With its tiled facades, pastel hues, custard tarts, and bougainvillea blossoms, Lisbon is a must-visit destination in Europe. There are simply so many things to do and see in Lisbon that will whisk you off your feet!
And if the activities in Lisbon aren’t enough, there’s plenty to do outside of the city. Why not visit the charming town of Sintra with its colorful and medieval castles? Or travel to Europe’s most western landmass point at Cabo da Roca?
Well, here’s an idea — why not visit them all!?
In this Lisbon, Portugal bucket list, you can be galavanting from Lisbon to Sintra to Cabo da Roca, Cascais, and back all within a few days.
The great part about traveling around Lisbon is that you can go far in a little amount of time and on a small budget.
Here are 35 things we got to see and do in our one-week trip to Lisbon, Portugal (with day trips to nearby Sintra, Cascais, and Cabo da Roca)!
35 Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal
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The first item on your Lisbon bucket list is to just get out and explore around Lisbon’s seven hills and colorful eclectic neighborhoods. Getting a feel for your new surroundings is a great first introduction to the city.
You might stumble upon a cute shop, restaurant, or museum you can save in your mind for later on in your trip.
One of the first things you might notice is that Lisbon’s sidewalks are all decorated with tile cobblestones — calcadas — some have motifs while others are just plain. All of them are slippery though so watch your step!
2. Eat fresh food at the Time Market food plaza
Time Market is a semi-upscale food court offering global dishes from renowned chefs and restaurants.
You’ll find anything from cured ham to fresh oysters and seafood to American hamburgers or sushi, Portuguese specialties, and more.
The interior is modern and spacious, thus attracting tons of tourists and employees on their lunch break. Go early to beat the crowds!
3. Be a hipster & spend the day at LX Factory
Does boutique stores, slow coffee shops, artsy bookstores, vegan shoes, and industrial vibes sound like you?
Then you’ll love checking out the hip LX Factory in Lisbon! The area used to be an old factory complex that’s been converted into its own hipster neighborhood.
The bookstore here has been featured in magazines and is what attracts many visitors to visit. Instagrammers and photographers flock here to take pictures of the inspiring bookstore and in the boho-chic streets of the LX Factory.
LX Factory is one of the must-see places, even if you are working with a short 2-day Lisbon itinerary.
4. Enjoy Lisbon’s famous “Pasteis de Nata” custard tarts
I am not a dessert person, but man do I LOVE pasteis de nata! These little almost bite-sized custard tarts are just scrumptious. But you have to go to the right places to get the best ones!
Manteigaria offers, in my opinion, one of the best experiences to try a pastel de nata in Lisbon’s city center. Go in and see for yourself! You can walk in, order a fresh-baked pastel de nata and walk out if you like in under 2 minutes.
Or, if you want to see how they are made, order your pastel and enjoy it on the stand-up bar at the back of the store where you can watch the chefs prep, fill, and bake the tarts through glass windows!
5. Eat grilled sardines on the street
During our stay in Lisbon, we got the chance to partake in national holidays for the Saint Anthony Festival. During this time, the city came even more alive at night and the streets were packed full of party-goers, dancers, musicians, and not to mention, stacks and stacks of freshly grilled sardines.
If you have the chance to eat whole sardines off the grill, do it! I actually don’t like sardines, but I managed to gulp down 3.
Funny side story: While ordering, our Portuguese/English conversation with the waiter got confusing, and instead of ordering like 3 sardines per person, we ended up ordering 6 dozen plates of sardines, so we ended up with 36 whole sardines!
6. Marvel at the many tile decorations on all the buildings
Lisbon is iconic for its ceramic tile decorations of all colors and designs. Some are the iconic blue and white, while others have florals or zig-zags of various styles.
Lisbon is a photographer’s destination so if you enjoy taking pictures, you’ll have endless opportunities to test your skills.
7. Listen to Fado while dining or grabbing a drink
Fado is a genre of music that is 100% Portuguese – loud and proud. Without going into too much historical detail, Fado can be last traced to the 1820s or 30s in Portugal and is usually sang by an individual accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and a violin or mandolin (I don’t know which).
