Lisbon is best known as the only European capital city situated along the Atlantic Ocean. For most of the year, tourists can expect plenty of sunny days and warm temperatures. In terms of sightseeing, Lisbon offers a long list of historical buildings and monuments to check out. After you’ve seen all of what the capital has to offer, there’s a wide range of day trips available to storybook settings such as Sintra and Cascais. Lastly, foodies will enjoy fresh seafood and the delectable pastel de nata. Continue reading PiccaPixel’s Lisbon Travel guide for the best things to do, where to stay and the optimal time to visit.
The most iconic building in all of Lisbon is without a doubt the Jerónimos Monastery. Completed over 400 years ago, this spectacular building attracts visitors from across the world and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You may have to wait an hour or two to get in, but it’s worth queuing for such a long time. The sheer size and architectural brilliance are awe-inspiring.
Belem Tower or Torre de Belem is a military fortification which protected Lisbon from potential threats entering the Tagus River. After the 1755 earthquake, a repositioning occurred which now sees the iconic tower embracing Atlantic tides. The good news is that you don’t have to wait in the line pictured above if you’ve already visited the Jeronimos Monastery. A combo ticket can be purchased which has the potential for saving lots of time!
Day Trip to Sintra
Only a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon, Sintra is a magical place with a plethora of things to see and do. Pictured above is Pena Palace which is one of the many spectacular buildings which call Sintra home. Most people need two days to experience all of which this area has to offer.
Praça do Comércio
One of the most photogenic spots in Lisbon is Praça do Comércio. This gigantic square sits perfectly along the waterfront and features plenty of touristy restaurants and cafes. As its name suggests, Praça do Comércio was once the economic heart of Portugal and later became an area featuring elaborate monuments.
São Jorge Castle
A beautiful castle overlooking Lisbon, this fortification was built up when the Moors controlled ancient Portugal. The castle itself is cool to explore and offers excellent views over the city. With its situation above Lisbon, it’s quite the climb to reach this amazing attraction but you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment when the entrance is finally in sight.
Lisbon features the largest indoor aquarium in all of Europe. It has a unique design and layout which ensures that you don’t miss any exhibits. There is a nice mix between fish and aquatic mammals, my favourites being penguins and otters. The surrounding area offers plenty of activities which includes a science centre, gondola and casino.
Best known for bars, hills and trams, Bairro Alto is an awesome place to explore. The narrow and winding streets are ripe for photography and you never know when you’ll stumble across a fantastic scene like the one above. The Chiado and Bairro Alto districts are so close to many of Lisbon’s finest attractions, meaning you’ll end up in this area sooner or later.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Dedicated to Portugal’s “Age of Discovery” during the 15th and 16th centuries, Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a towering monument featuring the country’s famous explorers. Stop by for a couple minutes to appreciate the architecture and statues.
National Tile Museum
A lot of tourists are sceptical of visiting a museum showcasing “only tiles”. Count me as one of these people, however, I was amazed at how much this attraction had to offer. The museum is housed in a beautiful palace and the architecture is phenomenal. Not to mention, you’ll get to view outstanding works of art made from tile.
National Palace of Queluz
The National Palace of Queluz is a little off the beaten path (15-minute train ride from Lisbon). However, this means you’ll have a large portion of the interior and gardens to yourself. On a sunny day, take a few hours to enjoy a relaxing stroll around the grounds.
Se de Lisboa
The Lisbon Cathedral is a symbol of resiliency. Constructed almost 1,000 years ago, this beautiful church has survived multiple earthquakes and with each repair gained a different style of architecture. Passing by trams and overhead wires create a postcard-worthy setting that’s bustling with tourists.
Museu da Marinha
Built into a wing of the Jerónimos Monastery lies a tribute to Portugal’s seafaring history. While this museum has a very specific niche, you can learn a lot about the Portuguese Empire and Age of Exploration. For this reason, I find the Museu da Marinha creates a sense of synergy with Belem’s other attractions.
The Carmo Convent was once the most beautiful church in Lisbon. Now an archaeological museum, you can view artifacts which managed to survive the 1755 Earthquake. Although it’s never been restored, it serves as a reminder of mother nature’s destructive power.
Day Trip to Cascais
Located 30km west of Lisbon, Cascais is best known for beaches and watersports. In addition, the famous Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) is a chasm which is also worth checking out. What was once a lowly fishing village has now become one of the richest and premier tourist destinations in all of Portugal.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon – Known as the ultimate splurging experience in Lisbon, the Four Season Hotel Ritz has everything you’d want in luxury accommodations. The hotel is located next to the beautiful Eduardo VII Park which means you’ll be outside the congested downtown core. In addition, Marquês de Pombal Station is only steps away, therefore, you can still access plenty of tourist attractions within 10 minutes.
Olissippo Lapa Palace – If you’ve ever wanted to stay inside a former palace, this could be your prime opportunity. While it’s slightly removed from a metro station, the beautiful interiors and room views are worth the extra time you’ll have to spend on trams.
EPIC SANA Lisboa Hotel – Epic is a fitting word to describe this highly modern and sophisticated hotel. Like the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, SANA is located near Eduardo VII Park and Marquês de Pombal Station. Therefore, you have to account for a little extra travel time for getting downtown.
Pousada de Lisboa – Location, location, location. This beautiful hotel is known for having the best situation within Lisbon’s tourist core. Right outside the door is Praça do Comércio and the ability to explore nearby neighbourhoods such as Bairro Alto.
Bairro Alto Hotel – A close second in terms of location, Bairro Alto is a little up the street from Pousada de Lisboa. This boutique hotel is a 4-minute walk from a metro station and Praça do Comércio. If you’re looking for a smaller hotel with all the amenities of a 5 star then you’re in the right place.
Home Lisbon Hostel – Simply known as the best hostel in Lisbon and has been recognized by HostelWorld as the best in the world multiple times. Book this place early because you and everyone else wants to stay here!
Goodmorning Lisbon Hostel – The consensus number two hostel in Lisbon features everything you’d want in budget accommodations. In addition, they offer waffles for breakfast!!! It’s hard to find a better value than this place.
Yes! Lisbon Hostel – Only a few blocks away from Praça do Comércio, this hostel has an impeccable reputation for great staff. Also known for its ten euro dinner and bar freebies, you can’t get wrong with Yes!
Living Lounge Hostel – An excellent choice for solo travellers who want their own private room at a reasonable price. While this place hasn’t won the number of awards as the previously mentioned hostels, you still expect top level service and amentities. In addition, you get an awesome location in Lisbon’s tourist core.
PH in Chiado – A sleepy bed and breakfast situated in the heart of Chiado. If you want an extremely quiet place to relax and enjoy Lisbon, look no further. Please be aware this place isn’t for partygoers and that people here wouldn’t appreciate any noise late at night.
Great: March – May & September – October
The transitionary months before and after summer represent the best opportunities to visit Lisbon. Crowds are thinner and you can find some great deals for accommodation. Last but certainly not least, you can expect some stellar weather which is perfect for exploring this hilly city.
Bad: June – August
Hot and steamy weather conditions make travelling to Lisbon during the summer months uncomfortable. This is peak season, meaning you’ll have to deal with monstrous crowds and queues. In addition, you’ll be competing for the best accommodations and paying higher prices.
Thanks for reading PiccaPixel’s Lisbon Travel Guide. Be sure to check out my other guides here!