Top things to do in Lisbon
If you already have a trip planned to Lisbon then you’re off to a good start as there are so many things to do in Lisbon! Lisbon was our first port of call during our European trip and one of our favourite cities. This unique city has so much to offer; delicious food, sunny weather and tons of history, you’ll love your time in Lisbon. Read on to find out what we think are the 13 top things to do in Lisbon.
1. Get lost in Alfama
Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon and the most colourful. Picture brightly coloured houses, traditional tiled buildings, and tiny narrow streets. Stroll around stopping to take photos and take in the impressive views of the orange-roofed buildings down below. Don’t forget to stop off for a €0.60 espresso in one of the many cafes dotted around the area and sit at the bar just like the locals.
2. Explore the city on a Free Walking Tour
Many major European cities now offer ‘free walking tours’ whereby you meet at a pre-arranged meeting point with a group of other tourists and are taken around the city. At the end of the tour, you pay what you think the tour was worth. A cheap and cheerful way to see what Lisbon has to offer. We went with Wild Walkers and had a very lovely and knowledgeable local guide. The tour lasted 3 hours and was a great introduction to Lisbon.
3. Take the train to Sintra
Sintra, a fairytale town. With its magical palaces, huge gardens, and marvellous views, Sintra is a must visit when in Lisbon. We had heard stories about the infamous ‘Pena Palace’ before we arrived on how busy it is and how long the queues were. We didn’t have a problem at all and were so glad we went! Monuments in Sintra include Pena Palace (€7.50 for the gardens and €14 to go inside), the National Palace (€10) and the Moors Castle (€8). If you were to visit each of the sights, you’d need deep pockets, so visiting 1 or 2 is recommended for those on a budget.
Top tip: Aim to arrive at Pena Palace for 5 pm – the journey was stress-free, hardly any queues and the palace was not very busy at all.
Transport: Train to Sintra from Rossio Station – 40 minutes €3.50 return
There is only one bus to each of the monuments, the 434 bus route from right outside Sintra station €6.80 return
For more information, click here.
4. Tram 28
When you think of Paris you think of the Eiffel Tower, when you think of Rome you think of the Colosseum, when you think of Lisbon you think of the yellow trams! Well, we do anyway. Lisbon is full of trams taking you anywhere you need to go in the city. The infamous tram 28 takes you on a beautiful route throughout the city, taking you through the popular tourist districts and delightful narrow streets. If you’re on a budget, this is a good way to tour the city without having to dig deep.
Top tip: Ride the tram early morning or late evening to avoid the huge line! (It gets very busy!) Also, be extra vigilant of pickpockets.
Price: €2.90 on the tram or buy a 24hour pass for €6.65 including the card
5. Fill your bellies with Pastel de Nata
Pastel de Nata or custard tart in English is a traditional Portuguese pastry. They can be found in little Pastelerias all over Lisbon. However, if you want the best of the best, head to Pastéis de Belem, but be prepared to wait in a very, very long queue! If you don’t fancy the journey or the queue then Manteigaria is the place to go.
Top tip: Pastéis de Belem – Queue inside to eat in, as this is said to take a shorter time than the massive take away queue.
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6. Enjoy a drink in Park bar
The place to be for sunset views over the river Tagus with a cocktail or beer in hand! Why is it so cool? Because it’s on the roof of a car park, literally! We searched a good while for this bar and wandered around a car park looking for a sign. No, no signs! Just take the lift to the top floor and you’ll be there. But don’t let this confuse you, when you arrive you’ll feel like you’ve set foot into an oasis garden in the sky!
Address: Calcada do Combro 58 1200 Lisboa
7. Drink some Ginjinah
What is Ginjinah I hear you say? Ginjinah is not only fun to say but also a good pick me up during your busy sightseeing day! This Portuguese sour cherry liquor is served as a shot but must be sipped anytime after midday.
8. Stroll along Pink street
Want a cool photo for your Instagram? Head to ‘pink street’ or Rua Nova do Carvalho, formally known as the red light district in Lisbon. Don’t worry, now it’s just a trendy new nightlife area where you can grab a bite to eat or paint the streets red (pink)!
9. Take a ride on the Santa Justa Lift
A huge elevator in the middle of the centre with amazing views of the city, that’s Santa Justa Lift. Instead of waiting again, in a huge queue, go around the back and enter through Largo do Carmo for free. It takes you to the same viewing platform and you don’t need to pay the €5 or waste your precious time in Lisbon.
Price: Main entrance – €5 for lift ride and viewpoint
Back entrance – Free to the viewpoint and then €1.50 if you want to go to the highest point
10. Wander around São Jorge castle
Keep seeing that huge castle looking thing everywhere you go in Lisbon? Yep, that’s Sao Jorge Castle. Sitting majestically overlooking the orange roofs of the centre, the castle is a great place to watch the sunset or spend a morning going back in time. Explore the tunnels, the eleven castle towers and see Lisbon from new perspectives from the numerous lookout spots.
11. Admire Belem tower
Magical looking castle surrounded by water – check! Belem tower isn’t in the centre of Lisbon but is an easy bus or tram ride away. Another great place to get a great snap or have a picnic in the park opposite and just admire the view! You can actually go inside the tower, we’ve heard it’s not that great, but we’ll leave it up to you.
Transport: Tram 15E from Figueira Square or bus 727 – €6.65 for 24 hour card to use on all public transport
Price: Entrance price €6 or free on Sunday morning up until 2 pm
12. Be stunned at Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
A UNESCO world heritage site, this Monastery is one of the most beautiful buildings in Portugal! Completed in 1601, this Portuguese late gothic-style building is definitely in our top things to do in Lisbon. It is also in Belem and only a 10 minute walk from the Belem Tower.
Transport: Transport: Tram 15E from Figueira Square or bus 727 – €6.65 for 24 hour card to use on all public transport
Price: Entrance price €7 or free on Sunday morning up until 2 pm. You can also get a combo ticket to visit both Belem tower and the Monastery
13. Be trendy at LX Factory
Once you possibly can’t fill your bellies with any more cod, potatoes or pastel de nata’s, then head to Lisbon’s trendiest area – LX factory. This awesome hangout spot offers creative restaurants, cafes, stores and the coolest bookshop (Ler Devagar) we’ve ever seen! Here you’ll find pizza, burgers, cheesecake and sweet treats and that’s just to name a few. Definitely pop down to this unique spot if you have the time – it’s actually on the bus/tram route back from Belem.