The Best Things To Do In Lisbon

Written By: Alice Woods

The oldest and capital city of Portugal, Lisbon has it all – from breathtaking panoramic views to old world details like cobblestone alleyways and historic remnants, to modern amenities and accommodations. Unique in its landscape — it’s known for its various hills throughout the city – Lisbon’s waterfront location makes it a gorgeous destination when you’re looking for holiday that encompasses history, culture and plenty of recreational activities. Though many come to Lisbon to soak in the sights and sounds of the city, there’s plenty to do with its variety of historical architecture and museums.

The food of Portugal is another major draw to the region, from traditional favorites like shredded cod to its abundance of fresh seafood thanks to the oceanfront location, Lisbon is growing as a destination for foodies around the world. From Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to local taverns on corners throughout the city, foodies have the opportunity to try traditional favorites as well as contemporary fusions. The diversity of the population also means that you’ll find a variety of international cuisines throughout Lisbon — in short, the city is one fabulous place to go when you want an amazing meal. The nightlife in Lisbon is also second to none, thanks to the abundance of alcohol and lack of restrictions on open consumption. While the neighborhoods might seem quaint and sleepy during the day, most of the city comes to life at night through the various hotspots, upscale bars and wine rooms, as well as the local dives that are located on nearly every street. After a day of exploring the city and historical part of town, enjoying a nightcap at one of the festive bars will truly give you a local experience.

No matter where you go throughout Lisbon, you’ll have amazing views of the various hills that are trademarked to the city. Viewpoints are located throughout Lisbon — perfect spots to relax with a cup of espresso or catch one of the city’s famous sunsets. If you’re unsure what to do during a stay in Lisbon check out a number of the castles or medieval towers that are situated in the old city – the Belem Tower is one fascinating landmark you won’t want to miss.


Belem Tower (Torre de Belem)

Relive Portugal’s maritime glory days with a visit to the Belem Tower. This stone fortress on the bank of the River Tagus, is a living trip back in time to the sixteenth-century. Explore the dungeons, climb to the top of the tower for spectacular views of the river, and imagine watching the intrepid explorers head into the unknown, as they glided past this magnificent monument.



Explore cobblestone laneways of Alfama and experience the majestic charm of one of the oldest districts in the city. With historical architecture and a wealth of landmarks – such as the Se Cathedral and the National Pantheon – this is the perfect place to relax for a while and enjoy a coffee, as you watch the locals go about their day.


Monserrate Palace (Palacio de Monserrate)

Built by a trader who had travelled the world many times over, Monserrate Palace – and its magnificent architecture – reflects an eclectic mix of Gothic, Indian and Moorish influences that had impressed the owner throughout his travels. Enjoy the opulence of this nineteenth-century palace and learn the fascinating history of the family and the region. The gardens are a highlight, and are beautifully manicured with a wide array of plants, so stay a while and enjoy a meal at the café!


Miradouro da Senhora do Monte

Get your bearings in Lisbon with a trip to the peak of Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Enjoy magnificent views across the city and take in the many landmarks of the surrounds, such as the Castle. Make sure you take your camera, and if possible, be there for one of the spectacular sunsets!


Almourol Castle

The origins of the Almourol Castle are masked by a thick mist which clouds its long history, but there is in fact evidence of it going back as far as the first-century! In medieval times, the Knights of Templar manned this strategic post, on a small island in the middle of the River Tagus. Take a short boat ride and explore the site, and take in the spectacular views while you enjoy a drink!


Rossio Square

Head to the heart of Lisbon and you will come across the beautiful Rossio Square, the central hub of the city since the middle-ages. Sit for a while and plan your day, and explore the fountains and the monument to Pedro IV, a past king of Portugal. In a bygone era, executions and bullfights were held here, but today it’s just a great place to meet friends and people-watch.


Cabo da Roca

Take a trip to enjoy Cabo da Roc, once considered to be the edge of the world! This awe-inspiring rugged coastline is a perfect place to hike and admire the wild beauty of the Atlantic coast. The lighthouse was once a part of the defence of the capital, and the café is a great place to sit for a while and soak up the magnificent views.


National Museum of Ancient Art

Famous for its display of the “Panels of Saint Vincent”, the National Museum of Ancient Art has amassed a magnificent collection of European and Asian art, since it opened in the late 1800’s. Stroll through the galleries and enjoy a feast of paintings, sculptures, and furniture from the fifteenth to nineteenth-centuries.


Maritime Museum (Museu de Marinha)

As you wander through Belem, you will most likely come across the fascinating Maritime Museum (Museu de Marinha), an amazing voyage through the country’s maritime history. With scale models of ships back to the fifteenth-century, the instruments used to operate and navigate the vessels, and the uniforms worn by sailors across the ages, this museum walks you through the past centuries of the country’s magnificent maritime exploration.


Pena National Palace

Take a trip 17 miles out of Lisbon, to Sintra. As you approach, the red and yellow architecture of Pena National Palace will tower above you. Don’t miss this visit to what is the world’s greatest example of early Romanticism, and is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Explore the stunning exterior with its brightly painted terraces and ornate battlements, then head inside to witness the opulent interior. Once you have finished for the day, relax in the gardens and just soak up the beauty of this magnificent experience, it’s a great day out!



Located west of Lisbon on the Estoril coast, the once-sleepy fishing village of Cascais has become the summer playground of city dwellers, adored for its glorious string of sandy bays and the spanking new marina.



One of Portugal’s most fascinating destinations, Evora is a city full of historic national treasures that keep any visitor intrigued. From the Roman ruins of the Templo de Diana (Temple of Diana) featuring 14 original Corinthian columns, to the Capela dos Ossos (Bones of Chapel), which is completely decorated with human bones, Evora contains corner to corner historical encounters.



In Fatima you will find the Basilica, the House of Our Lady Dolours and the Chapel of Apparitions. Four million pilgrims make the journey each year to see the exact spot, where 70,000 people witnessed the Virgin Mary miraculously appear. Now marked with a statue of Our Lady, there is also accommodation for up to 250 pilgrims in the House of Our Lady of Carmel and a monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.



Once a hotspot destination for Portuguese royalty, Sintra is offers beautiful greenery, gorgeous mountains and amazing neo-Gothic structures. In Sintra there are a number of places to experience the culture from the Museum of Modern Art, to the exotic villa and the Palacio de Monderrate. Then at Quinta da Regaleira and its Palace you can see the best architecture of the Gothic era with gargoyles, towers and amazing stone facades.



Though at first it seems like nothing more than a charming small town, Tomar packs much historical significance for Portugal. Situated on the banks of the Nabão River, it is home to the impressive Castle of Tomar and the Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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