Lisbon is one of those cities in Europe that features pastel views alongside its pastel de nata tartlets. One of Europe’s most visited cities alongside Istanbul, Rome and Barcelona; it features amazing sightseeing opportunities, great architecture and excellent tourist attractions.

Read more in this ultimate travel guide top things to do and best places to eat in Lisbon.


Lisbon, pronounced Lisboa [liʒˈboɐ] is a city situated on the Tagus river with just under 3 million people. It’s the third most populous city in the Iberian peninsula after Madrid and Barcelona.

Lisbon’s name is commonly abbreviated as “LX” or “Lx”, originating in an antiquated spelling of Lisbon as ‘‘Lixbõa’”.

This capital city is the second oldest city in Europe predating many others by millennia. After the Roman administration it was ruled by several Germanic tribes up until the 8th century when it was conquered by the Moors.

It wasn’t up until the 12th century that the Portuguese state came into existence.

Since then, Lisbon has been on the centre stage for hosting events in fashion, expositions but also many diplomatic events such as the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 which serves as the main constitutional basis of the European Union.

The local currency here is the Euro however, we found that most places take card payments so it was fairly handy using our Starling Bank accounts. You will find Revolut equally useful. Starling Bank is an U.K. only bank and they offer 0% fees on FX and a Mastercard exchange rate which is not that far from the Interbank one.

We think some of the best times to travel to Lisbon are October till April as you will avoid the high heats.

Travel to and around Lisbon

The city itself is accessible by all means of transportation although flights to this destination tend to be fairly accessible especially during the colder months.

If you are looking to see how to get the best prices when booking a flight, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.

Lisbon has one main airport, Humberto Delgado Airport (IATA: LIS). The airport is conveniently located 20 minutes by public transport from the city centre.

Once you land you are spoiled for choice in terms of transportation. From Terminal 1 you can get the Metro or busses that lead straight into the city. The best thing is that these are all part of the metropolitan transport card Viva which we will talk more below.

Taxis are also available however, many Uber drivers simply refused our ride.

Public Transport in Lisbon

When considering to travel in Lisbon make sure you plan to get a travel card. The hills of Lisbon will simply crucify you if you think you’ll brave them. One should imagine walking in this city more like going on a hike in the mountains.

The local travel card is called Viva Viagem Card and is a ticket wallet valid across Lisbon and its metro area. You can learn more about the card and prices here.

Generally speaking we found ground transportation to be fairly unreliable and so if you do get a chance make sure you use the metro. Worth noting that boarding on busses and some trams is done from the front and off-boarding from the back two doors. You also may need to press the red button to make sure the driver understands they need to stop.

For the historic part of Lisbon (which is where you’ll be mostly) you shouldn’t worry too much about traffic or peak times as much of Lisbon’s population lives outside the touristic part of the city.

Where to Stay in Lisbon

In general, there are plenty of hotels and accommodation options, however, we would recommend staying somewhere close to the attractions.

We would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such аs or Agoda to get the best rates. You can use the widget below to quickly get some accommodation options for your dates.

On this occasion, we had some credit (points) from, so we booked our hotel using our points and technically didn’t pay anything for our stay. We chose to say at Hotel Travel Park Lisboa. It’s a 3 star hotel with good reviews, located just 1 minute away from a metro station and offering a decent breakfast.

You can see photos from the hotel and read more about our stay at Hotel Travel Park Lisboa here.

When looking at locations to choose from we think anywhere south from the Alameda and Sao Sebastian stations on the Red Metro line latitude would be good.

Sure, like we say in our article on how to plan a holiday, do account for the overall cost as you have to factor in breakfast.

Things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is an amazing city which offers tourists a plethora of things to do. Everything from museums to palaces and exquisite restaurants, there is something for everyone. Therefore, it’s important to try and plan your trip accordingly and economically.

Like in Brussels and Berlin, we decided that the most optimum way to visit Lisbon was by buying the Lisbon Card. If you are planning to visit most if not all proposed attractions below, then this card will be the best value for money.

The card offer is also inclusive of public transport and moreover, offers free train transport to Sintra and some discounts for the attractions there. The card is available in 24h, 48h or 72h flavours, you can learn more about this card here.

Be mindful that most attractions are closed on Monday, so we suggest you plan your visit accordingly. As a suggestion, we arrived Friday night and bought a 48h card on Saturday which lasted us till our departure on Monday afternoon.

To tackle this great city we propose you group your attractions in 3 main areas:

  • Belem Neighbourhood
  • Cais de Sodre District
  • Alfama Neighbourhood

If you are very limited with time, you might consider a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.

Below is the list of attractions we saw in Lisbon and from our day trip to Sintra:

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android

1. See the Iconic Belem Tower

Officially the Tower of Saint Vincent, this picturesque 16th century tower once stood as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

This symbol of Portugal and Lisbon has become almost an icon for Europe’s Discovery Age and has seen illustrious explorers such as Vasco da Gama sail to new adventures.

