Highlights of Lisbon: Everything You Need To See, Eat and More!
Lisbon is Portugal’s sun-drenched and vibrant capital, which is truly one of those cities that is just so easy to fall in love with and feel at home in.
There are so many amazing things to do in Lisbon, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the fastest-growing and most beautiful cities in Europe, with nearly two million people visiting every year!
This city really draws you in with its unique neighbourhoods, incredible food, and endless things to do. So much so that I couldn’t resist coming back, this time for several weeks, despite vowing to never visit the same destination twice! I’ve gotten to know this city extremely well over the years, and trust me when I say that Lisbon deserves to be at the top of your must-visit list.
So, let’s explore all the highlights of Lisbon, its hidden gems and more!
Things to know before you get to Lisbon
First things first, let’s talk practical details. Portuguese is the official language of Lisbon, so it’s always helpful to know a few phrases before you start your Portugal adventure.
‘Bom Dia’ (Good Morning), ‘Obrigado’ (Thank you), and ‘Por favor’ (Please) are some essentials that will endear you to the locals.
Although Portuguese is the native language, we found that lots of people also speak English.
As for currency, Portugal is a member of the European Union, so the official currency is the Euro. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted across Lisbon, but it’s still a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially for smaller purchases and tipping.
Daily Travel Budget for Lisbon:
The cost of travel varies depending on your travel style and all the activities you’ve planned, but in general, Lisbon is a relatively affordable city to visit in Europe.
Here is a rough breakdown of daily travel expenses for a budget, mid-range, or luxury traveler:
- Budget traveler: €50-€70 per day
This budget covers dormitory-style hostel accommodation (or perhaps an Airbnb), using public transportation or walking, eating street food or at affordable local restaurants, and visiting free or low-cost museums and attractions in Lisbon.
- Mid-range traveler: €80-€150 per day
This budget includes a comfortable hotel room, eating at mid-range restaurants, using public transportation or taxis, and visiting paid attractions and Lisbon tours.
- Luxury traveler: €200-€500+ per day
This budget includes high-end hotel stays, fine dining experiences, private tours or drivers, shopping, and other luxury activities in Lisbon.
Note that these are just rough estimates, and your actual daily travel budget may vary depending on your spending habits and travel style. However, you can use these estimates to plan and budget for your trip to Lisbon!
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
Now, onto one of the most asked questions – when is the best time to visit Lisbon? Truthfully, Lisbon’s charm is ever-present, making it a fantastic destination year-round, but let’s break it down by season:
- Spring (March to May)
The city comes alive with mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and less crowds. It’s the perfect time to walk around, enjoy Lisbon parks, and sit in an outdoor cafe. Don’t miss the ‘Peixe em Lisboa’ – a famous annual fish and seafood festival held every April!
- Summer (June to August)
Summer is peak tourist season. With its golden sun, Lisbon is the perfect place for a beach getaway. Enjoy street festivals like ‘Festas de Lisboa’ in June, where the city dances to traditional music and parties late into the night.
- Autumn (September to November)
Autumn brings pleasant temperatures and lower hotel rates. The city is less crowded, and it’s the ideal time to visit museums, historic sites and general city siteseeing in Lisbon.
- Winter (December to February)
Lisbon in Winter weather is mild compared to most European cities. There’s less sunshine, but you can enjoy the unique charm of the city’s Christmas decorations and festivities, and hit some of the best rooftop bars in Lisbon for some mulled wine with a view!
How to Get to Lisbon
There’s several ways to get to Lisbon, depending on the starting point of your trip. Here are a few of the most direct travel routes:
Lisbon’s airport, the Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), is served by many major airlines from cities across Europe, as well as a few direct flights from North America and South America.
Kiwi is one of the best online flight booking platforms when searching for cheap airfares. Not only can you search an entire continent, but you can also select different destinations to find the lowest rates for the whole route ⁀➷
Train travel to Lisbon is possible from lots of major cities in Europe. Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach booking platform, which you can use to get the best available prices, times, and train/bus tickets for your journey. Save up to 51% with early booking! ⁀➷
Many cities in Portugal and Spain have direct bus routes to Lisbon, including Madrid, Seville, and Porto. Busbud is an online bus-booking platform that has compiled the world’s largest selection of bus tickets. Wherever you’re traveling, you can easily compare bus tickets from different companies and book the best option for your next trip⁀➷
Lisbon is accessible from other parts of Portugal and Europe by car. Hiring a car is an amazing option as you’ll get to see so much of Lisbon and its stunning surroundings this way.
