18 Tips for the Best Sights in Lisbon

Lisbon is a vibrant city with many charming spots, interesting sights, and a delightful atmosphere. The streets are filled with colorful buildings, old trams, and terraces. There’s so much to do that you’ll need at least three days to explore Lisbon properly, not to mention the beautiful day trips you can take from here. If you’re interested in the best attractions in Lisbon, great restaurants, and cozy places to stay, read our Lisbon tips below, covering all the highlights the city has to offer.

What to Do in Lisbon?

The capital of Portugal is one of the most charming cities in Europe, and there’s an abundance of things to do. We highly recommend spending at least an (extra long) weekend in Lisbon. Here are some of the must-see attractions, activities, and hotspots in our opinion!

Take a Ride on Tram 28

Throughout Lisbon, you’ll see iconic yellow trams, but it’s tram 28 that’s particularly popular among tourists. This tram takes you through the historic neighborhoods of Graca, Alfama, and Baixa. These pre-war trams have been beautifully restored and travel through narrow streets and steep hills. A ride costs $4, regardless of how long you stay on, and you can buy a ticket from the driver. Another photogenic tram (see the photo above) is on Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo. This yellow tram is much smaller and only goes up and down one steep street.

Visit Alfama District and Listen to Fado Music

You can take the tram to Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon. Alfama remained untouched during the devastating earthquake of 1755, so its narrow streets still have that picturesque charm. In the 19th century, the famous Fado music originated in this old neighborhood. Consequently, you’ll find numerous Fado houses where you can enjoy Fado music along with a meal and drinks. Most Fado houses are located around the square near the Fado Museum and typically open around 7 pm.

Tip: If you want to learn about the history of Fado music in addition to listening to it, it’s fun to book this Alfama tour, which also includes a visit to a Fado house for live music.

Climb Castelo de São Jorge

Castelo de São Jorge is the most famous castle in Lisbon, perched on a 110-meter-high (361-feet-high) hill in Alfama. It’s one of Lisbon’s oldest structures, built by the Moors on the remains of a fortress from the 5th century. From here, you have a stunning view of Lisbon and the Tagus River.

Castelo de São Jorge - Kasteel in Lissabon

Enjoy the View at Miradouro de Santa Luzia

A bit further, you’ll find the Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint, which is our favorite spot in Alfama. Especially around sunset, it’s a lovely and romantic place to savor the beautiful view. The square is adorned with trees filled with hundreds of pink and purple flowers, and you can see the famous Portuguese azulejos tiles.

Note: Often, African men walk around here, striking up a friendly conversation, and then giving you a bracelet. If you accept it, they will later ask for money, and since you’ve just received something from them, it can be hard to say no. To avoid this, it’s best to politely decline and not accept anything.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia - Lissabon

Photograph the Unique Santa Justa Lift

The Santa Justa Lift is perhaps one of the most beautiful elevators in the world. It’s made of wrought iron and was designed by engineer Raoul du Mesnier Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel, known for the Eiffel Tower. It connects the Baixa district with the higher Largo do Carmo. Since the elevator is not inside a building, you can capture it in its entirety in photos without going inside. If you want to take a ride up the elevator, it costs aroudn $5.

Score Unique Vintage Finds at the Feira da Ladra Flea Market

Every Tuesday and Saturday, starting at 9:00, there’s a large flea market in Lisbon called Feira da Ladra. Here, you’ll find cool vintage items like clothing and unique home decor. It’s best to go as early as possible to discover the best treasures.

Feira da Ladra flea market in Lisbon

Enjoy a Drink on the Rooftop of Park Bar

You can find coziness all over Lisbon, but one bar you shouldn’t miss is Park Bar. Located on top of a parking garage, this trendy rooftop bar offers views of the massive red bridge, Ponte 25 de Abril, which is the little sibling of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Around sunset, there’s often a DJ playing, keeping the party going late into the night.

Park Bar rooftop bar in Lisbon

Indulge in a Pastéis de Belém

The Pastéis de Belém is the most famous delicacy in Portuguese cuisine. The bakery of the same name has been making them according to a secret recipe, known only to the owner and two head chefs, since 1837. Pastéis de Belém is also the only bakery allowed to use this name; in the rest of the country, they’re called Pastéis de Nata. There’s usually a long queue at the bakery, but it’s well worth the wait. The crispy pastry is filled with cream and generously dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. If you’d like to learn how to make this typical Portuguese treat yourself, you can do so at the 2-hour Pastéis de Nata workshop.

Visit the Torre de Belém

After the bakery, you can head straight to the Torre de Belém. This old defensive tower stands in the water and is a beautiful architectural marvel. It was built in the 16th century between 1514 and 1520, and if you have time, you can also explore its interior. Since 1983, the Torre de Belém has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Tip: On the first Sunday of every month, admission is free.

