Set against the backdrop of Atlantic Ocean and spectacular hilltops overlooking the city, Lisbon is the perfect holiday destination in Western Europe. With its lively nightlife and pleasant year-round climate, this sun-kissed city enthralls its visitors who are blown away by the medieval castles, cathedrals and cobbled alleyways. The best way to explore some of the most popular Lisbon attractions is by foot or by public transport. Here comes my list of best things to do in Lisbon
Torre de Belem
Housing some of the most important monuments including the tower of Belem, the historic neighborhood of Belem was an important departure point during the Age of Discoveries. Notable adventurers like Vasco De Gama (first person to sail from Europe to India) and Ferdinand Mallegan (successfully circumnavigated the world) embarked on their journey from Belem. Tower of Belem was built in early 16th century to protect the city from being attacked by the sea. Admire the stunning stonework motif depicting the Discoveries.
Visit to St. George Castle
Perched on top of the highest hill in Alfama, St. George castle or Castelo De Sao Jorge offers a panoramic city view and a peek into the 1000-year-old history of Lisbon. The castle was served as a fortification for the Romans, Visigoths and Moors. It was eventually taken by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques. The castle was rediscovered in the early 20th century during an excavation. Much of the building’s relic is still intact including the canons, underground chambers and eighteen towers. The castle also features a restaurant, garden and an archaeological museum.
Explore the City’s Historic Museums
A trip to Lisbon’s museums might not sound too exciting at first but it is the best place to get a glimpse of the vast history and tradition of the city. A visit to the National Tile Museum or Museu Nacional does Azulejo will let you know about Lisbon’s architecture and its vibrant ceramic tiles.
Admire the museum’s expansive collection of tiles in all colors and sizes, some of which are even pieced together to create murals depicting stories. Delve deep into 5000 years in the history of medicine at the Pharmacy Museum which exhibits a collection of over 15000 historical pieces related to medical practices in different times and places around the world.
Museu da Farmácia
Admire the world-renowned collection of art at Gulbenkian Museum that displays extraordinary Egyptian statues, European paintings and Chinese porcelain.
Visit to Historic Monasteries and Cathedrals
Lisbon’s UNESCO listed monastery, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is an undisputed heart-stealer. It was built to commemorate Vasco De Gama’s discovery of sea-route to India. Jerónimos was populated by monks of the Order of St Jerome for nearly four centuries whose job was to pray for the king’s soul and spiritually comfort sailors. Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Igreja e Convento do Carmo is a medieval convent and church complex in Lagao. The original convent was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and was reconstructed.
Visit to Award-Winning Aquarium at Parque das Nacoes
Considered Portugal’s largest indoor aquarium, Oceanário de Lisboa holds about one million gallons of seawater and supports the lives of more than 100 species. You are likely to come across a myriad of fishes, amphibians and mammals including sea stars, coral, penguins, puffins and sea otters. The aquarium is located in the contemporary part of the town, Parque das Nacoes which stretches along the banks of Tejo estuary. Other attractions of the district include a cable car and Lisbon Casino.
One of the top things to do in Lisbon : Hop on the Tram 28
Explore the city’s main attractions by taking a ride on the Tram 28 which rumbles through the tourist-friendly route of Graça, Baixa and Bairro Alto. The tram passes through popular monuments like St. George’s Castle and churches on the cobbled alleys of Alfama. A ride on Tram 28 is an experience in itself. Many of the trams used in Tram 28 route are the same that were used during World War II. Take the tram up to Alfama and walk back down to explore the pretty neighborhood.
Spread over an area of 1.5 hectares, Botanical Garden Estufa Fria is a world in itself, making it one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon. With three greenhouses, Hot, Cold and Sweet, this garden is home to a number of plant species from various parts of the world. It also features small lakes, waterfalls, and statues. Take a stroll in the garden exploring different kinds of plants and once you’re done, head to the bar to enjoy a drink.
Not only me but many other travel bloggers keep this spot on their list of things to do in Lisbon
Flea market at Fiera da Ladrea
If you are looking for a souvenir to take back home, a trip to the flea market of Fiera da Ladrea is a must. You are likely to find antiques, paintings or a number of other vintage stuff here. The market is rumored to be around since 12th century with some of the sellers selling stolen goods hence, the name ladrea which means thief.
Food Market at Time Out Market Lisboa
One of the coolest things to do in Lisbon is to enjoy the curated food where everything is chosen, tested and tasted by city’s food experts. Serving the best of Lisbon with 24 restaurants, 8 bars and a number of shops, this food market is the best place to dig into Lisbon’s best burger, best sushi, and best steak, and enjoy city’s best live performances. Time Out Market Lisboa is a cultural experience worth indulging while on your trip to Lisbon!
Day Trip to Sinatra and Cascais
Visit the fairytale town of Sinatra with its Moorish castles, old fortresses and sprawling green forests. The entire city is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. You will certainly love the vibrant Palácio Nacional de Pena, which was a romantic getaway for Queen Maria II and her husband. Getting to Sinatra from Lisbon is easy. Board a train from the Rossio train station. You can also take a local bus to Sinatra.
The last thing in the my list of things to do in Lisbon is a gateaway to the beach town of Cascais. It is only 45- minute train ride from the city of Lisbon and perfect for some low-cost fun in sun and sand. Enjoy a laidback holiday soaking sun on its lovely beaches. Take a stroll along the cobbled streets of old part of the town or visit the old forts of the area that helped to prevent the pirate attacks.