Lisbon is swiftly ascending as one of Europe’s most visited cities, and the reasons are abundantly clear. The recent introduction of a Digital Nomad visa, coupled with budget-friendly accommodation and delicious cuisine, has propelled Lisbon into the echelons of Europe’s best destinations

However, it’s not just the allure of great prices and egg tarts that beckon visitors; there are heaps of awe-inspiring things to do in Lisbon. From historic neighbourhoods adorned with cobblestone streets and hand-painted tiles to the soulful melodies of Fado music echoing across the enchanting vistas. Lisbon is a backpacker’s paradise waiting to be explored.

If you’re unsure about what to do in Lisbon, then never fear! I’m here to navigate you through the maze of pastel-coloured buildings, introduce you to the mouthwatering delicacies tucked away in hole-in-the-wall eateries, and unveil the hidden gems that make this hip city an unmissable European capital. 

Personally, I’ve had two interesting and contrasting trips to Lisbon, 15 years apart! In that time the city has gone from a forgotten and overlooked gem, to a hip and happening capital. For better, or for worse, things have definitely changed, but all I know is that 60-plus countries later, I was still just as charmed…

A person sat by the Santa Justa Elevator in Lisbon, Portugal
Here I am again… 15 years later! Now I feel old.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

21 Top Things to Do in Lisbon

For what is actually a quite compact and walkable city, there are a lot more things to do in Lisbon than you might first imagine. Though, many of those do involve stuffing your face full of pastries and attempting to walk up impossibly steep streets … you’ve been warned.

Since returning to Lisbon 15 years after my first visit and having travelled the world, lessons learnt on the road have meant I’ve been able to craft the perfect list of things to do in Lisbon to save you the hassle.

Oh, they named this cafe after me, cheers guys!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

1. Marvel At Jerónimos Monastery

There are many amazing sights and some pretty impressive things to do in Lisbon. But, none compare to the sheer size and scale of Jerónimos Monastery. Not only is this magnificent architectural gem one of the most awe-inspiring Lisbon attractions, but it’s one of the most beautiful places in Portugal to visit.

tourist with a camera takes a photo of the mosteiro dos jerónimos in belém,  lisbon, portugal
Everyone wants a piece of it.

Set in the picturesque Belém neighbourhood, close to the aptly named Belém Tower, the makers were kind enough to place them next to each other so you could visit them both in one day. Pretty thoughtful of them!

In fact, its location isn’t by chance. It was built to commemorate Portugal’s maritime achievements after the successful return of Vasco da Gama…. who happens to be buried here too.

This limestone-clad building took over a century to complete, so the least you could do is spend a few hours here. Take a walk through the gorgeous chapel, stroll through the haunting cloisters and congratulate yourself on a day well spent.

They don’t give out UNESCO Heritage sites to anyone who asks you know!

Pro tip: The monastery is closed on Mondays and after 10am it does get pretty busy. Buying a ticket before ensures you don’t get stuck in the queue. 

2. Stroll Down To Belém Tower and The Monument of the Discoveries

Located a stone’s throw away from the Jeronimos monastery, is the iconic Belém Tower and the striking Monument of the Discoveries.

The Torre de Belém is a detailed mashup of Gothic and Renaissance styles, it’s an architecture nerd’s dream and still looks pretty cool for the rest of us with all the funky maritime motifs. Originally erected to help with the city’s defence, it’s also been a lighthouse as well as a customs office. It’s known as a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

I don’t know why but it reminds me of a boot.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

The views that you get from the top are dazzling and whether you decide to climb to the top or admire it from the coastline, it’s a must-see while visiting Lisbon. Inside the tower, there are exhibits documenting the impressive history of seafaring in Portugal that made this tiny nation have a huge impact on a global scale.

Close by is the imposing Monument of the Discoveries. It commemorates the explorers, sailors, and navigators who played pivotal roles in the country’s maritime expansion during the 15th and 16th centuries.

