For some time now I’ve been hearing people talking about Lisbon – everyone I know that has visited the city were amazed. Of all the things to do in Portugal, I’ve decided to change my plans for this summer and visited the Portuguese capital for four days. Let’s see what are the things to do in Lisbon and if the city of the seven hills is really that special!
What to see in Lisbon – Day 1: Arrival at Lisbon
Rute and I arrived at Lisbon airport (affiliate link) at 14:30; after some minutes in line waiting for a taxi, I went to the apartment I booked near Cais do Sodré, in the centre of Lisbon. After 15 minutes and paying 12 €, I got out at Margarida’s apartment – the person I’ve called in Airbnb.
Margarida was running late so I grabbed something to eat in the bar below the apartment. Breakfast was long gone so I ordered a grilled toast, but I looked in awe when I saw it.
The grilled toast would be enough for two people… The amount of food can vary depending on the establishment – if you’re like me and don’t eat much, ask how they serve before you order, this way you’ll avoid paying more than you eat.
When Margarida arrived, she showed me the apartment. The first impression was very good – the apartment was very pretty, like in the photos and Margarida gave me a warm welcome. She gave me tips about the things to do in Lisbon, the restaurants, the places where I could have fun and the most important point for the first day – where I could buy groceries. There were so many things to do in Lisbon and so little time!
If you don’t have an account on Airbnb, by clicking this link you’ll get a £13 discount on your first reservation and, at the same time, I’ll earn £13 for my next trip.
After shopping for groceries, I spent the evening making dinner and, because I was tired, I went to bed early so that I would be ready for the next day.
Day 2: São Jorge Castle and discovering Lisbon in the tram nº 28
It was hard to get out of bed on this first complete day in the city of the seven hills. As we were in the first floor, the noise of the bar downstairs kept us awake until it closed so, from then on, we decided to go to bed later to avoid this situation from happening again.
Information: If you want to go to bed early you should avoid the quarters with many bars and discos.
Around 10:00 I went to Cais do Sodré train and metro station to buy the pass Viva Viagem. With this card you can buy metro, bus and tram individual, daily or monthly tickets. I chose to buy daily tickets that would give me the possibility to take the metro, bus, tram and elevator as many times as I wanted for 24 hours.
Information: This daily ticket allows you to take the metro, bus, tram and elevator as many times as you want and starts when you use it for the first time and lasts until the next day at the same hour.
I got out of the metro and walked towards Praça do Comércio where I tried to take the tram to São Jorge Castle. Each passing tram was full and there were about 15 people ahead of me so, after a few minutes, I had another idea – why not taking a small bus that does exactly the same route as the famous tram nº 28.
Before I got to the castle I first went for a stroll in the surrounding streets where I found an atmosphere much like a village I know, Montmartre, in Paris.
After waiting 10 minutes to buy the tickets to São Jorge Castle, I realized it was time to eat. As real tourists that we were, we went to lunch at a restaurant that I usually don’t recommend.
Do you know those restaurants that have their menus in many languages? The ones for tourists… The waiters were friendly, the food was nice but the price was 35 % higher than in a “regular” restaurant.
There are so many things to do in Lisbon and visiting São Jorge castle is definitely one of them! From the castle, the view over the city is magnificent, the place itself is beautiful and we had a great time, although the only thing left from the castle was the exterior walls.
I believe that it’s a little bit exaggerated the 7,5 € I had to pay for the ticket and recently it became even more expensive – 8,5 €. If I got this right, the number of tourists increases and so does the price of the tickets… Probably that’s their way to limit the number of entrances and/or earn more money!
On my way back, I managed to take the tram nº 28 that dropped me out at the National Assembly stop where I could watch the reception of the German president by the National Assembly president.
I ended my second day with a stroll around the Assembly and, after that, I walked my way back to the apartment. I wanted to visit Lisbon but, more than that, I wanted to leave the points of interest behind and get to know the people and the atmosphere of the city.
Information: venture out for a unique 8-hour experience where you will discover Lisbon in one of the most complete activities there is (affiliate link). Start with a visit to the beautiful castle Castelo de São Jorge to enjoy views of the historic city centre. Next, stroll through the Alfama quarter and the beautiful narrow streets. Afterwards, enjoy a lunch next to the Tagus river.
But to make this activity (affiliate link) even more special, know that you will have the opportunity to board a boat in order to admire the capital from a unique perspective, from Tagus river. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Day 3: Tram n° 28, Cristo Rei and Belém
Because I didn’t have the chance to visit Lisbon in the famous tram nº 28, at least like I wanted, I’ve decided to start my day by visiting all the tourist quarters in Lisbon by tram.
