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The Best Things to do in Lisbon

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One of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, Lisbon is gorgeous. With a staggering number of unique attractions, there is so much to do and see in Lisbon.

There’s no denying, thanks to increased popularity in recent years, Lisbon has become a little more expensive. However, it’s still an enriching city to visit on a budget – there is also an incredible amount of free things to do in Lisbon that will have you swooning for Portugal’s capital.

Looking from the MAAT museum to the 25 April bridge in Lisbon.

Lose yourself in the city’s quaint cobblestone streets. Many are so steep they afford the most spectacular views from the top. Hang out in picturesque city parks and stroll around some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Discover Portugal’s fascinating history and incredibly gastronomy and lose yourself in the capital’s unique and vibrant culture. There is so much to do in Lisbon, we’ve narrowed down some of the best things to help you plan an unforgettable (and budget-friendly) Lisbon itinerary.

A girl crossing the street in front of an iconic yellow tram in Lisbon.
What’s on your Lisbon itinerary?

Tips for Visiting Lisbon

Grab a Lisboa Card

The Lisboa Card is a great way for visitors to make the most of the attractions Lisbon has to offer. It’s also a great starting point for those unsure of what to see and do in Lisbon.

The card includes free unlimited transport on all public transport systems. Free and discounted entry to more than 80 attractions around Lisbon. 

Cards can be purchased depending on how many days you require-

Cost:

  • €20.00 for 24 hours
  • €34.00 for 48 hours
  • €42.00 for 72 hours. The being the best value at around €14 per day.

See here for more information:  Lisboa Card 

Lisbon apartments and ornamental lights. Lisbon Attractions. Lisbon Portugal

Take the Lisbon Yellow Hop on Hop off Bus

Even if you have never considered the hop on hop off bus, they are a great way to see the best Lisbon sights without navigating public transport. They are also ideal for families with younger children.

The Yellow Bus in Lisbon is no different. With several routes or tours available, including a Yellow Boat tour, these Lisbon Tours are a great way to make the most of your time in Lisbon. It will also help you get your bearings for exploring on your own.

Prices start at €8.10 depending on the tour. Find out more about Lisbon Yellow Bus tours here.

Best Things to Do and See in Lisbon

Visit Belém

Belém is Lisbon’s most historical and monumental area four miles west of Lisbon City. Set on the waterfront, alfresco cafes line the streets and loads of beautiful gardens and parks attract people soaking up Lisbon’s delightful climate.

Belém has a wonderful vibe and a fantastic array of things to do and visit, and many of them are free.

Things to do and see in Belém

  • The Monastery of Jerónimos
  • The iconic Belém Tower.
  • The Maritime Museum.
  • The Berardo Museum Modern and Contemporary Art
  • The Discovery Monument.
Tower of Belem in Lisbon with people enjoying the surrounding park.

The Monument of the Discoveries

One of the most important things to see in the Belém neighbourhood is the 52-metre tall Monument to Discoveries. The monument celebrates the Age of Discovery and the explorers who lead the way in Portugal’s overseas expansion and in building the Portuguese Empire. 

The monument of Discoveries in Belem Lisbon.

The design represents a ship’s prow, and you’ll find the figures of over 30 prominent people who played an important role in Portugal’s expansion carved into the monument. Just in front of it, you’ll find a huge marble map of the world, showing the routes of Portuguese ships during the Age of Discovery.

There’s an option to pay to enter the monument, which includes some exhibition space and an elevator to the top, but this really isn’t necessary. The best bits of the monument can be viewed for free from the outside.

Jerónimos Monastery

One of Lisbon’s most prominent landmarks, the magnificent UNESCO listed Jerónimos Monastery, is a feast for the eyes. The massive monastery on the banks of the Tagus is one of the most notable examples of the Portuguese late Gothic Manueline style of architecture.

