Oh, Lisbon, the City of the Light! Gorgeous architecture, charismatic old neighborhoods, and a lively atmosphere! As a trendy European destination with so much to offer, it can be overwhelming to choose what to visit and where to go in the city.
With its amazing old city, charming, colorful buildings, delicious food, and rich history, Lisbon is a city I can’t wait to go back to. It doesn’t matter whether you’re there for the first time or not—the capital of Portugal offers something for every taste possible.
Since it is often featured on our cheap flights deals page (it’s frequently the cheapest place to fly to in Europe for Canadians), and it is one of the world’s trendiest destinations, we want to help you plan your trip.
Here are 10 must-see places in Lisbon.
1. São Jorge Castle
One of the most emblematic landmarks of Lisbon, the Sao Jorge Castle is an absolute must-see when visiting the city.
Resting on the highest hill of Lisbon, the Sao Jorge castle used to protect the city from the Moors. What remains of it are the outer walls, 11 towers and the ruins of the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Today, it offers an excellent overview of Portugal’s history and lays out some of the best views of the city.
The entrance fee is €7.50 and the opening hours are:
- 9AM-9PM (March-October)
- 9AM-6PM (November-February)
2. Torre de Belem
Built in the 16th Century during the Portuguese Renaissance, the Belem Tower is without a doubt the most distinctive building in Lisbon.
It is located on the bank of Targus River, and throughout the years it has served as a fortress guarding the entrance and a ceremonial gateway to the city.
For many Portuguese explorers like Bartholomeu Dias and Vasco de Gama, the tower was the farewell point of their voyages.
The tower’s outstanding architectural and historical significance for Portugal’s Age of Discovery was recognized by UNESCO in 1983 when it got classified as a cultural World Heritage Site.
The entrance fee is €6. If you combine it with the entrance for Jerónimos Monastery, it costs €12.
The opening hours are:
- 10AM-6PM (May-September)
- 10AM-5:30PM (October-April)
3. Jerónimos Monastery
Another World Heritage Site hugely significant for the Age of Discovery, the Jeronimos Monastery is something you don’t want to miss. It was built in 1502 by King Manuel I, and it is located in the Belem district, near the Belem Tower.
This elaborately ornamented religious building is highly associated with the early Portuguese explorers. It is said that Vasco de Gama spent his last night there before leaving for the Far East.
Today, Vasco’s tomb is placed inside the monastery, by the very entrance alongside the graves of many other prominent figures.
The entrance is free for the main chapel, and the monastery’s entrance fee is €10. You can visit it every day of the week, and the opening hours are:
- 10AM-6:30PM (May-September)
- 10AM-5:30PM (October-April)
4. The Alfama Neighbourhood
The Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon and the perfect area to wander around. Spread between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river, Alfama is best experienced by simply getting lost within its disorienting alleys, and soaking up the beauty of the ancient houses.
In Alfama, you can find some of the most significant historical landmarks of Lisbon such as the Sao Jorge Castle, Se Cathedral, Panteão Nacional and the Igreja de Santo António.
5. Time Out Market
There’s no other place like a local market in a foreign land. You can have a small chat with the locals, experience the local life, and gain a better understanding of the cuisine.
In Lisbon, there are many markets you can visit, but Time Out stands out of the crowd.
Located in the old-school Mercado de Ribeira, the Time Out market is the first curated market in the world. That means everything there has been individually and carefully chosen, tested, and approved by a panel of city experts.
The concept has been so popular that it has been replicated elsewhere in the world. In Lisbon’s Time Out Market, you can choose between dozens of restaurants and market vendors – all offering exceptionally unique dining and cultural experience.
The market is open every day of the week:
- 10AM-12AM (Sunday-Wednesday)
- 10AM-2AM (Thursday-Saturday)
6. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum has one of the finest private collections of classical art in the world. It consists of two permanent collections, and unique, temporary exhibitions.
The Founder’s Collection includes more than 6,000 works ranging from ancient times to the early 20th Century. The Modern Collection, with its 10,000 pieces, on the other hand, takes you on a complete journey through Portuguese modern and contemporary art.
You can find works by great masters like Rubens, Rembrandt, Degas, Vieira da Silva, Paula Rego, Almada Negreiror and many others.
The entrance fee is €10 for the permanent collections and €14 including the temporary exhibitions. But on Sundays after 2PM, admission is free.
- 10AM-6PM (Wednesday-Monday)
- Closed (Tuesday)
7. Open Air Concerts
One thing’s for sure – Lisbon knows how to throw a party. Every weekend during the summer, there are open-air concerts and festivals at different locations around the city. Lisbon prides itself on having the most exquisite concerts and summer festivals, and that’s not far from the truth.
If you are a jazz fan, you have to check out the Out Jazz Festival. For more information on concerts and other events, you can check out Lisbon’s official tourism website.
Just 30 minutes away from Lisbon’s center, stepping into Sintra feels like crossing into a whole another world. It is a delightful small town, situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra and the perfect place for a day trip from Lisbon.
This hotel is located in an old monastery that dates back to the 14th century and costs sometimes €400 per night (C$600) and since it is only a Marriott category 5 hotel, you can get a free night with your certificate.
This is literally one of the best travel perks on a Canadian card and is part of the reason why the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is the only one we recommend for all Canadian travelers without exception (that and the welcome bonus worth hundreds of dollars).
You can plan a future trip to Portugal and combine it with neighboring Spain, which is one of the best countries to get the most free nights with your Marriott points.
To think that some people are stubborn about not paying an annual fee, which makes no mathematical sense when you know how to count! The $120 fee is more than offset by the huge welcome bonus in the first year and it is more than offset by this certificate in the subsequent years, especially if you max it out for a night in a great hotel like this Ritz-Carlton.
This is one of the many easy ways to get lots of free travel with travel rewards: Sign up for our new special newsletter on the subject, and you’ll be the first to get free access to our upcoming beginners’ course!
Anyway, Sintra is full of UNESCO World Heritage sites, extravagant palaces, and lavish mansions.
The Pena Palace is Sintra’s crown jewel. This colorful and flashy structure, also known as one of Portugal’s “Seven Wonders,” is an exceptional expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal.
I also recommend visiting Quinta de Regaleira, Cruz Alta, Queluz, Praia de Ursa, and the old center of Sintra.
Cascais is one of the closest beach towns to Lisbon and another great place for a day trip from the capital.
It is only 20 minutes west from Lisbon, and the best way to get there is by driving down the scenic Marginal de Cascais. This way, while driving, you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible coastline. Another option to get there is by taking the train from Cais do Sodré Station.
Cascais is famous for its delightful city center, pastel-colored buildings, and its beautiful coastline. You can go shopping, sailing, surfing, golfing, or head to some of the restaurants along the Atlantic coast.
10. Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca, also known as the “end of the world”, is the most western point of Europe’s mainland.
The best thing you can do in Cabo de Roca is watch the sunset and take in the endless magnificent shades of pink and orange.
It is 40 minutes away from Lisbon, and I suggest combining it with a day trip to Sintra or Cascais.
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There are so many things to do in Lisbon and Portugal’s capital should be at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list. Is it on yours?
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Featured image: Lisbon (photo credit: Liam McKay)
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