17 things to do inLisbon

Originally posted: November 2021 / Last Updated: January 2023 / Portugal Articles

17 Top things to do in Lisbon

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There are simply so many things to do in Lisbon, and this makes planning an itinerary pretty tricky. We spent two whole months living in the city, and even then we didn’t get to do everything! Nevertheless, our time spent as Lisbonites gave us a pretty good idea of what’s good, so we hope you find our list of the 17 top things to do in Lisbon helpful for when you’re planning your trip, whether it’s a whirlwind visit or a longer stay.

It’s worth pointing out though that the best thing you can possibly do in Lisbon is simply wander around and take it all in. Each neighbourhood is so unique, and there are gems to find around every corner. We think the selection below will give you an opportunity to explore a range of different areas and hopefully find something that you love!

Admire The Praça Do Comércio

The sprawling Praça do Comércio is a spot you simply must visit when you’re in Lisbon. It’s a bit of a ‘hub’, so you’ll find that you naturally pass through it numerous times as you walk and travel through the city.

Resplendent in vibrant yellow, the Praça do Comércio is situated right on the riverfront where Lisbon’s royal palace, the Ribeira Palace, once stood before it was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Symbolically, this square represents the status of Portugal in the 17th and 18th centuries, since trade would flow through the square from overseas Portuguese territories and important guests would disembark their ships at this site.

You’ll find numerous cafés and restaurants dotted around the square and it’s a nice spot to sit and admire the stunning Pombaline architecture. Wander down to the riverfront and watch the yachts pass by on the River Tejo.

The gorgeous yellow buildings of the Praça do Comércio

Listen To Traditional Fado Music

One of the best things to do in Lisbon is listen to fado music. You’ll undoubtedly hear the melancholy, yet beautiful sound of fado drifting out of restaurants and bars in the historic Alfama neighbourhood. Many establishments have nightly or weekly fado sessions where those eating in the restaurant are treated to a live performance.

We thoroughly recommend dedicating an evening of your trip to seeing a traditional and highly-rated fado performance. We had a spellbinding evening at Parreirinha de Alfama where we had a delicious three-course meal, a bottle of wine and front-row seats at their regular candlelit fado performance. There is no special fee for the performance; you simply pay for the food and drinks, although we believe there is a minimum spend. Our evening cost around €100, but we did splash out a bit. Reservation is recommended.

Other renowned fado spots in the city include Clube de Fado and Senhor Vinho.

Take A Sailing Trip On The Tejo River

This experience was a highlight of our trip, and in our opinion it’s one of the best things to do in Lisbon. To be honest with you, we probably wouldn’t have thought to take a sailing trip had it not been for Nick’s generous sister and sister-in-law for gifting him such a thoughtful birthday gift: tickets for a sunset sailing trip.

The company we sailed with was Tagus Cruises, and they offer a whole range of packages and options. The sunset trip lasted two hours and set off from Bom Sucesso Marina, right next to the Belém Tower.

We sailed on a lovely yacht with two knowledgeable and enthusiastic skippers who told us everything they knew about Lisbon as we sailed past various points of interest, including the mighty 25 de Abril bridge and Sanctuary of Christ the King, the shrine inspired by Rio’s Christ the Redeemer (both seen below).

There were nine guests in total, including us, and the whole thing was really intimate and special. We also had a complimentary beer! Lisbon looks totally different in the evening as the sun sets, and it was wonderful to see the city from a different perspective. We learnt so much from our guides too!

Santuário de Cristo Rei
Ponte 25 de Abril

Embrace Your Inner Hipster At LX Factory

Sitting right underneath the iconic 25 de Abril bridge, LX Factory is home to numerous creative workshops, galleries, independent shops, vibrant restaurants and bars. It’s also where you’ll find one of the 10 most beautiful bookstores in the world, Ler Devagar. When you’ve finished strolling and browsing (or working like us), head to Boro Godó for a snazzy sangria al fresco.

Digital nomad? Ler Devagar is actually a great place to settle down for a few hours of hard work. Think ‘public library’, and you’ll get the vibe. There’s a little coffee shop for your caffeine fix and lots of chairs and tables with strong wi-fi.

Ler Devagar book shop at LX Factory

Ride The Elevador De Santa Justa

With Lisbon being so hilly, there are public lifts (elevadores) all over the city. In fact, on our first trip to Lisbon we had to take two lifts just to reach the ground floor of our hotel!

The Elevador de Santa Justa was one of the first of these public lifts and is now one of the more iconic and well-known landmarks of Lisbon. The elevator itself is an extravagant piece of gothic-style wrought iron, designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel), and you’ll often see long lines of tourists queuing up to ride to the top. This incredible structure is technically part of Lisbon’s public transport system! Its core use now, however, is taking tourists up to its viewing platform where you can see great views over Lisbon’s downtown.

The lift costs €5.15 for a return ticket, although a city-wide Viagem travel card can be used, plus a €1.50 fee for the viewing platform.

