12 Best Things to do in Lisbon (Portugal)

Gosh, Lisbon – we walked miles around you, up and down your steep hills, and my bum is forever thankful!

Lisbon is built on seven hills and it’s one of the oldest and fastest growing cities in Europe and is filled with incredible history, quiet neighborhoods and the most delicious food. We’d only traveled to Southern parts of Portugal, so spending time driving up the coast from Lisbon to Porto was the perfect opportunity to immerse ourselves in this stunning country.

Here are my favorite things to do in Lisbon that will hopefully inspire you to visit.

things to do when visiting Lisbon, Portugal

1. Grab a Lisboa Card

The Lisboa Card is a Lisbon city pass and a great option if you are planning to visit the museums and attractions, which are some of the best places to spend time in Lisbon. The card gives you unlimited travel on public transportation AND free or discounted admission to more than 80 Lisbon museums and attractions. It costs about $25 for day or $50 for a three day pass.

torre de Belem, Lisbon

2. Torre de Belem

Torre de Belem is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a Lisbon landmark sitting on the Tagus River. It was built to protect trade ships and was the point where explorers entered Lisbon harbor.

Best things to do: Torre de Belem in Lisbon

You can climb the tower, however there’s a long line in the summer, so we opted to stroll along the promenade and view it from there. It gets pretty busy so I’d recommend visiting early in the day to avoid the crowds. There’s free entry with the Lisboa Card, but you still need to pick up your free ticket at the booth.

3. Santa Justa Elevator

Nestled in the Baixa neighborhood of Lisbon is Santa Justa, a quaint and well-preserved elevator.

santa justo elevator in lisbon
This photo at the Santa Justo elevator might look fake, but It’s not even edited. The sun is behind me!

This elevator is 45 meters hight and links the Baixa district to the Chiado district. The wait time can be long, however, if you decide to wait and pay to ride to the top, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Lisbon.

4. Ride the Iconic Lisbon Tram 28

Lisbon is filled with vintage Remodelado streetcars, that are wooden and painted yellow. It’s easy to hop on and off to get around to explore the city.

tram 28 in Lisbon

Tram 28 takes you to some of the oldest parts of the city while riding on a bumpy old track up the many hills. Important to note in summer you could be waiting for an hour to board one of these beauties.

5. Linger in Praça do Comérciois

Praça do Comérciois a gorgeous plaza with yellow buildings, arcades, and a commanding statue of Dom José I in the center.

Praça do Comérciois, Lisboa

The plaza has a ferry terminal on one side and a beer museum on the other and since we were there on a Saturday  there were lots of local artists selling their art. Praça do Comérciois is an ideal place to start your Lisbon adventure since you can feel the powerful personality and history of this gorgeous city in this plaza.

The archways are endless: best things to do in Lisbon

6. Sao Jorge Castle

This hilltop castle is visible from almost everywhere in Lisbon, and has stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and terracotta tiled roofs across the city.

Sao Jorge Castle - one of the best places to see the city of Lisbon

lisbon Sao Jorge Castle

It’s located in the Alfama neighborhood which is the oldest part of Lisbon. Taking in the scenic views and stunning architecture as we climbed the steep hills through the Alfama neighborhood, we were very grateful for our comfy shoes.

7. Eat A Pastel de Nata in Lisbon

Pastel de nata is a cinnamon egg custard tart and it the signature dessert of Portugal. Pasteis de Belem is an iconic shop in Lisbon and it’s worth the trek to sample these warm and fresh goodies straight from the oven.

Eat A Pastel de Nata in Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém has a proprietary old recipe embraced by monks of the adjacent Jerónimos Monastery—since 1837. I’d recommend buying the six-pack since one is never enough!

8. Visit Jeronimo’s Church and Monastery

Jerónimos Church and Monastery is one of Lisbon’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and contains the tombs of poet Luís de Camões and explorer Vasco da Gama.

Jerónimos Church in belem

From the majestic outside to the serene inside, you don’t want to miss this. The stonework and gothic architecture is striking and the large courtyard area is peaceful and a beautiful centerpiece.

Jeronimo's Church and Monastery in belem Lisbon

Entrance to the Church is free, but you must buy a ticket if you’d like to visit the Monastery. It gets super crowded so try and arrive early to avoid the tour groups.

9. Sample a Ginja in Lisbon

This traditional drink of Lisbon is a very strong liquor made from sour cherries. It’s dark red and is often served in small shot glasses or edible chocolate cups. It’s like a sweet aperitif and we loved it, although you wouldn’t want more than a shot of this sweet liqueur.

Try a ginja - sour cherry drink

Ginja!

