to souvenir shops where you can purchase products made of cork, azulejo tiles, clay dishes, and other traditional items. If you’ve come hungry, don’t fret, there are lots of restaurants there that serve traditional Portuguese cuisine, often paired with fado music performances.

VISIT THE BAIXA NEIGHBORHOOD

Baixa Neighborhood - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Located between Barrio Alto and Alfama the neighborhood of Baixa is considered one of Lisbon’s more lively, upscale neighborhoods. Here on the beautiful tree-lined avenues, you’ll find plenty of shops, boutiques, cafés, and restaurants to enjoy and watch the time pass you by. Because of how central this area is, you’ll always find it buzzing with people during the day!

Don’t miss a quick visit to Rossio Square, the liveliest square in Lisbon, where locals and visitors like to meet up. From there, make your way down Rua Augusta that leads down to Commerce Square, the largest and most famous square in Lisbon. Rua Augusta is one of the most well-known shopping streets in Lisbon, so be sure to window shop and take in the atmosphere! Once you get to Commerce Square, you will find plenty of great photo opportunities here. Strike a pose with the triumphal arch and the towering statue of King José I on horseback.

History-lovers should not miss the Livraria Bertrand (the oldest continuously running bookshop in the world) and the Café A Brasileira, a beautiful Art Deco-style café running since 1905.

Baixa Neighborhood - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

While you’re here, you can opt to ride the Elevador de Santa Justa, a wrought-iron lift that connects Chiado and Baixia. Do note that this elevator has become a popular tourist attraction and waits to ride the elevator can take well over an hour.

Elevador de Santa Justa - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

VISIT THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF CHIADO

Chiado Neighborhood - Best Things To Do In Lisbon

Chiado is another upscale neighborhood located close by to Barrio Alto, Baixa, and Alfama. Chiado is as elegant as it is artistic, with various cafes, art galleries, museums, and restaurants dotting the streets. It is even frequently compared to Paris’ Montmartre district.

If you’re looking for pointers on what to see here, the most famous streets are Rua Garrett, in the center of Chiado as well as Rua do Carmo, which houses the beautiful, timeless ruins of a medieval church that was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. From the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcántara (vista point), you’ll enjoy postcard-perfect views of Baixa, the Tagus River, and the São Jorge Castle on a hill.

Once you get your fill of the atmosphere in Chiado, head to Bairro Alto, to the edgier part of town!

EXPERIENCE NIGHTLIFE IN BARRIO ALTO

Pink Street Nightlife - Best Things To Do In Lisbon, Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Centuries ago, the Barrio Alto neighborhood housed many bohemian artists and writers. Today, you’ll find many patrons visiting the various restaurants, late-night bars, and dance clubs late into the night. And while the Barrio Alto neighborhood is a quiet residential neighborhood by day (uniquely decorated with graffiti and alternative shops), the district really comes alive once the sun descends.

If you’re looking to experience Lisbon’s nightlife, then look no further than the Bairro Alto neighborhood! Be sure to stop by Rua Cor-de-Rosa (or Pink Street) for some of the most lively bars/clubs. Pink Street, more officially known as Rua Nova do Carvalho, has become one of Lisbon’s trendiest destinations for nightlife and is also often used as an open-air art gallery. Take a walk and stop by any bar in the area, you’re sure to have a fantastic time!

Pro Tip: If you're looking for the lively nightlife described above, don’t show up until after 10 pm, when the party really gets started.

EAT AT TIME OUT MARKET

Time Out Market - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

The Time Out Market (previously known as Mercado da Ribeira) is a busy indoor food hall where you can enjoy a variety of meals and cuisines, including some of the best seafood in all of Lisbon! This market houses a lot of cool stuff, including 24 restaurants, 8 bars, a dozen shops, a cooking school and even a high-end music venue.

It’s a super casual spot to grab a bite to eat, especially if you’re traveling with a group where everyone wants to eat something different. There are a lot of options so be sure to wander around the whole market before settling on your top choice! From there, simply order your food and grab a seat at one of the many free-for-all cafeteria-style tables.

CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE BELEM TOWER

Belem Tower - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Belém is an important historic district of Lisbon, as many famous Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages around the world from this location. One of the most popular things to see in Belém is the Belém Tower (Torre de Belém). The fortress was built between 1514 and 1520 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

This tower was originally used to defend the city (which is why you’ll find several cannons at the bottom of the tower) and was later transformed into a lighthouse. Visitors today can actually climb the tower and explore each of the floors along the way to the top.

