Europe, Portugal

What To Do in Lisbon: Top 10 Tourist Highlights in Lisbon for 2019

In November 2018 I visited Lisbon, Portugal for the first time in my life. I spent a week here, staying in one of the cutest AirBnBs close to the metro station Intendente. My main purpose for visiting was the Web Summit, but I also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing together with my colleagues. 

In this blog I answer questions such as what to do in Lisbon, and what are the main tourist highlights in Lisbon? Thus, this blog will tell you everything you need to know about the best things to do in Lisbon in 2019!

1. Belém Tower 

To begin with, at the top of the list, is the Belém Tower. If there is only one landmark you want to visit in Lisbon, make sure it is this one.

In the West of Lisbon, you will find this great tower rising from the river Tagus. It has been around since the 16th century, and is nowadays probably the most iconic landmark of the city. I think the picture speaks for itself. 

#Explorers Tip: Take the tram to the stop Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. If you do this, you get to walk past my second recommendation just below, before you arrive at the Belém Tower (and this stop is also right next to recommendation number three!).

Explorer Melissa at Belém Tower in Lisbon, Portugal. Picture owned by Hashtag Explorers


2. Jerónimos Monastery

While on your way to the Belém Tower, make sure you pay a visit to the Jerónimos Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is closed on Mondays, but any other day of the week you can explore the insides of this beautiful building too.

Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal. You can find this monastery on your way to the Belém Tower. Picture owned by Hashtag Explorers

3. Pastéis de Belém

Getting hungry after visiting the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery? Make a pitstop at Pastéis de Belém. At this restaurant, you can eat the best pastéis de nata of the city. I haven’t tried all of them, but I can tell you the pastéis de nata here are very good! 

Pasteis de Nata or Pastel de Nata

4. Time Out Market

While on the topic of food, I need to tell you about the Time Out Market. If you are a fan of large food halls with an industrial, 21st century feeling (think FoodHallen in Amsterdam, not Hawker Centers in Singapore), you are going to love this one.  Basically, you can find anything here from burgers to pizza and from salads to tapas.

Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49. Just take the metro to Cais do Sodré and you’ll find it from there.

Time Out Market is a food market in Lisbon, Portugal

5. Comércio Plaza

Basically right next to the Time Out Market is the Comércio Plaza. This square is enclosed on three sides by beautiful old, yellow buildings, housing restaurants serving you fresh food. A large gate connects the river with the city center. Furthermore you will find a statue in the middle of the square and a stunning view of the Tagus river.

In all honesty, the Comércio Plaza is not the best part of the city, but as it is conveniently located, don’t skip it while you’re around.

Explorer Melissa at Comércio Plaza with the Web Summit 2018 logo sign

6. Walk around the Old Quarter of Lisbon: Alfama, Castelo and Graça

Lisbon’s Old Quarter is probably my favourite part of Lisbon. This part of Lisbon is known as the most romantic.
With its narrow, meandering streets, colourful houses and viewpoints offering views of the whole city, I can totally see what they mean. 

To begin with, definitely pay a visit to Castelo de S. Jorge, the Moorish castle in the middle of this area. Buy tickets in advance, because the queue here can get really long.

Secondly, on your way to the castle, stop by Igreja de São Vicente de Fora. Not only is this a beautiful church, what lies behind this church is even cooler. You can go to the flea market Mercado de Santa Clara, but if you just want to take some cool pictures in this area, keep on walking. On your right hand side you will see National Pantheon of Lisbon, but on your left side, at the foot of the park Jardim Botto Machado, you will find a wall covered in a rainbow mural.

Explorer Melissa at rainbow mural Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal. Do a walking tour through Lisbon to discover this art.
Rainbow mural on Campo de Santa Clara

Speaking of murals, there is a cool arch in Alfama with art on it, displaying the history of Lisbon. This “História de Lisboa” mural is called the Arco da Rua Norberto de Araújo, and can be found in Alfama as well. 