Intrinsically linked to the most glorious times in Portuguese history, “The Age of Discoveries”, construction began on the monastery in 1501. It lasted for a hundred years funded with the “Vintena da Pimenta” – the spice tax on trades with Africa and the East. Jerónimos was secularised in 1833 by state decree, and ownership was transferred to the charitable institution, Real Casa Pia de Lisboa.

You can visit daily except Mondays between 10.00 – 17.00.

Exterior of the impressive Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon Portugal.

Eat Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tart)

If you go to Belém for no other reason than this, all is forgiven. Make Sure You Stop at the famous Pastéis de Belém, home of the Pastel de Nata – The original and best Portuguese egg tart created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery.

This not so small bakery usually has a queue out the door and down the road- and that’s just for the takeaway tarts. Stop in, find a table and savour one of these fantastic culinary morsels. If you have time, take a Lisbon food tour or, even better, a Pastel de Nata cooking class to become more acquainted with these world-renowned tarts. 

Related: Conserveira de Lisboa. The Best Food Souvenir Shop in Lisbon

Pastel de Nata. Lisbon Portugal. Now this is the best thing to do in Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Museums and Galleries

Lisbon has an incredible array of art galleries and museums, enough to keep you going for days. The Belém Cultural Centre houses a fantastic collection including Dali, Picasso, Warhol and Magritte.

Go Lisbon has a comprehensive guide to the best in contemporary, modern and traditional exhibitions. The Lisboa Card will get you either free or discounted entry to most of these.

Tip: Many Museums and galleries in Lisbon, as in most of Europe, are closed on Mondays.

Visit One of Lisbon’s Free Museums

Many museums in Portugal are free to residents and citizens on Sundays and public holidays. But visitors to Lisbon also have a vast array of museums to choose from, all free of charge.

These are a few museums in Lisbon you can visit for free.

Museu do Dinheiro (Money Museum)

Discover the history of money around the world, including pre monetary currency, the production of banknotes and coins and money’s role in citizens lives throughout history. The exhibition offers visitors an engaging multimedia interactive experience. See the Museu do Dinheiro website for opening hours and exhibition information.

Berardo Collection Museum (Museu Coleção Berardo)

Visit Lisbon’s most acclaimed modern and contemporary art collections for free. The collection was acquired by Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo, with the assistance of friend Francisco Capelo, whose own collection is seen in Lisbon’s Mude Design and Fashion Museum is considered one of Europe’s best collections.

See works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art, including Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Magritte, Miró, Jackson Pollock, and Jeff Koons. See the Museu Coleção Berardo for opening hours and exhibition information.

MAAT Museum (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)

One of the most striking landmarks of modern architecture is a worthwhile visit on its own to simply walk around and appreciate the beauty of the structure. It also affords some of the best views in Lisbon. If you happen to be in Lisbon on the first Sunday of the month, you can see the exhibitions inside for free. See the MAAT website for more information.

The MAAT museum building with the 25 April bridge in the background.

MUDE Museu do Design e da Moda (Fashion and Design Museum)

A must-see for anyone interested in design and fashion. An acclaimed collection, see over 1000 design objects and over 1200 couture pieces by famous names such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent. The collection also includes a famous Jean Dresses gown that Renee Zellweger wore to the 2001 Oscars and Christian Dior’s landmark 1947 New Look.

See design trends from around the world, including classic pieces embracing innovative design in furnishings, glass, and jewellery from 1937 to the present. See Mude Design and Fashion Museum website for opening hours.

Núcleo Arqueológico

Discover the past lives of Lisbon and more than 2500 years of history as you climb down to the Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros.

See overlapping structures ranging from the Iron Age to the Pombaline period. You can take a free 45 minute guided tour of the ruins beneath Lisbon, or you can explore the underground world of Baixa on your own. See the Núcleo Arqueológico website for opening hours and tour times.

