Things to do in Lisbon

Get Your Bearings in Lisbon

See & Do

Things to See

Attractions in Lisbon include art museums like Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. The city also houses the National Coach Museum and the Naval Museum. The Santa Just elevator offers one of the best views of the city, and can be accessed from Rua Aurea, where visitors ascend to a viewing platform.

Take It or Leave It:

Most visitors tend to explore sites outside the city, so the attractions in the city proper are usually less crowded.

Where to Stay

Accommodations in Lisbon vary between luxury hotels like The Four Seasons and Tivolli Lisboa to simple guesthouses in the city, though many of these will only offer shared bathrooms. Choose accommodations based on what attractions you'd like to see, as they are located throughout the many unique neighborhoods interspersed through the city's hilly terrain. Resorts and beach hotels are an option, though most are located in neighboring towns.


Search for accommodations early in the day as many hotels are booked or offer higher rates at night.

What to Eat

Restaurants in Lisbon focus on local cuisine, primarily offering fish and shellfish dishes. However foreign dishes from Brazil to India are also represented, a legacy of Portugal's colonial past. Formal high-end dining in rooms offering great views of the city are plentiful, but so are budget options. Some restaurants offer set menus, usually including a few courses and wine, at bargain prices.


Lisboans usually eat much later than North Americans.

Places to Party

Lisbon's speciality are Fado clubs, music bars where singers perform traditional Portuguese music. There are many groupings of Fado clubs, but the authentic ones are located in the Alfama and the Bairro Alto, though others are located at Largo do Chagariz and Largo de Sao Roque.  The biggest cluster of bars and restaurants is the Bairro Alta.

Hot Tips:

Several publications available at most newsstands detail weekly and monthly guides on what's going on in the city.

Where to Shop

Major shopping districts in Lisbon are downtown Baixa, Rua Aurea (specializing in jewelry), Rua da Prata and Rua Augusta. More high-end stores are located on Rua Garrett, while shops selling antiques, from carved furniture to wooden figurines, are located on Rua de Sao Jose. Portuguese-style baskets and sweaters can be found at the Feira da Ladra.


Don't expect to find cheap antiques on Rua de Sao Jose as the items are normally quite high-end.



Things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is known for...

Five of Lisbon's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Fado:

Melancholy remains ingrained in the Portuguese psyche, and Lisbon’s profoundest passions and sorrows are expressed by fado, the haunting strains of which can be heard throughout the city. The music interprets saudade, an emotional, heartfelt yearning that is sung over mellow, plaintive guitars. The greatest exponent of this musical expression was Amália Rodrigues (1920–1999). Born in Lisbon, she became known as the Rainha do Fado (“Queen of Fado”) and was instrumental in popularising fado worldwide. Her house in Rua de São Bento is now a museum. There’s also the engaging Museu do Fado in Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. But perhaps the best way to appreciate this unique version of the blues is to dine at one of the many restaurants that stage live fado performances. 

2. Neighbourhoods:

Lisbon is divided into a number of very distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own unique history and singular personality. The city’s oldest area is Alfama, the Moorish quarter. The maze of narrow cobbled streets and steep alleyways that surround the castle conjure up images of an Arabic Kasbah. Bairro Alto’s lively bohemian character is personified by a plethora of whacky bars, funky boutiques and off-beat eateries that’s totally at odds with adjacent Chiado, an area of elegant shops, historic cafés and fashionable restaurants. The busy Baixa is Lisbon’s colourful commercial heart. West of the city centre is Belém, forever associated with Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. It’s from here that 15th-century explorers set sail to chart new lands. And it’s here that Lisbon’s grandest historic monuments stand in fitting tribute. 

3. Viewpoints:

Not for nothing is Lisbon known as da cidade das sete colinas – the city of seven hills. Fortunately this means that there are plenty of viewpoints, or miradouros, in place at various locations to take advantage of some truly breathtaking panoramas. One of the most rewarding is Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a pretty terrace that takes in sweeping views of Alfama and the shimmering River Tagus. Further along is Miradouro da Graça, positioned in front of the Igreja da Graça. From here, Baixa (downtown) Lisbon unfolds below to resemble an intricately embroidered quilt. On the other side of the Baixa, in Bairro Alto, is Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. This is arguably the most picturesque viewpoint and affords a draw-dropping canvas.   

4. Festivals:

Lisbon lets its hair down in June when the whole capital celebrates the annual Festa de Santo António (St Anthony Festival). This is the city’s biggest and brightest street party, when thousands of locals parade in colourful costume down Avenida da Liberdade in honour of their favourite saint. The revelry continues into the night, with the Alfama and Castelo districts the main focus of festivities. The three-day Optimus Alive music festival in July is always eagerly anticipated (Coldplay and Foo Fighters are previous acts) while the multi-faceted Festival dos Oceanos (Oceans’ Festival) during the first two weeks of August is absolutely free.

5. Food:

One of the great surprises for visitors eating in Lisbon is how inexpensive the food is. The prato do dia – dish of the day – options are among the cheapest in Europe! As befitting a seafaring nation, fresh fish and seafood choices figure prominently in many restaurants: bacalhau (cod) is a delicious staple. For hearty provincial fare seek out the traditional tascas tucked away in the city’s backstreets. For more sophisticated palates Lisbon’s gourmet hotspots offer a truly international flavour, with Mediterranean gastronomy particularly well represented. Exotic cuisine from Brazil, Mozambique and other ex-colonies add spice up an already colourful ethnic menu. Indian restaurants abound, and some of the city’s sushi bars have garnered celebrity status.