Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon sits at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The city boasts a rich culture and laid-back vibe.
It spreads across a number of hills, and each part of the city offers a wealth of new and interesting experiences. With warm summers and mild winters, you can have a pleasant trip to Lisbon all year round.
Despite being the capital, Lisbon is often overshadowed by other Portuguese destinations. Many travellers seek out the beaches and coastal landscapes of the Algarve and islands like Madeira. Until fairly recently, Lisbon was considered by many as merely a transit point.
Lisbon is, however, starting to come into its own as a terrific place for a city break. It’s well worth planning a trip before it truly booms—it’s always nice to explore away from the crowds! I’ve compiled this list of the best places to visit in Lisbon to entice you to add the charming capital to your travel bucket list.
Be warned: some of these best places to visit in Lisbon are sure to amaze you!
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Lisbon:
Bairro Alto is the centre for nightlife in the capital. Here you’ll find streets packed with everything from small bars and cosy cafes to upmarket restaurants and rooftop terraces.
- Sip cocktails and enjoy the view at Park Bar.
- Indulge at Belcanto, a two Michelin star restaurant.
- Dance the night away at Incognito.
And now onto the good stuff… Here are the best places to visit in Lisbon.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Lisbon!
You’re keyed up and ready to tuck into those Pastel de Natas. I know, they are one of the best things about visiting Portugal.
Although that’s not one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. That’s what you really want to hear about, isn’t it? Well, that’s what I’ve done for you…
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#1 – Alfama – One of the most amazing places in Lisbon!
Why it’s awesome: Alfama is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Rich in history and culture, it’s also one of the most popular hotspots for tourists to explore in Lisbon. Charming cobblestone streets lined with quaint homes built many years ago wind up the hill. The area boasts several key city attractions and it’s easy to spend a whole day roaming around and taking in the sights and vibe.
Initially thought of as an area for underprivileged people, it has transformed into a hip and trendy area with lots of olde-worlde character. Alfama is also the home of Fado music, a soulful type of music that often stirs up a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness.
What to do there: Stroll the narrow winding streets and soak up the area’s charming ambience. You have to start here while you’re staying in Lisbon. Visit major architectural treasures like the National Pantheon, the Romanesque Se Cathedral, and Saint Anthony’s Church, and travel back in time at the impressive Castelo de São Jorge. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, the castle has imposing walls and looming towers that offer sweeping views, a museum, and archaeological finds.
Give your legs a rest from walking with a ride on the tram. Learn more about the roots of fado at the Fado Museum and experience a haunting performance at a fado dinner restaurant. The offbeat National Tile Museum is a fabulous place for lovers of functional art, and you can also visit the ornate Madre de Deus Church. Discover cute squares, awesome viewpoints, lovely cafes, and a wealth of small unusual shops. Some of Lisbon’s best hostels can be found in Alfama too!
#2 – Igreja-Museu São Roque – One of the most underrated places to see in Lisbon
Why it’s awesome: It would be easy to walk past Igreja-Museu São Roque without giving a second glance. The exterior of the 16th-century Renaissance church-turned-museum is fairly plain in appearance. The inside, however, is one of the most opulent places in Lisbon! Some of the interior details were made in Rome in the 1740s and sent to Lisbon to embellish the religious building.
In one of the stunning chapels, visitors will find some of the oldest decorative and colourful tiles in all of Lisbon. There’s also a feature that was made in Goa in the 1680s. As well as precious metals and jewels, the church also contains a number of fine pieces of art and religious artefacts.
What to do there: Be dazzled by artistic gleaming beauty when you step into the magnificent Igreja-Museu São Roque and explore the various small chapels around its edges. The Capela de São João Baptista, largely created in Rome, showcases a stunning mosaic called The Baptism of Christ. It has gold, silver, marble, amethyst, and lapis Lazuli details.
Enter the São Roque Shrine to admire painted panels from the 16th century that depict the saint’s life, and see the glorious frescoes and tiles in Capela de São Roque. Visit the museum to see religious artworks and treasures and marvel at the woodwork, tiles, and marble found throughout the spectacular church.
