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First time in Lisbon

First time in Lisbon: discover 20+ best sights in the capital!

When you plan your first visit to the Portuguese capital, you might wonder what to expect and what there is to see in the city. Discover these tips for your first time Lisbon Portugal, so that you can find the best activities for your holiday.

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Discover the must-see sights for your first time in Lisbon!

A quick overview

What to see? Many famous sights in and around Lisbon.

Costs? Some things are free, but to enter monuments and sights, you pay an entrance fee.

Where? In Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.

Worth it? Lisbon is an excellent destination for a day trip, but you’ll need 2-5 days or more in Lisbon to see all the highlights.

First time in Lisbon Portugal

Will it be your first time visiting Lisbon? Then, it’s nice to be slightly prepared for your upcoming trip. You may have already seen some places online you’d like to add to your Lisbon itinerary, or you may have just started exploring. With this list, you can create a fun guide or outline for your trip to Lisbon! So, let’s dive in and discover the must-see places for your first time in Lisbon!

Enjoy a walking tour

A fantastic way to get to know Lisbon for the first time is by joining a walking tour! Your guide will show you all the highlights and major attractions. The city centre is very walkable, with several famous landmarks to spot. Join a history tour and discover more about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and see many historic buildings.

Or enjoy walking tours that combine Lisbon’s history with traditional food and drinks! The walking distance between spots is usually short, and your guide will tell you more about the ins and outs of the capital of Portugal! Contact me for more information, or book one of these excellent excursions below.

The popular tuk-tuk tour

If walking is challenging for you, or if you’re short on time in Lisbon, the tuk-tuk tours are top-rated in this very hilly city! You can enjoy a street art tour or drive by the highlights and most photographed attractions. You rent an entire tuk-tuk car plus a driver, and these tours are always private. Afterwards, you have a good idea of all the attractions, so you can easily visit your favourite spots in more detail!

Walk around Alfama

Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon Portugal, filled with narrow streets and cobblestones! Your Lisbon trip is only complete with visiting this unique area. You’ll discover sights like Sé de Lisboa, Castelo de Sao Jorge, Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Turn off Google Maps and simply get lost in the tiny streets of the city. Alfama is also the perfect spot to enjoy a night of Fado!

Book a photoshoot in Lisbon

What is the best way to memorise your special moments during your trip to Lisbon? By booking a photographer! I’ve been photographing people since 2006 and have taken many portraits throughout the years. A photoshoot in Lisbon is possible in many locations, such as Alfama, the Botanical Gardens, Bairro Alto and downtown Lisbon. Check this post about the photo shoots and learn what you can expect from me.

As it’s your first time in Lisbon, I can tell you more about the city while we take pictures, and give you local tips about what to do in the city. There are many hidden gems to discover, too! You can come alone, with your partner, friends or family! I’d love to meet you while you’re visiting Lisbon, so get in touch to book your date!

Listen to Fado

When you want to learn more about Portuguese culture, listening to Fado is a fabulous way! The music genre can be traced back to the 1820s, and in the Fado Museum, you’ll learn everything about the music, musicians and instruments. Fado is even part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, and you can enjoy dinner in Alfama while listening to Portuguese music. During the live performance, you’ll learn more about Saudade and listen to songs about Lisbon and Portugal.

Ride the tram

Lisbon is built on seven hills, and to say it is a hilly city is an understatement. Thankfully, there are many ways to discover the Lisbon attractions without exhaustion. Check how to navigate the hills, or enjoy a ride on the most popular tram line, Tram 28. Please note that this famous tram is a public transport service and not a tourist attraction.

It got so popular, however, that the tram gets packed, and it is heaven for pickpockets (although Lisbon is a very safe city). To explore the hilly city, you can also ride Tram 12 or 18, less crowded lines, that offer a similar experience. Or book a ticket for the Red Tram Hills Red Tram Tour. Tickets are valid for 24 hours, and you can hop on and hop off whenever and wherever you want.

