This article will look at some of the best things to do in Lisbon. It's a city where history, culture, and the spirit of discovery come alive. Whether you're an art enthusiast, a foodie, or someone who simply loves to explore new places, Lisbon will have something for you.
This guide brings you 16 must-visit spots in Lisbon that showcase what makes this city unique. From mouthwatering local treats to awe-inspiring views, you'll find plenty of activities that are not unique things to do in Lisbon but ones that are truly worth your time.
1. Take a River Cruise
First on our list of things to do in Lisbon is a river cruise, and the Lisbon Yellow Boat River Hop-On Hop-Off Tour lets you do just that. You get a 24-hour ticket and the freedom to explore at your own pace. Hop off at must-see places like the Belém Tower or the Christ the King monument, or just enjoy the ride for the whole loop.
The Tagus River offers a calm, relaxed way to see Lisbon. Under the April 25th Bridge, you'll get close-up views of key landmarks. The boat trip itself is a pleasant experience, with recorded commentary informing you about the sights you pass by.
People who've done this tour recommend it for its incredible sights and freedom. It's a hassle-free way to get around, and you'll gather some great photos.
2. Visit Belém Tower
Looking for a slice of history? Belem Tower is a must-visit. It's one of the most tourist things to do in Lisbon. The Belem Tower, built in the 1500s, holds great significance for Portugal as it was the launch site for numerous historic ocean journeys during the Age of Exploration. While the cost of admission might seem steep, and there could be a wait, many find the experience worth it.
The tower mixes different architectural styles; inside, it's a bit of a squeeze in places. But the views from the top? Worth it.
Visitors often mention how the tower is more than just a photo opportunity. It's a real piece of Portuguese history and one of Lisbon's most famous landmarks. Situated near the mouth of the Tagus River, Belem Tower is often called the “gateway to Lisbon.”
Go beyond the tower when you visit. The Belem area has lots going on—museums, restaurants near the sea, and other sights like the Monument to the Discoveries.
If you have a Lisboa card, it'll even cover your entry fee.
3. Walk on Avenida da Liberdade
If you're up for free things to do in Lisbon and enjoy window shopping or just want to enjoy the city vibes, you can't skip Avenida da Liberdade. Picture this: a long, wide street with trees filled with shops, hotels, and restaurants. It's like the Champs Elysees but in Lisbon.
People who've been here say it's a nice walk. The trees give you shade, and there's loads to look at, like cool statues and old buildings with neat architecture. You can start your walk at Praça dos Restauradores and head to Praça do Marquês de Pombal.
This avenue is not just a pretty face. It's got a subway running its whole length and even bike lanes and spots for electric scooters. So if you're tired of walking, you've got options.
And don't just stick to the avenue. Pop into one of the Avenida da Liberdade hotels that used to be palaces or grab a snack from a kiosk.
4. Visit Jerónimos Monastery
The Jerónimos Monastery is a must-see if you're in Lisbon. This vast building is full of history and is something special. It's known for its impressive stone carvings; the cloister is a highlight. You may face a queue to enter, particularly on warm days, but the wait is worth it. The inside offers a refreshing escape from the heat. The church part is free to enter, but the cloister costs €10. Trust us, it's money well spent and is one of the fantastic things to do in Lisbon.
The place is big, like really big. It's got more than just the church and the cloister, though. Some museums inside are great for kids, like rooms with Egyptian stuff and a navy museum with cool boats.
Also, suppose you're spending the day in the area. In that case, other spots are nearby like modern art centers, another museum about coaches (Museu Nacional dos Coches), and a restaurant with a great river view. It's all within walking distance so that you can make a day of it.
5. Visit São Jorge Castle
Even though prices have climbed since the good old days, most people reckon you still get good value for money. From touring the castle to strolling the gardens and exploring the museum, there's loads to do. Plus, now there's a spot to grab a vino, making the view even sweeter.
Some people have said it can get crowded, but they still love it. Even the lines to buy São Jorge Castle tickets usually are pretty, about 10 to 15 minutes, but if you have a Lisbon card, you can get in for free.
The place is surrounded by tall walls and ancient towers, giving you a real sense of how people lived a long time ago. You can also learn more through the items they've found in digs, like old pots and tiles.
6. Ride Tram 28
Tram 28 is like a moving postcard of Lisbon. It's a bumpy and shaky ride, so we think it's one of the more adventurous things to do in Lisbon, but that's part of the fun!
This tram can get crowded, so watch out for pickpockets; they know the trams are crowded and that tourists are easy targets.
You could face a wait to get on, maybe even around 40 minutes, according to what we have read. But trust us, it's worth it once you're on. The tram takes you through historic areas, offering a glimpse into local life. Plus, you might get treated to some street music during the ride.
7. Rossio Square
Rossio Square, or Praca Dom Pedro IV, is like the living room of Lisbon, which is why we think it's one of the cool things to do in Lisbon. It's where people meet up, hang out, and a lot of action happens. The square has the famous Rossio Square fountain and a big statue in the middle. There's a funny story: the statue might not be of Pedro IV but of some Mexican guy named Maximilian.
