Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and it is one of the beautiful city in the world. Even Madonna, the super pop star once lived here. She loves Lisbon so much that she moved her whole family including all her children to Lisbon for several years.
You need about 3 days to explore Lisbon and try out these 30 things listed below. You may want to include one day tour to Sintra as it is a fairy tale city in Portugal, only an hour from Lisbon.
1. Marquis of Pombal Square
Marquis of Pombal Square is located in a huge roundabout and is surrounded by major corporate banks and important companies. In the middle of the square, there is a monument with Marquis of Pombal and a lion. He was Portugal’s governor of Lisbon between 1750 and 1777. Marquis of Pombal was believed to be one of Portugal’s greatest ever statesmen. There are also high-end hotels in this area.
2. João de Deus House-Museum
This is a museum devoted to 19th-century poet João de Deus who was one of the greatest Portuguese poets of his generation. Initially, João de Deus struggled like so many writers, later he gained huge popularity and had a great influence on Portuguese literature in the 20th century. His work is popular with the romantic style.
Entry is free for the museum. Do get in and learn about Portuguese literature.
3. Basílica da Estrela
The building with the huge dome and twin bell towers are Basílica da Estrela, built in the 18th century to fulfill a vow by Queen Maria I after she gave birth to a son and heir. This is another eye-catching landmark in Lisbon.
4. Rainbow Car Tunnel
Both walls at the sides are painted with rainbow colors, pretty interesting and a unique sight in Lisbon. This is the first rainbow tunnel that I have experienced so far.
5. An Imitation of Golden Gate Bridge or 25 de Abril Bridge
6. War Memorial in Lisbon
The pyramid looking monument is called The Monumento Combatentes Ultramar Lisbon, is a war memorial dedicated to soldiers of the Portuguese army who died during the overseas war of 1961 to 1974. The artistic section of the Monumento Combatentes Ultramar includes a shallow lake and two large angled pillars that protrude out above the flame. This memorial site has no entrance fee.
7. Ride a Tuk-tuk
It seems Lisbon has plenty of tuk-tuks which can be associated with Thailand. Tuk-tuks are not cheap at all in Lisbon, it cost about 70 Euros for 90 mins with fun and knowledgeable driver-guide, with 5-6 seats. However, I do think it is easier to speed through the narrow lanes of Lisbon city.
8. Arco da Rua Augusta
Arco da Rua Augusta looks similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or should I say more beautiful? The historical building was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake and tsunami.
9. Pedestrian Shopping Street at Arco da Rua Augusta
You will enjoy a good stroll in this pedestrian street which filled with shops and restaurants. The shopping here is fun and diverse, from high end to mid and low end. It has everything for everyone. You can also find your souvenirs here.
10. Lisbon Yellow Tram
The yellow trams are a symbol of Lisbon and it is easy to get through the steep streets. For visitors, the number 28 Lisbon tram connects major tourists area. Be careful of the pickpockets especially during peak hours. Hold tight if you are standing.
11. Praça da Figueira
This is a historical square which has plenty of shopping, hotels, and restaurant. The equestrian statue is King Dom João I located in the center of the square. This is also an important traffic hub where you can find the Metro station, buses, and tuk-tuks.
12. Rossio Square
Rossio Square is busy most of the time, it is very near Praça da Figueira square. The one thing gets your attention is the wave patterns cobblestones path, similar to the one found in Macau China. In the center of the square, there is a 27-meter high monument. At the bottom is the pedestal made of marble, the monument is dedicated to Dom Pedro IV, whose statue stands on top. Dom Pedro IV was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil.
13. Fountain of Rossio Square
Next to the tall monument is the fountain which has several mermaids bronze sculptures. The fountain looks like a great seating area for tired tourists.
14. Dona Maria II National Theater
The neoclassical front facade of Dona Maria II National Theater looks super impressive, especially there is a large square – Rossio Square in front of the building. Originally the building was used by the Portuguese royal family to host their guests in Lisbon but now the building is used for theatre.
Ticket for the guided tour cost €8 (1 hour), it will bring you to the performance room, theatre backstage, dressing rooms, technical areas, prop and costume-making room. Ticket need to pre-book. Below is the night view of Dona Maria II National Theater.
15. Horseshoe arches at Rossio Train Station
The horseshoe arches at the door are really unique & beautiful, it is another Manueline architectural style. You can get your train ticket to Sintra from here. On top of the building is the clock which is still working.
