Top 18 Things to do in Lisbon – A Definitive Guide

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When thinking about Portugal, there’s no doubt that Lisbon is the first thing that comes to mind. Lisbon is Portugal’s political and cultural capital with no shortage of things to see and do for visitors. From wandering the (rather hilly) cobblestoned streets, experimenting with incredibly delicious Portuguese food and soaking up the spirited and endless vibes of the locals on every street, corner and plaza. With this guide to the top things to do in Lisbon, you won’t miss out on anything!

Do you want to explore even more of Portugal? Make sure to check out all of our Portugal city guides, our delicious guide to Portugal’s best food and our guide to the best time of year to visit Portugal! We’ve got everything you need to prepare for your next vist to Portugal!

1. Wander Through the Famous Barrio Alto

The optional pubcrawl on Citylife’s Portugal trips passes through the famous Barrio Alto! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Lisbon is a city built on seven hills, and Bairro Alto is no exception! However, don’t let the steep hills of this famous quarter intimidate you. This lively neighborhood is known for its nightlife. In the twentieth century, it was the hub where most artists and journalists would meet in the evenings. Today, Bairro Alto is still full of restaurants, bars, and pubs, making it a great place to go out at night, and well worth the climb!

2. Castelo de Sao Jorge

The Castelo de Sao Jorge, visible from almost every street in Lisbon, is among the top things to do in Lisbon. The castle dates back to the ninth century and resembles more of a Moorish ruin today. When visiting the castle you will explore the remains of the medieval fortress, military stronghold and its archaeological museum (which displays artifacts dating as far back as the Romans).

3. Experience a Fado Show

Fado is typical Portuguese folk music that can be traced back to the 1820s in Lisbon. The word itself means destiny or fate, and the music tends to be quite melancholic, and expressive in nature. This type of music is marked by vocals, and accompanied by a Portuguese 12 string guitar. Fado shows and experiences are typically found in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon, where you can enjoy a delicious meal while listening to beautiful music.

4. Ride the Famous Tram 28

Probably one of the most iconic things to do in Lisbon is to ride its famous yellow tram. Tram 28 follows a rather scenic route. Winding through neighbourhoods like Alfama, Baixa, and other charming districts. Passengers on the tram will get to enjoy some of Lisbon’s top architectural landmarks, its famous cobbled streets, as well as its daily local life. It’s the perfect opportunity to snap photos and soak up the best of the city’s charm.

5. Climb the Belém Tower

See the breathtaking Belém area of Lisbon on all of Citylife’s Portugal trips! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Built in the 16th century, Belém Tower stands as a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a prime example of Manueline architecture, characterized by its intricate stone carvings and maritime motifs. Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views of the Tagus River and the surrounding area, while also exploring the tower’s interior, which features exhibition spaces and historical displays.

6. Eat the Famous Pasteis de Belém

Try the famous Pasteis de Belém on Citylife’s Portugal trips! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

While you’re in the Belém region you simply have to try the Pasteis de Belém. These custard tarts are a beloved national treat, known for their flaky pastry crust and creamy custard filling. The best place to enjoy them is at the historic Pastéis de Belém bakery, located near the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém district. Visitors can savor these mouthwatering pastries fresh out of the oven, paired with a sprinkle of cinnamon and powdered sugar, while soaking up the ambiance of this iconic establishment. You can check out even more amazing sweets in our guide to amazing Portuguese food!

7. Visit Jerónimos Monastery

See the breathtaking Belém area of Lisbon on all of Citylife’s Portugal trips! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Located right next to both the Pasteis de Belém Bakery and the Torre de Belém is the masterpiece of Manueline architecture known as the Jerónimos Monastery. Built in the 16th century, this grand monastery is adorned with intricate carvings depicting sea monsters, navigational tools, and other motifs related to exploration. Visitors can wander through its cloisters, chapels, and courtyards, marveling at the craftsmanship of this UNESCO-listed site.

8. Time Out Food Market

The Time Out Food Market is probably unlike any food market that you’ve been to before! The modern concept was designed in 2014 by the Time Out Lisbon team. The one of a kind market consists of over 40 restaurants, 8 bars, a dozen shops, and a high-end music venue. Whether you want to check out the unique design, have a glass of wine with friends, or try some of the delicious local cuisine, the Time Out Market should be a definite stop whilst in Lisbon.

