Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, has become an increasingly popular destination for weekend breaks among European travellers.
And it’s no surprise why – with so many things to do in Lisbon, this coastal city offers a perfect blend of history, culture, food, and weather.
I recently spent two weeks in Lisbon and discovered so many amazing things to do there. I hadn’t realised quite how many beaches it had, nor how pretty its narrow streets were (not to mention how hilly!)
From exploring the charming streets of Alfama to enjoying a beach day at Carcavelos, there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy in this city.
But with so many options, it can be overwhelming to plan the perfect trip. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Lisbon to help you make the most of your time in this incredible city.
Table of Contents
How to get to Lisbon
When it comes to how to get to Lisbon, I spent a lot of time researching how to get from London to Lisbon via train as I’m keen to reduce my air miles and emissions. I found that though it is possible, it will take about 3 days which didn’t make sense for us on this trip.
Most visitors to Lisbon will end up flying to Lisbon International Airport like us. I’ve included some more details about how to get to Lisbon below.
Flights to Lisbon
If you’re planning to fly to Lisbon, chances are you’ll land at Lisbon Airport (Aeroporto de Lisboa).
For flights within Europe, TAP Portugal is Portugal’s main airline, and I found them to be great. Although I initially looked into Ryanair or EasyJet, TAP ended up being cheaper once I added baggage fees, and they also offered more reasonable flight times (no 5 am departures!).
If you’re travelling from further afield, it might be worth considering creative options when searching for flights.
For example, booking a flight to a major European airport like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or London and then looking for budget airline flights (such as Ryanair) to Lisbon from there could potentially save you some money.
Trains to Lisbon
If you’re coming from Spain, or other cities in Portugal like Porto to Lisbon or Faro to Lisbon you may arrive by train. When we left Lisbon we caught the train to Faro and it was easy, inexpensive and ran on time so I highly recommend it.
You can book your train tickets in Portugal online through Omio
Buses to Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re looking to travel on a budget, buses are usually the cheapest option.
Omio is a great platform for booking European and UK travel on. You can check train and bus prices and schedules and book super easily!
How to get to Lisbon from the airport and how to get around Lisbon
If you’re looking to get from Lisbon Airport to the city centre, there are a few options to consider. These options are the same as for getting around Lisbon during your trip to the city too.
Metro from Lisbon airport to downtown Lisbon
The metro is a convenient and affordable option. You can take it directly from the airport to the city centre, and while you may need to change lines depending on your destination, the system is easy to navigate.
Bus from Lisbon airport to Lisbon city centre
Buses are also available from the airport, and they are priced the same as the metro. However, be aware that some buses have a luggage limit, so if you’re carrying larger bags, you’ll need to find another mode of transport.
Top tip: Purchase a VivaViagem card for just €0.50, and top it up during your stay in Lisbon. This card can be used on all forms of transportation in Lisbon and the surrounding areas, including trains to Cascais and Sintra, as well as the ferry to Almada across the Tagus River from Lisbon. It’s the easiest way to get around and saves you the hassle of purchasing individual tickets.
Taxi to downtown Lisbon from the airport
If you’re looking for a direct route to your accommodation, taking a taxi is a good option. The taxi rank is located right outside the airport exit, but be prepared for a queue, as there are only four taxi bays. However, the queue moves quickly, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long. Alternatively, you can use Uber to get around the city.
Private transfer from the airport to Lisbon downtown
Alternatively, you can arrange for a private transfer from Lisbon airport to downtown Lisbon. With this option, someone will be there to greet you at arrivals (which is always nice), and will then drive you to your accommodation or wherever it is you’ve decided to go first.
This is a great option if you’re pushed for time, travelling with kids and don’t want to deal with taxis or public transport or want something a bit more luxurious.
Things to do in downtown Lisbon Portugal
Best things to do in Lisbon map
Check out this map where you can see all the best things to do in Lisbon.
Take a walking tour of Lisbon
We used to go on European city trips quite often before we moved to Canada. But, we didn’t really go on many walking tours back then.
Recently, during our trip to Lisbon, we tried a couple of walking tours and I have to say, I’m now a fan! It was a great way to learn more about the city and its history. And, if anyone wants to ask me about the Lisbon earthquake or Marquês de Pombal, I’m well-prepared to answer!
The best part? Both the walking tours we took were free! One was a 3-hour walking tour by Chillout Lisbon where you just pay a tip at the end. The other was a free audio guide by Rick Steves that we downloaded, as my friend did in Rome.
