LISBON CITY GUIDE: Must do in Lisbon
Thousands of tourists flock to this historical and metropolitan city each year. The variety of sights and attractions can be overwhelming, therefore use this Lisbon city guide to organize your perfect vacation.
Therefore, if you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, these Lisbon travel tips will come in handy: find out how to get around Lisbon, the best time to visit Lisbon, the best museums in Lisbon, the best Lisbon markets and the other best things to do.
Why visit Lisbon
Why should you visit Lisbon? If you’re planning a trip to Europe and want to experience a city with ancient history, modern entertainment and hi-tech innovation, then Lisbon should be at the top of your list.
Lisbon is a stunning city, with amazing old buildings and colourful tiles glistening in the sunshine. No wonder why these historical neighbourhoods have recently become a favourite among locals and tourists. The city offers comfortable temperatures throughout the year, rarely dropping below 15 degrees, making Lisbon an incredible destination for outdoor adventures and city exploration.
There’s a huge number of things you must do in Lisbon, but don’t be overwhelmed! This Lisbon city guide will help you organise your perfect trip.
Essential Lisbon travel tips
LANGUAGE: the main spoken language is Portuguese. However, a lot of citizens are proficient in English.
MONEY/ATM: the local currency is Euros. Most restaurants, shops, and other establishments accept credit cards.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: Portugal only has Type F plugs so take your universal travel adaptor with you. Their standard voltage of 230V and frequency 50Hz.
VISA: All non-EU residents must have a Visa to enter the country. You’ll need to have personal information ready, including your itinerary and bank statements. Find more information here
Best time to visit Lisbon
Like most European cities, Lisbon has long hot summers (June to August). Unfortunately, this is also the peak tourist season, with higher prices and longer queues. The low season is between December and March, with lower prices, drizzly grey skies, and fewer tourists. However, this is the perfect time to visit Lisbon on a budget.
Therefore, the best time to visit Lisbon is Spring or fall (April/May or September/October). Temperatures are still high, the queues are shorter, and flights and accommodations are more affordable.
How much is a trip to Lisbon?
Portugal has a reputation for being accessible and enjoyable on a budget. Lisbon is no exception! In fact, It’s one of the cheapest major cities in Europe. Use these Lisbon city guide and tips to get you started:
You can find a mid-range hotel for €70-€150 per night. However, if you have a smaller budget there are plenty of good hostels for as little as €20 for a shared room or €40-50 for an entire room.
Good quality local dishes and wines can be very cheap! A complete meal in a restaurant is around €15, slightly more if you are in a tourist area. Make sure you try the Portuguese signature dish ‘bacalhau’ (cod). You can find this in almost every hotel and restaurant, always cooked in a different way.
A lot of activities and landmarks are free to see. Nonetheless, you can buy the Lisboa Card for free access to public transport, many museums, monuments, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Plus many discounts on tours, shopping, nightlife, and more.
How to get around Lisbon
Getting around Lisbon is fun and simple. Public transport is reliable, straightforward, cost-effective, and time-efficient!
There’s a wide range of tickets and passes. However, the unlimited pass is a very popular and highly recommended option for visitors, as it allows you to travel extensively for only 7 euros.
Best historical things to do and see in Lisbon
There are so many things to do and see in this spectacular city. On this Lisbon city guide and tips, you will find some of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Sao Jorge Castle
This glorious castle is one of the most recognized tourist attractions in Lisbon. It sits on the crown of a hill near Alfama, overlooking the capital. This position gives a 360° view of the surrounding city.
This castle saw the fall of the Romans, witnessed the conflicts between the Christians and Arabs, and saw the birth of Portugal as a nation. Today, visitors can enjoy the museum, hidden pathways, and the castle’s battlements for only €10. The castle of Sao Jorge is definitely one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
This is an absolute must-do in Lisbon. This 16th-century monastery holds great cultural significance in Portugal. King Manual I commissioned its creation in 1501 to honor Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.
You can find it in the Belem district boasting highly ornate designs and a 32 meter high stone portal. This majestic entrance contains complex carvings of saints, pinnacles, and other decorative delights. Adults can purchase a €10 ticket, with 50% off for seniors and children.
The Belem Tower sits near the River Tagus and it symbolizes Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It’s so precious and ornate that it’s protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
Inside you can climb spiral staircases and enjoy beautiful views of the city. On the second floor, you can find the King’s Chamber. Finally, the staircase opens up onto a beautiful Renaissance Loggia. Once you’ve reached the top you’ll see an incredible panorama of the waterfront. Adults can access the Tower of Belem for €6 and discounts are available for seniors and children.
Carmo convent ruins
This Carmelite treasure was constructed between 1389 and 1423. In its original gothic design, it was one of the country’s most distinguished churches. However, in 1755 an earthquake devastated the city, destroying most of its buildings.
Today, tourists can see the remaining ruins, the surviving chancel (which is now a museum), and the open nave. The Carmo convent ruins are amongst one of the best unusual and Unique Places to visit in Portugal, therefore, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore this site. Adults can access for €5, students and seniors for €4.
Marqueses de Fronteira Palace
You will find this charming and beautiful manor house near the Monsanto forest park. The Marquis de Fronteira built this as a hunting lodge in 1640. A unique blue and white tiles spread across the palace and into the gardens where you’ll find ornate fountains, sculptures of Portuguese kings and mythological creatures, and immaculately kept greenery.
