Looking for the best Lisbon hidden gems? Check out this offbeat Lisbon guide and find the most secret things to do in Lisbon that literally no one knows about.

Lisbon Off The Beaten Path – 16 Unusual Things To Do In Lisbon

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Soumya

If you’re looking for the most unusual things to do in Lisbon, then you’re at the right place.

Lisbon has been hot on the world tourist map for some time now with tons of amazing things to do. But that means there are lots of people too.

How do you find the most unique experiences in Lisbon without having to jostle your way through crowds?

Simple. By following our Travel Guide for the BEST HIDDEN GEMS in LISBON!

From visiting a museum of Portuguese tiles and walking on an unknown aqueduct to discovering secret churches and going on art tours, this Offbeat Lisbon Guide gives you the deets on all the quirky things to do in Lisbon.

So, let’s get started with the 16 most unusual things to do in Lisbon so that you can have a more rested and fulfilling trip.

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Explore Lisbon Off The Beaten Path

Looking for off the beaten path destinations in Lisbon? Wish to avoid the crowds? Then look no further. From walking on an aqueduct to shopping at a female thieves market, we have 9 quirky activities listed for you here. You will love them all. #lisbonoffbeat #thingstodoinlisbon #bestoflisbon #portugaltravel

16 Unusual Things To Do In Lisbon

Explore the Non-Touristy Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery

If you truly wish to explore Lisbon off the beaten track, head to the lesser-known Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery (Google Maps).

This historic monastery is a 17th-century Mannerist church located at Largo de São Vicente in Lisbon.

Apart from being one of the most stunning viewpoints in Lisbon, the monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora houses a beautiful Baroque entrance hall with a vaulted ceiling painted in the clever Trompe-l’œil technique.

Reminded me of Villa Oplontis in Italy where the rooms had these clever paintings to make them look bigger than they actually were.

Author in front of an azulejo panel at the Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora
Incredible azulejo collection at Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora – a must-have Lisbon off the beaten path experience

However, the real deal at the Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery is its incredible collection of azulejos.

You’ll notice that the cloisters are decorated with azulejo panels depicting fables of La Fontaine. Visiting the Gallery of Fables is one of the most unique experiences in Lisbon.

Many more tiles decorate the monastery walls and staircases recounting historical tales including the battles and sieges that happened in Lisbon.

The sacristy is adorned with beautiful marble and paintings.

Do not miss the creepy Braganza Pantheon that houses the tombs of Braganza family members.

The monastery is open from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, daily. Box office closes at 5:00 pm.

You can book a guided tour by requesting it on the monastery’s official website here.

📖 Related Read: Visiting Lisbon? Read our Lisbon travel guide with the top things to do in Lisbon Portugal.

Visit the National Tile Museum

Tile displays at National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon
Tiles at the National Azulejo Museum – a must-have on every unusual Lisbon itinerary

The National Tile Museum or the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (Google Maps) is yet another wonderful but offbeat attraction to add to your secret Lisbon itinerary.

The Museum is housed in a former 16th-century convent called the Madre de Deus Convent.

A walk through the museum will give you deep insights into the history of azulejo tiles in Portugal, right from the 15th century to its modern adaptations.

The Madre de Deus Convent was converted into the Azulejo Museum in 1971 to preserve the age-old art form of azulejos after it had fallen out of favor in the early 20th century.

The highlight is a panoramic panel on the top floor which showcases the skyline of old Lisbon city, before the 1755 earthquake. Don’t miss this piece.

The National Tile Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. The last entry is at 5:30 pm.

Buy your entry ticket for the National Tile Museum here.

Admission to the museum is complimentary with the Lisbon Card, in case you already have one.

Pro Tip: Love Portuguese tiles? Check out the best azulejo spots in Porto.

Discover Lisbon’s Secret Azulejo Trail

The Arrival at Restauradores Metro Station Lisbon | Stories by Soumya
Underground azulejo trail of Lisbon – can’t miss these while exploring the hidden gems of Lisbon

One of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets lies in its metro stations.

Lisbon’s metro stations are a treasure house of azulejo art. Their walls are covered with beautiful Portuguese tiles depicting the history and culture of Portugal.

If you love art and are crazy about Portuguese azulejos like I am, then you cannot miss Lisbon’s secret azulejo trail.

Underground azulejo spotting is the perfect thing to do on a rainy day in Lisbon.

Get yourself a Lisbon Card which also includes transport and hop from one metro station to another admiring the tile work.

Here are some of the best metro stations for azulejo binging – a weird thing to do in Lisbon, right?

