Lisbon is a city that will surprise you, intrigue and delight you… but most of all, leave you in a world of unexplainable happiness. This city is bursting with life at every turn – colourful buildings, friendly locals, a great local community vibe. There quite honestly is nothing I did not enjoy about my last couple of tripe to Lisbon which gives me all the more reason to share the absolute stand outs from the city to ensure you enjoy your trip just as much! Here we go!
1. Walk through Alfama Neighbourhood
Hands down my favourite part of Lisbon and what sets Lisbon apart in my eyes is Alfama Neighbourhood. This area has an incredible old world charm, is covered in the colours of the rainbow and is where you’ll also find great local eateries!
2. Check out the views from São Jorge Castle
This Moorish castle is one of Lisbon’s most popular attractions and for good reason – it has one of the best views of the entire city! The ruins are interesting to walk around and the view is gorgeous on a clear day.
3. Indulge in a little Queijo da Serra & Portuguese Wine Picnic
If you love your cheese, you’re in a for a real treat when visiting Portugal! Locals will be quick to tell you to taste this creamy yellow cheese made of sheep’s milk and with hint of thistle flower (said to be the ingredient that makes this cheese so delicious). Paired with a bottle of Portuguese wine (also fabulous), you’ll have the perfect picnic!
4. Mingle with the Locals
One of my absolute favourite things to do in any city is to meet the locals, however it would be a crime not to make special mention of the locals in Lisbon as they are honestly some of the friendliest, most charming individuals I have ever encountered. Whether its the taxi driver or the bell boy, be sure to strike up a conversation and see what you learn!
5. Visit the Local Markets
One of the best places to see the local life of Lisbon happening right before your eyes is at one of the local food markets. My favourite would be the Mercado da Ribeira near the riverfront, though if you visit Lisbon on a Tuesday or Saturday, make your way (in the morning) to the Feira da Ladra flea market – not to be missed!
6. Take in the view from Rua Augusta Arch
Another great view of the city up close can be found at Rua Augusta Arch, centrally located amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.
7. Find a Great View – ANYWHERE!
On the point of views, it is important to mention that often the best views of the city are completely FREE and will be completely sprung upon you without a moment’s notice. Wander on foot and you’ll find many great views without even trying to!
8. Step Inside Jerónimos Monastery
As far as monasteries go, this is certainly one of the most impressive I have encountered. If architecture interests you and you’d up for something completely different, head over to Belém to encounter this beauty. Just be sure to stop by Pastéis de Belém for an afternoon snack!
9. Take a day trip to Sintra & Cascais
Whilst I love Lisbon and would say to anyone visiting you need at least 3 full days to explore the city, any days on top of that offer a great chance to get out of the capital city and venture to nearby Sintra and Cascais. Both of these small towns are full of charm and cannot be missed.
10. Eat yourself stupid at Pastéis de Belém
If there’s just one thing you eat in Lisbon, make it a Pastel de Nata from the famous and highly publicised Pastéis de Belém. Don’t do any further research on the topic – just go there, order a whole bunch, and eat yourself into a warm-eggy-tar-induced-coma. You won’t regret it!
11. Visit Belem Tower
Whilst visiting Pastéis de Belém, be sure to take some time to enjoy the local area (a little out of the city, but has a way of feeling a world away!) Nearby Belém Tower is an icon of Lisbon and should not be missed!
12. Ride the streets in a sidecar
One of my favourite things I have ever done in Europe is riding in a sidecar in Lisbon. The tour lasted a few hours and took in most of the sites of the city, making it a great option if you’re short on time.
11. Eat Miniature everything at Mini Bar
DO NOT EAT ANYWHERE ELSE IN LISBON BEFORE YOU HAVE EATEN HERE! Sure, that may sound a little dramatic… but trust me when I say this place is out-of-this-world good. The food is inventive and melts in your mouth, but you’ll always be left wanting more as the portions are tiny and the food just keeps on coming all night! Seriously one of my favourite restaurants – ever.
12. Step Inside Lisbon Cathedral
Whilst exploring the hilly terrain of Lisbon, you might happen to stumble across Lisbon Cathedral, by which case you should certainly step inside for a look. The old trams run by here, making for a fantastic photographic opportunity if you can catch one as it passes by!
13. Visit Carmo Convent
Sometimes you don’t read about a certain attraction or disregard it as not of interest to you, but quite often these points of interest are the ones that surprise you and leave you in awe. Carmo Convent is one such place you should make an effort to visit as the architecture is stunning, especially in the Portuguese summer sun!
14. Enjoy Sunday Brunch at the Four Seasons
One of my most fond memories in Lisbon was a Sunday afternoon brunch (yes, afternoon – in Australia we have brunch between breakfast and lunch, but in Lisbon it is more of a lunch time affair). I sat down with 3 of my close friends and enjoyed what can only be described as a FEAST – the kind that leaves you in a food coma all day because your eyes were too big for your stomach.
15. Go on a door-hunt
Lisbon is an absolute wonderland for door lovers (yes, that is a thing!) The streets are filled with colourful and quirky doors, often paved with intricate tiles around the door frame and even more often adorned with an array of pot plans. Throughout Lisbon you will find many beautiful entrances to homes – so be sure to open your eyes whilst you wander!
16. Visit the Lisbon Aquarium
Although I’m fairly certain that once you’ve seen one aquarium you’ve seen them all, there’s no denying that the Lisbon Aquarium is a huge attraction in the city and for good reason. If you’re visiting Lisbon with kids this is a great half day activity and not just because they have penguins (but largely because they have penguins!!!!)
17. Ride the tram lines
One of the most distinct features about Lisbon is the antique charm – trams that look as if that have been caught in a time warp and winding cobblestone alleyways throughout the centre of town. Be sure to hop on board on of the trams and venture off in any direction – there is always something new to be discovered!
18. Step inside the National tile museum
One thing I will never forget about Lisbon is the intricacy of tiles, on display almost everywhere you look in the city. If you start geeking out (like me), then there’s a whole museum dedicated to tiles where you can appreciate the many different styles and patterns that have formulated over the years.
19. Visit Praca do Comercio
For something a little different and certainly a lot less quieter than central Lisbon, head down to Praca do Comercio, which is located not far from the water. This public plaza shows another side to Lisbon, which by now you’re probably certain has many different facets!
20. Venture beyond Lisbon
One of the biggest mistakes travellers make when visiting Lisbon is to only visit the capital city and not venture further into Portugal. On my first visit to Lisbon I did just that, but by round two I had learned better and made sure I spent four nights in the Algarve (Southern Portugal) to really get a grip on Portuguese culture. I have also heard rave reviews about Porto in the North – maybe next time!