Stroll the Praça do Comércio

On the Tagus River banks, the main city square is one of the most scenic attractions in Lisbon. The largest royal square in Western Europe and second-largest in the continent after St. Petersburg’s Palace Square. Surrounded by bright yellow Pombaline style buildings is the Triumph Arch – Arco da Rua Augusta, a symbol of Lisbon’s recovery from the catastrophic 1755 earthquake. 

Praça do Comércio the main square in Lisbon.

The famous Equestrian statue of King Joseph I, the King of Portugal at the time of the earthquake, takes centre stage. A commemoration of the efforts King Joseph and his minister, Pombal, made in restoring the city.

However, you’ll notice that he’s facing towards the estuary – away from the city of Lisbon. Some locals believe this is a sly hint to the fact King Joseph I and his family deserted Lisbon when the earthquake hit, instead fleeing to Belém for safety.

You’ll also find Lisbon’s oldest café in Praça do Comércio, “Martinho da Arcada,” in business since 1782.

The Praça do Comércio is one of the city’s highlights, and it’s totally free to visit.

Looking up at the Triumph Arch in Lisbon.

Visit São Jorge Castle

Towering over the city, São Jorge Castle is hard to miss. With evidence of the fortification dating back to the 1st century BC, it is one of the oldest landmarks in Lisbon. It was expanded in the 11th century by the Moors and again by King Alfonso I in the mid-12th century. 

São Jorge Castle in Lisbon.

You have to pay to enter the castle, but you can walk up to the castle and walk around its exterior walls for free for one of the best viewpoints of Lisbon. From the castle walls, you can snap some great photos of Lisbon from its best angle.

Tip: During busy times when queues can be long to enter, a skip the line ticket for São Jorge Castle with an escort is a great way to maximise your time in Lisbon. See here for more details. 

Shops offering a variety of very cool antiques and designer wares. This is where to shop in Lisbon Portugal. One Day In Lisbon - Plan Your One Day Lisbon Itinerary

Related: Visit Lisbon like a local with these insiders tips to the city.

Take the Number 28 Tram

Jump on the iconic Tram 28 for a ride through the historical centre of Lisbon. These antique trams are a wonderful way to get a feel for Lisbon.

They clatter their way through impossibly narrow streets. At times, you think the tram will become wedged on corners or in-between parked cars. This is why the original narrow carriage design is still relevant today.

A ride on the tram can be a little expensive if you buy individual tickets. Expect around €3.00 a ride. However, a 24-hour travel pass will cost around €4.00, which is the best value for those visiting Lisbon on a budget. Or, use the Lisboa card, and you can hop on and hop off at any of the stops on the route. An excellent way to see the best places in the city centre.

Tip: These trams get very crowded, and pickpockets are common, so mind your belongings.

Related: Safe & Stylish Anti Theft Handbags for Travel

Iconic Lisbon trams climb the narrow city streets.

Walk the Route of Tram 28

Tram 28 is, without doubt, one of the most famous attractions in Lisbon. While a ride on the little yellow trams is a must, there is another way to experience their unique place in the city. Avoid the crowded trams (and the pickpockets) and take a self-guided walking tour of the Tram 28 route.

The famous number 28 Yellow tram in Lisbon.

Tram 28 route runs from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, passing through the famous tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela, passing many of the most famous and beautiful spots in the city – it’s like a quick tour of Lisbon’s highlights. The entire route is around 7km.


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Exploring the route on foot, you can stop at places that interest you and explore the area slowly from street level rather than from a crowded tram as it hurtles through the narrow streets. 

It will take a couple of hours to walk it, but think of the time you’ll spend queuing to get on the jam-packed tram at each stop you jump off at.

Pretty narrow streets of Lisbon.

Ride the Funiculars

As iconic as Lisbon’s trams, so are the cities funiculars and “elevadores”.

Like the ancient city of Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills. The town planners of Lisbon designed a series of funiculars and lifts to move people and goods between the upper and lower neighbourhoods.

