The best to-do activities in Lisbon, Portugal

The city immediately wins you over with its cheery pastel buildings, delicious fresh seafood, and its unique mix of attractions. If you come during the summer, you’ll most definitely encounter clear blue skies for the hole duration, which is a plus.

São Jorge Castle, which is an old Moorish fortification that sits on a hill overlooking Lisbon and the Tagus River. You can get some nice panoramic views of the city from here, and they also have peacocks roaming the grounds.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol is one of the many look out points in Lisbon that offers postcard-perfect views of the city. This particular terrace overlooks the Alfama district and it is always full of tourists.

Carmo is a medieval convent that was ruined during the 1755 earthquake, and today it is used as an archaeological museum. It’s a strange feeling walking down the ruined nave of the church and seeing blue skies above your head, but that’s exactly what makes it worth a visit.

Another place to visit is Belém Tower. The tower was built on the banks of the Tagus River, and it was meant to act as both a defense system and a ceremonial gateway into Lisbon. While you are there, visit the Belem pastry shop, that serves the traditional custard tarts – Pastel de Belem. You will recognize it by the queue!

The Monument to the Discoveries which celebrates the age of seafaring and discovery between the 15th and 16th Centuries. And there are lots of famous explorers represented if you take a closer look.

The Jeronimos Monastery is one of the most visited sights in Lisbon. It’s one of the best examples of Late Gothic Manueline architecture, so have a close look at the intricate detailing when you visit.

For a different view of Lisbon, consider taking a ferry to the other side of the Tagus River. You’ll get some great shots of the city and it’s a really pleasant ride, especially if you luck out with blue skies and sunshine.

Cacilhas lies on the south bank of the Tagus and it was once a quiet fishing village. It makes for a really nice day trip, and they have some great restaurants serving up fresh grilled seafood, so bring your appetite.

A fun way to get around Lisbon’s hilly streets is by riding the trams. There are different lines across the city, but #28 is the most popular one with visitors.

For another scenic look at Lisbon, you can visit the São Pedro de Alcântara lookout. Here you’ll get some nice views that include the castle mentioned before.

Rua Augusta is a lively pedestrian street that offers a mix of shopping and restaurants. Just keep in mind that the prices can be a little higher, since this area is primarily geared at tourists.

The Commerce Plaza is another one of those iconic sites in the city. It was once home to the Ribeira Palace, which was sadly destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. There are a few little cafes on the fringes of the square, and it can be a nice spot to people watch.

The Santa Justa lift is an elevator that connects the lower streets of downtown with Carmo Square, and it is the only remaining vertical elevator in Lisbon. Though it is meant to serve a functional role, it is also quite popular with visitors who find the elevator a novel idea.

For a nice green escape come to the Tropical Botanical Gardens. Walk around in the shade and you’ll notice there is hardly anyone there and you might even find the shortest bridge in all of Lisbon. The Gulbenkian Gardens are also quite pleasant, if you enjoy walking in green areas, with swans and ducks around you.

Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in the city. It has survived many earthquakes and seen many modifications, which is why it has a mix of architectural styles.

If you are fond of sports, you might want to watch a game at Estadio da Luz or Estadio Jose Alvalade. They are the home of Benfica and Sporting, two of the biggest soccer clubs in the country and the atmosphere will be something you will be surprised about. The games might be a bit less exciting that the quick way the NFL lines moves, but it is definitely an experience you won’t forget.

Lastly, take a minute to enjoy Lisbon at nighttime. This is a city where things don’t get going until quite late in the night, so don’t miss out by calling it in early.

Wishing you happy travels, and don’t forget to take your time and visit other cities all around Portugal.

Written by: João Santos

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