After all these time living in the city, I’ve decided to compile the absolute best 7 compelling experiences not to miss in Lisbon, Portugal. After all, who better than a local for almost 10 years (auch!) to give you insider advice?

Although I’ve moved to Barcelona now, I still somehow consider Lisbon my city, where I lived some of the best years of my life and which is now one of the most trendy cities in Europe.

If you’re expecting beaches, I’ve addressed them in another post: here are the best beaches near Lisbon.

Let’s get started!

1Eat The One And Only Pastel de Nata

what to do in lisbon experiences egg tarts
Food geometry.

Pastéis de nata are also known as portuguese custard tarts. In case you haven’t try them, you don’t know what you’ve been missing all your life.

They taste as delicious as they look and are available in virtually EVERYWHERE in Lisbon. Together with a bica, a portuguese espresso, is the favorite snack for Lisboners.

Best places to eat egg tarts in Lisbon

The original ones are made in Pastéis de Belém factory, in Belém district. This place is often packed, particularly on weekends, but they are very good.

Interestingly enough, they never won the annual award for the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon (yes, this is actually a real prize!).

My favorites are from the superbly located Manteigaria, in Largo de Camões. These are creamy as ever and come fresh out of the oven: it’s impossible to eat only one.
EDIT: They now have opened in Time Out Mercado da Ribeira in Cais do Sodré!


5 Stars Azores from $899

2Go Off The Beaten Track

Explore the tiny streets in Lisbon and get lost at the typical neighborhoods of Graça and Alfama. This is where you will find the real city. Older people shopping for groceries on local shops and boys playing football on the narrow streets while they mothers chit-chat about the neighbors nearby.

Bairro Alto is another of those picturesque places, but this comes with a plot twist. At night, specially during the weekends, eclectic crowds rush to turn the neighborhood into Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife mecca. Here you hang out in the street chatting with your friends with a glass in your hand. Yeah, Lisbon is that easy-going. 




3Live a Fairytale In Sintra

what to do in lisbon experiences sintra castle

In case you are single, you have all the ingredients to find your life partner in Lisbon. With the warm weather, beautiful sun-kissed people and the great Portuguese wine, the odds are EVER in your favor.

But the fairytale I meant is a place called Sintra, a village where imposing castles and ancient palaces live in harmony with exotic gardens and greenery. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason.

Undoubtedly, the main attraction is Palácio da Pena, a colorful palace brimming with over-the-top designs that seems to come straight out of a fairytale. It is located on top of a hill and from up there, you can delight yourself with breathtaking views from all the Sintra-Cascais-Lisbon region.  

4Go For a Ride on Tram 28 Try the Famous Lisbon Liqueur

Portugal has been famed for wine for centuries, but in Lisbon there’s another alcoholic drink that defines tradition. Lisboners love ginjinha – a delicious sour cheery liquor made with aguardente.

You can choose to drink yours com ela (with the berry) or sem ela (without) in the very traditional A Ginjinha (Largo São Domingos, 8).

Note: I used to recommend a ride in the legendary Tram 28 as one of the best things to do. But in recent years, it has became impossibly crowded, pickpockets are frequent and sadly it’s not a local experience anymore.

Lisbon is very trendy right now and hotels can sell out often. Book your hotel as soon as possible!

I’ve made your life easier and you can start your search with my pre-selection of hotels in Lisbon. This list only includes the top-rated reviewed hotels in the heart of the city, with WiFi included. Hard to go wrong with these!

Or explore the latest hotel deals:



Booking.com

5Fish, Fish, Fish

I’m sure you agree finding cheap fresh is extremely difficult anywhere in Europe. Well, anywhere except in Portugal. Sharing the majority of its border with the Atlantic, is probably the fish-friendliest country in Europe. Enough to say the symbol of the biggest festivities in Lisbon, Santos Populares, is a…. sardine.

