Lisbon is a cosmopolitan city, with good access and a few hours away from any European capital.
And there is so much to see and do that it is difficult to have enough time to see everything you want at your leisure... Here we present a selection of things from amongst all those you can do, which cannot be missed in the Portuguese capital.
1. Climb to the Castle of São Jorge and stroll through Alfama
Anyone coming to Lisbon and not going to the Castle of São Jorge will have surely missed an unforgettable moment. It is the highest point in the city, set amongst the most typical of neighbourhoods. A unique opportunity to feel and understand the city’s relationship with the river Tagus.
2. Listen to Fado
Whether or not you like the style of music, dinner by candlelight listening to fado in Lisbon is unmissable. Consider yourself lucky and do stop, if you hear it sung while strolling through some street in Alfama, Mouraria or Madragoa. This style is the so-called fado vadio, or amateur, sung when someone gets the urge to sing, with the guitars simply joining in.
Escadinhas de São Cristóvão © C.M.L.- D.P.C. | José Vicente
3. Go to Terreiro do Paço
The largest square in Lisbon and also one of the most iconic symbols of the city and its rebuilding after the great earthquake of 1755. Currently, it mostly offers a very pleasant walk along the river in the late afternoon. It is also a very beautiful view from the river as you pass on a boat.
4. Go up in the Santa Justa elevator
You cannot miss it when you pass it while ambling through the downtown district. It offers enviable views over this old part of Lisbon, and it is a privilege to travel in this elevator designed by Ponsard, a disciple of the great master of iron works, Gustave Eiffel, more than a hundred years ago.
5. Take a tram ride
The tram is a common means of transport for Lisbonites, but also one of the best ways to travel through the historic neighbourhoods. It looks good on any photo, and the sound of the trams running on their rails is one of the most characteristic of the city. The no. 28 is the best known, but there are others...
6. Visit the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém
Lisbon has two unique monuments which are World Heritage Sites. They are two jewels of the Gothic Manueline style that easily impress. Apart from the vaults carved in stone that are a remarkable piece of engineering, the wealth of decorative elements linked to maritime aspects and the voyages of the Navigators is fascinating.
7. Taste a pastel de Belém
This is a highlight of Portuguese cuisine and its recipe is a closely guarded secret that makes them unique. Not to be missed! A sweet pastry that Lisbonites like to eat along their coffee.
8. Visit the Oceanarium in the Parque das Nações
The Parque das Nações is a success story in the revitalisation of an industrial area, with a privileged location on the river. It is worth visiting the Oceanarium, one of the largest in Europe, where you can appreciate the flora and fauna of the various oceans of our planet.
Parques das Nações © Turismo de Lisboa
9. Visit the National Tile Museum and the Coach Museum
These two museums are unequalled anywhere in the world. One tells the story of the tile in Portugal from its first uses on 16th century walls to the present day; the other has an unrivalled collection of carriages, with fine examples from the 18th century, exuberantly decorated with paintings and gild work.
10. Dine in Bairro Alto
Lisbon is also known for its very lively and busy nightlife. After an afternoon shopping in the elegant Chiado district, there’s nothing like a late afternoon at one of the viewpoints of Santa Catarina or São Pedro de Alcântara, then staying for dinner in the Bairro Alto. It’s the place to be for those who enjoy a night out having fun.