This striking example of Modern classicism architecture is both contrasting and yet complementary to its ancient neighbour downriver. It’s shaped like a traditional Caravel Portuguese sailing ship and was opened in 1958.

Pro tip: The walk between Belém Tower and The Monument of the Discoveries is further than you might first think, but it’s one that is worth taking the time to do. 

There can also be a bit of a queue, so buy your tickets before you arrive to save time. 

3. Grab A Pastel De Nata At Pastéis De Belém

Just a short walk from the Belém Tower is a culinary delight to just round off your trip to this area of town perfectly. Now I’ll be honest, I’m more of a savoury person than a desert kinda guy. Plus, the egg tarts we have in the UK at Greggs are pretty bloody woeful, but the Pastel De Natas here have won me over.

They’re a delight! Trying them from the OG Pastéis De Belém is a must when you’re staying in Lisbon and they didn’t disappoint.

A pastel de Nata in Portugal
Is it just me or is it smiling at me!!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

A sweet custardy packet of goodness, I first tried them when I was staying in Phuket of all places and was blown away. And while they are delicious in every place you can find them (you can even get them in Lidl now), nothing compares to the original.

Pastéis de Belém has been baking deliciousness since 1834 and delighting patrons ever since. Putting one of these in your mouth is one of the top things to do in Lisbon, bar none.

Pro tip: Don’t be put off by the massive queues, they go down pretty fast — and the doors on the right are usually much faster for takeaway. Also, be sure to sprinkle the powdered sugar and cinnamon on yours!

4. Take A Ride On The Santa Justa Lift

Ride a lift? Why would I waste my time riding a lift? I take a lift every day to get back to my hotel room and it’s nothing special!

Ok, I hear you. But just hold up a moment before you judge, cus this ain’t no ordinary lift amigos. In fact, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of lift building … if that’s even a thing. Let’s make it a thing!

Anyway, I digress. The Santa Justa Lift is an addition to the city that came from necessity.

I am sure by the time you grace the cast iron confines of this lift, your aching calves will realise just why it was built, but as I’m writing this for you presumably before you arrive. Boy have you got some hiking to do in the uber-hilly city of Lisbon.

The Santa Justa Elevator in Lisbon, Portugal
From this angle, the lift looks pretty surreal!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Originally a simple transportation method built in 1899 to bring people up the steep hill from the Baixa District to the Largo Do Carmo, it has become one of the best attractions in Lisbon. Not only does this beautiful lift save your legs from yet another uphill battle, but it’s a quintessential Lisbon experience that opens up into one of the best views of the city!

Amazing Gothic architecture? Check. A deck with some of the best views of the city? Check. Not many lifts have it all but this one definitely does.

Pro tip: Riding the lift is free if you have the Lisboa Card and you can pay a further €1.50 to access the higher observation deck. The lift is pretty popular these days and often does have a long queue. We suggest riding it for the experience early in the day and otherwise making alternative plans to get up and down this area of the city otherwise, such as using the nearby steps!

5. Explore The Baixa District

Baixa is the downtown area of Lisbon, the central heart and soul of everything that is going on in town. Here you will find a whole host of exciting and historic places to visit. It’s a great place to start your trip in Portugal, wandering from square to square soaking in the unique vibe of the capital.

Whilst exploring this neighbourhood I recommend you take at least a few hours to really get your bearings and discover the impressive architecture and historic buildings of this energetic district. There are also some great cafes, restaurants and shops all within walking distance of each other within the city’s grid system.

Some of the stand-out areas you just must visit whilst wandering around are as follows: Rua Augusta, this is pretty much the main street in the area, think Broadway in NYC or Oxford Street in London.

This busy thoroughfare is capped off with the impressive Rua Augusta Arch. It’s a triumphal archway dating back to 1755 to commemorate the reconstruction of the city after the earthquake of the same year.

The triumphal archway in Lisbon, Portugal
Every self-respecting city has to have an archway!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

As you walk underneath the impressive archway you’ll be greeted with an even more incredible sight, the awe-inspiring Praça do Comércio. For sure one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.

