Traveling to Lisbon and looking for the best things to do in Portugal's capital city? Check out this epic Lisbon travel guide with the 15 best Lisbon attractions that you cannot miss.

15 Best Things To Do In Lisbon Portugal

Last Updated on May 26, 2024 by Soumya

Are you looking for the best things to do in Lisbon, Portugal? You’ve come to the right place.

The beautiful city of Lisbon is full of historical landmarks, jaw-dropping viewpoints, and quaint alleys filled with atmospheric cafes and boutique stores.

From listening to soulful Fado music in the streets of Alfama and enjoying a relaxing sunset at Miradouro de Graca to marveling at the exquisite Manueline architecture in Belem and tasting the delectable Pasteis de Nata, there are many wonderful things to do in Lisbon.

There’s a lot of history, culture, and food waiting to be explored in Lisbon. Let’s get started with the 15 Absolutely Best Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal.

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15 Best Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal

Stroll through Alfama Neighborhood

Winding streets of Alfama
Narrow, cobbled streets of Alfama in Lisbon.

You cannot leave Lisbon without walking down the charming lanes of Alfama, the city’s oldest neighborhood.

The streets of Alfama are dotted with colorful old houses with hanging laundry, cobbled streets, quaint souvenir shops, and a number of Fado bars and restaurants.

You can easily spend an entire day ambling through the streets of Alfama, picking up knick-knacks, sipping cups of coffee, and enjoying splendid views of the many miradouros. Be sure to have your camera ready for some memorable captures.

End your day in Alfama with a Fado night at one of the popular Fado bars. This Alfama walking tour with live Fado music is the best way to explore this historic neighborhood.

📖 Related Read: If you’re visiting, be sure to check out our epic Alfama travel guide, which includes the 14 best things to do in this historic district.

Hop on Tram 28 in Lisbon

Vintage tram ride in Lisbon in spring
Tram 28 is an unmissable Lisbon attraction.

If you like bucket lists, Tram 28 should be high on your list of things to do in Lisbon because it passes through the extremely scenic neighborhood of Alfama.

Lisbon’s trams are antique, rickety vehicles in bright yellow and sometimes a bit of green and red. For centuries, they have been a symbol of the city.

However, an interesting fact is that the yellow trams of Lisbon were inspired by the trams of the USA. They were called Carros Americanos for a very long time.

You can couple your Tram #28 ride with a walking tour through some of Lisbon’s beautiful neighborhoods and learn more about the city’s history and Fado music.

Pro Tip: Tram 28 is very popular among tourists. Therefore, it is extremely crowded, sometimes even early in the morning.
Board at Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique so that you have the chance to get a seat.
If you don’t like large crowds, take Tram 24, still a hidden gem in Lisbon.
Or join a guided tuk-tuk tour along the historic tram line instead of actually taking the tram.

Explore Sao Jorge Castle

Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon
Sao Jorge Castle is an impressive Lisbon landmark.

If you are looking to add a castle to your Lisbon itinerary, then the Sao Jorge Castle should be it.

This castle has been here forever and is the true epitome of Lisbon’s history. It has been occupied by everyone you can remember—Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Portuguese.

You can climb the rampart walls, visit the museum, walk through the gardens, listen to peacocks scream, and enjoy stunning vistas from the courtyards.

The castle also has a small archaeological site with evidence of Moorish and Portuguese settlements.

Visit with a local tour guide to make the most of your trip to Sao Jorge Castle. Otherwise, you’d just be looking at stone walls.

Pro Tip: Sao Jorge Castle gets super busy, especially in the peak season. Be sure to book your skip-the-line ticket before visiting.

Visit the National Pantheon

National Pantheon in Lisbon

The National Pantheon of Lisbon is an impressive Baroque monument on top of a hill in Alfama. It was built on the site of an earlier church.

Today, it is home to the tombs of many Portuguese presidents, notable Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues, and writer Almeida Garrett.