Here’s a tip though: there is a set of stairs next to the Carmo Convent which will take you to the same level of the viewing platform which is completely free to access! Head there at sunset for a real treat.

Secret viewpoint at Elevador de Santa Justa

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With A Shot Of Ginjinha

Ginjinha, or just ginja, is a Lisbonite’s tipple of choice. It’s an irresistibly-sweet, cherry-infused liquor typically served in a shot glass or (and this is how addictions happen) a chocolate cup.

There are numerous little ginja bars around the city, but you’ll be able to order it wherever you go. Although it’s hardly ideal in the hot summer months when the chocolate cup melts before you have time to down it, a shot of ginja makes a great sweet treat after dinner!

Find A Miradouro And Admire The Views

Lisbon is a city of many hills (seven in fact), and as a result, it has a great many viewpoints. These viewpoints, or miradouros, are the best reward for 5–10 minutes of sweaty uphill walking!

There are miradouros scattered all over Lisbon, each with a simply breathtaking view over various parts of the city. Whether you’re gazing out over the Rio Tejo or studying the twists and turns of the Alfama district, each different angle allows you to appreciate Lisbon a little better. Some of our favourite miradouros include:

  • Miradouro da Graça
  • Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
  • Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
  • Miradouro das Portas do Sol
  • Miradouro de Santa Luzia (see below)
  • Miradouro do Recolhimento

Wander Through The Botanical Garden

If you’re looking to spend some time amongst nature without leaving the city, Lisbon’s botanical garden is the place to go. Located uptown in the stylish Príncipe Real district, the botanical garden costs €3 to enter (although a joint ticket for the gardens and the Natural History Museum can be bought too).

While the garden doesn’t feel particularly large, it actually covers 10 hectares and contains over 10,000 exotic plants! Earthy and slightly ethereal, it’s a lovely place to spend an hour or so.

Visit Sé De Lisboa, Lisbon’s Cathedral

Nestled in the heart of Lisbon’s Alfama district lies Sé de Lisboa, the oldest church in the city. Among the maze of alleyways and winding cobbled streets, this fortress-like cathedral is an unmissable feature of Lisbon’s ancient skyline. It’s made even more charming by the iconic Tram 28 which rattles past the cathedral’s front facade.

Tickets cost €4 each and allow you to visit the treasury as well as the church itself, although entry is obviously free if you want to enter for religious purposes.

There’s plenty of information on display detailing the cathedral’s history as well as the various restoration projects and archaeological digs on site. These fascinating excavations have revealed so much about the Roman, Moorish and Medieval phases of Lisbon’s history. We also enjoyed the views from the cathedral’s upper windows looking out over the city and river.

Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon’s historic cathedral

Ride Tram 28 (or any tram for that matter)

When most people think of Lisbon, they picture the iconic yellow trams that trundle through the city’s cobbled streets and traverse Lisbon’s unrelenting hills. Unsurprisingly then, taking a trip on the tram is one of the top things to do in Lisbon.

Unlike Porto’s trams which are only still in service to cater for the tourist crowd, Lisbon’s tram network is a fully-functioning part of the city’s public transport system – it feels authentic, which is why it’s one of the best things to do in Lisbon. If you’re planning on staying in Lisbon for longer than a weekend and don’t fancy getting taxis everywhere, you’ll probably end up using the tram system to get from A to B. This is especially true if you’re staying in the Alfama or Graça neighbourhoods. You’ll see why…

Regardless, the yellow trams make a brilliant and cheap day-time activity. Tram 28 offers the best route for those wishing to see the city and avoid the worst of the hills. While it’s not the comfiest of rides, there is a sense of romanticism about riding a Lisbon tram, although try and board early in the day to avoid the heat and/or being packed in like a sardine! We’re telling you, these things are popular!

You can buy a ticket on board for €3 or buy a single ticket for €1.50 from a machine at a station.

Visit The Belém Neighbourhood – Belém Tower & Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Just a short tram, train, taxi or cycle ride from central Lisbon is the neighbourhood of Belém. Despite being home to two of Lisbon’s most famous tourist attractions, the area manages to maintain a chilled and relaxed atmosphere and doesn’t feel too crowded.

Highlights include:

  • Belém Tower – once served as the gateway to Lisbon and the jumping-off point during the Age of Discovery. Tickets cost €6. Seasonal hours.
  • Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Jerónimos Monastery) – a beautiful, ornate monastery where the body of Vasco de Gama is now interred. Tickets cost €10.
  • Belém Palace – the official residence of the President of Portugal. The palace is only open on Saturdays 10AM to 5PM with a guided tour. Tickets cost €5.

The area is also home to fantastic green spaces, so take a book and relax in between ‘touristing’. We also recommend visiting Lisbon’s oldest pastel de nata shop here in Belém, Pastéis de Belém.

Belém Tower, Jardim da Praça do Império & Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Party In Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is the beating heart of Lisbon’s buzzing nightlife scene. The neighbourhood is a maze of cobbled streets, steep hills and bars that come alive in the evening.

