Things to do in Lisbon Portugal
Some top things to see and do in Lisbon Portugal
(Note the availability of some venues/activities may be affected by the pandemic.)
  • Hop on board the funiculars: As Lisbon was built on seven hills, funiculars connect some neighborhoods. The best known is the Elevador de Santa Justa, an impressive 45-meter high lift in the historic center of Lisbon that connects the lowers streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo. 
  • Ride Tram 28: San Francisco has its cable cars, London has its red double-decker buses and Lisbon has its trams. Tram 28 not only passes through some of the city’s most notable neighborhoods including Graça, Baixa, Alfama and Bairro Alto, but it also travels by popular attractions, such as St. George’s Castle. Many of Lisbon’s tram cars date back to World War II, so don’t expect air conditioning or a smooth trip up and around the area’s hills. Due to the tram’s popularity, the cars tend to get crowded quickly, so be sure to arrive early or later in the day to avoid long lines.  
  • Fado and Caberet Shows: Not to be missed shows and performances, Fado (Portugal’s famous mournful, melancholic singing) and cabaret are widespread forms of entertainment in Portugal. 
  • The Mercado da Ribeira: This market has been Lisbon’s main food market since 1892. It is a great place to taste the local specialty of custard tarts, sip fine Portuguese wines, and even attempt to conquer a massive francesinha sandwich which is one of the treats to come out of Porto in the north.
  • Feira da Ladra Flea Market: Polish your haggling skills for a trip to Feira da Ladra. This vast market dates back to the 12th century. Located in the Alfama district and spread out across the Campo de Santa Clara, here you will find a random assortment of goods such as souvenirs, trinkets, antiques, azulejos (Portuguese tiles), art and second-hand/vintage goods.  This twice weekly market is on Tuesdays and Saturdays and can be reached by Tram 28.  Its best to arrive early for a good selection. 
  • St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge): This castle is perched atop Lisbon’s highest hill in Alfama, offering both excellent history and views of the city. The castle served as a fortification for the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors, who turned it into a royal palace before it was eventually taken by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques. Much of the building’s relics are intact, including canons, which are spread throughout, underground chambers and 18 towers, one of which houses a camera obscura. The castle grounds are quite extensive and include a museum, a bar, a restaurant, and a lot of resident peacocks (keep your eyes on the tree canopies where they like to hang out in bunches).
  • Belém Tower (Torre de Belém): In the historic waterfront Belém you will find the iconic Belém Tower. Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor, the Belém Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. The tower is a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.
  • Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos): This is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Lisbon’s Belém district. Exemplifying Portugal’s Manueline style – a highly ornate style of architecture named after the king of the time (Manuel I) – the monastery was built during the Age of Discoveries to honor explorer Vasco da Gama, as he and his crew spent their last night in Portugal at the site before embarking on their famous journey to India in 1498. During the 17th century, the structure served as a monastery for monks, whose job was to comfort sailors and pray for the king. It eventually became a school and orphanage until 1940.

Keep in mind: If you’ve come to Belem to see its top attractions, including Belem Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery, these monuments are not open on Mondays.  Plan to arrive early to beat the crowds.

  • Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio): This harbor-facing plaza was once the administrative hub from where Portugal controlled commerce with all its colonies. Prior to the age of aviation, this was Lisbon´s great, dramatic reception hall for visitors arriving by sea.
  • Aqueduct of the Free Waters (Aqueduto das Águas Livres): Another of the great visual landmarks of Lisbon is the Aqueduto das Águas Livres, a historic aqueduct. It is one of the most remarkable examples of 18th-century Portuguese engineering, created to relieve Lisbon’s perpetual summertime water shortages. This eye-popping stretch of stone arches and Italianesque architecture was first created in the middle of the 18th century.
  • Carmo Convent (Convento do Carmo): The ruined Gothic arches of Carmo Convent hang almost directly above the exit of the Elevador Santa Justa in Bairro Alto​. This medieval convent was ruined during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
  • Ajuda National Palace Open to the public as a museum, the Ajuda National Palace is a neoclassical building from the first half of the 19th century.  It became a royal residence on King Luís I’s accession to the throne and it remained as such until the end of the Monarchy (1910). The most important State ceremonies held by the President of the Republic still take place here.  