Make sure you take advantage of this sweet sea-kissed location to enjoy the best fish you’ve ever had in your life. One of the things I miss the most about my country is how simple it is to find good fresh fish. That’s why this is one of the 43 reasons to visit Portugal!

Enter any typic Lisbon restaurant and ask for a grilled DouradaRobalo or Salmão. You won’t regret it. If I still can’t convince you, at least give it a try to my favorite fish dish: Bacalhau à Brás, a delicious combination of codfish, scrambled eggs and fries. It still isn’t meat, but it does not taste that fishy.

6Visit The Best Aquarium In The World

what to do in lisbon experiences architecture parque nacoes

The Universal Exhibition of 1998 (Expo’98) in Lisbon encompassed a major urban redevelopment project in all the eastern end of the city’s waterfront. When it was over, a new urban district named Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) was born.

A walk among this area gives you a dramatically different perspective from the rest of the city. Parque das Nações stands out as an impressive open-air contemporary architecture portfolio, includes two striking twin towers designed to look like giant sailboats (!), a ship-shaped mall, water gardens, a casino and of course, the biggest bridge in Europe – Ponte Vasco da Gama. Everything is big here.

But even in this futuristic setting, Oceanário still stands out. It’s the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and recently voted in TripAdvisor as #1 in the world. If you find it beautiful on the outside, I can assure you it’s even more impressive inside!



Booking.com

7Enjoy The Sunset With a View

The one travel tip I always give for someone who comes to Lisbon for the first time is to end at least one day in a viewpoint (or in portuguese, miradouros). In the last few years, the municipality has finally found some value in those and made an effort to renew them around the city, building some cafés and bars that bring added value to the already beautiful setting.

For the best views of the city, head to Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte, in Graça district. It’s a quite challenging walk uphill but it’s not that crowded and you’ll have this view as a reward.

7 experiences not to miss in Lisbon, Portugal

If crowds do not bother you, Miradouro do Adamastor, located in the heart of the city stands out as one of the trendiest spots in Lisbon. Bohemian is the code word for a place full of street musicians, dancers and beer-drinking teens and another gorgeous view. Still, Lisbon has at least ten other great viewpoints to choose from. Wherever you decide to go, grab a glass of wine while you enjoy the sunset. It will be one of the highlights of your stay, trust me.

LISBON MINI TRAVEL GUIDE

💰 Travel packages for Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re coming from the United States, take a look at Azores Getaways. They have some flight + hotel + transfers deals for Lisbon, like this 6-night one, starting from 1149USD.


experiences Lisbon

⭐ Where to stay in Lisbon ⭐

 

Hotel HF Fenix Music
 
Charmingly music-themed hotel, super close to the center. Oh it comes with this stunning rooftop swimming pool.
Book now


 
 

We Love F Tourists
 
Located in busy Rossio – the heart of Lisbon – it’s just one of those amazing value places that will make you feel at home. Perfect to make friends. Book now

Or… find your own!

Use this list of quality hotels and guesthouses I’ve put together to get you started. ALL of these are located in the best central areas of Lisbon, with WiFi and with a rating of 8 or higher. Just pick your favourite!

Lisbon Detailed Itinerary (3 Days)
 
Continue reading more about Lisbon with a complete 3-day itinerary packed with tips and advice for the main sights of the city.
Read now >>

Which experience in Lisbon would you add as #8?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

44 comments

  1. Great Thanks for all this info!!! Will be in Portugal for 17 days in September. Renting car and will hopefully see the various areas. Will definitely keep this list!! Prefer housing in air bnb or local home experiences. Any suggestions!! Any ideas for other parts of Portugal?
    Thanks
    Dorothy

    1. I am starting to advise against Airbnb. Takes away flats for locals, there are a lot of scams and the host may even cancel your reservation last minute and there’s nothing you can do.

      As for suggestions, my Portugal road trip article is full of other places to uncover. In a nutshell, Nazaré, Alentejo and Sintra.