Visit the Jerónimos Monastery

Also located in the Belém district, the Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most beautiful buildings in Lisbon. The monastery was built as a thank-you for the successful voyage to India by explorer Vasco da Gama. The discovery of this sea route made King Manuel I the wealthiest monarch in Europe. The monastery is made of limestone and lavishly decorated with Oriental and Moorish designs. You can purchase an entrance ticket here in advance to skip the often long line at the ticket counter.

Find Refreshment in the Estufa Fria Botanical Garden

Located in the vast city park of Parque Eduardo VII, you’ll find the Estufa Fria botanical garden. This is a fantastic place for plant enthusiasts, as the three different greenhouses house thousands of different plant species. Each greenhouse has a different climate, so you’ll find entirely different plants in each one. The cold greenhouse is particularly pleasant for seeking respite from the summer heat in Lisbon. The entrance fee is only around $4.

Estufa Fria botanical garden in Lisbon

Stroll Across Praça do Comércio

At the site where a grand palace once stood, you’ll now find the Praça do Comércio square. Due to the 1755 earthquake, the palace was so heavily damaged that it was not rebuilt. Today, you’ll find many restaurants here, as well as the beautiful Triumphal Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta), which was reconstructed about 20 years after the earthquake.

Paragliding Along the Coastline

If you want to do something truly unforgettable during your Lisbon city trip, paragliding along the Portuguese coastline is highly recommended. Not only does it offer a beautiful location, but it’s also more affordable in Lisbon than in many other places. Together with an instructor, you’ll run down the hill until the wind picks you up. Then, you’ll enjoy a relaxing flight along the coast while taking in the breathtaking views of the ocean. What a wonderfully liberating experience!

paragliding in Lisbon

Take a Day Trip to Sintra

With a 40-minute train ride, you can reach the town of Sintra, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. Here, you’ll find colorful castles, palaces, and mansions, often surrounded by beautiful gardens. Sintra has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995, and you can read our tips for Sintra to find out which palaces and castles are the most beautiful to visit during your day trip. If you don’t have much time but want to see all the highlights in the Lisbon area, then this day tour is recommended. This tour includes visits to Sintra, Cascais, and Cabo da Roca all in one day.

Sintra lissabon Sintra lissabon uitstapje

Explore the Creative LX Factory

Lisbon had a large abandoned factory site, but since 2008, it has been transformed into a mini-city for creative minds called LX Factory. As soon as you step inside, you’ll see street art everywhere, cozy cafes, and shops where people sell their often self-designed products. Wander around, search for a unique souvenir, and relax with some food and drinks. Whatever you do, don’t miss the unique Ler Devagar bookstore.

Taste Portuguese Flavors at the Mercado da Ribeira Food Court

Time-out Mercado da Ribeira is Lisbon’s largest fresh market, where locals have been buying their fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, fish, and seafood for years. Inside the building, you’ll also find a food court with over 40 different food stalls offering the tastiest dishes Lisbon has to offer. It’s a place where locals meet up with friends, creating a lively atmosphere. Be aware that it can get very crowded during lunchtime, so if you spot an available table, make sure to grab it.

Looking for a quieter place? In the Campo de Ourique neighborhood, you’ll find the Mercado de Campo de Ourique food hall. This food hall is smaller and quieter, but you’ll still have a wide variety of traditional dishes, sandwiches, sushi, and more to choose from.

food in Lisbon

Discover Lisbon’s Nightlife on Pink Street

Lisbon boasts a vibrant nightlife, and there are several nightlife areas, but the most remarkable is Pink Street. If you want to go out in Lisbon, this is the place to be. When the bars in Bairro Alto close, you’ll see most people head here to party until the early hours in one of the cozy bars and clubs. During the day, it’s quiet, and you can see why Rua Nova do Carvalho got the nickname Pink Street.

going out on Pink Street in Lisbon

Spend an Afternoon at the Beach in Cascais

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Lisbon for a while and spend an afternoon relaxing at the beach, you can take the train to Cascais. This charming coastal village has several beaches and is about a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre train station. Keep in mind that it can get quite crowded, and the water can be chilly.

Tip: If you’re on a Portugal road trip, Cascais is also a great place to stay after Lisbon. From here, you can make several beautiful day trips to various attractions in the region, such as Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Ursa Beach. You can find more information in our tips for Cascais article.

More beautiful beaches in Lisbon and the surrounding area? Here are a few more tips:

Praia de Carcavelos: If you want to stay close to the city but still enjoy a day at the beach, this one is located between Lisbon and Cascais. You can swim, sunbathe, and even take windsurfing lessons here. There are also several bars and restaurants nearby where you can grab something to eat or drink between sunbathing sessions.

