Last Updated on April 22, 2020

Every great continent is home to a plethora of diverse countries and cities, each one more intriguing than the next. Europe is no exception to this, with famed cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice in Italy, or Berlin in Germany, or Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.  

However, there is one European country that is often overlooked, but has just as much charm and charisma. In fact, one of its cities is widely known as being one of the oldest, not just in Western Europe, but in the entire world.

That city is Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon dates back some 2,700 years, and its rich history is evident in the city’s unmatched splendor. But there are countless other reasons why Lisbon is a truly great city. Today we will be going through all of the unusual, interesting, exciting, and intriguing things to do while in Lisbon.

1. See Lisbon’s biggest and most extravagant events at Praca Do Comercio

© Paolo

Why is this important?

Praca Do Comercio is more than 250 years old. Its formation began in the mid-1700s and lasted until the late 1800s when its construction was completed. This is where the biggest events in the city take place, from concerts to speeches and festivals. It is one of the city’s main attractions for tourists and locals alike.

Why should you make a stop here?

Known as “the courtyard of the Royal Palace,” Praca Do Comercio is one of the biggest and most lively downtown squares in all of Europe.

It has fascinating works of art and houses the architectural masterpiece that is the Ministry of Justice building. It overlooks the gorgeous Tagus river, where you can see some of the most uniquely designed boats, and which you can cruise through if you own a boat yourself. It has nearby hotels and delicious traditional restaurants for you to enjoy as well.

What is it that you should not miss?

Praca Do Comercio features a stunning waterfront, with an expansive range of shops, and centered in the middle of its plaza is a statue of Portugal’s great, San Jose. There is a colorful souvenir market, with handcrafted items, that is located beneath the Ministry of Justice building. It has some of the most uniquely designed, hand made jewelry and items that you will find in all of Lisbon.

2. Ride the tallest Elevator in all of Portugal – Elevator De Santa Justa

Why is this important?

Elevator De Santa Justa is the biggest elevator in Portugal, at a height of 147 feet. It opened its doors back in July of 1902. It is a fascinating sight to see, both in the day time as well as at night, when it is illuminated by some of the brightest lights you will find in Lisbon. It was built by one of Gustav Effiel’s student. Gustav Effiel is the genius mind behind the design and creation of the Effiel tower.

Why should you make a stop here?

For a beautiful overview of the city, there’s almost no better place to visit in Lisbon than Elevator De Santa Justa. It offers a magnificent view of the Tagus River and downtown Lisbon.

What is it that you should not miss?

If you are someone who wants easy access to the downtown shopping areas, while also getting to admire the beautiful views, then Elevator De Santa Justa gives you the best of both. It travels underground, which allows for easy access to its downtown shopping area.

3. Walk along Lisbon’s magnificently structured castle – Castelo De Sao Jorge

Why is this important?

Castelo De Sao Jorge is a castle that was built around 8th century B.C. It is Lisbon’s oldest standing monument.

Why should you make a stop here?

This ancient structure is as alluring as it is regal. From it, you have a birds-eye view all of the sprawling city of Lisbon. It is a magnificently built stone castle, and wouldn’t look out of place in an medieval Hollywood blockbuster.

What is it that you should not miss?

Visitors of Castelo De Sao Jorge are allowed to walk on the top battlements of the castle and see its magnificent towers, which offers a breathtaking view of Lisbon. It is one of the oldest standing castles in the world.

4. Ride through Lisbon, on the very comfortable Trams!

Why is this important?

First offering service in 1901, trams are a wire train/bus that makes travelling through the city of Lisbon stress-free. Its design is similar to that of the trolley cars of San Francisco, but in Lisbon, they are known as “Funicular railways.”

Why should you make a stop here?

Lisbon sits on some very steep hills, which is great news for those who walk a lot or simply want to stay in shape, but if you are the sort of person that dislikes walking up and down hills, then the trams are for you. People who commute by tram say that they are extremely convenient and time-saving.

What is it that you should not miss?

Don’t miss riding through all of the great tourist spots in Lisbon. By using the tram, you’ll save energy too, which will make it easier to take advantage of all of the great sights and sounds that Lisbon has to offer.

5. One of the most beautiful architectural designs in all of Europe: the Jeronimos Monastery

Why is this important?

The Joronimos Monastery was built in the early 1500s. It is known for its regal design and strong standing structure. The strength of its architecture was proven in its ability to withstand the powerful earthquake of 1755, which crumbled most of the buildings and structures in Lisbon.

Why should you make a stop here?

