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 17 Lisbon Adventures You Need To Do

17 Lisbon Adventures You Need To Do

Olá Lisbon!

Lisbon is a city renowned for its beauty and its ability to reinvent itself.  The city of Lisbon was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1755, but the rebuilding of Lisbon has resulted in a unique and vibrant city perfect for any traveler.

If you're interested in partying and a unique nightlife culture, Lisbon is home to the Cais do Sodré, a street lined with bars and nightclubs that are perfect for dancing the night away.

Lisbon is also home to great food and historical treasures such as the traditional Alfama neighborhood where cobblestone roads and 18th century buildings line the narrow streets.

From the narrow streets of Alfama to the iconic Belém Tower, you won't want to miss these 17 things to do in Lisbon...

 

Torre de Belém

Built between 1514 and 1520, the Torre de Belém was constructed by sculptor Francisco de Arruda.  The original purpose of the tower was to stand as a fortress to defend the city but years later the tower was turned into a lighthouse that was used to guide sailors who has lost sight of their land.

Today the Torre de Belém stands as one of Lisbon’s UNESCO World Heritage Monument and showcases unique Manueline style architecture.  During a tour of the tower you will find over 16 cannon-filled windows and will have the opportunity to explore the pits and holes that prisoners were once housed in.

All in all, the Torre de Belém has over 5 stories, each connected with a small, winding stairway.  For kids, the tower is a great place to run, play, and explore.  For adults, it’s a great place to admire the achievements of the many sailors who departed the land over 5 centuries ago.
things to do in lisbon torre de belem
 

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

In English, the Padrao dos Descobrimentos translates to the Monument of the Discoveries and for very good reason.  Located on the banks of the River Tagus in Lisbon, this iconic monument was built in 1939 in dedication to the many navigators who were responsible for the Portuguese discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The original monument was constructed from wood and was meant to be a temporary structure for the 1940 World’s Fair.  After the Fair, the original was torn down and replaced with a permanent concrete version.

Today the Padrao Dos Descobrimentos stands over 50 meters tall and features over 33 concrete heroes of the Portuguese Discoveries.
things to do in lisbon padrao dos descobrimentos
 

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Lisbon is an impressive piece of Manueline architecture and one of the most decorative churches in all of Portugal.

Before it actually became a monastery, the site was home to a small chapel known as Saint Mary of Bethlehem and it was not until 1502 that the church was turned into a Monastery under the order of King Manuel I.

Today the Monastery is open throughout the week except for Mondays.  The main chapel has no entrance fee but tickets must be purchased for the Monastery and the Torre de Belem.
things to do in lisbon mosteiro dos jeronimos
 

Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira

The Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira, or the Fronteira Palace for short, is a stunning historical masterpiece located in the Benfica District in Lisbon.

The first part of the palace was built as a private residence for the first Protector of the Border (or Marquis de Fronteira), Dom Joao de Mascarenhas in 1640 and aside from it’s duty as a main residence, the Palace also doubled as a hunting pavilion.

Today, the oldest piece of the Palace is the 16th century chapel but it is far from the only admirable attraction.  Also within the Palace you can explore the Battle Room and the Dining Room, as well as some of the many carefully arranged gardens and the sculptural works within them.

Unfortunately the Palace is still a private residence, and is therefore only open to the public during specified times.  During visits, guests are free to stroll around the garden, but must be accompanied by a guide once inside.
things to do in lisbon palacio dos marqueses de fronteira
 

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon is one of Europe’s top museums of fine art featuring exhibits that date from 2000 BC to the early 20th Century.

The museum was originally constructed to house the private art collection of Calouste Gulbenkian who, at the time, was one of the world’s wealthiest men.  Today the museum holds over 6000 pieces from a variety of different cultures throughout the world.

Prominent collections at Museu Calouste Gulbenkian feature artwork from many different European cultures.  Ancient Egyptian mummy masks, Hellenic coins, Chinese porcelain, Islamic tapestries, and Japanese prints are just a few of the many treasures that are housed within the museum.

