Deciding what to see in Lisbon, Portugal can be difficult if you don’t have much time. But don’t worry. I have visited Lisbon on 3 occasions (the longest one was for 7 days) and I know what you shouldn’t miss. Specifically, in this article, I’ll show you the 30 best places to visit in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal.
There are indeed many things to do in Lisbon, the most important city in the country and a perfect place to escape for 3 or 4 days. It stands out for its excellent location, at the mouth of the Tagus River, and it’s a very cheap and accessible destination.
As a matter of fact, it’s in the same time zone as London, and you can find low-cost flights to Lisbon from any country in Europe and the east coast of the USA.
Before telling you what are the best Lisbon attractions, I recommend you take a look at the Lisbon Card. If you plan to visit several of the paid tourist attractions, I assure you that you will save a lot of money by using this card.
Now, let’s get into the 30 best things to do in Lisbon (Portugal).
1. Belém Tower, the best attraction to visit in Lisbon
The Belém Tower is located in the neighborhood of the same name, right at the mouth of the Tagus River. It is a must-see tourist attraction in Lisbon, as it has become one of the symbols of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since its construction, in the 16th century, it has become one of the most recognized places of tourist interest in Lisbon. It was built as a fortress to protect the entrance to the port during the reign of Manuel I. The monument was built in the Manueline style.
Look out for a rhino figure in the tower. King Manuel I ordered a sculpture be made of this curious animal for the monument in honor of the first rhino that stepped on the country’s soil and revolutionized all of Europe. It was, without a doubt, one of the monarch’s most beloved animals, although it met a tragic end.
2. Jerónimos Monastery, the most popular place in Lisbon
The Jeronimos Monastery is another must-see in Lisbon. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is one of the most important spots in Lisbon sightseeing.
Manueline is the building’s predominant style. It was built to celebrate the return of Vasco da Gama from India and is where his remains rest. It was completed in the 16th century, although the western wing and the bell tower date back to the 19th century.
3. São Jorge Castle, one of the best places to go in Lisbon
Visiting São Jorge Castle is one of the best things to do in Lisbon. The castle area is quite large, so visiting it can take around half a day.
It was fortified by Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs, and during the reign of Alfonso Enriquez, underwent modifications. To access it, you will have to go through the Arch of St. George and, once inside, you can visit its towers, the camera obscura, the small Santa Cruz neighborhood, the walls, and gardens. If you are passionate about history, visiting and wandering around this fortress is great stuff to do in Lisbon. To access the interior, you need to buy a ticket, which you can buy here to avoid queues.
The best thing about the castle is the view from it, especially at sunset, because there is not too much left of the original castle. The several earthquakes that the city has suffered throughout its history have completely destroyed it. Most of what you can visit now is a restoration, giving it a very “new” appearance.
4. Exploring Praça do Comércio, the best thing to do in Lisbon
Praça do Comércio is the most important squares in the city. It also marks the center of Lisbon and is one of the largest squares in Europe. Visiting it is one of the mandatory things to do in Lisbon.
It was built where the Royal Palace was, before the earthquake of 1755 destroyed it. From here, you can admire the Tagus River, which is why I think it is one of the best places to visit in Lisbon.
The equestrian statue of José I is here as well. But if I have to highlight one element of the square, it’s the Arco da Rua Augusta, located on the north side, facing the Tagus River. To get into it, you have to book here. It was designed by architect Santos de Carvalho to celebrate the reconstruction of the city after the earthquake.
5. Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church you must see in Lisbon
Lisbon Cathedral is known as the Sé and is a monument to visit in Lisbon. Its full name is Santa María Maior, and it is a Romanesque building from the 12th century, although different architectural styles can now be seen in it. It is located in the Alfama neighborhood and is very close to the Praça do Comércio.
It was restored and rebuilt several times, since it survived different natural disasters, such as the great earthquake. Therefore, you can see many different architectural styles here. The cloister has a style similar to that of the Jeronimos Monastery, and Roman, Arab and medieval styles coexist inside.
The upper portion houses the treasure room of the cathedral, which consists of 4 rooms full of jewels, costumes, and various relics from different eras. To visit the cloister and the treasure room, you need to pay an entrance fee, but you can visit the rest of the cathedral for free.
6. The best overlooks of Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re wondering what to do in Lisbon for free, you have to know that there are a lot of overlooks from which you get magnificent views of the city. This is thanks to the city being built on 7 hills. Some of these overlooks have already become places of interest in Lisbon.
I recommend the Portas do Sol overlook, next to the church of Santa Luzia; Santa Luzia itself, in the Alfama neighborhood; the castle of San Jorge, one of the highest points of the old city; and the overlook of Graça, next to the castle. If you’re at one of these overlooks during the sunset, you’ll discover for yourself how beautiful Lisbon is.