You can climb up to the dome of the Pantheon for the views.

However, more than the city views, I liked the view of the Pantheon’s marble floor from the top of the stairs. Symmetrical patterns dot the floor, and lovely pastel shades of pink, blue, and beige marble make it absolutely photogenic.

Once you are done exploring the Pantheon, head to Feira da Ladra or the Market of Female Thieves right next to the monument. It is held every Tuesday and Saturday.

Pro Tip: Get your e-ticket for the National Pantheon and a city audio guide here.

Visit the Lisbon Cathedral

Se Cathedral in Alfama Lisbon

The Lisbon Cathedral, or simply the Sé, is a Romanesque structure with great religious and historical significance.

The is Lisbon’s oldest and most prominent church in the city. And while the external architecture may not be that impressive to many, the has been witness to a fair share of Portuguese history.

Apart from being a victim of the 1755 earthquake, the Lisbon cathedral was also the spot of many baptisms, weddings, and funerals of the Portuguese nobility.

The cloisters are beautiful, resembling those of the Jeronimos Monastery, though much smaller in size.

The Treasury houses a large collection of religious art and historical artifacts.

If you are a history geek and looking for some cool heritage landmarks in Portugal, you cannot miss the Lisbon Cathedral.

Pro Tip: Book your Lisbon Cathedral entry ticket here.

Visit the Church of Sao Roque

Hidden behind a plain white facade on one of Lisbon’s many cobblestoned streets is an opulently carved church literally dripping with gold. That is the magnificent Sao Roque Church in Lisbon.

Located in the Bairro Alto district, Sao Roque is Portugal’s first Jesuit church. It was built with a lot of money to be as impressive as possible.

There are nine chapels within, all heavily embellished in gold. Designs are predominantly Baroque. And, you can see a lot of art in the adjoining museum.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara is close by if you want to get a good view from this side of the city.

Pro Tip: In case opulence is not your thing, you can head to the more austere Church of Sao Domingos, a truly offbeat attraction in Lisbon.

Praca do Comercio & Arco da Rua Augusta

Praca do Commercio Square in Lisbon Portugal
The Commercial Square in Lisbon, surrounded by bright yellow Pombaline buildings, makes for a great Instagram location!

Praca do Comercio is Lisbon’s largest commercial square, overlooking River Tagus. It has been around since medieval times.

The Royal Ribeira Palace was located here, but it was completely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Since then, the square has undergone extensive remodeling.

Today, Praca do Comercio is an impressive center of Lisbon’s Pombaline Downtown, simply known as the Baixa.

You can stand in the middle of the square and stare all around to see yellow Pombaline buildings constructed to resist earthquakes. Then, gaze at the water and get lost in Portugal’s seafaring history.

And if that does not satiate you, go climb the triumphal arch of Arco da Rua Augusta, the highlight of Praca do Comercio, and enjoy gorgeous views of the city and the sea.

Relax at Rossio Square

Rossio Square in Lisbon Portugal

Rossio Square is one of the most happening places in Lisbon. It is home to some of the city’s most famous restaurants and bars.

For long, Rossio has been home to historical revolts, celebrations, and executions—something I found out while researching facts about Lisbon. It has always remained a lively meeting place for locals.

In the middle of the Rossio Square stands a tall column with King Pedro IV on top. Therefore, it is also known as King Pedro IV Square.

I love the wavy Portuguese pavement adorning Rossio Square. This is the iconic black-and-white pavement that the Portuguese carried with them to all their colonies.

Visit the National Tile Museum

Tile displays at National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon

Housed in a former convent, the National Tile Museum has an exclusive collection of Portuguese azulejos, or glazed tiles.

From 15th-century pieces to modern tilework, you can find tiles of all kinds here and learn about the history of azulejos (over 500 years!) in Portugal.

Within the museum, there is also an old Baroque chapel opulently embellished in gold.