The two tours had slightly different focuses. The first one was more about local life, while the second one highlighted the popular historic landmarks that most first-time visitors (including me!) want to see.
There are also numerous tours in Lisbon that focus on particular parts of the city if you want to get to know about it in more detail, or include food and drink and take you to the best places to visit in Lisbon.
- Best of Lisbon guided walking tour: 5/5 stars (2000+ reviews!)
- Best of Lisbon Walking Tour: Rossio, Chiado & Alfama district: 4.7/5 star reviews
- Lisbon food & wine walking tour: 4.8/5 star reviews
If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon and want to make the most out of your stay without it costing a fortune, the Lisbon Card is a must-have. This card is a fantastic way to save money while visiting some of Lisbon’s top attractions.
With the Lisbon Card, you’ll have access to public transportation, including the famous Tram 28, which is a great way to explore the city’s historic neighbourhoods. The card also provides free entry to 26 museums and monuments, such as the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, and the Elevador de Santa Justa. Plus, skip-the-line access to some of these attractions will save you time during your trip.
Purchasing the Lisbon Card is quick and can be done online before your trip.
Once you arrive, just exchange your voucher for the card at either the Lisbon Airport or Visitor Center.
You can choose between a card that’s valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours depending on the length of your trip.
Praça Luís de Camões
You should definitely visit the Chiado district when you’re in Lisbon and make sure you don’t miss out on visiting Praça Luís de Camões – a lively square known for its street performers, outdoor cafes, and vibrant atmosphere. Surrounded by historic buildings, it’s a great spot to experience local culture and soak up the ambience.
For a unique bookstore experience, make sure to visit Livraria Sá da Costa. This bookstore is brimming with second-hand books, old photos, and tiles – not typically Portuguese, but definitely worth a visit. We had a great time exploring and seeing what we could find.
While you’re in the area, check out A Brasileira – a cafe with stunning art deco interiors and outdoor seating. It’s a perfect spot for people-watching and enjoying a coffee while listening to the buskers in the square.
O Trevo is another spot that’s worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s show in Lisbon. Here, you can try a must-try local delicacy – the bifana (pork sandwich) – and wash it down with a beer. The service may not be top-notch, but for cheap and authentic local eats, this is the place to be!
Largo do Carmo
Located in the Chiado neighbourhood, Largo do Carmo is a charming little square that’s definitely worth a visit. It’s famous for the ruins of the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that struck the city.
Today, the ruins make for a popular photo spot and serve as a reminder of the earthquake’s impact on Lisbon.
In the square, you’ll find a few kiosks where you can grab a drink or watch the changing of the guards.
While you can go inside the ruins of the Carmo Convent and the Carmo archaeological museum, it’s just as impressive viewed from the outside.
It’s also super close to a great viewing platform that’s at the top of the Santa Justa Elevator which means you can get the views without waiting in line or paying the fee for the lift!
Wondering what to see in Lisbon for two days? Check out this Lisbon 2 day itinerary.
Check out Lisbon’s Miradouros (Lisbon viewpoints)
As a city of 7 hills, Lisbon has loads of incredible viewpoints where you can see the city below you, across from you and out over the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean.
These viewpoints are known as miradouoros and there are so many of them.
Some, however, have become more popular with others and are regarded to have the best views. These include:
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
- Miradouro de Graça
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol
- Miradouro Jardim do Torel
- and Miradouro de Santo Estêvão
There are plenty more you can find across the city, just by typing in ‘miradouro’ into Google Maps.
You should bear in mind that these do get super busy at sunset and so they’re not always a nice peaceful place to enjoy the views over Lisbon. In addition, many of them nowadays have some sort of restaurant, cafe or kiosk at the top where you can buy drinks and/or snacks.
There are also loads of great rooftop bars in Lisbon including Park (which we felt was a bit snooty and full of people just trying to get their latest Instagram photo but it’s quite cool since you go up through a car park which makes it feel secret), and Lumi Rooftop.
The Sé de Lisboa, commonly known as the Lisbon Cathedral, is one of the most popular attractions in downtown Lisbon – and it’s easy to see why.
This grand cathedral dates back to the 12th century and has been renovated several times over the years, resulting in a unique mix of architectural styles, from Romanesque and Gothic to Baroque.
Located in the heart of Lisbon’s historic district, this cathedral is one of the oldest and most important religious buildings in the city.
