10 Best Things To See In Lisbon

Hey, fellow explorers! Welcome to Lisbon, a city where every cobblestone whispers a story and every sunset paints a new masterpiece. Of all the cities in Europe..I find Lisbon is a city that has a flair of coolness about it from its canvas of historical richness, to its culinary delights to the vibrant street life, there is just so much to see. If you are anything like me you will find there is so much to see in a limited time, so I have pulled together my own research and experience and curated this list of the best things to see in Lisbon to help you prioritise your time there!
Did you know that Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, predating other European capitals like Paris and Rome by centuries? Or that it’s home to the world’s smallest bookstore? From the melancholic tunes of Fado music to the iconic yellow trams, Lisbon is a city that effortlessly blends tradition with a buzzing contemporary scene.

best things to see in lisbon

When to Go: Timing Your Lisbon Adventure

Lisbon’s charm shines brightest from March to May and September to October. These months offer blissful weather, fewer crowds, and the city in full bloom. Summer brings the sun worshippers but also the crowds, while winter is mild yet unpredictable with occasional rain. So, if you’re after that perfect Instagram shot without the photobombers, spring and autumn are your go-to seasons.

Budgeting in Lisbon: From Luxe to Low-Cost

Lisbon is a dream for budget-savvy travelers and luxury seekers alike. You can savor a pastel de nata (custard tart) for just a euro or two, while a hearty traditional meal at a local tavern might set you back 10-15 euros. Accommodation varies, with hostels starting around 15 euros per night and luxury hotels climbing to 200 euros or more. Public transport is a steal, and walking is always free! Remember, Lisbon’s richness lies in its experiences, not its price tags.

best things to see in lisbon

1. Tram 28: A Journey Through Time

The Iconic Yellow Tram

Hop on the historic Tram 28 for a journey that’s more than just a mode of transport; it’s a trip through Lisbon’s history. This tram takes you through the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods, starting in Graça and winding through the old Alfama district. Here, the streets are a tapestry of history, with each turn revealing a new layer of Lisbon’s past. The tram rattles towards the Baixa and Chiado areas, buzzing with life. For the best experience, hop on early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds. Sit by the window and watch as Lisbon’s story unfolds before your eyes, from the traditional tiled buildings to the glimpses of the Tagus River.

best things to see in lisbon

2. Torre de Belém: A Symbol of Discovery

The Guardian of Lisbon’s History

The Torre de Belém stands as a sentinel at the edge of the Tagus River. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a masterpiece of the Manueline architectural style, symbolizing Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. As you explore this historic tower, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of explorers who set sail from this very spot. The view from the top is a panoramic spectacle, offering a unique perspective of Lisbon and the river that has played such a crucial role in its history. Nearby, indulge in the famous Pastéis de Belém, a sweet treat that’s become synonymous with Lisbon’s culinary heritage.

Lisbon church

3. Jerónimos Monastery: A Gothic Masterpiece

The Jewel of Manueline Art

A short walk from the Torre de Belém lies the Jerónimos Monastery, a testament to Portugal’s golden Age of Discoveries. The monastery is a stunning example of Manueline architecture, with each column and cloister telling a story of exploration and adventure. Inside, you’ll find the tomb of Vasco da Gama, a poignant reminder of the voyages that changed the course of history. The monastery’s tranquil atmosphere is perfect for reflection, allowing you to fully appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and architectural genius of the era.

best things to see in lisbon

4. Alfama District: A Labyrinth of Nostalgia

The Soul of Old Lisbon

No list of the best things to see in Lisbon is complete without mentioning Alfama! Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, is a charming maze of narrow streets, colorful houses, and the haunting melodies of Fado music. This area is a living museum, having survived the great 1755 earthquake, and offers a rare glimpse into Lisbon’s past. The Sé Cathedral, Lisbon’s oldest church, is a must-visit, with its imposing Romanesque architecture. As you wander through Alfama’s streets, you’ll stumble upon hidden gems like the São Vicente de Fora Monastery and the National Pantheon. In the evening, visit a local Fado house to experience the soulful music that is so integral to Portuguese culture.

best things to see in lisbon

5. LX Factory: The Creative Hub

Where Art and Gastronomy Collide

LX Factory, nestled under the 25 de Abril Bridge, is a vibrant cultural hub that has transformed an old industrial complex into a creative paradise. Here, art studios, fashion boutiques, and unique eateries coexist in a lively atmosphere. This places oozes a sense of effortless coolness and is a must visit in this list of best things to see in Lisbon. The Ler Devagar bookstore is a highlight, with its towering shelves and eclectic collection. The LX Factory is not just a place for shopping; it’s a destination for experiencing Lisbon’s contemporary culture. The rooftop bars offer stunning views of the bridge and the river, making them perfect spots for an evening drink.