You’ll need to climb several floors on a narrow spiral staircase in order to reach the lookout at the top. To control traffic congestion within the tower, there are only 120 people allowed in the tower at a time. To avoid long waits, you can either arrive as soon as the tower opens or purchase your tickets in advance to skip the line.

This must-see Lisbon attraction is located about a 7-minute train or 15-minute tram ride from downtown. To get to Belem, take the train or tram 15, which departs from Praça do Comércio.

After you’ve seen the Belém Tower and enjoyed its Manueline (late Gothic-style) architecture, check out the nearby Padrão dos Descobrimentos. While soaking in the details of these monuments, you’ll find that both symbolize Portugal’s significance during the Age of Discoveries.

EXPLORE THE JERONIMOS MONASTERY

JERONIMOS MONASTERY - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Along with the Belém Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) are the two most visited sites in Lisbon. The monastery, originally populated by monks whose job was to give guidance to sailors and pray for the king’s soul, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and should definitely not be missed during your trip to Lisbon.

This landmark is a true symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. Famous explorers such as Vasco da Gama and his crew stayed here before voyages, several prominent figures are buried here, and even the famous recipe for the original pastéis de nata was developed here!

As soon as you step in, you’ll find that you’ve entered a world of intricate design and architecture. Slow down and pay attention to each and every cloister, each column carved with different coils of rope, sea monsters, and other sea motifs. From there, wander down the hallways, admiring the views of the massive courtyard from every angle and every floor. Really, don’t forget your camera for this one!

Pro Tip: Due to its popularity, the Jeronimos Monastery gets very crowded. Expect a long line to purchase tickets and a ton of people walking around the monastery once you get in. We recommend buying a ticket online and going early when they open or towards the end of the day to avoid the throngs of tourists. 

If you decide to purchase a Lisboa Card, you can enter this attraction and even skip the ticket line!

SEE THE PADRAO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS MONUMENT

Monument to the Discoveries - Best Things To See In Lisbon - TravelsWithElle

As you walk from the Belém Tower to the Jeronimos Monastery, take a quick pitstop along the way at the 170-foot tall Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). This regal-looking monument was designed to commemorate the Age of Discoveries in Portugal. Portugal was once one of the world’s greatest seafaring nations and its explorers mapped out much of the New World.

This unique sculpture depicts Henry the Navigator in the front, followed by 33 others who were pivotal to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, including members of royalty, explorers, cartographers, scientists, and artists.

For a small fee, you can even enter the monument and climb to the observation deck at the top. Personally speaking, the monument from the outside was pleasant enough of a sight (no need to spend money climbing to the observation deck unless you absolutely love observation deck views).

NATIONAL COACH MUSEUM

If you love off-the-beaten-path types of museums (or just imagining that you live in the 17th to 19th centuries), the National Coach Museum is for you. This wonderful museum features one of the finest and largest collections of ornate coaches, carriages, and ceremonial vehicles in the world!

You can expect to see a range of horse-drawn royal carriages made in countries like Portugal, France, Spain, and Austria. The oldest of the collection include a few that belonged to Philip II of Spain (1581 – 1598). Other noteworthy carriages include three Baroque Italian-style carts that belonged to Pope Clement XI.

The National Coach Museum is a small but mighty museum and is certainly worth a visit if this piques your interest at all! It is located very close to the Jerónimos Monastery and adult admission costs €8 (and free with the Lisboa card).

MUSEUM OF ART, ARCHITECTURE, AND TECHNOLOGY

MAAT Lisbon - 3 Day Itinerary For Lisbon Portugal - TravelsWithElle

The Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) is another fun attraction located near the Belém Tower. It opened in 2016 to help revitalize the Belém waterfront, bringing together visual arts, technology, and science. MAAT’s goal is to showcase both national and international exhibitions by contemporary artists, architects, and philosophers.

If you’re into architecture, you’ll want to check this spot out. There are various temporary exhibitions housed in the two buildings that make up MAAT (one being the old industrial building and the second being the more modern wave-shaped building). Both buildings are fun to explore, even if you’re limited on time. You won’t need too much time to wander through the temporary exhibitions. Admission for adults is €5.

EAT PASTEL DE NATA

Pastel De Nata - Best Things To Do In Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

If you’re wondering what foods you absolutely need to try while in Lisbon, then this one is for you. Seriously, I tell this to all my friends–you really need to make it your mission to eat as many pastel de nata (pastéis de nata in Portuguese) as your stomach can take. It’s the number one thing I dream about when I think about Portugal!