At one time this was where most visitors, coming from the sea rather than the air, would arrive in the city! It certainly beats queuing at customs at the airport…

Another fancy-ass square to check out in the heart of the district is Praça Do Rossio, it’s home to the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II as well as many of the best cafes in town. It’s the perfect place to sit out and enjoy people-watching over lunch.

Pro tip: Whilst with other cities I might advise against staying smack bang right in the heart of downtown, Lisbon is where I differ. Whilst I love other areas of the city, Baixa is too well placed and convenient not to recommend, whilst other areas can be a little awkward with luggage. I suggest planting yourself firmly in the heart of town and exploring from there.

6. Head Up To The Historic Castelo De São Jorge

As I’m sure you have figured out by now, I’m a sucker for a good view. Well, Castelo De São Jorge has that and so much more than just a view, making it one of the best things to do in Lisbon.

Constructed by the Moors in the 11th Century, this fascinating place is a great way to learn more about the Moors. Let’s be honest, sometimes the Moors don’t get their due credit for the influence they had over Portuguese and Spanish culture! Big up the Moors.

The castle looms over the city!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

It also has a garden that is an absolute joy to walk through, plus there are some casual Peacocks just getting about. The Castle also hosts various exhibitions as well as cultural events from time to time.

But the clear winner is that view. Overlooking the Tagus River, and having a Camera Obscura which provides 360 views of the city in real-time, it’s too good to miss.

Pro tip: Visit São Jorge Castle early in the morning to avoid crowds. Weekdays also tend to be quieter than the weekend. It is also possible to prebook tickets with a guide to avoid having to wait in line. You should also wear comfortable shoes as there’s more walking that you might imagine!

7. Check Out A Fado Show In A Local Restaurant

Fado is a traditional genre of folk music that originated in Portugal. The cities of Lisbon and Coimbra are particularly known for Fado, so they are the perfect locations to check it out.

Fado actually translates to “fate” in English. Though some may say the melancholic themes of longing, nostalgia and the general hardships of life can be perceived as a bit sad, they are nothing if not soulful. 

A street band in Portugal
Music is an important part of the culture of Portugal
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Fado is engrained in Portuguese culture and to visit the capital without experiencing it would be a real shame. As I said above, Lisbon is one of the real heartlands for Fado, so you’re in luck if you want to experience a show. There are many many establishments in and around the city that you’d have to walk around blindfolded… and with earplugs in to miss them!

Having said that, some areas are more known for Fado than others. Alfama is said to be where it originated, but the Bairro Alto with its many traditional bars and restaurants is the best area. Café Luso is particular is one of the best-known establishments where you’re guaranteed a great show.

Pro tip: Some other establishments to try are: A Severa, Adega Machado, O Faia, Tasca do Chico and Canto do Camões. 

Visiting a Fado restaurant is a little different to other establishments. Here you will often get a meal-show combination where you’ll be expected to either pay a set price or spend a minimum amount. It’s also a great way to sample local food.

If you’re a little unsure on what to do, then you can always join an organised Fado show

8. Sail Down The Tagus

So, you’re in Lisbon, right? And you know what’s dope about a waterfront city? It looks even more kickass from the water and that is especially true of Lisbon.

One of the best things to do is jump on a boat and head down the Tagus where you can soak in all the maritime vibes.

The mighty River Tagus is actually the longest on the Iberian Peninsula. I’ll be honest, that’s information I don’t quite know what to do with, but I thought it was interesting. Whilst Lisbon is a riverside city, it sometimes doesn’t feel like it is in the same way that others do.

But, this is a good thing. It means that its river is far from overcrowded or overshadowed by developers. 

Just don’t roll down this bank yeah!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

In fact, taking a river cruise feels pretty off the beaten track at times and offers a totally different and way more relaxed side to the city. My personal favourite time to hit the water is at sunset from Belém. Sailing past the iconic towers at golden hour and heading back into the city just in time for dinner! 

