Portugal’s capital city is lively, often sun-soaked, and full of beauty. Comparatively few make it over to the far western edge of Europe than they do to other big cities on the continent, such as Berlin or Barcelona, but large numbers of travellers are starting to buck that trend. This things to do in Lisbon guide shows you the city’s best bits.
1. Discover Alfama
One of Lisbon’s oldest districts, Alfama is a great place to get your bearings when first travelling to Lisbon. The small, winding, and charming streets here are sure to sweep you away, and there’s plenty to do in Alfama come day or night. Stroll around and get lost for a while, stopping by little cafes and diving into shops. Admire the beautiful architecture synonymous with Portuguese culture that can be found all over Alfama.
Don’t miss the Feira da Ladra (thieves market), held at Campo de Santa Clara in Alfama on Tuesdays and Saturdays, or the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, a viewing platform from which you can take in sweeping views over the city.
2. Visit the Belém Tower
When researching your trip to the city, you’ll often see the Belém Tower on lists for things to do in Lisbon or in image searches. This iconic monument, perches in the banks of the river, was built in the early 16th century as a fortress and a starting point for many great voyages across the seas. During this time the Portuguese were great explorers, so this tower is a symbol for this golden age.
Once in the tower, you can take in the spectacular views over the river and marvel at the detail in the monument’s make-up. It’s clear to see there are many Moorish influences in its construction too, offering another glimpse into Portugal’s rich and varied past.
3. Eat at the Time Out Market
Lisbon is full of quality restaurants, but few offer as unique an experience as the Time Out Market. In this bustling hall, you can try cuisine from around the world, and dine on it on one of the many communal tables arranged in the building’s centre. A couple of bars and wine experts are dotted around too, so you can graze here for hours while soaking up the lively atmosphere. By far one of the best foodie experiences in the city!
// Related: 24 Hours in Porto, Portugal
4. Take a ride on the Santa Justa Lift
Located in the city centre and originally designed to take people from the Baixa district up to the Carmo Convent, the Santa Justa Lift is one of the most intriguing things to do in Lisbon. This gorgeous structure was built in 1902, and its neo-gothic flourishes made it a roaring success and talk of the town when it was first built.
Today, it’s as stunning as ever. Even if you don’t decide to take the lift itself, make sure you swing by the landmark to take a look at the lift’s breath-taking design.
5. Listen to some fado
Fado is traditional music from Portugal, version of which originated in Lisbon. Listening to some of the quintessential music is one of those Lisbon experiences that visitors shouldn’t miss. There are fado bars all over the city that will connect you with these beautiful tunes – take a walk around Bairro Alto or Alfama at night to take your pick of the live performances, and have a bit to eat and drinks while doing so.
Be careful when choosing your location – many places are crafted just for tourists and don’t offer the authentic experience. Seek out the backstreet bars that show you the real deal.