Top 10 things to do in Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in Europe. It has a rich history and you can see that the buildings, food and the people themselves. But, it’s also a very international city. This mix of tradition and modernism makes Lisbon very relaxed, hip and vibrant. In other words, the perfect city-trip destination.
The location along the Tagus river and the 7 hills make Lisbon even more interesting. Each of the different areas in the city has their own unique character, creating a wide variety of things to do. This blog post will help you discover all Lisbon has to offer.
Let’s not stall any further and dive in the top 10 things you can do in Lisbon.
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1. Watch the sunrise at Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Miradouro de Santa Luzia is a wonderful park area in the Alfama neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is known for its cute decorated houses, and this park blends in perfectly. Miradouro de Santa Luzia is vastly decorated with the Azulejo tiles, some lovely greenery and a large pink bougainvillea.
This is a very relaxed spot where you can enjoy the shade, dip your toes in the park pool to cool off, and enjoy the beautiful view over a large part of Lisbon and the river Tagus. If you are an early bird, this is the best spot in Lisbon to watch the sunrise.
For those not-so-early-birds there are many terraces surrounding this very viewpoint. Here you can enjoy the view with a glass of port wine and some Portuguese food. Yummy!
P.S. You can stay in my favourite hotel in Lisbon with a spectacular rooftop for only 25 Euros per person😍!
Exact location on Google Maps: Miradouro de Santa Luzia
2. Visit Museu Nacional do Azulejo
When you walk around Lisbon you’ll notice that many buildings are covered with tile decorations. In Portugal these tiles or Azulejo are a large part of the culture.
At the Museum Nacional do Azulejo (National tile museum) you can learn all about the different tiles. It is very interesting to see how the designs and textures were made a few hundred years ago, from the 15th century until today. Through these tiles you can see the changes in the Portuguese culture, which is a unique perspective.
Besides the tiles, the building on itself is worth a visit. The museum is located in a former convent called Madre de Deus. The many stone bows and decorations make this convent very beautiful, and something you would not expect from a museum. The Madre de Deus includes a church entirely decorated in the baroque style, with loads of gold, paintings, wood art and tiles.
An entrance ticket costs 5 euros.
➳ Find out more here
Exact location on Google Maps: Museu Nacional do Azulejo
3. Explore St. Jeorge Castle
On a 110 meter high hill in the Alfama neighbourhood lies the St. Jeorge Castle. This castle was the former royal palace and is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Lisbon. When you enter the castle grounds you’ll find yourself in the gardens. Here you can spot the remains of the former Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Which was largely destroyed in a big earthquake in 1755. Back in the day the royal gardens were used by the elite. It is a wonderful place to relax, enjoy the shade from the trees and count as many peacock as you can. As the gardens are full of those colourful birds. The gardens also offer a magical view over Lisbon.
Tip ➳ Beautiful Sunset Spots in Porto
The castle is in the centre of the gardens. The walls around the castle have a very rough structure and were build in the 11th century. They acted as the last line of defence during times of war. From the inside of the castle you can climb the defence walls, which are very impressive. The mere size of the castle and the great condition transports you back in time. Making this a great place to learn about the history of Lisbon and simultaneously gives you the opportunity to daydream about what it must have been like to be part of the elite in Lisbon a few hundred years ago.
➳ Learn more here
Exact location on Google Maps: St. Jeorge Castle
4. Taste the traditional Pastéis de Belém
You might have heard that the Portuguese people love their sweets. But there is one sweet treat that is, so to speak, the king of pastries 😉 and that is the pastéis de Belém, or in short pastéis de nata (pastries for sweet tooths).
This well known pastry has a hard crust and a soft sweet custard-like mouse on the inside. Which creates a delicious and unique taste.
During the liberal revolution the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos starting selling the pastries from a small shop, in hope to save the monastery. Because during the liberal revolution many churches were closed down. The pastéis de nata quickly got very popular, as many people passed through the Belem area.
