10 Things To Do In Lisbon

Lisbon is one of the most exciting and vibrant capital cities in Europe. Full of unique architecture, curious history, and delicious foods, there is no shortage of things to do in Lisbon!

Here is our list of some of the city’s must-see locations and must-do activities. If you are planning a trip to Lisbon, make sure these items make your itinerary!

Explore Jeronimos Monastery

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or Jeronimos Monastery is one of the most visited sites in Lisbon -- and with good reason!

Located near the Tagus River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in celebration of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Construction of the monastery began in 1501 and was completed 100 years later. An example of the Late Gothic Manueline style, simply wandering the grounds is a truly amazing experience.

Pass through the intricately designed archways into the center courtyard and take a step into the past.

Climb the Belem Tower

A 15-minute walk from Jeronimos Monastery you will find Torre de Belem or Belem Tower. Built between 1514 and 1520, the tower is another UNESCO World Heritage Site with the city.

Once used to defend the city from invaders, Belem Tower was later turned into a lighthouse. The tower is one of Lisbon’s most iconic features and you can just imagine how imposing it may have been at one time. 

At the top of the tower is a lookout that will allow you to enjoy some beautiful views of the city and the coast. But don’t just power your way to the top, the interior of the tower is worth exploring as well! Take your time with it!

Be aware that only 120 people at a time will be allowed into the tower. Given its historical significance and popularity, it can get rather busy. To avoid crowds, try to show up first thing in the morning when the tower opens. And to avoid waiting in line, buy your entry tickets in advance.

Or, if you are planning to visit multiple museums and historic sites (and we suggest you do!), consider purchasing a Lisbon card. This card will grant you access to 23 museums and historic sites and give you access to the city’s public transportation system. You can choose to have 24, 48, or 72-hour access allowing you to play tourist the way you see fit.

See Padrao dos Descobrimentos

If you are at Belem Tower, it will be hard to miss the Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument. 170 feet tall, this monument commemorates the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

Look closely at the carved stone and see if you can identify Vasco da Gama and Prince Henry the Navigator, to figures that played a massive role in Portugal’s world exploration.

For a small fee, you can enter the monument and visit the observation deck on top.

Visit the National Tile Museum

Beyond port wine, golden beaches, and footballers, Portugal is known for tiles. At the National Tile Museum, you will learn and see more about these famous tiles and all things ceramic.

Inside the museum is the golden church with walls covered in tiles depicting different bible stories and over the top gold accents.

Of course, Portugal is famous for blue-hued azulejo tiles. Learn about the motifs that adorn these tiles and the development of the craft since the Moors first brought it to the region.

Go to the Se de Lisboa

The Se de Lisboa, commonly known as the Lisbon cathedral, is the oldest church in the city. Built in 1147, this incredible structure has survived natural disasters like the great earthquake of 1755.

Inside the cathedral’s cloisters are recently excavated Roman, Arabic and Medieval remains. The treasury can be found on the second floor and is made up of 4 halls contains jewels and relics from different periods in Portuguese history.

The cathedral is a wonder of Romanesque architecture and an interesting place to kill an hour.

Explore Lisbon Oceanarium

This huge aquarium is one of the most popular Lisbon attractions. If you are visiting Lisbon with kids, put this on your city bucket list. The aquarium is located “on” the water and can only be accessed by crossing a footbridge.

Inside you will find several exhibits dedicated to marine life from all over the world. The museum itself is two floors. The upper floor displays species that live closer to the water’s surface while the lower level displaces species from the deep.

As the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, you’d have to work pretty hard to be disappointed in what you will see. With over 450 species like pufferfish, moray eels, stingrays, sharks, and a variety of tropical fish, there is something here to thrill everyone!

Wander the Streets

Lisbon is the perfect place to conduct your own walking tour. Lisbon has many great historic districts that are just ripe for exploration.

Taking some time to wander the cobblestone streets allows you to escape the typical tourist traps and discover your own attractions.

Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in the city and it is where you will find the Lisbon cathedral. You’ll also discover many squares and cafes that are just begging you to sit and watch the world go by.

Bairro Alto is another city center district worth exploring. During the day, you’ll see centuries-old houses and spectacular street art but at night, the area really comes alive. Transformed into a trendy nightlife destination, the bars and restaurants become THE place to be. 

For foodies looking for a culinary adventure, these neighborhoods are where you will find the small, authentic restaurants that are sure to thrill.

For a real treat, check out a fado restaurant. Fado is the music at the heart of Portuguese culture. At a fado house, you will be treated to a performance of the UNESCO recognized piece of Portuguese history while eating a delightful meal. Luckily, Alfama and Bairro Alto are home to some of the greatest fado restaurants in the country!

If you do not want to tour the streets alone, you don’t have to. These historic districts all have guided walking tours that are available for you to enjoy.

Just remember, while Lisbon (and Portugal in general) is a relatively safe place to visit, it is important, particularly as a tourist, that you remain aware of your surroundings and keeps your wits about you.

See Terreiro do Paco

Terreiro do Paco is one of Lisbon’s most significant squares. The symmetrical buildings and arcades from the 18th century are popular tourist attractions and make for stunning photographs.

Before the great earthquake, this was the location of Paco da Ribeira or the Royal Palace as well as a massive library containing 70,000 volumes of work. Today, the buildings are home to government offices but the surrounding area is open to pedestrians allowing you to walk from the square to the River Tejo. 

Hit the Beach

Portugal is known for its beaches and it would be a shame to travel all the way to Lisbon and not take advantage of the sandy paradises that thrive nearby!

Pay a visit to the town of Cascais. This is where Lisbon locals go to escape and relax in the sun and sand. It is possible to rent a beach chair but if you don’t want to shell out the money, throw down a towel and you will be perfectly comfortable.

Near Sintra you will find Praia da Adraga. This beach is surrounded by high cliffs that make it feel secluded and protected from the world. With occasionally choppy waters, this beach is not great for swimming but is ideal for a little surfing or bodyboarding!

Visit Sintra

About 20 miles outside Lisbon is the town of Sintra. Sintra is an ideal place to take a day trip! Full of castles, palaces, churches, boutique shopping, and wonderful cafes, there’s something in Sintra for everyone.

The most popular thing to see in Sintra is the Pena Palace. This red and yellow palace sits high on a hill, overlooking the town. The views from the palace balconies are absolutely spectacular.

Below the palace lies the remains of a 9th-century Moorish castle. This castle was once a fortress designed to defend the town but now it lies in ruins and is mostly just a castle wall that visitors can explore and use as a vantage point for even more spectacular views.

Other sites worth seeing include the Palace of Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira, the Palacio de Monserrate, and Palacio Nacional e Jardins de Queluz. As a tourist, it is important to remember that it might not be possible to see everything. Sintra may be small but the wonders it holds are many. Seeing it all in just a day trip could be difficult.

Pick 3 or 4 places that you really want to see and then add more if there is time. Of course, if you don’t want to do any of the thinking or planning, it is possible to book a guided tour of the area.

Like all great European cities, there is lots of culture, history, and beauty to explore in Lisbon. And while this list gives you a good idea of things to do in Lisbon, it is far from exhaustive. Around every street corner is something new and exciting to explore!

To book your very own Lisbon vacation, contact us today!