Here’s a snippet of Fado singing during Bourdain’s visit to Lisbon.
You can find Fado bars and restaurants easily in Lisbon, but the ones we went to can be found in the Barrio Alto neighborhood in Lisbon.
It’s wise to reserve a spot! Some are more popular than others like the Tasca do Chico which is where Anthony Bourdain visited. We missed the chance to listen to their private Fado because space is small and all the tables were reserved.
I did, however, get a picture of Bourdain’s picture, featured big and centered on the wall inside the Fado house!
8. Ride the Tram 28
I actually never rode the Tram 28 as it’s one of the most touristy things to do in Lisbon. But then again, it’s popular for a reason!
The Tram 28 will take you through an iconic ride through the busy streets of Lisbon while saving you some climbing for the city’s more inclined hills.
9. Enjoy the panoramic views from atop Castelo de S. Jorge
The best place to get sweeping views of Lisbon is via the Castelo de S. Jorge! Not only that but the hilltop castle is a must-do activity in Lisbon for every traveler interested in learning about Lisbon’s rich heritage and history.
Apart from the 11 watch towers you can climb, the area features an outdoor archaeological site of a Moorish neighborhood dating back to the 11th century.
There is also an on-site museum of the collected artifacts with descriptions, tile decorations, and more; It’s very well presented and doesn’t take too long to get through so I’d recommend doing it!
All of this is included in your ticket price. Ticket costs roughly €10 per adult, but if you’re 25 or under it’s €5. That’s the last time I’ll probably get to use my age for any discounts as I’m turning 26 soon!
10. Visit the medieval Tower of Belém + Maritime Explorers Monument
Anyone visiting Lisbon should take a trip to the Belém neighborhood. It’s extremely popular for the attractions you’ll find there, such as the medieval Tower of Belem and the Maritime Monument which impressively overlooks the Tagus river.
Both are iconic landmarks you shouldn’t miss out on! The surrounding park and the Tagus riverside walk are quite popular. You can either walk or get there on a scooter. (Or ride on scooters between them!)
11. Marvel at the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem
What do the Tower of Belém, Maritime monument, and the Jeronimos Monastery all have in common? They’re all in the same area!
This Gothic monastery was a complete surprise to me! I had never seen pictures before so I was quite impressed by the immensity and detail of it all. The inside is just as beautiful as the outside, so take the time to visit. You won’t regret it!
12. Relax in the Park Eduardo VII
Don’t miss out on the vast Eduardo VII park! It’s a huge space offering scenic views of the city with nearby trails, gardens, fountains, and monuments. Just next to the park is a big botanical garden with 300+ exotic plant species!
13. Take in the scenery at the brightly-colored Praça do Comércio
You can’t take a trip to Lisbon without visiting this iconic square! The Commerce Plaza is one of the first things to do in Lisbon because it really sets the atmosphere! Plus, it’s probably one of the first places you’ll end up at anyway since the main roads and shops all lead to the square.
14. Go shopping in the many shops and malls
This leads me to the next best thing to do Lisbon: shopping! From typical Portuguese crafts to typical clothing stores found elsewhere in Europe and abroad, there are lots of opportunities to window shop, even if you don’t buy anything!
15. Rent a scooter and enjoy the ride along the Cais do Sodre
Pick your scooter of choice – after all, there’s so many in Lisbon! Lime, Wind, Flash, Bird, Hive… Just download one of the apps on your phone and get going.
The Cais do Sodre is where you’ll find the Time Market food court, the train station, and of course the opportunity to zoom down the riverside on a scooter.
Many coffee kiosks, shops, and small parks are nearby so this just makes a great area to explore on foot and hang out. Or for taking a nap in the park as we did. 🙂
16. Stroll down the “Champs Elysées” of Lisbon at Avenida da Liberdade
If you like to do big shopping and strolling, then head to the Avenida da Liberdade! This is where the Saint Anthony celebrations were held and the avenue is quite massive. Wear good walking shoes!
17. Eat breakfast or lunch in a traditional Pasteleria
For a budget-friendly breakfast or lunch, you only need to walk into one of the street pastelerias!
