Have you ever wondered where to escape on a long weekend trip in Europe? Lisbon is the right answer. It is the perfect destination for a summer getaway with your friends or family. As a multicultural, passionate city, Lisbon offers from modern shops and cafés to old and charming streets everything your travel heart desires – especially if you love tiles!
But where to start once you arrived at the Portuguese capital? Well, here I’ve put together an essential list of the best and most popular things to do in Lisbon from Belém to Sintra. There are many choices, but find here my highlights including tips on where to eat and where to stay. Plus, you get exclusive insights into my travel expenses. But first, learn a little bit more about Lisbon to get an understanding of what makes the city so unique.
Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and is close to the westernmost point of Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca. Although the city has so much charm, I didn’t really have the feeling it was too crowded (and we went in the middle of August!). Of course, there were tourists, but compared to Barcelona, for instance, there were many fewer people. And I’ve been to Barcelona at the end of May where I thought it wouldn’t be that crowded (I was so wrong!). So, that was really surprising and a huge relief for us. We could easily take photos of attractions and even spotted wonderful empty streets.
Speaking of streets: what I love most about Lisbon are the beautiful tiles you see everywhere around the city. If you don’t visit Lisbon for the food or the lovely weather, then you visit the city definitely because of the tiles. They are not just the perfect background for photos, but also make a great wallpaper for your laptop or phone.
If you wonder how to get around Lisbon, it’s simple: Uber! It’s both super easy and cheap. For example, we paid for a 20-minute ride 8€ which is basically nothing and you get very fast from one spot to another (like Lisbon to Belém). In the city itself, you can walk everything or take a tram (read further down which tram I recommend).
Best Travel Time
As I mentioned, we’ve been to Lisbon in mid of August and it wasn’t too crowded. So, it’s no problem at all to visit Lisbon in the summer. I’ve also been there at the end of April and it was even then still nice and warm although not too hot. But there were much fewer tourists. If you prefer that, too, then go between either April and May or September and October. That’s the best travel time for a reason: not too hot, less touristy and cheaper hotel rates.
All in all, Lisbon has long summers (up to 40°C), pleasantly warm springs and falls (20-24°C) and mild winters (15°C). In the winter months, it’s possible to rain a lot though, so I don’t recommend going between November and February. Thus, I wouldn’t say that Lisbon is a year-round destination where you can wear shorts and flip-flops all year long.
How To Get To Lisbon
Within Europe, Lisbon is easily accessible by air, train, bus, and car. Especially from major European cities such as Rome, Paris or Munich you can find interesting low-budget connections. And the good thing about it is that the international airport is only 20 minutes away from downtown which makes it easy to travel by night, too, due to the short distance. Even traveling by boat to Lisbon is possible since the city has one of the biggest harbors in Europe. You see, there are plenty of possibilities.
If you want to know how to plan a trip the right way, have a look at my travel planning guide. It provides you with great information about finding the cheapest flights and accommodations, how to save money, how to pack and so much more.
Best things to do in Lisbon
Praça de Comércio
The best place to start your city trip is Praça de Comércio. It’s a large 18th century square in the heart of Lisbon and one of the biggest squares in Europe. It’s surrounded by cafés, the Tagus river and the majestic Triumph Arch which makes an impressive backdrop for photos. Also, it’s the entrance to the main shopping street in Lisbon. If you don’t want to see the city on foot, Praça de Comércio is the best place to grab the iconic Lisbon trams.
Every city has a popular shopping street – this includes Lisbon. The Rua Augusta is touristy, crowded and with lots of mainstream shops, but definitely worth a visit. It’s just nice to stroll around and get lost in one of the side streets. You will easily find it when you visit Praça de Comércio because it starts right from there. Just walk through the arch and you’ll find yourself in Rua Augusta for shopping, lunch, and sightseeing!
São Jorge Castle
One of the best things to do in Lisbon is definitely visiting the São Jorge Castle. From there you don’t just have the best views over the city (stands on the biggest hill in Lisbon), but you also get an impression of Lisbon’s history. Although its walls were once used as a defense and protection for Lisbon, it’s still well preserved. So, you can actually see how the walls were built which is very impressive.
Bairro Alto & Príncipe Real
Take the Tram 28
- especially Tram 28 is incredibly popular. So ride it early or late in the day to avoid the crowds
- board at Martim Moniz to get the chance of a seat
- get the 24-hour public transport ticket from any metro station. It only costs 4€
- ride the entire route as there is so much to see
- always be aware of pickpockets
In 1846, the LX Factory was one of Lisbon’s most significant weaving and textile factories and developed throughout the years into one of the most urban spots in the city. It’s not just a creative hub where you can go on a unique shopping tour or eat in one of the cafés. LX Factory also offers several events and concerts, which is the reason why it’s in the list of the best things to do in Lisbon. Go there and soak up the industrial feeling and urban atmosphere, where you can think, create, present ideas and so much more.
Besides the sweet specialty, there is much more to see in Belém, which I’ve listed here:
- Monastery of Jerónimos
- iconic Belém Tower
- Maritime Museum
- Berardo Museum Modern and Contemporary Art
- Discovery Monument
The center, Sintra-Vila, is on the list of the Unesco World Heritage and makes clear why: pastel-hued manors on hills that roll down to the blue ocean. But I wouldn’t just visit the little town, because there is a castle called Palacio Nacional da Pena which is so beautiful. We really loved it! It’s a good half-day trip if you walk all the way up (take you around 2 hours), but it’s absolutely worth it.
