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.
The Lisboa Card is a Lisbon city pass and a great option if you are planning to visit the museums and attractions. 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 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.
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.
Nestled in the Baixa neighborhood of Lisbon is Santa Justa, a quaint and well-preserved elevator.
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.
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 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.
Praça do Comérciois a gorgeous plaza with yellow buildings, arcades, and a commanding statue of Dom José I in the center.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sintra is a 30 minute drive from Lisbon and this Unesco World Heritage Site is the most popular day trip 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.
It would be hard to visit Portugal without partaking in wine tasting at the intimate 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.
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.
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.
There’s 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.
Lisbon is one of the most diverse cities in Europe and is a bargain compared to some of Europe’s other capital cities. The stunning light, location and culture make it well worth carving out some time to enjoy this gorgeous city.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, 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.