Inside this beautiful monastery, you will find the tomb of Vasco Da Gama, the great Portuguese sea explorer. Outside, you’ll find the monastery’s impressive courtyard, which was constructed to celebrate the great Portuguese open sea voyages.

What is it that you should not miss?

Jeronimos Monastery’s architectural design is truly epic. And combined with its charming courtyard, this is a must-see for vacationers and travelers alike.

Close to the Monasteries there is a dazzling monument of the magnificent sea explorers of Portugal. This monument features statues of some of the greatest writers of Portugal, some of the most prolific navigators, and some of the most adored, and admired missionaries in Portuguese history.

6. Take a stroll through the alluring Parque Das Nações

Why is this important?

Resurrected in 2012, after featuring the World Exposition back in 1998, it is home to beautifully designed, safe and secure cable cars, which overlook the city. Aside from being on a plane, it is Lisbon’s highest mode of transportation.

Why should you make a stop here?

The cable cars of Parque Das Nações offer a great view of the magnificently designed Vasco De Gama bridge. Here you will also find some of the most delicious food in all of Lisbon, with restaurants such as Alguimya, who make exquisite food with ingredients of the highest quality.

What is it that you should not miss?

There’s almost no place in Portugal like it. Besides its soaring cable cars, it has amazing walkways and top-tier restaurants, with nearby 5 star hotels if you decide to stay in the area.

7. Take a day trip and enjoy all the beauty of Queluz

Why is this important?

Queluz features a grand, 18th-century designed National palace. Queluz architectural styles are some of the most revered in all of Europe.

Why should you make a stop here?

Queluz has some of the richest buildings and history in all of Lisbon. It has an epic 18th-century palace, where inside, it has some of the most elegant chandeliers and sculptures, with striking imagery etched onto the ceilings. The beauty of its gardens and water fountains are unforgettable. .

What is it that you should not miss?

One of the most-visited attractions is Quantum Park. This facility features a world-class, indoor trampoline park, rock climbing “clip n’ climb” walls and skating ramps. There’s no age limit, so this is where the adults can have as much fun as the kids do.

8. Come visit the beautiful Sintra

Why is this important?

This small town is known across Lisbon as a resort, high on the Sintra mountains. It overlooks the beautiful North Atlantic sea.

Why should you make a stop here?

Walking through this small resort town you will be mesmerized by the its eclectic statues and architectural designs. Its castles will leave you in awe. There are long, winding stone walkways within its walls, which are available to the general public. It is one of Lisbon’s most renowned locations.

What is it that you should not miss?

The magnificent Pena National Palace truly is a sight to behold. This relaxing resort is somewhere that the whole family can enjoy.

9. The mouthwatering desserts of Pasteis De Belem

Why is this important?

Established in 1837, Pasteis De Belem is one of Lisbon’s premium restaurants. It is known throughout Lisbon for it high-quality baked goods, such as bread and pastries. Its original pastry recipes have been passed down since its opening back in the early 1800s.

Why should you make a stop here?

Many tourists and locals line up every day to taste Pasteis De Belem’s showstopper – its Portuguese custard tart – whose recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. The waiters and staff are very friendly and attentive to all of their patrons.

Their custard tarts have a sweet and creamy taste, with the sprinkling of cinnamon and powdered sugar on top as the final flourish. For your convenience, at every table in Pasteis De Belem, there is a small container or jar of cinnamon and powdered sugar. 

What is it that you should not miss?

Each day at Pasteis De Belem, over 10,000 loafs of bread and pastries are made for hungry travelers. Throughout Portugal, you will find many restaurants that sell custard tarts, but thanks to its time-honored recipe, those at Pasteis De Belem’s will always triumph.

10. Come experience the beauty and wonder of O Mundo Fantástico Da Sardinha Portuguesa

Why is this important?

O Mundo Fantastico Da Sardinha Portuguesa is one of the only food shops in Lisbon that is designed like a small carnival. The winding wheels and custom interior designs will leave you mesmerized.

Why should you make a stop here?

While you can buy sardines at many Portuguese restaurants, at O Mundo Fantastico Da Sardinha Portuguesa they’re sold “in style.” Each can of O Mundo Fantastico Da Sardinha Portuguesa’s sardines tells a story.

What is it that you should not miss?

The sardine cans display designs inspired by sea voyagers. On these uniquely designed cans, you will find a different year and the corresponding story of famous events that took place at that time.

11. Spend a day shopping at Loja Do Gato Preto – Vasco Da Gama

Why is this important?

Loja Do Gato Preto – Vasco Da Gama is widely known in Lisbon as one of its top shopping centers. It shops captures the beauty, grandeur and history of Portugal.

