First time to Lisbon? Start here, where I shared an overview of Lisbon’s districts and introduced what’s famous in Lisbon. Furnishing on from there, here are 8 essential things to do in Lisbon for a complete experience while you’re in the “city of seven hills”.
Lisbon’s 8 Top Attractions
1. Take a tram ride.
This tops my list of things to do in Lisbon for a reason. While the tram is a common means of transport for the locals, the tram is iconic of Lisbon. If you want a quick guide to the best of Lisbon’s attractions, Tram 28 is for you. Tram 28 runs through the city, taking you around the historic neighbourhoods. It is the tram you have got to sit it at least once during your visit to Lisbon.
2. Go up the Santa Justa elevator.
Just as you have to take Tram 28, the Santa Justa elevator is another popular attraction for visiting tourists. Designed by Ponsard, a disciple of the legendary Gustave Eiffel, this iron elevator has been built in the since the 1880s to connect the lower districts to the elevated suburbs. No other city does an elevator like Lisbon does. Today, tourists hop on it to be offered an overview through the downtown district of Lisbon.
3. Listen to Fado.
Do not pass up Lisbon without taking in their traditional folk music, Fado. Fado can be best found in a fado house along the streets of Alfama, Mouraria or Madragoa. For a history about Fado, the Fado Museum shares the origins of Fado in the museum’s documentation centre.
4. Go viewpoint-hunting at some of Lisbon’s best miradouros (viewpoints).
Lisbon spans a series of hills, making it one of the best places to capture panoramic pictures. The best of these are the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, with dazzling views over the Alfama; the Miradouro das Portas Do Sol and Miraduoro Senora Do Monte, that offer a view of Alfama’s rooftops, towers, and domes descending towards the river; the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, overlooking the Baixa; and the Miradouro de Santa Catarina, the preferred spot for Lisbon’s guitar-strumming bohemians.
Be warned, this takes considerable physical effort, since most of the viewpoints are atop steep hills.
5. Museum-hop for free.
Come the first Sunday of every month, catch some of the Lisbon’s best attractions at no cost, including the Museu Nacional do Azulejo tile museum, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, the Torre de Belém and the unmissable art collection of the Museu Gulbenkian.
6. Taste authentic Portuguese custard tart.
Mmm… Lisbon best attraction, if I must admit.
It is this reason why anyone would come to Portugal, no? Portuguese custard tart is an emblem of Portuguese cuisine, with its recipe so closely guarded that you cannot find a tart that tastes the same anywhere else. These tarts are best enjoyed with a dash of cinnamon powder, and some like to pair it with coffee.
Read: Where to Eat in Lisbon
7. Taste Portugal’s very own cherry liqueur, ginjinha.
Taste their very own ginjinha, a popular Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries. This was quite an eye-opening experience for me.
Some shops offer you ginjinha in chocolate cups, while others leave a surprise for you at the bottom. Finishing off the liqueur with something sweet is said to complement the strong taste of liqueur well.
8. Party the night away in Bairro Alto.
Think you’ve finished your list of things to do in Lisbon? There is nothing like ending your fulfilling day in Lisbon at Bairro Alto. It is the place to be for those hankering after a fun night out, and promises to leave you feeling more energetic than you came in with. Lisbon’s night scene is one not to be missed.
In an attempt to soak in the atmosphere, WL and I once (accidentally) walked into a gay crowd – did I not mention how Lisbon is an increasingly popular gay destination?
What was the most memorable thing you did in Lisbon?