Things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon is the only European capital facing the sea and its beaches are renowned for sun, surf and sand. Just remember it’s the Atlantic Ocean lapping the beach so the average water temp is a cool 17.5 degrees Celsius! The closest resort town is Cascais, just a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon, which ends in Guincho – a world-famous surf beach. You can also travel south to the less-crowded Costa da Caparica (Caparica Coast) – ideal for sunbaking.

Exploring Lisbon’s neighbourhoods and historic quarters on foot is something you can do all year round. With narrow, cobblestoned paths and whitewashed buildings bursting with ramshackle charm, the Moorish medieval area of Alfama is a picturesque spot to lose yourself in petite alleys and squares or take an antique tram ride for the complete historic experience. Bairro Alto (High Town) is another atmospheric quarter where the bohemian atmosphere of the quaint neighbourhood really comes alive at night when the cosy bars spill onto the street. Take the ancient elevadores (funiculars) to avoid the hilly ascents. Baixa (Lower Town) is Lisbon’s downtown district with Neoclassical architecture, old-school trades and vintage shops and lots of pedestrian malls and squares to stroll around. Principe Real is the gay and antique hotspot in town, and Chiado and the leafy Avenida de Liberdade are the places to go for local designers and international brands.

If you’re stuck with inclement weather, make a date to peruse the plethora of cultural sites and museums in Lisbon. Some of the must-see sites include the world-renowned art museums of Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Museu Berardo, Museu do Oriente and Museu do Design e Moda (Design and Fashion). There’s also the Museu da Marinha (Maritime Museum) and even an entire museum dedicated to the tradition of painted tiles – Museu do Azulejo. For our fave things to do in Lisbon, read on.

Belém

This historic Lisbon neighbourhood is a monumental mecca of Portugal’s maritime history. Stuffed with museums and monuments dedicated to the country’s age of discovery, walk in the footprints of great Portuguese explorers and see amazing historic sites all in the one area.

Jéronimos Monastery

Funded by the riches discovered on the pioneering spice route to India, Jéronimos Monastery was established to bless Portugal’s seafaring explorers and celebrate the country’s prosperity. The intricate detail and elaborate façade of this religious site is simply stunning.

Castle of São Jorge

Towering above the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, the imposing fortifications of the Castle of São Jorge has seen over a millennia of change from Visigoths and Romans to Moors and Christians. Visible from all over the city, the views from the ramparts are well worth the trip up the hill.

Igreja de São Roque

If you think you’ve seen one church, you’ve seen them all – make sure you check out this one. Deemed the world’s most expensive chapel, the bling and ornate decoration of the interior of this deceptively plain church in Lisbon has to be admired in all its bejewelled and gilded glory.

Sintra

Portugal’s technicolour dream of a village, the fantastical fairytale locale of Sintra boasts pastel-hued palaces and villas amid rolling green hills, exotic gardens, the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue sky. Take a daytrip from Lisbon to soak up the Disney-esque atmosphere.