Top things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal.  As a European capital it benefits from all that being a part of Europe means; safe environment, great food, wealth of cultural activities and sight seeing.  In addition, Lisbon is the only European capital city next to the Atlantic Ocean, with hundreds of miles of beautiful natural beaches.

Praça Dom Pedro IV

Praça Dom Pedro IV, with its ‘crazy’ paving

Any trip to Lisbon will provide you with a wide variety of things to do and try out.  Many people come to Lisbon for the first time and are so amazed at how much there is to do, and how much they enjoy the city, that they return shortly after for another stay.

Living in Lisbon, we have done our best to put together a concise list of the things we feel are the most desirable and easiest to do on a first trip to Lisbon.  We call it our Top Ten List of things to do in Lisbon.

Praça do Commércio

Praça do Commércio on the waterside is the hub of the Lisbon transport system and worth a visit on its own account

1.  A stroll down through the historic Baixa neighborhood to the waterfront, including the Praca do Comercio and it’s breathtaking surroundings.  Great outdoor cafes, wine bars, walks along the water and shopping abound.

2.  The famous 28 Tramway, which crosses a big portion of the city, from East to West.  It runs between the Basilica da Estrela and the Praca do Martim Moniz, two main points on any map of Lisbon.  The tramway runs through Santa Catarina, Chiado, Baixa, up to St. Jorge’s castle, Alfama, and then down around to the Martim Moniz square.  Definitely worth the trip.  BEWARE of pickpockets; this is written everywhere!!!

Rossio station

The Rossio station is the central railway hub for Lisbon. Trains for Sintra go from here.

3.  Chiado/Santa Catarina.  This is one of the busiest and most exciting neighborhoods in Lisbon.  The main axis, Calcada do Combro runs through it and provides a bunch of wonderful views, great restaurants, cafes and things to do and see.  The Luis Camoes Square is a famous landmark located here.

4.  Bairro Alto nightlife.  One of the most central neighborhoods in Lisbon, the historic center is called Bairro Alto.  This is also where most of Lisbon’s nighttime activities come to life after sunset.  An unlimited number of bars, cafes, restaurants and night spots are to be found all around.  During the day, it seems quiet, but at night this is the neighborhood to go for a good time.  Many Europeans come to Lisbon, just for weekends, to enjoy Bairro Alto at night.

Belem tower

Strangely isolated on the banks of the River Tagus, the Belem tower defended the city

Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the three major attractions to see in Belém, a 20-minute tram ride from the center of Lisbon

Discovery Monument

Discovery Monument, a tribute to Portugal’s role in Europe’s discovery of the rest of the world

5.  Belem.  This is a beautiful spot along the water, a few miles outside of central Lisbon via the 15E tramway (starting at Cais do Sodre train station).  It has a number of historic landmarks (i.e. Tower of Belem, Jeronimo’s Monastery, Discovery Monument), art museums, and the famous cafe serving custard pies, Pasteis de Belem.  The line is often long to get into the cafe, so go early.

Pena Palace

On everybody’s list of things to do in Lisbon: the Pena Palace in nearby Sintra

6. Sintra.  This historic mountain village lies 30 minutes west of Lisbon.  It was the town where Royals had their palaces throughout Portuguese history.  The Pena Palace, the Quinta da Regaleira and the National Sintra Palace are the three most known, but there are many others, and the town center is beautiful for walking around.

7.  Principe Real.  This is the trendy ‘in’ neighborhood in central Lisbon, right next to Bairro Alto.  It’s hilly landscape provides wonderful views of the skyline all around.  It has the famous Park on top of the hill, and a large wealth of restaurants, cafes, and trendy shopping.  It is the place where Lisbonites all dream of living today.

8.  Lisbon Musuems.  Lisbon is rich in a wide variety of Museums.  The most remarkable are the art museums (Gulbenkian Museum, Berardo Collection of modern art, Azulejo Tile Museum, Antique Art Museum, Fado Museum, Sao Jorge’s Castle…)

fish

Puffin in the Oceanário

As well as an astonishing variety of fish from all over the world, the Oceanário has penguins, puffins and sea otters. If the weather isn’t to your tastes (too hot, too cold…) this is one of the best things to do in Lisbon: the aquarium is maintained at a constant temperature all year round.

9.  Youthful activities.  Lisbon has a big Zoo with a wide variety of animals from around the world. The Park of Nations is a modern neighborhood constructed along the banks of the Tagus River for the 1998 World Fair.  It has a cable car ride, beautiful walks and a large shopping center.  The Aquarium and the Knowledge Pavillion are a hoot for all.

10.  Lisbon’s long list of beaches.  Lisbon has the unique quality of being a European capital city, next to the Ocean.  This provides Lisbon with many many beaches, of all types.  There are ‘urban’ beaches, located in the middle of towns like Cascais.  Beaches are also located within a close drive to Lisbon, but still isolated enough from the masses, such as Costa da Caparica.  Then there are beaches which require a car and enough time to drive to isolated spots to really enjoy a day of Surfing, like Troia, Meco, or Arrabida.  All are worth the trip and it provides you with a choice to suit your own style.

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