Lisbon is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to enjoy its beautiful scenery, or indulge in some delicious Portuguese food and drink, Lisbon will not disappoint. If you plan on spending time in Lisbon and want to know what there is to do while you’re here, check out these 30 things!
Visit the Tour De Belem
This monument was built in the early 16th century as a way to commemorate Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The tower is located on the bank of the Tagus River and it is an impressive sight to see!
The tower is made of limestone and it is decorated with intricate carvings. It is 83 meters tall and it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time to visit the tower is in the early morning or evening when the light is beautiful and the views are stunning.
There is also a museum on-site that tells the story of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The museum is located in the lower levels of the tower and it features ancient maps, paintings, golden jewelry, coins, and other artifacts that were used during this time in history.
Visit the Jeronimos Monastery
The Jeronimos Monastery is a beautiful and historic site located in the Belem district of Lisbon. This monastery was built in the 16th century, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture and decoration of the monastery are absolutely stunning, and it is well worth a visit if you are in Lisbon.
There are two parts to the monastery, which are run by different monastic orders. Belem Tower is on the site of part of the monastery that had fallen into disrepair. The original monastery was built in honor of Henry the Navigator who never actually visited there himself. It was his active role in leading Portuguese exploration and discovery of new lands that earned him this honor.
Additionally, you can visit the chapel for free which contains the tomb of Vasco de Gama.
Try a Pastel De Belem
You can’t go to Lisbon without trying a Pastel de Nata, and at Pastéis de Belém you can have the original. These egg tarts are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, and they’re absolutely delicious.
While you can have a Pastel de Nata anywhere in Portugal, the originals come from here. They were originally created by the nuns of the Monastery of Jerónimos and then commercialized to fund restoration work on the monastery.
Visit the Monument to the Discoveries
Located on the river near the Jeronimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries is a towering stone column with two smaller columns flanking it. It was created as part of Expo ’98 and commemorates those explorers from Portugal who discovered the New World. The column has 27 names scratched into its surface – 14 on each side for the men and women who made the discoveries.
The Monument to the Discoveries is a popular tourist attraction, and it’s easy to see why. If you do not mind the wait, you can go to the top of the monument. The views of the river and the Jeronimos Monastery are spectacular, and it’s a great place to take photos. There’s also a small museum on-site, which tells the story of the explorers and their discoveries.
If you have the Lisbon pass, the entrance is discounted.
Visit the Castle of Sao Jorge
The Castle of St George or Castelo de São Jorge is a former medieval castle that was reconstructed by King John V at the end of the 18th century to serve as a royal palace and as an armory for the storage of weapons.
It now houses several important institutions, namely the Municipal Chamber, the National Republican Guard headquarters, the Military Museum, the Presidential Museum, and the Municipal Guard barracks.
The castle is located on a hill overlooking Lisbon and offers some of the best views of the city. Even if you do not visit the castle, you will undoubtedly see it towering above as you explore Lisbon.
Visit the Museum of Ancient Art
This museum displays a fine art collection that focuses on Portuguese and European works from the 16th to 20th centuries. The museum is housed in a beautiful old building that used to be a convent, and it’s home to a large collection of ancient art.
Some of the highlights include a bronze sculpture of Julius Caesar, a marble statue of Diana, and a painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and works from Rembrandt and Durer.
Visitors to this stunning gallery will marvel at its many impressive sculptures, paintings, and decorative arts.
Take a ride on the Santa Justa Lift
In the past, there were many elevators around Lisbon to help people navigate the hills and elevation changes. Today, few remain, and the most famous is the Santa Justa Lift. It is a beautiful piece of architecture and engineering that stands out in Baixa and offers stunning views of Lisbon. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular tourist attraction!
The ride up the lift is smooth and takes only a few minutes, so it’s the perfect way to quickly get to the top of the hill. Once you’re there, you can enjoy the fantastic views all around you. Even if you do not want to pay for the ride you can walk to the top of the elevator to enjoy the view.
The elevator is included in the Lisbon Pass, but make sure you arrive early to avoid a crazy line. Take a stroll down the Alfama District: This charming district is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods and offers visitors a unique glimpse into traditional Portuguese life. Wander its narrow streets, admire its colorful houses, and stop to listen to Fado music being played in one of the local cafes – you’re sure to fall in love with the Alfama!