Information: If you want to visit Lisbon by tram, seated and without many tourists by your side, you have to get up early in the morning. Between 08:00 and 10:00 the capital is still sleeping and that’s the perfect moment to discover Lisbon.
My suggestion is for you to do the complete tour of the city in the beginning of your stay in the capital, this way you’ll easily explore the city allowing you to choose which quarters you want to visit and the things to do in Lisbon.
When I got to the end of the route, I took the metro to Cais do Sodré and then the ferry to visit Christ the King National Sanctuary (Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei).
Information: When you take the boat, you won’t travel for free even if you have Viva Viagem pass – you’ll have to pay for the round trip ticket. Once on the other side of the river, you’ll have to take the bus nº 100 that will take you to Cristo Rei.
It was the statue of Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that inspired the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon to build a similar monument. The foundation stone of Cristo Rei was laid in 1949 and the monument was inaugurated 10 years later.
When you visit Cristo Rei you’ll be amazed with one of the most beautiful views over the capital and its monuments – make sure you put it on your list of things to do in Lisbon!
Back to the centre of Lisbon, I had lunch in a typical Portuguese restaurant located in Largo Vitorino Damásio 7. We chose two “bitoques” (a typical Portuguese steak dish topped with a fried egg) and paid only 7,50 € each. All included, we paid 21 €, which means 35 % less than the day before in a tourist restaurant near São Jorge Castle.
We spent our afternoon in Belém, where you can find Hieronymites Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, Belém Tower and the famous bakery Pastéis de Belém.
Hieronymites Monastery was built in 1502 and reflects the richness of the Portuguese discoveries of that time.
Among the things to do in Lisbon, a visit to the Hieronymites Monastery was a must! When I looked at the monastery, I was amazed with such beauty – if you must visit a monument in Lisbon, this is the one.
I was a little disappointed with the visit though, because I thought that the ticket would be enough to see everything in the monastery but we could only see a small part.
Information: Visiting the monastery in the first Sunday of each month is free, on the other days you’ll have to pay – access to the church is always free. If you want to visit the Hieronymites Monastery and Belém Tower, buy the combined ticket.
I continued my journey towards the Monument to the Discoveries and Belém Tower. I couldn’t visit Belém Tower though because I got there at closing hours, 18:00.
But I couldn’t end my day without visiting the famous bakery Pastéis de Belém to taste the best “pastel de nata” (a sort of egg tart pastry) in the world, baked here since 1837 – it’s one of the things to do in Lisbon, so don’t miss the opportunity!
Information: take the opportunity to book this activity (affiliate link) and discover the two Tagus river banks, always with fabulous views over the Portuguese capital. Start in Belém, where you can admire Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém. Then, head to one of Lisbon’s most recent viewpoints, located right in the 25 de Abril bridge, the Pilar 7 viewpoint, where you can also enjoy a virtual reality experience.
Next, cross the bridge and discover the south bank of Tagus river, where you will literally reach the high point of this guided tour (affiliate link), the National Sanctuary of Cristo Rei. There, you can climb to the top of the statue’s pedestal, which welcomes Lisbon’s visitors with open arms, and enjoy the magnificent views that extend for several kilometres in all directions. A must see!
Day 4: Chiado and Carcavelos Beach
My last day in Lisbon began with a visit to Mercado da Ribeira, recently reopened to public. I enjoyed this market – on one side there were restaurants and on the other fresh products like fish, fruit and vegetables.
Instead of taking the metro, I preferred to walk through the streets until Chiado. I stopped at the coffee shop A Brasileira – historic place inaugurated in 1905. Be prepared to pay more than on other coffee shops, but you’re paying for the subtle decoration and the history of this place.
The next destination was the Santa Justa elevator, the only historic vertical elevator in Lisbon. It connects two quarters and Carmo convent.
Information: If you have Viva Viagem pass, using the elevator is free of charge, otherwise you’ll have to pay to use it and to access the viewpoint.
I ended the first part of the day in the beautiful square Dom Pedro IV.
Finally, I dedicated the afternoon to sunbathing – among other things to do in Lisbon, I couldn’t leave the Portuguese capital without trying its beaches so I went to Carcavelos beach, 20 minutes by train from the historic centre.
Information: To go to Carcavelos beach you have to take the train in Cais do Sodré train station, in the direction of Cascais.
To end this amazing day in the capital, I strolled through the streets at night – a pleasant time, especially when it’s hot, and definitely one of the things to do in Lisbon!
As you know, I was born and raised in the north of Portugal and there is a small big rivalry between the north and south of this beautiful country but I have to be honest with you: I was amazed by Lisbon and it’s not a myth, if you visit it you’ll fall in love.
There are so many things to do in Lisbon, so don’t miss the opportunity and discover the city of the seven hills!
Are you going to visit Lisbon? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!