6. São Jorge Castle: The Watchful Guardian

Panoramic Views from a Historic Fortress

São Jorge Castle, perched on Lisbon’s highest hill, is more than a historic site; it’s a journey through time. The castle’s roots trace back to the Moorish period, and as you explore its robust walls and ancient towers, you’re tracing the steps of history. The view from the castle is unparalleled – a panoramic sweep of the city, the Tagus River, and beyond. Inside, the camera obscura offers a unique 360-degree view of Lisbon, a fascinating way to see the city from a different perspective. The surrounding gardens are a peaceful haven, with roaming peacocks and ancient olive trees, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a quiet picnic. The castle also hosts various cultural events throughout the year, adding to its allure.

Timeout market lisboa
Timeout market lisbon

7. Time Out Market: A Foodie’s Paradise

The Culinary Heartbeat of Lisbon

Nestled in the vibrant Mercado da Ribeira, the Time Out Market is a culinary celebration of Lisbon’s diverse flavors. This bustling food hall is a convergence of some of the city’s finest chefs and eateries. Of all the best things to see in Lisbon, this is a guaranteed foodie favourite! Here, you can savor everything from traditional Portuguese dishes like bacalhau a bras (shredded cod with onions and potatoes) to innovative fusion cuisine. The market’s design encourages communal dining, making it a lively spot to interact with locals and fellow travelers. Beyond the food, the market hosts live music and cultural events, adding to its dynamic atmosphere. It’s not just a place to eat; it’s a place to experience Lisbon’s vibrant culinary scene.

best things to see in lisbon

8. Bairro Alto: The Nightlife Quarter

Where Lisbon Comes Alive at Night

Bairro Alto, with its narrow cobbled streets and eclectic mix of bars, clubs, and restaurants, is the heartbeat of Lisbon’s nightlife. As night falls, this neighborhood transforms into a bustling hub of activity. Here, you can experience everything from intimate Fado houses, where traditional Portuguese music fills the air, to trendy rooftop bars offering stunning city views. The area’s unique blend of the traditional and the modern makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s a place to immerse yourself in Lisbon’s lively night scene, whether you’re looking to dance the night away or enjoy a quiet drink with friends. I highly recommend checking out Timeout Lisbon for their guide to the best bars and restaurants in Lisbon.

9. Belém Cultural Center: A Modern Art Haven

Contemporary Art and Stunning Views

The Belém Cultural Center, a stone’s throw from the historic Jerónimos Monastery, is a testament to Lisbon’s thriving contemporary art scene. This architectural marvel, with its striking modern design, hosts a wide array of exhibitions, performances, and cultural events. The Berardo Museum, located within the center, boasts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, featuring works by renowned artists like Picasso, Warhol, and Dali. The center’s cafes and terraces offer perfect spots to relax and enjoy the views of the Tagus River, making it an ideal place for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

best things to see in lisbon

10. Pena Palace and Sintra – A Fairytale Escape

Enchanting Palaces Amidst Misty Hills

Leaving the bustling streets of Lisbon, a short trip to Sintra offers a magical escape into a fairytale landscape. Nestled amidst the lush, misty hills of the Sintra Mountains, the Pena Palace stands as a testament to romanticist architecture. With its vivid colors, ornate details, and whimsical design, Pena Palace looks like it’s straight out of a storybook. The palace’s interior is equally impressive, with each room telling a different tale through its decor and artifacts. Of all the best things to see in Lisbon, this one probably required the most time and planning, so I would leave aside a day for exploring the Sao Jorge (including travel time there and back).

Once you are in Sintra, you will find the surrounding park around the castles is a hidden gem, a wonderland of exotic plants, hidden paths, and enchanting nooks, perfect for a day of exploration. Its also worth visiting the historic center of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where traditional Portuguese pastries and quaint shops await.

Lisbon, a city where history and modernity dance together under the Iberian sun, offers a myriad of experiences for every type of traveler. From the historic walls of São Jorge Castle to the contemporary buzz of Parque das Nações, each of these 10 best things to see in Lisbon provides a unique window into the heart and soul of Portugal’s capital. In Lisbon, I found myelf fully immersed in all things Lisbon when visitng..from the rich flavors of Portuguese cuisine, soaking in the vibrant city, or immersing yourself in museums, Lisbon was an adventure filled with unforgettable memories. I hope you find Lisbon as fascinating and memorable as I did! I would love to hear your thoughts so please share what you are looking forward to in Lisbon! Also if you are looking for other similar destinations, check out our guide to 10 Best Places for Solo Female Travel here.