You could definitely consider going in, however we didn’t feel it was worth the time since we were on a tight schedule. If you do consider going in, make sure you arrive extra early to beat the crowds.

The entrance to the Belem Tower is included in the Lisbon card but if you don’t have this, you can buy Belem Tower ticket here.

2. Take a Glance at Padrão dos Descobrimentos

This statue was built in 1940 and made permanent in 1960 to mark 500 years since Henry the Navigator’s death. It’s a great opportunity to have a few good photos before heading to Jeronimos Monastery.

3. Visit Jerónimos Monastery

The building is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, it became the necropolis of the Portuguese royal dynasty of Aviz in the 16th century but was secularized on 28 December 1833.

The church and the monastery, like the nearby Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos, symbolise the Portuguese Age of Discovery and are among the main tourist attractions of Lisbon. In 1983, UNESCO formally designated the Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém as a World Heritage Site.

The monastery itself is a work of art and definitely worth a visit. Once you arrive you will see two queues. The shorter one is typically for the church (free to visit) and the longer one will be for the monastery (you need to have a ticket or have your Lisbon card ready).

The monastery hosted the famous signing of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon which was held in the cloister of the monument.

The Lisbon card states you get fast track however, don’t be fooled, it just means you get the entrance, there isn’t a “fast-track” queue. We suggest you head over there first thing in the morning, the queue can be between 1-2h wait time at midday.

If you don’t have the Lisbon card and the don’t want to queue to buy your ticket, you can buy Jerónimos Monastery Ticket from here.

4. Explore the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda and the Portuguese Crown Jewels

Palácio Nacional da Ajuda is a neoclassical palace, the 19th-century residence of the royal family, now turned a museum of decorative arts. The palace hosts multiple works of art as well as furniture pieces from the time of the Portuguese Royal Family.

Similar to other palaces around Europe, it boasts themed rooms, one in particular stood out, which looked like a themed jungle with exotic decorative elements.

Portuguese Crown Jewels at the Royal Treasury Museum in Lisbon

Within the same estate of the palace you will be able to find the Royal Treasury Museum. Do be warned they are pretty strict with their security over there. I wasn’t even allowed to take in my gimbal and had to store it in their locker.

Once you are done with security you will find that the exhibition is behind what it appears a vault. The room is pitch black with only the exhibits highlighted. A truly impressive experience, much similar to the Tower of London Crown Jewels in London.

The entrance to the Royal Treasure Museum is included in the Lisbon card but if you don’t have this, you can buy Royal Treasure Museum Entry Ticket here.

5. Go up the National Pantheon

The Church of Santa Engrácia is a 17th-century monument in Lisbon, Portugal. Originally a church it was converted into the National Pantheon, in which important Portuguese personalities are buried.

The building itself has an impressive white façade, in many respects it looks a bit like the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Paris’ Montmartre.

Our suggestion is once you take your tickets head upstairs straight to the terrace. The corridor can be a bit narrow but with a bit of luck no one will be coming downstairs.

This is a good opportunity to see the Alfama neighbourhood from above and also the Marina area.

6. Admire the craftsmanship at the Tiles Museum

Meseu Nacional do Azulejo is one of the most important of the national museums by the singularity of its collection, Azulejo (tile), an artistic expression that differentiates Portuguese culture, and by the uniqueness of the building in which the Museum is set, former Madre de Deus Convent.

Its collections allow a journey through the history of tile, from 15th century till present days. Belonging to the convent, the Madre de Deus church is decorated in full Portuguese baroque splendour, with gilded and carved wood, paintings and tile panels.

The entrance to the Tile Musem is included in the Lisbon card but if you don’t have this, you can buy National Tile Museum Entry Ticket here.

We really enjoyed it and we think this is a display of excellent craftmanship exploring the art of possible with tiles. This is an absolutely must for your trip!

7. Walk through Dom Pedro IV Square

This is another iconic place in Lisbon with a wide square with a mosaic pattern, featuring a fountain and a monument in the centre.

It is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages. It has been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike.

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8. Go up the Santa Justa Lift

Cast-iron elevator with filigree details, built in 1902 to connect lower streets with Carmo Square. The lift is a popular attraction with tourists as it offers a viewing deck overseeing much of the old city and the Castle of Sao George.

We suggest here you either wake up early and come first thing as the queue can reach up to two hours waiting or head up the narrow streets to Carmo Square by the Carmo Covenant to reach the same viewing deck. From there, should you wish you can go down with the lift.

The second option means you get there in 10 minutes instead of waiting hours on the queue, this is what we did.

You might run out of breath however, once up there you will simply be rewarded with amazing pastel views. Best is to go and catch the sunset for that extra magic.

