When visiting Portugal’s capital, it can be difficult to decide where to go, what to see and, of course, what to eat! Check out our top nine suggestions for what to do in Lisbon, and start checking some essential experiences off your list.
Maybe it’s your first time in Lisbon—or maybe you’ve already fallen in love with this seafaring city of seven hills. Either way, there’s so much to see and do in the vibrant Portuguese capital that sometimes it’s impossible to know where to start. If you need some inspiration, take a look at our top nine recommendations for what to do in Lisbon, from Alfama to Belém and beyond!
1. Marvel at the monuments of Belém
Santa María de Belém is one of the most famous districts of Lisbon, located a short train ride west of the city center. It’s home to several popular tourist attractions, including the Jerónimos Monastery, Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument. A visit to Belém can easily occupy an entire day—and it’s worth setting aside several hours to fully enjoy it.
2. Sample the legendary pastéis de nata
No visit to Lisbon is complete without tasting Portugal’s most famous pastry: the pastel de nata. These crispy, creamy custard tarts are sometimes called pastéis de Belém, since they were perfected and popularized by the monks at the Jerónimos Monastery. You can sample the original recipe at the Pastéis de Belém bakery, and then compare it to those of other spots that claim to offer the best custard tarts in Lisbon.
3. Wander through the steep streets of Alfama
Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood is known for its hilly terrain, cobblestone streets and picturesque alleyways. You could spend hours getting lost among its ancient buildings and brilliant street art—and we suggest doing just that. Forget Google Maps and let yourself get lost. You’ll be surprised at the hidden beauty you discover, along with iconic sites like the Se Cathedral and the National Pantheon.
4. Take a tour of the São Jorge Castle
Once you reach the apex of Alfama, you’ll find yourself at the foot of the São Jorge Castle. The origins of this massive fortification date back hundreds of years, although it’s been renovated and repurposed many times. After paying admission, you can take a tour for free. We recommend spending an hour or two exploring the Moorish castle’s 11 towers and taking in its sweeping views of eastern Lisbon.
Running low on energy? Time to get caffeinated with the best coffee in Lisbon, sold at the city’s coolest specialty cafés.
5. Ride one of Lisbon’s iconic trams
If you don’t feel like climbing the hill to the castle—and you want to pack another essential experience into your day—hop on the city’s most famous tram line. The number 28 tram will take you from Martim Moniz up through Alfama, then on to Chiado and Bairro Alto. It’s one of the “Remodelado” trams: the classic yellow ones you’ve likely seen pictures of. Their rickety rhythms and screeching sounds only add to their authenticity.
6. Enjoy the view from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
Lisbon is bursting with picturesque viewpoints, or miradouros, where you can admire it from above. Any tourist map will point out various places with panoramic views, but our favorite is Senhora do Monte. Located in Graça, it boasts one of the widest views of Lisbon around. But you’ll have to earn it; the trek up to this spot is punishingly steep (although relatively short).
Hungry for more? Head to one of Lisbon’s best rooftop bars to accompany breathtaking views with delicious food and drinks.
7. Sample local specialties at Mercado da Ribeira
Mercado da Ribeira is Lisbon’s main food market, in operation since 1892. For the past few years it’s been under the management of Time Out Lisboa. This has resulted in a plethora of modern and international dining options. The first floor, however, still features traditional stands selling produce, meat, dairy products and more. After doing some shopping, visit the food court for Portuguese cuisine created by some of Lisbon’s best chefs.
8. Search for secondhand treasures at the Feira da Ladra
The Feira da Ladra is Lisbon’s famous flea market. Here, local vendors sell everything from secondhand clothing and antique furniture to artisanal handicrafts. It takes place every Tuesday and Saturday in Campo de Santa Clara, near the church of São Vicente de Fora. It’s the perfect place to pick up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs… or just enjoy some world-class people watching.
9. Immerse yourself in art and culture at LX Factory
For the flip side of Lisbon’s historic splendors, take a trip to LX Factory: an industrial complex that’s a hub for creators of all kinds. Explore its galleries, shops, studios and restaurants. Dive into the artistic innovation that’s taking Lisbon by storm. This is a place to open your mind, indulge your curiosity and let your imagination run wild. And if you haven’t fallen in love with Lisbon by now, LX Factory might just do the trick.
Melissa first moved to Madrid to explore her interests in linguistics and communication, and quickly fell in love with the city’s culture and cuisine. She’s particularly passionate about Spanish vermouth and canned seafood, and makes it a point to drench absolutely everything in olive oil.