Half-café, half-lunch bar, these Pastelerias offer traditional Portuguese dishes along with iconic pastry items displayed in the glass window. The atmosphere is a weird mixture of pastry shop, bar, with restaurant seating.
If you have lunch, you’ll notice some locals taking theirs “to go” by standing at the front and eating on the go, rather than sitting down and getting served.
18. Get picturesque views at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia
One of my favorite panoramic views was at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. It’s a little hidden just off the street, but it opens up to gorgeous views on the old city.
The garden atmosphere invites one to stay a while and enjoy the blossoming bougainvilleas and the blue and white tiles decorating the walls.
19. Go up the cast-iron elevator dating from 1902 (Santa Justa Lift)
Dark and mysterious, this elevator attracts thousands of visitors a day. It was designed to connect the lower streets of Baixa to the higher grounds of Largo de Carmo (hence why the elevator also is called Carmo Lift). It is still in use but it is known to be quite the tourist trap.
20. Travel across the Abril de 25 bridge to visit the Christ The King Sanctuary
Visiting the park and sanctuary of Christ The King (the look-alike Christ The Redeemer statue in Brasil) was on my Lisbon bucket list but we, unfortunately, didn’t have the time to check it off the list.
Nonetheless, I got to see it from afar as I stood from the Castelo de S. Jorge. I hear the monument is quite impressive and is easily reachable by Uber, Bolt, or taxi across the Abril de 25 bridge – another look-alike to the San Fran’s Golden Gate bridge!
21. Wait in line for THE best pastel de nata @ Pasteis de Belem
Surprise! There’s another location in Lisbon where you can enjoy a traditional, freshly-baked Portuguese custard tart.
But beware – you’ll be waiting in line maybe for a while as this is quite a popular tourist destination. However, I’m so glad we waited!!
The Pasteis de Belém boasts the “original” pasteis de Belem dating all the way back to 1837. Their recipe is supposedly inspired by the Moseiro dos Jeronimos which is still being used today to recreate these delicacies.
The wait times may vary, but since the bakery can sit over 400-500 people at once, wait times can get pretty long.
Also – because everybody calls it pasteis de Belem, I thought they were different than pasteis de nata. In fact, they’re the same! The pasteis de Belem simply brings with it its fame and iconic ancient recipe.
I must admit, these were hella tasty.
22. Tour the Gothic-style Catholic Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Archaeology Museum
The Carmo Convent is partially in ruins after the 1755 earthquake. However, the damage has made the site even more unique with its open-air archways that make for a picturesque setting.
23. Wander the hip Bairro Alto neighborhood
The Bairro Alto neighborhood in Lisbon is the place to go for a night out! As I mentioned you can go to one of the popular Fado houses here.
Otherwise, the neighborhood offers lots of hidden gems and boasts a boho-chic style. You’ll find some of the best restaurants and wine-tasting bars, among others.
For burger fans, definitely head to A Cultura do Hambúrguer. They have a cute atmosphere and serve up gourmet burgers and fries with homemade garlic mayonnaise and have homemade lemonades! I ordered the veggie burger with eggplant sauce. Delicious!
24. Climb up to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara!
While you’re in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, climb up to the nearby mirador for lovely views of the city with a garden terrace and fountain.
25. Climb up the Arco da Rua Augusta
I wish I had known this while I was in Lisbon. You can actually go up in the Arco da Rua Augusta which opens up to the Commerce Plaza!
Now not only can you enjoy its architecture from down below, but you can have unparalleled views from above, too! Opening hours vary but entrance costs just €3 for adults!
More Things To Do Outside of Lisbon
26. Take a scenic train ride from Lisboa to Cascais
Who knew riding the train could be so fun? Spend some time enjoying the views of the Tagus river and the Atlantic Ocean as you make your way out of Lisbon to the cliffsides of Cascais and beyond!
27. Drive or bus to the westernmost point of Europe at Cabo da Roca
One of the highlights of our entire Portugal trip was our excursion to Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca is a famous landmark because it’s the westernmost landmass point in Europe! So you’re at the end of a continent and that’s pretty huge.
