20 of the Most Exciting Things to Do in Lisbon for Culture Junkies

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The Modern Travel Agency


    Wondering what to do in Lisbon (Lisboa) while you’re visiting? From immersing yourself in the city’s rich culture to exploring Lisbon’s most beautiful landmarks, we have you covered with 20 awesome things to do across the city.

    On the other hand, you can skip the reading and get tailored travel suggestions on everything from itinerary ideas to the

    All you have to do is to plan and book your trip. Booking with us costs the same as booking online by yourself, except you’ll also get to enjoy awesome, complimentary perks and unwavering support any time you need it. It’s like having a cool friend on the inside.

    What’s Lisbon best known for?

    One of the , Lisbon is known for its stunning Old-World architecture, lively nightlife and excellent gastronomy, the latter of which spans local and national favorites, as well as European and international cuisine. 

    Locals here are also very friendly and welcoming, and have plenty of ideas for what to do in Lisbon — just see our .

    What’s the best time to visit Lisbon?

    This mostly depends on what you’re hoping to do in Lisbon. 

    Throughout most of the year, the city is sunny and warm. However, this also brings a lot of travelers, particularly in summer, when most children are out of school. 

    The shoulder seasons, which roughly correspond with spring and fall, are slightly less crowded and tend to offer better rates. 

    If you’re mostly interested in cultural attractions, winter can be the best time to visit Lisbon because crowds are sparse and rates are at their most affordable. On the other hand, winter does bring chillier temperatures and frequent rain.

    (P.S. Our guide to the has more insights if you’re curious about when to visit the country at large.)

    Is 3 days enough time to enjoy Lisbon?

    You could spend weeks in Lisbon and not see everything, but to answer the question: yes, you can probably see most of Lisbon’s highlights if you don’t mind a packed itinerary. 

    We recommend four or five days, which obviously gives you more time to explore the city in detail. And if you’re really eager to see more of Portugal, you can always split your time between Lisbon and other cool places, like Porto or the Algarve (see how to travel from or ).

    Our sample can give you an idea of what you’ll be able to do. Or, you can always for a tailored itinerary.

    What’s the best way to get around Lisbon? Is the city walkable?

    Virtually all the are indeed walkable. But as a larger city, it can be tedious (though also exciting) to walk from one end of the city to another. Fortunately, Lisbon has a great public transportation system, with a series of trams, cablecars, metro trains and buses that will take you just about anywhere in the city with comparative ease.

    (BTW: many of the are strategically located in awesome areas.)

    20 of the coolest things to do in Lisbon

    Read on for a breakdown of 20 of our favorite things to do in Lisbon.

    1. Tram 28E: a convenient way to see many of Lisbon’s coolest sights

    Cutting through some of Lisbon’s most historic and scenic neighborhoods (such as Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Estrela) and passing by famous landmarks, including the and the Basilica of Estrela, Tram 28E offers travelers a highlight reel of sorts. 

    The entire route only takes about an hour and costs about €3 (or less if you buy a prepaid card).

    2. Belém: explore beautiful historical sights like Belém Tower and the Jéronimos Monastery

    Slightly removed from Lisbon’s heart, Belém is a lovely historic district found along the southwestern shores of the Tagus River. Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries and Jéronimos Monastery are among the area's top landmarks, each offering a glimpse into Lisbon’s architectural past. 

    You can also try the area’s signature pastries, pastéis de Belém (a.k.a. pastéis de natas), here. The pastries, best paired with a cup of coffee or tea, have a flaky crust that conceals a delicious custard sprinkled with either cinnamon or sugar.

    Wondering about what else there is to do in Belém? Or where to stay? Connect with Fora.

    3. Castelo de São Jorge (a.k.a. St. Jorge’s Castle): a must-add to your list of things to do in Lisbon

    Lisbon is filled with incredible examples of Old-World architecture, but few sights are as imposing or impressive as St. Jorge’s Castle (Castelo de S. Jorge). This medieval fortress stands at the top of a hill in Alfama, overlooking much of the city. Likewise, one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon is simply taking in the view of the city from atop the castle’s walls or towers.

    4. LX Factory: a cool arts complex with galleries, boutiques & interesting restaurants

    LX Factory is kind of like a contemporary take on traditional Old-World street markets, but with an added focus on local art. Throughout the mall-like complex, you’ll find boutiques selling a mix of Portuguese and international wares, as well as galleries featuring the works of local artists. Similarly, there are a lot of trendy eateries here, ranging from local favorites to a variety of European, American and Asian hot spots.

    (Love Portugal’s art scene? Many of the best boutique hotels in Lisbon embody the experience.)

