Best Things To Do in Lisbon, Portugal: 12 Unique Attractions

by Flora
Lisbon is a city rich in history, culture, and stunning landscapes, offering a plethora of places to explore
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Are you thinking about visiting Lisbon, Portugal this year? Here are some of the most enjoyable, spectacular, and unique things to do in Lisbon. These stunning sites, exhilarating activities, and captivating attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Ahh Lisbon! The city of seven hills, where the sun shines 290 days a year and the temperature rarely drops below 60°F (15°C). A city where you feel safe wandering around day or night, where the cuisine is dedicated to creating over a thousand ways to cook the beloved bacalhau (salted cod). And where you’ll find hotels and restaurants to suit every taste, budget and requirement.

Discover Lisbon, a city where old customs and ancient history intermix with cultural entertainment and hi-tech innovation. Lisbon is ageless, but it loves company, as you’ll find out if you meet someone and ask them to explain, with lots of gestures and repetition, where the best place is to listen to Fado. After all, Lisbon is famous for its hospitality and the family-like way it welcomes visitors. If you’re trying to find a definitive list of the best things to do in Lisbon, you’ve come to the right place.

From the shopping and dining mecca of Chiado to the nightlife of the Bairro Alto, there’s something for everyone in Lisbon. The city is also a short distance from beautiful sandy beaches. And day trips to towns like Sintra and Cascais are easy and popular.

No matter what your interests are, you’ll find something to love about Lisbon. So, let’s dive in. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Lisbon, Portugal.

The top places to visit in Lisbon, Portugal right now
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Best Places to Visit in Lisbon Portugal

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Lisbon? As mentioned above, this vibrant city has something for everyone in terms of giving an amazing vacation experience. So keep reading to discover all these unique Lisbon places to visit.

Are you into a vacation experience like a journey through time and history? Or maybe you like immersing yourself in the local lifestyle and culture? Or perhaps you prefer a tranquil getaway soaking in some magnificent architecture against the backdrop of lush nature? Whatever you’re planning, these must sees in Lisbon can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Lisbon, Portugal that you should know about.

1. Time Out Market Lisboa

For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Lisbon. A gastronomic paradise in the heart of Lisbon, Time Out Market Lisboa is a must-visit for any food lover. Housed in the historic Mercado da Ribeira, this culinary haven brings together the city’s best chefs and restaurants under one roof. From traditional Portuguese fare to innovative fusion cuisine, the market offers a smorgasbord of flavors that will delight your taste buds.

Time Out Market Lisboa promises a gastronomic wonderland
Time Out Market Lisboa, a culinary destination that celebrates Lisbon’s vibrant food scene under one roof.

The atmosphere is vibrant and bustling, with locals and tourists alike gathering to enjoy the diverse food offerings. With over 40 stalls, deciding what to eat might be your biggest challenge. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, succulent steaks, or delectable pastries, you’ll find it all here.

Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of local wine or a craft beer for the complete gastronomic experience. Time Out Market Lisboa is more than just a food market—it’s a celebration of Lisbon’s rich culinary culture. Is this one of the fun things to do in Lisbon? You bet!

2. Alfama District

A visit to Lisbon would be incomplete without a trip to Alfama District. Step into the labyrinthine streets of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. This is the heart of the city, where the soul of Lisbon thrives in the form of Fado music wafting from traditional restaurants. And where the city’s Moorish influences are most palpable.

The district is a living, breathing museum, with its narrow, winding streets leading you to unexpected treasures at every turn. From the stunning views at the Miradouro das Portas do Sol to the imposing São Jorge Castle, Alfama is a place of discovery. Don’t forget to visit the Fado Museum to immerse yourself in Portugal’s soulful music tradition.

Alfama District captivates travelers with its old-world charm
Alfama’s historical landmarks, such as the São Jorge Castle and Lisbon Cathedral, stand as majestic reminders of its rich past

As you wander through Alfama, take the time to appreciate the azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles) that adorn many of the buildings. These beautiful works of art add a splash of color to the district and are a testament to Portugal’s rich artistic heritage. Alfama is not just a place to visit; it’s a place to experience. So, take your time, get lost in its streets, and let the spirit of Lisbon envelop you. There’s so much to see at Alfama District, that it’s no wonder this is among the best things to do in Lisbon.

3. Belém Tower

History lovers will love this top thing to do in Lisbon. Standing tall on the banks of the Tagus River, the Belém Tower is a testament to Lisbon’s rich maritime history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in the early 16th century as a fortress to guard the entrance to the city’s harbor. Today, it’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, drawing visitors from around the world.