So, whether you’re vibing with a daytime cruise or catching those sunset hues, sailing the Tagus is your ticket to chill. So chill, soak in the views, and stash away some epic memories of your time in Lisbon.

Pro tip: Time it with your trip to Belem by pre booking your Tagus cruise like an absolute pro!  

9. Take A Journey On Tram 28

Ok, so you might be thinking that Lisbon has quite a few public transport-related activities going on, but trust me, this one is worth the inclusion. I mean, it pretty much ticks all the boxes when it comes to affordability, charm, and leg-saving potential. Did I mention Lisbon is hilly?! 

So, you’re thinking about hopping on Tram 28 in Lisbon then? Good call, meus amigos!

Tram 28 is like the magic carpet of this city. It takes you on a ride through some of the coolest neighbourhoods and alongside some of the most beautiful and historic buildings. 

A tram coming down a street in Lisbon, Portugal
Beep beep! Get out of the way!!
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

Most of Lisbon’s trams have been replaced with modern electric versions. They are faster, more efficient, and can hold way more passengers, but who said being practical is more fun? What makes Tram 28 a special Lisbon attraction is precisely why these vintage models can’t be replaced.

It winds through the tiny streets and alleys of the old town with tight turns that the newer larger models can’t keep up with… whilst looking ever so charming doing so. Whether you choose to jump on the tram itself or just stand awkwardly in the street trying to get the perfect shot without being run over, you’ll fall in love with these little guys!

Pro tip: Tram 28 is now pretty well known and quite popular, so it can get busy. Like anywhere doing the trip early or late will give you a better chance to skip the crowds. Also boarding at Martim Moniz gives you a better chance to get a seat.

Being busy also makes the tram a hotbed for pick pockets, so always have your wits about you.

An alternative to tram 28 is line number 12 that follows much of the same route but is often a lot quieter.

10. Wander The Streets Of The Alfama Neighbourhood

This leads us nicely to the next place to visit in Lisbon, the Alfama neighbourhood. Luckily tram 28 takes you right the way up the steep winding hills into the heart of the most historic and beautiful area of the city. As the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon, there is so much to explore, and getting lost in the twisting alleyways is one of the best free things to do in Lisbon. 

Personally, one of the things I love to do the most when I visit a new city, or in this case, heading back after 15 years, is to just explore on foot and see what I find. Well, this area of Lisbon is perfect for that. Forget Google Maps and get your nose out of the guidebook, instead, let your feet lead the way! 

Wandering around this neighbourhood is my favourite thing to do in Lisbon.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Alfama is all about getting lost – in a good way. Stroll through its narrow, cobblestone streets lined with colourful houses where the laundry hangs out to dry on yet another sunny afternoon.

Keep an eye out for some killer street art as well as some of the city’s best viewpoints. A must-visit whilst up here is the impressive Sé De Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral), which dates back to 1147 and is the oldest in the city.

Pro tip: Alfama is super hilly, so I recommend catching the tram to the top and making your way gradually downhill rather than the other way around!

11. Go And Explore The LX Factory

Ok, so Lisbon is all about beautiful old buildings, rickety heritage trams and winding cobbled streets. Sounds idyllic and all, but sometimes you want something a bit grittier. Thankfully the antidote to all that comes in the shape of the LX Factory.

Housed in a redeveloped derelict former industrial complex in the trendy Alcântara neighbourhood, it has a real arty and alternative vibe. This dynamic space, once home to a textiles factory, is now filled with galleries, coworking spaces, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and performance venues.

street art mural at lx factory in lisbon, portugal
Street art galore.

The LX Factory has become a real hub for the creative scene in not just this area, but Lisbon in general. They even have a cool hostel called The LX Factory here too.

With frequent events, festivals, markets and workshops, there’s always something exciting and innovative happening here. It also offers a totally different side to the city with its fresh, youthful and happening vibe.