9. See the Ruins of Carmo Convent

This ruined Gothic church destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, with an evocative roofless nave offers walking by tourists a chance to sit down for a coffee in Carmo Square and glance at it whilst sipping on their coffees and taking another bite from their pasteis de nata.

10. Go up Arco da Rua Augusta and Sit Down for a Drink in Praça do Comércio

It was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. It has six columns (some 11m high) and is adorned with statues of various historical figures.

You can also go up the tower, there is a lift till a certain point. From there you can go up two sets of stairs. What we found interesting was that the stairs offered a traffic light system so people know when to go down or head up.

From the top you can admire the iconic Praça do Comércio. See the people stop by and take photos in the square as well as the passing boats in the marina.

When you head down, you will enter the Praça do Comércio, here once stood the Royal Palace Paço da Ribeira until the latter was destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake (the subway station located there is still named after the old name of the plaza).

After the earthquake, the plaza was completely remodelled as part of the rebuilding of the Pombaline Downtown.

11. Climb up to Castelo de S. Jorge

Saint George’s Castle is a historic castle in Lisbon, located in the freguesia of Santa Maria Maior. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The castle grounds itself have been more or less rebuilt. We were surprised to see peacocks wandering around the castle and showing off their beauty. This was rather unusual and unexpected but definitely different.

Overall, we felt the price of the castle ticket was expensive for what it was and no discount was offered with the Lisbon card. I’d still say it’s worth a visit as from here you get the best viewpoint of Lisbon and offers stunning views of the marina and city. You could almost say you’re paying for the views.

The views here reminded us of the views from Castle Hill in Nice, France.

We visited the castle early in the morning and there was no queue, however at 11am the queue was long with estimated waiting time of 45 minutes. If you go during peak time, you may want to buy Sao Jorge Castle Skip-the-Line Ticket to save time and skip the queues.

12. Visit Lisbon Cathedral

The oldest church in the city, it is the seat of the Patriarchate of Lisbon. Built in 1147, the cathedral has survived many earthquakes and has been modified, renovated and restored several times. It is nowadays a mix of different architectural styles.

The cathedral hosts two parts to it. The museum, which is mostly upstairs and the main cathedral and chapels.

You could theoretically just visit the naos part of the church without paying anything however, we think there is quite a lot to see so definitely worth buying the tickets. This isn’t included in the Lisbon Card but you do get a 20% discount with it.

13. Ride the Historic Tram 28

If you want to experience what being a commuter might’ve been in the past century then the old yellow style trams might be the answer. Considering the narrow streets and steep hills these trams provide even today an excellent way to get around in Lisbon’s old city centre.

There are a few routes serviced by the historic trams however, the most popular ones is tram 28. Make sure you can comfortably sit as the tram does take quick turns and it can become quickly an unpleasant experience.

I wouldn’t say you need to take a special trip with these trams, as your public transport card/ Lisbon Card will cover this; a better idea is to use it when you are going in between attractions.

Boarding is done from the front and when getting off you may press the red buttons to signal to the driver you want to get off. Off-boarding is done through the rear. Enjoy!

14. Go on a Day Trip to Sintra

Another opportunity is to head over for a day trip to Sintra. Train tickets are just a bit more than your regular Lisbon public transport fare and within 40 minutes you find yourself in the magical picturesque town of Sintra.

Sintra is a collection of castles and palaces nested in the hills above the sea. One of the most popular ones is Pena Palace which stands at Sintra’s highest peak and overseas the town and nearby coastline – a view rarely seen. In many respects it reminded me a lot of Sinaia in Romania and is really a trip we would recommend you take.

Read more about things to do in Sintra and our 1-day itinerary for Sintra from Lisbon. Sintra is definitely worth visiting and was a real highlight of our trip!

Other things to do in Lisbon

On the first day we also planned to go to the Vasco da Gama tower and take a ride on the Gondola Lift but it started raining, so we thought this was no longer a good idea. If you are in the area and decide to go on the Gondola, you might also consider visiting the Lisbon Oceanarium which is nearby.

You could also cross the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge (the one that looks like the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco) to reach to the Sanctuary of Christ the King statue. Apparently the views from the top of the statue are nice as well.

If we had a bit more time, we would have loved to do a cruise on the river. We were looking at this Lisbon cruise along the Tagus River or you can take any boat trip from the pier next to Praça do Comércio.

Food and Drinks Highlights

When it comes to food and drinks, Lisbon caters for everyone. The culinary scene is split in-between, traditional cuisine but also former colonial one such as Brazilian or Angolan.

Some of the things worth considering when exploring Portuguese food would be their seafood. They are big fans of cod and we mean big time. From simply grilled cod to cod and mashed potatoes croquettes you will be amazed how many recipes with cod are there.

Other typical elements include duck rice which is a baked dish of duck covered in rice. This is where they pull the duck and then mix strips of meat with rice and then slightly bake it for a bit.

