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!).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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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