  • Avenida, Parque, and Restauradores stations on the Blue Line (Linha Azul). The Parque metro station, clad in more than 400,000 blue tiles that create the vision of a blue dome, is very unique. I also liked the panel (pictured above) called the “Arrival” at the Restauradores Metro station in Lisbon. It was created to commemorate the 500th year of the discovery of Brazil.

  • Campo Grande, Martim Moniz, and Rossio stations on the Green Line (Linha Verde).

  • Olaias and Oriente stations on the Red Line (Linha Vermelha). The Oriente station has multiple panels depicting world maritime history.

Renowned Portuguese artist Maria Kell worked on the tile art in many Lisbon metro stations including the Parque and Restauradores stations.

Go on a Street Art Tour in Lisbon

Lisbon is full of hidden gems and one among them is the city’s fascinating collection of street art.

The city has been home to some amazing street artists including the famous Arthur Bordalo or Bordalo II and Vhils.

Bordalo II creates large mural pieces from trash and rubbish.

Seeing his art in Lisbon is probably the most sustainable way of experiencing the “City of Seven Hills” – one of Lisbon’s many nicknames.

Lisbon is one of the few places that has a high number of really good street art tours. Honestly, you’ll be spoilt for choices. Do check out the stars and the reviews in all of them.

Scale an 18th-century Aqueduct

Aquas Livres Aqueduct in Lisbon - off the beaten path
Walking on an aqueduct – a must-have offbeat experience in Lisbon

If you’re looking for alternative things to do in Lisbon, I recommend that you walk on an aqueduct.

Walking on an aqueduct is not something that we get to do every day. Therefore, it was one of the most unique experiences in Lisbon.

If you wish to do something as offbeat in Lisbon, head to the Águas Livres Aqueduct in the Alcantara Valley.

The aqueduct is 19km long and stands on 35 tall arches.

An interesting thing to note is that the aqueduct is one of the few structures that survived the disastrous Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

Built-in the early 18th century, the Aguas Livres Aqueduct is a true engineering marvel and a tentative UNESCO heritage site today.

You can access the aqueduct from its entrance in Armoreira.

The walk to the end of the aqueduct and back takes around an hour. More if you are stopping to enjoy the views of the Alcantara valley.

Midway, there is a spot where you can peep in and see the huge pipes that once carried water to Lisbon.

The aqueduct also has a Water Museum where you can learn all about Lisbon’s water supply right from the Roman times.

Get a 50% off on tickets with a Lisboa Card at the Water Museum.

Pro Tip: If you’re traveling to Portugal with your family, the aqueduct is a fun and unique thing to add to your Lisbon itinerary.

Visit Lisbon’s Secret Church of Sao Domingos

Church of Sao Domingos - A Lisbon secret spot
Scorched walls of Church of São Domingos – a unique addition to your Lisbon off the beaten path itinerary

Lisbon has so many pretty churches, including many notable ones in the neighborhoods of Alfama, Baixa, and Chiado.

Some of them are quite popular such as Se de Lisboa, the Church of Sao Roque, and the Carmo Convent.

Yet there are a few that you would have never heard of. Igreja de Sao Domingos or the Church of Sao Domingos is one of them.

A Baroque church from the 13th century, the Church of Sao Domingos has an austere facade and cool interiors painted in rusty pink.

The church survived the earthquake of 1755 and a deadly fire in 1959. You can kind of see the strain of survival kind of shows in its almost damaged walls and scorched stone pillars.

As soon as you enter the church, a strange damp feeling envelops you. But in the dampness, there is warmth. A cozy interior beckons to you.

Somehow, I felt more at peace in this old, musty church. This was my real connection with Portugal.

Right outside the church is the Star of David memorial that marks the location of an anti-Semitic massacre in 1506.

Tour the Coach Museum in Belem

Opulent coaches at the Coach Museum in Belem Portugal
Glitter and splendor at the National Coaches Museum, one of the non touristy things to do in Lisbon.

The Coach Museum in Belem is yet another secret but beautiful place in Lisbon untrodden by tourists.

Museu Nacional dos Coches is housed in an old horse riding school of the Belem Palace.

Several antique coaches, many heavily gilded, are put on display here.

These bogies were built and used between the 17th and the 19th centuries.

The history associated with some of these ornate coaches is mindblowing.

Make sure you spot the three luxurious coaches presented by the Portuguese ambassador to the Pope in Rome at the end of the gallery.

Book your Coach Museum ticket here. Admission is free with a Lisbon Card, if you already have one.

Pro Tip: The Coaches Museum is one of Belem’s unmissable attractions. Find out all the wonderful things to see in Belem in our one-day Belem itinerary.