#3 – Jardim do Torel – A nice non-touristy place to visit in Lisbon
Why it’s awesome: A somewhat off-the-beaten-track and hidden outdoor gem in Lisbon. Jardim do Torel is a peaceful park with a romantic air great for relaxing in after a night of partying in Bairro Alto. It’s the perfect spot to find a great Airbnb in Lisbon. Perched atop one of Lisbon’s hills, the park offers lovely views across the city. As well as open spaces with lots of flowers and trees the park has a children’s play area, a beautiful mansion, and a cafe. It’s a great place to unwind away from the crowds when visiting Lisbon’s more popular attractions.
What to do there: Walk to Jardim do Torel from Liberdade and take in the lovely homes and street art along the streets. Alternatively, give your legs a break and ride the Ascensor do Lavra funicular. Take a seat on one of the benches and bask in the peaceful ambience as you listen to the chatter and singing of birds. Let kids cut loose in the play area and admire the scenic views of the harbour, river, and various city areas. Look out for various landmarks in Lisbon spread out beneath you. Feeling peckish? Call into the quaint café for lunch before leaving.
#4 – Belém – An awesome place to visit in Lisbon for half a day!
Why it’s awesome: One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Belém boasts a number of famous landmarks and architectural treasures. Once a bustling port, Belém sits alongside the Tagus River. Boat rides are a great way to see the area from a different perspective. There are plenty of green spaces, such as parks and tree-lined plazas, to enjoy. With romantic spots, art, culture, history, and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone in Belém. Furthermore, the area is where explorers set sail to visit new lands and where the delicious Pasteis de Nata were born.
What to do there: Explore the iconic UNESCO-listed Torre de Belém, built in the early 1500s as a defensive fort and filled with sublime details. Go to the top of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos for terrific views and stroll along the nearby waterfront to see statues of historical figures.
Visit the official presidential home of Belém Palace, a beautiful 16th-century building. Learn tons of interesting new things at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, and admire art at the free-to-enter Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Lisbon isn’t always expensive. Take a romantic stroll through the pretty botanical garden. The Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Lisbon must-do. It was established to celebrate Vasco de Gama’s journey to India in the late 1400s and the famous explorer’s remains are contained there still. This was also where the delectable Pasteis de Nata were created by the monks.
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#5 – Carcavelos Beach – A perfect place to visit in Lisbon if you are on a budget!
Why it’s awesome: One of the closest sandy beaches to the heart of the city, Carcavelos Beach is a great place to enjoy a budget day trip in Lisbon at the seaside. There are good facilities for visitors and the vibe is energetic. Whether you want to chill or join in with diverse activities, the beach has something for everyone. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the beach attracts couples, families, and groups of sun-seeking friends.
What to do there: Relax on the soft golden sands and top up your tan as you laze in the sunshine, or take a dip in the cool and refreshing water. The waves make for great surfing too. Join in with a spirited game of beach volleyball, toss a Frisbee, build a sandcastle, play beach football, and stroll barefoot along the stretching sands. You can also unwind in one of the ocean-facing cafes and bars to soak up the vistas while enjoying refreshments in the shade.
#6 – Núcleo Arqueológico – One of the more unique places to visit in Lisbon!
Why it’s awesome: Located downtown, visiting Núcleo Arqueológico is one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. The cool archaeological museum was constructed around the discovered remains of homes from the Iron Age, Moorish buildings, and structures from the Roman era. Various ancient artefacts were unearthed during excavations, reflecting different time periods and groups of people that once called the area home. Free tours are available on the interesting site. What makes the museum particularly interesting is the fact that it lies hidden beneath the Millennium BCP bank.
What to do there: See a collection of eye-catching paintings by 20th-century artists while waiting for your free one-hour underground tour to begin. Descend into the chambers and passageways underneath the bank to travel back in time through Lisbon’s long and varied history. Peer through glass floors to see remains from different eras, including a Christian burial chamber from the 5th century and Roman mosaics, and see a range of items uncovered at the site.