Why should you make a stop here?

Here at Loja Do Gato Preto – Vasco Da Gama you will find many different shops, and accessories, that will suit you and your whole family. There are shops that tailor to adults, as well as children.

What is it that you should not miss?

Spending a day shopping at Loja Do Gato Preto – Vasco Da Gama will allow you to save time and money for having to travel to many different locations for items that you desire. This mall offers restaurants, gift shops, clothing shops, electronics, and then when you are done with your shopping, there is a cinema available for you to go and have fun watching the latest film.

12. Come and shop at Soma Ideas and discover some of the most uniquely designed items in all of Lisbon

Why is this important?

Opened in 2014, Soma Ideas is a work of art in itself. The inside of the shop will give you a feeling like your viewing a Picasso painting. Many of their items capture one of the seven wonders of Portugal – Sardines!

Why should you make a stop here?

Soma Ideas has a 5 out of 5 stars rating, by its frequent and first-time visitors alike. Each of its items is beautifully designed; from the mugs, plates, buttons, white notebooks, shirts, and bags, to their alluring scented fragrance soap, which is safe to use on your entire body.

Every Soma Ideas beautifully crafted item has detailed designs displaying the rich history and charm of Portugal. Proud of their heritage, Soma Ideas makes sure that all of their items are designed and created right in Portugal. The staff is friendly and the prices will suit your purchasing desires.

What is it that you should not miss?

At this eloquent gift shop, they will ship items that you purchase, not only to any place in Lisbon but, to any location around the world. So you can send gifts to family and friends that are outside of the country exploring or studying.

13. Drive over the Vasco Da Gama Bridge and witness an architectural wonder

Why is this important?

Lisbon’s most famous explorer, and this bridges namesake, was the first Count of the town of Vidigueira – Vasco Da Gama. This bridge is a modern-day marvel. From 1995 – 1998, it was constructed and created to alleviate the rising traffic congestion throughout Lisbon.

Why should you make a stop here?

The bridge stretches for 10 -15 miles, which provides a stunning view of the gorgeous Tagus river as you cruise through. The bridge has six driving lanes, which allows travelers a smooth drive.

What is it that you should not miss?

At each end of the bridge there are wide grassy areas that allow for picnics, and photos of the impressive bridge. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience one of the rarest bridges in the world, with nearly 11 miles worth if traveling.

14. Take a trip down to Lisbon Oceanarium and be amazed

Why is this important?

With its doors opening in 1998, Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in all of Europe. It is home to more than 450 species, and 16,000 aquatic animals.

Why should you make a stop here?

Lisbon Oceanarium has an impressive collection of sharks, penguins, sea otters, dolphins, fish and crabs, just to name a few. The easily accessible aquarium makes navigation very straightforward.

Around the aquarium, every safety precaution has been taken to make sure that all its visitors are comfortable, safe and have a pleasant time during their visit. Adults can get in on the fun for 14 euros, while kids tickets are 9 euros (Parents are not required to pay a fee for children under 4 to enter the aquarium).

What is it that you should not miss?

The Lisbon Oceanarium gift shop. This store features a wide array of the Oceanarium’s featured animals (with the soft, stuffed penguins as one of their most popular items), The penguins, sea otters, and great white sharks are three of the aquariums most popular tourists attractions.

The penguins’ always bring smiles to people’s faces, while the sea otters, from the north Pacific ocean, always arouse laughter. The great white sharks are an impressive, if not slightly intimidating, sight to behold.

15. Come see the sight of the great Belem Tower that defended Lisbon

Why is this important?

This ancient tower, built from 1514 – 1520, was primarily used to defend the city. Its bastion was built for the placement of 17 long-range cannons, which had the capability of deterring foreign enemies.

The Belem Tower, as strong as it is, was not always used for battle, and also welcomed allies and friends alike. Today it stands as a national landmark of Lisbon.

Why should you make a stop here?

This 4 story tower is built entirely of limestone, which has allowed it to brave the sometimes treacherous weather that has hit Lisbon. It is a highly visited tourist attraction, which is also frequently used as a gathering spot for locals.

The area near the tower is a great spot for picnics and photos with family and friends.

What is it that you should not miss?

You should not miss the view from this magnificent tower. Once inside the tower, you’ll have the opportunity to explore its interior and all its splendor.

Author

  • Rovology is leveraging advice from Vagabonds, Tourists, Digital Nomads, Wayfarers and Travel Writers to give our readers a guide on the best things to do no matter where they go.