Most of the bars in Bairro Alto are fairly small so the party tends to drift out into the street, giving you a fantastic opportunity to chat with other travellers as well as locals. Drinks are cheap and there’s also plenty of food on offer. Everyone (including us) has a story to tell about a night in Bairro Alto, and if you’re looking to let your hair down while in Lisbon, it’s the perfect place to do so!

Explore The Castelo De São Jorge

Perched high atop the city is the Castelo de São Jorge, a Moorish castle built in the 10th century.

The castle ruins act as a museum where you can delve into the history of the castle and the Moorish influence on the city. Entrance is €10 for a standard adult ticket. Arrive early as this is a popular attraction, especially at the weekend.

The neighbourhood surrounding the castle is also worth the uphill trek. There are numerous cafés, restaurants and shops for you to peruse and you’ll probably spot a peacock or two wandering through the streets. The real treat, however, is the view. If you’re not heading inside the castle, walk to Miradouro do Recolhimento to view the city and the Tagus river. It’s a little tricky to find, but this is our favourite viewpoint in the city.

A word of warning – walking up to the castle is quite a strenuous activity. If you’re not up to the walk, there are plenty of tuk tuks and taxis happy to make the journey as well as the 737 bus.

Visit The Mosteiro De São Vicente De Fora

You can spot the stunning facade of the Monastery of São Vicente from many high viewpoints in Lisbon, and we can tell you that the interior is just as beautiful as the outside.

The 16th-century monastery is home to some spectacular displays of azulejos (the ornate ceramic tiles you see all over Portugal), and it also contains many of the tombs of the royal house of Braganza. Be sure to head up to the terrace where you’ll be treated with an amazing view across Lisbon.

Entrance costs €5.

Azulejo-covered halls of Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora

Take A Walk Down Pink Street

Located in the trendy and vibrant Cais do Sodré area, Pink Street is just that – a pink street!

This extremely photogenic (ironic then that we don’t have a photo!) and wonderfully instagrammable street is packed full of bars and restaurants and is simply bursting with life. Pink Street is the perfect place to enjoy an evening with friends or to start a night out before heading up the hill into Bairro Alto. Just hope they aren’t repainting the street when you’re in town! (Yes this happened. The pink was blinding afterwards!)

Explore Culinary Delights At The Time Out Market

Also situated in Cais do Sodré is the Time Out Market Lisbon, Time Out’s first market hall. Foodies will delight in wandering the market in search of top-quality dishes, and with a wide variety of options from local Portuguese food to more international offerings, there’s something there for everyone.

Anyone who has spent time in Singapore or Malaysia will be reminded of a hawker centre, but this is possibly one of the classiest hawker centres you’re likely to come across. (Well, it’s not quite as sparkly and gold-encrusted as that one in Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall…)

The market has a great vibe and it’s just as suitable for a romantic date night as it is for an evening out with the kids. Be aware though, prices are slightly higher than you’ll find elsewhere in Lisbon.

Head Out Of The City For A Day Trip!

Strangely enough, heading out of the city to one of the nearby towns is one of the top things to do in Lisbon!

There are several great options for day trips. Here’s a quick summary of our top picks, but for more detail, be sure to check out our Lisbon City Guide.


A fairytale-like town in the hills west of Lisbon. Here you can explore several palaces and luxurious villas where the Portuguese aristocracy used to get away from the heat. It’s a somewhat otherworldly experience and an absolute must-do if you’re in Lisbon for longer than a few days.

Catch the train to Sintra from Rossio station.

Sintra: step into a fairytale


This is the most popular beach town for Lisbonites and tourists. While there are other beaches along the coast between Lisbon and Cascais, the town here is more built up and the beach is much bigger. Many people actually opt to stay in Cascais for a couple of nights, but it is easily accessible by train from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station.


Setúbal is another beach town and a quaint alternative to Cascais. It’s completely different, but we prefer it. Setúbal is located across the river on the southern side of the peninsula and is a little more ‘wild’ than Lisbon’s beaches. Picture palm trees, steep cliffs and lots of vegetation.

It’s doable as a day trip, but as always, we recommend staying for a night or two. You could hire a car, but be aware that the beaches are strictly car-free. You might be better off catching the train and utilising the public busses that will ferry you to the beaches. Catch the train from Sete Rios station.

A return train ticket to all three destinations costs €5 plus €0.50 if you don’t already have a Viagem card. All three journeys take up to one hour.

Hopefully now you have enough ideas to pack your itinerary with all the top things to do in Lisbon. For more information and help planning your trip, be sure to read our comprehensive city guide – or pop a comment in the box below!

Take a beach break in Setúbal

Hopefully now you have enough ideas to pack your itinerary with all the top things to do in Lisbon. For more information and help planning your trip, be sure to read our comprehensive city guide – or pop a comment in the box below!

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We’re two travel-obsessed twenty-somethings from the UK who gave up our old 9 to 5 lifestyle for something much better.

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