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Things to do in Lisbon

Farah’s Top things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is a city that is dear to our hearts, and we want to share the best of it with you. From the stunning tiled façades and art museums to the lively food markets and wine bars, we’ve combed through every neighborhood in search of the best spots in town, and we’ve gathered it all here.

Whether it’s your first time in this sunny city or you're planning to come back, our guide to Farah's Top things to do in Lisbon has will help you make the most of your trip.

Museums

In Lisbon, you’ll find many museums dedicated to art. This is a city that loves its tile façades, after all. The history of this ubiquitous ceramic art is the focus of the Museu do Azulejo. Housed in a former convent, this museum features a stunning collection of tiles ranging from the 16th to the 21st century. Don’t miss the Grande Panorama de Lisboa — a panoramic panel featuring Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake.

Lisbon's Tile Museum

The courtyard at Lisbon's tile museum

 The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is a favorite for ancient art lovers. Among the highlights here is the Temptation of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch. Beyond the paintings and antique pieces, there is a café overlooking the river around the back where you can unwind.

 Locals are also quite fond of the Gulbenkian. This cultural center houses a remarkable art collection dating from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century. After visiting the museum, you can wander around the gardens or grab a drink from one of the cafés. There’s also an auditorium that hosts concerts throughout the year.

Other places with contemporary art include the Museu Berardo and MAAT, both located in Belém. At Berardo, you can admire the works of Picasso, Dalí, and Duchamp. While you’re here, make sure to visit Portugal Manual, a small shop selling items from local artisans.

MAAT is the latest art museum in town, combining art and technology. The building itself is worth admiring with its striking undulating features. Come around sunset, and you can catch the views from the free rooftop terrace.

Art Galleries

Some of the most prestigious art galleries in Lisbon include the Galeria de São Mamede in Príncipe Real and the Galeria 111 around Campo Grande. But there are other places worth discovering, like the Centro Português de Serigrafia, a cultural center dedicated to the art of screen-printing, and the Perve Galeria, a small gallery tucked away in Alfama.

If you’re looking for something a bit more experimental, you’ll enjoy a visit to the Carpintarias de São Lázaro. This former carpentry has been transformed into a cultural hub hosting a mix of exhibits and creative talks. 

Street Art

Street art is all over Lisbon. You can spend days capturing the city’s colorful tiles, but some façades stand out, like the one at Largo Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro or the Fábrica Viúva Lamego in Intendente. 

Then there’s the growing urban art scene that has spread across neighborhoods like Graça, Marvila, and Alcântara. The Galeria de Arte Urbana helps you find many of the city’s iconic murals.

Lisbon's Street Art

Lisbon is full of colorful street art

Monuments 

History comes in many layers in Lisbon, one of Europe’s oldest cities. Once occupied by the Romans, you can still see traces of it in places like the Teatro Romano or the Galerias Romanas.

 Later came the Moors, who founded the city’s castle. High above a hill, the Castelo de São Jorge offers a privileged view of Lisbon and the Tejo river. Other noteworthy sites nearby include the Sé de Lisboa, a 12th-century church in the heart of Alfama, and the National Pantheon. It’s here that many Portuguese elite figures are buried like the beloved fado singer Amália Rodrigues.

 Still in the city center, you can visit the Convento do Carmo. This 14th-century convent was left in ruins after the 1755 earthquake and still serves as a memory of that tragic event. Inside there’s now an archaeological museum.

 If you’re around the Estrela neighborhood, make sure to stop by the Basílica da Estrela, an 18th-century church that combines a mix of Baroque and Neoclassical styles. Inside, you’ll find a striking nativity scene with over 500 figures made of terracotta and cork. You can also climb up to the dome and enjoy the views of the nearby garden.

 In Belém, you’ll find a series of monuments built around the Age of Exploration. These include the Torre de Belém and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Both are prime examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic period, also known as the Manueline style.

Torre De Belem

The Torre de Belem

 Other places worth visiting include the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda and the Palácio Fronteira. Palácio da Ajuda served as the royal palace in the 19th century for King Luís I, and it remained so until the end of the monarchy in 1910.

Palácio da Fronteira, on the other hand, is a private estate. It’s the residence of the Marquesses of Fronteira, but there are guided tours available some days that include a visit to the gardens.

Shopping

One of the best areas to shop around Lisbon is Príncipe Real. It’s here you’ll find Embaixada, a stunning neo-Arab palace that has become a gallery for local creatives. Each room features a small boutique brand, showcasing anything from handmade jewelry to shoes and clothing.

Embaixada Lisbon

Inside, you’ll also find a few restaurants and a gin bar. Other shops we recommend around the area include the Bernardo Atelier (clothing/home decor), Benâmor 1925 (cosmetics), and Solar Antiques (tiles).

 Around the city center, you can shop for customized gloves at Luvaria Ulisses or colorful woolen blankets from Burel Factory one of our favorite Portuguese brands.

If you’re looking for traditional souvenirs, A Vida Portuguesa is a great place to start. This shop brings together many Portuguese vintage labels, like Couto or Viarco. Nearby is Depozito, a store that combines traditional and modern crafts produced in Portugal.

