10 things to do while in Lisbon, Portugal

Vibrant and bustling, Portugal’s capital will keep you busy whether you’re in the city for a day, a long weekend or more.  To help you plan some of your time there, here are 10 things to do while in Lisbon, Portugal.

1. Take in the views at one of Lisbon’s Miradouros

Looking down on the city of Lisbon is a must and there’s no better way to do so than visiting one of its many Miradouros.

The observation platforms or decks are known as the Miradouros. They’re great for scenic views and have become popular meeting places too.  At certain times of the year, you’ll find some miradouros with pop-up stalls such as the Sangria Hut I came across. Serving Sangria and cocktails with wine only made with Porto Wine, the Sangria Hut can be found during some festivals in Lisbon and also in other places outside Lisbon like Milan, Portuguese island Azores.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck

Depending on which Miradouro you visit (and there are a few!) you will either overlook Castelo Sao Jorge, the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and Tagus River. You’ll also see the rooftops of homes, shops and restaurants staggered along Lisbon’s hilly streets.

Sunset at Miradouro Santa Luisa - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Sunset at Miradouro Santa Luisa

Here are a few Miradouros to visit:

  • Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara– R. de São Pedro de Alcântara, 1200-470 (Google map link)
  • Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck– Largo Portas do Sol, 1100-411 (Google map link)
  • Miradouro Santa Luzia– Rua do Limoeiro (Google map link)
  • Miradouro da Senhora do Monte Rua da Senhora do Monte 50, Largo Monte, 1170-107 (Google map link)
Me at Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck
Me at Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck

2. Navigate the nightlife of Bairro Alto

You must not leave Lisbon without having a night out in Bairro Alto.

Busy during the day as people visit the many shops, restaurants and cafés or ride the funicular nearby, the streets also come alive at night with music.

Pink Wine Point - Pink Street Lisbon
Pink Wine Point Bar - Pink Street Lisbon

You’ll meet people from all over the world.  Since all of the bars are open and become quite packed, everyone ends up partying on the street.

Pink Wine Point - Lisbon Bar
Cocktail at Pink Wine Point
Pink Wine Point
Pink Wine Point

3. Grab a custard tart!

While you’re in Lisbon you have no excuse not to try Pasteisde nata – the Portuguese custard tart.  The most well-known place to get them from is Belém which is a short journey away by train or bus.  You’ll buy them from Pasteis de Belem.

The tarts are just over a Euro each (€1.15 at the time I visited).  You can also buy a pack of 6 is (€6.90) or a pack of 50 (€57.50 at the time). They’re really tasty, and you can eat them hot or cold and they come with cinnamon to sprinkle on top.

Pasties de Belém - Lisbon
Pasties de Belém - Lisbon

A trip to Lisbon would almost be incomplete without trying one.  The shop is so popular that the queue stretched along the side of the building.

Pasties de Belém opens early until quite late so there definitely is no excuse to stop by.  You can also make use of your time in Belém by combining a visit to Belém Tower or Jerónimos Monastery which are both a short walk away.

Picking up custard tarts at Pasties de Belém Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Picking up custard tarts at Pasties de Belém Lisbon
Pasties de Belém - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Pasties de Belém - Lisbon

If you don’t have time to visit Belém, you can always grab a tart in Lisbon’s city centre at Manteigaria.

  • Pasteis de Belem – R. Belém, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Manteigaria – Rua do Loreto, 2 1200-242 Lisbon, Portugal

4. Visit Belém Tower

Belém Tower is located right by the sea.  It has beautiful architecture and is a popular tourist spot.  You’ll have an amazing view and will be able to see Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge and Cristo Rei (the Christ the King statue) in the distance.

The tower has four levels which used to house the King, governess and audience chambers.  You can take the stairs all the way to the top and see over Belém and the Targus river.

Belem Tower - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Belem Tower - Lisbon

Since the tower is a main attraction, it’s on the list of many who visit Lisbon.  This means it can get really busy.  Access has changed since the first time I visited. The tower only holds 120 people maximum at any one time. 

The last time I was there, they were only allowing people inside at intervals of about 30 mins.  It’s best to arrive as early as you can to avoid queues.

View from Bélem Tower - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
View from Bélem Tower - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Jerónimos Monastery - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
Jerónimos Monastery - Lisbon
  • Entry – you can buy a combo ticket to visit both Belém and Jerónimos Monastery, but they are purchased onsite.  You can also buy your ticket in advance like I did from Get Your Guide. I bought the Lisbon: Belém Tower entrance ticket.
  • Getting to Belém –the tram number 15 (or 15E) departs from Praça da Figueira in Lisbon or you can take tram 127 from downtown ad get off at Jerónimos Monastery. You can also take the train from Cais do Sodré station.  It takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to reach Belém from Lisbon city centre depending on which method of transport you choose.

5. Visit the National Tile Museum

Find out about the history of the blue patterned tiles you see all over Portugal.  The museum showcases its blue tile heritage.  

In Portugal, glazed tiles pavements have been used since the 13th century.  The azulejos tiles have been a fixture across the country for more than five centuries and is a showcase of Portuguese taste and culture.  It’s a way to identify Portugal.  The tiles tend to come in modules of 2×2, 4×4, 6×6 and 12×12.

National Tile Museum - Lisbon_RiA Vistas
National Tile Museum - Lisbon

Azulejo derives from the Arab word ‘azzelij’ or ‘al zeycja’, which means “small polished stone”.  It also refers to ceramic, which is usually square.

