Lisbon, the capital and biggest city in Portugal, is in the top of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The “city of the seven hills” has won the hearts of visitors from all over the world through a sumptuous fusion of tradition and modernity. Have you ever thought of what to see in Lisbon?
Here is the top 20 of the places to visit and what to see in Lisbon:
1. Lisbon’s historic quarters
Most of the authenticity you’ll find in Lisbon is at its historic quarters. There, you’ll get to know the most genuine people, taste the most typical meals and, why not, take the opportunity to hear the real Lisbon fado.
The beautiful Alfama quarter is one of the oldest in the city and is one of those places you can’t forget when making a list of what to see in Lisbon.
Located in the heart of the capital, this is definitely one of the most typical locations to discover the Portuguese culture. The narrow streets, flowered balconies, restaurants, fado and daily life scenes are part of the tour. Furthermore, you can ask around – surely you’ll find someone that can tell you what to see in Lisbon.
Tip: take the tram nº 28 to visit Alfama or walk there (wear appropriate footwear). Make a stop at one of many old taverns and enjoy a meal of fresh grilled fish.
Another quarter you should discover in the Portuguese capital is Bairro Alto. The quarter has two faces: ordinary during the day and classy at night. There are many bars, restaurants, bookshops, discos and a superb panoramic view.
Apart from these reasons, you should know that Bairro Alto is also very welcoming and everyone is eager to help you out if you need any information.
Tip: take one of these two elevators: the Ascensor da Bica or the Elevador da Glória.
There are other historic quarters in Lisbon worth a visit but these are definitely two of the most authentic and genuine.
2. Lisbon’s viewpoints
Lisbon is also known as the “city of the seven hills” and, maybe because of that, there are many viewpoints scattered throughout the city offering its visitors some of the best views over the Portuguese capital.
Stroll through the historic quarters and stop at the viewpoints to admire the city and its monuments like São Jorge Castle and the National Pantheon. Among the favourite viewpoints, I must point out the ones of Senhora do Monte, Portas do Sol, São Pedro de Alcântara and Santa Catarina.
3. Praça do Comércio
The square Praça do Comércio, also known as Terreiro do Paço, is one of the most famous places in Lisbon and is located in Baixa Pombalina (downtown), facing Tagus river. This is definitely a place to consider when thinking of what to see in Lisbon.
It was here that, throughout centuries, many heads of state disembarked for meetings with the Portuguese kings and queens.
But other important historical events took place at this location such as the destruction caused by the major earthquake of 1755 and the regicide of D. Carlos and his son, in 1908, that marked the beginning of the end of monarchy in Portugal.
4. The Cathedral
The Cathedral of Lisbon holds the title of oldest church in the Portuguese capital, having been built in the second half of the 12th century, right after Lisbon being conquered from the Moors.
As years went by, this cathedral was enriched with different architectonic styles, with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque traits and it was here that some Portuguese started to be buried.
Unfortunately, the major earthquake of 1755 destroyed several original parts of the cathedral and, because of that, a reconstruction was in order. In the beginning of the 20th century, refurbishment works returned some of the medieval beauty to this building.
5. National Pantheon
Considered one of the most emblematic buildings in Lisbon, the National Pantheon is the last residence for many important Portuguese historical figures of different areas such as Almeida Garrett, Amália Rodrigues and Eusébio.
Apart from the tombs of presidents, writers and others, you’ll find here some cenotaphs of other Portuguese heroes like D. Nuno Álvares Pereira, Henry the Navigator and Pedro Álvares Cabral.
6. Carmo Convent
Carmo Convent is located in the historic centre of Lisbon and is in ruins. However, it is a place you’ll definitely want to visit since it is one of the memories the city still has from the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most part of the city.
This Gothic-style building underwent some reconstruction works but they stopped when religious orders were banished from Portugal during the 19th century – from this reconstruction remains the pillars and the arches from the nave.
At this location you’ll also find Museu Arqueológico do Carmo, a museum where several pieces stand out, from Pre-History to the contemporary era, including the beautiful Gothic tomb of king D. Fernando I.
7. São Vicente de Fora Monastery
São Vicente de Fora Monastery was built between the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Philippine Dynasty, and is considered as one of the most important examples of the Mannerism style in Portugal, despite having Gothic and Baroque features too. Here you’ll also find one of the most beautiful glazed-tile collections in the country.
This monastery is located at a place where another monastery existed before with the same name and commissioned by king D. Afonso Henriques as a way for him to thank the conquest of Lisbon from the Moors, in the mid-12th century.
Today, this Portuguese monument is also classified as a pantheon and here you’ll find tombs of most of the cardinal-patriarchs of Lisbon as well as kings, princes and infantes (children of kings and queens we weren’t firstborn) from the Bragança Dynasty, the last Portuguese Royal House.