When we hired a car in Portugal, we used Discover Cars, which is a fantastic car rental comparison website you can use to find, compare and rent a car globally. It ended up saving us quite a bit of €€€ ⁀➷
Best Things to do in Lisbon
Catch the Iconic Tram 28
Start your Lisbon adventure by getting the Tram that is a tourist attraction itself! Tram 28 is one of the famous icons of Lisbon and goes on a historic route that gives a scenic tour of the city’s best sites. This includes the popular tourist areas of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela.
The route (red line) starts from Praça Martim Moniz, which is a square located east of the Baixa. If you just want to take Tram 28, you can buy your ticket directly from the tram driver. Top tip: It’s best to start at Martim Moniz, otherwise all seats will be taken and you’ll end up having to stand and see nothing of the scenic route.
Prefer video format? Watch my Tram 28 Video here ↓
Shop Until You Drop
From the chic boutiques in Chiado to the trendy stores in Principe Real, Lisbon’s shopping districts cater to literally everyone’s tastes. If you’re looking to find some of the best souvenirs in Portugal, head to Feira da Ladra. This is the city’s oldest flea market and the perfect place to find a treasure trove of unique and handcrafted souvenirs to take home. Or, if luxury brands are more your thing, make sure you visit Avenida da Liberdade, which is Lisbon’s answer to the Champs-Élysées! If you’re more into high street shops like H&M and Desiguel, then one of the best places to shop in Lisbon is Vasco da Gama Shopping Center. This mall has plenty of shops and an excellent food court.
While in Lisbon, if you fancy taking home a classic Portuguese tile or two, Cortiço & Netos is the place to go, here you’ll be able to pick up one-off decorative bargains. Or you could even delve into the world of Portuguese literature at the iconic Livraria Bertrand, which is the world’s oldest operating bookstore that has a unique literary-inspired café in the back. When it comes to shopping in Lisbon, it’s fair to say that the choices are endless and there truly is something for everyone.
Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
One of the top highlights of Lisbon, especially for history buffs, is Belém Tower. This is one of Lisbon’s most remarkable monuments and the icon of a country shaped by its proximity to the sea and its groundbreaking maritime explorations and discoveries of new worlds. These voyages ushered in a new era of global discovery, turning Lisbon into the preeminent trade centre of the world during the 15th and 16th centuries.
To protect the city, Belém Tower was constructed and features a heavily armed bastion used to defend Lisbon from enemy ships. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a cornerstone of Portuguese identity.
Belem Tower also boasts panoramic views of the city from its terrace, making it a photographer’s dream and one of the best places to visit in all of Lisbon.
Do the Most Touristy Thing in Lisbon
Next, if you want to try Authentic Portuguese Cuisine, I highly recommend trying the famous pastel de nata, which is a creamy egg custard tart that’s a local obsession. To get your hands on them, head to Pastéis de Belém to sample the best Portuguese tarts in Lisbon!
This is one of those touristy things to do in Lisbon that honestly lives up to the hype. The tarts are seriously delicious and always fresh. If you’re a Nutella fan like me, you could also check out Cantinho da Sé for a chocolate twist!
Discover the New Cultural Centre for Lisbon
There’s also regular pilgrimages to the area of Belém for MAAT (Art, Architecture and Technology Museum), which is an ultra-modern museum and the new cultural centre for Lisbon.
The MAAT is an extraordinary place where Art, Architecture and Technology intertwine within a space of debate, discovery and critical thinking.
Its futuristic structure is designed by British architect Amanda Levete and is unlike anything else you will find in Portugal.
This multidisciplinary art and culture destination hosts both permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, as well as what is now deemed the most impressive collection of contemporary Portuguese art.
If you can only check out one museum while in the city, the MAAT is it. Even its riverside location is spectacular!
Stroll Around the Chicest Place in Lisbon
Get your steps in and lose yourself in Alfama, which is Lisbon’s oldest district. The narrow, winding streets and quaint houses of Alfama have so much character and charm.
Also, Alfama is famous for having the best Fado in Lisbon. For anyone unfamiliar with Fado, it’s basically traditional music known for its expressive and profoundly melancholic character, which has become a symbol of Portuguese culture.
Explore a Stunning Castle in Lisbon
Step back in time with a visit to the historic Castelo de São Jorge, which is a treasured landmark in the heart of Lisbon.
Renowned for its breathtaking panoramic views of the city, this former Moorish royal residence offers a unique blend of rich history and unrivalled scenic beauty.