Pro tip: Whilst LX Factory is a super cool spot to check out, like anything, with it’s popularity it has become a little overdone. There’s now a newer spot in town called Marvila 8 that offers a similar experience but is a bit more rough around the edges and has a more local vibe.

12. Hit The Tiles At Museu Nacional Do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)

When I tell people that there is a tile museum and that they have to go see it, I can see their eyes start to roll in disbelief. But hear me out…

I’m not talking about your standard kitchen tiles here and despite rumours circulating on the dark web, I’ve also not got a bathroom fetish! Instead, the National Tile Museum is actually one of the top things to do in Lisbon.

The Portuguese, you might have noticed, love a good tile. In fact, it’s kinda engrained in their culture.

Tiles, they are everywhere over here and they’re bloody beautiful. They are works of art and you’ll often find whole buildings covered in ornate tile work like entire churches or train stations, it really is a sight to see.

Portugal takes tiling to the next level!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

So, where better to learn more about the history and importance of the tile than to spend a few hours perusing The Nacional Do Azulejo? The collection here dates back to the 15th century and documents the many different influences on their various styles. There are also frequent workshops and demonstrations where you can see and experience first-hand tile-making techniques.

Pro tip: You’ll usually find the museum isn’t too busy, but you can still purchase your tickets beforehand. You can also download a free audio guide using the museum’s app, so bring some headphones along.

13. Hop On The Impossibly Steep Bica Funicular

Ahh yes, more public transport-related shenanigans in Lisbon. Well, we are all about budget, environmentally sustainable activities here at The Broke Backpacker, and this one certainly ticks those boxes!

The Elevador da Bica isn’t your bog standard tram. This bad boy has been trundling up and down the most impossibly steep street since 1892, so credit where credit’s due.

Connecting Rua de São Paulo street down in waterside Cais do Sodré with Largo do Calhariz square in the Bairro Alto district, it’s a fun and less tiring way to make the journey. Plus it looks super cool too! Like many things in Lisbon, it’s both stylish and functional and looks like something straight from a Wes Anderson film.

Beats the 409 from Rochdale to Ashton!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

A ride on the Bica Funicular is a thoroughly charming experience as you trundle through the picturesque streets of Bica, when the street begins to level off you can even see the Tagus River down the narrow thoroughfare.

Pro tip: Your Lisbon Card is accepted as payment on the Ascensor da Bica. If you’re looking to skip the queues and don’t mind the walk, start at the top and ride the tram down, otherwise it can sometimes be a long wait at the bottom!

14. Channel Your Inner Influencer At The Pink Street (R. Nova do Carvalho)

As the name suggests, this is indeed a street that has been painted pink! But Rua Nova do Carvalho is so much more than that, this colourful and vibrant area of the Cais do Sodré neighbourhood is the place to be. Painted as part of a huge regeneration project, this former Red Light District is now lined with trendy bars, restaurants, and clubs.

Whether you’re headed down here for a fun evening soaking in the energy or you’re passing through during the day for some Insta-worthy shots, it’s always worth a visit.

Aesthetic AF mate!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Once the hangout for criminals, drunken sailors and “ladies of the night”, the colourful history of this area of town has not been forgotten, but instead used to paint the town pink… rather than red! Its seedy past has been brightened both literally and figuratively into a lively and trendy area to hang out both during the day and especially at night.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for somewhere similar but a bit more off the beaten track, then instead check out the “Green Street” on Rua da Silva street or Rua Verde to locals. This street is more geared towards cafes and restaurants and is a bit more lowkey, but still has a great vibe and aesthetic.

15. Pretend You’re In Rio At The Sanctuary Of Christ The King Statue.

With Portugal and Brazil having such an intertwined history, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Rio when you see The Sanctuary Of Christ The King Statue! In fact, this statue was built several decades later than the more famous Christ The Redeemer statue after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited.

The colossal statue of Jesus Christ sits on a massive plinth above the city over the Almada side of the river. This statue is for sure one of the best places to visit in Lisbon; it’s just so iconic.