You can also get good views from San Pedro de Alcántara, on La Baixa; from Cacilhas, a small freguesia in front of Lisbon; and from the National Pantheon, in the Alfama neighborhood.
7. Santa Justa Elevator, one of the nicest views over Lisbon
Visiting the Santa Justa Elevator is one of the best activities to do in Lisbon. I recommend going up at sunset, when the colors of the sky make the views impressive.
Although it is one of the best things to do in Lisbon, you will need to pay an entrance fee if you don’t have the Lisboa Card.
If you’re looking for tourist places in Lisbon, this is undoubtedly one of them. You can take stunning photos when the red light of sunset bathes everything in a pretty glow.
8. Taste the Pastéis de Belém, something to do in Lisbon
If you are looking for gastronomy in Lisbon, the Pastéis de Belém are one of the most typical culinary specialties. These pastries are made from a secret recipe that only 3 people in the world know. Although you can try them everywhere in the city, the original ones made from the secret recipe are only found in the Pastéis de Belém bakery, on the Rua de Belém, 84. In my experience, it’s worth going there to try them.
Curiously enough, the recipe is so protected that the three people who know it signed a confidentiality contract, they cannot travel in the same car in case they suffer an accident, and they cannot order the same dish in a restaurant in case it makes them all sick. All these precautions serve only one purpose: to save the authentic Pastéis de Belém.
9. Alfama, the most traditional neighborhood in Lisbon
La Alfama is one of the most characteristic neighborhoods in Lisbon, as it is one of the most traditional ones. It is also one of the oldest, since it survived the earthquake. If you’re going to visit Lisbon, you have to explore it, since it has many attractions.
Some of the highlights are the Feira da Ladra, a flea market; the Fado Museum, open since 1998; and Casa dos Bicos, on whose facade there are carved stones shaped like diamonds.
I recommend trying ginja, a sweet liqueur made with cherry, brandy, sugar, and cinnamon, here. It is very common to see older women who, after preparing it completely homemade, offer it at the door of their house to earn extra money. This is undoubtedly the most original and authentic ginja.
10. Chiado, a bohemian and beautiful place to visit in Lisbon
Chiado is a neighborhood full of cafes, bookstores, museums, and other places of cultural interest. It is a bohemian neighborhood because, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, poets and writers held gatherings here.
It is located between Baixa and Barrio Alto, and I consider it one of the most charming places to visit in Lisbon. The small shops stand out, as well as the bookstores. In fact, here you’ll find the Bertrand Bookstore, one of the oldest in the world. If you buy a book there, remember to ask for the stamp that certifies it has been purchased there. I also recommend having a coffee in A Brasileira, which is very good and cheap.
11. Take the Tram 28, a great stuff to do in Lisbon
Tram 28 is one of the most popular trams in the city and riding it is something great to do in Lisbon. This tram passes by some of the main attractions in Lisbon, such as Barrio Alto, Alfama, Chiado, Graça and the Jardim da Estrela, located in Campo de Ourique.
The journey lasts 40 minutes and starts at the Martim Moniz park. The tram is in service Mondays through Fridays from 5:40 am to 9:15 pm, Saturdays from 5:45 am to 10:30 pm, and Sundays from 6:45 am to 10:30 pm. I recommend taking it first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid crowds and enjoy your journey much more.
A single ticket costs €2.90, the full day costs €6.15, and it’s included with the Lisboa Card. You can also book this excursion that, apart from the tram ticket, includes a tour in the Alfama neighborhood.
12. Barrio Alto, a place to go in Lisbon at night
Barrio Alto is an interesting area by day, but it’s livelier at night. There are many cocktail bars for all tastes and budgets in this neighborhood.
The best streets to go partying are Rua do Norte, Rua da Atalaia, and Rua do Diário de Noticias. If you’re looking for things to do in Lisbon at night, this is your place.
However, during the day, it also has several tourist attractions to visit in Lisbon, such as Luís de Camões Square or the San Pedro de Alcántara overlook. Plus, one of the best clubs to go to is the Pavilhão Chinês. All the charms of old Lisbon are concentrated in one place.
13. Baixa, the central neighborhood in Lisbon
If you’re wondering what to see in the center of Lisbon, the Baixa neighborhood is where you should go. It is the heart of the city because of its central location and is where most shops and entertainment venues are located; it’s also the area where the hustle and bustle is concentrated.
Some of the best places to visit here are the Restauradores Square, crowned by a grand obelisk; the church of Santo Domingo, which is burnt inside; and Rossio Square, a former meeting place.
The things to see in Lisbon here are as important as the Elevator of Santa Justa and the Praça do Comércio.
