14 Things You MUST Do In Lisbon

Praca do Comercio lisbon things to do

Lisbon! What a city! We were both captivated by the largest city in Portugal when we visited in 2019 and have vowed to return! Beautiful plazas and squares (also know as praça in Portugese), delightful food, a myriad of old streets to wander, friendly locals, great culture and history, excellent day trips close-by.. we could go on! Basically, Lisbon has everything you need for a trip to a big Europen city.

Travel planning for our 2022 adventures had us browsing other travel blogs for inspiration and hidden gems. An article by the Geeky Explorer on some of the best things to do in Lisbon (see here) insipired us to reminisce about some of the do not miss items in our favourite Portugese city.

Without further hesitation, jump into our list of the things you MUST DO when in Lisbon!

Eat a Pastel De Nata in Pastéis de Belém

Pastel De Nata lisbon belem best food

If you haven’t tried the famous Portugese tart, the Pastel De Nata, this is a must do when in Lisbon! We developped a fondness for these little tarts and sampled more than our fair share during our 3 week Portugal adventures.

Best Pastel De Nata: Look no further than Pastéis de Belém. For information about this famous bakery, how to get there, and more tips, see our guide on The Best Pastel De Nata in Lisbon!

Second Best: If you can’t make it out to Belem, check out Manteigaria in the Time Out Market.

Pastel de Nata Lisboa best food lisbon

Have lunch at Ponto Final

Ponto Final lisbon best restaurant europe

Our meal at Ponto Final was one of the highlights of our whole trip. We discovered this gem of a restaurant when watching the Lisbon episode of ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ and marked it down as something to explore further. Sitting on the egde of the water, the soundtrack of your meal is the gently lapping waves. The food was excellent, and we sampled a variety of seafood, however note that it is slightly more expensive than some places in Lisbon (but worth it). To get to Ponto Final, catch a ferry across the river to Almada and walk an pleasant 10-15 minute stroll down the river. Walking around the final corner you are greeted with the beautiful spectacle of Ponto Final, sitting right on the edge of the water with views of Lisbon and big suspension bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril). It would be advisable to book, but you may get lucky and get a spot like we did without reservation.

Explore the city with a free walking tour

Elevador de Santa Justa view lisbon

Learning about a city from a local is something we have always enjoyed on our travels and Lisbon was no different. We started from Praça Luís de Camões where multiple options were available for free walking tours. Our tour took us through some of the Bairro Alto and Alfama regions and finished in the main waterfront square, Praça do Comércio. The tour also took us to the Santa Justa Lift, a popular tourist attraction at the centre of the old town which has excellent views of the city. This usually has long lines and costs a fee, however the guide took us to the back entrance nearby which saved the fee and skipped the line. To find this free entrance, head to Bellalisa Elevador and walk to the terrace (check out this great guide by Kirstie Will Travel for more advice how to get there).

Important to note: A free walking tour isn’t really “free”, as there is the expectation to tip your guide after the tour. We recommend tipping between $10-20 depending on how much you enjoyed the tour.

Wander the Alfama district

Alfama lisbon where to visit

The oldest district of Lisbon was beautiful and had a lot of character. We spent an afternoon and another morning wandering through the Alfama and loved every minute of it. Narrow winding streets, many great view points of the city (see below), some wonderful restaurants (see below) and a chance to see some locals going about their day. Generally the crowds were a little less than the centre of Lisbon which was also a nice change.

Enjoy the impressive Praça that Lisbon has to offer

Praca Do Comercio sunset lisbon portugal

The Praça, or “square”, are dotted around the city, and form excellent places to meet others, sit and people watch, or wander and take a few snaps. One of our favourite memories from Lisbon was when we walked to Praça Luís de Camões, bought a take-away cocktail and watched the hustle and bustle of the city. The list below is not exhaustive, but is an excellent place to start.

  • Praça Luís de Camões
  • Praça do Comércio (see below)
  • Praça do Rossio

Check out the impressive waterfront square – Praça do Comércio

Praca do Comercio lisbon portugal

The Praca do Comercio is impressive and definitely deserves a visit as you wander the streets of Lisbon. With views of the Tagus river, this square is a picturesque central point of the city. A number of the walking tours finish here, and some of the central streets also make their way down here, so it’s unlikely you will miss it!

Note: during the heat of summer it can get quite warm in middle of the square.

A Sintra day trip should not be missed

Sintra Palace lisbon day trip

Sintra is on of the most popular day trips and tourist attractions around Lisbon. Some of the key highlights and things to do in Sintra include:

  • Quinta da Regaleira: this was the highlight of our trip to Sintra. Less well known that it’s picturesque counterpart, Pena Palace, Qunta de Regaleira has a wonderful palace, gardens and a maze of grottos and tunnels to explore. It is well worth the visit.
  • Pena Palace: visually this palace is super impressive. It feels like you have been transported straight out of a fairytale. However, the crowds are busy, and the tour inside the house is long a slow. It’s definitely worth a visit but temper expectations.
  • Castle of the Moors: we ran out of time to visit here, however the photos do make us wonder if we should have made the time. With a view of Pena Palace in the background, this castle is an impressive one to visit.
  • The Old Town is quaint and dotted with shops and restaurants to wander. We enjoyed a meal with views over the valley.
  • The hikes around the gardens of Pena Palace, and between the old town and the castles, are all worth considering for the active tourists.

Read more about Sintra, it’s highlights, and tourist traps.