As you approach the tower, you’ll be struck by its intricate Manueline architecture. A Portuguese style that incorporates maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought back during the Age of Exploration. The tower’s exterior is adorned with a stone-carved rope that winds its way around the building, and shields bearing the Cross of the Order of Christ.

The iconic Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) in Lisbon, Portugal, a majestic fortress that stands proudly on the banks of the Tagus River
Belém Tower, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, holds a special place in Portugal’s history

Inside, you can explore the tower’s four levels, each offering a different perspective of Lisbon’s history. Climb to the top for a panoramic view of the Tagus River and the surrounding cityscape. The Belém Tower is not just a monument. It’s also a journey into Portugal’s grand seafaring past. Whether you’re a history buff or simply appreciate stunning architecture, a visit to the Belém Tower is a must and is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon.

4. Ofício Tasco Atípico

Experience Portugal in style at this unique place to visit in Lisbon. In the heart of Lisbon’s bustling Chiado district, you’ll find Ofício Tasco Atípico. A former steakhouse that’s been reinvented as a contemporary take on the traditional Portuguese tasca. This ‘atypical’ tavern strikes the perfect balance between Lisbon’s rustic, family-run eateries and its acclaimed fine dining scene.

Ofício has made a name for itself by offering high-quality wines and elegantly presented small plates designed for sharing. The establishment’s commitment to quality and affordability has not gone unnoticed, earning it a ‘Bib Gourmand’ award from Michelin in 2022.

Ofício Tasco Atípico is a unique and innovative gastronomic restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal
Ofício Tasco Atípico is the perfect place to explore surprising flavors and discover new facets of Portuguese cuisine

Chef Hugo Candeias has crafted a delightful menu of petiscos (tapas-style small plates), many of which feature fresh fish and seafood. These culinary delights compete for attention with a tempting array of Portuguese cheeses and cured meats. Be sure to save room for the unique and famous sweet cheese tart for dessert.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Ofício Tasco Atípico offers a memorable dining experience that combines the best of traditional and modern Portuguese cuisine. For those into authentic gastronomic experience, a visit to Oficio Tasco Atipico is among the unique things to do in Lisbon.

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in Lisbon has got you covered. Immersivus Gallery is an art experience unlike any other in Lisbon. Housed in an underground reservoir complex, the gallery offers an immersive journey into the world of art. Opened in 2022, it has shaken up Lisbon’s cultural scene with its high-tech projections and holograms that bring to life iconic works from artists like Frida Kahlo and Claude Monet.

Immersivus Gallery offers visitors an immersive and multisensory experience
Immersivus Gallery promises a mind-bending adventure that pushes the boundaries of creativity and technology

The gallery is as much about the space as the exhibits. The temple-like Mãe D’Água (literally, ‘Mother of Water’) Reservoir is an incredibly ornate 18th-century network of chambers and water features that marks the starting point of Lisbon’s grand Aqueduto das Águas Livres – the enormous aqueduct that once brought drinking water to the city. This unique combination of art and architecture makes Immersivus Gallery a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and curious explorers alike. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Lisbon.

6. The Royal Palace of Ajuda or Palácio Nacional da Ajuda

Attractions in Lisbon come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! The Royal Palace of Ajuda, Portugal’s last royal palace, is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Lisbon. Constructed in 1795 atop a hill, the palace was intended to be one of Europe’s largest palaces. However, the project was abandoned and left unfinished due to the French invasion of Portugal and the subsequent establishment of the republic. Despite this, the neoclassical building is grand enough to impress any visitor. The royal family left behind the crown jewels and a collection of decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, which are displayed in the palace’s magnificent rooms.

Royal Palace of Ajuda boasts a unique blend of architectural styles
Royal Palace of Ajuda (Palácio Nacional da Ajuda), a majestic residence in Lisbon, Portugal, steeped in history and regal splendor

Across the street, you’ll find the royal botanical garden, established in 1768. With exotic trees and plants, 18th-century sculptures and fountains, and a beautiful view of the 25 de Abril Bridge, it’s the perfect place to relax after exploring the palace.