 Finally, you can take a walk down Rua dos Poços Negros. There are a few specialized shops around here like Companhia Portugueza do Chá and Mercearia Poços Negros, a small grocery store full of Portuguese delicacies. 

Fado Houses

Watching a fado show is an experience that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Lisbon. This traditional music genre is known for its mournful tunes and lyrics that tell of sailors lost at sea and broken hearts. You can hear it all over the city, but especially around the historic neighborhoods of Alfama and Mouraria.

Many bars and restaurants host live fado shows. We recommend Tasca do Chico, Fado ao Carmo and Mesa de Frades. For something a bit different, check out Real Fado, which hosts performances in alternative venues across the city.

 

Gardens

Lisbon’s gardens offer a quiet respite from the city bustle. The Parque Florestal de Monsanto is the largest green space in the city. Inside, you’ll find a series of sports facilities, picnic areas, and viewpoints.

Closer to the center, you can wander around the Jardim da Cerca da Graça or the Parque Eduardo VII, which hosts the city's annual book fair.

On weekends, locals love to hang around the gardens of Gulbenkian and the Tapada das Necessidades, where friendly peacocks often greet you by the entrance. You can also visit some of Lisbon's botanical gardens for a small fee like the Jardim Botânico do Príncipe Real or the Jardim Botânico da Ajuda.

 

Viewpoints

One thing you can’t miss in Lisbon is the miradouros (viewpoints). You may need to climb a few hills to get there, but it will all be worth it for the views.

Start around Alfama, overlooking the pastel-colored houses at Miradouro de Santa Luzia or Miradouro Portas do Sol. Then venture further up to the Miradouro da Graça or the Miradouro Senhora do Monte for a glimpse of the river at sunset.

 Even in the city center, you’ll find a spot to relish the sights, like Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara or the Miradouro de Santa Catarina

Day trips

Lisbon is full of iconic sights, and while it’s tempting to stay in the city, we recommend saving some time for a day trip or two.

 Hop on a train to Sintra to find fairytale palaces nestled amid the mountains and stunning nature trails. If you prefer the beach, head to the coastal towns of Cascais or Ericeira.

 You can also cross the Tejo river and visit the wineries in Setúbal or Azeitão. This part of town has some stunning beaches, especially around Sesimbra and Costa da Caparica.

Ericeira Beach

The Beach at Ericeira

Local Festivals

While you can travel to Lisbon any time of year, the city really comes alive during the summer. Around June, locals celebrate the Santos Populares, a festival dedicated to the city’s patron saint. The party spills into the streets with live music and food stalls selling freshly grilled sardines everywhere you go.

In Spring, Dias da Música brings a series of concerts to CCB in Belém, while Indie Lisboa showcases independent film sessions throughout the city’s cinemas.

More film festivals are held later in the fall, including MotelX, Doc Lisboa, and the Lisbon and Estoril Film Festival.

 

Drink local

If there’s one drink you should have in Lisbon is the ginjinha. This sweet cherry liqueur is sold in many local bars, but the best place to get it is Ginjinha Sem Rival.

Portugal is also big on wine, and you can sample many of them right here in the capital. Our favorite wine bars include Senhor Uva, Black Sheep, and O Pif.

Senor Uva

Delicious wines from small producers + plant based food at Senhor Uva

 Beer lovers should head to Marvila to find the city’s top breweries, including Dois Corvos, Musa, Lince, and Bolina. But even in other districts, there are several craft beer bars worth checking, like Cerveteca, Crafty Corner, and Quimera Brewpub.

If you’re looking for something a bit more laidback, you can always visit the kiosks dotted across town — the perfect spot to unwind with a coffee or a glass of wine at the end of the day.

Eat local

We can’t get enough of the Portuguese food. Standing on the edge of the Atlantic, Portugal offers the best of both worlds: land and sea. You can sample the ubiquitous bacalhau (codfish) served in multiple forms or taste delicious grilled fish and seafood in the nearby coastal towns.

But there are meaty delicacies too, like the chouriço assado or the bifana (pork sandwich). You can read our guide to restaurants in Lisbon to find out where to order all these delicacies.

Of course, when it comes to desserts, nothing beats the pastel de nata. Every pastry shop has a version of this delicious custard tart, but we love the ones from Manteigaria.

Bifana

Nothing beats a Bifana in Lisbon!

Markets

One of the best ways to learn about the city’s culinary scene is to visit the food markets. Many local chefs still source their ingredients from these traditional establishments. Mercado 31 de Janeiro is a favorite, as is Mercado da Ribeira, part of which has turned into a gourmet food court — the Time Out Market. Alongside the fruit and veg sellers are now a series of food stalls serving treats from top restaurants around town.

Time out market

Time out Market

Time Out has since become a popular tourist attraction, but there are lesser-known markets worth visiting too, like the Mercado Campo de Ourique or the Mercado de Arroios, which houses one of the only Syrian restaurants in Lisbon.

If you’re staying in town for a while, we recommend checking some of the farmer’s markets too. These include the Mercado Biológico in Príncipe Real, the Santos Collective and the Comida Independente market.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joana Taborda

Hi! My name is Joana, I am a travel writer from Portugal, based between Lisbon and Madeira Island. I love hopping on a train to little-known towns and drinking the local craft beer wherever I get off!

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