Ribeira das Naus: This is essentially a river beach located near the center of Lisbon. This waterfront spot has been transformed from a harbor into a nice place to chill over the past few years. If you’re tired from exploring the city, sit on one of the benches or grassy areas here and enjoy a beautiful view of the Tagus River and the sunset.

Praia do Meco: If you’re into surfing, this beach is further from the city but offers excellent surf conditions and plenty of space to relax.

beach in Lisbon, Cascais

Visit the Carmo Convent

The Carmo Convent is an imposing ruin of a large monastery that partially collapsed during the Lisbon earthquake. Most of the roof has collapsed, leaving only the skeleton of the building. In the part that still has a roof, you’ll find a museum with unique objects, such as a sarcophagus from Egypt, two mummified children from Peru, and Portuguese azulejos (painted ceramic tiles) that are over 200 years old.

Carmo Convent in Lisbon Lisbon attraction Carmo Convent

Tips Before Your Trip to Lisbon

Here are two quick practical tips for your visit to Lisbon.

#1 See Many Lisbon Attractions & Museums? Save Money with the Lisboa Card

The Lisboa Card is Lisbon’s official tourist card. If you plan to do and see a lot during your visit to Lisbon, this card will save you a lot of money. With the Lisboa Card, you get free access for 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours to 37 of the most beautiful attractions and museums, and you don’t have to wait in line at the ticket counters. You can also travel unlimited for free on buses, trams, and the metro. The train to Sintra and Cascais is also included.

#2 Book an Airport Pick-Up in Advance

If you’re flying from the Netherlands to Lisbon, it’s advisable to book an airport pick-up in advance. Someone will be waiting for you at the airport with a name sign. This way, you can be sure you won’t be scammed, and you can go directly to your hotel without any hassle. A private transfer from the airport costs around $25 for 3 people and can be booked here.

what to do in Lisbon

Best Restaurants in Lisbon

Lisbon boasts more than 5000 restaurants, so finding good food is never a problem. One fun place to grab a bite is the Time Out Market. Here, you’ll find dozens of stalls under one roof, each offering something different and delicious, such as steak, sushi, pasta, or a tasty dessert. For a good lunch, Cafe Janis and Boutik are our favorites. Both places serve delicious sandwiches, bowls, and smoothies, and Boutik also offers some trendy clothing. If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, you must visit Sanskar Nepal. It may not look very cozy, but the food is delicious! If you’re a wine lover and want to try typical Portuguese products, then this food and wine tour is a great choice. Lastly, we recommend Tantura restaurant, which serves delicious Israeli food and offers many vegan options as well.

Transportation in Lisbon

Lisbon is a sprawling city, and you can’t explore everything on foot. When you map out all the popular Lisbon attractions, you’ll see that they are divided into three areas of Lisbon. Most attractions are within walking distance of the Bairro Alto district, then in the Alfama district, and finally, a few are near Belém. It’s wise to explore one of these districts each day, so you’re not constantly traveling back and forth between them, and you can visit everything in these areas on foot. To travel between the districts, you can use trams, but Uber is often cheaper. There are also electric scooters available from various providers throughout the city.

Where to Stay in Lisbon?

By far the most enjoyable neighborhood to stay in Lisbon is Bairro Alto. In this district, the most beautiful attractions are within walking distance, and there are countless charming cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops where you can shop endlessly. The picturesque narrow streets of Bairro Alto are iconic for all of Lisbon. Another good base to explore Lisbon is the Baixa district. This is the heart of Lisbon and is located right in the center of the city. Unlike the rest of Lisbon, the streets here are largely wide and straight. The Alfama district is also a very nice area to stay in. The famous fado music originated in this district in the 19th century. If you want to read more about these neighborhoods, check out our article on the best neighborhoods in Lisbon + hotel tips.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Lisbon

One of the best places to stay is Dear Lisbon – Charming House. The name suggests that it’s a small-scale, charming, and wonderfully romantic place to stay. There’s a beautiful patio with a pool, where you can escape the city’s hustle and bustle. If you have a smaller budget, Selina Secret Garden is a great option. The atmosphere is cozy, there’s a nice pool, a pool table, and a rooftop terrace. There are nice double rooms in various price ranges, but also comfortable dormitories with plenty of privacy. The only downside is that the rooms can be a bit noisy. If you prefer to stay super central in the Baixa district, then book your stay at My Story Hotel Ouro. The rooms are soundproof, and an extensive breakfast buffet is available in the morning. This is a great way to start your day!

Tip: These accommodations are extremely popular and are often fully booked well in advance, so book as early as possible if you’d like to stay here.