Despite the devastating earthquake of 1755 that ravaged Lisbon, the cathedral still stands tall today, with its breathtaking façade and beautiful stained-glass windows.
Inside, you’ll find high vaulted ceilings, ornate altars, and numerous chapels. Make sure to check out the treasury, too – it houses a collection of religious artefacts, including silverware and relics.
At the rear of the cathedral, you’ll find a tranquil garden and an archaeological museum. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a peaceful stroll.
- Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 930 am – 7 pm, Wednesday & Saturday 10 am – 6 pm, closed on Sundays
- Tickets: €5, Buy in advance here
Rossio Square Lisbon
Rossio Square, or Pedro IV Square, is undoubtedly one of the top attractions in downtown Lisbon.
Surrounded by charming 18th-century buildings, this historic square boasts a stunning fountain at its centre that’s sure to leave you captivated.
Over the years, Rossio Square has been a popular destination for travellers entering or departing the city. And even today, it remains a hub of activity and a must-see spot in Lisbon.
One of the highlights of the square is the plethora of cafes, restaurants, and shops, including the gorgeous Art Deco Cafe Nicola.
There’s also Rossio train station here – featuring a beautiful entranceway adorned with traditional Portuguese tiles, small statues, and intricately shaped doorways.
This is where I caught the train from Lisbon to Sintra.
Praca dos Restauradores
At the southern end of Avenida da Liberdade is Praca dos Restauradores, which pays tribute to the Restoration of Portugal’s independence from Spain in the 17th century. The square has a 30-metre-tall white obelisk monument, commemorating this significant event in Portugal’s history.
Praca dos Restauradores is a bustling square with numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars lining the pavement, often featuring live entertainment in the evenings.
Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio, also known as Commerce Square, is undeniably one of the most famous squares and is a must-see in Lisbon.
Located on the banks of the Tagus River, this square is surrounded by elegant yellow buildings, a triumphal arch, and a grand statue of the King and Marquis of Pombal. It’s a perfect spot to take in the stunning views and enjoy a leisurely stroll.
For centuries, this impressive square has been a vital part of Portugal’s political, social, and economic life, dating back to the 18th century. It was once the largest public square in Europe and served as the arrival point for kings and heads of state visiting Portugal in the past.
Throughout its long history, the square has witnessed Lisbon’s evolution – including the transition from monarchy to republic – and has been a witness to countless historical events.
Bordered by magnificent buildings with stunning facades, the square is also conveniently located close to the waterfront, making it an ideal place to relax and take in the beauty of Lisbon.
Arco da Rua Augusta
From Praça do Comércio as you head to stroll down Rua Augusta, you’ll immediately notice the mosaic pattern in the pavements as well as the hue arch which perfectly frames the statue at the centre of the square.
This Lisbon must see was built-in 1875 to commemorate Lisbon’s reconstruction after the devastating 1755 earthquake, fires, and tsunami, this arch stands as a symbol of resilience, strength, and renewal for the city.
With a Neo-Classical design and six statues representing Glory, Valour, Learning, Generosity, Concord, and Justice, the arch rises 45 meters tall.
If you like, you can head to the top of the arch where you’ll get some super impressive views of Lisbon.
- Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 7 pm
- Tickets: €3.50, buy in advance here
Time Out Market
Time Out Market in Lisbon is a top place to visit in Lisbon if you’re keen to try some different food during your trip to Lisbon.
This historic market, Mercado da Ribeira, across from Cais do Sodré train station, was transformed into a food hall by Time Out Group in 2014.
There are over 40 different stalls serving different types of food including Portuguese cuisine and international ones with Portuguese twists. You’ll find savoury dishes, meats, vegetarian, Asian food, deserts and more.
It’s the best thing to do in Lisbon if you’re a foodie since you’ve loads of Portuguese foods under one roof.
Lunchtime is often a more enjoyable, less busy experience than dinner time and the stalls are open for lunch so I’d recommend visiting then.
There’s also a market part where you can find fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses and meat and fish if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen and want to cook something tasty yourself.
Santa Justa Elevador
The Elevador de Santa Justa is a striking lift that was built in the early 1900s to connect the Baixa district of Lisbon and Bairro Alto (low-down and high-town).
Although it still serves as a connection between the two neighbourhoods, it has also become one of the most photographed attractions in Lisbon and one of the best things to do in Lisbon, drawing long lines at all hours of the day.
There is a way to avoid the queues though and still get amazing views that you get from the top of the elevator.
Head to Largo di Carmo, and look for a small street to the right that goes alongside the church.
