10 things to do in Lisbon

The Portuguese capital is one of our favourite European city breaks not only because of its rich culture, delicious restaurants and great bars, but because it’s so pretty to walk through.

1 Ride the 28 tram

The tram is synonymous with Lisbon. The most famous route, and the one that gives the best look at the city for those visiting for the first time, is the 28. First developed in 1914, the route was designed to take residents from the central Baixa district to neighbourhoods like Graca and Estrela, and subsequently goes through many sights and charming neighbourhoods. As a result, this tram gets extremely busy, and you can expect to queue – taking the ride early will help ease the wait a little.

2 Eat a pastel de nata

The local custard tart, with its addictive mix of sweet custard and flaky pastry, is a Portuguese tradition that never gets old.

3 Climb to the top of the Panteão Nacional

This beautiful church is the national pantheon of Portugal, and sits proudly in the Alfama district, instantly recognisable with its white dome ceiling. Visitors can enter the pantheon and climb to the top, where they’ll have a perfect view of the stunning symmetrical design from above. It’s also a great place to see the city from above, with views stretching way across the Tagus river.

4 Visit Sintra

An hour’s train ride away from Lisbon is Sintra; a charming Portuguese town situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. For those who haven’t been before, it’s a wonder – a place of colourful palaces, winding roads and secret streets. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Vila Palace with its two distinctive cone-shaped chimneys, the Palácio and Quinta da Regaleira, the Pena Palace and more. A tip is to go early and avoid weekends, as the area can become extremely busy.

 5 Visit the Belém Tower

Built between the years 1515 and 1521,  it was designed to serve as both a gateway to the city of Lisbon and as a defence against possible invasions and attacks from the Tagus. Now, visitors can enter the fort and enjoy the architecture up-close. If you’re staying in Lisbon, hire a bike and cycle along the river until you reach the tower.

6 Take a walk through Monsanto Park

This huge green space located to the west of Lisbon is a stunning place to stroll and see impressive views of the city. There are a number of different walking trails in the 50 hectare park, depending on the length and difficulty that works for you, but each is beautiful and makes for an ideal escape from the crowds that congregate in the city centre.

7 Visit the Palácio Nacional de Mafra

The National Palace in Mafra is around a 45-minute drive from Lisbon, but makes for a wonderful day trip for history buffs and architecture fans. This magnificent building, which was once the summer residence of the royal family, covers four hectares, and within that space is 1,200 rooms, an 18th-century hospital, Italian sculptures, Italian and Portuguese paintings and an impressive library containing 16th, 17th and 18th century books, many of them highly rare.

8 See the Jerónimos Monastery

The Gothic-style Jerónimos Monastery is a massive, imposing but beautiful building that was designed by the Portuguese architect Diogo de Boitaca to commemorate the return of Vasco da Gama from India. The construction began on 6 January 1501 but wasn’t completed until the 17th century, when it became home to the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome (who are, incidentally, said to be responsible for the famous Portuguese tart recipe). Now, it’s open to the public, and well worth a visit.

9 Go shopping

The Feeting Room is an independent concept store showcasing young Portuguese designers. You’ll find men and women’s footwear, fashion and accessories, including colourful vegan leather wallets and backpacks by emerging Lisbon brand We the Knot

10 Hang out with locals at LX Factory

An area that was once home to Lisbon’s textiles factory has now become one of the coolest hangouts in the city. The area retains its industrial warehouse vibe, but is now home to independent shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars and more, making it a great place to spend an afternoon. 

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