The well-preserved ramparts boast an awe-inspiring 360-degree view encompassing Lisbon’s iconic red-tiled rooftops, its Cathedral, the sparkling Tagus River and the distant silhouette of the Sintra mountains. So don’t forget your camera this is a true highlight of Lisbon that should not be missed!
Hang Out at the Coolest Place in Lisbon
The eclectic LX Factory is a former industrial complex turned thriving cultural and creative hub. This is Lisbon’s hipster paradise, with everything from trendy boutiques, quirky restaurants, to stunning street art.
Did you know that you can go dolphin watching in Lisbon? On this tour, you’ll sail past key Lisbon landmarks while making your way down the Tagus River, all while learning more about these adorable creatures from a marine biologist! If you’re into nature, this is the number 1 activity to do in Lisbon!
Escape City Life at Monsanto Park
Monsanto Park is a gorgeous public park in Lisbon that’s actually 3 times the size of New York’s Central Park.
This urban park offers stunning views of the city, with plenty of walking trails, green spaces, and picnic spots, making it one of the best parks in Lisbon.
You can also find an amphitheater, a skate park, and a playground for kids. So, whether you’re looking for a peaceful escape or some outdoor activities, Monsanto Park has something for everyone.
Best Lisbon Art Museum
For any art lovers Immersivus Gallery is an absolute must-visit in Lisbon. Here you’ll find immersive shows that use high-tech projections and holograms to bring to life iconic works (from the likes of Klimt and Monet). This is probably the most unique thing you can do in Lisbon and the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Lisbon Sunset Cruise
Another fun thing to do in Lisbon is a sunset cruise on a vintage sail boat, where you can take in all of the incredible coastal spots around Lisbon. You’ll get lots of snacks and delicious Portuguese wines too!
Take in Lisbon’s Highest Viewpoint
Catch the sunset at Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, which is the highest viewpoint in Lisbon – it’s the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy a well-earned rest!
This vantage point offers sweeping views of Lisbon’s historic cityscape, including landmarks like the majestic São Jorge Castle, the Tagus River, and the 25 de Abril Bridge. Good to know: This amazing spot is easy to reach, being only a short walk from the iconic Tram 28 stop on Rua da Graça.
Best Night Out in Lisbon
Savour the nightlife in Bairro Alto after dark, where Lisbon comes alive in a whole new way. This is one of Lisbon’s most vibrant and bohemian districts, full of colourful street art and a place where you can join the city’s night owls.
Bairro Alto is also a great place to try the famous Ginjinha (cherry liqueur), found in most of the quirky bars here (Os Amigos da Severa in particular is known for its ginjinha nights). It may be strong and tart but this drink is well worth trying at least once!
One of the best rooftop bars Lisbon, Park, is also found in Bairro Alto – this is one of the best places to head to in Lisbon at night, so be sure to add it to your itinerary!
Most Instagrammable Spots in Lisbon
Also known as Rua Nova do Carvalho, this vibrant pink street running through Cais do Sodré is a super popular spot for photos.
Praça do Comércio is one of the best sites in Lisbon as it’s just the most beautiful and historic square. With its distinctive yellow buildings, it truly makes the perfect backdrop for some epic Instagram shots.
A beautifully ornate elevator that offers great views of the city from the top – add it to your Lisbon Itinerary and capture some unique content.
Best Restaurants in Lisbon
Here’s my list of where you can get the best food in Lisbon, which is known for its mouth watering cuisine. Once you get here you’ll quickly discover that there’s an endless list of dining options to choose from here, which can feel overwhelming, but hopefully my list will help you narrow down your choices!
Looking for the best breakfast in Lisbon? Check out Dear Breakfast! As its name suggests, breakfast is taken seriously at Dear Breakfast. From fluffy pancakes to indulgent eggs Benedict, their menu has a mix of delightful sweet and savoury options.
Lisbon is famous for its brunch scene! While you’re here I HIGHLY recommend heading to The Mill – the home to the best brunch in Lisbon. The Mill – the home of Lisbon’s favourite brunch. This trendy cafe not only offers great coffee but also a delicious brunch menu with items like shakshuka, gourmet sandwiches, and freshly baked pastries. The chic and minimalist decor is also very Instagrammable.
Time Out Market is also somewhere you can find the best Lisbon food under one roof. However, do note that these days it’s actually quite difficult to find somewhere to sit at the market due to its popularity. I had to eat my Tiramisu standing up (tragic!)