Caxias: Surf’s Up! Just to the west of central Lisbon, this enclave of sand and sea is where most of the capital’s wave riders will retreat on the weekend. There are plenty of tour outfitters offering surf equipment and lessons to those looking to escape the city for its beaches.

This card allows free access on the bus, tram and metro networks as well as entrance to 37 museums, monuments and places of interest.  Cards may be purchased for periods of 24, 48 and 72 hours online or from the Ask Me Lisboa tourism office in the arrivals area of the airport.

Some general tour operators to explore:
Grayline Citirama

Tour operators for private and small group tours:
Selection Tours
Kensington Tours

  • Alfama: Alfama, perhaps the most charming part of Lisbon, is a must-see with its colorful, hilly labyrinth of narrow streets. With a history dating back to the Moors, its cobblestone streets wind past quaint shops, cozy little restaurants and traditional Fado clubs, all housed within historic architecture. Popular attractions located in Alfama are St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge), Sé Cathedral, Feira de Ladra (flea market) and the beautiful hill-top viewing point at Portas do Sol.
  • Belém: The waterfront Belém is a historic neighborhood that houses some of Lisbon’s most important monuments, museums and the extremely popular Portuguese tart bakery, the Pasteis de Belém. It is the home base of Portugal’s rich seafaring heritage.  Here you’ll find the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, the Discoveries Monument, the Belém Palace (the official residence of Portugal’s president), the Coleção Berardo Museum as well as a number of scenic gardens. As the Discoveries Monument illustrates, Belém was a main departure point during the Age of Discoveries. Notable explorers have embarked from Belém including Vasco da Gama, who was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, and Ferdinand Magellan, who was aboard the first ship that successfully circumnavigated the world. This historic district by the Tagus (Tejo) River claims both of Lisbon’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Tower of Belém and the Monastery of St. Jerome.
  • Baixa & Rossio: These neighborhoods are the downtown of Lisbon where you will find not only shopping and dining but also many of Lisbon’s main landmarks, such as the monuments of Avendia da Liberdade, Restauradores Square, Rossio Square, and Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio). A highlight in Baixa is the Santa Justa Lift (Elevador de Santa Justa) – a neo-Gothic elevator that originally ran on steam, created to give the pedestrians a short cut in this extremely hilly area. Other unique finds here are Livraria Bertrand (the oldest bookstore in the world still trading), and the elaborate art nouveau Brasileira Café (Café a Brasileira). Rossio Square has been famous since the medieval ages when public beheadings and bullfighting showdowns were held on its cobblestones.  Today, it is a fine place to stroll and people watch. You can relax on the shady benches, watch the locals play dominos in the park, and enjoy elaborate Baroque fountains babbling under the sun.
  • Bairro Alto: This is one of the premier touristic districts of Lisbon. During the day, this cool, bohemian vibe district is all about browsing boutiques, but after dark it turns into one of the city’s biggest nightlife scenes.  It’s a great place to find old Fado music venues if you are up for a night full of artistic passion, along with cool new breweries and beatnik style bars.
  • Graça & São Vicente: Like Alfama, Graça and São Vicente are in an older part of the city, which is apparent in the very narrow streets and sidewalks. They offer wonderful views of the Tagus (Tejo) River and the National Pantheon.
  • Alcântara: Situated between downtown and Belém, this hip neighborhood along the river is home to Docas de Santo Amaro, a dock filled with bars and restaurants, and the LX Factory, a renovated factory building complex that has been converted into shops, offices, and restaurants. The refurbished spaces, small quirky businesses, and the unique location under the April 25 Bridge make this a great place to go.