Passing by some of the points of interest mentioned above, I recommend you book a unique activity that will show you the best of this wonderful city.
With the perspective of a professional guide that will accompany you throughout the tour, discover some of the most beautiful stories of the Portuguese capital while enjoying the cityscape and the amazing monuments.
8. Graça Church and Convent
This building, classified as a Portuguese monument, was built in the 13th century but was rebuilt and restored after the 1755 earthquake that caused destruction throughout the capital.
In this religious set, the Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo features stand out, giving a unique and wonderful charm to this monument and dazzling those who pass by this place. Take the opportunity to admire the painted ceiling and the amazing glazed-tile panels.
Before you leave this area, enjoy one of the most wonderful views over the city of Lisbon in the beautiful Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen viewpoint.
9. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga holds the status as one of the most visited museums in Portugal and here you’ll find works of art since the beginning of Portugal as a country in the 12th century until the 19th century.
This museum was inaugurated in 1884 and has a 40 000-piece collection, some of which considered as “national treasures” in the most different areas such as painting, sculpture and decorative arts originating not only from Europe but also from Africa and Asia.
Save some time to explore and admire works of art in this amazing museum, one of the Lisbon museums you should visit.
10. Lx Factory
Located in the beautiful Alcântara quarter, Lx Factory is one of the places to discover in the Portuguese capital and there are several reasons to go visit this place.
Know that you can enjoy some of the most beautiful views over Tagus river and 25 de Abril bridge at this place, especially at an open area with panoramic terrace in the 4th floor, at the restaurant Rio Maravilha – definitely worth your while!
Apart from the beautiful views, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the remaining area of Lx Factory and discover other amazing places with unique designs such as restaurants and bars, a bookshop, a kiosk and even an escape room.
- Site: www.lxfactory.com
11. Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)
Located in Belém quarter and close to other points of interest, this museum is the newest museum in Lisbon and is one focused on contemporary art.
Constituted by two buildings, property of Fundação EDP, MAAT transformed the cultural landscape of the Portuguese capital and it intends to offer its visitors a modern and sophisticated collection.
Take the opportunity to stroll through the landscaped space close to the riverfront and, as a curiosity, know that you can cross the beautiful pedestrian bridge over the busy Avenida Brasil.
- Site: www.maat.pt/en
12. Belém National Palace
This magnificent palace was built in the end of the 16th century in Baroque and Neoclassical styles and is composed of a central building facing Tagus river and some beautiful patios and gardens, among others.
Perhaps because this palace is the official residence of the President of the Portuguese Republic, it is one of the most exclusive palaces in the country and people can only visit it on Saturdays (with a guide) depending on presidential agenda.
If you can’t explore the palace, you can visit Museu da Presidência (the Presidency Museum) where you can discover more about the life and work of Portuguese presidents but more – you can also admire documents, personal objects and diplomatic gifts received by the presidents.
- Site: www.presidencia.pt
13. Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)
In 1502, King Manuel I decided to order the construction of this huge and religious monument. Located in Belém historic quarter, this magnificent building mirrors the richness of the Portuguese discoveries all over the world in the 16th century.
Like Tower of Belém, this monument is also one of the most important symbols of Manueline style and it is today one of the most visited places in Portugal. Apart from its architectural beauty, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the amazing tombs of Portuguese figures such as Camões, Vasco da Gama and D. Manuel I.
14. Tower of Belém (Torre de Belém)
When you think of what to see in Lisbon, one of the first things that comes to mind is Tower of Belém. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, Tower of Belém was built from 1515 to 1521 to watch over Lisbon’s harbour thus controlling the passage of ships.
About 30 metres high, Torre de Belém is one of the most beautiful examples of Manueline-style architecture, with its very characteristic traits such as the cross of the Order of Christ, the armillary sphere and naturalist elements. From here you can enjoy an astounding view over Tagus river.
- Site: www.torrebelem.gov.pt/en
Tip: for about 12 € per person, some companies offer a boat trip from Cais do Sodré to Tower of Belém.
15. Ajuda National Palace
Located in the western part of the city, this is one of the most beautiful palaces you will find in Lisbon.
Despite its construction has started in the end of the 18th century, only now, in the 21st century, the project comes to an end with the conclusion of the west wing of the building where the Portuguese Royal Treasure will be kept.
Apart from the architectural beauty of this Portuguese monument, know that here you’ll find one of the most beautiful museums in Lisbon (and in the country) with wonderful ceramic, sculpture, painting, jewellery collections and much more!
- Site: www.palacioajuda.gov.pt
16. Monsanto Forest Park
Monsanto Forest Park is considered to be the green lung of Lisbon and the biggest Portuguese forest park with an area of 900 hectares.
