Lisbon is beautiful no matter which part of the year you are coming to visit it. You will be able to enjoy a nice and moderate climate thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Lisbon offers a lot of sightseeing activities, cultural sites, cool party districts and many tour options into the surroundings. We have compiled for you the ultimate Lisbon bucket list. It might be useful for all travellers to the Portugal capital.
What to see in Lisbon
An urban market created from scratch in 2014 by the team of Time Out Portugal. The market has 26 restaurants, 8 bars, a dozen shops and a high-end music stage. All with the very best in Lisbon. The best steak, the best sushi and the best live performances. Besides that the Time Out market also gives home to some of the city’s best known (and longest-running) market vendors of meat, fish, fruit and flowers. It’s the perfect destination for good food selection any time of the day.
Of course, before the Time Out takeover it stood here an old market: “Mercado da Ribeira Velha” that dates back to the 12th century. However during the years and centuries the earthquakes destroyed it. Then they renovated several times, and functioned as a classic market for many years. Until the Time Out team won the renovation pitch.
The ultimate party street of Lisbon is Rua Nova do Carvalho, the so called Pink street. As you can imagine, there are pink carpets on the street, and additional pink paintings on the surface.
And needless to say, this was once the red light district in Lisbon. Today, you still have a good selection of bars to choose from in the Pink street. They named the bars and clubs after port cities or countries like Tokyo, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc. Tokyo and Jamaica are now trendy clubs and you have other smaller and cosy ones lie Pensão Amor. Unlike Bairro Alto that closes at around 2am, the party goes here till the morning!
The yellow tram 28 is one of Lisbon’s most iconic symbols. Anyone visiting Lisbon will stop and turn to the sound of a tram squealing its way on the rails. These antique electric vehicles are the city’s most photographed public transportation and Lisbon tram 28 is the star among them. It goes through all the center districts, via 30 stops from Praça Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique (Prazeres). A single ticket purchased onboard the tram costs €3.
Bairro Alto – the Upper Town, like Alfama, has medieval origin. It’s a colourful and cozy world, where drying clothes are not uncommon in the stone-framed windows and lattice balconies. There are small shops on the ground floors of the buildings. Its cozy, winding, cobbled streets were once dominated by gamblers, and today are the home of bars and clubs. Here you will find the best Fado cafes that sound the tune of sadness and despair. It is representing the bohemian part of Lisbon, the favourite of many visitors.
It is the oldest and most characteristic quarter of Lisbon. During Moorish rule, this quarter formed the center of the city. Today it is a small colourful and cozy village in the middle of the city. Its name comes from the Arabic word for bath or spring. The neighbourhood survived the massive earthquake of 1755. So the network of early medieval small squares and narrow alleys remained almost unchanged.
Most of the original Fado houses are located in Alfama, where guests can attend live music performances.
The significant building of the Alfama district is the Panteão Nacional, the Pantheon, the interior is exciting, but the panorama from its dome is simply fabulous.
The National Pantheon is located on the original site of the church of Santa Engrácia. They founded it in the second half of the 16th century. The architect João Antunes totally rebuilt the building at the end of the 17th century. It still preserves, under its modern dome, a majestic nave with a polychrome marble decoration. It is typical of the Portuguese Baroque architecture. Being an icon of Lisbon’s cityscape and having a privileged location. As it overlooks the city’s historic centre and the river Tajo, and it gives home to a National Monument.
On the edge of Alfama we can find Lisbon’s famous flea market, the so called Feira da Ladra – organized every Tuesday and Saturday, and it’s worth to know that tram 28 also stops here.
The Feira da Ladra is an interesting and almost obligatory visit in Lisbon, as browsing among its antiques and various objects stalls has become a great way to spend a Saturday morning. If you are lucky and haggle well, you can take home some souvenirs from Lisbon much more original than those ones you would find in any souvenir shop.
The citadel of St. George sits on top of Mount Tajo with its robust walls, and a fortress stood here even before the Moorish occupation. The castle is the cradle of Lisbon. It has beautiful views of the Tajo River and the medieval Alfama district. The walk is pleasant between the olive, pine and cork trees of the castle or on the castle walls. Multimedia show presents the history of Lisbon. As in a royal palace, Vasco de Gamma, returning from a trip to India, was received here.