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#7 – Cemitério dos Prazeres – A nice quiet place to see in Lisbon
Why it’s awesome: Something of a hidden gem, the peaceful Cemitério dos Prazeres is well worth adding to your Lisbon itinerary. It’s the biggest cemetery in the city, founded in the 1830s following a devastating outbreak of cholera. As well as cholera victims, the burial ground is also the final resting place for a number of famous local people, including politicians, authors, and artists. There are many interesting graves and tombs and the attractive cemetery also offers terrific views away from the masses.
What to do there: Wander around the tranquil cemetery and admire the ornate and elegant funerary architecture. There are grand mausoleums to honour the dead, many built in a Baroque style. The cemetery is a great place for photography fans too, so make sure you bring a good travel camera with you. Soak up the excellent views that include the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Tagus River.
#8 – Time Out Market – A must-see for foodies!
Why it’s awesome: Time Out Market can be found in the renovated Marcado da Ribeira market hall. There are some 30 stalls selling a tempting assortment of foods, and the prices range so as to suit all budgets. Open every day, the market is easy to reach, thanks to its location right across from Cais do Sodre train station.
What to do there: Let your senses guide you from stall to stall as your nostrils inhale the tempting aromas, your eyes soak up the lip-smacking sights, and your taste buds start to tingle. Grab a selection of items for a picnic, sit down for a larger meal, and buy a range of mouth-watering snacks to enjoy throughout the day.
Whether you’re looking for traditional Portuguese fare, quick and easy fast food, international dishes, sweet treats, or something else, the market is sure to satisfy most cravings. It’s definitely among the great food experiences in Lisbon!
#9 – Hospital de Bonecas – Quite the quirky place in Lisbon!
Why it’s awesome: The Hospital de Bonecas is one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon. Tucked away along Praça da Figueira and well and truly away from the typical tourist trail, it’s a combination of a repair shop for dolls, shop, and whimsical museum. People have been taking their precious dolls here to be lovingly repaired since the 1830s. It all grew from an elderly lady who used to sit outside a herb shop sewing clothes for dolls, later branching out into repairs to pacify upset children.
What to do there: Peek inside the Hospital de Bonecas (Doll Hospital) and absorb the sense of history as you view dolls and antique toys from through the ages in the museum. You’ll see everything from plush stuffed animals and old toy cars to fine porcelain dolls and games from yesteryear. If you have a treasured doll yourself that needs fixing, this is a great place to visit! Pick up quaint miniature furnishings for dolls houses and a wide selection of gorgeous tiny outfits and accessories.
#10 – Take a Ride on the Santa Justa Lift
Why it’s awesome: The Santa Justa Lift is an elevator in Lisbon and is the fastest way and most exciting way to get from the Baixa neighbourhood to the Bairro Alto district, two places you should explore whilst you’re riding this vintage elevator! Opened on 10 July 1902, it was intended as a way for the people of the city to easily move between these districts in this hilly city. It was a huge hit and on the first day, over 3000 people used the lift! Today, it’s a landmark of the city!
What to do there: Taking the lift isn’t just like any old boring trip to your apartment! This one is all about the experience, you know what they say, enjoy the journey and not just the destination! Take a ride on this neo-gothic cast iron icon of the city designed as a tribute to Gustave Eiffel. Once you’re at the top, take time to enjoy the view over the city before exploring the beautiful Bairro Alto district.
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Final Word on the Coolest Places to Visit in Lisbon
So, there we have it! The best things to do in Lisbon! Prepare yourself for an epic time exploring all these and discovering even more.
Don’t forget to save some time to just follow your feet and let this beautiful city guide you. Be sure to stay in a good place to soak it all in too. Get off the beaten path and create your own destiny.
Take day trips from Lisbon to places like the pretty Praia da Figueirinha, the wine regions of Cheleiros and Bucelas. Sail through stunning Sintra, religiously significant Fatimá, the medieval gem of Óbidos, historic Tomar, and the stunning Arrábida National Park.
Check out Bairro Alto at night time, with its many excellent restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. I could go on forever.
There truly are many awesome places to visit in Lisbon! Go and find out for yourself.
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