Things to See and Do in Lisbon, Portugal

The 25th of April bridge in Lisbon, Portugal is similar to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
The 25th of April bridge in Lisbon, Portugal is similar to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Are you visiting Lisbon, Portugal for the first time? As I am from the San Francisco Bay area, I found that our city has a lot in common with Lisbon.  Lisbon has their finiculars to climb the steep hills, we have our famous San Francisco cable cars.

Here in San Francisco, we are well known for our sourdough bread. Lisbon, Portugal has some amazing bread and local olive oils to savor, along with a good glass of wine or port. In Lisbon, they enjoy their cod, prepared many ways, while in San Francisco, we love our ocean salmon and Dungeness crab. Finally, Lisbon, Portugal has The 25th of April suspension bridge which is painted the same color as our Golden Gate Bridge.  What’s not to like about Lisbon? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Lisboa.

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is the Castle; Alfama and Belém, but I also take them to Nations Park for a more local, authentic experience.

Just outside of Lisbon, visit the National Palace of Queluz. A twenty minute ride on the Rossio train, the Palace offers a fantastic equestrian show weekly performed by The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.

lisbon aquarium, lisbon, portugal
Lisbon Aquarium

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Oceanario de Lisboa (Lisboa Aquarium) or the puppet museum.

Portuguese food favorites

If you are looking for typical Portugese cuisine, I recommend Clams “Bulhão Pato” way; Bacalhau à Brás – (scrambled eggs, fries onions and cod); shrimp soup and Pastéis de Belém.

Pastéis de Belém, lisbon, portugal, pastry
Pastéis de Belém

Pastéis de Belém; in my opinion, these tasty Custard tarts are best when eaten warm. You’ll thank me later!

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Café “A Brasileira” at the Chiado district – nice ambiance in a 1920’s café, where poets and politicians used to go for their gatherings.

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Ginjinha, please

Ginjinha is a cherry liqueur that you’ll find in Lisbon, as well as the “Carcavelos” and Moscatel (Muscat grape varietal) from Setúbal. You will find Ginjinha all over Portugal, as it is the drink of locals. Go to a tavern or restaurant and say, “É uma ginjinha, por favor!” (A ginjinha, please!)

Looking for affordable Portugese food, try Granja Velha.

Bica do Sapato is the spot for late night dining and Cantinho do Avillez in Lisbon.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Belcanto.

Portuguese pottery, lisbon, portugal
Portuguese pottery

Are you seeing a lot of brightly colored, hand painted pottery in the shops? Lisbon is well known for Portuguese pottery.

When you come to Lisbon, get your picture taken at the Commerce Square.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Santa Justa Lift; Discoveries Monument and Belém Tower, these last ones are by the Belém district. In the evening, go to the rooftop bars of the Bairro Alto; Mundial; Sheraton and Tivoli Lisboa for kissing with a view.

In Lisbon, outdoor enthusiasts will want to walk the city and experience the tram rides and go-cars.

Looking for a little exercise, walk along the Tagus river bank.

If you are a museum lover, Lisbon’s best museums are the Ancient Art Museum; Gulbenkian Foundation; MUDE (Fashion and Design) and the City Museum, among others. With free admission to 26 museums and historic buildings, as well as free travel on Carris buses, funiculars, trams, certain CP train lines and the underground, you’ll want to consider purchasing the Lisboa Card during your trip.

lisbon, portugal, rooftops, city, waterfront, bridge
Bairro Alto rooftop bar for kissing with a view

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at LUX or go to the new trendy bar in Lisbon, Portugal.

The local newspaper, Público, will keep you posted on what’s happening in Lisbon.

There is always something happening in Lisbon. Try and go to the Gulbenkian Jazz Festival (Jazz em Agosto) in Lisbon, Portugal.

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If you are traveling in the spring, you might like Lisboa Fish and Flavours, a gastronomic event for food lovers that takes place at the Patio da Gale.

king john 1st, lisbon, portugal, statue, historical
King John 1 leads his men into Lisbon, Portugal on horseback

Insider Tip:

Just outside of Lisbon you can visit Sintra, Cascais, Estorial and some other interesting areas like Seubal. What are your favorite things to do in Lisbon, Portugal?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow VisitPortugal on Twitter.

Thanks to the Portugal Tourism Bureau and Tourism Lisbon for assistance with this post. Photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.

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