The Santa Justa Lift – also called Carmo Lift (Portuguese: Elevador do Carmo) is an elevator, or lift, in the civil parish of Santa Justa, in the historic center of Lisbon. Situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa, it connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square).
Since its construction the lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical (conventional) one. Others, including Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Bica, are actually funicular railways, and the other lift constructed around the same time, the Elevator of São Julião, has since been demolished.
The Rua Augusta Arch is a stone, triumphal arch-like, historical building and visitor attraction in on the Praça do Comércio. They built it to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. It has six columns and statues of various historical figures. Significant height from the arch crown to the cornice imparts an appearance of heaviness to the structure. The associated space is filled with the coat of arms of Portugal. The allegorical group at the top, made by French sculptor Célestin Anatole Calmels, represents Glory rewarding Valor and Genius.
The most photographed building of Lisbon is the Belém Tower. It was built by order of Manuel I between 1515-1521. Its real beauty is given by the exterior decoration: the carved rope shape, the open balconies, the Moorish-style watchtowers. Beneath the terrace is a Gothic interior that functioned as a prison and armoury.
Pastéis de Belém – The best Pastel de Nata experience
However you name it – Pastéis de Belém, Pasteles de Belém, Pasteis de Nata or Pastel de Nata, you cannot miss the café and the store of Pastéis de Belém once you are in the neighbourhood. Undoubtedly the best Pastel de Nata that you ever will try, or already tried in your life.
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery attached to a small general store. As a result of the 1820 liberal revolution, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled. In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop, pastries that rapidly became known as ‘Pastéis de Belém’.
In 1837, the baking of the ‘Pastéis de Belém’ began in the buildings attached to the refinery, following the ancient ‘secret recipe` from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secret room’, this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. In fact, the only true ‘Pastéis de Belém’ contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honoured Portuguese sweet-making.
An absolutely must-see attraction in Belém district, a masterpiece of late Portuguese Gothic architecture. Built in 1501, the monastery is incredibly photogenic: glittering in ivory, with sharp towers and intricate marine motifs — rich in monsters and corals.
Inside is a stone tomb of Vasco da Gama, although his ashes do not rest here. He prayed in this monastery before his journey of discovery. The order of the Jerome itself considered it its duty to pray for the peace of mind of the king and the sailors.
One of Lisbon’s most famous and youngest sights, the Discoverers Monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), rises in the Belém district, opposite the Jerome Monastery, where the Tajo River flows into the sea and from where Portuguese explorers set sail.
The monument was built in 1960, on the 500th anniversary of the death of King Henry the Sailor. The king played a key role in launching expeditions to explore the world. On both sides of the monument are figures of Portuguese explorers, sailors and cartographers. The monument has temporary exhibitions, and it’s worth to climb up on the top to observe the panorama.
The 25 de Abril Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon to the municipality of Almada. It was inaugurated on August 6, 1966. The tourists often compare it to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, because they are both suspension bridges of similar colour. It was built by the American Bridge Company which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge but not the Golden Gate. With a total length of 2,277 metres it is the 43rd longest suspension bridge in the world.
From 1966–1974, the bridge was named Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar) in honour of Portuguese Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar who ordered its construction. Twenty workers died during its construction, many more than were announced at the time. After the Carnation Revolution, which overthrew the remnants of Salazar’s dictatorship, the bridge was renamed for April 25, the date of the revolution.
The Sanctuary of Christ the King is a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Lisbon situated in Almada. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited that monument. The project was inaugurated on 17 May 1959. The giant statue was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the direct destructive effects of World War II.
This visit is not only interesting for Benfica fans. The Estádio da Luz – officially named Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, is a multi-purpose stadium located in Lisbon. They use it mostly for association football matches, hosting the home games of Portuguese club S.L. Benfica, its owner. Opened on 25 October 2003 with an exhibition match between Benfica and Uruguayan club Nacional, it replaced the original Estádio da Luz, which had 120,000 seats. They decreased the seating capacity to 65,647 and is currently set at 64,642.
They elected as the most beautiful stadium of Europe in a 2014 online poll by L’Équipe.
The Fronteira Palace is a privately owned Museum-House. In order to achieve a peaceful coexistence of the inhabitants with the visitors, we can visit it only via guided tours. The gardens though we can visit without a guide or following a pre-designed itinerary with the help of audio guides. The visitors are welcome to join the monthly “thematic walks” through the gardens.