There's a cool theater building on one end, and the ground has a neat design that might make you feel like you're moving when you look at it. It's close to Rossio train station, so it's easy to get to, and it's a good spot if you pick a hotel because you can walk or take public transport to many places.
8. Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio is a big square right by the water, and it's one of those spots we recommend you visit if you're in Lisbon. The buildings around it are something with all kinds of fancy designs.
The square is surrounded by various restaurants and cafes, making it a great spot to relax and watch people go by. Nearby, you'll find bustling streets filled with even more places to eat and shop. Don't miss the Rua Augusta arch; it's quite a landmark. You can pay to go up and get a fabulous view of the whole area.
9. Oceanário de Lisboa
The Oceanário de Lisboa is a must-see place if you are after things to do in Lisbon with kids. This place is massive, ranking as one of the largest aquariums out there. Stepping inside feels like you're in a different universe. This giant tank is as big as four Olympic swimming pools, filled with everything from sharks to bright fish. You can view the tank from various levels, letting you get a good look at all the different sea animals.
Visitors have said they could sit for hours just staring at the big tank.
Make sure to put the Oceanarium on your list, as it's one of the best things to see and do in Lisbon.
10. Visit “A Ginjinha”
If you're in Lisbon, “A Ginjinha” is a must-visit spot, especially if you wanna taste something that's been part of the local culture for a long time. This place is one of the popular tourist things to do in Lisbon. It's near Rossio Square, and it's all about that cherry liquor called Ginjinha. Don't expect a big menu or lots of seating; it's a quick in-and-out of venue. Drinks cost 1.45€ or 1.50€ for a shot, and you can choose to have it with cherries or without.
The place is always busy, full of both locals and tourists. It's got that authentic feel; no fancy gimmicks like chocolate cups or anything—just straight-up good liquor. Yeah, the cherries can be a tart and not everyone's cup of tea, but the drink is strong and smooth.
11. LX Factory
If you're looking for a place different from the usual tourist spots in Lisbon, you have to check out LX Factory.
What is LX Factory? The area's past is industrial, but now it's a trendy meet-up spot filled with shopping and dining options. The atmosphere is artsy, drawing in a younger crowd who enjoy hanging out there.
You'll see all these small independent shops where you can pick up some unique gifts or souvenirs—no basic tourist stuff, but one-of-a-kind stuff.
If you're a coffee and cake fan, you'll want to stop by Brigadeirando. The coffee's good, and they've got many different cakes. The place itself has a fun vibe, and the staff are really friendly.
12. Explore Alfama
If you're in Lisbon, make sure to check out Alfama. It's the ancient heart of the city, full of winding alleys, vintage structures, and lookout points with amazing views. You'll feel like you've gone back in time.
Some of these streets are really steep, so it's one of the more active things to do in Lisbon. You can take the famous trams like the 28 and 12 lines to get around, but they can get crowded, and the tickets cost 3 EUR each.
A better deal might be to grab a 24-hour travel card for 6.4 EUR, which lets you use all public transport, like trams, metros, and buses. You can't buy these cards on the tram, though. You'll need to go to a Metro station for that.
Alfama has got it from the ancient architecture that shows off its past to the local Fado clubs, where you can listen to traditional Portuguese music. It's a safe area, too, even if you're walking around alone.
13. Time Out Market
Time Out Market in Lisbon is like a one-stop shop for food lovers. You'll find many different restaurants and bars in one spot in the middle of the city, so it's easy to get to on the Metro network.
If you can't decide on a single type of cuisine, then this place is a win-win. You'll find everything from local Portuguese favorites to global dishes. It's ideal for a group with different food preferences; each person can grab their own dish, and then everyone can sit down to eat as a group.
The prices are high, but you're paying for quality. it's open on Sundays, which is great because many other places aren't.
14. Try a Pastel de Nata
If you're in Lisbon, you can only leave with trying a Pastel de Nata, and Manteigaria in Time Out Market is a great place to do just that. People line up for these treats and trust me, it's worth the wait. The line moves fast so that you won't stand there for long.
Imagine a flaky pastry crust filled with sweet, creamy custard and a touch of cinnamon. It's like a perfect little package of yumminess. They're good for a quick snack or to enjoy with a coffee. And you can even sprinkle more cinnamon on top if you want to eat it like the locals do.
15. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon is a must-see if you're into art. You could easily spend a whole day exploring the art and hanging out in the garden. They've got all sorts of art from big names like Rembrandt, Degas, and Monet, plus other items from different parts of the world like Greece and Egypt.
People say it's way better than some other museums in other cities, and the Calouste Gulbenkian museum tickets are cheap.
16. Bairro Alto
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is a less crowded viewpoint in Lisbon that offers great city views. It's out of the way, but we think it's worth the trip, especially if you are a couple, as it's one of the most romantic things to do in Lisbon and a great spot for a selfie!
We recommend taking a taxi to the top and walking back down. The spot can get crowded in summer but is less busy at other times. It offers excellent views of the castle and the harbor, especially at night. Pregnant women traditionally visit a nearby church for good luck.
Lisbon is full of fantastic things to do. The city is full of life, entertainment, food to eat, and places to visit. You can spend a weekend here, or decide to move there. As a world class capital city, Lisbon offers so much to tourists and visitors. Take advantage of your time there and enjoy.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.