The yellow trams, domed cathedrals, grand plazas and picturesque hillsides of Lisbon have been attracting tourists to this Portuguese capital for decades.
In 2019, I was lucky enough to visit this capital city twice. For both trips, my itinerary was jam-packed full of attractions, food and drink. So here are just a few tried and test activities that you should consider on your next trip…
- Take a ride on tram 28
If you know me, then you’ll know I’m not afraid of using public transport abroad. It’s often a cheaper and better way to travel but in Lisbon, tram 28 has become a must for tourists. While the journey isn’t ground-breaking, it is after all a tram ride, the old-school style trams are rather sweet. To avoid the crowds, I’d recommend jumping on this tram from the Parça do Comércio and hopping off near the Castelo de São Jorge early in the morning. Maybe skip your hotel breakfast and head to a coffee shop packed full of locals near the castle instead.
2. Take a stroll around Castelo de São Jorge
Towering dramatically over the rest of the city, this 11th Century castle provides a keen insight into Lisbon’s history. Wander around the ramparts and shadowed courtyards for spectacular views over the city’s rooftops. Again, heading here early is key. But I must admit sitting in the courtyard with a glass of vinho verde in the afternoon was very tempting.
3. Wander around Alfama
Alfama is one of Lisbon’s oldest areas. You’ll be delighted by quaint buildings and the culturally rich architecture at every turn. We found ourselves meandering into a wine bar.
4. Visit Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and Torre de Belém in Belém
Situated 6km west of the centre of Lisbon, this district is a both whimsical and tranquil. As we were travelling on a budget, we didn’t have the cash to go around either. If you’re in the same boat and it’s sunny out, grab an ice cream and take a wander around the outside of these attractions. You’ll still be able to soak in the impressive architecture.
5. Head over to Sintra
It’s dewy woodlands, colourful castles and exotic gardens will make you think that you’ve fallen into a fairytale. A short train ride from Lisbon’s city centre, Sintra is another tourist hotspot. Once you’ve hopped off the train, you can chose to walk, or pay for a bus ride up to visit the castles. We chose to walk our way to the top. But if you’ve got cash to spare and your legs are sore, a bus ride never hurt. We actually arrived five minutes after the castles closed on New Year’s Eve, but the views were still stunning and so was the food we grabbed after.
6. Take in the views on the Rua Agusta Arch
Maybe the views from Castelo de São Jorge weren’t enough for, or maybe you just wanted to see what this stone triumph has to offer, whatever the reason, the views are incredible. After you’ve climbed the spiral staircases, you’ll be at the best panoramic spot in town.
7. Eat a pastel de nata
This Portuguese custard tart is heavenly. I recommend grabbing one with an espresso for a light breakfast.
8. Take a bite at Time Out market
If you’re after some local Portuguese seafood (and beers), then Time Out Market has got you covered.
9. Drink at a rooftop bar
Before I went to Lisbon, my friend recommend the rooftop bar Topo. Here, you can grab a drink and a bite to eat as you watch the sunset.
10. Take a shot of Ginja
Once you’ve had one shot of this sweet cherry liqueur, you’ll want another. The A Ginjinha bar is the best place to grab a shot. I recommend asking for your first one ‘con frutta’.