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Lisbon | © SofiLayla/Pixabay
Lisbon | © SofiLayla/Pixabay
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19 Things You Need to Do in Lisbon Before You Die

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 26 June 2017
There are a few places tourists have to see while visiting Lisbon, and a few things they shouldn’t leave without doing. Some of these experiences can be had elsewhere in the world, but all of them are unmissable. Read on to discover the top adventures you can have in the Portuguese capital.

Go Surfing

The beaches are not far away from Lisbon (some are just a 20-minute drive from downtown) and the residents love flocking to the sea every chance they get. If you’re spending time in Lisbon, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn to surf the waves.

Visit the Castle

There are a few touristy things that you shouldn’t leave without doing, and visiting the Moorish São Jorge Castle is one of them. You’ll also get some great views over the city.

Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon
Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon | Maria Eklind/Flickr

Go Dancing

Night owls will love the music scene in this city, where they will find every style of music, from pop to hip-hop to African music and Brazilian beats. There are dance parties everywhere, some taking place in the streets, and the clubs are scattered from downtown to the Santos neighborhood and all along the river between Cais do Sodré and Alcântara.

Dine by the River

Enjoy a delicious Portuguese meal, perhaps some delicious, fresh seafood, while watching sailboats floating lazily along the Tagus River. There are many restaurants to choose from, especially in Parque das Nações and between Cais do Sodré and Belém.

Ride the Tram 28

This is the best way to see the different areas of Lisbon, which vary from the weathered and traditional Alfama to the modern and grand Baixa.

Riding the tram 28 offers a unique way to see the city
Riding the tram 28 offers a unique way to see the city | © Pixabay

Walk Through the City

Walking is an even better way to explore the city. Take your time and peek into the many little souvenir shops, where stuffed sardines and cork merchandise cover the walls. Leave the downtown area and walk through the streets further north into the city, pausing now and then for a quick bite or a coffee.

Eat in a Tasca and Talk to the Locals

Get up close and personal with the city by conversing with the Lisboetas. The environment inside the tascas (small, traditional restaurants) is normally laid back, making these spots good places to start conversations with locals, many of whom will be happy to share stories with you about Lisbon and Portugal.

Charter a Boat

Scheduling a boat tour along the Tagus River is a unique experience that everyone should try at least once, and provides a perfect romantic setting for couples.

Sailing on the Tagus River is a popular activity
Sailing on the Tagus River is a popular activity | © Pixabay

Tour Belem

Filled with many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Belem is a historical playground. It is also a beautiful municipality filled with manor homes and gardens, in addition to museums (such as the Belem Cultural Center) and plenty of eateries; you won’t get bored here.

Listen to Fado

Portugal’s traditional fado music was born in Lisbon, and listening to a few songs will give visitors a unique glimpse into the city’s melancholic and soulful side. Few experiences are as Portuguese as listening to a fado singer while enjoying a traditional meal.

Tour the City’s Churches, Monasteries, and Catholic Ruins

As Portugal is a Catholic country, there is no shortage of churches and monasteries to visit, many which have been standing for centuries. Many of these buildings, such as the Jerónimos Monastery, have unique and fascinating stories behind them.

Jerónimos Monastery
Jerónimos Monastery | © Pixabay
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Visit the Underground Roman Galleries

These tunnels are only opened for a few days each year, so if your visit happens at the right time, jump at the opportunity to explore them. The Roman galleries, which were built around 1 AD, lie below Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood and were discovered after the Great Earthquake of 1755.

Buy an Azulejo Souvenir

Like fado and pasteis da nata, azulejo tiles are an integral part of Portuguese culture. They are commonly sold as souvenirs, so visitors can bring a piece of Lisbon back home.

Peruse the Markets for Delicious Treats

Portuguese cuisine is one of the best in the world! Instead of sampling only the dishes the restaurants have to offer, try popping into a few of the markets where fresh meats, cheeses, and wines can be bought and sampled for less.

Spend a Night Partying in Pink Street

Pink Street was once Lisbon’s red-light district, and today it’s one of the city’s most happening nightspots. Ghosts of the past still haunt the area, as some of the bars (such as the lively Pensão Amor) still have something of a brothel-like appearance.

Attend a Festival or Other City Event

There is nearly always an event going on in Lisbon, especially throughout the summer. Many are free to wander around.

Eat and Drink at a Rooftop Terrace

The many restaurants and bars nestling in Lisbon’s rolling hills mean it’s easy to get a fantastic view over the city while enjoying a meal or a drink. From the top of some of the rooftop bars, the views will include São Jorge Castle, the Tagus River, and the whole of the Lisbon cityscape.

Learn Something About Portuguese Literature

Portugal loves literature, especially that written by Portuguese authors. A few of these authors, such as Fernando Pessoa, are known worldwide. Their work will open a reader’s eyes to another way of thinking and being.

Indulge in the Coffee and Pastry Culture

Lisbon is home to an abundance of pastry shops, each one offering visitors more delicious sweets and pastries than the last. Even if you are only in the city for a short time, you’re bound to come across them. Highly recommended are the Confeitaria National and Pastelaria Versailles.

Eating a pastel de nata is something everyone should do before they die
Eating a pastel de nata is something everyone should do before they die | © Pixabay