Historia de Lisboa mural tunnel art by Hashtag Explorers

7. Santa Justa Lift

In the middle of the Baixa area, you will find the Santa Justa lift. This popular tourist attraction offers a beautiful view of the city. Taking the elevator is not very expensive (€1,45 if you have a 7 Colinas or Viva Viagem card, so basically a public transport card), but you might have to queue for a long period of time. However, you can also get the same view for free…

#Explorers Tip: Walk past the lift and take the stairs to Convento do Carmo. From here, you can reach the same viewing platform for free.

8. Best viewpoints in Alfama

Did you like seeing the city from above? There is so much to see in Lisbon, especially from one of its many viewpoints. Here’s a shortlist of my favourite “Miradouros” in Alfama:

  • Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
  • Santa Luzia
  • Portas do Sol Observation Deck
Explorer Melissa with view of Alfama, Lisbon from one of the many viewpoints. Picture owned by Hashtag Explorers
I am not 100% certain anymore, but I believe this is the view from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Best part: It is for free!

9. Rooftop bars and restaurants

Not only viewpoints, but also rooftop bars offer a great view of the city. If you want to go for a drink, check out the rooftop Memmo Alfama Hotel in Lisbon. With its red(!) pool, it’s definitely a show stopper. 

Address Memmo Alfama: Tv. Merceeiras 27

For dinner, definitely go to Topo. This restaurant, located at the square Martim Moniz, has a beautiful outdoor and indoor seating area. Oh and a free tip, reserve in advance. It can get crowded.

Address Topo: 6th floor, Sala I, Commercial Center Martim Moniz, Praca Martim Moniz

The third and final rooftop bar I visited was Park Bar, in Bairro Alto. You can find it by walking inside a parking garage and taking the elevator to the top floor.

Address Park Bar: Calçada do Combro, 58

Other rooftop bars that I didn’t visit, but that I have heard are worth checking out:

  • Lost In
  • Sky Bar
  • Silk Club

10. Sintra

Have you done all of the above? Take the train for a day trip to Sintra. This memorising old town is known for its many castles in the hills. If you only have time to visit one of the castles (like I did), I would certainly recommend visiting Pena Palace, or Palacio da Pena. 

Explorer Melissa at Pena Palace in Sintra, close to Lisbon and Cascais, Portugal

How to get to Sintra & Pena Palace

First, take the train from Rossio station in Lisbon to Sintra. This is a direct train and takes about 45 minutes. From here, we took an Uber to the Pena Palace. Finally, from where you buy a ticket to enter the palace grounds to actually going inside the palace, is another 5-10 minute walk. 

Explorere Melissa at Pena Palace of Palacio da Pena in Sintra, close to Cascais and Lisbon in Portugal

What ticket to buy for Pena Palace?

You can choose between a ticket for only the park for €7 (online, for an adult), or for both the park and the palace (online €13,30 for an adult). We purchased the ticket that allowed us to also go inside the palace. To be honest with you, the outside of the palace is what makes it so spectacular. Therefore, I would go for the cheaper option. You can see all of the spots that you want with this ticket.

ExplorerMelissa at Parque Palacio da Pena in Sintra, Lisbon, Cascais, Portugal
When I visited the Pena Palace, it was very foggy outside, which created this magical atmosphere at dusk.

All in all, these were my 10 tips on what to do in Lisbon in 2019. Did I miss anything you would recommend? If so, let me know in the comments!

Looking for tips for another destination? Check out my Top 10 Tips For Madrid!

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Melissa is the founder of Hashtag Explorers. She is a Dutch, enthusiastic, and open-minded world traveller. Melissa enjoys her time researching new travel destinations, kickboxing, singing or horse back riding. Her strong desire to experience new cultures and meet new people has led to creating #Explorers. If you cannot find her in The Hague, where she is working as a civil servant, she is probably exploring the rest of the world, where she is reliving memories from the times she lived in Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Singapore, and Malta.

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