Taste Portuguese wine at a local winery
During your trip to Lisbon, you have to try some of the affordable and underrated wines of Portugal. You can easily pop into one of the local wine bars to try a few. Alternatively, you can schedule a wine tasting tour which makes things easier and will be more educational.
If you have time, the best way is to visit a local winery. One of the most famous ones is Quinta da Bacalhôa. The vineyard is located about 25 kilometers from Lisbon and you can join a wine tour to take you there and back to avoid worrying about the logistics.
Experience Fado Music Live
While in Lisbon, enjoy Fado, the music genre Portugal is known for. Fado music is typically sung by a woman with a guitar and tells a sad story. Some of the best places to experience Fado music live are at A Tasca do Chico, Botequim de Lisboa, and Casa da América Latina.
You can either book a spot at a show or simply go to the restaurants in Alfama to find live performances as you eat.
Take a scenic cruise down the Tagus River
See Lisbon from a different perspective as the discoverers did returning home from exploration. Take a boat tour of the Tagus River and see the cityscape and port from the water. The cruise is a great way to see all of Lisbon’s sights, including Belem Tower, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the Monument to the Discoveries. On some tours, you can enjoy a traditional Portuguese meal on board while listening to live music.
The sightseeing boats depart from a few different points in Lisbon. If you are staying at a hotel near the central train station, the most convenient departure is from Campo das Cebolas. You can also choose to take a boat from Belém Tower or Cais do Sodré, both of which have enough attractions nearby so you can spend the whole day in this area.
For those who want to make a day of it, you can opt for an extensive cruise. These cruises include up to three different entrances and activities such as walking tours or lunch stops.
Go for a Food Tour
We love going on food tours. Not only do you get to taste a variety of food, but you also get a serving of history and meet new traveling friends.
During a food tour, you can expect to sample some of Lisbon’s best dishes and drinks. We have toured with Taste of Lisbon which includes a local expert.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and made the tour so much fun. The tours are usually 3-4 hours long and take participants to various places around Lisbon’s old town and into Alfama. We enjoyed several staples in Portuguese food like Pastel de Nata, Bacalhao, Porto Preto and much more.
There are various options depending on what neighborhood you want to choose – Bairro Alto, Baixa or Alfama. There are slight differences between the tours but mostly they are all quite similar including all of the food being included in the price.
Take a Day Trip to Sintra
A day in Sintra really deserves its own post and at least a full day to explore. Sintra is easily reached by train from Lisbon and there is so much to see and do!
The most popular spot is Pena Palace so start there as early as possible. Pena Palace is a bright, vibrant, and eclectic mix of different architectural styles. The views from the palace are stunning and it’s easy to spend a few hours exploring the grounds. I would only purchase the grounds pass to explore the gardens and exterior.
Nearby is also the Moorish Castle which is well worth a visit for its dramatic location and history. You can see ruins dating back to the Moorish period and the views from the castle walls that you can climb are absolutely breathtaking.
While in Sintra you can not miss the whimsical Quinta da Regaleira. This estate is like a fairytale with its gardens, lakes, grottos, and iconic towers.
You can’t really fit in all of the top sights in one day unless you are rushing, but Monserrate which is a quick drive from Quinta da Regaleira is really worth the visit. This palace is perched atop a hill and the gardens are lovely.
Ride the 28 Tram
The historic 28 tram winds its way through the heart of Lisbon, taking in iconic landmarks like the Castelo de São Jorge and the Alfama district. It actually starts where we live in Campo de Ourique which is a great place to board since later on it can become very crowded.
The tram winds its way through narrow streets and past colorful houses, making for a picturesque journey. It feels like a carnival ride at some points and takes you through the city to see many top sights. It has been around since 1873 and is one of the oldest trams in Europe. You can pay 3€ in cash, buy a metro day pass or use your Lisbon Pass.
Visit the Berardo Collection Museum
A visit to the Berardo Collection Museum includes a journey through modern and contemporary art which began in the early 20th century and continues up to the present day.
This vast and eclectic collection provides every visitor with an opportunity to view masterpieces by some of the most important artists of modern times – from Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Gerhard Richter.
The museum is located in the iconic Berardo Palace which overlooks the Tagus River and was designed by noted Portuguese architect José Antonio Cendón in the 1970s, the palace’s unique meta- Modernist style blending elements of traditional Portuguese architecture with cutting-edge design features.
Visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo
The National Museum of Azulejo presents a vast, richly illustrated collection of tile panels, floor tiles and other objects made from glazed earthenware or tin-glazed earthenware, which are characteristic pieces of Portuguese art throughout history.