The Foundation of the Houses of Fonteira and Alorna, promotes a regular program of cultural activities. This program includes monthly meetings of the Fronteira Palace Book Club, music concerts, poetry recitals, conferences, seminars and workshops. The Foundation also hosts research projects on subjects related to the material and immaterial cultural heritage associated to the Fronteira Palace as well as the noble Houses connected to it.
It is the second best aquarium in the world. The central stone and glass building showcases the wildlife of the Oceanarium in 5 million liters of aquariums. Birds, amphibians, reptiles and of course smaller larger fish from the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Antarctic oceans.
Its specialties include the huge lunar fish, which we can only see in three Ocean scenarios in the world. Because it is very difficult to keep them in artificial circumstances.
Armenian oil magnate Gulbenkian died in 1955, leaving one of the world’s best private art collections in the Portuguese state, allowing the Gulbenkian Museum to open its doors in 1969. The museum houses works by masters such as Manet, Degas, Renoir, Rembrandt, Rubens, Rodin and many other famous art creators.
The Lalique glass jewelry collection is unique in the world. The vast and varied, breathtakingly rich collection also includes Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiques, Islamic pottery and textiles, Syrian treasures, Chinese pottery, Japanese prints and European medieval manuscripts.
What to see around Lisbon
The westernmost point of mainland Europe. For a while, this was considered even the end of the world. You’ll see why, as there’s nothing but water for kilometres ahead.
Cabo da Roca is a cape which also forms the westernmost point of the Sintra Mountain Range, of mainland Portugal, of continental Europe, and of the Eurasian land mass. It is situated in the municipality of Sintra, in the southwest of the district of Lisbon. Notably the point includes a lighthouse that started operation in 1772. There are several tours that you can join to get there. Or of course you can do it by yourself too. The only watch-out to the Atlantic are the strong winds. Be careful while exploring and avoid standing too close to the edge!
The Pena Palace of Sintra is a Romanticist castle from year 1854. It is on a top of a hill above the town of Sintra. We can easily spot it from Lisbon on a clear day. The national monument known for its architectural features and vast forested park welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
The site of Pena Palace was a medieval chapel of Our Lady of Pena until King Manuel I ordered to build a monastery which he donated to the Order of Saint Jerome. However, by the 18th century, the great Lisbon earthquake majorly damaged it. Fortunately, the chapel survived without any bigger damage, which surprised the Portugal King, Ferdinand II. Then the king decided to acquire the monastery and its surroundings. In order to build what we see today as the grand Pena Palace. They built this castle to serve as a summer residence of the King.
However, after his death, the palace was passed into the possession of his second wife Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla. Who later sold the palace to King Luis. The Portuguese State purchased it in 1889. Later it classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum.
Cascais is a municipality located on the Portuguese Riviera. The population in 2011 was 206,479, in an area of 97.40 km2. Cascais is an important tourist destination. Its marina hosts events such as the America’s Cup and the town of Estoril, part of the Cascais municipality, hosts conferences such as the Horasis Global Meeting.
Cascais’s history as a popular seaside resort originated in the 1870s, when King Luís I of Portugal and the Portuguese royal family made the seaside town their residence every September. Thus also attracting members of the Portuguese nobility, who established a summer community there. Cascais is popular for the many members of royalty who have lived there. Including King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom. When he was the Duke of Windsor, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and King Umberto II of Italy. On top of that, the exiled Cuban president Fulgencio Batista was also once a resident of the municipality.
The municipality is one of the wealthiest in both Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula. It has one of the most expensive real estate markets and the highest costs of living in Portugal.
Estoril is a town in the Municipality of Cascais. It is popular as a major international luxury tourist entertainment destination, with its luxury hotels, beaches, and the Casino Estoril. The Casino Estoril inspired Ian Fleming‘s first James Bond novel Casino Royale. Moreover, Estoril has also the fame for having been home to numerous royal families and famous personalities. Also, for hosting numerous notable events, such as the Estoril Open and the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival.
Estoril is one of the most expensive places to live in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula. It is home to a sizable foreign community and known for its luxury restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.
Where to stay in Lisbon
Like every European capital, Lisbon has crazy a lot of options for travellers. From simple hostels to luxurious resorts, the opportunities are endless. You can check our searchers below to get the best offers from in and out of Lisbon as well!
Best experiences in Lisbon
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