The pastéis de nata is the most popular dessert in all of Lisbon. It’s a small, warm egg custard pastry that’s surrounded by a flaky yet crispy crust. You’ll find them topped with just the right amount of cinnamon and powdered sugar, making them so darn irresistible! Even though they are made all over the country and sold at many pastry shops, only three establishments in the world know the original recipe–including Pasteis de Belém in Belem.

So naturally, the absolute best spot to try a pastel de nata or two is at the original Pastéis de Belém, a short five-minute walk from the monastery. Be sure to pair your sweet treat with a cup of coffee or espresso–the combination is heavenly.

Another really great option is Manteigaria, closer to the city center. Really, don’t be afraid to buy in bulk (you won’t regret it), and make sure you eat them while they’re hot!

SHOP AT THE THIEVE’S MARKET

krakow flea market - www.travelswithelle.com

The Thieves’ Market (also known as the Feira da Ladra) is a massive flea market in Lisbon, held every Tuesday and Saturday. It is one of the oldest markets in Lisbon, with origins dating back to the Middle Ages. Despite its name, the traders here today are perfectly legal.

If you’re a treasure hunter like myself, you’re going to love what this market offers. You’ll find everything from old books, vintage records, antiques, clothes, coins, military objects, jewelry, and any other secondhand items you can imagine!

The market, located at Campo de Santa Clara in Alfama, is generally open from dawn until the early afternoon. Expect to do some digging and haggling on price here. Not knowing what you’ll find is half the fun of the Feira da Ladra!

SOAK IN CITY VIEWS AT A MIRADOURO

Alfama District Lisboa Portugal - TravelsWithElle

While exploring Lisbon, you’ll eventually find your way atop a hill or two. When you’re there, don’t forget to stop and admire the views at a miradouro! Miradouros are viewpoints on top of the many hills around Lisbon. These are great photo op spots, giving you an almost aerial view of the city below.

The Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is hands-down the best place in Lisbon to catch a sunset. During sunset, it gets pretty lively as other locals and tourists gather to enjoy the views. You can even expect drink vendors and live music on occasions.

Miradouro - Best Things To Do In Lisbon Portugal

VISIT THE OCEANARIO DE LISBOA

The Lisbon Aquarium, also known as the Oceanário de Lisboa, is the largest indoor aquarium in all of Europe. The aquarium houses over 450 different species of fish and marine animals sure to keep you and your entire family entertained for hours. If you’re traveling with children, this should be one of the top things you choose to do in Lisboa.

The aquarium is broken out into four separate seascapes and landscapes, showcasing the habitats of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic oceans. The different ecosystems are really fun to explore as you’ll see not only fish, but also birds, sea otters, and even penguins! Tickets to the aquarium can be purchased here.

VISIT THE CARMO CONVENT

Carmo Convent - 3 Day Lisbon Itinerary

One of the best things to see in Lisbon is the Carmo Archaeological Museum, an elaborate set of ruins that used to be the Church of Santa Maria do Carmo. The gothic-style church was built in 1389 but sadly was damaged during the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755, destroying almost all of its religious-artistic contents. Today, it stands as an open-air structure with large arches supported by tall pillars. Despite it being called ‘ruins’, it’s actually quite beautiful.

Walk through the center of the church to reach the museum section of the ruins. Here, you’ll find some tombs on display, elaborate tiling on the walls, and two mummified bodies encased in glass.

While it does cost a small fee to see the museum portion of the church, the museum does offer free audioguides to its visitors (upon purchasing a ticket). Even if you don’t want to pay to enter, the Carmo Archaeological Museum is well worth a visit, if even just to witness the old church ruins with your own eyes!

VISIT THE NATIONAL TILE MUSEUM

National Tile Museum - Lisbon Portugal

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum) is one of the most unique museums in Lisbon due to the subject of its collection, azulejo (tile), an artistic expression that differentiates Portuguese culture. Its collections will take you on a journey through the history of tile, from the 15th century till present day.

The impressive tiles range from simple to ornate and showcase the cultural influences from the North African (Moorish) to Italian to Spanish. This is a must-see for people interested in tilework and history!

