Looking for things to do in Lisbon? The Bumper Crew has it covered! Lisbon was another one of our favourite city breaks and up there with Athens. Not only was it a welcome bit of sunshine and warmth in the middle of the UK winter, but it’s full of history, colour, beauty and all the Pastéis de Nata you could wish for! If you don’t know what that is, keep reading!
Lisbon’s climate is good all year, making it another great destination to visit any time. We happened to visit in winter, and there was a bit of a chill in the evening, but apart from that, the weather was glorious and warm enough in the day for lighter clothing.
Interestingly, Lisbon is built on a group of seven hills, which are: Graça, Castle, São Jorge, Santa Catarina, Santo André, São Roque, and São Vicente, and they offer some epic views of the city. But they also provide epic walks up and down, so be prepared for that. Or catch the tram we mention in this list!
Lisbon is also a bit of a travel photographer’s dream because it’s so colourful and has striking architecture all over the city. You’ll also notice the wonderfully tiled buildings dotted around Lisbon – each one worth a picture. Lisbon is also more relaxed than we are used to for a capital city, which is an accolade for the city. So, without further ado, read on to discover the best things to do in Lisbon!
Things to Do in Lisbon
1 | Ride Historic Tram Route 28
Riding the Historic Tram Route 28 is a must, and that’s why it’s first up on our list of things to do in Lisbon. It’s a traditional tram line that opened in 1873 and runs through the city’s historic neighbourhoods, including Alfama, Baixa, and Graça. It’ll take you past some of Lisbon’s most iconic sights and landmarks and the wonderful little streets of which Lisbon has an abundance.
The trams are vintage and are considered a piece of living history; they are also known as “bondinho” in Portuguese. The route is roughly 5 miles long and will take an hour to complete. And if you don’t fancy catching the tram, walk instead. You can follow the tracks and take in the sights at your own pace. Be aware – you’ll be walking up some pretty steep hills!
2 | Admire the Views
There are a couple of superb viewpoints in Lisbon. That’s the perk of a city built on a load of hills – great views! The two worth visiting are Graça viewpoint and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. You’ll get epic views of Lisbon from both and be able to see Lisbon Cathedral, the castle and the river. Graça viewpoint is higher and further from the city centre but worth the visit. If you’re a bit parched, you’ll also find a small cafe up there, if you’re a bit parched!
3 | Visit Castelo de S. Jorge
The Castelo de São Jorge is a medieval castle located in the historic Alfama neighbourhood of Lisbon. The castle was built in the 11th century by the Moors, who ruled the city at the time, and you can get eyes on some exhibits on the history of the castle and the city, as well as some archaeological finds from the castle’s past. And one of the best bits about Castelo de São Jorge is the views of Lisbon. Beautiful.
4 | Visit Lisbon Cathedral
The Lisbon Cathedral, also known as the Sé de Lisboa, is a Roman Catholic church in the Alfama neighbourhood of Lisbon. You’ll pass it if you take Tram Route 28! It is the oldest church in the city, built in the 12th century in the Romanesque-Gothic style. We love a good church building at The Bumper Crew, and although Lisbon Cathedral isn’t as grand as some, like in Belgium, it’s worth a visit.
5 | Relax at Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio, also known as Terreiro do Paço, is Lisbon’s main square; once the site of the Royal Palace, it was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. After the disaster, the square was rebuilt and became the city’s central commercial hub. The square is surrounded by elegant 18th-century buildings and is a great place to chill out in the afternoon sun. Maybe even with a beer!
6 | Take the Elevador da Bica
The Elevador da Bica is a funicular railway in Lisbon’s Bica neighbourhood and is pretty old. It was built in 1982 to connect the lower streets of Bica with the higher streets of Calçada do Combro. The funicular railway is a short ride, 250 metres or so, but offers some decent views of Lisbon. The funicular is small and runs frequently, and it’s a cheap way to get up yet another hill of Lisbon. Much like tram route 28, we recommend walking up (or down!) if you can manage it. A few streets splinter off on the way up that are worth a wander down.
7 | Ride in the Santa Justa Lift
The Santa Justa Lift is a cool elevator built in 1902 to connect the lower streets of Baixa with the higher streets of Carmo, providing a convenient way for people to get between the two neighbourhoods. The elevator is a unique and impressive piece of engineering, and it looks pretty cool too. The lift takes you up 45 meters and offers a panoramic view of the city from the top. The famous landmark elevator gets busy, so be prepared for that.
8 | Be a Foodie at Time Out Market Lisbon
This one is for the foodies! The Time Out Market Lisbon, also known as Mercado da Ribeira, is a food market in Lisbon you can’t miss. It’s housed in a restored 19th-century market building and has a ton of food and drink from some of the city’s best chefs and restaurateurs, from traditional Portuguese dishes to international fare. You can even get your hands on wine, cheese, and crafts. The Time Out Market Lisbon is a great place to experience the city’s diverse culinary scene and a perfect spot to stop for a bit of lunch.