The highlight of the museum lies on the top floor—a 74-foot panel showing the Lisbon skyline before the 1755 earthquake. While many of the buildings have fallen down, you can try to identify some that still exist.

Pro Tip: Get your Lisbon Tile Museum entry ticket here.

Marvel at Jeronimos Monastery in Belem

Facade of Jeronimos Monastery

Also called the Hieronymites Monastery, the Jeronimos Monastery is one of the most impressive monasteries in Portugal. It is a classic representation of Portugal’s Manueline style of architecture.

The monastery, along with the Belem Tower, was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1983 for its unique architecture and designs.

Jeronimos Monastery has an interesting history that’s inextricably linked with Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

In the past, a church stood at the monastery’s location. It was called Ermida do Restelo. Since the church was so close to the sea, seafarers stayed there before embarking on their journeys.

Vasco da Gama also spent his last night here before embarking on his discovery of the Orient. Today, his tomb is inside the church.

You can enter the church for free but you need to pay to enter the cloisters.

Pro Tip: There is usually a long queue at the church (which is free to enter), but the crowd thins around midday. So, if you can have an early lunch, between 12 and 2 p.m. is probably the best time to visit the Jeronimos Monastery.
Visit to the cloisters is included in the Lisbon Card. The queue for cardholders is really short.

Climb up Belem Tower

Belem Tower in Lisbon Portugal

Belem Tower, or Torre de Belem, is part of the UNESCO heritage site along with the Jeronimos Monastery.

A 16th-century Manueline-styled structure, the Belem Tower was used as a port of embarkation/disembarkation for explorers and as a lighthouse.

You can climb all the way up to the top of the Belem Tower by using the narrow, spiral staircase. Since the stairs are very narrow, they have an interesting traffic light system to avoid overcrowding. Make sure you pay heed to the red and green lights.

There are several levels in the Belem Tower. You can get out on each and learn a bit more about Lisbon’s history here.

One of the tower facades has a rhinoceros carving, which represents the first rhino that came to Europe from India.

Pro Tip: Get your skip-the-line tickets for Belem Tower here.

Taste Pasteis de Belem

Portuguese Pasteis de Belem are one of the most sought after desserts in the world

Who can leave Portugal without tasting delicious Portuguese desserts? And who can leave Belem without tasting the delectable Pasteis de Belem?

The original Pasteis de Nata was first created by the monks of the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem.

You can still taste them at a family-owned pastelaria called Fábrica Pastéis de Belém, right next to the monastery. They have been making Pastéis de Belém since 1837, and the recipe is top secret.

There is usually a long queue in front of the pastelaria. But that’s usually for takeaway. If you want to eat inside, the queue is shorter.

Once you get inside, you will realize that the shop is a museum in itself, with painted tiles decorating galleries and walkways.

As you sit in one of the many halls and a waiter takes your order, take the time to smell the buttery custard and the fragrant cinnamon. Having a Pasteis de Belem here is equivalent to soaking in Portuguese culture.

📖 Read Next: The best Portuguese desserts that you must try when in Portugal

See the Discoveries Monument

Monument to the Discoveries in Belem Portugal

The Discoveries Monument is a fairly new addition to the list of iconic attractions in Lisbon. But what it lacks in age, it makes up in magnificence.

A sculpture consisting of 33 Portuguese explorers led by Henry the Navigator is carved on it. They look ready to set sail on a ship and explore the world.

The Monument of Discoveries was inaugurated in 1960 to commemorate Portugal’s Age of Discoveries.

Ride up the elevator inside the monument and go up to the observation deck for stunning views of the Belem district and the adjoining marina.

Also, be sure to look down to see the huge mosaic of a compass with a world map in the center.

Visit Carmo Convent

The majestic arches of Carmo Convent
The roof of the Carmo Convent was destroyed in the 1755 Earthquake. Ever since, it has remained one of the most hauntingly beautiful Lisbon attractions.