There are three funiculars in Lisbon – Ascensor da Glória, Ascensor da Bica and Ascensor da Lavra and one elevator – the Elevador de Santa Justa. Take a ride on these charming modes of transport dating back to the late 1800s. You are always guaranteed sweeping views from the top.

The ornate Santa Junta Lift in Lisbon Portugal.

Explore Historic Alfama

The Alfama district is the oldest neighbourhood in the city and the only neighbourhood to survive the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Wandering around Alfama, you get a real feel of what the ‘old’ Lisbon must have been like. Mazes of narrow cobblestone streets, flowered balconies, traditionally tiled facades and hidden cafe culture.

Alfama has given inspiration to novelists and poets throughout history so has a reputation for being historic but also slightly bohemian. It is also home to a thriving Fado restaurant and music scene.

Building facades with intricate blue tiled walls in Belem, Lisbon Portugal. Belem is one of the best free things to see in Lisbon. Best things to do in Lisbon. Visit Alfama

Historically, The Alfama was associated with poverty and poor conditions. However, as Lisbon became an international tourist destination, Alfama shrugged off its less-than-flattering reputation to showcase itself as one of the most charming and quaint areas in the city.

Views over Lisbon and the Tagus from the top of the city.

The best way to explore the Alfama is to aimlessly wander the steep cobbled streets, stopping to take in each panoramic viewpoint, and see how the historic neighbourhood continues to survive by reinventing itself alongside lifelong locals with restoration projects, a modern cafe scene and independent boutiques. 

Lisbon Walking Tour Recommendation

Discover Lisbon’s Hidden Gems with a Local Guide on a 3hr Walking Tour. 

Get off the tourist trail with a Lisbon local on a private walking tour. Prices start at €22 pp which includes a local guide, food tasting and drinks at Lisbon’s oldest ginjinha bar. Find out more here.



Catch a Free Fado Show

Lisbon is the birthplace of Fado, the soulful melancholic genre of music that can be traced back to the 1820s. Catching a fado performance should be on everybody’s Lisbon bucket list. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fado tourist traps that charge a fortune.

It might be easy to think that fado only exists nowadays in overpriced tourist restaurants, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are quite a few places in Lisbon that offer free fado performances.

Narrow streets of Alfama with a Fado mural.

The locals’ favourite is Tasca do Chico. This beloved fado institution, open since 1993, has free fado shows every night at 8 pm. You can make a reservation, or just show up (but make sure you get there early as it’s very popular.). As you watch the fado, it’s customary to order some drinks or a round of tapas, but you can just order something very cheap (like a beer) to catch the free performance.

Feira da Ladra Flea market

Located in Campo de Santa Clara, the market is held every Tuesday and Saturday from early morning to mid-afternoon.

Lisbon’s version of London’s Portobello Market, Fiera da Ladra, loosely translates to “thieves market”. This type of flea market is thought to have been around Lisbon since the 12th century, but the “Feira da Ladra” was first recorded in the 17th century.

You’ll find all kinds of trash and treasure from artisan wears and antiquities, furniture, CD’s, socks and second handbooks. Get there early to snag a bargain, or go for a browse.

LX Factory

LX Factory is a former industrial site in Alcântara repurposed into a multi-use space for creatives. The cosmopolitan city within a city hosts markets, exhibitions, cafes, concerts and parties. You can eat, sleep, shop and play all in one creative hub. You can even get a shave or a haircut.

There are no limits to what events or exhibitions you might find at LX on any given day. Head to LX Market on a Sunday for some fabulous artisan retail therapy at the weekly market and a lovely Sunday vibe.

People enjoying the outdoor cafes at the LX Market in Lisbon.

Reatail Therapy at Embaixada

Embaixada is a unique concept mall located in one of the most iconic buildings in the trendy neighbourhood of Príncipe Real. The Ribeiro da Cunha Palace, a stunning 19th century neo-Arabian Palace, has been transformed into a shopping and gallery space focusing on Portuguese design, craftsmanship, fashion, gastronomy and culture.

