8 of the best things to do in Lisbon

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  • Looking for fun things to do in Lisbon? We have the low-down on the Portuguese capital and what to do in Lisbon...

    Built on seven hills, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, located in the centre of the country and right by the Atlantic Ocean.

    It’s become more and more popular with tourists over the last few years, becoming the World’s Leading City Destination 2018 at the World Travel Awards’ last year.

    From incredible food to all year round sunshine, great views and plenty of history, Lisbon has a lot to offer.

    But with so many options, what should you plan to do? Here’s our top picks of the best things to do in Lisbon…

    Things to do in Lisbon

    Go on the Santa Justa elevator

    You need a head for heights if you plan to ride the Santa Justa elevator in Lisbon’s historic centre. Built in the 19th century by a pupil of Gustave Eiffel, this eyecatching lift whisks visitors from pavement level to a covered walkway leading into the lofty Chiado district.

    But for the full-on cityscape, you need to take a narrow spiral staircase to the rooftop platform. Here the circular view takes in the angular street grid of the Baixa district below, the hilltop castle opposite, and the broad span of the Tejo river. This is iconic Lisbon at its very best.

    Explore the history at Lisbon Story Centre

    Start your exploration at the Lisbon Story Centre, where you’ll discover Lisbon’s multi-layered history, from the early Phoenician settlers via the golden age of overseas navigators, to the earthquake and tsunami of 1775, which devastated much of the city.

    Rebuilt on a grid system, today the Baixa district is a buzzing area of boutiques and cafés. Take the lift up the Rua Augusta Arch for a high-level view across Praça do Comércio, one of Europe’s largest squares, and once the site of the Royal Palace.

    Things to do in Lisbon

    Credit: Getty

    Visit the Jerónimos Monastery at Belém
    Hop on one of the famous trams for an atmospheric ride westwards to the Jerónimos Monastery at Belém. Listed by UNESCO, it’s a marvel of flamboyant 16th- century architecture. Expect soaring carved pillars, an ethereal fan-vaulted ceiling and the tomb of explorer Vasco da Gama, plus a glorious two-storey cloister.

    Head up the Henry the Navigator monument for great views

    For more of those iconic Lisbon views, cross the park towards the river for the monument to Henry the Navigator, who financed and masterminded Portugal’s overseas expansion in the 15th century. Take the lift to the rooftop terrace to look downriver to the fortified Belém Tower, symbol of the city, and up to the 25 de Abril Bridge, both of which also have viewing platforms.

    Things to do in Lisbon

    Credit: Getty

    Eat at Mercado da Ribeira

    The first of the now many Time Out markets, Mercado da Ribeira has become a must-visit in Lisbon since it opened in

    Expect a mix of traditional and modern Portuguese food from some of the best chefs in the country!

    Take the funicular up to São Pedro de Alcãntara

    You’re in for a treat when you take the funicular to the shady garden hilltop garden of São Pedro de Alcãntara – the perfect place to chill and look down on this beautiful city.

    Party at Bairro Alto

    If you’re in the mood for a few drinks and a boogie, head to the lively Bairro Alto district after a bite to eat – make sure you stop by the famous Rua Cor de Rosa – an actual Pink Street!

    Hike up to Castle of São Jorge

    East of the Baixa, the Castle of São Jorge has dominated the skyline since the Moorish occupation. Wind up the steep hill on foot or by bus, making sure to stop en route at 12th-century Sé Cathedral.

    What to eat in Lisbon

    Expect lots of fresh fish, especially grilled sardines during the summer months. Sea bass in a flaming salt crust is culinary theatre at Lisboa a Noite. For authentic custard tarts, make sure yo head to Pastéis de Belém near the UNESCO-listed monastery where the recipe began.

    When should you go to Lisbon?

    If you decide to visit in summer, beware temperatures can top 40 degrees, despite cooling Atlantic breezes. For a much cooler city break, opt for to head there during low-season – even in midwinter, temperatures rarely fall below 15 degrees.

    Words by Gillian ThornTon and Mariana Cerqueira.