    5. Enjoy a day trip to Sintra, Cascais & more cool towns in Portugal

    Okay, while enjoying a day trip to another town in Portugal sort of bends the rules of what counts as something to do in Lisbon, the idea’s definitely worth entertaining, especially if you’re staying in the city for more than a couple days. 

    Sintra is a scenic destination filled with old castles and natural beauty — the Park and National Palace of Pena is a must-see, for example. Cascais is more of a beach town, with gorgeous ocean-front resorts and a laid-back vibe.

    6. Listen to live Fado, signature Portuguese folk music, while enjoying small bites & drinks

    Fado is a folksy, traditional form of Portuguese music that often expresses longing, nostalgia and hardship — it’s often melodic and sad, but beautiful, too. And there are tons of places throughout Lisbon where you can listen to Fado at its most authentic while enjoying traditional Portuguese bites and cocktails. 

    Need intel on the best spots? Book and plan your trip with Fora.

    7. Take in Lisbon’s ‘Miradouros,’ or vistas

    Who said the best things to do in Lisbon have to be complex? Sometimes the best thing to do in a new place is to simply take in the view — and Lisbon makes it easy with its Miradouros, which translates to viewpoints or vistas. The city’s sloped elevation presents dozens of locations to admire the city’s beauty, from its picturesque architecture to the lovely Tagus River.

    (Sidenote: checking out Miradouros also happens to be one of the coolest things to do in Porto, Portugal.)

    8. Alfama & Baixa: stroll through Lisbon’s most historic streets

    Alfama is essentially the core of Lisbon’s historic district, while Baixa represents the city’s bustling downtown. The former rivals Belém in terms of historical significance — we already mentioned St. Jorge’s Castle — while the latter is lined with hundreds of restaurants, shops and museums representing the best of modern Lisbon. 

    Best of all, these two districts are totally walkable (but there are also metro stops, buses, etc.).  

    9. Time Out Market Lisboa: a great way to sample Portuguese cuisine (& a super fun thing to do in Lisbon)

    Time Out Market Lisboa is a great place to visit if you want to sample all sorts of elevated Portuguese (and international) cuisine in a single place. 

    The whole concept is unique, originating in the mid-2010s from the team behind Time Out Portugal, a local variety magazine. In their words, “If it’s good, it goes in the magazine, if it’s great, it goes into the market” — “it” being various dishes, of course. The project immediately took off, and actually played a role in making the whole neighborhood of Cais do Sodré one of the best areas to visit in Lisbon.

    Want to learn more? Connect with Fora for the full scoop.

    10. Calouste Gulbenkian Museums: twin art museums highlighting both Portuguese & international art across eras

    The grounds of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation host three separate institutions — each a worthy addition to any list of things to do in Lisbon. 

    The Garden of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a relaxed space hosting manicured park trails and gardens. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum hosts over 5,000 years of art spanning nearly every corner of the earth, while the Gulbenkian Center of Modern Art hosts thousands of 20th-century works, mostly from Portugal.

    Note: the Gulbenkian Center of Modern Art is currently closed for renovations.

    11. Tour the Archeology Museum of Carmo

    Wondering what to do in Lisbon that touches on the city’s past?

    In 1755, Lisbon was hit by a devastating earthquake that leveled entire blocks. The Carmo Convent, a stunning representation of Gothic church architecture, was left in ruins for over a century until the remnants were repurposed to form Lisbon’s Archeology Museum of Carmo (Museu Arqueológico do Carmo), which collects Portuguese artifacts dating back to antiquity through the present. There’s even a dedicated exhibit on the Carmo Convent itself.

    12. Check out Praça do Comércio before exploring Baixa de Lisboa’s shops & cafés

    Another casualty of the earthquake of 1755, Commerce Square — or Praça do Comércio —was built out of the rubble of the former royal palace. Now set between the bustling neighborhood of Baixa and the Lisbon waterfront, Commerce Square is a grand plaza surrounded by elegant neoclassical architecture. A grandiose monument commemorating King José I stands prominently at the center of the square and a stone pier offers lovely views of the Tagus River.

    Baixa de Lisboa is a fun neighborhood to explore, too. There are tons of great seafood restaurants along with souvenirs and other shops.

    Interested in staying near Praça do Comércio: one of our favorite luxury hotels in Lisbon, Pousada de Lisboa, is adjacent to the square. Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay.

    13. Take the Santa Justa Lift from Baixa to Carmo Square

    Far more than an ordinary elevator, the Santa Justa Lift (a.k.a. the Santa Justa Elevator or Elevador de Santa Justa) is a neo-gothic masterpiece that first became operational in 1902. An engineering marvel at the time, thousands of people bought tickets the very first day the lift became operational, a trend that still continues. If you’re looking for something novel to do in Lisbon, you can’t go wrong with checking this attraction out — plus, it’s functional if you’re trying to get from lower Baixa to Carmo Square on foot.