Enjoy Ethnic Food from Africa

Eat at Angolan Restaurant for a unique experience in Lisbon
Try ethnic Angolan food for a truly unique experience in Lisbon.

Because of Portugal’s Age of Discoveries and widespread colonial pursuits, you will find ethnic immigrant communities all over the country.

A good chance is that you will stumble upon authentic Angolan and Mozambican cuisines in the bigger cities of Lisbon and Porto.

One of the most non-touristy things to do in Lisbon is to go ahead and try some ethnic African cuisine.

We tried some really good Angolan food at Casa de Angola, one of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets.

The menu was all in Portuguese and the chef and owner, Mr. Paulo Soares understood minimum English. But he was such a nice guy who made us comfortable and brought us exactly what we wanted.

We had a steamy hot bowl of Moamba (Angolan chicken stew), a gelatinous porridge made of cassava flour, beans, and an insanely hot condiment called the Gindungo.

The food was delicious and the service super.

If you’re a foodie like me, do give Angolan cuisine a try. This is, truly, one of the most unusual things to do in Lisbon.

Shop at the Quirky Lisbon Market of Female Thieves

Flea Market near National Pantheon
Experience Lisbon off the beaten track by shopping at the Female Thieves Market.

A Market of Female Thieves! Now that’s an interesting name. Isn’t it?

The Market of Female Thieves or the “Feira da Ladra” is located in the Alfama district of Lisbon and is one of the best hidden gems in Lisbon.

The market is held twice every week (Tuesday and Saturday mornings) near the National Pantheon.

Legend has it that this market has been around since the 12th century.

You will find tonnes of antiques here. Plus lots of handicrafts, local food, clothes, and other artisanal items.

Goes without saying that Feira da Ladra is the perfect spot to pick up some unique Portugal souvenirs.

Even though the market is so named, trading here is perfectly legal.

Hard to say how it got the name. But it is fascinating to imagine rebellious women stealing by the night and selling here by the day!

Pro Tip: Wondering what to shop for in Portugal? Check out our list of 16 Best Portuguese Souvenirs.

Ride Tram 24 instead of 28

Famous Tram 28 in Lisbon
Yellow and red trams offer some of the most unique experiences in Lisbon.

You will have already heard of the picturesque ride on Tram 28 in Lisbon.

But, you must have also heard of how crowded Tram 28 is. That is because it is on everyone’s bucket list for Lisbon.

We suggest you try a more comfortable ride on Tram 24 (E24) instead of 28.

It is one of Lisbon’s quietest tram routes and the best place to get a quintessential, rickety, Lisbon tram experience.

Tram 24 connects Campolide with Praca Luis de Camoes in Bairro Alto.

This tram line had been closed in 1995 after running for 90 years. It was opened up again in 2018.

Some of the must-see stops on this route are the Church & Museum of Sao Roque, the viewpoint of Sao Pedro de Alcantara, a part of Lisbon Aqueduct, and the Lisbon Botanical Garden.

📖 Related Read: Looking for more unique experiences in Lisbon? Check out our Best Things to do in Lisbon blog post.

Take in the Views at Miradouro da Graca

Miradouro Graca in Alfama
The view from Miradouro da Graca – one of Lisbon’s secret spots.

Miradouro da Graca, perched atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, provides one of the most stunning panoramic views of the city.

The breathtaking vista includes landmarks such as the Sao Jorge Castle, the Tagus River, and the 25 de Abril Bridge.

While many tourists flock to the well-known viewpoints of Alfama and Bairro Alto, the Miradouro da Graca remains one of Lisbon’s best kept secrets.

This spot is a respite from the bustling city and offers a unique perspective of Lisbon’s terracotta rooftops and narrow streets.

The presence of a charming outdoor café at the viewpoint makes it an ideal place to watch the sunset while sipping on a glass of wine.

Pro Tip: Lisbon is full of miradouros that offer panoramic views of the city. Check out our blog post on the 10 best Lisbon viewpoints.

Visit National Pantheon

View from the National Pantheon in Lisbon
The view from the National Pantheon is one of Lisbon’s best kept secrets.

Visiting the National Pantheon is one of the most non-touristy things to do in Lisbon.

Nestled in the historic district of Alfama, this magnificent Baroque monument was initially built as a church in the 17th century.

It now is the final resting place for some of Portugal’s most notable figures, including former presidents, revered writers, and the celebrated Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues.

At first, I thought the National Pantheon would be a popular Lisbon attraction, but I saw only a handful of tourists when I went in.

Then, I realized that everybody just takes pictures of the Pantheon’s majestic dome from one of the miradouros.