TAKE A FOOD TOUR

If you’re limited on time and want to experience a city through its cuisine, I’d highly recommend taking a culinary or food walking tour. Here are two wonderful food tours to get you started on your tastebud journey:

  • Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours – Enjoy 18 tastings including wine, charcuterie, and pastries of Lisbon. This is the only plastic-free food tour to support family-owned restaurants in Alfama!
  • Inside Lisbon – On this small-group Portuguese Food and Wine Tour, you’ll be able to taste cheese, pastries, and Port wine among many other local delights.

LX FACTORY

Situated near the Belem area, the LX Factory is a trendy, up-and-coming area that once was an old industrial area of Lisbon. The once-dusty old buildings have now been repurposed to house fashion boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, home decor shops, and hip restaurants. LX Factory is fairly popular among locals all throughout the week, but Sunday is by far the most popular day to visit.

On Sundays, you can’t miss LX Market, where farmers and artisans alike come from all over the country to see fruits and produce as well as handmade, design, and vintage items. It’s a great place to shop if you’re looking for unique items to bring home as souvenirs.

Because there is no entry fee to explore LX Factory, this is one of our favorite free things to do in Lisbon! Lx Factory is opened seven days a week, from early morning until late at night. Do note that businesses here have their own schedule, so for the best chances of exploring all the shops, head there during business hours. If you’re interested in learning more about what businesses are there, check out their map here.

EXPERIENCE A MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT

If you want to indulge in a really exquisite meal during your trip to Lisbon, then you’ll want to make a reservation at one of the various Michelin star-rated restaurants. Among the most popular is Belcanto. Other popular Michelin star restaurants include Alma, Feitoria, and Eleven. Each restaurant’s plates are sure to have unique flavor combinations and an incredibly creative presentation.

If you’re a serious foodie, make your reservations ASAP! Learn more about the various restaurants here.

TAKE A DAY TRIP TO SINTRA

Sintra - Best Things To Do Near Lisbon Portugal - Travels With Elle

Located just 20 miles west of Lisbon, lies Sintra, one of the most popular day trip areas from Lisbon. Sintra is almost a must-see town if you have an extra day or two to spare in Portugal. Not only is there the stunningly vibrant Pena Palace and the historical Moorish Castle ruins to explore, but the charming town of Sintra is will provide a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon. The town itself is speckled with quaint coffee shops, boutiques, and narrow pedestrian alleyways waiting for you to get lost in.

If you have more time, I’d highly recommend checking out Quinta da Regaleira, an eccentrically decorated palace filled with mysterious grottoes, gardens, fountains, underground tunnels, and caves. I had an absolute blast exploring the Quinta on my trip to Sintra!

Quinta da Regaleira - Best Things To Do In Sintra - TravelsWithElle

Other highlights of the town of Sintra include the Palacio de Monserrate, the Palace of Sintra, and the Palácio Nacional e Jardins de Queluz. Yes, there really is that much to see and do in Sintra, Portugal and one day is not enough to see them all. I’d recommend choosing your top three sites and prioritizing them on your day in Sintra. Should you have more energy after you explore the first three must-do’s, you can hit up a few other sites.

To get to Sintra from Lisbon, you’ll have to take the 40-minute train from Lisbon’s Rossio station to Sintra station. And if you don’t want to be bothered by using the train system, you can always book a full-day guided day tour from Lisbon to Sintra.

Looking to spend the night in Sintra? Where to stay:

  • Casa da Pendôa – offers elegant apartments with scenic views of the Sintra Mountains and the Moorish Castle. The apartments are decorated with a blend of modern and antique styles. Each room includes a fully equipped kitchen/kitchenette, WiFi, TV, and a private bathroom. Sintra Train Station is a 15-minute walk away.
  • Sintra Marmoris Palace – Live in ultimate luxury at this grand guesthouse! Sintra Marmoris Palace is a 19th-century manor house, completely refurbished in 2017, just a 7-minute walk from the center of Sintra. It features a heated swimming pool and extremely luxurious rooms.

TAKE A DAY TRIP TO CASCAIS

When in Portugal, you gotta experience a slice of the beach life, right? One of the best things to do while in Lisbon is to take a day trip to the beach! The town of Cascais is a perfect choice, featuring not only a wonderful seaside escape but also an old town equipped with cobblestone streets, adorable houses, and lots of bars and restaurants to keep you occupied for a full day. If you’re traveling light and didn’t bring a beach towel or mat to lay on, you can get some pretty inexpensive ones at one of the many shops and beach vendors in town.