The funiculars

Another fun way to get up the hills is by taking the funiculars. One of the most famous ones is the Glória funicular. This one departs from Avenida da Liberdade, a stunning street full of trees and luxury stores. The yellow funicular is a fun way to ride up towards Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, one of the best viewpoints in the city. Another famous funicular is the Bica on Largo Calhariz.

Enjoy the many Lisbon viewpoints

Speaking of viewpoints, there are many of them! During your trip to Lisbon, you should try to see a handful of them! The tallest hill overlooking the centre is Miradouro da Senhora do Monte or Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint in Portuguese. But the views from Lisbon Castle, Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Miradouro da Graça, and Miradouro de Santa Catarina Lisboa are just as spectacular! Click here to discover all the viewpoints you can visit during your first time in Lisbon!

Time Out Market

When it’s time to enjoy some Portuguese food, Time Out Market is the place to be! And when you’re visiting Lisbon for the first time, you should try some famous dishes! Besides pastel de nata, try Bacalhau à Brás, Porco Preto or sardines. Portugal is known for its delicious seafood, and there is even a massive sardine festival in June! Time Out Market contains many restaurants from top chefs in the country. The perfect way to try new dishes all in one place! Tip: discover more markets in Lisbon if you have time!

The Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is on the wish list of many first-time visitors. It is one of the most historical sights and even contains the tombs of navigator Vasco da Gama, Luís de Camões, and the famous Portuguese poet and writer Fernando Pessoa. You can find these graves in the main church.

Most visitors come to the monastery for the beautiful architecture. It was built in the Manueline style and was commissioned by King Manuel I. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the busiest sights in Lisbon and is in the Top 10 best-visited attractions. To read more tips about visiting this highlight, click here, and be sure to book your tickets ahead of time!

Enjoy Pateis de Belém

After visiting the monastery, you can take a look at Pateis de Belém, the famous bakery where the pastel de nata originates from! And your Lisbon itinerary is, of course, not complete without trying one (or many more)! You can buy some to take away and enjoy in the park, or take place in their beautiful cafe. Enjoy a coffee or cold refreshments and try some traditional cakes besides the pastel de nata!

Belém Tower

There is one more sight in Belém that is worth visiting, and that is the Belém Tower! The Belem Tower is located in the Tagus River, and you can reach the tower by a footbridge. The Belém Tower is also a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the Manueline style. Just like the monastery, it can get busy here. So, it’s recommended to buy your tickets for the Belem Tower beforehand online to ensure a spot when visiting Lisbon.

Pink Street

One of the most Instagrammable places while visiting Lisbon is Pink Street! As the name suggests, the street is pink, and beautifully coloured umbrellas on Rua Nova do Carvalho finish the decor. There are some restaurants and bars to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat, and at night, Pink Street turns into a popular nightlife spot! It’s near the neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, which is another great spot if you like going out.


Tip: there are two more coloured streets with plenty of restaurants: Blue Street and Green Street! Blue Street is located at Rua Nova da Trindade, and dos Bacalhoeiros is also blue in colour. Green Street is located at Rua da Silva.

Lisbon Food Tours

To learn more about Portuguese food, a local food tour is a great idea! When visiting Lisbon for the first time, you might not know what all the dishes are. Try delicacies from Lisbon, try new sweets and taste the fantastic Portuguese wines.
You’ll learn more about the classics and Lisbon’s must-try dishes and drinks. Mingle with the Lisboetas in a traditional Portuguese tasca, or even better, learn how to cook these meals during a cooking class!

LX Factory

The LX Factory is located in a former industrial complex, and over the past years, the site has kept transforming. It’s a trendy factory spot full of restaurants and arty retailers. The LX Factory kept its industrial vibes and offers culture and nightlife, and over the past few years, the hotspot is constantly changing.

