Lisbon offers the perfect city escape, with its blend of historical charm, year-round sunny weather, vibrant art scene, food and culture, it is easy to see how Lisbon has won the World Travel Awards four years in a row as Europe’s “Best City Break Destination”.
Whether you’re visiting for a few days or planning a longer stay, Lisbon has something to offer everyone and a guided sightseeing tour will help make the most of your experience. We’ve outlined for you some ideas of the best ways to explore the city, including all the highlights for your inspiration.
What to include in Your Tour of Lisbon
24 Hours in Lisbon ~ City Highlights
Lisbon is fairly compact to explore, and there is plenty you can see with even just 24 hours to discover the city, whether for an extended business trip or as a stop over on the way to visit the Algarve’s beaches, historic towns of northern Portugal or wild Alentejo country side.
With a full day to explore the city, the must-visit attractions would include the Tower of Belém and Jeronimos Monastery, Castelo de São Jorge in Alfama, Lisbon Cathedral and Commerce Square, the Carmo Convent and Elevator de Santa Justa in Chiado, Ponte 25 de Abril and Cristo Rei monument, and the Monastery São Vicente da Fora in Graça.
Stop for lunch at one of the many local Portuguese eateries and end your day enjoying dinner and drinks at one of the lively restaurants in the Barrio Alto district.
Lisbon Weekend City Break
A full weekend to explore Lisbon would enable you to really experience the city’s full character, including the main sights, charming neighbourhoods, museums, restaurants and nightlife.
In addition to the key sights listed above, we’ve compiled some further ideas for the top places in Lisbon to include on your personally curated tour:
Sights and Monuments of Lisbon
One of the world’s oldest cities, predating London, Paris and even Rome by hundreds of years, Lisbon offers a profusion of sights to visit for history lovers. You can feel the antiquity in every corner, despite that it was very nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, but thankfully since restored and revived.
Padrão dos Descrobimento monument in Belém honours Lisbon’s role in the Age of Discovery with the city having been the starting place for numerous exploratory voyages around the globe, including Vasco da Gama’s expedition to India in 1497. The nearby Tower of Belém is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Lisbon has some beautiful old churches, worth visiting are the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, the Church of Sao Roque and the Carmo Convent. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Maior, also known as Sé Cathedral is the oldest church in the city.
Also not to miss is the Núcleo Arqueológico and the Roman Tunnels archeological sites for a fascinating journey through Portugal’s ancient history.
Museums and Exhibitions in Lisbon
Discover some of the city’s best museums and art galleries as part of your trip. From the classic to the contemporary, visual art exhibitions to performing arts, Lisbon offers a vibrant scene for art and culture lovers.
Highlights include the National Museum Of Ancient Art in Santos, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Saldanha and the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (MAAT) in Belem. The Museo Coleçao Berardo is the main modern and contemporary art museum in the country. Or learn more about local crafts and culture by visiting the Museu Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, the Fado Museum, or the National Tile Museum.
Children will enjoy the Museo Nacional de História Natural in Principe Real and the Oceanario de Lisboa, considered the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
Built across seven hills, Lisbon has many miradoures (viewpoints) scattered throughout the city, offering panoramic views across the terracotta rooftops and towards the river Tagus. Most of them have kiosks where you can sit and enjoy a drink, a perfect spot to watch a magical sunset.
The most impressive viewpoints include the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara and the Miradouro Da Graca.
Markets have been a feature of Portuguese life for centuries, and are still very much a part of city life in Lisbon. Whether for fresh or organic local produce, local crafts, fashion and jewellery or hunting for that special vintage treasure, it is worth making time to explore one of the cities vibrant mercado.
Highlights for food and fresh produce include the daily markets at Mercado da Ribeira and Mercado de Campo de Ourique, and the Mercado Biologic do Principe Real and in Santos on Saturday mornings. For vintage collectibles, don’t miss the Feira de Ladra in Alfama on Tuesday and Saturdays and the flea market at Avenida da Liberdade. For crafts, fashion, books and more vintage finds, head to the LX Factory Sunday market, or the monthly Anjos 70 and smaller Mercado in Jardim de Estrela.
Lisbon’s Nightlife and Restaurants
To experience the most vibrant nightlife in Lisbon, head to Cais do Sodre, where the numerous bars, restaurants and clubs centred around Pink Street and the waterfront offer many ways to party until the sun rises. Bairro Alto and Chiado districts are the place to be if you’re looking to enjoy a lively evening on the town exploring some of the best bars and restaurants in Lisbon.
The residential neighbourhoods of Estrela, Alfama and Graça are also popular with some great local bars and restaurants for those seeking a more relaxed experience.
If you enjoy live music, don’t miss watching a Fado performance, a Portuguese music style that dates back to the 1820s. You can book tickets in the city centre for a more formal setting, or enjoy watching a performance while eating in one of the cozy fado houses in Alfama, the birthplace of this beautiful tradition.
Curated tours of Lisbon and Sintra-Cascais
With a longer stay of a week or 10 days, you can visit Lisbon and also discover its beautiful surroundings. Enjoy day trips to explore the nearby castles, palaces and stunning coastline of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, surfing in Ericeira or lunch and sundown drinks on the beach at Costa Caparica.
Boat Tour on the Tagus River
Spend an evening on a relaxing sunset cruise along the Tagus River, departing from central Lisbon. Enjoy views such as the Ponte 25 de Abril, Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower from the water whilst enjoying a sunset drink. Alternatively, you can charter your own private sailing boat for the day and discover Lisbon by water on a magical sailing tour.
Lisbon Walking Tours
For a comprehensive experience of Lisbon, it is worth booking a half or full-day walking tour, with an in-depth commentary from a local guide. Whether for an overview of all the highlights, exploring by neighbourhood or with a focus on food, art or culture you can find the perfect experience to suit your needs.
Food and Wine Tours in Lisbon
From traditional food to Michelin star fine dining, Lisbon is growing in its reputation as a culinary destination. There are some fantastic food and wine tours to fulfil your ideal day out, from Farm to Table experiences, Port and Wine Tasting, Portuguese Cooking Master Classes, or a Tour of Lisbon’s Best Tapas restaurants, there is something for every palate.
Lisbon by Neighbourhood
Another way to discover Lisbon is by exploring its many quirky neighbourhoods. With their cobblestone streets and tiled pastel-shade houses, there is always a surprise on every corner and its often best to discover them on foot. Whether you’re looking for boutique shopping, interesting sights, or a cosy local restaurant beyond the tourist trail, each of these districts have their own unique character.
Baixa and Rossio Mouraria Chiado Alfama Belem Alcantara Barrio Alto Principe Real Estrela Graça and São Vicente.
Lisbon is so welcoming, you’ll be mesmerised by this magical city. Whether for a short trip, or planning a longer stay, take some time to explore some of these ideas and our collection of blog posts to help plan your trip and make the most of what’s on offer.