To get to Cascais, take the 30-minute train ride from the Cais do Sodre train station to Cascais. Trains depart every 10-20 minutes daily from the Cais do Sodré train station in Lisbon. The beach and town center is just a short walk away.

If you’d rather skip the hassle of the train, you can take an Uber to Cascais or go on a guided day trip. This guided tour will hit the Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, & Cascais all in one day!

Looking to spend the night in beautiful Cascais? Where to stay:

  • The Albatroz Hotel – A gorgeous boutique hotel with the most vibrant seaside charm! Not only will you get spectacular coastal views at this hotel, but you’ll also get to enjoy a complimentary fresh buffet breakfast. There’s a sun terrace and a pool as well.
  • Pergola Boutique Hotel – Surrounded by colorful flower gardens, this Mediterranean-style mansion features uniquely decorated rooms with antique furniture and historic paintings. Not only do you get free breakfast, but guests also get a free glass of port every evening. Cascais’ beach with its many eateries is just 1,000 feet away.
  • Villa Vasco da Gama – A modern yet cozy hotel located within 1,000 feet of Cascais Town Hall and the Museum of the Sea. Villa Vasco da Gama offers accommodations with free breakfast buffet, free bikes, and free WiFi. There’s also a swimming pool guests can enjoy when they want a break from the beach!

DAY TRIP TO EVORA AND THE ALENTEJO REGION

Evora is a charming medieval town located in the Alentejo region, Portugal’s largest wine and agricultural region. This town was once one of the most influential cities of medieval Portugal. Evora is especially well-known for its rich history, which can be seen all across the city.

Among the cobblestone streets, expansive plazas, you can expect to find ancient cathedrals, gothic buildings, medieval palaces, and Roman ruins. While you’re here, don’t miss the Chapel of Bones, a church decorated with hundreds of human skeleton bones.

While Evora may best be known for its historical significance, Evora is also an ideal destination for lovers of modern culture, wine, and cuisine. With it also being a student town, more and more bars and boutiques have been popping up over the years, living alongside the many pastry shops that are sprinkled within the town.

Outside of Evora, there is even more to see–you could head to a wine village such as Reguengos or Borba, then make your way over to the medieval hilltop village of Monsaraz.

Evora is about a 90-minute train or bus ride from Lisbon. Do note that during the summer season, it is significantly hotter here, so dress appropriately and bring water with you.

SHOP FOR SARDINES TO BRING HOME

Canned Sardine Shops in Lisbon, Portugal - TravelsWithElle

Lisbon is without a doubt one of the best cities for travelers who want to each as much seafood as their stomachs can fit. Rightfully so, you’re going to come across a ton of sardine gift shops throughout the city. These premium sardines, tuna, mackerel, and even eel are often packed in colorful tins displayed proudly in gift shops.

Conserveira de Lisboa is the most iconic shop in Lisbon specializing in tinned fish since the 1930s. Upon stepping in, you’ll find shelves on shelves stocked with endless rows of fishy goodness. Because of how cute (and delicious) they are, they make for great souvenirs to bring home from Lisbon!

CONSIDER GETTING THE LISBOA CARD

If you plan on visiting a bunch of sites, landmarks, and tourist attractions and you plan on taking a lot of public transportation in and around Lisbon, you should consider getting the Lisboa Card.

With the Lisboa Card, you can choose between a 24, 48, or 72-hour card that will give you free admission to 37+ museums and historic buildings, various discounts around the city, and unlimited free access to the public transportation system. Not only will you save on admission costs and precious time waiting in ticketing lines, but you’ll also save a bunch on transportation costs.

Ultimately, if you plan on visiting popular Lisbon attractions like the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, National Tile Museum, and the Santa Justa Elevator, you should definitely opt for a Lisboa Card. You’ll save money and avoid the hassle of standing in lines for tickets!

The price of the Lisboa Card ranges from approximately $23 to $50 USD depending on the duration of the card you select.


MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN LISBON, PORTUGAL


WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON, PORTUGAL

If you’re new to Lisbon, we recommend basing yourself out of the Baixa district or the Chiado district. These are the flattest parts of Lisbon, with lots of shopping, restaurants, and easy access to the rest of the city. You’ll be in the heart of Lisbon with no attraction or site being too far out of reach.

Check out a few of our favorite hotels in the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods below:

For a mid-range boutique/design hotel stay: $$

Alecrim ao Chiado – Located in the center of Lisbon, Alecrim ao Chiado features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. Continental breakfast is included in the price.