Visiting the National Palace of Ajuda is one of the unique things to do in Lisbon. Particularly for those who love neoclassical architecture, decorative arts or history. As one of the top Lisbon attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

7. Pensão Amor

As far as things to do in Lisbon go, this activity is among the coolest! Step into the past and embrace the risqué at Pensão Amor. Once a brothel in Lisbon’s former red light district, Cais do Sodré, this venue now serves as a vibrant cocktail bar. Adorned with decadent interior design, a racy bookstore, and regular burlesque shows. The cocktails and DJ sets are legendary among locals, and the venue’s reopening in 2022 was met with a collective sigh of relief from its bohemian clientele.

ensão Amor, a captivating bohemian-inspired venue located in Lisbon, Portugal.
Pensão Amor features a cocktail bar, performance stage, art gallery, and even a bookstore

While you’re there, don’t miss out on their signature cocktails. Escape the late-night hustle of Lisbon’s liveliest nightlife strip, ‘Pink Street’, and make your way to the lush cocktail lounge for a Moscow Mule or the signature Mojito. Pensão Amor is a testament to Lisbon’s ability to reinvent itself while still celebrating its colorful past. A visit here is not just a night out; it’s a journey into the city’s vibrant history and culture. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Lisbon to everyone I meet.

8. LX Factory

Looking to visit one of the best places in Lisbon? Add this to your bucket list! Once an industrial complex for fabric production, LX Factory has transformed into one of Lisbon’s most creative and vibrant spaces. This urban island, nestled under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, is now a thriving hub for artists, designers, and entrepreneurs.

As you stroll through LX Factory, you’ll find a fascinating mix of art studios, unique boutiques, trendy restaurants. And even a rooftop bar offering stunning views of the Tagus River. The area is also known for its street art, with murals and installations adding a splash of color to the industrial backdrop.

LX Factory, a vibrant and innovative creative complex located in Lisbon, Portugal.
LX Factory has been transformed into a dynamic hub for arts, and culture

One of the highlights of LX Factory is Ler Devagar, a bookstore housed in a former printing press. With its high ceilings, industrial machinery, and walls lined with books, it’s a paradise for literature lovers.

Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs, a delicious meal, or just a place to soak up Lisbon’s creative energy, LX Factory is a must-visit. It’s a testament to the city’s ability to blend the old with the new. Creating a space that’s truly unique and inspiring. It’s easy to see why visiting the LX Factory is one of the coolest things to do in Lisbon.

9. National Tile Museum

This is one of the best things to do in Lisbon, hands down. For a truly unique Lisbon experience, make sure to visit the National Tile Museum, or Museu Nacional do Azulejo. This museum is dedicated to the azulejo, a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework that is a significant aspect of Portuguese culture and history.

Housed in the former Madre de Deus Convent, the museum showcases the evolution of azulejos from the 15th century to the present day. The collection is impressive, with displays of intricate patterns, religious scenes. And even a 36-meter-long panorama of Lisbon before the devastating 1755 earthquake.

Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum): A Journey through Portugal's Tile Art
Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon, Portugal, a captivating institution dedicated to the country’s rich tradition of tile art.

The museum itself is a work of art, with its ornate architecture, beautiful cloister, and the stunning gold-laden chapel of St. Anthony. After exploring the exhibits, you can relax in the museum’s charming garden or café.

Visiting the National Tile Museum is not just about admiring beautiful tiles. It’s a journey through Portugal’s history, art, and culture. It’s a must-visit for any art lover or history buff and is one of the top places to visit in Lisbon for any tourist in general.

10. Casa Independente

Looking for the best Lisbon things to do? Don’t miss this one! Tucked away in a once-decaying mansion that has seen a myriad of clubs and associations over the past century, Casa Independente is now the liveliest incarnation of its former self. This vibrant hub in Lisbon’s city center, Largo do Intendente, opened its doors in 2012, just as the area was gaining popularity as a go-to spot for a night out on the town.

Casa Independente, a lively and eclectic cultural space nestled in Lisbon, Portugal.
Housed in a historic building, Casa Independente is a vibrant hub for art, music, and community gatherings

The large front Tiger Room hosts an array of gigs and DJ sets, while the various smaller rooms provide a cozy space for a chat or a spot of work on your tablet. The café and back patio are the perfect places to unwind and relax. The bar serves a good range of teas, fresh juices, and cocktails, with finger food served until midnight.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Casa Independente offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity, making it a must-visit spot in Lisbon. So, why wait? Step into this lively incarnation and let the vibrant energy of Casa Independente sweep you off your feet.

11. Queluz National Palace

Visiting this “off the beaten path” attraction is one of the unique things to do in Lisbon. Just outside the central hub of Lisbon, you’ll find the Queluz National Palace, an 18th-century royal residence that once housed Queen D. Maria I and her husband Dom Pedro III. This palace is a testament to the grandeur of the past, with its design reminiscent of the opulence of Versailles. Its golden ballrooms shimmer with history, and its gardens are a tranquil retreat from the bustling city.