  • Parque das Nações (Nations Park): This ultra-modern, riverside neighborhood is a surprisingly stark contrast to the old-world Lisbon.  Nations Park was built in 1998 to serve as the exhibition grounds for the Expo ’98.  A great way to view this area is from above by riding the Nations Park Gondola Lift which has 40 closed cabins. The trip lasts 8 to 12 minutes and is 30 meters high over the river.  There are many restaurants here including the popular Tivoli Rooftop Bar with views of the river and Vasco Da Gama bridge. Nations Park is also home to the Lisbon Oceanarium, the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and one of the largest in the world, and the Pavilion of Knowledge Science Center, an interactive science and technology museum. There is also a popular boardwalk where joggers and dog walkers enjoy the beautiful Lisbon weather.
  • Príncipe Real: This is one of Lisbon’s most exclusive districts, leading the artisan-chic transformation of historic Lisbon.  It is a residential neighborhood but is also filled with stores, restaurants, and gardens. The buildings here are grander than many other areas, giving off a pricey vibe, in keeping with its name which translates into ‘royal prince’.
    Avenida da Liberdade: Avenida da Liberdade is the main shopping avenue where you will find designer boutiques and luxury hotels.
  • Cais do Sodre: In central Lisbon, this district is known for vibrant nightlife, which is centered around Pink Street (the street is literally pink!), home to many bars and clubs.  By day, it is inhabited by artisans and creatives with the rejuvenated Tejo Estuary waterfront.  This district is fashionable but has managed to retain its gritty edge. Cais do Sodré is a cool neighborhood to go to for a beer and catch up with friends. The Time Out Market, or Mercado da Ribeira, located here is one of the city’s main food halls that offers everything from traditional meals to trendy treats and bakeries.
  • Mouraria: A more hidden neighborhood in the middle of the tourist spots is the old Moorish district, Mouraria.  This hilly, multi-cultural neighborhood, located below the castle, is the birthplace of Fado. Its history of poverty, diversity and Fado can be experienced while walking along the stone streets and past the old buildings and homes that still feature art and décor from the past.
  • Estoril: At the heart of the Portuguese Riviera is Estoril, a stylish and sophisticated resort town situated on the beautiful Costa do Estoril coastline. Located a 25-30 minute drive from Lisbon, Estoril strikes the perfect balance between Portuguese charm and all one would want in a resort town, including fine dining restaurants, world-class golf courses and the largest casino of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Cascais: This picture-perfect seaside town of Cascais (kush-kaish) is a 40-minute drive from Lisbon. Once a fishing village, the cobblestone-lined old town became a popular respite for the rich and royal in the 1900s.  Today, many flock to Cascais for the idyllic scenery and beaches. Explore the charming town, visit one of the area’s many forts that helped prevent pirate attacks, enjoy amazing seafood, or lay back on one of the area’s many beaches. For wave riding, consider making a beeline for swell-packed Guincho along the headland.
  • Sintra: This UNESCO World Heritage site, just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, is filled with fairytale-like ancient castles and opulent palaces. This small city’s rolling hills are clad with vibrant vegetation and charming villas separated by cobblestone streets. You will need stamina and good walking shoes for your visit to Sintra. 
  • Costa da Caparica: Featuring 16 miles of beautiful beaches south of Lisbon, Costa da Caparica is just a short 20-minute drive from Lisbon. Here you will find stretches of acacia-backed dunes and swaying sea grasses. The challenging waves attracts both surfers and kitesurfers.
  • Tróia Peninsula: A 1.5-hour drive will take you to the sparkling beaches of the Tróia Peninsula. Running for 13 miles down the Atlantic Coast, the seas are surprisingly calm for this western section of the country. The beautiful Parque Natural da Arrábida can be seen on the headlands opposite, and regular tours depart from Tróia to spot bottlenose dolphins.
  • Lisbon Wine Region: Within a one-hour drive of Lisbon, the countryside around the city is peppered with wineries and wine-tasting opportunities. A large quantity of wine is made here, much of it in co-operatives, in a very wide variety of styles and qualities. In this region the “vinho regional” Lisboa is predominant.

Douro Valley Wine Region: If you have more time, Douro Valley is a 5.5 hour drive from Lisbon.  This charming and unique region in the North of Portugal Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cultivation of wine here dates back to the Roman’s.  Douro is best known for growing grapes that produce Port.

ISHRS Hybrid 29th Annual World Congress