The best way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is the train. It leaves every 30 minutes and takes about 40 minutes from the Rossio station (city center). A round-trip-ticket is 4.50€ per person.
Where to eat in Lisbon
Fauna & Flora
Fauna & Flora was one of my favorite food spots. If you like to have a really good breakfast, this will definitely be the right place. They have a huge selection of vegetarian dishes including delicious toasts and pancakes. Also, you can enjoy the urban and beautiful decorated café with its plants and flowers. The atmosphere is absolutely great and we easily got a table and were served fast. The only bad thing was the sour-tasting coffee my boyfriend had. I don’t drink coffee, so it wasn’t a bad thing for me. But if you like drinking coffee, keep that in mind. The lemonades are really good though.
This is a cute, little and nice café just a few steps away from Fauna & Flora. We just walked by, but I loved it. So I want to mention it here. The good thing about Heim Café is that you can sit outside which is really nice in summer. They use super fresh and high-quality food and have a great menu with waffles, eggs, avocado bread and so much more. Next time we will definitely go there for breakfast. And hey, it was full there, so it can’t be bad, right?
COMOBA is right next to the tram station and has a beautiful interior. It’s nice to sit under the arches of the building or next to flowers. So go to COMOBA if you love the Scandinavian style. I can really recommend the Matcha Pancakes and the Chia Porridge. If you decide to go in the afternoon, try one of the delicious cakes!
Oprego Original Portuguese Steaks & Tapas
On our way to the São Jorge Castle, we needed a little break. The way up on the hill with the sun burning on our skin was exhausting. But then, we found this cute restaurant, where we had a cold lemonade. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance of eating anything, but I still want to recommend it, because it was super nice with original Portuguese cuisine. So, if you’re looking for a dining spot around the castle, I recommend going to the Oprego Original Portuguese Steaks & Tapas.
Nosolo Italia Belém
When we visited Belém, we were looking for a dinner spot in town. Unfortunately, it was very touristic, so it was hard to find a good spot. In the end, we ended up at Nosolo Italia Belém at the waterfront. The location was super nice and direct at the water. The food (we had pizza and gnocchi) came really fast and was good. They also have ice cream that you could order at the entrance for dessert. All in all, it was a good choice.
I’ve also researched for an Italian restaurant called ZeroZero, but it was too far away from Belém. But if you are in the area of Príncipe Real, check it out.
A Padaria Portuguesa
One of the Portuguese specialties is pasteis. I’ve already mentioned it, but there is no way around these little sweeties. The best place to go is Pastéis de Belém. You better go there really early, because it’s super crowded. When we go there, the line was too long and we didn’t want to waste our precious time waiting in line.
So, we decided to go to A Padaria Portuguesa, right next to the famous bakery. Although it was not the original recipe, the pasteis were still very delicious and came right out of the oven. Plus: you get a chance for a seat. So, it’s definitely a good alternative to Pastéis de Belém.
Where To Stay in Lisbon
Lisbon has beautiful accommodations. One of my recommendations is the Casa das Janelas com Vista Guest House. It has an excellent location with an amazing view of the city. Every room is individually decorated and has a private balcony which makes you mornings and evenings, even more, better by looking over Lisbon. Also, breakfast is included which is fabulous. So, if you’re looking for a nice, cozy and clean hotel, this one is definitely your first choice.
Another nice hotel is Marino Lisboa. I chose this one just because of the rooftop terrace. It’s the best feature of the little boutique hotel and makes it already worth staying there. If you like it small and lovely, quiet and still close to the city center, the Marino Lisboa is the right one for you.
I usually like to try out different hotels. So, whenever I’m in the city for more than a weekend, I stay in several accommodations. If you want to do the same, why not trying out both hotels? I’m sure you will love it! But if you don’t like both of my options, use the box below. It will directly bring you to Booking.com where you can find more hotels according to your preferred dates.
Total Price Of The Trip
My boyfriend and I flew from Munich directly to Lisbon. For the flights, we paid 340€ each which is kind of expensive for a short distance of 3 hours. But we wanted to fly on certain dates (total of 1.5 weeks) and somehow I booked us a business class on our way back (lucky us). So, that’s why it got a little bit more pricy for us, but there are definitely cheaper options.
For our accommodation, we paid about 600€, but we also spent some days in Peniche which is north of Lisbon. Restaurants cost us approximately 300€ because we ate out a lot for breakfast and dinner. And we had some afternoon breaks in cafés, so it can get quite expensive if you eat out so much. So that’s it although it’s a little vague because we didn’t spend the whole 1.5 weeks in Lisbon. But still, I think it’s good to know what you can expect.
Download My Checklist
That’s it! You’ve just finished my complete Lisbon guide. How did you like it? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below. But there’s one more thing: my checklist about the best things to do in Lisbon. If you like a handy list, click on this link and download my checklist with all the information from this post. It provides you with everything you need to see and do, where to eat and what the best travel time is. You can even make notes for yourself. Go and get it and have an amazing time in Lisbon!