14. Rossio Square, an emblematic place to visit in Lisbon
Its official name is Praça Dom Pedro IV. Located in the district of La Baixa, it is a meeting place for the people of Lisbon. You can find shops, bars, restaurants, and several things to see, such as the statue of Peter IV, so it is another place to visit in Lisbon.
Here, you can also find the National Theater of Dona Maria II and the Burned Church of Santo Domingo.
It is the liveliest area of the city and also one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon.
15. Best Free tours in Lisbon
What to do in Lisbon for free? There are different tours, and depending on your tastes and interests, you can choose one or the other. We did the basic tour, the Belém tour and the bohemian tour, and we highly recommend all of them. Although later we returned to some areas the tours covered to see them at our own pace, I recommend taking them to get to know the city a little better. Another available tour is the Alfama one, where you will visit this historic neighborhood.
All are free, although you have to leave a tip. They usually fill up quickly, so I always book in advance.
16. Monument to the Discoveries, an historical symbol of Lisbon
The Monument to the Discoveries was built in 1960 on the banks of the Tagus River, in the Belém neighborhood. It was built to commemorate the 500 years since the death of Henry the Navigator.
In addition to its historical significance, the monument’s most remarkable features are that it measures 52 meters, has a caravel shape, and features 33 personalities from the Age of Discovery. Fun fact: among these 33 personalities, there is a woman, Philippa of Lancaster.
It is one of the places to visit in Lisbon with the most meaning. I should also highlight, the great Wind Rose World Map that explains the history of the Age of Discovery.
17. Park of the Nations, the futurist place to go in Lisbon, Portugal
The Park of Nations breaks with the aesthetics of the rest of the city. It was designed for the 1998 World Exposition and has a modern and contemporary look.
The Pavilion of Knowledge, the Casino, and the Lisbon Aquarium are here. The aquarium might seem like a good place to visit in Lisbon with kids, but I don’t recommend it.
The Park of Nations is definitely worth a visit, though. It is one of the best attractions in Lisbon because it’s so different from the rest of the city.
18. National Tile Museum, the history of Portugal through the tiles
Tiles are a famous characteristic of Portuguese design. In this museum, tiles are exhibited from all eras, from the 15th century to the present. The museum is unique in its kind and has more than 7000 pieces, some of them from other countries.
If you don’t know what to do in Lisbon when it rains, visiting this museum may be a good option. Here, you can learn about the history of Lisbon through tiles, from the Arab occupation to the 20th century. In addition to the pieces on display, you can learn about the techniques used to make them. Even better, the ticket is also included with the Lisboa Card.
19. Cristo Rei, one of the most spectaculars attractions to visit in Lisbon
The statue of Christ the King in Lisbon was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro. I recommend you visit it regardless of whether you are a believer or not. In addition, you can climb up to the top, where there is an overlook. However, I do advise you wear a jacket because of the wind and because it is usually cold up top.
I think it’s one of the best things to do in Lisbon, especially because from here you get incredible views of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the rest of the city. We also saw Christ the King from a ship that went to Belém and the views were amazing.
20. Carmo Convent, an important ruins to go in Lisbon
The Carmo Convent belonged to the Order of the Carmelites. It was the largest Gothic church until the earthquake turned it into ruins. It currently houses the Archaeological Museum of Carmo.
It has become part of the main sightseeing in Lisbon due to its appearance. It was founded in 1389 and is in the Largo do Carmo, next to the Chiado neighborhood. In addition, it has the best views of Rossio and much of the city.
It will be the first thing you see as soon as you get off the Santa Justa Elevator. There Paleolithic and Neolithic pieces here, as well as the tomb of Ferdinand I of Portugal.
21. 25 de Abril Bridge, the most famous bridge in Lisbon
The 25 de Abril Bridge is a large suspension bridge and one of the most outstanding things to visit in Lisbon. It was the first that was built in the city, and its appearance resembles the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.
After 45 months of works, it was opened to the public in 1966 under the name of Salazar Bridge, but after the Carnation Revolution, it acquired its current name. It measures 2,277 meters in length and has 2 levels. The upper one is for cars and the lower one is for trains. It connects the neighborhood of Alcántara with the city of Almada by crossing the Tagus estuary. Fun fact: it is a bridge that you can not only see but also hear. This is because it was made with a metal grid, and, when vehicles pass over it, it makes noise.
You can do the Pilar 7 experience to get to know the bridge better. In this experience, virtual reality is used to access inaccessible areas of the bridge. The bridge’s history is also presented, as well as various curiosities. You can book your entrance here, although it is also included in the Lisboa Card.
22. Take the Bica Funicular, one of the best things to do in Lisbon
The cable car da Bica is also known as Elevador da Bica and is a funicular. In Lisbon, there are 3 funiculars, but this is the most beautiful one, because its route, although short, is the most picturesque.