If you’re a health freak, head to Honest Greens! We must have gone here about 10 times during our trip as it’s super healthy and a great place to spend the afternoon working (strong WiFi, great coffee and a gorgeous boho setting).
The best seafood we had in Lisbon was at Ponto Final, which you can get to by a short ferry that will set you back a whole €1.20 for the scenic journey! It only takes 15 minutes from Cais Do Sodre and once you get to the restaurant you can try some of the best cocktails in town. You’ll also be greeted by incredible views of the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge, which are some of Portugal’s most famous landmarks!
If you’re into Italian, a real hidden gem in Lisbon is Come Prima where everything is made fresh – the Tagliatelle is to die for! This is for sure one of the best places to go in Portugal for couples as the vibe is super cosy and romantic.
Love coffee? Then head to Buna Specialty Coffee. This small, charming cafe is renowned for serving the best coffee in Lisbon and has a really quirky, fun vibe. Also if you love iced lattes, check out Copenhagen Coffee Lab, which also offers milk alternatives. The only downside of this gorgeous coffee shop is that there were signs saying ‘no laptops’, so we couldn’t spend the afternoon working here as planned, but otherwise it’s perfect for an actual coffee break!
If you’re a true foodie, why not do an actual food tour that goes to all of Lisbon’s traditional eateries, in the company of a culinary guide. This food tour will take you on a guided walk through Lisbon’s neighbourhoods, while sampling authentic food and some of the best wine in Portugal.
Best Lisbon Food Hack: Download The Fork to get special deals and up to 50% off thousands of restaurants in Lisbon! Not an ad, just a top tip from our friend who lives here! 🤫
Best Bars in Lisbon
Lisbon has an incredibly vibrant bar scene, with something for everyone, from rooftop cocktails to cozy neighbourhood taverns.
Here are a few of the best bars in Lisbon:
Park Bar: This is a rooftop bar with seriously amazing views of the city, the river, and the bell towers of Santa Catarina Church.
Red Frog: A hidden speakeasy-style bar with delicious cocktails and a cozy atmosphere. It’s recently been voted as one of the best bars in the world!
The Old Pharmacy Wine Bar: An intimate wine bar located inside an old pharmacy building, which stocks the best Portuguese wines and food.
Pavilhão Chinês: A quirky bar that feels like stepping into a vintage toy-store or curiosity shop, with a wide selection of drinks.
Cinco Lounge: This is a popular cocktail lounge with creative cocktails and a chic vibe.
These are just a few suggestions, but there are tons of other amazing bars to explore in Lisbon!
Best Day Trips from Lisbon:
If you’re looking for an epic castle near Lisbon head to Sintra, which is known as the Crown Jewel of Portugal and for good reason. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a seriously magical place, recognised for its romanticist architecture, unrivalled natural beauty, and historic significance.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on one side, while being tucked away among the Sintra mountains on the other, Sintra is literally the perfect setting for a day trip or leisurely weekend away from Lisbon.
To get here from Lisbon only takes 30 minutes by car (via the IC19 highway). Or by Train, it takes around 40 minutes from Lisbon’s Rossio Station.
If you only have time to do one thing in Sintra, Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) has to be it! This striking castle in the mountains is a mix of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Moorish styles. Its vibrant colours and details make it the perfect place to get some epic Instagram shots!
When you’re here, don’t forget to take a walk around the Pena Park that surrounds the palace, which is full of exotic trees and enchanting hidden corners.
Other highlights of Sintra include Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros), which is an 8th-9th century fortification with breathtaking views over the surrounding area (and all the way to the Atlantic on clear days).
Palácio Nacional de Sintra is also worth checking out – this is the best-preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal and conveniently located right in the town centre.
When you’re in Sintra make sure you try traditional pastries like the “queijadas de Sintra” (cheese pastries) and “travesseiros” (puff pastries filled with almond cream) at the Piriquita pastry shop.
Top Tip: Sintra’s climate is mercurial, meaning it’s possible to experience all four seasons in a single day! So, pack your rain jacket just in case.
Sesimbra is a real hidden gem and in my opinion it is one of the best beach towns in Portugal. Here you’ll find a lovely beach below a medieval castle, fresh seafood straight from the Atlantic, and stunning natural parks.
To get to Sesimbra from Lisbon takes around 40 minutes by car (via the A2 and then the N378) and an hour by TST bus (from Lisbon’s Praça de Espanha).