You can compare the creative hub with places like RAW in Berlin or Shoreditch in London. The LX Factory is on the same route to Belém, so you can combine these sights during your first trip to Lisbon. Read the complete guide to discover more about this trendy spot!

Lisbon Castle: Castelo de São Jorge

Castelo de São Jorge offers one of the best views over Lisbon. São Jorge Castle is located on top of the hill in Alfama and has a long and rich history. You can walk along the castle walls and visit the many peacocks here.

The views from Castelo de Sao Jorge are especially spectacular during sunset. It’s also quieter, and the queue to enter will be shorter. Are you at Castelo de São Jorge during the day? Then, a skip-the-line ticket with a local guide will save you time.

National Tile Museum

Do you love the super cute tiled houses in Lisbon!? Then, a visit to the National Azulejo Museum is another must-see spot! The Azulejo Museum is located in the former Madre de Deus convent, and it’s the best spot to discover the colourful Portuguese tiles!

Learn more about its history and the collection contains unique tiles from the past but also from modern times. You’ll start recognising the different styles, and the baroque interior of the church will leave you speechless. Reserve your spot!

MAAT

If modern art is more your thing, MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) is worth your time. The exhibitions are constantly changing, so the museum is not only fantastic for your first time visiting Lisbon! The building has a unique architectural style, and you can even climb the roof for a stunning view!

The Santa Justa Lift

A trip to Lisbon is not complete without a visit to the Santa Justa Lift. The famous Santa Justa Lift is 45 meters tall, and the cast iron structure connects the Baixa (low) district with Largo do Carmo. Elevador de Santa Justa is actually part of the public transport system, but you won’t see any locals travelling up the hill. The queue can be long, and a one-way journey is expensive.

You can ride Elevador de Santa Justa for free with the Lisboa Card and for a reduced fee with a Viva Viagem ticket. The view from above is stunning, so a ride with the Santa Justa Lift is undoubtedly worth it. You can, however, skip the queue and walk from Largo do Carmo to the platform on the top. This is entirely free! For more tips and tricks to avoid the queue, read this guide!

Lisbon Cathedral

When you visit Lisbon Portugal, you’ll notice there are many churches you can visit. A special one to see from the inside is the Lisbon Cathedral or Sé de Lisboa. Sé de Lisboa is the oldest church in the Portuguese capital and even survived the 1755 earthquake. The official name is the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major, and one of the highlights is the beautiful rosary. You can see many religious artefacts, books and other objects in the museum.

The Carmo Convent

A very different kind of church is the Carmo Convent, at the exit of Elevador the Santa Justa. Unlike Sé de Lisboa, the Carmo Convent was never rebuilt after the earthquake. The church is, therefore, easy to recognise as it has no roof! The ruins are now home to the Carmo Archeological Museum, the first of its kind. Inside, you will see sculptures, religious artefacts, and even two Peruvian mummies!

Quake Museum Lisbon

When you are curious about the earthquake that happened in 1755, visiting the Quake Museum in Belém is fantastic! It is an immersive and interactive experience where you learn more about earthquakes and, in the simulator, experience one! The Quake Museum Lisbon is unsuitable for young children, but the thematic experience is excellent for history lovers and teens! You’ll be on a proper mission to help rebuild Lisbon, and afterwards, you know a lot more about seismology!

A boat tour on the Tagus

Enjoy an up-close encounter with the Tagus River during a boat tour in Lisbon! Especially during sunset, Lisbon looks terrific from the water! The guide will tell you more about Lisbon’s shoreline and history. A boat tour on the Tagus River usually lasts 2 hours, with several vessels to choose from. You can step onboard a sailing boat, but also a catamaran. Click here to learn more about boat tours in Lisbon!

