Portugal’s capital, Lisbon is also the city with the most things to do in the country. Between culture, architecture, thrills, and other themes, you’ll never be bored. To help you choose your activities, I’ve listed the 26 best things to do in Lisbon.
Traveling to Lisbon without visiting the Belém Tower is like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. This 16th-century waterfront fortress is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks.
As a symbol of the era of Portuguese discovery, the Tower of Belém offers a fascinating dive into history. Climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the Tagus River, and let your imagination transport you back to the days of the great navigators.
A must-see experience for any lover of history and architectural beauty. Should you have limited time for your visit, be sure to set aside some time to visit the Belem Tower.
The MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) is probably Lisbon’s most famous museum. It houses a varied collection of exhibitions of contemporary art, architecture, and technology.
The MAAT experience doesn’t stop inside: the building itself is a work of art. The museum’s undulating white ceramic structure seems to float on the Tagus River.
Located in the city’s old quarter, this 18th-century library is a treasure trove for book lovers. As you enter, you feel instantly transported to another era.
Carved wooden shelves lined with thousands of antique volumes, elaborate murals and a marble floor create an atmosphere that inspires wonder. A guided tour will tell you more about the history of this incredible place.
The Lisbon Oceanarium is Europe’s largest oceanarium. It is a veritable window on marine life from all over the world. From Antarctica to tropical coral reefs, prepare to be amazed by the diversity and beauty of underwater life.
The huge, well-maintained aquariums are home to an impressive variety of species, including sharks, rays, penguins and even otters.
Whether you’re traveling with the family or alone, the Oceanarium offers an educational and entertaining experience.
Santa Maria Maior Cathedral, Lisbon
Santa Maria Maior Cathedral is better known as Sé de Lisboa. Its construction dates to the 12th century. It is one of Lisbon’s oldest buildings.
Its blend of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture, as well as its soothing tranquility, make a visit to the cathedral a memorable experience.
Don’t forget to visit the cloister, where you’ll discover a fascinating archaeological site that traces the city’s history.
For an enriching spiritual experience, take a tour of the Eglise Saint-Roch. This 16th-century sanctuary is renowned for its opulent interior.
Admire the gilded altars, impressive paintings, and carved wooden ceiling. Each chapel has its own story to tell, and I recommend you take the time to explore them all.
Église Saint-Roch is a sanctuary of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
Overlooking the city from the top of the Alfama Hill, Saint George’s Castle is a must see during your stay in Lisbon. Its imposing silhouette bears witness to the city’s rich past, dating back to Roman times.
Climb to the top of the ramparts for a magnificent view of Lisbon. The interior of the castle is equally impressive, with its shady courtyards and majestic towers.
For an even more memorable experience, I recommend visiting the castle at sunset, when the city lights up before your eyes.
Ajuda National Palace
It’s hard not to be impressed by the Ajuda National Palace. This magnificent 19th-century palace, once a royal residence, is a true architectural gem.
The interior is full of marvels: from the period furniture to the opulent interior decoration, not forgetting the art collection. Don’t miss the botanical gardens for a refreshingly peaceful break.
National Azulejo Museum
Azulejos, hand-painted ceramic tiles, are a veritable icon of Portuguese art. At the National Azulejo Museum, you can discover the history of this centuries-old tradition and admire works dating from the 15th century to the present day.
It’s a fantastic way to appreciate a unique aspect of Portuguese culture.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is a treasure trove for art lovers. It houses an eclectic collection that includes everything from ancient to modern art.
Here you’ll find works by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, and Van Dyck. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon losing yourself in the beauty of art.
The Royal Palace of Queluz
Nicknamed the “Portuguese Versailles,” the Royal Palace of Queluz is a true architectural marvel. This 18th-century palace is famous for its spacious gardens and interiors adorned with elaborate frescoes, glittering mirrors, and sparkling chandeliers.
It’s a fantastic place to immerse yourself in the history and splendor of Portuguese royalty.
It’s not located directly in Lisbon, but in nearby Sintra.
The Jeronimos Monastery
A visit to the Monastery of the Jeronimos takes you back to Portugal of the Age of Discovery.
This Manueline-style monastery is an architectural masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t rush inside. Take time to admire the façade and its details.
The other place not to be missed on a visit is the tranquil, beautifully sculpted cloister.