Once you get here, head to Sesimbra’s main beach, Praia do Ouro, which is a long sandy stretch perfect for sunbathing and water sports. There’s also lots of tours you can do here including dolphin watching and sunset cruises. Our guide told us that sometimes you can even spot killer whales and sharks in the waters here.
Just off the beach you will find Gelatomania, which serves the best ice cream you will probably ever have in your life – they even have a Nutella tap! As Sesimbra is a hotspot for seafood lovers, I also recommend grabbing a bite to eat at Casa Mateus, which is a local favourite serving the national dish of “bacalhau” (codfish).
Other amazing activities in Sesimebra include exploring the ancient walls of Sesimbra Castle (Castelo de Sesimbra) and Arrábida Natural Park, which is a stunning natural area made for hiking, biking and picnicking.
Costa Da Caparica
Costa da Caparica offers a quintessential Portuguese beach town experience and is truly one of the country’s best-kept secrets! It’s actually located only 15 kilometres south of Lisbon, and it takes less than 30 minutes by car to get here. En route, you’ll drive across the 25 de Abril Bridge, which looks exactly like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge! Several bus lines also run from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica, with the most frequent service being provided by TST and taking around an hour.
Costa Da Caparica, with its seemingly endless coastline, is known for being one of the best places to surf in Portugal. If you’re keen on riding the waves when you get here, CIS is an amazing surf school that offers lessons for just €25. Or while you’re here, you could simply rent a Lime Scooter for around €5 and ride along the boardwalk overlooking the stunning beach.
Beyond the beach, there’s also plenty to explore. Check out the Capuchos Convent, located on the edge of the cliff, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline. For nature lovers, the Mata dos Medos is a must-visit in Costa Da Caparica, with its protected pine forest being the perfect place for a refreshing hike.
Often considered Lisbon’s most enchanting satellite, Cascais deserves a top spot on your Portugal itinerary. Even though it was once a humble fishing village, Cascais has morphed into an elegant and vibrant seaside destination, without losing its original character.
This resort town is located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Lisbon, along the beautiful Estoril coast. It’s a perfect day trip from the capital, offering a scenic journey along the Portuguese Riviera.
Taking the train from Lisbon is perhaps the most convenient and popular way to get to Cascais. The journey, departing from the Cais do Sodré station, takes around 40 minutes and provides stunning views of the coastline. Or by car, Cascais is only 30 minutes from Lisbon city centre (via the A5 motorway) or 45-60 minutes if you take the Marginal Avenue scenic route, which also offers gorgeous ocean views.
When you get to Cascais, head to one of the main beaches (either Praia da Rainha, Praia da Conceição, or Praia da Duquesa), all offering equally idyllic settings for sunbathing, swimming, or simply admiring the sunset.
If you venture beyond the beaches, you’ll find a town steeped in history. I highly recommend taking a stroll around Cascais’ compact old town, which is a beautiful maze of cobbled streets, pastel-hued buildings, and quaint shops.
For a relaxing end to your day, take a leisurely walk along the Cascais-Estoril promenade, where you’ll be able to capture some gorgeous pictures of the illuminated Santa Marta Lighthouse!
Where to Stay in Lisbon:
On our most recent trip to Lisbon we stayed with a friend who lives here. However, Lisbon has so many different accommodation options to suit literally everyones budget.
Previously I have stayed at these hotels, which I highly recommend:
: ̗̀➛ My Story Hotel Tejo: This is one of the best boutique hotels in Lisbon. It’s located in the gorgeous Alfama district and has stylish rooms with traditional Portuguese decor. My Story also has a rooftop terrace that offers some of the most stunning views of Lisbon.
: ̗̀➛ Hotel Avenida Palace: This elegant 5 star hotel is located in the Baixa neighbourhood, close to lots of Lisbon’s major attractions. It has super stylish rooms and the most beautiful breakfast room I have ever seen (the Grand Palace Lounge). If your budget can stretch, this is for sure one of the best best places to stay in Lisbon.
: ̗̀➛ Memmo Alfama: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Alfama district, and offers panoramic views of the city from its rooftop and plunge pool. It also features modern rooms with a mix of Portuguese and Scandinavian design.
You can also find the best accommodation deals using Hotellook ೃ⁀➷
Every corner of Lisbon exudes charm and energy, making it a destination that is as diverse as it is delightful. From its historic heart to its hip and trendy hotspots, this city truly has it all. So now it’s your turn to fall under Lisbon’s spell and discover why we’ve left a piece of our hearts in this Portuguese paradise!
Catch you in the next post ✌️
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