Lisbon has so many incredible things to do on your first visit. Most people will kick off their trip in Portugal's capital city, best known for its hillside view and colorful buildings. Visitors can take guided walking tours, explore historical sites such as monasteries, museums, and take a ride on the iconic trams.
You could easily spend a few days here in Lisbon, checking out the neighborhoods, listening to Fado music, and trying all the delicious food. In fact, Lisbon is a good base to take day trips to Sintra or Cascais. Here are some incredible things we think you should include in your itinerary.
Here are 10 incredible things to do in Lisbon, Portugal
1. Lisbon Oldtown Walking Tour
First of all, one of the best ways to get acquainted with a city is by taking a walking tour. We suggest doing this when you first arrive. You can quickly get a lay of the city before venturing off on your own.
Taking a walking tour might discover restaurants you want to try or local shops of interest. Beware of souvenirs that are imported. I always like to buy handmade goods from friendly locals to support them, and you should consider this too.
2. Explore the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
The Jeronimos Monastery was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983, along with Belem Tower. You don’t want to miss these two sites on your trip to Lisbon. The building was designed by a Portuguese architect to celebrate the return of Vasco da Gama.
Construction of the monastery started in the 15th Century but wasn’t completed until the 17th Century. Oddly enough, this site was built on a chapel where Vasco da Gama & sailors prayed before setting sail to India and Africa.
Here in the church is where you’ll find the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. You can enter the church for free, but if you want to see the Cloister, there is a fee.
3. Go on a food & wine tour in Lisbon
Taking a guided walking tour is an excellent thing to do in Lisbon because it gets you acquainted with the city streets. Besides, local guides have so much passion for their city they’ll probably give you some great tips about other incredible things to do in Lisbon.
4. Take the kids to Lisbon Oceanarium
The Oceanarium is the second-largest aquarium in Europe. Kids will love watching over 450 species of marine animals. In the largest aquarium are sharks, stingrays, manta rays, and colorful fish.
During Expo in 1998, this was one of the most popular attractions. To access the building, you’ll cross a footbridge. It’s an incredible thing to do in Lisbon if you have kids. Family tickets are available, offering a small discount.
5. Henry the Navigator Monument
Although Henry the Navigator was neither a sailor nor a navigator, he sponsored exploration to Africa’s west coast. To begin with, Henry was born in the city of Porto in 1394. Son of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster.
Furthermore, Henry started a school on the southwestern tip of Portugal in Sagres for navigation. The monument you see in the picture is dedicated to the Portuguese who participated in the Age of Discovery. It’s located near the Belem Tower on the Tagus River. Another incredible thing to see in Lisbon.
6. Castle S. Jorge
Castle Sao Jorge is a unique landmark located on the highest hill in Lisbon. The Moors enlarged what started as a small fortress in the 5th century into the mid-eleventh century.
Set aside your morning or afternoon to visit the castle because the site is extensive. Also, inside, you’ll find a small museum, restaurant, and bar if you want to take a break for lunch.
Undoubtedly, a great place to see the views is in Alfama. This old district survived the earthquake back in 1755. Alfama is home to the best lookout points. One of those is at Castle Sao Jorge.
To get to Alfama, hop on the historic tram 28, which passes by the Lisbon Cathedral. If you happen to be in Alfama in June, you can catch the Santos Populares Festivities, listen to live music, and snack on some grilled sardines.
8. Try Pasteis de Nata a Portuguese Tart
Of course, you must stop at the pastry shop to try the famous Pasteis de Nata, an egg custard tart. Since 1837 this shop has been making these delicious tarts using an old recipe from the Jeronimos Monastery.
Pasteis de Belem is located next to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Definitely, an easy stop if you are visiting the monastery and well worth it, in our opinion.
Pro tip: The shop is open daily, and the tarts are best eaten immediately. Don’t wait for the large lineups.
9. National Coach Museum in Lisbon
Inside the National Coach Museum is an important collection of horse-drawn carriages. The oldest in the collection belonged to Phillip II of Spain.
The museum was an old riding school until inaugurated by Queen Amelia, who married King Carlos I in 1905. Nowadays, it’s one of the most popular things to do in Lisbon.
10. Historic Belem Tower
Belem Tower was originally built to defend Lisbon. Later it was transformed into a lighthouse and then a customs center. Take note of the gargoyle on the western facade of the tower. This rhino-shaped gargoyle depicts the first rhinoceros setting foot in Portugal from India.
Lastly, plan your visit when it’s less crowded because the spiral staircase that connects the five floors is narrow. The ground floor consists of 16 windows with cannons. During your visit, you’ll see pits & holes where the prisoners were thrown into. Oh my!
In summary, Lison has some incredible things to do you won’t want to miss, especially if it’s your first trip. If you prefer to have your own Lisbon experience created for you? Click here!