Praça do Comerçio 

One of the most famous squares in Lisbon is Praça do Comerçio. It’s one of the largest in Portugal, and the plaza has a rich history. It faces the Tagus River, and Terreiro do Paço is the nearest metro station. The square was severely damaged during the earthquake, but nowadays, it’s a busy meeting point for locals and tourists alike. In the middle of the square, you can see the statue of King José I and climb on top of Arco da Rua Augusta

Arco da Rua Augusta

First time in Lisbon with kids

Are you travelling with young children? They won’t get bored at all! Many enjoyable sights exist, such as Castelo de São Jorge and the aquarium Oceanário de Lisboa. Take a ride with the cable car Telecabine Lisboa or visit the science museum Pavilhão do Conhecimento – Ciência Viva when it rains. Benfica Stadium is fantastic if your kids like football, or take them to the 3D Fun Art Museum! For more inspiration, check out this guide for visiting Lisbon with kids.

Getting around Lisbon for the first time

Hop-on-hop-off buses

When visiting Lisbon for the first time, you might want to see as much as possible in one day. Although Lisbon is very walkable, the easiest way to see as many places as possible is by hop-on-hop-off bus. The buses stop at all highlights, and there are several companies and routes to choose from. Some even include ferries and trams! There is a free audio guide with more information about the city, and you can opt for 24, 48, or 72-hour tickets. Great value for money!

Public transportation in the city center

If you’re in Lisbon for the first time, public transportation might feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, the bus, metro, ferry, trams and trains are easy to navigate. When visiting Lisbon, you can buy a day pass to use public transport in the city. These tickets are only € 6.60 for a full day! You might arrive in Lisbon by plane, and from the airport, you can take the red metro line into the city centre.

If you come by train or bus, you might arrive at one of the two main train stations: Estação do Oriente and Santa Apolónia. Both stations are linked to the metro and bus. Click here to learn more about public transport in Lisbon Portugal. You’ll soon be travelling like a local!

Lisboa Card

The Lisboa Card, or Lisbon Card, has many advantages when you visit Lisbon for the first time. You can use public transport for free and access many sights for free! For example, you can ride the Santa Justa Lift, travel to Belém and see the monastery and Belem Tower, and enjoy visiting the National Azulejo Museum for free! When you spend multiple days in Lisbon, you’ll quickly save a lot of money! Please note that most museums and sights are closed on Mondays, so using the Lisbon Card on other days of the week is better.

Travelling from Lisbon International Airport

When you fly into Lisbon, you land at Lisbon Airport. Getting from the airport to central Lisbon is super easy, and this guide will help you navigate at Lisbon Airport. Portugal’s main airline is TAP, which offers many flights within Europe and across the ocean. Their flights arrive and depart from Terminal 1. Then, there are many budget airline flights departing from Terminal 2.

Humberto Delgado Airport is a major European airport, but it is relatively small. It can, therefore, get pretty buys during the high season. From Lisbon Airport, you can travel to downtown Lisbon in no time. You can take a taxi, a bus or the metro.

Must-see spots around Lisbon city center

As you can see, there are many spots to cover during your first trip to Lisbon, but there are many more gems to see outside the city! Ideally, if you have more than 2 or 3 days in Lisbon, you can also venture out to nearby places. So, after you’ve explored and visited Lisbon, let’s take a look at some nearby highlights!

Sintra

A trip to Lisbon for the first time is complete with seeing Sintra! Sintra is a town as well as a natural park, and it’s famous for its landscape and many palaces. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is home to Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and the Moorish Castle. These places get busy, and buying tickets or tours upfront is a must.

Pena Palace was once the summer home of the Portuguese royal family, and the colourful palace stands tall on the hill overlooking Sintra. Quinta da Regaleira is famous for its well and links to the Freemasons. It is a magical and inspiring site to visit! The Moorish Castle oozes history, and the views over the hills are spectacular! Another famous palace is Sintra National Palace, which is located in the heart of the town. You’ll recognise it by the two big chimnies on the top.