Have a bite to eat at the Time Out Market

Time out market lisbon foot tips

Do you love food? Of course you do! It’s one of the best parts about travelling. The Time-Out Market is a hub of restaurants and bars with all manner of cuisines from Pastel De Nata to Sardines. We ventured a couple of times to sample different food and recommend it as a great experience.

Manteigaria time out market

Enjoy Lisbon’s sensational food!

The food in Lisbon was excellent, and we regularly enjoyed a high quality meal out for dinner. Whilst we ate more than our fair share of food in Lisbon, the list below were some of the standouts that we recommend checking out should you get the chance.

  • Estrela da Bica: Probably our favourite dinner in Lisbon! We recieved advice from our AirBnB host and boy did it deliver. Located in the Bairro Alto region, you will need to book or arrive early/late to get a seat at this popular Portugese eatery. Location: Google Maps.
  • Cafe Janis: Great coffee, Australian style brunch, and a great decor? Tick Tick Tick. We had our morning coffee here, along with a regular brunch or lunch. Definitely recommended. Location: Google Maps.
  • Fares Lisboa: We both love middle eastern food, and when we heard about Fares, we had to check it out! The food delivered and the experience was excellent. For lovers of this cuisine, we recommend checking it out. Location: Google Maps.
  • A Taberna Do Mar: We stumbled upon this Japanese-Portugese fusion restaurant when wandering through the Alfama and we’re definitely glad we did. The owner and staff were extremely welcoming, and had a pasion for their food, educating us about the food and the restaurant. They use fresh Portugese seafood to make fine-dining Japanese food. Location: Google Maps.
  • Pasteis de Belem: see above, as must for Pastel de Nata.
  • Time Out Market: see above, definitely worth it for the vibe and great food.
  • Ponto Final: see our review above. This was a sensation meal and experience!

Pro Tips: When looking for food in Lisbon, generally look avoid the restaurants on the main tourist streets, especially those with staff out the front trying to get you in. Look for lines out the front, menus in Portugese with fresh produce or that are hand written, and generally off the main street are best. Read more: our advice on how to choose a good restaurant in Europe!

Check out some of the great views of Lisbon

Lisbon View 2 cups of travel portugal
  • Miradouro da Senhora do Monte in the north of the Alfama region has stunning views of Lisbon stretching all the way to the suspension bridge. We ventured here for a sunset view and weren’t disappointed. Note that is can be cooler up here, so be prepared if heading up for sunset.
  • Miradouro de Santa Luzia is in the Alfama region and has beautiful views of the Alfama region and the Tagus river. We visited in the evening, and were treated to live music in one of the most romantic settings of our entire trip. We can’t guarantee the live music, but the views are excellent.
  • The Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada has exception views of the suspension bridge, Tagus river and Lisbon. This is nearby Ponto Final for those that may wish to combine them.
  • The Santa Justa Lift offers great views from the centre of Lisbon. See above for how to access the view without paying and waiting in line.
  • Colina de São Roque is north of the Bairro Alto district and offers excellent sweeping views of Lisbon.

There’s many other view points that offer exceptional views of the city, including many in the Alfama region.

Catch one of the old trams

Lisboa tram iconic lisbon portugal

The old yellow trams trundle along the city streets, capturing the focus of many iconic Lisbon pictures you may have seen. Your stay in Lisbon isn’t complete without jumping onboard one of the trams and exploring the city. The Number 28 tram is the most popular, and is a great way to get your way up to the Alfama district and some of the views we mentioned above. However, it gets very busy, and if you’re looking to catch a tram without the tourists, join the locals on one of the others like the 24 tram as we did (you can catch it from Praça Luís de Camões) or the 15 tram to Belem.

Enjoy the Azulejos – Portugese painted tiles!

Portugal tiles lisbon porto

The beautiful painted tiles line many of the buildings in the old town, and are particularly evident around the Alfama region. Check out our gallery about the painted tiles of Portugal here!

Take a day trip outside of Lisbon

Torre De Belem portugal day trip

Lisbon easily has enough to occupy you for days on end, however if you’re wanting a break from the city, consider some of the day trips below:

  • Sintra: as discussed above, Sintra is one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon. Either catch the train, or book a tour, and enjoy the views and experiences that Sintra has to offer.
  • Coimbra, the old university town north of the city, is around 2hours by train. We loved Coimbra and considered it one of the unexpected surprises of our trip. Want to know more? Check out our review and recommendations for Coimbra!
  • Cascais: the sleepy beachside town to the west of Lisbon is a popular holiday spot. We spent a few nights in Cascais and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. You are greeted with holiday vibes when you enter, with the beach, the restaurants and bars all highlights. It may be a little too far for a day trip but if you have a car and want to adventure it’s worth considering. Otherwise, spend a night or 2 like we did!
  • Belem: the nearby district of Lisbon is a short drive (10-15min) or tram drive (20-30min) and well worth exploring. As mentioned previously, it’s home to the best and most famous Pastel De Nata (Pasteis de Belam), along with the Belem Tower (see above). The Belem Tower is situated on the waterfront, and is a re-life sandcastle that captures the imagination.

Walk down Pink Street

Pink Street Lisbon

The Pink Street in Lisbon is located on R. Nova do Carvalho and is a wonderful photo opportunity. During the day this street is worth a wander, whilst during the evening, it turns into a hub of bars and nightclubs. Don’t expect this to be the highlight of your trip, however it is worth adding the pink street to your walking itinerary.

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Check out where to stay in Lisbon


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