Also housed within Museu Calouste Gulbenkian you will find an extensive amount of artwork, featuring the works of famous artists like Rubens, Hals and Rembrandt, Manet, and Corot (to name a few).
things to do in lisbon museu calouste gulbenkian
 

Aqueduto das Águas Livre

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Aqueduto das Águas Livre or the Lisbon Aqueduct is an astonishing piece of architectural infrastructure.

The Aqueduto das Águas Livre was originally built in 1746 as a method of bringing fresh drinking water to the city and spans over 58 km and is comprised of over 109 stone arches.

At the time the Aqueduct was built, the stone arches were the tallest in the world and although they are no longer the tallest, that doesn’t make them any less impressive.  In fact, not only have they withstood the test of time, they’ve also withstood Mother Nature and the earthquake of 1755 which reached magnitudes of up to 9 on the Richter scale.

Today the water museum is open free of charge, or you can opt for a tour to walk across the Aqueduct itself.
things to do in lisbon aqueduto dos aguas livres
 

Basílica da Estrela

Deemed as one of the most beautiful and renowned churches in Lisbon, the Basílica da Estrela was built in the 18th century under the order of Queen Maria I of Portugal.

The church was built in honor of the birth of the Queen’s first son, Jose.  Unfortunately, Jose did not live to see the completion of the Basilica, as he passed away two years prior to it’s completion.  Many years later, the Queen herself was buried within the Basílica da Estrela in an elaborate Empire style tomb to honor the memory of her son.

In addition to exploring the church, you can also head to the top of the dome for amazing views of the city.
things to do in lisbon basilica da estrela
 

Museu do Oriente

The Museu do Oriente, located inside of a former warehouse and opened in 2008, showcases a variety of Asian art.

It is a popular resource for individuals and tourists visiting Lisbon who wish to learn more about the cultural differences between Asia and Portugal.  Within the museum you will find a variety of different exhibits, along with some rare and unusual pieces throughout.

Treasures you’ll find within the Museu do Oriente include religious icons, textiles, maps, costumes, masks, weapons, and ornaments.
things to do in lisbon museu do oriente
 

Museu Nacional do Azulejo

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo, also referred to as the National Tile Museum, was originally founded in 1509 and takes visitors on a journey through the history of tile, stemming way back from the 15th century until today.

While the museum is somewhat off the beaten path in Lisbon, it is well worth the drive to see what is the only azulejos (ceramic tile) collection in the world.  Each display within the museum showcases ceramic tiles and gives a brief description on how they were made at the time.

Located in a former convent, the tiles are not the only draw within the museum.  It’s spectacular interior has been labelled as one of the city’s most beautiful, and is good enough reason on it’s own to visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.
things to do in lisbon museu nacional do azulejo
 

Euro Trip Kit

Going to Lisbon?  Well, you should definitely get yourself the Euro Trip Kit!  It's a fantastic way to begin planning and dreaming about your euro trip. Inside you'll find travel tips, a trip journal, adventure passport, language flashcards, inspiration and a whole lot more.

It's perfect for everyone from first time travelers to those who are already out there living the backpack dream.
Inside The Kit
 

Feira da Ladra

Perched on top of a hill in the Alfama neighborhood, Fiera da Larda is a flea market in Lisbon that is commonly referred to by locals as the Thieve’s Market.

Fiera da Larda has millions of treasures just waiting to be found and don’t worry, you won’t find many thieves here.  The name Thieve’s Market is actually derived from the history of the market where it is believed that in the middle ages traders used to sell their stolen goods.

Today the market is completely safe for roaming around and has a friendly and relaxing atmosphere that makes for a great morning stroll.  The market is open every Tuesday from 6am-2pm, and every Saturday from 6am-5pm.
things to do in lisbon feira da ladra
 

Alfama District

The Alfama District is considered to be one of the most charming districts in all of Lisbon and is actually it’s oldest and most traditional district as well.

The district is full of outstanding views and small medieval valleys that provide fantastic photo and selfie opportunities.  Because of it’s solid foundation in dense bedrock, the Alfama District is one of the very few that was spared during the destructive earthquake that hit in 1755.

This was good fortune to visitors who now have the amazing opportunity to stroll through the old fashioned neighborhood and truly take a step back into history.