The Pena National Palace and Park in Sintra
at the top of a hill in Sintra is the Palacio Nacional de Pena, a colorful castle that looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale.
The interiors are just as beautiful, with period furniture and extravagant decoration. The surrounding park is just as enchanting. After your visit, you’ll love spending an hour or two exploring them.
A day trip to Fatima
If you have a little time, I highly recommend a day trip to Fatima, a world-famous pilgrimage site.
Whether you’re a believer or not, the impressive basilica and peaceful atmosphere will touch you.
From Lisbon, you can choose between buying tickets for bus transport and self-guided tours or taking a guided tour. Plan to spend the day on site. It won’t be too much to take full advantage of your trip to Fatima from Lisbon.
Immersivus Lisboa Gallery
For a truly unique artistic experience, visit Galerie Immersivus.
This venue offers immersive exhibitions that blend art, technology, and music to create an unforgettable sensory experience.
This type of activity is ideal for varying between cultural discoveries and more modern entertainment.
Arco da Rua Augusta
Arco da Rua Augusta offers one of the best views of the city.
Climb to the top to admire the Tagus, the Baixa district and St. George’s Castle.
The Arc’s structure is astonishing. It is integrated into buildings. The whole thing is an architectural marvel.
The Frida Kahlo Exhibition
If you’re a fan of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, you won’t want to miss this exhibition.
You’ll have the chance to admire some of his most famous works and learn more about his fascinating and tumultuous life.
For a fun day out with the family, Lisbon Zoo is an excellent choice. It is in the north of the city.
You’ll discover a wide variety of animals, from giraffes to koalas, as well as live entertainment. More than 2,000 animals of 300 different species are currently housed at the Lisbon Zoo.
Estadio da Luz and Benfica Museum
If you’re a soccer fan, don’t miss the Estadio da Luz, the legendary stadium of the Benfica team. This club, the most popular in Portugal, has a rich history. The cup room on display in the museum is the best proof of this.
You can visit the stadium, sit on the benches, admire the view of the stands on the pitch and even visit the club museum to learn more about Benfica.
A must for every sports fan.
Lisbon Earthquake Center
The Lisbon Earthquake Center is a unique site dedicated to the devastating earthquake that struck the city in 1755.
Multimedia installations, interactive exhibits and historical re-enactments will help you understand the scale of this disaster and how it shaped the city as we know it today.
Lisbon Royal Treasure Museum
Lisbon’s Royal Treasure Museum is a veritable Ali Baba’s cave.
Here you’ll discover a sparkling collection of jewels, precious stones and historical artifacts that bear witness to the wealth and splendor of Portuguese royalty.
Divided into 11 sections, the museum makes for a long and fascinating visit.
The National Carriages Museum
The National Carriages Museum boasts an impressive collection of historic carriages from the 17th to the 19th century.
The elaborate details of these historic vehicles, the fascinating stories that surround them and the great ideas for structuring the visit makes this museum a captivating experience.
Lisboa Story Centre
For a complete introduction to Lisbon’s history, visit the Lisboa Story Centre.
Through exhibitions, multimedia installations and re-enactments, you can discover the fascinating history of this city, from its origins to the present day.
The tour lasts just under an hour but is ideal for rounding off an agenda that includes other discoveries.
Lisbon’s Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga
The Musée National d’Arte Antiga boasts the largest collection of Portuguese art, ranging from painting and sculpture to textiles and jewelry.
Here you can admire works by masters such as Nuno Gonçalves, Bosch and Dürer.
Plan on a visit lasting around 2 hours, which can be extended if you look closely at the works. Indeed, since the building is spacious, you can take your time during the visit!
The National Pantheon
The National Pantheon, with its distinctive white dome, is an important historical site where famous Portuguese personalities are buried.
I can mention in particular:
- Amália Rodrigues considered the queen of fado
- Eusébio, an extremely popular and talented Portuguese footballer
- Manuel de Arriaga, the first President of the Portuguese Republic
- Humberto Delgado, a soldier and politician who opposed the Salazar regime…
You can climb up to the terrace for an incredible panoramic view of the city.
An excursion to admire the dolphins
For a truly special experience, consider a trip to see dolphins in their natural habitat, the Atlantic Ocean.
These graceful, cheerful creatures are a sight to behold, and a fantastic activity for nature lovers of all ages.
These excursions are accompanied by guides. They’ll tell you all about the dolphins’ habits and give you lots of interesting facts and anecdotes.