As you would expect, this place has the ideal conditions for sports activity and much more – here, you’ll find bike paths, walking routes and football, basketball and tennis areas.
You can take the opportunity to go for a walk with your family and friends and have a picnic at one of the picnic areas; you can also go to one of the viewpoints and enjoy the wonderful views over the Portuguese capital.
17. Fronteira Palace
Built in the second half of the 17th century, Fronteira Palace is one of the last treasures yet to be found in Lisbon.
The interior of this magnificent building can only be visited with a guide so that you can fully get to know the palace’s history and admire some rooms and the library. Even though this palace is still inhabited, you can get a glimpse of some of the restricted areas.
Despite its exquisite interior, the surrounding area of the palace is also worth seeing and there you’ll find gardens decorated with beautiful statues and fountains and amazing glazed-tile panels. Definitely a place to consider when you visit Lisbon!
- Site: www.fronteira-alorna.pt
18. Lisbon Zoo
Lisbon Zoo is one of the favourite places of people visiting the city, and is mainly adored by children. In this 94 000 m2 space you’ll surely have an amazing day, one to remember!
In its more than 130 years of existence, the zoo has reinvented itself throughout the times and built several facilities so that the different species, that arrived from all over the world, could be as comfortable as possible.
If you don’t know what to see in Lisbon, then go explore this zoo! Apart from the adorable animals, know that here you’ll find a picnic area, a cable car and a mini-train that take the visitors on a different tour through the zoo, without getting too tired. You should also know that you can explore this zoo in the company of a guide that will tell you some of the secrets of this place.
- Site: www.zoo.pt
19. Cristo Rei National Sanctuary
Located in Almada, on the south bank of Tagus river, Cristo Rei is a sanctuary and a religious monument representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s Christ Redeemer, this wonderful 110-metre high building was inaugurated in 1959.
This sanctuary and the statue, in particular, welcome with open arms people who want to visit Lisbon region and here you can also enjoy this place that is one of the most beautiful viewpoints offering views over the Portuguese capital.
- Site: www.cristorei.pt/en
Tip: take the opportunity of getting to know the glamorous streets of Almada.
The Oceanário of Lisbon is definitely one of the cultural buildings that attract more visitors in the whole country and has been considered as the best aquarium in the world on different occasions. It was inaugurated in 1998, just in time for Lisbon’s Expo ’98, and its mission is to raise awareness about the wonderful world of the oceans and species living there.
Today, the Oceanário is composed by two buildings connected by a long corridor decorated by a 55 000 glazed-tile panel. Here you can admire temporary and permanent exhibitions and, of course, get to know all of its beautiful “residents”.
- Site: www.oceanario.pt/en
Necessary days to visit Lisbon: 4 days
How to get to Lisbon
You can travel to Lisbon by plane, car, train or bus.
If you’re travelling by plane, you can go to the historic centre of Lisbon by taxi, metro or bus. If you choose to take a taxi, it will take you 15 minutes. You can also take the metro at the airport (red line) that will take you to the historic centre of Lisbon. If you prefer to take the bus, check here the available lines.
If you’re coming by car, check here the available parking lots in the centre of Lisbon.
Getting to Lisbon by train is a great option for those who are coming from Porto, Coimbra, Évora or Algarve. To know the prices of the tickets check here.
Bus is a good option if there is no train station nearby. Check here the available lines connecting the whole country to Lisbon.
Getting around in Lisbon
Before you think of what to see in Lisbon you should think on how to go to the different places. The best way to get around Lisbon is by public transportation (metro, tram, bus).
I suggest you buy a day ticket if you’re counting on using public transportation on a regular basis.
Buying this ticket will give you the chance to use the metro, buses, trams and lifts the times you want. Using this limitless ticket starts when you get in a public transport for the first time and lasts until the following day at the same hour.
When you buy this ticket you’ll have to buy the Viva Viagem card that you can use to charge other tickets (daily or single).
If you’re going to use public transportation only twice a day, buy single tickets that will allow you to use public transportation for an hour.
Important: Don’t buy a ticket in the buses and trams because the price is more expensive. Always buy in the ticket machines, in metro stations.
You can also use Lisboa card for public transportation, free of charge. For more information, click in “Useful Information” above.
Where you can eat
Where you can spend the night
All the information on what to see in Lisbon: visitlisboa.com
Lisboa Card: Wondering of what to see in Lisbon? Don’t worry, Lisboa Card allows you to freely use the metro, buses, trams and Carris lifts. You can also use the card to travel to Sintra and Cascais by train.
Aside from public transportation, you’ll also have free access to 25 museums, monuments and other points of interest. When thinking of what to see in Lisbon, this card will also help you decide.
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!
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