Hidden gems are Monserrate Palace, Biester Palace and the Convent of the Capuchos. Most tourists and tours, visit the above palaces, meaning Monserrate, Biester and Capuchos are nice and quiet. Do you prefer some hustle and bustle? Remember to explore the tiny streets in Sintra town! There are some excellent souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Take a look at the best tours for a day trip from Lisbon Sintra, or book your guided excursions below.

Cascais

Another popular day trip is visiting Cascais. It is a small beach town with several beaches and plenty of restaurants! You can easily take a train from Cais do Sodré station, and within 40 minutes, you can place your towel in the sand! Other highlights in Cascais are the oceanfront cliffs of Boca do Inferno, the Citadel of Cascais and Parque Marechal Carmona. Many Sintra tours also stop in Cascais and Cabo da Roca. This will save you a lot of time, and you can see many different places in one day!

Almada

The last nearby day trip is located on the other side of the Tagus River! You can reach Almada by ferry departing from Cais do Sodré. You will arrive in Cacilhas, where you can take a bus or tram to discover Almada. Highlights are the Christ statue Santuário de Cristo Rei, overlooking the bridge Ponte 25 de Abril. But from Cacilhas, walking along the river towards the bridge is also very nice. You’ll walk along the famous restaurant Ponto Final. If you want to eat here, make your reservation early! It’s a great spot to see the sun go down, and very popular with tourists!

Best viewpoints in Lisbon-1

One-day excursions from Lisbon

When visiting Lisbon Portugal, for a few more days, the city becomes the perfect spot to make some excursions nearby. Whether you like seeing another city or spending time in nature, there is an ideal day trip for everyone. Here are some of the most booked day trips from the capital.

Óbidos

From Lisbon, it takes 1,5 hours to travel to Óbidos. This medieval town has become a popular place to visit, thanks to the castle, many colourful houses and cosy atmosphere. You can easily reach Óbidos by car or book an excursion. These often combine several cities in one day.

Nazaré

Nazaré is famous for its big waves in wintertime. These can get as high as 25 meters (82 feet) and are loved by professional surfers. If you like visiting a beach town from Lisbon Portugal, be sure to add Nazaré to your itinerary!

Ericeira

Another fabulous coastal town is Ericeira, just south of Nazaré. The waves are not as high, and it’s a famous surf town. If you want to learn to ride the waves, Ericeira is great! It’s also a popular town for retreats and yoga. The sea has a calming effect, and the surrounding cliffs are perfect for long hikes.

Fátima

Fátima is a famous pilgrimage town with numerous religious highlights. In 1917, three shepherd children witnessed the appearance of Our Lady of Fátima, and the miracle made the town one of the most important Christian highlights in Portugal. Also, Fátima is an interesting town to visit when you’re not religious.

Tomar

If you want to learn more about the Knights TemplarTomar is the place to be. It’s also less frequented by tourists, making it a quieter location to visit. Highlights are Tomar Castle, the Old Town, and the Convent of Christ.

Arrábida Natural Park

Nature lovers will enjoy a day trip to Arrábida Natural Park, just an hour south of Lisbon. Arrábida Natural Park is known for its stunning beaches, hiking trails and bottleneck dolphins! A boat tour is a must here to spot them! Excursions often combine a wine tasting in Azeitão or a visit to Sesimbra or Setúbal.

Évora

Speaking of wine, Évora is THE place to be for tasting Alentejo wines! It takes about 1,5 hours from Lisbon Portugal to reach the town, which is also famous for its skull chapel! Climb on top of the cathedral for the best views, and discover the ancient dolmen around the city.

When to visit Lisbon?

When you’re visiting Lisbon for the first time, you might wonder when is the best time to visit the city. And to be honest, Lisbon Portugal is great all year round! Overall, you get to enjoy amazing weather, and even in winter, it’s never extremely cold. In spring, you can enjoy the flowers bloom, and in June, you can celebrate Festas dos Santos Populares with the locals.