    Sidenote: if the Santa Justa Lift reminds you of Paris’ Eiffel Tower, it’s not a coincidence. The architect who planned the elevator was inspired by Gustave Eiffel and incorporated some of the same design elements that the latter used in his namesake tower.

    14. Admire the Lisbon Cathedral (a.k.a. ‘Sé de Lisboa’)

    The oldest church in the city, the Lisbon Cathedral was originally built in the 12th century on the site of a former mosque. Numerous architectural styles are represented in its façade, a byproduct of having been built and rebuilt several times over after a series of disasters spanning the church’s nearly 1,000 years of history.

    The cathedral also hosts numerous artifacts and artworks going back centuries.

    (Want to explore beyond Lisbon? Check out our 10-day Portugal itinerary.)

    15. Feira da Ladra (a.k.a. the Lisbon Flea Market): find Portuguese antiques & more

    The Lisbon Flea Market — or Feira da Ladra — is held every Tuesday and Saturday in Campo de Santa Clara behind the São Vicente de Fora monastery (no relation). Of all the things to do in Lisbon that we’ve covered so far, this one might be the coolest for travelers who love to immerse themselves in new cultures.

    At the market, you’re likely to find all sorts of unique antiques, vintage clothing, handmade crafts and more. 

    Want to know more? Book and plan your trip with Fora.

    16. National Tile Museum (a.k.a. ‘Museu Nacional do Azulejo’): peruse a prestigious museum that celebrates Portugal’s most famous architectural contribution

    Portuguese architecture’s most innovative element is its inclusion of ornate wall and ceiling tiles. Colorful and regal tile displays add a unique accent to neoclassical styles — and there’s no better place to enjoy their beauty than Lisbon’s National Tile Museum (or Museu Nacional do Azulejo). 

    Housed in a historic monastery, the museum is an exhibit itself, and strolling through its storied halls is one of the more relaxed things to do in Lisbon.

    (Visiting Portugal with family during the holiday season? Read our family holiday guide to Porto and Lisbon.)

    17. Ajuda National Palace (or ‘Palácio Nacional da Ajuda’): check out the 19th-century home of the Portuguese Royal Family

    Wondering what royal life was like back in the 1800s? The Ajuda National Palace — a royal-estate-turned-national-museum-slash-public-space — offers a glimpse. There are government offices, a public library and the Royal Treasure Museum (Museu do Tesouro Real), which collects royal jewels and artifacts. 

    Of course, like the National Tile Museum, the Ajuda National Palace is a beautiful structure exemplifying neoclassical architecture with a Portuguese flair.

    Want to know the best time to visit the museum? Love the idea of having a travel pro reserve your tickets for you? Connect with Fora.

    18. Take a long day trip to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe

    Okay, we know we already mentioned day trips from Lisbon, but a trip to Cabo da Roca is special. Aside from being enchantingly picturesque — rocky cliffs topped with a quaint lighthouse overlook the deep blues of Portugal’s Atlantic coast — the area is famous for being the westernmost point of continental Europe. In other words, without leaving the mainland, you cannot travel further west anywhere in Europe.

    Cabo da Roca is about an hour from the heart of Lisbon, but the drive is quite scenic. You can also stop at Sintra or Cascais along the way.

    19. Cruise along the Tagus River (one of the most relaxing things to do in Lisbon)

    If you’re in need of a relaxing, river-bound journey, a cruise along the Tagus River may be exactly what you need. Voyages start in Lisbon and venture deep into the Portuguese countryside. And don’t worry if you’re looking for a livelier experience, some options are catered toward more energetic travelers.

    Connect with Fora for details on cruises along the Tagus (or Douro River). 

    20. Portuguese wine tasting: sample some of the country’s best blends

    While the city of Porto is Portugal’s wine hub — and where most port wine is produced (see the coolest things to do in Porto, Portugal) — the capital is teeming with opportunities to sample many of the country’s best blends. Options range from casual tastings to top-tier experiences at the city’s best restaurants and venues.

    (Want to explore more of Portugal’s wine scene? Our guides to Douro Valley wine country and guide to Porto have you covered.)

    Need more recs for fun things to do in Lisbon? Connect with Fora

    This is by no means a full list of all the things to do in Lisbon. Portugal’s capital is a big city rife with culture and excitement. For more recs, book and plan your trip with Fora. We’ll help you build an itinerary (or if you prefer a more hands-off approach, simply offer more ideas) that matches your preferences and budget completely.

    Interested in more European travel inspiration? See our guides below, too:

    This article has been fact checked by Fora Advisor Sara Wilcox, a member of Fora X and expert on travel to Lisbon, Portugal.

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