Located in the Carmo Square of the Chiado neighborhood, Igreja do Carmo, or the Carmo Convent is a 15th-century Gothic building that was destroyed completely during the 1755 earthquake.

The roof collapsed on hundreds of devotees who had gathered to celebrate the feast of All Saints. The roof was never restored.

The pointy, skeleton arches that remain give the convent a desolate, haunting look. That makes it one of the most picturesque places in Portugal.

Further, you can visit the first-ever Portuguese museum located within the convent, which has some impressive tombs and a large collection of historical artifacts, including two mummies!

Go up in the Santa Justa Elevator

Only 5 minutes away from the Carmo Convent is the Santa Justa Elevator.

The elevator connects the lower downtown with the upper Carmo Square. It is the only remaining vertical urban lift in the city and, hence, a top attraction in Lisbon.

The Santa Justa elevator is a hit among families with kids in Portugal. Once on the top, you can get stunning views of Lisbon’s Pombaline Square and a unique angle of Carmo Convent’s ruins.

Pro Tip: Santa Justa is almost always crowded and there will usually be a long line. So, be prepared to wait.
If you are not interested in the elevator, skip it and head to one of Lisbon’s many miradouros (viewpoints) for a more relaxing, crowd-free view.

What’s the best time to visit Lisbon?

Hot pink bougainvillea covering a white monument in Lisbon in spring
Lisbon is beautiful in spring.

The best time to visit Lisbon is in spring (March-May) and fall (September-October).

Portugal has become a tourist hotspot in recent times, and Lisbon is a favorite among travelers. Therefore, Lisbon is extremely crowded during the summer months.

On the other hand, the shoulder months have fewer tourists and hence cheaper accommodation. Plus, it is a little less hot than in summer.

If you can bear the cold, Lisbon is also one of the best European cities to visit in winter. With 9-10 hours of sunlight every day, it is just the perfect place to soak in some winter sunshine.

Where to stay in Lisbon?

Quaint streets of Alfama in Lisbon.

Finding the best place to stay in Lisbon really depends on your preferences and budget.

If you do not want to commute a lot and are willing to spend a little more, then you should ideally stay in the city center or close to it.

Alfama is perfect for spending a couple of nights in Lisbon. Some of my favorite places to stay in Alfama are the Memmo Alfama HotelAlfama Lisbon Lounge Suites, and Pousada Alfama.

If you’re visiting on a budget like we did the first time, you can stay at Hotel Ibis Lisboa Alfragide. It was neat, and the staff was courteous. There is a bus stop right next to the hotel. And you can get to the city center in under 15 minutes. Plus, they serve amazing Pasteis de Nata.

Getting around Lisbon

Tram 28 on the narrow roads in Alfama

Getting around Lisbon is not difficult. You can use the metro, tram, bus, and funicular. Or simply your legs.

We used all of them. And it was fun walking through Lisbon’s hilly roads. And jumping into a tram/bus whenever needed.

I would highly recommend getting a Lisboa Card which covers free and unlimited public transport apart from free/discounted entry to many historical landmarks like you have seen above.

If you are looking to get to cities outside of Lisbon, such as Sintra or Cascais, then you can use the train. You can also rent a car and drive. Check out my post on how to do 6 easy day trips from Lisbon by train.

Travel Tips for Lisbon, Portugal

  • Get a good pair of walking shoes. Lisbon is hilly. And there is a lot of walking involved.
  • Some of Lisbon’s attractions may be very crowded. Santa Justa Elevator and Tram #28 are a couple of good examples. Explore offbeat options if you are not a big fan of crowds and hate waiting. You will want to look at our recommendations for offbeat experiences in Lisbon.
  • Check out the best places to eat in Lisbon for a foodie tour of the city.
  • Reserve at least one day for Belem and a couple for Lisbon’s historic center and nearby.
  • Buy a Lisbon Card to save on attraction fees.
  • If possible, visit in the shoulder months to avoid crowds and get better deals on hotels.
Experience more of Lisbon and Nearby

