8 Best Things to do in Lisbon Portugal on Your First Visit

Things to do in Lisbon Portugal

No visit to Portugal would be complete without a stop in its capital city! Yet, with so many amazing things to experience we had to narrow it down to a few of our favorites. From castle views and exploring the markets to listening to authentic Fado music in Bairro Alto, Lisbon truly offers something for everyone! Follow along with our Lisbon Portugal travel guide as we share some of the best things to do on your first visit.

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8 Best Things to do in Lisbon Portugal

1. See the City from Above

While visiting beautiful Lisbon Portugal, one of the most important things not to miss out on is admiring the panoramic views. Perched high above Lisbon’s maze of streets, there are several lookout points to both see and relax after a long day of exploring.

To find these viewpoints start the steep walk or jump on a tram from the city center! Some of the very best are located near the Lisbon Portugal castle. With so many great places you’re bound to stumble into one when you start walking uphill. Here are a few of our favorites that are especially great for sunset:

  • Miradouro das Portas do Sol
  • Arco da Rua Augusta
  • Miradouro da Graca
  • Roof of the Basilica da Estrela
  • Terracos do Carmo

Not up for a Lisbon Portugal hike? No problem! Just flag down one of the “tuk tuk” taxis zooming around the city streets. Not only will they act as your Lisbon Portugal guide, but the tuk tuk’s will have you at the viewpoints in no time. 

Location of Our Favorite View  

Lisbon Portugal

2. Eat at the Lisbon Food Markets

Located in the center of the country, Lisbon acts as a melting pot for flavors and tastes from all over. Restaurant road is a popular place to eat, but the many Lisbon food markets are the real gems! Here you can sample all the local meats, cheeses, and wines that the city has to offer.

A fun one for first-time visitors is Time Out Market, but the options are endless once you delve into the Lisbon food scene. If you’re worried about breaking the bank for a great meal… Don’t be! Lisbon is well known for being one of the most affordable European cities to dine out in.

So make sure to stop in at a Lisbon market on your next visit. Also, don’t forget to try a Pastel de Nata pastry. Eating traditional food is one of the best things to do in Lisbon Portugal!

→ Best Food in Portugal: 11 Dishes and Drinks You Can’t Miss!

Lisbon Portugal Market

3. Ride the Old Lisbon Tram  

Believe it or not, Lisbon Portugal has some very interesting forms of public transportation. Instead of seeing loads of buses like in a typical capital city, a popular form of transportation is the old fashion trams, funiculars, and lifts.

The trams in particular will catch your eye as they have been in operation since 1873! These bright-colored streetcars can especially come in handy when climbing the wildly steep hills.

This will help you on your way up to famous attractions like the Lisbon castle. No matter if it’s for a fun ride or just to take a break from walking, definitely make a point to ride the old tram at least once!

Best things to do in Lisbon Portugal

4. Visit St. George’s Castle

Europe is full of breathtaking monuments, but this castle definitely stands out as a must-visit! Saint George sits high above the city ready to protect Lisbon, and that’s exactly what it did back in the day.

When we say back in the day, we mean way back! Saint George has been defending this great city since Roman times in the 6th century. Since then it has been taken over by numerous kings, queens, and empires.

It’s an amazing feeling to stand where so many once did from this incredible fortress above the city! We loved how so many of the best things to do in Lisbon Portugal also taught us about its history.

Book Your Sao Jorge Castle Tickets and Skip the Line with Escort

Things to Do Lisbon Guide

5. Sample Ginjinha Liqueur in Lisbon Portugal

It wouldn’t be a real Lisbon Portugal guide without mentioning Ginja! While wandering the streets you’ll notice almost every small cafe and Lisbon food market offering shots of a strange liquor. Made from infused Ginja berries, this famous liquid has become a staple in Portugal.

Ready to join in on the fun? Well, the place you HAVE TO GO is a small shop located in the heart of Lisbon simply called “A Ginjinha.” This authentic hole in the wall is located across the square from Teatro Nacional D. Maria.

Honestly, it will be hard to miss because from the moment they open this place is packed! With the super small storefront and these delicious little shots available for a little over one euro, it’s not surprising that crowds overflow into the square to enjoy.

→ A Ginjinha Location

Lisbon Portugal Ginjinha

6. Enjoy Traditional Fado Music

This strong and heartfelt music can only be found in Portugal, so naturally, it’s one of the best things to do in Lisbon! The passion in the singer’s voices are overwhelming with emotion and it gives you a feeling like none other.

Many restaurants and cafes will advertise live Fado music, but you’re also guaranteed to hear some wonderful street performances exploring the city. It’s common to see locals stop, sing, and even dance if the Fado artist is good enough!

Let this music be your Lisbon guide, and take a moment to appreciate the famous sounds wherever you go. It’s truly one of the things that make this city so special.

Our Lisbon Portugal Fado Story

The man pictured below actually gave us our first Fado experience. A few years ago at this famous overlook, we heard him playing and were immediately drawn in.

Funny enough, a few months after snapping this picture we stumbled upon a magazine featuring things to do in Lisbon Portugal. This is when we saw him again! Someone had snapped the same picture we did… So he must be a legend!

Lisbon Portugal Travel Guide

7. Explore the Alfama District

At some point or another, you’ll find yourself near one of the several popular lookout points over the Alfama district. While this is inevitable, don’t make the mistake of not going downhill to explore! The winding streets will take you into the heart of one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Europe.

Lisbon’s old Arabic quarter is a maze of roads and back alleys full of bustling cafes, small shops, and stunning architecture. Some of the colorful buildings date back hundreds of years, so this is the best way to see the city’s Moorish influence. Make sure you leave plenty of time for the oldest section of the city and another one of the best things to do in Lisbon!

 Book a Alfama District 2.5-Hour Walking Tour

Lisbon Portugal Alfama District

8. Lisbon Portugal Night Life in Bairro Alto

Up for some more music in Lisbon Portugal? The Bairro Alto neighborhood is undisputedly the hippest area in the city, and for good reason! During the day it may look like a typical Lisbon neighborhood. However, at night the streets come alive with people and sounds from nearly every musical genre.

Filled with endless bars and just a short walk from the city center, this is the go-to spot for your night out in Lisbon Portugal! It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a relaxing bar to listen to Fado Music or a place to meet up and party with friends… Bairro Alto has it all.

Top Things to Do in Lisbon Portugal

Have any questions about this article or want to share more of the best things to do in Lisbon Portugal? Let us know in the comments below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Where To Stay In Lisbon Portugal

Ultra Luxury – Pousada de Lisboa – This elegant accommodation is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and is located in the very center of the city. Classic style rooms with a wellness center, sauna, and fitness area on property.

Fun Vacation  – My Story Hotel Charming Augusta – My Story sits on one of the most famous streets in Lisbon, and some rooms even have views of the Rua Augusta Arch! There’s no better place to stay if you want to be close to the water and in the middle of all the action.

Hostel Life  – Home Lisbon Hostel – Amazing location right in the heart of the city. Onsite bar, kitchen, and both mixed and female-only dorm rooms. 

For more places to stay in Lisbon Portugal you can explore the latest prices here!

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Lisbon Portugal

Portugal Travel Planning 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Portugal, you will want a set of wheels to get to all the beautiful castles, cities, and towns.

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. Book a sunset Sailboat tour in Lisbon, go Wine tasting cruise of the Douro Valley from Porto, or explore the Ponta da Piedade on a boat trip in Lagos!

 Flights: We always find great flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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