Summers are warm and dry, and autumn might be more rainy. But even Lisbon with rain is great, and there are still many things to do! At the end of November and December, it’s time for the Christmas markets. So, whenever you plan your first trip to Lisbon, you’ll have a fabulous time for sure!

Lisbon hotels

When you stay in Lisbon for the first time, you’ll notice there is an enormous selection of accommodations. You can opt for a boutique hotel like Hotel Hotel, Wine & Books Lisboa Hotel or Ferraria XVI FLH Hotels Lisboa. The Lumen Hotel even has an outdoor swimming pool, and from Villa Baixa, you can enjoy river views.

For a luxury stay in Lisbon, the One Palácio da Anunciada, Torel Palace Lisbon, 1908 Lisboa Hotel, Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa, and the Convent Square Lisbon are fabulous options. When you travel on a budget, you can choose a nice hostel, such as Home Lisbon Hostel. Check the map below to get an idea about prices and where to stay in Lisbon for the first time!

FAQ

Enjoy breakfast with a coffee and pastel de nata, walk around the tiny streets of Alfama, and have lunch at Time Out Market. Explore some of the viewpoints in Lisbon, visit a museum, and have dinner with Fado in one of the many restaurants.

To get a first impression of Lisbon, you will need a minimum of two days. Ideally, 3 to 5 days is great when visiting Lisbon for the first time. This also allows you to enjoy a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra or Cascais.

Every season has its charms, but spring and autumn are best to avoid the hottest days of the year. In June, you can celebrate Santos Populares and see the many flowers bloom. Christmas is great to enjoy the festivities and Christmas markets.

Mostly yes. Lisbon is a very walkable city, but you can also take public transport and taxis.

Conclusion

When visiting Lisbon for the first time, you’ll quickly notice that there is a lot to see and do! You can explore neighbourhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto, see sights like the Belém Tower and the Santa Justa Lift, and visit museums like the National Azulejo Museum. You can always ask for help and more information at the visitor center or book a tour with locals to learn more about the Portuguese capital! After visiting Lisbon, you might want to come back for more! Then it’s time to discover hidden gems and lesser-known sights in the city!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

22 Responses

  1. I love Lisbon! One of my favorite cities to wander around in Europe. I had some great chocolate cake at that Time Out Market a few years ago and still remember it so well. Always more to see. Would love to go back.

  2. I know two separate families who explored Lisbon last year and they toured some of these spots..so much rich history! Would love to visit someday….

  3. I’ve never been to Lisbon so this is a perfect travel guide of all the cool things to do and see. I love walking tours and the funiculars look like so much fun!

  4. I’ve never been to Lisbon (I’ve never been to Portugal) – but it has been on my list for years, after a travelogue programme about it on TV. I definitely want to visit that market, and ride the trolleys …

  5. I’m actually planning a trip to Lisbon for next year so this is great – so helpful. I’ve been dying to visit forever so I’m so glad I stumbled on this!

  6. I remember my first time in Lisbon. We saw some of the key sites. But each new discovery sent us in a new direction. Even after a few trips we have not enjoyed a Fado show. But we sure did enjoy the Pateis de Belem.

  7. Gorgeous photos Marga! You always post lovely finds and helpful tips for Portugal! I’ve been dying to go some day and I’ll be sure to use all your posts for a future trip. Thanks for inspiring the wanderlust in me!

  8. Lisbon looks like an interesting city. The Tuk-tuk tour, the tram and the funiculars sound like fun. I have not been to Portugal yet, but is very much in my bucket list. Bookmarking your blog post for future reference.

  9. I’m sad to admit that I skipped Lisbon on my road trip through Portugal (not enough time). Your highlights should be useful when I re-visit.

    1. Next time, Rhonda 🙂 There is so much to see in Portugal 🙂 And I´m sure you had a great time in the other places you went to!

  10. It’s going to be my third time in Lisbon soon, and I would do everything listed here all over again 🙂

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