No visit to the Iberian Peninsula would be complete without trying the famous cured ham a.k.a. jamon. They also serve steaks from the same breed of pig which are said to be very tasty.

We would also suggest you try a Francesinha which is really a hefty sandwich designed to do one thing – fill – you – up. And it does that gloriously.

The sandwich is a true caloric bomb but simply worth trying. It consists of various meats sandwiched with melted cheese poured on top and a fried egg served in a puddle of slight spicy tomatoes sauce. It’s a croque monsieur but for men.

What trip to Portugal would be complete without trying the famous Pastel de Nata? This pastry is a fairly simple mixture consisting of a case made of puff pastry and thick custard baked till the custard is set yet slightly gooey.

In terms of drinks, we do strongly suggest you try port wine, for us, because we live in the U.K. we are blessed a plethora or port wine choices and so tried other local adult beverages.

As a bonus, Portuguese have also some taverns with live music which is known as Fado. Fado is a music genre that can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon.

In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fate and melancholy.

Seating in such venues is very crammed and they typically are crowded but can be a very intimate and passionate dinner experience.

Below is a list of places we’d recommend for you to explore.

Try the Heavenly Desserts of Pastéis de Belém

Alongside history and tradition, Pastéis de Belém is widely recognised as the patisserie to sample the authentic pastel de nata (custard tart) in Lisbon. At the beginning, the monks at Jerónimos Monastery made the tarts to be sold at a shop next to a sugar cane refinery.

Initially the egg whites were used as starch for laundry and so a need became apparent for the egg yolks. From here came the by-product in the form of the Portuguese custard tarts – pastel de nata.

This pastry shop makes everything from scratch and we mean everything. The pastry, custards and creams. They offer plenty of treats mostly based on custard fillings however, it would be a sin not to have the traditional pastel de nata.

When going to this place you will see a large queue, that is the take-away queue, if you’re planning to have a sit down experience then head down the somewhat dark corridor and wait for someone to sit you.

More to our amaze was how spacious this place is on the inside hosting even an indoor terrace. Moreover, we found the prices to be more than affordable all round – something not quite found in other famous venues who capitalise on their fame.

Time Out Market Lisbon

Time Out Market Lisboa is a food hall located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodré. It offers right about anything from Francesinha sandwiches to seafood.

Do be warned – it’s a big tourist hotspot and although the market hosts indoors seating you might not get a chance to sit down.

We settled on Marlene Vieira Food Corner which had some of the more elevated yet traditional Portuguese classics. I had the Francesinha sandwich whilst Hristina had the braised octopus, all very good and filling.

Enjoy a Fado show at Tasca da Tia Macheta

We initially wanted to go to a more famous Fado place called A Tasca do Chico however, it was fully booked as it’s often the case with good venues. We waited for 45 minutes outside and gave up.

We settled on going to Tasca da Tia Macheta and did not regret it. The music was good and the performers had a good selection of songs albeit brief stints.

The food was also good, I had the pork knuckle roast served with potatoes and Hristina had the Olive Oil Cod served with grilled potatoes.

Try a Beer at Museu da Cerveja

Museu da Cerveja is an interesting restaurant with terrace in Praça do Comércio which exhibits chronicling Portuguese beer history, plus a restaurant with a charming outdoor terrace.

Although you could classify this a bit on the higher end in terms of prices, the views of the square combined with excellent cod croquettes were what made this place stand our for us. Sometimes you’ve got to cough up the extra money.

Enjoy a Traditional Meal at Altar

Altar is a restaurant which aims to provide a somewhat reduced Portuguese menu presented nicely for foreigners. Here Hristina had Sidrangria which is like a Sangria but with cider.

They offer some typical things such as duck rice which is apparently eaten on Sundays. I chose to have the pork cheeks whilst Hristina had the duck. My portion felt relatively small but overall was tasty.

Try some Jamon at Los Chanetes

Los Chanetes is a typical restaurant serving Preto pork jamon and is really something you need to try for yourselves. We tried one of their platters which came with a selection of cheeses also and we weren’t disappointed. Moreover, the price was more than affordable considering its location.

Final Thoughts

We think Lisbon is a great all round destination for anyone. Whether we are talking about families, couples or solo traveller, this city has it all. We were able to visit all of the above in just 2.5 days but if you only have 48 hours in Lisbon, here is a suggestion for a two-day Lisbon itinerary.

This amazing capital has stood the test of time and its people are proud to be its residents. A city that truly belongs on the world stage and has to offer future generations a rich heritage.

Whether you are looking to learn about history, explore the vast culinary scene or simply enjoy sightseeing the city, you definitely won’t be bored in wonderful Lisbon. If you have enough time, we strongly suggest a day trip to Sintra, you won’t regret it!

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:

  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

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