Follow this street and you’ll come out to a viewpoint of the famous Santa Justa Lift! From here, you can walk out onto the viewpoint and enjoy the same views for nothing.
- Opening hours: Daily, 7 am – 10:45 pm
- Tickets for the Santa Justa elevator: €2, in person
Ride Tram 28 Lisbon
Tram 28 is a popular tram line in Lisbon that passes through all the major neighbourhoods and attractions – including charming tiled houses.
But, if trams aren’t your thing, you can always walk the same route and explore the beautiful neighbourhoods of Alfama, Baixa, Graca, and Estrela on foot.
It’s important to keep in mind that these trams are used by locals for their day-to-day transport and the popularity of Tram 28 among tourists has caused headaches for locals who rely on it.
You might see a queue of tourists stretching several hundred meters long at the start of the tram line, making it nearly impossible for locals to use them.
To avoid causing inconvenience to locals, it’s best to avoid travelling during rush hour when locals are trying to get to and from work.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a less crowded tram.
One morning, the tram I boarded wasn’t too crowded since a packed tram had just left before. I noticed another one right behind it and hopped on.
It was practically empty, which meant I could enjoy the ride without feeling squashed and take in the view from both sides of the tram.
Praca da Figueira
At Praca da Figueira, one of the oldest and most significant squares in the city centre, you’ll come across a range of buildings including hotels, shops and cafes.
On the last weekend of the month, you can get wander the market that takes place at the centre of the square.
There’s also Confeitaria Nacional, one of the city’s oldest pastry shops with an impressive interior. This shop opened in 1829 and is well worth visiting to buy some local sweet treats.
Elevador da Bica
When you’re exploring downtown Lisbon, riding the Elevador da Bica – or walking alongside it – is a must-do activity!
This iconic tram has been in operation for centuries, and riding it up the hill is a great way to avoid one of Lisbon’s many hilly streets.
If you prefer walking, you can walk up alongside the Elevador da Bica and take time to explore the cute neighbourhood streets around it. The winding, cobbled streets are lined with colourful buildings, small shops, and cafes, offering a glimpse into the daily life of locals in the area.
Eat many Pasteis de Nata
Pasteis de Nata (pastel de nata if you’re just talking about one), are the delicious tarts you’ll see in pretty much every cafe and bakery across Portugal.
Even if you only have 1 day in Lisbon, be sure to eat at least one Pastel de Nata!
Pasteis de Nata are made from a crispy, flaky pastry shell filled with creamy egg custard and they’re best eaten slightly warm still with a dusting of cinnamon and icing sugar on top.
During your trip to Lisbon, you should basically make it your mission to eat as many as possible.
Many cafes and shops will claim to have the best ones and out of the many, many I tried during my two weeks in Lisbon, I decided that those from Pasteis de Belem, followed by Manteigaria are the best.
Wondering what to do in Lisbon for a day? Check out my one day in Lisbon itinerary
Pink and Blue streets
Lisbon is famous for its vibrant streets, and two of the most popular streets to explore are Pink Street and Blue Street.
Pink Street, in particular, has become an Instagram sensation and a popular destination for tourists; partly because it’s pink and partly because it has umbrellas hanging above you as you walk.
Pink Street is lined with cafes and bars and is a popular spot for a night out in the city.
If you want to take pictures without any crowds, visit Pink Street early in the morning (when the clean-up from the night before is still going strong).
Blue Street, while less popular than Pink Street, is home to many great Lisbon restaurants and the blue colour is said to be a nod to the city’s naval history. It’s not quite an attraction like Pink Street, but chances are you’ll walk down it while enjoying your trip to Lisbon since it’s nearby some of the top attractions.
Wander through Alfama Lisbon
Wandering through the pretty, winding and narrow streets of Alfama was one of my favourite things to do in Lisbon when I visited Lisbon for the first time.
This historic neighbourhood is one of the oldest in the city and is a joy to explore with its maze of narrow cobbled streets, colourful houses adorned with laundry lines, and traditional Fado music streaming out of doorways.
Be sure to take your time and soak in the atmosphere of this charming neighbourhood, enjoying the little street-side stores, the smell of citrus fruits and the colourful buildings.
Take a break at one of the many cafes or restaurants, sample some of the local delicacies, and watch the locals go about their day.
Visit the National Tile Museum
The National Tile Museum, or Museu Nacional do Azulejo, is one of the top Lisbon attractions. It’s a unique museum dedicated to the art of tile-making.