Browse an array of original Portuguese designers and artists or pop in for a drink or a meal and languish in the buildings incredible beauty.

Fill Your Belly at Time Out Market

Sample the best of Lisbon under one roof. A huge selection of food outlets, bars, stores and music venues all under one roof. The world’s largest gourmet food market was once home to Lisbon’s best produce vendors.

The massive space now has a great collection of food carefully sampled and selected as the best in the city. From burgers to pizzas, sushi and of course Portugal’s famous bacalhau, you’ll find the best selection at Time Out. You’ll also find a cooking school, bars, and a club, so look out for live events on the Time Out Market site

The interior of the Time Out Market gourmet food hall in Lisbon.

Explore Lisbon’s Street Art

Although the street art scene isn’t as widely known as the scenes in Berlin and London, street art in Lisbon is surprisingly great – even more so because it is not as well known so even more rewarding.

Following the 1974 revolution, the city’s walls became covered in political murals almost overnight. Today, street art has become such an important part of the city that artistic graffiti is sponsored by the Lisbon City Council.

Street art in Lisbon.

There are so many fascinating street art pieces in the city that it would be impossible to list them all, but to start, head to Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus. Here, you’ll find a piece recalling the leftist propaganda that covered the area in the 1970s. For another stand-out piece, head to Calçada do Menino Deus, where you’ll see a clever piece that used the street’s cobblestones to create a mural of Fado superstar Amália Rodrigues. You can find some more street art locations here.

Lisbon’s Famous Viewpoints (Miradouros)

As it’s on a steep hill, Lisbon has no shortage of viewpoints overlooking the colourful city. The Portuguese word for viewpoint is ‘miradouro‘ so if you search this in Google Maps you’ll see results of place names with Miradouro in front. Chances are you’ll already be close to a viewpoint or two.

Looking over Lisbon and the Tagus from a viewpoint.

The viewpoints are particularly popular at sunset as you get expansive views of the sky as well as the city. However, the viewpoints are great to visit at any time of day. If you want to visit without crowds, try the afternoon when it is hottest, you’ll probably be the only one there.

For some of the best viewpoints in the city, head to Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, and Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.

Views over Lisbon and the river.

Panorâmico de Monsanto

Opening its doors in 1969, the 600 seat Restaurante Panorâmico de Monsanto was once the pearl of Lisbon. An architectural wonder with 360° views over the city, the restaurant is remembered fondly by locals. After a series of financial and management issues, the restaurant was abandoned in 2001. The building fell into disrepair and was only visited by random wanderers and graffiti artists.

people walking through the graffiti covered ruin of Panoramico de Monsanto in Lisbon.
Photo by Miguel Tomás on Unsplash

In 2017, Lisbon’s most loved viewpoint opened again to the public as one of the cities best displays of urban art.

While still essentially derelict, there are so many reasons to visit. On the ground floor, you will find beautiful tile panels by Manuela Madureira. The spiral staircase and original floors give insight into how beautiful the restaurant must have been.

But it is on the third floor where the trip becomes truly worthwhile for the magnificent views over Lisbon, including a birds-eye view of the Aqueduto das Águas Livres. Restaurante Panorâmico de Monsanto is a fantastic photo opportunity for the street art, the building and the views. Open between 9.00 am – 6.00 pm you can find out more about Panorâmico de Monsanto here.

See Lisbon’s Version of the Golden Gate Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril)

Okay, so it’s not actually called the Golden Gate Bridge – it’s called the Ponte 25 de Abril the 25th of April Bridge. But it’s undeniable that the bridge in the Belém neighbourhood looks strikingly similar to the iconic San Franciscan one.

The Bridge’s name has a complicated history. When it was built in 1966, it was named Salazar Bridge, after the Portuguese dictator. When he was overthrown, the bridge was renamed to celebrate the date of the revolution, the 25th of April.