The tiles on display at the museum provide an insight into the influences that shaped national art, ranging from Moorish architecture to historical events that took place during the Age of Discoveries.
The tiles are the most important part of this museum’s collection. They were produced in Portugal since the 17th century and reached their peak between 1780 and 1850 during the reigns of D. Maria I and D. João VI.
The museum is also home to an interesting collection of Portuguese faience, which was once a popular type of pottery. Faience is a type of ceramic that is not glazed but painted with metallic oxides to give it a bright color. The museum’s faience collection contains pieces from the 16th century to the early 20th century.
The museum’s collection also includes sculptures, paintings, engravings, and drawings. Although the collection is small, it includes around 300 works of art that represent Portugal’s rich artistic heritage.
Visit Museu do Oriente
The Museu do Oriente, in Lisbon, is a museum dedicated to the history and culture of East Asia. It was founded in 2006 by the Chinese-born businessman and art collector Zhang Yuzhe. The museum has a collection of over 10,000 objects from East Asia, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, calligraphy, and architecture. It also hosts regular exhibitions from Chinese contemporary artists and others from East Asia.
This unique museum offers a glimpse into Portugal’s history with Asia, and it features one of the largest collections in Europe. You’ll see ancient artifacts from China, Japan, and other countries as well as modern art inspired by Asian culture.
Visit the Estrela Basilica
This stunning basilica is one of Lisbon’s most popular attractions, and it provides sweeping views of the city. It is also close to the start of Tram 28 and can be visited before hopping on the Tram or after finishing your ride.
The interior is beautiful, but for a small cost, you can go up to the top where you can enjoy an amazing view of Lisbon.
Take a Stoll through Jardim da Estrela
After touring the Estrela Basilica go across the street to enjoy the Jardim da Estrela. This peaceful park is located in the heart of Lisbon and offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great place to relax, enjoy nature, and people-watch – especially on a sunny day!
The park is usually full of life with birthday parties, workout classes, yoga, a kiosk perfect for a quick drink or coffee, and a small cafe.
Take a day trip to Cascais
If you’re looking for a great day trip from Lisbon, head to Cascais. This charming town is located just a few miles west of the capital and is home to some of the best beaches in Portugal.
You can easily make it to Cascais by the train that runs along the river. The ride takes about 30 minutes and the views are spectacular.
Once you arrive in Cascais, be sure to check out the old town. This part of town is full of winding streets, colorful buildings, and delicious restaurants. There’s also a great market where you can buy souvenirs or pick up a picnic lunch.
Enjoy the beach town of Costa da Caparica
Costa da Caparica is a laid-back beach town just 20 minutes from Lisbon. The coast of the city is dotted with sandy beaches and great restaurants offering seafood and other good eats. Highlights of Costa da Caparica are surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, delicious food and drink, hiking trails along the cliffs, sunset strolls on open-air tábuas walkways, or dune buggy adventures inland.
I personally go to Costa da Caparica regularly and take surf classes at Gota Dagua Surf Camp. We love the cheap delicious food like Acai bowls filled with fruit, DoBrazil Pasteis or tacos at Huracan. But there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area too: tasting wine at a local vineyard, shopping in the pretty town center, or simply taking a leisurely walk along the coast.
Visit the Lisbon Oceanarium
The Lisbon Oceanarium houses more than 10,000 marine creatures with over 500 species and is one of the largest in Europe. Some of the highlights include a walk-through tunnel with sharks and rays, a large coral reef display, and an interactive touch pool. There’s also a 4D cinema and a range of educational exhibits.
The Oceanarium is a great place to learn about the ocean’s creatures, and it’s perfect for families with children. The staff are passionate about their work and happy to answer any questions you have. And be sure to check out the gift shop – it has a wide range of souvenirs, from T-shirts to stuffed animals.
The Baixa neighborhood is a must-see for any visitor to Lisbon. This charming district is located in the city’s downtown area and is home to narrow streets, lively plazas, and beautiful architecture.
One of the highlights of Baixa is its wide range of shops and restaurants. You’ll find everything from traditional bakeries to more modern cafes. Visitors will also find an array of chic boutiques selling clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories.
What’s most impressive about Baixa is the neighborhood’s busy square. The Praca do Rossio has been important to Lisbon since ancient times – excavations have revealed ruins from Roman times beneath the square!