Vincci Baixa – Surrounded by trendy bars, shops, and restaurants, this 4-star hotel is 500 feet from Praça do Comércio’s bus, tram and metro links. It has modern rooms, an elegant restaurant, and an onsite bar.

For budget travelers: $ – $$

Esqina Cosmopolitan Lodge – One of the most stylish and affordable options in Lisbon! Esqina Cosmopolitan Lodge provides modern and air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant, free WiFi and a bar.

For a budget-friendly hostel stay: $

Goodnight Hostel – Hands-down the best hostel in Lisbon! Comes with super spacious rooms and free breakfast as well!


ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR LISBON, PORTUGAL

  1. The currency of Portugal is the Euro (€). While most establishments take credit cards, it’s best to carry along with you a little cash for those smaller vendors who don’t take card.
  2. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal but you should have no problem getting by with just English. You’ll find that most people speak at least a little English.
  3. With all the walking that you’ll be doing, make sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes. My all-time favorite travel shoes these days are the tried and true Ecco Soft 7 (they’re stylish, comfortable, and have been raved about for decades since they were first created)! The best part is that they have them for both men and women.
  4. Tram #28 is especially popular with tourists, so it can be quite crowded, sometimes with wait times to board at over an hour. If you want to try out the tram, aim to hop on board on one of the earlier trams of the day. The early bird gets the worm!
  5. Portugal has a fairly low crime rate but as with any big city, take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Pickpocketing can be common in trams, particularly on Tram 28.
  6. Many tourist sites are closed on Mondays so do plan for that when you’re mapping out your itinerary.
  7. At restaurants, don’t eat the little plates of appetizers brought out unless you want to pay for it! It’s common for waiters to bring out couvert at the beginning of the meal (olives, bread, cheese, tuna or sardine paste, etc.) but do note that these are not free. While it’s not free, it’s usually not too expensive either. To avoid being charged, be sure to leave them untouched or politely send them back.
  8. Consider getting the flexible Lisboa Card if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing. You’ll get to enjoy free unlimited travel on city transport, as well as free admission to 37 museums and historic buildings and get additional discounts throughout town!
  9. Wandering around on foot is the best way to see the creative works of art in public spaces all over Lisbon. You’ll find artwork all over the place, so be sure to stop and enjoy these free sights!

ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST: LISBON, PORTUGAL

  • Comfortable walking shoes | You’re going to be doing a lot of hill climbing, so bring comfortable walking shoes. My all-time favorite travel shoes these days are the tried and true Ecco Soft 7‘s (they’re stylish, comfortable, and have been raved about for decades since they were first created)! Lucky for us, they have them for both men and women.
  • Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
  • First Aid Kit | It’s always good to carry a first aid kit around with you when traveling. Road trips make it easier to do this since all you need to do is toss it in the trunk!
  • Hiking Boots | If you plan on hiking, bring well broken-in boots with good ankle support and good traction. My all-time favorites are the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots. They’re one of the lightest boots in its class, very durable, and provide out-of-the-box comfort, which is extremely important if you want to prevent blisters from the start.
  • Hiking Socks | If hiking, make sure you have a good pair of cushioned wool hiking socks. For extra toe protection and to prevent blisters from developing from skin-to-skin contact, go with a pair of Injinji toe socks.
  • Puffy Jacket | If you’re traveling in the fall or wintertime, you’re going to need layers in the Bay Area, which tends to get pretty cool nights. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of adventuring!
  • Travel Daypack | I’m a huge fan of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack. It stylish and has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for a hike or just a regular day out.
  • Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need when you’re hopping from the water back to land, or simply need to dry your feet off. Also if you’re staying in a hostel, you may need to bring your own towel. This one here is a great option for all these use cases!
  • Sunhat | Sun protection is key for any destination, anytime.
  • Sunscreen | Sunscreen is absolutely necessary. Even if it’s overcast or cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. No matter where we go, we like a coral reef-safe brand, as traditional sunscreens contain chemicals that damage our environment. For the face, we are absolutely obsessed with the magical Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen.
  • Hand Sanitizer Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
  • Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike or bike ride but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
  • Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures… the last thing you want is to be driving along with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
  • Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
  • Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets | These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a trip. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!

Want more Portugal travel tips? Read More:

The Ultimate Guide To Getting Around Lisbon By Public Transportation

LISBON, PORTUGAL: The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary

In Photos: Portugal

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