The museum’s collection includes over 5,000 tiles and ceramic pieces, ranging from the 15th century to the present day. The highlight of the museum is the stunning collection of azulejos, the name of the beautiful tiles found over buildings in Portugal.
At the museum, you can learn about the history of tile-making and see examples of tiles from various periods and styles. You’ll also discover how tiles have been used, from covering entire walls to creating intricate murals.
It’s not just the exhibits that are worth checking out, the museum itself is housed in a beautiful 16th-century convent, which is a work of art. It’s got a super cute and peaceful courtyard and garden too.
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 12:30 pm & 2 pm to 5:30 pm. Closed on Mondays.
- Tickets: €5, book online in advance here
Check out Castelo de São Jorge
St. George’s Castle is one of the best things to do in Lisbon and one of the top Lisbon attractions.
The castle sits on the tallest hill overlooking the city, offering panoramic views of Lisbon and it’s a great spot to visit at sunset.
The original castle dates back to the 6th century and has undergone many changes and renovations due to earthquakes and other natural disasters over the years. The castle that you see today is a 20th-century restoration of the original.
Castelo de Sao Jorge is a great place to learn about the history of Lisbon and Portugal, and there’s a small museum on the castle grounds to visit too.
One thing to bear in mind is that the castle does get very busy and so you should purchase tickets in advance.
- Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 9 pm
- Tickets: €15, buy online here
Best things to do in Belem Lisbon
See the Belem Tower
The Belém Tower is a super cool fort/castle like structure surrounded by the Tagus River. Its construction began in 1514 with the tower being built mainly as a defensive fortress. It had cannons placed around the tower to protect the city of Lisbon from any potential attacks.
Visiting Belem Tower is top of the list for many people’s Lisbon itineraries!
Interestingly, I learned on my sailing tour, that the tower was actually in the middle of the Tagus River once upon a time!
These days, it’s most definitely the side of the river, but I didn’t realise before I saw it myself, that there’s actually a little beach area by the fort.
The outside of the Belém Tower is super impressive and it’s such a cool thing to see in Belem.
You can also go inside Belem Tower to get a cool view from a different perspective and some amazing views.
While going inside the tower is cool, when it comes to the question is the Belem Tower worth visiting? I think that at times it can be too busy to be enjoyable. Personally, I think viewing the tower from the water as part of a sailing trip is more worth your money.
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5.30 pm
- Belém Tower tickets: €9, buy in advance here
Pilar 7 Bridge Experience
Another must-visit attraction in Belém is the Bridge Experience.
The Pilar 7 Bridge Experience is an immersive exhibition where you can learn about Lisbon’s iconic 25 de Abril Bridge which has so many similarities to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
You’ll learn about the bridge’s history, construction and its significance to the city of Lisbon and then get to head up for some panoramic views of the bridge and the surrounding area.
It’s a pretty unique experience to do in Lisbon and worthwhile.
- Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 7 pm
- Tickets: €5, get them in advance here.
Take a sailing trip
Booking a sailing trip in Belem was one of my absolute favourite experiences in Lisbon, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.
The sailing trip was surprisingly affordable, and it offered a unique perspective of the top attractions in Belem and the city of Lisbon itself.
Sailing is the perfect way to admire the Monument of Discoveries and the Belem Tower since you can only see the front of them from the water.
During our sailing trip, which lasted two hours, we travelled up and down the Tagus River from Belem Tower to Alfama.
Along the way, we enjoyed snacks and drinks, and our guide shared fascinating information about the city. Even though I had already been on two walking tours by that point, I learned new things from her.
Sailing on a cruise is not only a luxurious experience but also a super relaxing and enjoyable thing to do in Belem, Lisbon.
Embrace the cool vibes at LX Factory
Technically just outside of Belem, but a place many people visit at the same time they head to Belem, the LX Factory is a fun place full of art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars.
What was once a former industrial complex is now a trendy hub with a cool industrial-chic vibe.
It’s well worth visiting to pick up some souvenirs from your trip to Lisbon or enjoy a drink on the rooftop bar at LX Factory.
Find a moment of peace in the Botanical Garden of Lisbon
Visiting the Botanical Garden of Lisbon near Belem is another popular Belem attraction and the gardens are just a short stroll away from the Jerónimos Monastery and the Pastéis de Belém store.
The Botanical Garden has some beautiful 18th-century Italian sculptures, artwork from the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition, and you can also take a break by the ponds to watch the ducks, geese, and swans as they do their thing.
