There are many different versions of Lisbon and so many different Lisbon experiences to discover.
There is a version of Lisbon for everyone:
- Lisbon. The white cityas the Swiss director Alain Tanner called it.
- Lisbon of the Discoveries, the Tagus River, the Belém Tower and the Monastery of St. Jerome.
- Lisbon the beautiful azulejos (glazed tiles) with shades of blue and white – and also polychrome. But let’s focus on the cobalt blue and white for now.
- The traditional Lisbon, Alfama, Fado and the bohemian Bairro Alto.
- Picturesque Lisbon, with its typical neighborhoods and narrow streets and alleys, from Sé to Cais do Sodré.
- Elegant Lisbon of Chiado and Lapa.
- Baroque Lisbon with ornate churches and basilicas.
- Contemporary Lisbon, from the diverse architecture to the lively cultural life.
Lisbon has so many facets that you will be amazed by its diversity and unique beauty.
See also A Guide to Lisbon Neighborhoods and Explore Lisbon in 2 Days.
Here are our top things to do when visiting Lisbon
If you are looking for the best experiences in Lisbon there are a few to be sure to add to your list. Trust me, I am a Lisbon guide.
The viewpoints. The reward after climbing the Lisbon hills.
The only option is to visit these places. Lisbon’s lush topography offers its rewards. After a steep ascent, you will surely be rewarded with breathtaking views.
Ideally, do so on foot to see Lisbon to the fullest!
For a quick and smooth ride up some of the city’s steepest hills, Lisbon operates three bee-yellow elevators (funiculars / trams) that were originally powered by hydropower.
One of the most charming rides is the Elevator da Bica which sneaks through the Santa Catarina district to Rua do Loreto. At the end of Rua Marechal Saldanha is the Miradouro de Santa Catarina with some popular sidewalk cafes offering breathtaking views over the river and the April 25th bridge.
The other lookout point not to be missed is S. Pedro de Alcântara.
The lookout point was built in the 19th century. This is Lisbon’s “hotspot” and has recently been restored.
At the forefront of the journey of the Glória elevator, near Bairro Alto, offers a spectacular view of Lisbon’s east side. You’ll see the appealing old quarters of Graça, the Saint Vincent Monastery and St. George Castle.
The best view is at the end of the day, when the lights of Lisbon are on and the hillside of the castle is illuminated.
Belém. Centuries of history and a little treat.
It can get very busy and touristy, but Belém is definitely worth a visit. The view of the Tagus is breathtaking and some days you almost feel like you are at sea.
Belém is inextricably linked with Portugal’s golden age of discovery, the place where navigators from the 14th century set sail to discover the world.
Here you will find the most visited sights, Monastery of Saint Jerome (a must), Belem tower (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites) that Monument to the Discoveries and The carriage museum.
The latter is a gem in a global context. Here you can see a valuable and unique collection of royal ceremonial floats and carriages that will instantly teleport you back to times long past.
The first stop should be. be Monastery of Saint Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese), a Manueline masterpiece that will amaze you. I could spend hours just looking at the intricate limestone work!
You can find them nearby, right on the water Belem tower, Symbol of Portugal’s maritime glory – also a stone jewel.
A walk in the Belém Gardens and in the waterfront is compulsory. Open skies, the breeze of the river, the white tones of the buildings and the contemporary Art museum, Architecture and technology (MAAT).
Don’t miss the opportunity to try the divine traditional Pastéis de Belém (Custard tart). It’s a short walk away and straight out of the oven. If it’s too crowded, take them to the gardens and enjoy your delicious treat outdoors.
Blessed be the monks who created them!
See also: Ordering coffee in Portugal
Chiado and Baixa Pombalina. Augusta Street Arch for breathtaking views.
Start your walk in Chiado, one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city, with centenary cafés and possibly the best historical shops in town.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the menus of the best cafés were written in French, as it had the ambition to be “Lisbon’s little Paris”.
Go down towards that Santa Justa Elevator. It connects the upper part of Chiado and Carmo with the lower streets of Baixa (downtown).
Baixa, the next stop, is the best place to admire the typical Pombaline architectural style so characteristic of Lisbon.
Pombaline is named after the feared and admired statesman Marquis of Pombal. He was responsible for redesigning the city after the devastating earthquake of 1755. The architectural features are spectacular and unique. Especially when you consider that it was one of the first earthquake-proof construction systems in the world.
Don’t miss that Arch of Augusta Streetwhere you can admire a breathtaking view of St. Jorge Castle, downtown Pombaline, Commerce Square and, last but not least, the Tagus River.
Gulbenkian Museum and Foundation
The Gulbenkian Museum houses one of the best private art collections in the world.
Gulbenkian Museum is a real gem and has been voted one of the seven best small museums in the world.
The premises of the foundation include a large auditorium with a large selection of music concerts, from classical to contemporary. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions, a congress area with auditoriums and other rooms, as well as the aforementioned Gulbenkian Museum, the art library and a center for modern art.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit the beautiful gardens. If you visit in early August you will be in luck “Jazz em Agosto” (Jazz in August). It’s a pretty quirky jazz festival with musicians from all over the world playing live in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater.
The National Tile Museum. Discover the unique art of azulejos.
the National Tile Museum is unique in the world. It is located in the 16th-century Madre de Deus Monastery – a rather secluded spot in the Xabregas neighborhood, but well worth a visit.
Over the centuries, the Portuguese have developed a particular art form that consists of painting on ceramic tiles, a mastery called the. is known “Azulejaria” (from “azulejos” – glazed tiles). Although not originally Portuguese, the country developed art in a very peculiar and unique way.
Admire a unique collection of around 1,300 tiles, from antique to contemporary styles.
The highlight is on the third floor with a Big Lisbon panorama Tile slab. It dates from the early 18th century and shows Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake.
Always look down!
Everywhere in the city (this can also apply to all of Portugal) you will find beautiful ones Cobblestones from several types of limestone.
The patterns can be so elaborate and rich that you are literally mesmerized. Pay attention to that “Open ocean waves” Pattern at the central square of Rossio, in downtown.
Finally, bring comfortable footwear with good “grip” for your trip to Lisbon (check out SUAVS and use the code TRAVELDUDES15 for 15% discount). The Portuguese cobblestones put a strain on your feet and can be very slippery – especially on the first rainy days.
Visit Lisbon with Pats for a more in-depth or detailed trip so that you can maximize your time and have the best and most memorable experience in Portugal’s capital.