The pedestal can be climbed and the views below are spectacular. From here you can see over to Lisbon itself as well as taking in the impressive 25 de Abril Bridge, itself reminiscent of The Golden Gate Bridge.

Are we in Rio?
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

What’s cool about The Sanctuary Of Christ The King Statue is that although it’s become a little more known recently, being outside of the main city, it’s pretty off the beaten track for most visitors. It still retains its peaceful and tranquil aura.

Pro tip: A great way to visit the statue is by taking the ferry to Cacilhas from Cais do Sodré, it takes just 8 minutes to cross the water and it’s lovely Then jump on bus 3001 for 10 minutes to get to the statue. 

16. Indulge in Local Delicacies On a Local Food Tour

Whilst Spanish food might be well known the world over, Portuguese food tends to get unfairly overlooked. Well, now is the opportunity to not only learn all about it but to indulge in this unique cuisine right in the heart of the capital city.

I always love to take food tours. Not only do you get to learn so much about the local culture through its cuisine, but you are also guaranteed to visit some of the best food spots in the city.

Portuguese food is pretty unique!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

One of the must-try dishes in Lisbon is Bacalhau à Brás, or salted codfish, it’s a a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Caldo Verde, a traditional Portuguese soup is a perfect dish for those visiting in the cooler months and wanting something hearty to warm them up.

On a Lisbon food tour, you’ll discover the best places in the city to give them a go. You’ll also be able to try many other incredible dishes along the way.

Pro tip: Be sure to organise your food tour before you plan out the rest of your trip so you can be sure not to fill up too much beforehand! 

17. Grab A Shot Of Ginjinha To Start The Day

If you really wanna start the day like a local, then head down to one of the many traditional Ginjinha shops and take a shot. If this doesn’t wake you up, then nothing will!

Ginjinha is a traditional Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries, sugar, and Aguardente (a distilled alcoholic spirit between 29% and 60%!). It’s a sweet and aromatic liqueur with a slightly tart flavour from the cherries. It’s usually served in what is essentially a shot glass with a cherry floating inside.

As you can see, they sell a variety of the same thing!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

You’ll find dedicated “Ginjinha bars” dotted all around the city serving nothing but the drink. Here you can either buy a shot or buy a bottle… You decide.

These bars are part of the very fabric of the city, having been established for generations. In fact, Ginjinha is deeply rooted in Portuguese culture and the drink is closely associated with the Feast of St. Anthony on June 13th.

Known simply as Ginja to the locals, if you’re looking for a quintessentially Portuguese experience, then look no further!

Hmm, I wasn’t sure it was actually the best way to start my day!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Pro tip:  A Ginjinha Bar just off Rossio Square is one of the best and most well-known bars. Opened in 1840 and run by the same family for five generations, it’s a truly authentic experience.

18. Check Out The View From The Miradouros

Lisbon is known as the “City of Seven Hills” … so remember to bring a good pair of comfortable shoes.

Those hills might make exploring the city feel like you’re hiking halfway up Everest when you’ve got a belly full of salted cod and cherry liquor. Don’t worry though, they don’t half make for some epic viewpoints!

Known as Miradouros in Portuguese, these terraces offer the most incredible vistas across the city. Whilst there’s an infinite number of vantage points over Lisbon, some of them are better known than others for offering the most spectacular views.

Looking out over Lisbon
From here you can see the castle and the Statue of Christ, pretty epic.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Each Miradouro offers something slightly different. Whether that’s the perfect spot for sunset, a shaded area ideal for a picnic, a busy local skate spot or a quiet treasure high above the bustling city below.

It’s worth searching each of the main Miradouros out and planning your trip around them. For me, these were by far my favourite things to do in Lisbon.

Pro tip: Plan your explorations of Lisbon around these viewpoints, many of them are up in the hilly areas of the city, so using public transport to get up to them and then continuing from there will save your legs! 

