There are so many incredible things in Lisbon to do on your first visit.  Most people will kick off their trip in the capital city of Portugal best known for its hillside view and colorful buildings.  Visitors can take guided walking tours, explore historic sites such as monasteries, museums, and take a ride on the iconic trams.

You could easily spend a few days here in Lisbon checking out the neighborhoods, listening to Fado music, and trying all the delicious food.  In fact, Lisbon is a good base to take day trips to Sintra or Cascais.  Here are some incredible things we think you should include in your itinerary.

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Here are 10 incredible things to do in Lisbon, Portugal

1.  Lisbon Oldtown Walking Tour

things to do in lisbon-old town walking tour

First of all, one of the best ways to get acquainted with a city is by taking a walking tour.  We suggest doing this when you first arrive.  You can quickly get a lay of the city before venturing off on your own.

By taking a walking tour you might discover restaurants you want to try or local shops of interest.  Beware of souvenirs that are imported.  I always like to buy hand-made goods from friendly locals to support them and you should consider this too.

2.  Explore the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

mosteiro dos jeronimos libon

The Jeronimos Monastery was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 along with Belem Tower.  These two sites you don’t want to miss on your trip to Lisbon.  The building was designed by a Portuguese architect to celebrate the return of Vasco da Gama.

Construction of the monastery started in the 15th Century but wasn’t completed until the 17th Century.  Oddly enough this site was built on a chapel where Vasco da Gama & sailors prayed before setting sail to India and Africa.

Here in the church is where you’ll find the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões.  You can enter the church for free but if you want to see the Cloister there is a fee.  Purchase your entry ticket to Jeronimos monastery here.

Hours:

October – April: 10am to 5:30pm.

May – September: 10am to 6:30pm.

3.  Go on a food & wine tour in Lisbon

food tour in lisbon

Taking a guided walking tour is an excellent thing to do in Lisbon because it gets you acquainted with the city streets.  Besides, local guides have so much passion for their city they’ll probably give you some great tips about other incredible things to do in Lisbon.

You’ll learn about the local history and culture and pick up a few important tips along the way.  For 3 1/2 hours, you’ll eat & drink like a local while seeing the main sights of the city.

Take this Taste & Traditions of Lisbon Food Tour.  Private tours start at 9:30 am which includes enough food for breakfast and lunch.

4.  Take the kids to Lisbon Oceanarium

oceanarium lisbon

The Oceanarium is the second-largest aquarium in Europe.  Kids will love watching over 450 species of marine animals.  In the largest aquarium are sharks, stingrays, manta rays, and colorful fish.  

During Expo in 1998, this was one of the most popular attractions.  To access the building you’ll cross a footbridge.  It’s an incredible thing to do in Lisbon if you have kids.  Family tickets are available offering a small discount.

Hours:  Summer: 10 am to 8 pm.  Last entry at 7 pm
Winter: 10 am to 7 pm.

5.  Henry the Navigator Monument

henry the navigator

Although Henry the Navigator was neither a sailor nor navigator he did sponsor exploration to Africa’s west coast.  To begin with, Henry was born in the city of Porto in 1394.  Son of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster.

Furthermore, Henry started a school on the southwestern tip of Portugal in Sagres for navigation.  The monument you see in the picture is dedicated to the Portuguese who took part in the Age of Discovery.  It’s located near the Belem Tower on the Tagus River.  Another incredible thing to see in Lisbon.

6.  Castle S. Jorge

castle sao jorge

Castle Sao Jorge is a unique landmark located on the highest hill in Lisbon.  What started as a small fortress built in the 5th century was enlarged by the Moors in the mid-eleventh century.

Set aside your morning or afternoon to visit the castle because the site is extensive.  Also, inside you’ll find a small museum, restaurant, and bar if you want to take a break for lunch.  An adult ticket will cost € 10 and children under 12 years are free.

Take this tour of Sao Jorge Castle and skip the line.  The starting times are 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Hours:  

November – February: 9 am to 6 pm.

March – October: 9 am to 9 pm.

7.  Alfama

listen to the musicians in alfama

Undoubtedly, a great place to see the views is in Alfama.  This old district survived the earthquake back in 1755.  Alfama is home to the best lookout points.  One of those is at Castle Sao Jorge.

To get to Alfama, hop on the historic tram 28 which passes by the Lisbon Cathedral.  If you happen to be in Alfama in June you can catch the Santos Populares Festivities, listen to live music, and snack on some grilled sardines.

8.  Try Pasteis de Nata a Portuguese Tart

portuguese tarts

Of course, you must stop at the pastry shop to try the famous Pasteis de Nata, an egg custard tart.  Since 1837 this shop has been making these delicious tarts using an old recipe from the Jeronimos Monastery.

Pasteis de Belem is located next to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.  Definitely, an easy stop if you are visiting the monastery and well worth it in our opinion.

Pro tip:  The shop is open daily and the tarts are best eaten immediately.  Don’t wait for the large line ups.

9.  National Coach Museum in Lisbon

Inside the National Coach Museum is an important collection of horse-drawn carriages.  The oldest in the collection belonged to Phillip II of Spain.  

The museum was an old riding school until inaugurated by Queen Amelia who married King Carlos I in 1905.  Nowadays, it’s one of the most popular things to do in Lisbon.

If you plan to visit use your Lisboa Card or go on the first Sunday of every month as it’s free.

Hours:  Tuesday through Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm.
Mondays: closed.
Closed: January 1st, May 1st, Easter Sunday, June 13th, 24th, and 25th December.

10.  Historic Belem Tower

tower of belem lisbon

Belem Tower was originally build to defend Lisbon.  Later it was transformed into a lighthouse than a customs center.  Take note of the gargoyle on the western facade of the tower.  This rhino shaped gargoyle depicts the first rhinoceros setting foot in Portugal from India. 

Lastly, plan your visit when it’s less crowded because the spiral staircase that connects the five floors is narrow.  The ground floor consists of 16 windows with cannons.  During your visit, you’ll see pits & holes where the prisoners were thrown into. Oh my!

Hours:  

October – April: 10 am to 5:30 pm.

May – September: 10 am to 6.30 pm.

Closed: Mondays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December.

In summary, Lison has some incredible things to do you won’t want to miss.  Especially if it’s your first trip.  If you prefer to have your own Lisbon experience created for you?  Click here!