Points of interest within the Alfama District include the Sao Jorge Castle, the Feira da Ladra flea market, and the spectacular views from Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
things to do in lisbon alfama district
 

Lisboa Story Centre

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the history of Lisbon, the Lisboa Story Centre is where you want to be.

Upon entering the museum you will be taken on a 60 minute interactive journey to learn about the memories, stories, events, and influences that make Lisbon what it is today.

Here you will hear all about the history of Lisbon from it’s early development in pre-ancient Roman days to current times.  Learn about the Earthquake of 1755, the 1974 Revolution, New World Discoveries and see relevant pieces of film and artwork during your audio guided tour within the Lisboa Story Centre.
things to do in lisbon lisboa story centre
 

Castelo de São Jorge

Also referred to as Sao Jorge Castle, the Castelo de São Jorge is one of Lisbon’s most treasured landmarks.  Located on the highest summit in Lisbon, the Sao Jorge hill, the castle not only provides you with an insight into Lisbon’s history, but also provides some of the most spectacular views in the city.

Built in the mid 11th century, the Castelo de São Jorge was once a defensive stronghold for ancient elite who lived there.  It was eventually turned into a Royal Palace, and then was completely restored in 1938 to the castle that you see today.

Tours of Castelo de São Jorge are offered daily, though they book up quickly so pre reservations are always recommended.
things to do in lisbon castelo de sao jorge
 

Tram 28

Probably the most popular tour in Lisbon, Tram 28 takes guests though the city center of Lisbon, through historical neighborhoods, and past some of Lisbon’s main attractions.

A little vintage yellow tram, Tram 28 takes riders through some of the most popular tourist districts in Lisbon including Alfama, Baixa, Estrela, and Graca.

These historic trams have been in use since the 1930’s, and remain an integral part of the Lisbon transportation system today. The tram is a great way to travel throughout the city, at only a small portion of the cost of an actual tour.
things to do in lisbon tram
 

Elevador de Santa Justa

The Elevator de Santa Justa is a lift that was constructed in 1902 by a French architect named Raoul de Messier du Ponsardis.  The Gothic style wrought iron lift reaches 45 meters high (7 stories tall) and provides stunning views of the districts below.

Not only is the lift a popular destination for tourists, but it is also an important means of transportation for the people of Lisbon as it is the fastest way to travel from the lowest point of the city (Baixa District) to the highest point of the city (Bairro Alto District).
things to do in lisbon elevador de santa justa
 

Praça do Comércio

Lisbon’s main waterfront square, the Praca do Comercio, is a U-shaped square that overlooks the Tagus River.

Praca do Comercio is also referred to as the Palace’s Square as it once was home to the Royal Palace which thrived on the land for over two centuries until the disastrous earthquake of 1755 hit.  The Palace was destroyed by the earthquake, and the Royal Family was moved to another residence in the Belem district.

Today the Praca do Comercio is home to two major points of interest, the Rua Agusta Arch, and the Equestrian Statue of Joseph I, as well as the legendary Cafe Martinho da Arcada.
things to do in lisbon praca do comercio
 

Mercado da Ribeira

Mercado da Ribeira has been Lisbon’s main food market since 1882 when it was one of the most famous fish markets in all of Europe.

Today the market is better known as the Time Out market, as it was taken over by the Time Out Magazine in 2014.  Everyday thousands of visitors flock to the market to nab onto the day’s freshest fish, fruits, produce, and meats.

Covering over 10,000 square meters, you can also buy flowers, plants, prepared foods, and artisanal goods throughout the market.
things to do in lisbon mercado da ribeira
 

Day trips from Lisbon

Don't forget to save some time to explore outside of Lisbon.  There's several day trip adventures waiting for you outside the big city.

Among those adventures are spending the day at the beach in Cascais, visiting the castles of Sintra and go mountain hiking in Sesimbra.

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amazing day trips from lisbon
 

Free walking tours

Lisbon, along with almost every major city in the world, has companies that offer free walking tours.  These tours are usually run by young students who are passionate about telling the story of their city and country.

The tours are probably the best way to explore and learn about the city as the guides will take you to unique places in the city while telling you all sorts of interesting stories.

As a note, while these are "free" walking tours, tips are encouraged at the end of the tour and a €5 tip is the standard.