The gardens are a lot quieter than some of the other things to do in Belem and so it’s a nice place to go if you’re looking for a little break while exploring.
- Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 8 pm (5 pm closure in winter)
- Tickets: €5
Check out the Museu da Carris
If you’ve been enjoying watching, photographing or riding the trams throughout Lisbon, then perhaps you should check out the Museu da Carris, or the National Museum of Coaches in Belem.
While it may seem like an unusual museum to visit, it’s actually pretty cool.
The museum houses a huge range of trams and carriages some of which were used by the Portuguese Royal Family!
You’ll find carriages from the 17th to the 19th century and such a diverse range too with opulent royal ceremonial coaches to a mail coach and even a jail coach! As you wander through the museum, you’ll notice the evolution of design, with sleeker and simpler carriages appearing as the timeline progresses towards the arrival of “horseless carriages.”
Visiting the National Coach Museum in Belem is a unique thing to do during your trip to Lisbon and surprisingly fun!
- Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 1 pm & 2 pm – 6 pm
- Tickets: €4.50
The MAAT is one of Lisbon’s most well-known museums with many people who visit Belem checking out the building from the outside only, missing out on the beautiful artworks inside.
The MAAT or to give it its full name, the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, was built across the old Tejo Power Station and its beautiful sweeping architecture stands out.
If you don’t have time to explore the museum’s interior, the exterior of the MAAT is worth a visit on its own.
The rooftop of the new building can be walked on and it’s well worth heading up to the top to check out the views of the Tagus River and Belem. It’s an especially beautiful viewpoint at sunset.
Inside the MAAT, you’ll find exhibits that include video, displays, sculptures and more and if you’re into modern and contemporary art you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained for a few hours.
- Opening hours: Wednesday – Monday, 10 am – 7 pm
- Tickets: €9
Terreriro das Missas
This is a super quick thing to see in Belem and you’ll likely see it as you explore the area anyway.
The Terreriro das Missas is a picturesque waterfront square that not only has a great view out to the river and of the 25 de Abril Bridge but also plays host to art exhibitions and other events throughout the year.
Museu Coleção Berardo
The Museu Coleção Berardo (Berardo Collection Museum) is part of the Cultural Center of Belém and came about from a collaboration between the Portuguese government and businessman José Berardo to showcase part of his private art collection.
Over time, this partnership has thrived, and the Berardo Collection Museum has become a top thing to do in Belem and Lisbon.
With a combination of permanent and rotating collections, the Berardo Collection Museum is one of the best museums to see, especially if you enjoy modern art.
You’ll find over 900 works from the 20th century to the present day and the museum’s main exhibition takes you on a journey through the evolution of modern art. You’ll learn about and get to see the masterpieces from notable artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and others.
There’s also a great cafe and rooftop garden on the top which looks out towards the river
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm
- Tickets: €5
Ride a bike along the waterfront
Riding bikes along the waterfront in Belém is one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There’s a well-maintained cycle path right next to the waterfront and there are several food trucks and bars too so you can get some refreshments if you need them along the way.
As you cycle you’ll see the Belém Tower and the 25 de Abril Bridge as well as the Monument of Discoveries.
It’s easy to rent bikes since there’s a bike-sharing scheme throughout Lisbon, you just need the Bolt app and you’re good to go. If you prefer, you can also rent an electric scooter.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The Monument to the Discoveries, also known as Padrão dos Descobrimentos, is another of Belém’s most popular attractions.
The monument celebrates Portugal’s Age of Discovery and was erected in 1960 under the direction of dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. Though it should be remembered that this age of discovery comes with a history of colonialism too.
Along the side of the monument, you’ll see sculptures depicting 32 historical figures from the era. Then, there’s a 9-meter statue of Henry the Navigator holding a model of a carrack, a type of ship.
You can view the monument from both the outside and from the top by paying a small fee to go inside.
Inside there’s a museum with some information about the revitalisation of Belém in the 20th century.
The best thing about entering the monument though is enjoying the views from the top. You’ll climb up to the viewing point and get to see a different view of Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, the Tagus River, the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, and more.
- Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 7 pm
- Tickets: €10 for viewpoint and exhibition
The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Lisbon and is definitely worth visiting when you’re in Lisbon since it’s one of the best things to see in Lisbon.
Sometimes, there are really long lines to get in. But you can skip the line if you get a special ticket. Just so you know, if you have a Lisboa card, you’ll still have to wait in line to get your ticket.