Queluz National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Queluz), a stunning royal residence located in Queluz, near Lisbon, Portugal.
Often referred to as the “Portuguese Versailles,” Queluz National Palace showcases exquisite Rococo and Neoclassical architecture

Despite its proximity to Lisbon, it remains a hidden gem, often overlooked by tourists. You can easily reach it by taking a train from Rossio Station to Sintra and disembarking after 20 minutes at Queluz. Be prepared to step back in time and immerse yourself in the regal splendor of Portugal’s past. It is a magnificent illustration of the excellent combination of landscape and palace architecture. With so much charm and personality, Queluz National Palace is one of the top places to visit in Lisbon.

12. Sintra

Exploring this tucked away town is one of the best things to do in Lisbon. Just an hour away from Lisbon, nestled within the verdant hills of the Serra de Sintra, lies the enchanting town of Sintra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of colorful palaces, winding roads, and secret streets, making it a must-visit for any Lisbon itinerary.

Sintra is home to several architectural gems, including the Vila Palace with its distinctive cone-shaped chimneys, the mystical Quinta da Regaleira, and the vibrant Pena Palace. Each of these landmarks offers a unique glimpse into Portugal’s rich history and culture.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Sintra's lush gardens and parks, such as the mystical Quinta da Regaleira
Explore the town’s iconic landmarks, including the colorful Pena Palace, a whimsical palace perched atop the hills

But Sintra is not just about palaces and castles. The town itself is a charming place to explore, with its narrow cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and traditional Portuguese restaurants. And let’s not forget the stunning views of the surrounding countryside, which are nothing short of breathtaking.

So, take a day trip to Sintra and step into a world of fairy-tale beauty and historical intrigue. It’s an experience that will surely leave you spellbound. As such, this Lisbon attraction is one of the most popular sights in Portugal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Lisbon? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Lisbon, Portugal:

What is Lisbon best known for?

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is best known for its:

  1. Historic Architecture: Landmarks like the Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery are prime examples of Manueline architecture.
  2. Trams: The iconic yellow Tram 28 offers a nostalgic ride through the city’s winding streets.
  3. Fado music: The soulful, traditional music genre, usually performed in intimate settings, tells tales of love, loss, and longing.
  4. Tiles (Azulejos): Beautifully decorated tiles adorn many of the city’s buildings, offering a distinctive aesthetic.
  5. Pastéis de Belém: A delicious custard tart that’s a must-try delicacy.
  6. Hilltop views: Lisbon is built on seven hills, each providing panoramic views of the city, the Tagus River, and beyond.
  7. Vibrant neighborhoods: From the historic Alfama district to the trendy Bairro Alto, each area offers a unique slice of Lisbon life.

With its blend of tradition and modernity, Lisbon captivates visitors with its charm, history, and vibrant culture.

What is the best time to visit Lisbon?

The best time to visit Lisbon is either from March to May or September to October, because the weather is still warm, hotel rates are cheaper and there are fewer crowds than in summer.

How many days do I need in Lisbon?

A trip of three days is enough to see the highlights of Lisbon. However, if you want to explore the city at a more relaxed pace, consider extending your stay to a week.

What should I wear in Lisbon?

Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate, so light clothing is suitable for the summer. However, it’s always a good idea to carry a jacket for cooler evenings. In the winter, temperatures can drop, so warmer clothing is necessary.

Lisbon's artistic spirit is evident throughout the city, with its street art, galleries, and cultural events
Lisbon, a city that effortlessly blends its rich history with a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Is Lisbon expensive to visit?

Compared to other major European cities, Lisbon is relatively affordable. You can enjoy a meal at a reasonable price and admission fees for most tourist attractions are also modest.

Is Lisbon safe for tourists?

Yes, Lisbon is considered safe for tourists. However, like any major city, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take basic precautions.

Parting Thoughts on Visiting Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, the captivating capital of Portugal, is a city that seamlessly blends traditional heritage with striking modernism and progressive thinking. As you journey through Lisbon, you’ll find an intriguing mix of old and new. From the city’s historic monuments, charming neighborhoods, and beautiful parks, to its bustling nightlife, innovative restaurants, and modern galleries, there’s always something exciting to discover.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an art lover, or an adventurer, Lisbon has something to offer. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm, friendly people, a trip to Lisbon is sure to be an unforgettable experience. So why wait? Start planning your Lisbon adventure today!

the top things to do in the Lisbon, Portugal for all types of travelers
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