10. Drive to Sintra from Lisbon

Sintra is a 30 minute drive from Lisbon and this Unesco World Heritage Site is the most popular day trip from Lisbon.

Visit Sintra from Lisbon - day trips from Lisbon

If you don’t have a car it’s easy to visit on the train, or take a tour from Lisbon. Sintra is located on the Portuguese Riviera and it’s a quaint town with a stunning mix of architecture, picturesque landscapes, and pastel-colored palaces castles. Really important to note that parking is NOT friendly at all, and the roads are very very narrow and many are one way, so if you decide to drive yourself, be sure to park outside of the town and walk in.

11. Wine and Port Tasting at Lisbon Winery

It would be hard to visit Portugal without partaking in wine tasting at the intimate Lisbon Winery.

lisbon winery

On their tasting menu you can sample about 7 different ports including white, ruby and tawny, accompanied by 6 different cheeses, fruit, charcuterie and lastly fine chocolate.  After a 2 hour tasting, you’ll leave full and with a whole new appreciation for the wine regions of Portugal.

12. Wander Around Lisbon’s Bairro Alto Neighborhood

The Bairro Alto area is a bohemian neighborhood sitting at the top of a huge hill and is jam packed with al fresco cafes, local shops, art, and vibrant bars. Like most places in Europe, people typically eat dinner around 8 or 9pm.

Bairro Alto neighborhood district in Lisbon

If you wander up there in the early evening, (note there are LOTS of steep steps so wear comfy shoes) you’ll find authentic pastelaria bakeries and dark bohemian drinking joints coming alive throughout the evening.

Barrio alto district in lisbon

There are plenty of older authentic restaurants offering live music and hole-in-the-wall bars, but if cool hipster bars are your thing, there are plenty of those too.

Things to Do in Lisbon: Hidden Gems and Insider Secrets

Planning a trip to Lisbon can be as exciting and maybe a bit overwhelming. Here are answers to 10 burning questions you might have while plotting your Lisbon adventure.

How do I get to Lisbon from the airport?

Once you land at Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), you have a few choices to get to the city centre. The metro is super easy and cheap. There’s a station right at the airport, and it’ll whisk you into town in about 20 minutes. If you’re carrying loads of bags, a taxi or an Uber might be more up your alley, not too pricey and very convenient.

What’s the best way to get around Lisbon?

We walked – literally everywhere. It’s great exercise, but remember it takes 25% longer than Google Maps suggests. It’s free, and it’s one of the best things to do to stumble upon its hidden gems.You can get a 24-hour public transport pass, also. It lets you hop on and off buses, trams, and metros all day long.

Can you recommend something to do in Lisbon that’s not on every tourist’s radar?

Of course. Visit the LX Factory, a vibrant cultural and creative hub packed with quirky shops, cafes, and street art. Then, there’s the Feira da Ladra, or “Thieves Market,” a flea market where you can find all sorts of treasures. Lastly, take a stroll through the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood, a less touristy area known for its fantastic food market.

What’s a traditional dish I must try in Lisbon?

You can’t leave Lisbon without trying Bacalhau à Brás. It’s a mix of shredded salt cod, onions, and thinly chopped fried potatoes, all bound together with scrambled eggs. It’s a comfort dish that “tastes like Lisbon on a plate”. All the seafood we had was delicious.

What should we be aware of when visiting Lisbon?

Lisboetas are quite relaxed, but learn a bit of Portuguese. Say “Bom dia” (good morning) or “Boa tarde” (good afternoon) when entering shops or restaurants. Also, tipping isn’t mandatory but is appreciated for good service, usually around 5-10%.

What’s the best time of year to visit Lisbon?

Spring (March to May) or fall (September to October) are ideal. You’ll dodge the massive summer tourist crowds. We visited in the summer and it was very crowded. And hot, but manageable.

Should I visit the beach while in Lisbon?

Yes, and you should! Cascais and Estoril are two beautiful beaches easily reachable by train from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station. We took our rental car to Cascais and really enjoyed it. There’s also a beach on the river in Belem if you’re there with kids.

What’s one thing I should definitely in Lisbon?

Catch a Fado show in Alfama. Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre known for its soulful and melancholic melodies. We stumbled into a few after dinner and really enjoyed the music and a few drinks.

Lisbon is one of the most diverse cities in Europe and is a bargain compared to some of Europe’s other majestic cities. The stunning light, location and culture make it well worth carving out some time to enjoy this gorgeous city.

What are YOUR favorite things to do in Lisbon?

Let me know in the comments below and join me on Instagram and X (Twitter)!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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