In 1837 the Pastéis de Belém were strictly made in a secret room, because the ancient recipe was kept secret. Only the masters of the monastery knew it. The recipe of the pastries still remains the same until this day. How cool is that!
So, besides the delicious taste, the pastéis de nata have got a lot of history. At the official pastéis de Belém store, you can buy them warm for 1,50 per pastry. Best is to eat them with a nice cup of coffee and some cinnamon on top of them. (Seriously, I’m getting hungry now when I’m writing this haha)
Pro Tip ➳ Stay in Belem in this beautiful (and affordable) hotel to watch the sunrise at Belem Tower
5. Visit Belem Tower
Close to the pastéis de nata shop, there is the Belem Tower. It is located on the the bank of the River Tagus. The tower itself has a medieval feel to it. In the 16th century this tower was build and it acted has a large part of the military defence system of the river. You can clearly see this tower was designed to serve that specific purpose. For example, looking at the shooting holes, from which guns were fired.
Nowadays, the tower poses as the protector of the Portuguese universality and individuality. And therefore, it has been named part of the UNESCO list “Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.
An entrance ticket costs 6 euros.
➳ Learn more here
Exact location on Google Maps: Belem Tower
6. Visit the Palácio da Pena
In a village 50 minutes from Lisbon you’ll find a castle like no other. The Pena Palace in Sintra has a robust structure, but is made unique by its bright and cheerful colours.
Exact location on Google Maps: Palácio da Pena
7. Explore the world at Padrão dos Descobrimentos
In Belem there is a large monument on the banks of the river Tagus. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries represents the conquests of Portugal overseas and the victorious and heroic history. Part of this monument is a 50m in diameter and 14m wide planisphere compass rose. This compass rose shows details on the top shipping routes for the Portuguese conquests between the 15th and 16th century.
Check out this video to see how huge the compass rose really is ↡
➳ Learn more here
Exact location on Google Maps: Padrão dos Descobrimentos
8. Drink Ginjinha
In Lisbon there is a famous drink called Ginjinha. It is known as their grandparents’ “wonder cure”. Ginjinha is a cherry liqueur made from wine, infused with the Ginjinha cherries and a load of sugar.
You can try this drink all over Lisbon, as almost any bar and restaurant serves it. Expect to pay between 1 or 2 euros for a shot glass full.
My favourite place to drink this sweet treat is at the viewpoint Portas Do Sol. It is a beautiful viewpoint, from which you can look over a huge part of the city and the River Tagus. In other words, the perfect spot to sip a nice glass of liquor.
Exact location on Google Maps: Drink Ginjinha
9. Explore the nightlife on the Pink Street
The nightlife in Lisbon is very fun! The Portuguese people love to party, so be prepared for a fun evening. The Pink Street is the place to be. And yes, it is literally pink. Late in the evening, especially on Saturday night, the streets fill up with people, music, beer and tequila shots.
During the day this street has an entirely different feel to it. When the sun is out, this is a great place to enjoy the colourful facade by sitting on a terrace or just wandering about.
Exact location on Google Maps: Pink Street
10. Ride in the 28 tram line
In Lisbon there are many trams driving through the city. But the best tram ride is definitely line 28. This tram line drives through the popular Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela neighbourhoods. By riding this tram you get to see many beautiful parts of Lisbon. And whats even more fun is the vintage look of the trams. The yellow Remodelado trams were made in 1930 and are still up and running. And it’s only 3 euros for a ride. Or you can buy a 24-hour public transport ticket for 6,40 euros at one of the metro stations.
Exact location on Google Maps: 28 Tram Line
As you have seen in all the photos, there is loads to do in this wondrous city. I would advice you to spend at least 4 days in Lisbon itself and then do a 1-day trip to Sintra. You can also easily combine a trip to Lisbon with a trip to Porto, which is only a short 20 minute flight away.
Have fun and let me know what you enjoyed most about this city!
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