16. Monument to the Restorers (Spain & Portugal love-hate relationship)
This monument is located in Restauradores Square, it is for the celebration of Portugal’s independence from Spain. Spain conquered Portugal for 60 years. The obelisk soaring high into the sky with a 4-sided base decorated with winged angels. Nearby there is plenty of shopping retails such as “Mango” and many other big retail stores.
17. Statue of Pavers of Lisbon
Portuguese pavement is one of the biggest attraction in Lisbon, you see most of the pavements are done beautifully with interesting print especially with the wave-pattern style. These two statues are tribute from the city of Lisbon to the Pavers at Restauradores Square.
18. Lisbon Hot Roasted Chesnut
Try out these hot roasted chestnut in Lisbon city, cooked in the traditional way and served in paper cones. Just like our “kacang puteh” (also serve in a paper cone). Definitely a must-do for anyone visiting Lisbon in the colder months.
19. Street Art
Lisbon is no doubt a city filled with street arts, pay attention to the walls of the building and you can spot most creative work.
20. Pastéis de nata
It is a must to try pastéis de nata or we called it Portuguese egg tart while in Lisbon or anywhere in Portugal. It is the number 1 must eat food in this country. Or you can also go to the most famous bakery in Belem, Pastéis de Belém.
21. Pingos do tocha
Beside Pastéis de nata dessert, there is another interesting dessert which looks like drops of wax, hence the name. A pretty interesting shape I find.
Originally from the Santa Clara de Amarante Monastery. It is made only with egg yolk and sugar.
22. Bolo-rei – The Christmas King’s Cake
Bolo-rei is a traditional Portuguese cake that is usually eaten around Christmas till Jan 6th the following year. Hence you are only able to find Bolo-rei during this period. It tasted more like sweet bread, with nuts and chuck of fruits with sugar on top.
If pastéis de nata is the most popular food then the most popular drink is Sangria. It is a traditional recipe with red wine mixed with fruits such as pineapple, peaches, berries, apples and pear. It tasted sweet so do not drink too fast even if you are thirsty as you can still get drunk and blackout which happened to me once.
24. Sardine – The national Icon of Portugal
Sardine is well-loved in Portugal and usually can be found in the tin. If you don’t like the food version of sardine, you can get sardine in fabric 🙂
25. Santa Justa Lift
This is a unique feature in Lisbon, it is actually a lift built in 1902 by Portugal born French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard (an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, no wonder it looks similar to Eiffel Tower in Paris). The lift was used to connect the lowest and highest points of the city. The queue is always long, cost 5 euro to get up and you will be rewarded with stunning view of Lisbon skyline.
26. Lisbon Seafood
As a coastal city, Lisbon is a great destination for seafood. Why? Because Portugal has the 3rd biggest fishing area in Europe and 11th in the world, so Portuguese eats a lot of seafood just like the Japanese. Hence you need to try fresh seafood in Lisbon. You get fresh & live seafood such as lobsters, shellfish, shrimps & oysters.
27. Lisbon Castle – Castelo de S. Jorge
The Castelo de S. Jorge castle stands high above central Lisbon. It is a Moorish castle occupying a hilltop overlooking the city center of Lisbon and Tagus River. You get a good view from the top of the castle. Sorry, the picture below did not capture well of the castle.
Jeronimos Monastery is the most stunning masterpiece of Portuguese architecture from the 16th century. Belem is an important neighborhood of Lisbon and full of attractions such as museum and parks.
29. Belem Tower
A UNESCO World Heritage site, beautifully situated in the river bank of Tagus River. The architectural style is Manueline which represent well of Portuguese architecture. It is open for visitors to go up but please get your ticket online in order to save time. Else, it is still very beautiful to just watch it from the outside.
The monument of Padrão dos Descobrimentos is the Portuguese pride, standing tall near Tagus Riverbank, only 10 mins walk from Belem Tower. It was designed to commemorate the Age of Discoveries in Portugal. Learn about Portugal sea power in the mid-1400s.
Lisbon is the city of yellow trams, hilly cobbled alleyways, wave-pattern mosaic pavement & colorful housing. It has one of the most captivating scenes over the centuries. There are plenty to do here, sightseeing, shopping, and eating! Lisbon is also famously known as Europe’s least expensive capital city for travelers.