Looking over the Tagus river to the 25 April bridge in Lisbon.

The 25th of April Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge is similar in length (2.5km), were built by the same company, and are painted the same colour. The only noticeable difference is the gaps on the main arches – in San Francisco, they’re square, and in Lisbon, they’re a diamond shape.

You can’t actually walk across the bridge. Still, it’s worth walking along the river from the Monument of Discoveries to get closer to it and snap some photos with the iconic statue Cristo Rei on the southern banks of the Tejo.

Head to the Beach

Lisbon isn’t exactly on the coast (it’s on an estuary), but it’s close enough. There are a ton of beaches you can visit on day trips from Lisbon.

Cascais Beach in Portugal with a ferris wheel on the foreshore.

The best beaches near Lisbon are Praia de Carcavelos, Praia da Conceição in the town of Cascais (which also has great coastal walks that are free), and Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras.

Unfortunately, none of these beaches is walkable from Lisbon (the nearest beach, Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras, is 17km away). However, the train fares are as low as €1.55 each way, which is totally worth it for a full day of free relaxation at the beach and spectacular coastal walking.

Day Trips From Lisbon

If you’ve explored the Lisbon highlights and find yourself with more time, there are many fabulous day trips from Lisbon. Many are closer to the city centre than you might think. We have a comprehensive list of day trips from Lisbon here, but these are a few to get you planning.

There are a number of Lisbon day tours that include all of the highlights of the Portuguese countryside and coast near Lisbon. Discover the fairytale charm of Sintra, visit the beach and admire the stunning coastline at the westernmost point of continental Europe at Cabo da Roca and enjoy the unique coastal town vibe of  Cascais. Full-day tours start at around USD 40 pp. You can find out more here.

Sintra Day Trip

How about a half-day Sintra tour to admire the beautiful UNESCO listed Pena Palace in one of the most picturesque destinations in Portugal. Only 30 minutes from the city, it’s one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon.

Cascais Day Trip

Make your way to the coastal resort town of Cascais, only 30 km west of the city. Popular for its sandy beaches and busy marina. The charming beachfront old town is home to the medieval Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort and the Citadel Palace, a former royal retreat.

Évora Day Trip

Only an hour and a half from Lisbon, the capital of the Alentejo, is a must-visit destination in Portugal. There is so much to do in Évora a day tour is the best way to maximise your time. Day tours from Lisbon start at around €70 pp and include guides, transport, wine tastings and much more. See here for a full list of tours

See More of Portugal With This One Week Portugal Itinerary

Stream out towards the sea and light house Cascais Portugal. Best places to visit in Portugal

As you can see, there is so much to do in Lisbon for free. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, checking out the views of the city from a miradouro, or enjoying the sounds of a free fado performance, a trip to Lisbon doesn’t have to break the bank.

Where To Stay in Lisbon

There are plenty of great hotels in Lisbon, but as with many cities, we find a self-contained apartment to be a great way to enjoy Lisbon and often cheaper than staying in a hotel room. We often stay in a centrally located apartment so we can be close to all the Lisbon highlights and still have the advantage of self-catering when we don’t feel like eating out.

This comprehensive guide on where to stay in Lisbon gives you the low down on the best neighbourhoods to stay in Lisbon.

Search the Latest Hotel Deals for Lisbon

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Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Portugal

The most important travel purchase you should make is travel insurance. Get a free quote from World Nomads Travel Insurance.

This travel guide to Lisbon was put together in collaboration with Ella Moore.

Ella is the author behind the travel blog Many More Maps, which is all about fitting travel around the 9-5. As a tried and true budget backpacker, she loves nothing more than travelling the world on as little money as possible. When she’s not working in London, you’ll find her on a free walking tour or frantically researching the best free things to do in a city before she arrives there. Her favourite countries to travel in on a budget are Portugal, Russia and South Africa.

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