The monastery was built in 1501 to be a safe place for sailors and explorers who were going on dangerous voyages from Belém during the Portuguese Age of Discovery. They would come here to pray and find comfort before their long and perilous journeys.
Today, you can explore the monastery and see its amazing architecture and beautiful carvings. You’ll see lots of symbols that relate to sailing, religion, and royalty. It’s really a special place that you won’t forget!
Even if you choose not to go inside, the outside of the monastery is worth getting up close to. The monastery was built in a beautiful Manueline Gothic style found throughout Lisbon and is similar to the Quinta de Regaliera in Sintra in that respect.
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
- Tickets: €10, buy in advance here
Visit the Church of Santa Maria de Belem
Next door to the monastery is the beautiful Church of Santa Maria de Belem. This is free to enter and usually has a shorter queue than the monastery but allows you to appreciate some of the beautiful architecture and carvings you’ll find in the monastery.
The church has super high ceilings and many tombs where significant figures throughout Portuguese history have been laid to rest.
These include King Manuel I, who played a pivotal role in promoting Manueline architecture; Luís de Camões, a beloved poet whose works continue to resonate through the ages; and the renowned explorer Vasco da Gama, famously known as the first European to successfully navigate the treacherous Cape of Good Hope and a voyage from Europe to India.
Museu de Marinha
The Maritime Museum, also known as the Navy Museum or Museu de Marinha, is home to a huge collection of over 17,000 artefacts all connected to sailing and ocean travel.
You’ll find actual boats too and plenty of information about how Portugal has been shaped by its connection to the sea.
Part of the museum is actually housed in the monastery, so it’s another great way to explore the monastery’s beautiful architecture.
- Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 6 pm (Closes at 5 pm in winter)
- Tickets: €6.50
Check out the Centro Cultural de Belem
The Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), a collaborative project by Italy’s Vittorio Gregotti and Portugal’s Manuel Salgado, is a vibrant cultural hub.
In the cultural centre, you’ll find various temporary exhibitions with a mix of dance, theatre, film, concerts and art in the Berardo Museum.
There’s also a bookstore and, on the first Sunday of every month, the central square hosts a market full of local products.
Other fun things to do in Lisbon
Hit the waves by taking a surfing lesson, one of the top activities in Cascais.
You’ll be taken out to a surfing beach nearby and then guided through some surf theory and practice, covering everything from paddling and board positioning to safety and balance.
With all surfing equipment provided, including wetsuits, you can focus on enjoying the experience.
Then, you’ll hit the water and put your newfound skills to the test, with personalised feedback and guidance from your instructors!
Have a beach day
If you’re in Lisbon and craving a beach day, Carcavelos Beach near Oeiras is the perfect place to go. It’s only a 20-minute train ride from downtown Lisbon meaning its easy to get to.
This beautiful sandy beach stretches for about a kilometre and is popular with surfers, sunbathers, and families. It has excellent amenities, including showers, bathrooms, restaurants, beach chairs and umbrellas for rent.
The beach is also home to several surf schools, so if you’re interested in catching some waves, this is a great place to learn. And if surfing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other water activities to enjoy, including stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Carcavelos Beach can get busy, especially during the summer months, but it’s worth the trip.
The views of the ocean are breathtaking, and the beach has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that will make you want to stay all day. It’s a perfect spot for a beach day and one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Take a trip on the ferry to Almada
If you’re looking for a different perspective on Lisbon, taking the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Almada is a great way to explore the city from across the river.
Once you arrive in Almada, you can walk along the waterfront and take in the stunning views of Lisbon’s skyline. From there, take the lift to the top of the cliff and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the river.
After all that walking and sightseeing, Petisco da Lata Bistrô is a great place to unwind and enjoy a light dinner.
This cosy bistro is famous for its delicious tinned fish, fresh bread, and wine. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some local delicacies and relax with friends or family.
One of my favourite evenings in Lisbon was when we did the above, it was such a nice way to explore a different part of the areas around the city.
Try a cooking class in Lisbon
A great way to immerse yourself in the food culture of Lisbon is by taking a cooking class. This Lisbon cooking class is dedicated to the famous Portuguese pastry, Pastel de Nata.
You’ll work alongside experienced pastry chefs and instructors in a cosy and inviting kitchen and be guided through the entire process, from making the dough to baking the perfect Pastel de Nata. Yum!