Some of the best are:

  • Miradouro De Santa Luzia
    Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol
    Miradouro Da Senhora Do Monte
    Miradouro da Graça
    Miradouro Do São Pedro De Alcântara
    Miradouro do Monte Agudo

19. Take a Day Trip Out to Sintra

When visiting Lisbon there are heaps to see in the city of course. But a trip would be incomplete without heading over to Sintra, it’s one of the best day trips from Lisbon.

It’s a popular excursion for good reason. There are tons of things to do from exploring palaces to walking along the ruins of castles and hiking in some incredible surroundings.

This place is completely bonkers!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

A day trip to Sintra is possible via public transport or an organised trip. Either way, it’s easy to fit in the main sights, yet there’s enough to do if you feel like staying for a few nights.

The star attraction of Sintra is the unbelievable Pena Palace, seriously, you’ll think you’ve wandered into the set of the new Wonka movie! This multi-coloured fairytale castle is perched on top of a hill, as all proper palaces should be.

It offers an eclectic mix of extravagant and eccentric architecture and styles! Its whimsical style, colourful facades, intricate stonework, and ornate details reflect the unique tastes of King Ferdinand II.

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
Pena Palace is unreal!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Another must-visit sight in Sintra is the Castelo Do Mouros, or Moorish Castle. This medieval fortress is located in the rolling mountainside of Sintra and offers incredible views over to Pena Palace and beyond.

Walking along the walls it feels like stepping back in time to when this land was a battleground and these towers were used to defend the interior of the castle in the time of the Moors. Plus, there’s heaps of great hiking all around this area too.

Pro tip: The main attractions of Sintra get hella busy, I recommend booking as much in advance as possible, especially for Pena Palace. There is also a bus network which stops at each of the main attractions which is super convenient. 

If you’re not sure about visiting on your own, you can book an organised trip to Sintra from Lisbon instead. 

If you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten track, check out the Pedra Amarela trail hike, it’s one of my favourites in the area.

20. Head to Cascais for the Day

If you’ve had enough of the busy city, then why not head to the coast and take a load off? Cascais is a seaside town located just 30-40 minutes away from the capital by train and is popular with locals and holidaymakers alike.

Of course, the main thing to do in Cascais is to soak in the rays and relax by the sea. Some of the best beaches in the town are Praia da Rainha, Praia da Conceição, and Praia da Ribeira.

The golden sands and clear waters offer excellent conditions for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. If you’re into surfing then also check out the nearby Guincho Beach.

Take a load off at the beach.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

If you’ve had enough of lazing around on the beach but you’re not quite ready to head back into the city, then there’s more to Cascais than just the coast. The historic town centre has plenty of quaint little squares with cafes, charming white-washed houses and maze-like cobbled streets to explore. It’s a great place to pick up some hand-crafted souvenirs and try some of the region’s best fresh seafood.

Pro tip: Head out on an early train and come back late to make a full day of it, it’s worth it! 

21. Spend The Day At Cabo Da Roca – End Of Mainland Europe

If you’re looking for a truly unique and breathtaking experience then head to Cabo Da Roca, it really does feel like a million miles away from the busy streets of the capital. Known as being the westernmost point of mainland Europe, it’s not only a geographically important place, but it’s downright stunning too.

The headland of Cabo da Roca is characterised by dramatic cliffs that rise up over 140 meters (460 feet) above sea level. Standing right there, on the edge of Europe, with the salty sea air blowing through your hair, it’s unreal!

A person looks out over the rocky cliffs of Portugal
There’s nothing like the sea air all in your top knot!
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

The rugged coastline not only offers jaw-dropping cliffs but there are some incredible beaches around here too. Oh, and there are some wonderful coastal walks for those with a little more time on their hands. I was completely blown away by the beauty of this area when I visited and I just loved how different it felt to the city.

Pro tip: Getting to Cabo da Roca from Lisbon isn’t too difficult and there’s a few different ways, or of course, you can take one of the many organised day trips to Cabo da Roca instead. 

