So you’re heading to Lisbon, Portugal and you're not sure what you should see or do while you're there.
Well we spent four days exploring the city and have compiled our recommended 10 Things to See & Do but before we get to that, a fun fact you should know about Portugal is that it is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe meaning that what you see and do shouldn't hurt your wallet! And for the most part, establishments accept credit cards! They may request cash (euros in Portugal) for smaller transactions so we would still recommend that you take some money out of an ATM (that you can find all over the city) to have as back-up but then you should be good to go! This definitely does NOT mean that you have to pay for everything to see and do in Portugal but we just want to make sure you're prepared for some of our recommendations as well as all of the delicious food and drink you'll hopefully be indulging in!
Not a fan of reading, but want to know more about Porto? We’ve also put together a YouTube video that encompasses all of our below recommendations in an easy-to-view visual format: https://youtu.be/D76LSeSPlaU
So as we said, we spent four days exploring the city. It's definitely important to mention that we could have spent at least two weeks exploring Lisbon as it is a huge city with many districts meaning it is very spread out and there is SO MUCH to see and do. We wish we had more time! But based on our four days, we put together 10 of many many many things to see and do in Lisbon so this is not an exhaustive list, but we had a great time with our recommendations below!
Now on to our recommended 10 Things to See & Do in Lisbon, Portugal!
1. St. George’s Castle:
Sitting on top of one of the seven hills of Lisbon, this fortress of a castle can be seen from almost anywhere in the city! The trek up could not be more worth the breathtaking views you get from the castle's walls. Apart from the views, you can also explore some of the castle and get a glimpse into what castle-life was like centuries ago. The admission fee is around $11 USD for adults and we would say definitely worth it.
2. Commerce Square:
Once you make your way back down from the castle and are looking for a place to grab a drink or bite to eat or a - free - place to walk around (or if you’re like us and just enjoy places to leisurely walk around), you have to check out Commerce Square! It is a massive open plaza right on the water that provides spectacular views of the coast, those drinks or bites to eat you're looking for with restaurants seeping onto the plaza, and there is also a massive tower that covers a 'tunnel' that looks like an entry point into the bustling city of Lisbon, Portugal.
3. Mercado da Ribeira:
Another spot to grab some food and/or a drink (or multiple ) and mosey around is the Mercado da Ribeira. Like great food, great drinks, and great atmosphere all in one place? Well make your way down to the Mercado da Riberira and you will not be disappointed. Frequented by tourists and locals alike and filled with food and drink stalls of every type of cuisine imaginable, peruse the stalls and then enjoy at one of the communal tables in one of the most well-known spots in Lisbon to blow your taste buds away!
4. Pink Street:
To walk off your indulgences from either Commerce Square or Mercado da Ribeira (or both!), head over to Lisbon's famous Pink Street. (Yes - it's actually pink)! Once a very seedy part of Lisbon that we wouldn't have gone to let alone recommended not too long ago, the city has transformed this street into a lively and inviting atmosphere where you can enjoy a nice meal at any point during the day and then make your way back there in the evening for a fun night filled with great beverages. Also very grammable!
5. Bairro Alto:
How does dinner below lights and colorful streamers hanging from rooftop to rooftop over winding streets and alleyways sound? Pretty magical, right? You can find exactly this in the neighborhood of Bairro Alto, or Lisbon's "Old Town." With most places serving relatively affordable food, you can either really spur that romantic feeling or have it be the beginning of a fun night out. This is also an area where you can find restaurants that include free Fado as you enjoy a delicious Portuguese meal! Come here for the ambience or nightlife and you will not be disappointed.
6. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte (Sunset Spot):
Raise your hand if you're a sucker for a great sunset? Us too! (Ok, you can put them down now ). Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is one of the best sunset spots we've experienced so far on our travels. In fact it was so great the first time we went that we went back again the next night! It's a bit of a hike to get to (again, Lisbon was built on seven hills so it's...hill-y) but SO worth it! There are a couple ways to get there. If you're feeling up to burning a few calories (maybe working off a few of those beers or Pasteis de Nata (which you have to try!)), then make your way up by foot and you will have quite a feeling of accomplishment by the time you get there. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or Uber up if you want to skip the hike! Just regardless of how you get up there, don't forget to make a pit-stop to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch the sun go down.
7. Belém Tower:
A medieval tower sitting right on the river considered the entrance into Lisbon? Sounds pretty stunning, right? IT IS! The Belém Tower was once a fortress and ceremonial gateway into the beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal. Belém is one of the areas outside of Lisbon's main city center. We took the bus which was super easy and approximately two euros each. While we were on a bit of a time crunch this day, we unfortunately weren't able to go into the tower but the admission fee is roughly $6.59 USD for adults.
8. Jerónimos Monastery:
The Belém Tower isn't the only thing to see in Belém. Another breathtaking site to see is the Jerónimos Monastery. The architecture and sheer size of it will absolutely blow you away. The former monastery is now a museum which is roughly $11 USD for adults to enter; however, if you want to enter just the main chapel then you can get in for free!
9. Tram 28:
Tired of walking (up hill both ways! )? Tram 28 will take you all over the city of Lisbon providing you with a leisurely way to see the city while giving your feet a rest. It is important to note that many people want to experience this (and get off their feet! ) which means you need to grab your spot in line as quickly as possible to try and get yourself a window seat once you get on! The cost to ride the tram is roughly $3.30 USD per person.
Castles, palaces, and mansions, oh my! Lisbon's furthest (and wealthiest) district is Sintra. It's only a 30 minute train ride from the city center ($5.50 USD for a round-trip ticket) and definitely worth a visit. Not only can you experience places like the Pena Palace - the most colorful palace you may ever see that was inhabited up until the beginning of the 20th century! - but you can also go to the western-most point of Europe! We were only there for an afternoon which gave us just enough time to do the Pena Palace but we wish we had more time! We would recommend an entire day or even a night spent among all there is to do and see in Sintra alone.
If you find yourself arriving pre-check-in or post-check-out, you can store your luggage in Lisbon with Bounce. Bounce is an app every traveler should have on their phone. They have thousands of luggage storage locations in most major cities worldwide where you can instantly leave your bags for a low daily rate.
Hopefully this blog post will help you in creating your ideal Lisbon experience. As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, these 10 things do not even come close to encompassing all that there is to do and see in Lisbon but we hope they give you a head start and at least as great of an experience that we had!
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