Portugal’s capital city stole our hearts! A perfect mix of culture and beauty, Lisbon was such a fun city to explore. Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the streets of Alfama, soak in the sun and views at one of the many miraduoros, and admire the uniquely tiled building facades. The city also reminded us a lot of San Francisco, with its steep hills, location by the bay, numerous cable cars, and even an expansive red bridge!
Things to do in Lisbon
Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral)
The oldest church in Lisbon, dating back to the 12th century, this Roman Catholic church is an interesting mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architectural styles. The mix of architecture is a result of the destruction and reconstruction over the centuries due to earthquakes.
Castelo de São Jorge
Perched on a hilltop, accessing this 11th century Moorish castle requires conquering maze like roads. This castle was a royal residence in its pastime and also contains ancient ruins. Offering amazing views of both the city and the bay, including the 25 de Abril Bridge, a visit to this castle is a must. Plus, they have peacocks that roam the grounds!
Tips: Visit right before sunset to watch the sun go down and the sky fill with pastel colors.
Get a drink at the mini wine truck called Wine with a View.
Portas Do Sol
Meaning “Gates of the Sun”, this sunshine filled terrace is a great place to soak in some Vitamin D. Surrounded by small cafes, it is the perfect spot to take a break and have a coffee or drink with a view.
Tips: Visit the adjacent Bar Terraco de Santa Luzia (tucked off Largo Santa Luzia near the Miraduoro das Portas do Sol) for drinks on the terrace.
One thing Lisbon is not short of is amazing viewpoints, called Miraduoros. Situated or perched on hilltops throughout the city, these terraced lookouts offer stunning views of Lisbon and the bay. Here are several worth visiting:
- Miraduoro do Castelo de São Jorge
- Miraduoro das Portas Do Sol
- Miraduoro da Garca
- Miraduoro da Senhora do Monte
- Miraduoro de Santa Luzia
- Miraduoro de Sao Pedro de Alcantra
- Miraduoro de Santa Catarina
Elevador de Santa Justa
Located in the heart of the city, this urban lift takes passengers up to an observation platform offering 360 degree views of Lisbon. Constructed in the early 1900s, this seven story tower is an interesting mix of Neo-Gothic style and iron construction.
Praça do Comércio
Situated at the end of the Rua Augusta right next to the water, this colorful and expansive square is a great place to walk around and spend some time. The triumphal arch, Arco da Rua Augusta, built to commemorate the destructive 1755 earthquake, is also located right in the square.
Tips: You can pick up a city map at the Tourism Info center located right on this square. Check out the unique (and impressive) rock formations on the beach, created by two men who methodically stack rocks one on top of the other.
Igreja de Sao Roque
This 16th century Jesuit church is worth the climb up the hill. Enjoy the intricate, ornately adorned Baroque chapels.
Igreja de Sao Domingos
Dating back to 1241, this Roman Catholic church survived multiple earthquakes and a fire. You can still see signs of the fire in the interior along the walls and curved ceiling.
Tips: Stop by the Praca D. Pedro IV to enjoy the fountains. Some days they also sell flowers and other items at pop-up carts.
Gloria Funicular (Ascensor de Gloria)
One of Lisbon’s iconic funicular tram cars that runs between the Bairro Alto to the Pombaline downtown. The tram cars are inclined so they remain level as they ascend and descend the hills.
Food and places to eat in Lisbon
No matter where you eat, be sure to try one of the authentic Portuguese sweet and savory custard tarts called Pastéis de Nata, a pastry cup filled with creamy custard.
Time Out Market
A large market full of both shopping stalls and food/drink stalls, the Time Out Market is a great spot to grab some lunch, and maybe even take it out to the water to enjoy. The market contains food ranging from pizzas, croquettes, and Iberian ham. You can also take cooking classes there!
Located just outside the Alfama region (away from tourist areas), this husband and wife run restaurant serves amazing fresh fish dishes and great wine at affordable prices.
Graca do Vinho
Cute and quirky wine bar in the Alfama area that has a nice selection of wine and also serves cheese and charcuterie boards.
Neighborhoods to explore in Lisbon
The oldest district in Lisbon, this area is full of history and steep hills with narrow streets and various lookout points.
Situated along the gridded streets north of Commerce Square, this area is full of shops, cafes and restaurants.
The “upper district” in Lisbon, is a more residential area of the city and is characterized by orthogonal blocks and an organized scheme of roads and narrower lanes.
Other things to do in Lisbon
Sadly, we were not able to do everything on our list in Lisbon due to the unfortunate circumstances of getting sick! Here are some other recommended things to do in Lisbon that are on our list for our next trip back:
- Enjoy a night of Fado (traditional Portuguese music); check out Sr. Fado de Alfama.
- Take a ride on Tram 28. It passes through most areas of the city, offering a great overview of all that the city has to offer.
- Head over to Belem for the famous Torre de Belem, Jardin de Belem, Jeronimos Monastery, and Monument to the Discoveries.
- Grab lunch at Pasteis de Belem.
- Visit the National Tile Museum and Museo do Fado.