From Lisbon take the train from Cais do Sodré station to Cascais, from there take bus number 1624. From Sintra take bus number 1253 from outside the train station. 

21 Things to Do in Lisbon: City Map

Things to do in Lisbon Map
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How to Get Around Lisbon

Lisbon is a fairly compact city with good public transport connections on the whole, so it’s an easy city to navigate.

Lisbon has a small but useful underground metro network. It connects the Airport to the rest of the city as well as the major train, ferry and bus stations such as Oriente, Cais do Sodre and Rossio.

It has 4 lines: green (Telheiras – Cais do Sodré), blue (Reboleira – Santa Apolónia), yellow (Odivelas – Rato) and red (Aeroporto – São Sebastião). The metro service runs from 6.30 am-1 am every day.

Lisbon also has six tram lines, three funiculars and one lift (Santa Justa). These tend to wind through some pretty narrow and steep neighbourhoods where the metro doesn’t reach. They’re particularly useful for visiting Alfama and Belem.

trams crossing paths on a steep street in Lisbon, Portugal
Public transport is great in Lisbon.
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

There is also a large network of Yellow Buses that run generally from 5 am to 11 pm as well as a night bus service.

The commuter train network operated by CP is useful for visiting places like Belem, Alcântara-Mar, Sintra and Cascais.

For the metro, buses, trams, funiculars, local trains and the Santa Lift lift be sure to buy a rechargeable Navegante occasional card. You can load this up with Single tickets, 24-hour tickets or you can do what is called “zapping” where you load it with money and tap it each time.

Note: You cannot mix different kinds of tickets, so if you’ve loaded your card for zapping you won’t be able to buy a single ticket until all the money is used, which is actually pretty difficult so you’ll be best to buy another Navegante occasional card for 50 cents.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Lisbon

Portugal is a modern and well-developed country with a great health care system. But, we all know things can happen and you always need to be covered when you travel. So get yourself some good travel insurance before you even think about stepping on the plane!

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

FAQs on Things to Do in Lisbon

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get about doing things in Lisbon. If you have your own, drop them in the comments below.

Is 3 days enough for Lisbon?

In three days you’ll be able to hit up most of the main attractions in Lisbon as it’s a pretty compact city. But, you might struggle to fit in day trips to places like Sintra, which are highly recommended. If you’re only in Lisbon for the weekend, I would select an itinerary that suits your needs best and suggest that you DON’T try to jam too much stuff in.

What is the best month to visit Lisbon?

Lisbon is great all year round with its hot summers and mild winters. But, my favourite time to visit is from May to September, specifically in the spring or autumn for the best weather with the fewest crowds.

Is Lisbon cheap to visit?

Yes, when it comes to major cities in Western Europe, Lisbon is ranked as one of the most affordable when it comes to everything from transport to food and accommodation. It’s much more budget-friendly than capital cities like Paris or Berlin.

What is the best area to stay in Lisbon?

I like to stay in the super central area of Baixa as it offers good access to public transport, restaurants and many of the major attractions. It’s also one of the flatter areas of the city and is still affordable.

Lisbon is such a beautiful city.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Lisbon

If you’ve already made the decision to come to Lisbon, congratulations! You are going to have a blast. If you are reading this and still trying to decide if Lisbon is worth a visit, well, bloody hell mate, I don’t know what else will convince you if all my hard work hasn’t!

Lisbon offers a fantastic array of dazzling architecture, awe-inspiring views, and mouthwatering food to tantalise your taste buds. This hip and happening city not only offers you an alternative to overdone capitals like Paris. But, it does it with an energetic charm many Western European destinations have long since lost.

I hope this guide to the best things to do in Lisbon has helped you map out which attractions to add to your Lisbon itinerary. Having already gained a lot of popularity in the last 15 years since my first visit now is the time to experience Lisbon before the rest of the world catches up.

Why stop here? Check out more awesome Portugal content!
A person looking out over Lisbon, Portugal
Ahh yes, it’s me perched on yet another high ledge!
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

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