Very few people actually step inside, making it one of the best hidden gems in Lisbon.

It is absolutely worthwhile to visit the National Pantheon to see its ornate, marble-clad interior and the serene tombs of Portuguese celebrities.

You can also climb up to its terrace for a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Imagine getting a miradouro all to yourself, with no crowds. This is where you’ll find it.

Get your National Pantheon tickets online here. Access to the National Pantheon is free with your Lisbon Card.

Discover the Soul of Portugal at the Fado Museum

Fado musicians in Lisbon
Fado musicians in the Alfama district of Lisbon.
Image courtesy: Jacek_Sopotnicki from Getty Images via Canva Pro

The Fado Museum is a must-visit site for any traveler wanting to immerse themselves in the authentic culture of Portugal.

Located in the heart of Alfama, the Fado Museum is dedicated to the history and evolution of Fado music.

A centuries-old tradition that is inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List now, Fado is a unique music genre that has come to represent the soul and heart of Portugal.

The museum houses a vast collection of musical instruments and records. It is the best place to understand the relationship of Fado with Portuguese society and the evolution of Fado houses.

Despite its cultural significance, the Fado Museum is not often on tourists’ radar, making it easy to add to your list of things to do in Lisbon off the beaten path.

Pair it with an intimate Fado tour in Alfama and call it a day in Lisbon.

Head to the National Palace of Ajuda

Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon
National Palace of Ajuda – Lisbon off the beaten path attraction.
Image courtesy: JoseIgnacioSoto from Getty Images via Canva Pro

The National Palace of Ajuda, often overlooked by tourists, is a hidden gem in Lisbon.

This 19th-century neoclassical monument, once a royal residence, is now a museum that allows visitors to step back in time and explore Portugal’s royal history.

The palace has an extensive furniture collection, sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and decorative arts from the 15th to the 20th century.

You can also view the lavish staterooms and the opulent residences of Portuguese royals.

Access to the Ajuda Palace is free with your Lisbon Card. Or buy your Ajuda Palace online tickets here.

If you love Portuguese palaces and castles, head to Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon and explore some of the best Sintra castles.

Climb Arco Rua do Augusta

View from Arco Rua do Augusta
View of Pombaline downtown from the top of Arco Rua do Augusta.

One of the most rewarding things to do in Lisbon is ascending the Arco Rua do Augusta.

Situated at the end of the bustling Rua Augusta, this grand, triumphal arch symbolizes Lisbon’s resilience and rebirth following the catastrophic 1755 earthquake.

The arch is also home to a small but fascinating museum that delves into the history of the arch’s construction and the city’s recovery post-earthquake.

However, the real treat lies not within the arch but on the top of it.

Climbing the Arco Rua do Augusta provides a unique perspective of Lisbon, presenting a bird’s eye view of Commerce Square and the Tagus River.

From the viewpoint atop the arch, you can see the contrast of the city’s intricate, narrow streets with the expansive, open riverfront.

Almost everyone captures pictures of the arch from the Commercial Square, but no one really gets up here to get unusual Lisbon pictures from above. This makes the roof of Arco Rua do Augusta one of Lisbon’s best kept secrets.

Get your entry tickets for Arco Rua do Augusta Viewpoint here. Entry is free with a Lisbon Card.

Visit the Hidden Museums of Lisbon

Lisbon has a ton of different museums and many of them are still Lisbon’s secret spots.

I have already spoken about the National Tile Museum, the Fado Museum, and the Coaches Museum.

But here’s a list of some more interesting ones.

Roman mosaics at the Archeological Museum attached to the Jeronimos Monastery.
Roman mosaics at the Archeological Museum attached to the Jeronimos Monastery. Lisbon has many unique and unusual museums.

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Visiting the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is one of the most unique things to do in Lisbon.

A true treasure trove of art and culture, the museum is named after Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, a businessman of Armenian origin and a famous art collector.

The museum houses a vast and diverse collection of art and historic artifacts.

There are over 6,000 pieces from Gulbenkian’s personal collection.

The museum offers a fascinating journey through thousands of years of human creativity, from Egyptian artifacts and Greco-Roman sculptures to Islamic art and European paintings.

Lisbon Earthquake Museum

Looking for weird things to do in Lisbon? Head to Lisbon’s Earthquake Museum.

Not that weird for a city that has been devastated by earthquakes time and again. It is called the Quake.

Learn all about the science of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Figure out why Lisbon was so badly affected by the 1755 earthquake. The simulations take you to the medieval streets of Lisbon where you can experience what happened on that fateful day.

Maritime Museum

Portugal has a long maritime history. Goes without saying that they have a museum to depict all that history.

