8 Excellent Things to Do in Lisbon
Lisbon is a city that should be added to everyone’s list for a weekend getaway. It’s the second oldest capital city in Europe (the first being Athens) so it’s a smorgasbord of history, culture and architecture for every type of holidaymaker to enjoy. It’s also a city that you could keep returning to as there’s so much to see and do.
We’ve managed to narrow it down to our top 8 things to see and do in Lisbon…
Pastel de Nata
Personally, I could spend an entire weekend just on a bakery crawl sampling all the golden, flaky cased, custard filled tarts that Lisbon has to offer. The must-try one is the original in Belém’s Pastéis de Belém. In the nearby monastery, monks created these treats from leftover egg yolks up until 1834 and in 1837 sold their recipe to Pastel de Natas. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and enjoy this delicious piece of Lisbon’s history.
The iconic yellow trams weave their way up and down the hills of Lisbon, through narrow streets and around sharp bends and trip on one of these trams is a must in Lisbon. Tram 28 is the most popular one for tourists to see all the vibrant neighbourhoods that make up the city.
To get a seat, hop on the tram at Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique and avoid crowds by using it before 10am or after 6pm. Be mindful of your belongings as it’s not only popular with tourists, but with pickpockets.
Torre de Belém
Torre de Belém is an iconic defence tower sitting at the mouth of the River Tagus, which flows through the city. It was built in the 1500s to protect the city from sea attacks, but today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions offering visitors an insight into the city’s maritime history and gorgeous views across the river.
Monument to the Discoveries
Near the Torre de Belém is the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), which was built for the 1940 World Fair. It honours the Age of Discoveries and the notable Portuguese who set off into the unknown in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Figures on it include Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Henry the Navigator and Bartholomew Dias to name a few.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The famous monastery where the Pastel de Nata was created! This impressive building, from its cathedral to its cloisters, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national monument. Vasco de Gama spent his last night here before sailing to India and, later, sailor’s wives would come to the church to pray for their loved one’s safe return.
Santa Justa Elevator
To get the best views of Lisbon, head to the Santa Justa Elevator in the Baixa neighbourhood. The Elevator was built in 1902, designed with intricate filigree brings you up to a platform with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. It’s not only a place for views, it’s the fastest way to get from the lower Baixa neighbourhood to the upper Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
National Tile Museum
You only have to encounter a handful of buildings or street names on the sides of buildings or even just look at the streets to see how important tiles are in Lisbon, and Portugal. See the humble tile’s development from medieval times to the modern day and the craftsmanship involved in creating intricate and striking designs in the National Tile Museum. It got a Traveller’s Choice Award in 2017 and the reviews speak volumes about how special a visit here is. You’ll leave with a newfound appreciation when you’re roaming the streets of Lisbon!
In the hills, about 45mins from Lisbon is the enchanting town of Sintra. In the old town, you can find the National Palace of Sintra, but we recommend getting the bus up to the National Palace & Park of Pena (pictured above). The detail from the gargoyles protecting the palace to the staterooms is meticulous. It’s worth walking from the palace back to Sintra to see the expansive Pena Park where the Romantic style of the Palace is carried through with winding paths, pavilions, stone benches and over 500 species of trees.