Read our posts on
Best Things to Do in Lisbon | From the most popular attractions in Lisbon and the best hidden gems to stunning viewpoints and the charming alleys of Alfama, explore Lisbon with our perfect bucket lists.
Lisbon Food | Wondering what to eat in Lisbon? Check out our epic Lisbon food guide, or try the best Portuguese desserts.
Perfect Lisbon Itineraries | Explore Portugal’s capital with our perfect 2-day in Lisbon itinerary. If you’re visiting for a short time, then our 24-hour Lisbon itinerary is sure to help you.
Lisbon Day Trips
| Spend some more time around Lisbon with these epic Lisbon day trips.

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Traveling to Lisbon and looking for the best things to do in Portugal's capital city? Check out this epic Lisbon travel guide with the 15 best Lisbon attractions that you cannot miss.

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!

45 thoughts on “15 Best Things To Do In Lisbon Portugal

  1. I had a very tight time in Lisbon. My flight was delayed and the sudden weather change caused my daughter to get very very irritated. So, yeah, though I had all these places in my wishlist, I hardly saw 3-4 places.
    As someone who loves historic ruins, I really wanted to visit Carmo Convent and I really wanted to be at Sao Jorge Castle for sunset, but no, I couldn’t do either! I hope to visit there again on a longer trip preferably and in a better season/weather… Let’s see. Fingers crossed.

  2. Lisbon is high on my wishlist and when everything settles soon, I would surely plan for it. Tram #28 looks wonderful ride for me as it passes through the extremely scenic neighborhood of Alfama with stunning views. Being a foodie, I would surely try for Fábrica Pastéis de Belém as it looks perfect authentic dessert of Portugal. As Sao Roque is Portugal’s first-ever Jesuit church, it would be interesting to take its tour. There so many endless things to do here.

  3. I like your detailed guide. I love Lisbon; it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Lisbon has great architecture, cuisine, and culture. Pastéis de Belém is so delicious. Carmo Church is magnificent. Alfama is my favorite district of Lisbon.

  4. I’ve heard so much about Lisbon, but unfortunately have never been in Portugal. Hope to make it to Lisbonsomeday and hop aboard Tram #28. All the attractions you list here make the city look really appealing. I would be very curious to see the Carmo Convent inside. I love visiting churches.

    1. Carmo Convent is a beautiful one. Especially with whatever remains of it. I am sure you will love it.

  5. Lisbon has been on my radar and you make me want to visit even more. There looks like so many things to do in Lisbon. One of my favorite things to do is explore different neighborhoods so I am glad you shared about Alfama. Rossio Square seems like a great place to do some people watching, another one of my favorite activities! It sounds like Lisbon is easy to get around too with a mix of walking and public transportation.

    1. Yeah, public transport is everywhere and you can always walk. Though the walk may be steep at many times. Alfama has many ups and downs, so a pair of good shoes will be really helpful if you plan to explore the neighbourhood by foot.

  6. Ahhhh thanks for taking me back to one of my favourite cities ever. We tried several days to get on the Santa Justa elevator but the line ups were always too long. We would have loved to wander at the top. We also did not get to a Fado bar. But really wanted to. The National Pantheon of Lisbon looks stunning. Now we are really sorry we missed it. But we did eat more Portuguese tarts than I am willing to say. All amazing reasons to return to this lovely city.

  7. I have never been to Portugal, but I have heard that Lisbon is so fabulous from many of my friends. The tram ride is already very popular and it would be one of my choices, but what intrigues me the most is the Alfama District. I always enjoy exploring different neighborhood in capitals around the world just to see and feel the atmosphere, the pace of the daily life. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  8. I love Lisbon! And I need to go to the tile museum next time I go – it must be underrated because I didn’t even know it was there. And I didn’t even ride a tram while I was there. It’s definitely a must-do next time. I’ll be there in 2021 and can’t wait!

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