  2. Thanks so much, fantastic article I have taken plenty of notes from. We will be in Lisbon in two weeks for the first time. We have a car and will travel to a few beaches you have mentioned as well as Sinatra, cascais, Belem tower etc. Thanks for the tip on the custard tart 😀 can’t wait !!!

  3. Wow, thanks for the great tips. I’m travelling to Lisbon in October and just starting my planning. I will definitely check out these places you mentioned, I love going off the beaten path. I will be spending a few nights in Portimao as well! Can’t wait to visit this beautiful country!!

  4. Hello Bruno,

    Thanks for the great tips on what to check out in Lisbon! I’ll be visiting Lisbon with a friend at the end of April (4 days) and I was wondering if you had any suggestions of 1) good hostels to stay at in the area and 2) “must visit” bars or clubs.

    Thanks,
    Jane

    1. Try Yes Hostel or Home Lisbon Hostel, considered the best in the world. One of the must visit bars is Pensão Amor in Cais do Sodré, it’s bonkers!

  5. Hi Bruno,
    Greetings!
    We r planning out first trip to Portugal in September.. With our 3 kids (5yrs, 2yrs and by then 9months old) … U have listed all the local and amazing stuff already but is it possible to do all those with kids? Plus what r the best location to stay with kids.. I know people will be friendly where ever we will be in Portugal.
    But any suggestion for less price accommodation…

    Thanks
    Ravina

    1. I don’t see any reason why this can’t be done with kids. In fact the Oceanário will be great for kids!

      To be honest, my suggestions to stay with kids are the same as for adults, central Lisbon, where you can walk everywhere.

  6. Thank you for these great insider tips! 🙂 I am going next week, and will definitely check out some of your tips!

  7. Bruno,
    Great info. Many thanks! I am planning on taking my family away for the summer of 2018 and I have always wanted to explore Portugal. My children will be 11 and 9 we would get there. We are looking at June through august ( a little hot, I know). We would be traveling from the east coast. We are just starting to make our plans. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  8. Thank you for your tips. I’m heading there next Windows and just for 4 days. I am eager to get to a beach bit won’t be renting a car. Estoril/Cascais it will have to be. Are they the same place?

  9. Hi Bruno,
    We are visiting Azores and Lisbon and following all the great tips you are giving! Thanks a lot! They are really helpful Can you also suggest a restaurant in Lisbon where to eat real portuguese food? We tried Manteigaria and was awasome!

    1. Good to hear. It won’t be hard to find a restaurant with local good food, but here are some suggestions:
      – Toma La Da Ca
      – Cantina das Freiras (great view!)
      – Atira te Ao Rio
      – Mercado da Ribeira (food from top portuguese chefs at affordable prices)
      – Ramiro (if you’re into seafood)

  10. thanks Bruno,

    the information you provided about Lisbon is great and spot on!! helped me to great extent in choosing the right shoulder season of April to visit Lisbon, Madrid & Barcelona…keep up the good work

  11. Thank you for the what-not-to-miss guide! Me and My boyfriend are going to Lisbon in a couple of weeks. We haven’t yet made a Hotel reservation. Can you give advice in wich area to look for rooms? Preferably an area with a lot of restaurants and bars

  12. Great site you have!! We were in Portugal in april, se the Vimeolink, awesome. We fel lin Love with Portugal and are coming back in September!

  13. I just booked our trip to Lisbon this coming summer, and here it is a great advise about things to do there. Perfect timing! Putting all the things you suggested on our to-do list (sardines were already there). Thanks!

  14. I was in Lisbon over a decade ago, and I was very discombobulated in my activities. I did go to the zoo though! And there I saw a super-fun show with dolphins and sea lions. Thats was an unexpected travel activity to say the least.

    1. I remember going to the zoo when I was little. That show was the high of my summer holidays.
      I recommend you to go back, can help with you some additional tips!

  15. Thanks for the great tips! Nothing like a bit of insider local knowledge – I can’t believe you haven’t written about your most familiar destination until now!