Best attractions in Lisbon
What to visit in Lisbon, including some outside of the box suggestions, with no crowds
Looking for Lisbon top attractions? The capital of Portugal, a country with almost 900 years of History, has a lot to show. But, with limited time, you will need to make choices. We have selected some of our favorite attractions in Lisbon, as always with an eye in the less obvious options, because we like it like that.
5 Lisbon Top Attractions
Belém is the departing point of the Portuguese Discoveries and of famous navigators like Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral.
Located outside the Lisbon historical center, it is probably one of the areas in the city with more to discover by yourself. The Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery are both UNESCO World Heritage monuments. But, while the monastery is well worth the paid visit, the Belém Tower hasn’t much to show inside. You should definitely go there to see it from the outside, but — and this is a personal opinion — it is not worth the normally long queues to go inside.
You can also visit the Monument to the Discoveries from the outside and the amazing map that is just right in front of it and it is probably one of the best spots in the world to learn about the Portuguese Discoveries.
A walk along the Tagus river is always recommended for those that like to relax and you will also get some nice bars and restaurants in the area. So, it is a wonderful area to spend an afternoon in Lisbon.
Visit: the Jerónimos Monastery
Skip: the inside of the Belém Tower
Parque das Nações
1998 was a big year for Portugal. Parque das Nações went from an old container and dumpster area to one of the most recent architectural landmarks in town to welcome the Universal Exhibition 1998.
Today, the area is still pretty alive. You have a shopping center, a nice area to walk along the river and, of course, the famous Oceanário, considered by many one of the best aquariums in the world. If you love animals and sea life, this is a must-stop in Lisbon.
Skip: the shopping center, if you are looking for something traditionally Portuguese
Castelo & Alfama
The older part of Lisbon is like a time machine, taking you to the years before the big earthquake. If you like authentic and traditional, this is a great area to visit and we would recommend you do it with a guide, that will allow you to see more and with a richer local’s perspective.
Most of the people visit the St. Jorge Castle, but, having in mind that it is almost a replica of the original castle, we would skip that. The view, of course, is amazing from there, but there are other great spots that are free. Once again, that is a personal opinion, from a local guide that really prefers to take you inside Alfama to visit the big maze of old Lisbon.
If you are a traveler that prefers authentic to crowds, come with us and walk the streets.
Visit: the maze of Alfama
Skip: the castle
Historically, the Chiado area has been a meeting point for intellectuals, painters, actors, etc. That vibe is probably a bit gone, but Chiado is still a great area to visit, not only to feel the pulse of the city, but also to find great restaurants and some very interesting shops.
A Vida Portuguesa is one of the local shops with traditional Portuguese products. But we also love Bertrand, the oldest operating bookshop in the world and Alcoa, the pastry with conventual pastries that makes us so happy and our scale so miserable.
Visit: St. Roque church
Skip: the terraces where there are only tourists, if you are looking for something more authentic.
One of the most trendy spots in Lisbon, Príncipe Real has been combining modern and traditional for some years now.
The area has plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and one of the most magical gardens in town. And right there, one of the oldest trees in Lisbon, a cypress more than 140 years old which is just a wonderful place for those that like people watching or are just looking for the perfect spot to read a book.
On weekends, there are also normally small markets with local artisans and even some interesting snacks or local products.
Visit: the centenary cypress at the garden of Príncipe Real
Skip: the international restaurants and try something local instead
Booking Lisbon Private Tours
If you are looking for a great way of exploring Lisbon, take a look at the Private Lisbon Walking Tour of Your Friend in Lisbon. All the tours are private and lead by experienced and fluent local guides.
Your Friend will take you through the less walked paths, showing and telling you the stories of everyday life in the traditional neighborhoods.
You can also upgrade your tour with a Wine Tasting, to taste boutique Portuguese Wines or Port Wine paired with cheeses, charcuterie, olive oil and bread, all from small artisanal production.
You can find all the information and book your reservation in the links below: