01 March 2023

10 of The Best Things to Do in Lisbon

It's no secret is one of my favourite European Destinations is Lisbon. Portugal is just one of those countries I always will go back to! It's perfect for a summer getaway in The Algarve, as well as a long weekend away in Lisbon. The culture, delicious food and welcoming locals are just a few reasons why I always recommend taking a trip to Lisbon. If you do decide to visit, here's a comprehensive guide to 10 of the most popular things to see and do in the lively capital city:

1. Visit Belem Tower

Belem Tower is one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower was initially built to protect the harbour mouth from attacking ships, but today it's home to several cultural events throughout the year such as concerts, exhibitions and more. Take time to explore this grand Renaissance fortification and its even grander views. 

2. Ride on Tram 28

Tram 28 runs through some of Lisbon's oldest neighbourhoods including Graça, Baixa, Castelo and Alfama before circling back to its final stop down by Martim Moniz square in Campo de Ourique. This old vintage tram is a great way to discover hidden landmarks or get an insightful tour through downtown Lisbon’s main attractions such as Jerónimos Monastery and Rossio Square while listening to stories from your fellow passengers! 

3. Visit the Monastery of St Jerome

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. 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.

4. Cross Two Iconic Bridges

There are two incredible bridges in Lisbon that are definitely worth taking the time out to visit. The first being 25 de Abril Bridge, which is a large suspension bridge opened in 1966 that resembles the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. 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 neighbourhood of Alcántara with the city of Almada by crossing the Tagus estuary.

Another iconic bridge in Lisbon is the Vasco da Gama Bridge - which is known as the longest bridge in Europe. It was built as an alternative to 25 de Abril bridge, as there was a lot of traffic and many traffic jams and measures more than 12km, joining the north and south of Portugal. 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.

5. Visit Sao Jorge Castle

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 neighbourhood, the walls, and gardens. If you are passionate about history, visiting and wandering around this fortress is a must see in Lisbon! 

Sadly the various earthquakes that the city have suffered from have destroyed a lot of the Castle, so a lot of it may appear more modern due to restoration efforts. However it is still very beautiful to wander around, and catch a incredible view of the sunset from the castle.

6. Indulge in Local Cuisine

If you are looking to sample some local delicacies in Lisbon, then look no further than the Pastel de Nata. 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. After visiting the bakery, you can stroll through the cities squares to relax in a café and sample some of the local Portuguese wine!

7. Visit The Monument to The Discoveries

The Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon’s Belém neighborhood is a must-see for visitors. Built in 1960 to commemorate 500 years since the death of Henry the Navigator, the caravel-shaped structure stands 52 meters tall and includes 33 figures from the Age of Discovery – including Philippa of Lancaster - depicted on its Wind Rose World Map. With great historical significance and epic visuals, this is an unforgettable attraction that shouldn't be missed when visiting Lisbon!

8. Tour Alfama Neighbourhood

Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon. It is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and alleys, centuries-old houses, quaint squares and a spectacular view of the Tagus River. Here you can wander the narrow streets, stop for lunch at one of the many traditional restaurants and enjoy some of the best fado music in Lisbon. 

9. Stroll around the Plazas & Squares

Lisbon is a vibrant city with many squares and plazas to explore, each filled with delicious snacks and drinks. Praça do Comércio is the most significant square in the city, located in what was once the Royal Palace before an earthquake destroyed it. This same area can also be found along the banks of Tagus River, one of Lisbon's main attractions. Another great area tourists should stay at is Rossio Square, located within La Baixa district. It is known for its lively atmosphere complete with various shops, restaurants and bars as well as some tourist sites like the National Theatre of Dona Maria II and the Burned Church of Santo Domingo.

10. Explore Sintra National Palace

Sintra National Palace is located just outside Lorosaem yet only 25 km northwest of central Lisbon by train or car. The palace was erected by King John I in 14th century Portugal during which time it underwent numerous renovations transforming it into what looks like true fairytale castle with colourful panels adorning each tower roof! Here you can also experience culinary delights like homemade salted codfish cakes at local restaurants or take strolls across magical gardens filled with giant trees guarding magical secrets within their shadows…  

Which sight would you most like to visit in Lisbon?
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