News Top 15 attractions and things to do in Lisbon

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Top 15 attractions and things to do in Lisbon

Whether you fancy tucking into pastries in Belem or listening to fado in Bairro Alto, there's plenty to do on a city break in Lisbon. Here are our top tips.

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1. Go underwater at Lisbon Oceanarium

Located in ‘Parque das Nacoes’ the Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the largest aquariums in Europe with over 450 different species of marine life, and over 15,000 creatures in total. The focus is on the main tank which holds 5 million litres of water, this is surrounded by four smaller special habitat tanks replicating the natural habitats of the Indian, Atlantic, Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.

Marine life you can expect to see include sharks, stingrays, otters, sunfish, spider crabs, penguins, coral and a large variety of amphibians. Each impressive exhibit teaches a host of fascinating facts about sea life, promoting the conservation of nature.

Opening Hours: 10am-8pm daily
Tickets: €17 for both the Aquarium and temporary exhibition.
Address: Esplanada Dom Carlos I s/nº, 1990-005 Lisbon, Portugal

2. Have a royal day out at Castelo de São Jorge

Dating back to the sixth century, Castelo de São Jorge’s eighteen towers sit proudly above the city, an iconic part of the cityscape. This fortification has survived sieges, wars and an earthquake and now holds the title of Lisbon’s most popular tourist attraction. Visitors can learn more about the city’s colourful past in the castle’s museum that is situated in its former palace or they can visit the Tower of Ulysses that houses a Camera Obscura periscope to view sights around the city.

After exploring the café head to The Casa do Leão Restaurant located in one of the wings of the castle, it offers dining with some of the best views of Lisbon.

Opening Hours: 9am-6pm
Tickets: €8.50 per person
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, which can be easily reached by the 28 Tram.

3. Get animated at Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum)

For something a little bit quirky and off the beaten track the Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum) is ideal. It tells the rich history of the old art form of puppetry and is perfect for theatre fans, adults and children alike. It is home to interesting collections of over 3000 puppets, masks, accessories and costumes from around the world including knights and princesses from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Daily puppet shows take place and there’s opportunities to play with some of the puppets and create your own puppet shows.

Opening Hours: 10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, closed on Mondays
Ticket: €5 per person
Address: Rua da Esperança 146, 1200-660 Lisbon, Portugal

4. Light up at the Museu da Electricidade (Electricity Museum)

The Museu da Eletricidade is housed in the Tejo Power Station, a vibrant piece of architecture from Industrial Portugal. The power station supplied Lisbon with power until the 1970s and the main exhibition takes you through the thermoelectric process. There’s also solar power demonstrations, displays featuring famous scientists who explored the field of electricity, and many interactive experiments.

Considered to be a cultural centre of Lisbon it plays host to a number of temporary exhibitions, events and workshops.

Opening Hours: 10am-6pm
Tickets: Free
Address: Av. de Brasília, Central Tejo, 1300-598 Lisbon

5. Listen to fado music

If you want to experience something truly Portuguese, a traditional Fado bar is the place to go. Fado is traditional folk music from the 18th century that usually encompasses some sombre, emotive lyrics backed by a Portuguese guitar. Clube de Fado is one of the most well known fado bars in Lisbon with daily live fado shows, fado stars such as Miguel Capucho and Jose Fontes Rocha have performed here.

Opening Hours: 8pm-2am
Address: Rua de São João da Praça 92

To find out more about this Portuguese tradition the Museu do Fado (Fado Museum) explores the history of Fado with audiovisual displays and exhibitions featuring instruments, clothing and press coverage. Live performances often take place in the museum cafe.

Opening Hours: 10am-6pm, closed on Mondays
Entry: €5
Address: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro

6. Visit Jerónimos Monastery

The streets and hills of Lisbon are lined with architectural wonders from the Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and Neoclassical periods, and the Jerónimos Monastery built in the 1500s is a perfect example.

You can wander around the grand monastery which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, admiring the majestic chapel, and lavishly decorated rooms with ornate stonework throughout. The National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia) is based in the West Wing.

Tip: This is an incredibly popular attraction so there can be queues for tickets, to avoid this purchase a Lisbon card which lets you skip the queues or visit early in the morning and arrive at least 15 minutes before opening.

Opening Hours: 10am-5pm
Tickets: €10
Address: Praça do Império, Belem

7. See where Portugal’s art is from in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a must for anyone with an interest in art and history, it is one of the most important arts destinations in Portugal. Located in Gulbenkian Park it consists of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the Gulbenkian Orchestra and the Centro de Arte Moderna (CAM).