It combines the Rua de São Paulo (Rua Duarte Belo) with Largo de Calhariz (at the southern part of Barrio Alto) and allows you to enjoy its steep houses.
If you are looking for what to do in Lisbon, Portugal, this tour is very interesting and rarely visited by tourists. It’s ideal for traveling to another time and feeling like a real Lisbon local.
23. Mouraria and Fado, the authentic essence of Lisbon, Portugal
The neighborhood of Mouraria is the cradle of fado, a typical Portuguese song. It is something not to be missed in Lisbon, as it is part of Portuguese culture. Fado is the musical expression of the soul of the city and, today, it is being reborn. Furthermore, it was declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Fado was born in the Mouraria neighborhood, another one of the places to visit in Lisbon.
Mouraria was the Moorish neighborhood of the capital city of Portugal, and in it, there are several tascas where you can hear fado, as well as a “walk of fame”, in the Rua do Capelão, where several notable names connected to Portuguese music appear.
24. Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe
Another of the places to see in Lisbon is the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It was built as an alternative to 25 de Abril bridge, as there was a lot of traffic and many traffic jams. The bridge was built for the 1998 World Exposition.
It measures more than 12 km and joins the north and south of Portugal. It is known as the longest bridge in Europe. More than 3,000 workers were needed for its construction, which took a total of 18 months. It connects Montijo and Sacavém and can be found south of the Park of Nations.
25. Sintra, the best excursion to take in Lisbon
If you want to visit Lisbon and its surroundings, Sintra is one of the best excursions to take.
This area has become a favorite for its historic buildings and interesting attractions. The train journey there takes less than 40 minutes from Lisbon.
Some points of interest are the Palácio Nacional da Pena, one of the best in Europe; the Palace of Sintra, in the Gothic style; Quinta da Regaleira, a fabulous mansion; and the Castelo dos Mouros, the ruins of an Arab castle.
If you have time to visit Lisbon and its surroundings, I highly recommend this excursion that I took during my first getaway to Lisbon.
26. Pena Palace, the most famous attraction to visit in Sintra
The Pena National Palace is one of the most famous castles in Sintra and one of the most beautiful ones in Europe thanks to its color and mixture of architectural styles.
Its gardens and views are outstanding, making it one of the most interesting places to go near Lisbon. It is located in an impressive natural landscape, and its construction dates back to the 19th century.
Pay attention to its eclectic architecture and exteriors. Just seeing the perimeter of the palace is worth the visit, so I recommend you book in advance here.
27. Quinta da Regaleira, another interesting visit in Sintra, Lisbon
The most beautiful thing about Quinta da Regaleira, in addition to its architecture, is the landscape. Next to the Pena Palace, I consider it an essential visit if you go to Sintra. It attracts attention because it seems to be full of mysteries and legends.
It dates from the beginning of the 20th century and you can visit both the exterior and the interior of the palace, where the sketches and notes that Manini took on his trips are preserved. I consider it one of the best places to visit in Lisbon and surroundings.
28. Cascais, one of the best places to go near Lisbon
Cascais is an old fishing village located 30 km from Lisbon. The best beaches of the Portuguese capital city are concentrated here, making it a perfect holiday destination. These are Praia da Ribeira, Praia da Conceição, Praia da Rainha, Praia de Parede, and Praia do Guincho. If you are looking for places to visit near Lisbon, this town is worth it.
Other attractions are the Boca do Inferno, an impressive cliff; the promenade, which goes from Cascais to Estoril; and Cabo do Roca.
29. Cabo da Roca, the most impressive cliff in Cascais, Lisbon
This impressive cliff is in Cascais and, until the end of the 14th century, it was considered the end of the world. It is inside the Sintra – Cascais Natural Park.
It is one of the most impressive landscapes in and around Lisbon. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean break there and produce a strange sensation.
The visit to Cabo da Roca is free. It can be reached easily by renting a car or by taking the 403 bus, a ticket costs €4.05.
30. Sunset Cruise on the Tagus River, the best activity to do in Lisbon
The cruise runs along the entire Tagus coast and, from the boat, you can see numerous city monuments. If it is done at sunset, the views are beautiful, and the experience is very pleasant.
It is one of the best things to do in Lisbon, as it gives off a special charm. On board, you can admire some famous monuments, such as the Basilica da Estrela.
You can book this 2-hour relaxing experience here.
And that’s all. On the map below you will find all the places I recommend visiting in Lisbon. Additionally, you can download the tourist map of Lisbon to use it from your mobile at any time. It’s a perfect tool for not getting lost on the beautiful streets of Lisbon.
Finally, I recommend that you buy travel insurance for Europe, even if you’re only taking a short break in Lisbon.
That’s it! I hope you enjoy Lisbon and get to visit as many Lisbon sights as you can!