Located on the western coast of Europe, Portugal is a beautiful and vibrant country that offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. One of its most popular destinations is the city of Lisbon, which is known for its colorful streets, historic neighborhoods, and delicious cuisine.
Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, with a population of around 2.8 million people in the metropolitan area. It’s located on the Atlantic coast, at the mouth of the Tagus River, and is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire.
Visitors to Lisbon can explore the city’s many museums, galleries, and landmarks, such as the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, and the São Jorge Castle. They can also wander through the charming neighborhoods of Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Chiado, each of which has its own unique character and attractions. And, of course, they can indulge in the delicious local cuisine, which includes seafood, pastries, and wines that are renowned around the world.
With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your trip. To help you make the most of your time in Lisbon, here are the top 10 things to do in this beautiful city.
- Explore the historic district of Alfama: This is the oldest and most picturesque district in Lisbon, with narrow streets, winding alleyways, and colorful houses. Take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful architecture and breathtaking views of the city. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful churches and landmarks in Alfama, such as the Lisbon Cathedral and the National Pantheon. You can also immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a Fado performance, a traditional style of Portuguese music.
- Visit the iconic Belém Tower: This tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Lisbon, and a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Located on the bank of the Tagus River, it is a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Take a stroll along the riverfront and visit the nearby Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument that pays tribute to Portugal’s great explorers. Afterward, indulge in a traditional Pastel de Belém, a delicious custard tart that originated in this neighborhood.
- Wander through the charming streets of Bairro Alto: This neighborhood is known for its vibrant nightlife and trendy restaurants, but it’s also a great place to explore during the day. Admire the colorful street art and enjoy the lively atmosphere. With its trendy boutiques, bars, and restaurants, Bairro Alto is the perfect place to experience Lisbon’s modern culture. Be sure to try some of the local cuisine, such as bacalhau (salt cod) and caldo verde (kale soup).
- Take a ride on Tram 28: This vintage tram takes you on a scenic tour of Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods, including Alfama and Bairro Alto. It’s a great way to see the city and experience its unique charm. This tram is a tourist favorite, so be prepared for crowds. However, it’s worth the experience to see the city from a unique perspective. Get off at some of the stops along the way, such as the Miradouro da Graça or the Castelo de São Jorge.
- Visit the São Jorge Castle: This medieval castle offers stunning views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Take a guided tour and learn about the history of this iconic landmark. Take in the stunning views from the castle walls and learn about its rich history as a Moorish fortress and a royal residence. The castle also hosts cultural events, such as concerts and art exhibitions, throughout the year.
- Discover the art scene in Chiado: This neighborhood is known for its art galleries, museums, and theaters. Take a walk through the charming streets and admire the impressive collection of art and culture. The Chiado Museum and the National Museum of Contemporary Art are must-visit destinations for art lovers. Be sure to also explore the boutiques and bookstores in this neighborhood, which has long been a hub of intellectual and artistic activity.
- Visit the stunning Jerónimos Monastery: This impressive monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Portugal’s maritime history. The intricate architecture and beautiful gardens are not to be missed. Admire the ornate decoration and stunning architecture of this landmark, which was built in the 16th century. Don’t miss the chance to visit the nearby Belém Cultural Center, which hosts a variety of concerts, exhibitions, and events.
- Enjoy the food and wine: Lisbon is famous for its delicious cuisine, from fresh seafood to traditional pastries. Be sure to try the local specialties and pair them with a glass of Portuguese wine. Lisbon is a food lover’s paradise, with a variety of delicious dishes to try. Be sure to also taste the local wines, such as Vinho Verde or Douro, which are produced in the nearby countryside.
- Relax in the beautiful parks: Lisbon has many parks and gardens, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. The Parque Eduardo VII and Jardim da Estrela are two of the most popular. The Jardim Botânico and the Parque das Nações are two other popular parks to visit. The latter is particularly interesting for its modern architecture and design, which was developed for the 1998 World Expo.
- Take a day trip to Sintra: This nearby town is a popular destination for its stunning palaces and castles, including the famous Pena Palace. It’s a great way to escape the city and experience the beauty of the Portuguese countryside. This nearby town is full of palaces and castles, such as the Quinta da Regaleira and the Castelo dos Mouros. Be sure to also visit the beautiful gardens, such as the Parque da Pena and the Monserrate Gardens, which are filled with exotic plants and stunning vistas.
Lisbon is a city full of charm, culture, and history. With so much to see and do, these top 10 things are just the beginning of your adventure in this amazing city. Whether you’re interested in history, art, food, or simply exploring the vibrant streets, there’s something for everyone in Lisbon.
Getting to Lisbon by Train
Lisbon is well-connected by train to other major European capitals, making it an easy and convenient destination to reach. From Madrid, the Spanish capital, there are several daily trains that make the journey to Lisbon in just under 11 hours, with stops in cities such as Cáceres and Badajoz along the way.
Traveling from Paris, the journey to Lisbon takes just over 18 hours, with a change of trains in either Hendaye or Irun on the French-Spanish border. However, the scenic route is highly recommended as it passes through the beautiful Basque country and along the coast of northern Spain. From there, the train crosses the border into Portugal and heads south towards Lisbon.
Another popular route is from Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city and located just a few hours north of Lisbon. There are several daily trains that connect Porto to Lisbon, with the journey taking just under three hours. The train ride is a great way to experience the Portuguese countryside, passing through rolling hills, vineyards, and historic towns along the way.