The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is the oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian’s personal collection of Oriental, Islamic, Egyptian and European antiques, art, and rare treasures which were gifted to Lisbon upon his death. The CAM is dedicated to modern art and is home to over 9000 pieces of 20-21st century Portuguese and international artworks.

Opening Hours: 10am-5.30pm
Tickets: Gulbenkian Foundation Pass: €15
Address: Av. Berna, Avenidas Novass

8. Day trip to Sintra

Magical Sintra is just an hour’s train ride away from Lisbon, which makes it easy to visit the Pena Palace. The palace is a pink hued ninteenth century Romanticist castle, open to the public for tours of the palace terraces. Of course, you could just enjoy the exteriors from Pena Park too – this is where you can get photos like the one below.

Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm
Tickets: €14 for adults, €12.50 for children
Address: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal

9. Find the best pastéis de nata in Lisbon

Pasteis de nata (better known as egg custards or Portuguese tarts if you’re from the U.K) are what Lisbon runs on. There are 2 main competitors – Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata and Pasteis de Belém. Of course, Belém is a 20 minute tram ride away, but you can easily squeeze in a visit to Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata if you’re in the city. Wait outside for the bell to be rung before you enter. This signifies that they’ve just pulled a fresh baked tray out of the oven. Enjoy it with an espresso and plenty of icing sugar before going back for a second round.

Opening Hours: 8am-12am
Tickets: €1.50 for one tart
Address: Rua do Loreto 2, 1200-108 Lisbon

10. Discover Belém Tower

Torre de Belém was originally constructed in the sixteenth century to defend and protect Lisbon and Cascais. Belém, the neighbourhood around the tower, is where Lisbon’s royalty used to reside, and thus the Manueline style tower was built to protect them. The best views are on the outside of the tower, and if you’re here you should visit Pastéis de Nata too – they’re some of the best in the city.

Opening Hours: 10am-5.30pm
Tickets: €6 to visit the tower alone, €12 if you are visiting the Monastery too
Address: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisbon

11. Marvel at Church of São Roque

Saint Roque was a doctor in the fourteenth century, later canonized for his ability to treat those suffering from the Plague. The Church was originally a shrine to Roque, housing one of his relics, but in the sixteenth century it became a meeting point for the Jesuit community. The financial aid from the group built the Church of São Roque into the opulent masterpiece you can visit today.

Opening Hours: 9.30am-5pm. Closed on Mondays
Tickets: €2.50 to enter the Museum, no entrance fee for the Church
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, 1200-470 Lisbon

12. Go vintage shopping in the LX Factory

The LX Factory is an old converted warehouse that’s been transformed into a hipsters playground. Find artisanal cold-brew coffee, hunt down a pair on Levi’s in the vintage shops or peruse their epic book collection in Ler Devagar.

Opening Hours: 6am-4am daily
Tickets: Free to enter
Address: R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisbon

13. Find the best miradouros in Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, and it’s where everyone (young and old) comes together for fado music, port wine, and the occasional party. Portas Largas is one of the oldest bars in the area, which used to be a fado house. This is also one of the best spots for finding miradouros – viewpoints where everyone comes together at sunset, to either sit, read a book, meet friends or start the night early!

Address: Lisbon 1200-109, Portugal

14. Go on a photo tour of Alfama

The picture-perfect streets of Alfama are what your Instagram has been waiting for. Fado music leaks out of the small bars, English isn’t as common as it is in the centre, and there’s a new colour of building around every corner. Locals hang their washing from balcony to balcony as though decorating the narrow streets, and the locals sit out on the pavements, drinking cervejas and watching the walkers pass by. Make sure you take good walking shoes, as Alfama is all hills.

Address: Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

15. Catch a tram from Praça do Comércio

No trip to Lisbon is complete without walking up Baixa Lisboa to Praça do Comércio. this used to be the commercial centre of trade in the sixteenth century, now it’s a popular meeting point for friends, street vendors and you can catch the famous Tram 28 here too.

Address: Av. Infante Dom Henrique 1, 1100-016 Lisbon

How to get to Lisbon

There are direct flights from Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol and London. It takes 2 hours to get to Lisbon from the United Kingdom. Once you arrive, there are public transport links as well as apps like Uber for reaching the centre of Lisbon.

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Where to stay on a city break in Lisbon

If you’re looking for a hostel:

Lisbon Calling offers stylish, affordable dorm rooms in an amazing location. It’s close to the Time Out Markets and the Cais do Sobre train station.

If you’re looking for a hotel:

Rent out your own central Serviced Apartment on the outskirts of Praca Do Municipio.

If you’re looking for luxury:

City break in style at Palacete Chafete del Rei – this used to be the home of an aristocratic family in the nineteenth century. Now, it can be your crashpad for the weekend.

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