Lisbon is a great destination for a long weekend escape: it’s a multicultural, passionate, multifaceted city, and it will conquer you with its mix of modern and old-fashioned. So, what to do in Lisbon? Here are 17 things to do in Lisbon that you need to include in your Portuguese itinerary.
1| Find a bakery. Lisbon will certainly become a favourite destination for visitors with a sweet tooth: from the famous Pastéis de Nata in Belém, to tartes de maça, to travesseiros in nearby Sintra, Lisbon is a city in which to indulge your senses.
2| One of the things to do in Lisbon is to admire the view at one of many Lisbon’s Miradoures: at night, from sunset on, the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcantara gets pretty busy with students who meet here.
Off the beaten path tip: for a less known, but equally beautiful spot, head to the Miradouro do Monte Agudo (Rua Heliodoro Salgado, underground stop: Graça).
3| Go treasure hunting at Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s most famous flea market.
Every Tuesday and Saturday, from 7am to 6 pm, you will find hundreds of stalls selling literally anything. Vintage lovers and non will love to seek out weird souvenirs, but pay attention to your valuables while walking … there must be some reason if the place is called “thieves market”!
The best way to get to the market is combining it with the ride on tram 28, and getting off at Arco de São Vicente.
4| Drink some Ginjinha, a typical Portuguese liquor made of a cherry-alike berry.
One shot usually costs 1 euro and you can have it also with a cherry or a chocolate wafer.
The most popular bar to try it is A Ginjinha (at Rossio, Largo de São Domingos 8), but it’s also very popular in the café around Praça da Figueira.
5| Riding tram 28 from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique is a great way to understand the geography of the city and to avoid some uphill walk.
This is definitely one of the most famous tourist attractions in Lisbon, and trams get very packed at midday and peak hours when the locals come back from work: to avoid the crowds try and go before 11 am, even earlier in the summer.
7| Lisbon is a city that doesn’t sleep: start the night at Bairro Alto (this neighborhood at day time is absolutely desert, with shops closed!), and sip Morangoska (a cocktail made with vodka and fresh strawberries) and Caipirinha in one of the many bars. Cocktails and shots are cheap, at about 3-4 euros.
Tip: the best night to party with the locals is Thursday, not Friday, when many students go back home and are mostly tourists to fill the streets.
8| Alfama is one of those places where all you need to do is wandering around, at your own pace.
In the Alfama you can breathe Lisbon’s past: the neighborhood survived to the 1775 earthquake and is the oldest are of the city, so put away that map and walk through the alleyways and the narrow streets.
9| If relatives and friends have asked for a souvenir, this time get them something different from those boring pins and shot glasses. At Conserveira de Lisboa (in the Baixa, Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34) all they sell is canned food. The shop has been running since 1930, when canned food was popular because affordable and but now it’s become some gourmet canned food. You find here the typical sardines, tuna and mackerels together with mousse of codfish and stuffed squids.
10| In a list of things to do in Lisbon, a day trip to Sintra is a must-do. This is such a weird, and at the same time magical place! A cute village surrounded by lush, green hills, it seems to be coming out of a fairy tale with all of its palaces and castles. The most famous, and the one that I visited, is the Palácio Nacional da Pena, a romantic and quite eccentric castle that has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site.
To reach Sintra take the train from Lisbon Rossio station, that runs every 15 minutes (€4.30 for a return ticket).
11| I love food markets, don’t you too? They are one of the best places to mingle with the locals and truly catch the feeling of a place. The Mercado de Alvalade Norte (Avenida Rio de Janeiro; Mon-Sat 7-14) is a daily farmer market where you can buy food directly from the local producers; it has become trendy since Anthony Bourdain visited it during his TV show.
Check out also the coloured Mercado 31 de Janeiro, located in the Saldanha neighborhood (Rua Engenheiro Vieira da Silva; Mon-Sat 7-14).
12| Cabo da Roca was one of the highlights of my holiday. It’s the westernmost point in mainland Europe and it feels like it’s the end of the world. There’s not much there but a lighthouse, a restaurant, and a souvenir shop but the rocky and wild landscape are totally worth the diversion.
At sunset time it’s even better! Tip: bring a sweater, it gets very windy up there!
It’s easy to get to Cabo da Roca from both Cascais and Sintra, by taking the Scotturb bus number 403 that takes about 40 minutes.
13| In each “What to do in Lisbon” type of guide you’ll find this recommended, and it’s indeed an unmissable one when visiting the city.
Listen to some Fado, Lisbon’s traditional music genre, characterized by the slow and melancholic rhythm and recently added to the Unesco’s list of World’ s Intangible Heritage.
Choose carefully the venue: most places in the Alfama offering thise “dinner+fado” packages are exclusively touristic, overpriced and I’ve been told that the food is nohing but mediocre.
I listened to a local friend and headed to A Tasca do Chico in Bairro Alto (Rua do Diário de Noticias, 39), which is a simple, and small bar where on Mondays and Wednesdays you can sip some red wine while listening to fado singers alternating every 15 minutes. A good alternative for budget travelers like me!
14| Time to bring out the kid in you. When you’re so tired from sightseeing that every church and every square looks the same to you, head to the modern Parque das Nações area (underground station: Oriente) and head to the Oceanarium or the Pavilhao do Conecimento: here I had great fun experimenting with science, and riding a suspended bike was the highlight…yup, I’m a big kid!
15| For a great, but off the tourist path, viewpoint over Lisbon, from Cais de Sodré take the ferry to Cacilhas, on the other bank of the Tagus river: the Transtejo Cacilheiros takes only ten minutes (departing every few minutes during the week and every 30 minutes in the weekend, one way ticket €1.05). Cacilhas is a picturesque district where you will breathe an authentic Lisbon feel; try one of the many good seafood restaurants or climb the Cristo Rei, Rio look-alike, statue (Alto do Pragal, Avenida Cristo Rei; entrance €4,00, daily 9.30-19) to have a great view of the San Francisco’s Golden Gate look-alike bridge… did anyone say it’s a small world?
16| If you love ethnic food as much as I do, head to the Martim Moniz area full of African, Asian and Middleastern restaurants; the Mouraria Shopping center (Rua da Mouraria 1)is the place where to buy ingredients for trying and cook your own ethnic dinner.
Tip for strong stomachs: sushi can easily become an expensive choice, but all-you-can eat (good) sushi dinner at Japonês Dao (Rua da Palma 245) for, SIT DOWN, €9,90 (at lunch €6,60)?? What are you waiting for?
17| Still have time and wondering what to do in Lisbon? This is guaranteed to make you feel like a local.
Sit down at a café, relax, and enjoy some people-watching: this is what the people in Lisbon do.
What are your tips and suggestions for things to do in Lisbon?
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