One of the most well-curated museums in Lisbon, the secret Maritime Museum in Belem district tells us everything about the maritime history of Portugal.

It has a vast collection of artifacts including model ships from the Age of Discovery, astrolabes, and royal barges.

Beer Museum

Visit a beer museum and celebrate the country’s gastronomy and brewing traditions by tasting various Portuguese beers.

Learn all about the history of brewing in Portugal and find out how a monastic cellar looked.

Details on the Beer Museum website here.

Immersivus Gallery

The Immersivus Gallery is Portugal’s first immersive art experience, located in the heart of Lisbon.

Boasting a unique concept, this gallery utilizes state-of-the-art digital technology to create a transformative art experience for its visitors.

Instead of traditional static art displays, the gallery offers 360-degree projection spaces where images, colors, and movements envelop visitors, creating a transformative art experience.

Its exhibitions range from reinterpretations of renowned classic artworks to contemporary digital art.

Final Thoughts on Lisbon Hidden Gems

There weren’t any crowds at these Lisbon secret spots.

Therefore, enjoying these unique Lisbon attractions and learning about them in peace was easier.

We don’t hate crowds. But sometimes, we like being alone, having the entire place to ourselves.

What about you? Do you like crowds?

Or would you rather spend the day without jostling your way through lines of people?

If yes, you will surely find our Lisbon off the beaten path travel guide helpful.

Add to your unique experiences in Lisbon. Read next.

Loved our picks for off the beaten track Lisbon attractions? Pin it for later!

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

43 thoughts on “Lisbon Off The Beaten Path – 16 Unusual Things To Do In Lisbon

  1. I love the history behind old buildings. Architecture is something I love to sight-see. There seems to be a lot of places in which I can do that in Lisbon!

    1. Lisbon is an architecture lover’s delight. So many different styles and patterns. You will love it when you get there.

  2. I love visiting some offbeat destinations of a place and it is great you listed some offbeat path things in Lisbon apart from famous attractions in Lisbon. Good to know that we can skip famous tram no 28 and ride the Tram #24. It must be a great ride on this iconic tram which ran for 90 years and then closed and now again opened up again in 2018. Even it connects Campolide to Praça Luís de Camões in Bairro Alto and it is good that it passes along some of the must-see stops on this route are the Church & Museum of São Roque, the viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcantara, and the Lisbon Botanical Garden.

    1. True, Yukti. The Tram #24 is so less crowded than 28. And the fact that you can see so many different things while riding on it made it one of our choicest attractions in Lisbon,

  3. I would so much rather visiting places where there aren’t a ton of tourists. Your list covers a lot of choices. I would walk the aqueduct for sure. It looks like you had it all to yourself. The churches look amazing. I’m always impressed with the art and tile work in the old churches, especially on the ceilings. Great list of ideas for when I get to visit Lisbon myself.

    1. Thanks, Kathleen. Glad you liked it. Yeah, we were like the only ones on the aqueduct. With few others trailing far behind.

  4. I love all these offbeat ideas! I’ve read many LIsbon posts but most of these things were new to me. The Church of São Domingos looks incredibly beautiful.

  5. I’d love to visit Lisbon and explore the churches and other landmarks. I’ve heard it’s an incredible city to travel to and this post has reinforced that! Thanks for including all these off-beat attractions – they’re so interesting!

  6. I love your colorful photo of the metro station. Lisbon has one of the most interesting metro stations I’ve seen. The monastery has such a beautiful blue floor, too!

  7. Great recommendations Soumya. I’m always looking for less crowded attractions in well-known destinations so this will be a great post to refer back to when I visit Lisbon. I think I’d especially enjoy the view from Águas Livres Aqueduct 🙂

  8. What a fascinating list. I love the name of the market and your photos of the monastery and the church are amazing. I definitely prefer to tour places that are off the beaten path so I will make sure that I keep this post for future use.

  9. I did a very quick trip to Lisbon a few years ago and while I saw a lot I didn’t see anything on this list except the tile museum – I have been wanting to goo back so badly – and look so many new things to do! Great list that will inspire me!

  10. These suggestions are all so great. I knew of a few but a good number of item are 100% new to me. Definitely saving for later.

  11. I have a thing for visiting metro stations in new countries. I am glad that you mentioned it. Lisbon sure has something for everyone. I find the tile museum interesting. I am a bit surprised to read that authentic African food is available in Lisbon. What’s not to love?

  12. Wow Soumya! There are so many places I didn’t even hear about in Lisbon or Porto. I should visit places after you’ve been there. I the good thing is that I have a list of things to do for next time.

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