Feel the texture of the dough in between your fingers and inhale the delightful aroma as your pastries bake in the oven. You’ll also learn about the history of this beloved pastry and how it became a staple in Portuguese cuisine.
Finally, you’ll get to taste your delicious homemade Pastel de Nata and experience its sweet, custardy goodness. To perfectly complement your gastronomic journey, a variety of local beverages will be provided for you to sip on during and after the class.
Best day trips from Lisbon
Looking for fun activities in Lisbon? Plan a day trip from Lisbon to some other towns and sights nearby.
If you’re visiting Lisbon, a day trip to Sintra is a must! Just a short train ride from the city, this picturesque town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of stunning architecture beautiful forests and views.
Once you arrive in Sintra, there are plenty of things to see and do. Visit Pena Palace, perched on top of a hill with its brightly coloured towers and turrets, or explore the Quinta da Regaleira, a stunning estate with mystical gardens, grottos, and hidden tunnels.
For those looking for a more active adventure, walk up to the Moorish Castle for breathtaking panoramic views of the town and the surrounding landscape.
And don’t forget to try the local speciality, travesseiros, a delicious pastry filled with almond cream.
Cascais is a charming coastal town located just a short train ride from Lisbon. With its beautiful beaches, quaint streets, and vibrant culture, it’s a perfect day trip for those looking for a break from the city.
One of the best things to do in Cascais is to walk along its beautiful coastline all the way up to Boca do Inferno. If it gets too hot, enjoy a dip in the clear blue waters or simply relax on the golden sand.
You could also visit the grand and imposing Cascais Fortress or explore the beautiful Palácio da Cidadela. The town’s historic centre is also worth checking out and is full of pretty streets, cafes, and boutiques.
Where to stay in Lisbon
If you’re visiting for a long weekend, as part of a European city break, it’s best to stay in the city centre. so you’re not far from the top things to do in Lisbon. I’ve picked out places I would stay if I was going back to Lisbon for a long weekend trip.
- Home Lisbon Hostel: Stay at Home Lisbon Hostel and enjoy the perfect location in Lisbon’s historic centre, comfortable rooms with balconies, and the incredibly famous Mamma’s Dinners, which are the best meals you will have in Lisbon for the price. With friendly staff and plenty of activities, you’ll feel at home and want to come back time and time again.
- Lux Lisboa Park: Lux Lisboa Park is a 4-star hotel just a 10-minute walk from the iconic Marques de Pombal Square. With an outdoor heated pool, and hot tub as well as an on-site bar, meeting facilities, and terrace you’re perfectly placed for a relaxing stay in Lisbon.
- Lisboa Carmo Hotel: Stay in luxury rooms with classic and contemporary décor at Lisboa Carmo Hotel, located in central Lisbon just minutes from the popular Bairro Alto district with Tagus River views, contemporary-style dining, and a variety of beverages and wines at the bar.
- Look Living, Lisbon Design Apartments: Look Living, Lisbon Design Apartments offers stylish accommodations with fully equipped kitchenettes. Explore popular attractions like Commerce Square and Rossio, with on-site bicycle and car rental services available.
Final thoughts on the best things to do in Lisbon
Lisbon is a city that truly has it all – from its historic neighbourhoods to its charming streets, delicious food, and stunning coastline, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.
Whether you’re exploring the colourful facades of Alfama, sipping a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, taking a tram ride through the city and downtown Lisbon, or indulging in a freshly baked Pastel de Nata, Lisbon is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
Some of the highlights of a trip to Lisbon include visiting the historic Belem Tower, taking a ferry to Almada for stunning views of the city, and exploring the magical town of Sintra. And of course, a beach day at Carcavelos is a must-do for those looking for some fun in the sun.
No matter what your interests are, Lisbon has something to offer everyone. From its vibrant culture to its friendly locals, this city is sure to steal your heart and leave you wanting more.
Still not convinced? Here are some more reasons for visiting Lisbon!
FAQs about what to do in Lisbon Portugal
What are the best things to do in Lisbon when it rains?
Some of the best things to do in Lisbon when it rains include visiting museums, enjoying a cup of coffee, or taking a tram ride through the city to admire the sights from somewhere dry!
What are the top things to do in Lisbon at night?
The top things to do in Lisbon at night include visiting Fado houses to listen to traditional Portuguese music, exploring the vibrant Bairro Alto neighbourhood and its bars, or taking a romantic stroll along the Tagus River with your loved one.
Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by Hannah
Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe, a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada, you’ll find posts on all of this.
Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.