  • Entry – the museum is open every day except on a Monday. It’s free to visit on Sunday’s and during public holidays. Students can get in for half price if you show a valid local student ID or an international one if you’re from another country.
  • Getting there – if you’re coming from the centre of town, you can catch the 759 bus from Praça do Comércio.

6. See Pena Palace and Sintra Town

In less than an hour, a train from Lisbon’s Rossio station will take you to Sintra Town.  You may have already seen pictures of this beautiful, multicoloured, enchanted looking palace. 

Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle on a hill in Sintra Mountains.  You can wander around its terraces and moats or grab a bite to eat in the restaurant.

RiA at Palácio da Pena
Me outside Palácio da Pena

But it’s not just Pena Palace to take in as there’s other things to see and do while in Sintra.  

Sintra Town - from the National Palace
Sintra Town - from the National Palace
Sintra Town
Sintra Town - souvenir alley
Inside Moorish Castle
Inside Moorish Castle

You could visit the Moorish Castle, wander around Sintra Town, look down the spiralling wells at Quinta da Regaleira or visit the stunning National Palace.

7. TimeOut Market - food stop

Music pumping and the sound of constant chatter.  TimeOut Market is definitely a place to check out if you’re looking for a range of good food as well as a nice atmosphere.

Bacalhau com arroz de tomate
Pastéis de bacalhau com arroz de tomate - TimeOut Lisbon

With a number of international dishes to choose from, as you wander through the crowded hall, you’ll see so many people hungrily tucking into their purchase.  The first time I went there I ate at the See Me stall.  I chose Pastéis de bacalhau com arroz de tomate (codfish cake with tomato-rice).  On my second visit to Lisbon I dropped by the market again and ate at Ground Burger rated high by Timeout critics and it certainly lived up to it.  Thanks guys! 

In TimeOut Market you’ll find everything from Portuguese dishes and burgers to sushi, pasta and pizza. 

Food time at TimeOut Market
Ordering at TimeOut Market
TimeOut Market in Lisbon
Inside TimeOut Market

8. Be amazed at Cristo Rei (Christ the king statue)

You can see the iconic Cristo Rei statue (National Sanctuary of Christ the King) in the distance from Lisbon, but if you want to get up close then it’s easy to do.

The monument and shrine are located in Almada. From Lisbon’s and you can catch a boat there from the port near Caiso do Sodre – where it’s located.  Once you get off you need to catch a bus which takes you to the entrance.

While you can enter the area surrounding the statue for free, which has brilliant views overlooking Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, if you want to get higher up, you can visit the viewing platform on the statue itself. You’ll need to pay to enter but it’s certainly worth it if you like a good view!

Cristo Rei Lisbon
Cristo Rei Lisbon

You can see the iconic Cristo Rei statue (National Sanctuary of Christ the King) in the distance from Lisbon, but if you want to get up close then it’s easy to do.

The monument and shrine are located in Almada. From Lisbon’s and you can catch a boat there from the port near Caiso do Sodre – where it’s located.  Once you get off you need to catch a bus which takes you to the entrance.

Me at Cristo Rei and 25 de Abril Bridge
Me at Cristo Rei and 25 de Abril Bridge

While you can enter the area surrounding the statue for free, which has brilliant views overlooking Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, if you want to get higher up, you can visit the viewing platform on the statue itself. You’ll need to pay to enter but it’s certainly worth it if you like a good view!

9. Watch the sunset at Park Bar

Park Bar is one of the quirkiest bars in Lisbon being almost hidden because it’s on top of a car park!

Overlooking Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge and further in the distance, Cristo Rei over on Almada, Park Bar is packed most nights.  I loved its tropical vibe with large, towering plants and wooden furniture.  It has a tranquil feel and is most certainly worth a visit if not just to watch the sunset as many people do.

Sunset at Park Bar
Sunset at Park Bar
Park Bar entrance - Lisbon Bars
Park Bar entrance - Lisbon Bars

It’s free to enter the bar itself – unless there’s a special event taking place then there may be a fee.  Drinks are reasonably priced, and you can also order food too.

Add Park bar to your list of places to go for a drink while in Lisbon.

10. Stroll around Castelo de Sao Jorge

Castelo de Sao Jorge can be seen from many places around Lisbon.  It’s a beautiful historic Portuguese castle located in the city.

Providing tourists with the opportunity to learn more about the city’s history and history of Lisbon, you can wander in the footsteps of those that lived there.  The castle has become a place not only to learn its history but to also take in the breathtaking views of Lisbon’s skyline.

Castle Sao Jorge from below
Miradouro do Castelo de São Jorge_RiA Vistas
Miradouro do Castelo de São Jorge

From the castle you get an almost 360 view of the city as you climb its turrets and walk along it’s walls. 

Castelo de São Jorge Portugal
Castelo de São Jorge, Lisbon

If you want an easy route up the steep hill to the castle, go to Baixa Chiado metro station and opposite the exit across the road you’ll see Elevator do Castelo. Take this up and once you’re out the other end, cross over the road and walk to your left a few feet.  

Ahead you’ll see a road slope up but to the right an entrance to a supermarket.  Head in there and you’ll see another elevator straight ahead.  Take that up again, come out and head to your left and from there you can easily walk the rest of the way to the castle.  

Address
R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal

Let me know if you decide to do any of these!  

If you’re looking for places to relax and chill out after a long day seeing the sights, check out my post for 4 cool bars to grab a cocktail in the city.

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