Lisbon is a great European destination for many reasons. There is plenty to do in the city, and also there are great day trips to do nearby. There are many beaches to hit if you are there in the warm season. The views (Miradouros) around town are stunning, and are also a fantastic way to relax, have a nice drink, and take in the local scene. Lisbon is also quite affordable compared to most other cities in Europe which is a plus. The wine in Portugal is of particular good value, although compared to North America wine in Spain, France, and Italy is pretty much always good and cheap.
Okay, lets get into the Top 10 things to do in Lisbon!
10) Walk around – Although hilly in some spots, Lisbon is a very walkable city and you will pass many interesting sites as you go. So make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes and walk about. With all the mind blowing Miradouros around town, it suggests you might walk from one to the other and then stop, enjoy the view, some good conversation and a refreshing beverage.
9) Lisbon Trams – Another great way to familiarize yourself with the city is to hop on one of the old trams in Lisbon and take a ride around the entire loop. The most popular route is tram 28, but try out tram 12 as well.
8) Lisbon Oceanarium – We were somewhat skeptical about the Lisbon Oceanarium since it is an obvious touristy spectacle, but we went to check it out. And we were very happy that we did go because it was very cool. The Oceanarium is one of the largest in the world and is divided into 4 sections or quarters by specific habitat: the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Antarctic coastal line, the Temperate Pacific kelp forests, and the Tropical Indian coral reefs. If you do go to the Oceanarium and you happen to also have some shopping needs, there is a modern shopping mall very close by.
7) Rossio Square – If you want to do some shopping in central Lisbon, or settle down for some drinks and do some people watching, then head to Rossio Square. Here you will find shops and cafes around the perimeter of the square.
6) Church of Santa Engrácia – National Pantheon of Lisbon – Located in Alfama, the Pantheon is an incredible building to check out, and not too expensive to enter. The dome of the building looks incredible both inside and outside. Plus, the view over Alfama from the massive upper deck outside is amazing.
4) Costa da Caparica Beaches – If you want some fun in the sun, either ride a bike or drive a car to the beaches just South of Lisbon. Here you can relax, take a swim, and enjoy some drinks and lunch by the surf.
3) Miradouro Sophia de Mello – This was my favorite Miradouro. Partly because it was a close walk from my apartment in Alfama, but also because the view from high up above is stunning. This spot is located in the popular neighbourhood of Graca. Here you can enjoy your morning with an espresso, an afternoon in the shade provided by the trees, or in the early evening for sunset. It is a great place to socialize or relax. The terrace is large and has many tables and chairs.
2) Convento da Ordem do Carmo – Carmo Convent – This was a surprise to me. From above the Miradouro Sophia de Mello I had taken photos of the Carmo Convent. But I hadn’t realized that until I went and checked it out. The buildings date back to 1389, and partly survived the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Walking inside was fascinating. You really understand the strength and power of arches when you take a look at what remains. It is a very peaceful spot, despite now being completely open air since the roof had collapsed.
1) Sintra – The number one thing you must do when you visit Lisbon is actually a day trip just outside of Lisbon. From Rossio Square catch a 30 minute train ride to Sintra. Make sure you wake up and get going early in the day. Aim to be on a train before 8AM if you can. There is plenty to do and see in Sintra. We checked out in order: Quinta da Regaleira; Convento de Santa Cruz da Serra da Sintra or Convent of the Capuchos (took a taxi); Palácio Nacional da Pena; and finally the Castle of the Moors. What a great day!
I spent 2 weeks total in Lisbon. The above top 10 things to do in Lisbon definitely does not cover everything one can do in the city, but these are some things to get you started that I found fun, interesting and worth the time and money.