9. See Lisbon from Above at the Miradouro de Santa Catarina

The walking tour on all of Citylife’s Portugal trips passes by the Miradouro de Santa Catarina! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Also known as Adamastor, Miradouro de Santa Catarina is one of Lisbon’s most popular viewpoints and one of our favourite things to see in Lisbon. Offering stunning panoramic views of the city and the Tagus River. Situated in the Bairro Alto district, this scenic overlook is named after the mythical creature Adamastor from Portuguese literature. Visitors can relax on the terrace, enjoy a picnic, or watch the sunset while taking in the breathtaking vistas of Lisbon’s skyline and waterfront.

10. Visit the Lisbon Cathedral

The walking tour on all of Citylife’s Portugal trips passes by the Lisbon Cathedral! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Also known as Sé Cathedral, Lisbon Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest and most important religious landmarks. Built in the 12th century, this Romanesque cathedral showcases a blend of architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque elements. Visitors can admire its impressive façade, ornate rose window, and intricate cloisters, as well as its historic chapels and treasury, which house religious artifacts and relics.

11: Try a Shot of Ginjinha

Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur made with ginja berries (sour cherries), alcohol, and sugar. The liqueur is served in the form of a shot, with a cherry at the bottom of the glass. It is a favorite for many Portuguese locals, and a typical drink in Lisbon, Alcobaça, and Óbidos. Some local shops even serve the liqueur in a chocolate shot glass, which you can eat afterwards!

12. Take a Day Trip to Sintra

Enjoy a day trip to the town of Sintra on Citylife’s Portugal trips! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

In case you have any free time in your Lisbon itinerary, a day trip to Sintra is a must! The aristocratic hillside town situated west of Lisbon, is famous for it’s fairytale palaces, botanical gardens, and endless acres of woods. Getting to Sintra couldn’t be easier! There is a train that departs the Rossio station in Lisbon every 20 minutes, and the journey takes about 40 minutes. Read about even more amazing day trips from Lisbon in our comprehensive guide!

13. Visit the National Tile Museum

Housed in a former convent in the Alfama district, the National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) celebrates Portugal’s rich tradition of tile-making. The museum’s extensive collection includes decorative tiles dating back to the 15th century, as well as historic ceramics, porcelain, and tile panels depicting scenes from Portuguese history, religion, and daily life. Visitors can explore the museum’s galleries, learn about the art of tile-making through interactive exhibits, and admire the craftsmanship of these exquisite works of art.

14. Ride the Elevador de Santa Justa

Take a ride on the historic Elevador de Santa Justa, also known as the Santa Justa Lift or Carmo Lift. The elevator’s neo-Gothic design and ornate detailing make it a striking architectural marvel that blends seamlessly with the surrounding urban landscape. But what’s more, is that the elevator takes you up between the Baixa district and Carmo Square for a panoramic view of Lisbon’s rooftops, historic landmarks, and the Tagus River. This unique experience it absolutely one of our top things to see in Lisbon, especially for first timers.

15. Shop Along Rua Augusta

Located in the heart of downtown Lisbon, Rua Augusta is a bustling pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes, and vibrant street performers. Stretching from Praça do Comércio to Rossio Square, this lively thoroughfare is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, a spot of shopping, or a bite to eat. Visitors can admire the grandeur of the Rua Augusta Arch, people-watch from outdoor cafes, and soak up the lively atmosphere of Lisbon’s historic center.

16. Soak up the Scenes at the Praça do Comércio

As one of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks, Praça do Comércio is a grandiose plaza located along the waterfront in the Baixa district. Enclosed by colorful buildings adorned with elegant arcades, this vast square exudes a sense of grandeur and the city’s long history. Today, Commerce Square is one of the city’s central hubs for activities. With lively cafes, restaurants, live music, outdoor markets and crowds funneling in from the famous Rua Augusta shopping street. It’s the perfect location to stop and let the city wash over you.

17. Take a Boat Tour Along the Tagus River

Experience Lisbon from a different perspective with a scenic boat tour along the Tagus River. Whether aboard a traditional sailboat, a modern yacht, or a historic river cruise ship, visitors can take a journey past sights such as Belém Tower, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the Christ the King statue. Along the way, knowledgeable guides provide commentary on Lisbon’s maritime history, architectural landmarks, and cultural heritage, making it an informative and enjoyable excursion for visitors of all ages

18. Visit Cristo Rei

Visit the breathtaking Cristo Rei on all of Citylife’s Portugal trips! See all upcoming Portugal tours in our Portugal Travel Calendar.

Located across the Tagus River from Lisbon, Cristo Rei is a towering monument that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline. Inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this iconic landmark stands at over 100 meters tall, with its outstretched arms welcoming visitors from near and far. Visitors can ascend to the viewing platform at the base of the statue via an elevator or staircase, where they can marvel at sweeping vistas of Lisbon, the Tagus River, and the surrounding countryside.

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

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