Not to mention, the views here are just breathtaking and it’s definitely worth taking the time to explore.
28. Spend a day at the beach at Praia da Duquesa
Praia in Portuguese simply means beach! If you spend your day in Cascais, you’ll end up seeing many different praias. One of the first and most iconic is the Praia da Duquesa.
The beach is not too crowded, offers blue vivid water, and all the comforts and amenities you can wish for at your fingertips!
The surrounding rock and European-style charm make this destination even more bucket list-worthy.
29. Eat fresh seafood in the quaint village near Cabo
On the road to or from Cabo da Roca, you’ll likely cross through a small town. Definitely make the effort to stop here for a lunch break in one of the few restaurants.
We can personally recommend dining at 3Gomes. The staff was extremely friendly and the food extremely delicious and fresh.
30. Visit the Pena Palace in Sintra
I first discovered the colorful two-toned Pena Palace via Instagram. But I had no idea what I was in for until we saw it from the outside! The Palace boasts the 19th-century style of romanticist Portuguese architecture and is well worth a visit if you have the time.
However, the price to visit the Pena Palace and Park is a little steeper than its medieval Moorish neighbor.
Tickets to tour Pena Palace cost roughly €15-20 per adult whereas the Moorish castle is around €8.
31. Visit the 10th c. Moors Castle (Castelo dos Mouros)
So voila! The next thing on your Sintra to-do list is to visit the medieval Moors Castle from the 10th century. And unlike other castles, this one is truly explorable and lots of hidden gems lie within.
Better yet, if you want to take pictures of picturesque Pena Palace, then you’ll need to do so via the top of the tower in the Moors Castle.
Even if you don’t want to purchase tickets to climb the castle itself (although it’s worth it), the park below is free to roam and shows examples of ancient neighborhoods, burials, and displays them under glass cases to protect the original excavation sites.
32. Explore the Sintra-Cascais National Park’s hiking trails
If you have more time to enjoy the charming town of Sintra and all the beautiful natural areas within, then definitely take up the chance to explore the adventurous hiking trails within the Sintra-Cascais National Park.
33. Visit the beaches along the coast near Cabo da Roca
Don’t think the Sintra Mountains are the only natural area you can explore. Just head to the coast and soak up the sun at one of the many cliffside beaches. Here are just a few you can visit that are popular: Praia Grande do Guincho, Praia das Azenhas do Mar, Praia do Abano.
34. The Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra
Another bucket list item of mine while in Sintra was the Initiation Well (finally found the name!) located on the grounds of the Quinta da Regaleira.
The well initially drew me in (pun intended) because of its unique spiraling, moss-covered view from the top. Unfortunately, again, we didn’t have time in Sintra (there are too many castles to visit in one day!) so we had to skip this.
Better yet, when planning a visit to Sintra, try and make a list of your must-see attractions. Chances are you won’t make it to all of them so aim for 1-3 at best!
35. Go wine tasting at Regional de Colares Winery
Last but not least, while in Lisbon or in the surrounding areas, you must go for some wine and especially Port wine tasting!
This tour is specifically for those who want to learn about the process of regional wine-making. Otherwise, any other wine tasting bar or restaurant in Sintra or Lisbon will do the trick!
We enjoyed some wine and Port tasting in Lisbon and it rocked.
The next best place to taste Port wine is in Porto — the city after which it’s named!
Enjoy this lisbon bucket list!
Whew! Thanks for reading my list of top things to see and do in and around Lisbon, Portugal.
Here’s a summary of the places visited in this guide and their corresponding highlights:
- Lisbon: Fado, sardines, plazas, ruelles, trams, pastels, tiles, parks, market, boho
- Cascais: Ocean, walking trails, hiking, beaches, town
- Belém (Lisbon): Pasteis de belém, Jeronimos monastery, maritime exploration monument, tower of belém, scooters, parks
- Sintra: Moors castle, Pena Palace, other castles, Quintas, National Park, medieval, charming
- Cabo da Roca: Europe’s most western landmass endpoint, lighthouse, restaurants in a cute town, nearby beaches