For anyone willing to make a short journey away from the tourist trail, this ornate church will not disappoint. It’s an unmissable landmark showing neoclassical/late Baroque architecture. It was built for Queen Maria I in the second half of the 18th century after she gave birth to her son. She was buried in an Empire-styled tomb in a pink and black geometric marble room.
It’s ideal for Christmas lovers, as it displays a popular nativity scene with over 500 handmade figures.
Praca do Comercio
Located in the city center, this grand plaza is a must-do in Lisbon. The square was built for captains to gather and plan sea voyages to South East Asia, Brazil, and India. The 18th-century statue of King Jose I is surrounded by colonnades and a majestic arch.
This is a great starting point for any historical sightseeing tour in Lisbon.
Best museums in Lisbon
From textiles to oriental artifacts and visuals arts, use this Lisbon city guide to find out the best museums Lisbon has to offer.
National Azulejo Museum
This slightly out of the way museum is one of those most important in Lisbon. It shows five centuries of various Azulejos, glazed ceramic tiles, depicting Portugal’s baroque rich legacy. With some created in the 15th century, it’s a museum like no other in the world. You can explore the three floors and gardens with a downloadable audio guide. Therefore, this museum is a must-do in Lisbon.
National Museum of Ancient Art
Known as one of the most culturally significant museums in Europe, this showcases an abundance of treasures. It includes over 40,000 pieces of textiles, paintings, metalwork, drawings, sculptures, furniture, and more. These artifacts have been acquired since the 12th century – from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century. All these together reflects Portugal’s history, culture, and role in the world during the centuries.
National Coach Museum
Inaugurated in 1905 by Queen Amelia of Orleans, this famous museum remains one of Lisbon’s most visited. Though rebuilt into a wide and modern space in 2015, it retains its displays of culture spanning four centuries. Not only can you see horse-drawn carriages, but strollers, pushchairs, and other wheel-based vehicles. These offer a glimpse into Portugal’s history. For example, find the coach that King D Carlos and his heir son were murdered in 1908.
Museum of the Orient
This museum reflects Portugal’s relations with Asia as well as its presence in the East. It opened in 2008 in a large, former warehouse after spending over €30 million for its conversion. You can find a staggering range of objects, artifacts, and art from various countries. For instance, folding screens from Japan and China. Ornaments and textiles from Indonesia. Weapons, suits of armor, paintings, crucifixes, and antiques from many more.
MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology
Established in 2016, the MAAT represents a new cultural center for Lisbon. Explore a contemporary collection of innovative new media, urban affairs, visual arts, science, technology, and more. Not only will these exceptional exhibitions fascinate you, but the building itself is impressive enough to drop jaws. London-based Amanda Levete Architects’ design sits along a stretch of the Tagus river in sparkling white ceramic tiles. Visit the rooftop terrace for spectacular views of the city.
Best Markets in Lisbon
This Lisbon city guide lists only some of the best markets.
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
The original Mercado da Ribeira was a famous landmark in the 1890s. In 2014 it was recreated by Time Out Portugal, where they collected the best of the best vendors, chefs, and business projects. It’s now the largest food hall in Lisbon with exceptional quality and atmosphere. Try local specialties or dishes, you can squeeze in as many flavors as you like! However, its popularity and reputation mean it can get very busy around dinner time. To avoid the rush, head there a bit earlier.
LX Factory Sunday Market
Your Sunday browsing destination is sorted; rummage through thousands of second hand or vintage items at this flea market. From crafts to boutique clothes and jewelry, you’re bound to find a treasure here. Stalls are surrounded by a variety of co-working spaces, vintage cafes, and trendy restaurants. You can find this paradise in huge abandoned 19th-century factories and warehouses in the Alcântara area. However, not many tourist know about it, meaning it’s an authentic spot for locals and Portuguese people.
Mercado de Campo Ourique
This market has been the highlight of its neighborhood since 1934. However, with the changing times, a refurbishment began and was reopened with a new trendy and urban customer in mind a few years ago. You can still enjoy a delicious meal or snack from a modern and sophisticated vendor. Alternatively, try some of the traditional fresh fruit and vegetables or take home a treat like a specialty flavored gin or bottle of Portuguese wine.
Feira da Ladra flea market
This sits next to the Campo de Santa Clara square in Alfama. It’s Lisbon’s longest-running market, having changed locations constantly since the 12th century. Like with any flea market, bring your haggling skills to grab yourself a bargain at one of the hundreds of stalls. There’s certainly not a lack of choice; browse tables of coins, furniture, antiques, vintage clothing, artwork, artisan goods, books, and many more fascinating items.
Anjos flea Market
This new flea market is only open on the first weekend of every month. It’s an amazingly creative market, featuring works by a variety of local artists. If you’re looking for unique and original items, come look here. Browse through stalls of artwork, clothing, handmade jewelry, homeware, accessories, teas, coffees, and many more. This market really encourages new artists, as they rent out their spaces at affordable prices.
What are you waiting for? Use this Lisbon city guide to plan your trip now! If you found this Lisbon city guide useful, please let me know in the comments!