9 | Visit Belém Tower
The Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Belém, a short distance from the centre of Lisbon and a must-see for anyone visiting Lisbon. It was built in the early 16th century as a defensive fortification and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The tower is an excellent example of the Manueline architectural style and features intricate stone carvings and ornate decoration, which is perfect for the photographer in you.
Interestingly Belém Tower has served as a prison, a customs house, and a naval academy, and you can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city and the River Tagus. To help plan your itinerary, Belém Tower is ideally situated next to the following few things on our list of things to do in Lisbon.
10 | Admire Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos is another must-visit location in Belém. It was built in the 1950s to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery, during which Portuguese navigators explored and mapped much of the world. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a fancy bit of stonework with some unique carvings worthy of a few photos. If you’d like, you can head up the monument for more panoramic views of the city, but it’s not worth it if you’ve been up Belém Tower because the views are much the same.
11 | Visit Jerónimos Monastery
Jerónimos Monastery is another UNESCO World Heritage site in Lisbon, also in the Belém district. It was built in the early 16th century during the Portuguese Age of Discovery and has some of the best architecture in the city with its ornate decoration and intricate stone carvings. The monastery is now a museum you can visit, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting Lisbon, especially if you’re interested in the history and culture of Portugal.
12 | Eat Pastels de Nata
You can’t visit Lisbon and not try a Pastel de Nata. Pastel de nata, a Portuguese custard tart, is a traditional Portuguese puff pastry filled with a yummy custard made from egg yolks, sugar, and cream. This yummy snack is believed to have originated from the Jerónimos Monastery.
Pastel de Nata is sold in bakeries all over the city, but there are one or two special spots you might want to visit to get your hands on one. The first is the Pastéis de Belém which started baking the “Pastéis de Belém” back in 1837 with, supposedly, the original recipe from the monks of Jerónimos Monastery. It gets pretty busy, and you might find a significant queue. If you are willing to queue, do it; if not, head to the Cantinho da Sé in Alfama, right next to Lisbon Cathedral, and while you’re there, try the macaroons – you won’t regret it!
13 | Visit the National Sanctuary of Christ the King
The National Sanctuary of Christ the King is a trek, given it’s on the other side of the river from Lisbon, but it’s well worth the effort. The structure is massive, and you will only believe how big once you get right up to it. It’s hard to describe how big it is, but it’s 110 metres tall and built entirely of concrete.
Inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro, it was built in 1959 to express thanks to the Portuguese for being spared the effects of the Second World War. It’s not only an impressive structure. The views are also remarkable, with spectacular views across the city and the 25 de Abril bridge. To get there, we’d recommend taking the ferry and bus. Head to Cais do Sodré Ferry Terminal and look for the ferry to Cacilhas. Once you’re across, head to the bus station and look for bus number 101. It will take you to the monument, which costs just a few Euros to head up to the viewing platform.
14 | Listen to Fado
If you are visiting Lisbon, listening to Fado is a must. Fado is a traditional and popular form of Portuguese music and is an essential part of Portuguese culture. So much so it has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The origins of Fado are not well known. It’s thought to have developed in the early 19th century in Lisbon and other coastal cities, with influences from various musical styles such as Brazilian, African, and European folk music.
And the best bit is you will find it in tons of restaurants across the city without making any special effort. We recommend Bistrô Gato pardo. The food’s great, as is the Fado, but make sure you don’t make any noise when they are playing – you will be told off!
15 | Find the History of Lisbon Mural
One last little thing to do in Lisbon if you’re passing is to pop in the tunnel to see the History of Lisbon Mural by Nuno Saraiva. It’s a large-scale mural created by the Portuguese artist Nuno Saraiva, and it depicts the history of the city of Lisbon. It’s worth visiting if you like art because it’s considered one of the city’s most iconic works of urban art. If you’re not into art, you might appreciate the pictured history. If you like neither art nor history, give it a miss.
What is the best time to travel to Lisbon?
Depending on your heat preferences will determine the best to travel to Lisbon. The summer months of July and August have highs of 28° Celcius and lows of 18° Celcius. January is the coldest month, with highs of 15° Celcius and lows of 8° Celcius. January also has the most days of rain, averaging ten days.
Are three days in Lisbon enough?
Three days in Lisbon is a suitable time to explore the city and get the most out of your time, especially if you plan to use our list of things to do in Lisbon!
What’s Lisbon famous for?
Lisbon is famous for a few things, including Fado, a type of Portuguese music, the wonderfully colourful buildings around the city and the seven hills it is built upon. But there are many more things to discover in Lisbon than these few things, which you will find on our list of things to do in Lisbon.
Things to Do in Lisbon
- Ride Historic Tram Route 28
- Admire the Views
- Visit Castelo de S. Jorge
- Visit Lisbon Cathedral
- Relax at Praça do Comércio
- Take the Elevador da Bica
- Ride in the Santa Justa Lift
- Be a Foodie at Time Out Market Lisbon
- Visit Belém Tower
- Admire Padrão dos Descobrimentos
- Visit Jerónimos Monastery
- Eat Pastels de Nata
- Visit the National Sanctuary of Christ the King
- Listen to Fado
- Find the History of Lisbon Mural
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