Today, the area is popular for its captivating fountains and two majestic churches. The neo-classical Teatro Nacional D. Maria II was built in the 18th century on top of an abbey that dates back to the 12th century. While there are no longer abbey remains below this building, you can visit the site’s Gothic ruins. The Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora is also nearby and has a massive portal that will give you an idea of the grandeur of this place.
For lunch or dinner, be sure to stop by one of Baixa’s delightful restaurants! There are plenty in the area, but one popular neighborhood spot is A Cervejaria Trindade. This restaurant serves traditional Portuguese dishes like Caldo Verde (soup with kale and potatoes) and bacalhau a bras (a dish of salt cod).
You’ll find the best pastel de nata I have ever tried at Manteigaria.
Visit Bairro Alto
The Bairro Alto neighborhood is one of the most traditional and oldest centers in Lisbon. It is located at the lower edge of the old city, between Santa Catarina Street and Principe Real Square.
The name Bairro Alto comes from its location on top of a hill, just west of Baixa. The neighborhood is known for its nightlife, with a large concentration of bars and restaurants. It’s also home to a number of art galleries and theaters.
If you’re looking for a lively and vibrant atmosphere, Bairro Alto is definitely the place to be. It reminds me of the french quarter of New Orleans.
Visit Convento do Carmen
One of the most interesting places in Lisbon is the Carmo Convent. It was mostly destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755 and is now an archaeological site, museum and Carmelite monastery.
The ruins of the Church and Monastery recall those times when this part of Lisbon was a “pilgrim’s heaven”. Today the convent is open-air since the ceiling was never replaced after the earthquake. Many of the monastery’s rooms survived, including the choir gallery where monks used to sing.
People are still very attracted by this place because it offers a picture of medieval Lisbon and also hosts concerts during summertime.
Besides its religious interest, Carmo Convent is an interesting example of how earthquakes helped build history since you can find traces of several different architectures.
Visit the National Coach Museum
The National Coach Museum is located in Belem, Lisbon. It is home to a large collection of coaches and carriages from all over Europe, dating back to the 16th century.
There you will see coaches used by the Royal House of Bragança, São Miguel Arcanjo church processions, Rococo coaches belonging to rich noblemen, horse-drawn carriages – including the oldest coach in Portugal dating back to 1747.
Take a stroll through the gardens of Jardim Botanico
The Jardim Botanico of Lisbon is a beautiful horticultural garden located in the heart of the Portuguese capital. The garden is home to over 6,000 different plant species from all over the world, making it a popular tourist attraction.
The garden was founded in 1768 by King Jose I and Queen Maria I, who wanted to create a recreational green space for royalty in Lisbon. They had an agricultural farm outside of Lisbon that had some success, so they decided it was time to bring their passion for plants inside the city.
The Jardim Botanico of Lisbon is home to many different plant species and also has some larger attractions like a greenhouse, a pond, and a rose garden. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon if you’re looking for some peace and quiet in the heart of Lisbon.
Eat plenty of Seafood!
Lisbon is known for its delicious seafood, and it’s such a staple of the local cuisine that you can find it almost anywhere. Be sure to try classic dishes like cataplana (a type of Portuguese stew), grilled sardines, and salt cod – all washed down with some Vinho Verde!
Visit Cathedral de Se
This stunning cathedral is located at the top of a hill in the Alfama district, and it’s one of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks. The facade of the cathedral features intricate carvings and sculptures, while the interior is adorned with beautiful paintings and stained glass windows. The highlight of the cathedral is its magnificent dome, which soars high above the church.
Go shopping at LX Factory
This trendy shopping district is located in an old factory, and it’s home to a range of unique boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It’s the perfect place to find something special for yourself or a loved one!
There are so many things to do in Lisbon, and this list is just a sampling of the best ones. No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you in this vibrant city! So get out there and explore – you won’t regret it!
Are 2 days enough to see Lisbon?
If you only have 2 days in Lisbon, you’ll need to prioritize. It’s a big city that can take several days to explore! If you’re only in town for 48 hours or less, I’d suggest taking in:
The Castelo de São Jorge (castle) and the Museu da Cidade (museum). The Praça do Comércio and the Alfama district. The Bairro Alto nightlife area. A ride on the Santa Justa Lift. The Oceanarium, Coach Museum, or National Botanical Gardens (depending on your interests). And of course – plenty of seafood!