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10 Things you must do in Lisbon – and what to avoid!

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Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. It's perfect for a long weekend, but you could easily spend a week. There are so many things to do in Portugal's capital city. You'll find the perfect mix of history, culture and modern trendy eateries to suit every budget. 

Here are the ten things to do when you visit Lisbon!

Things to do in Lisbon

1. Explore the Alfama District

One of the best things to do is to visit the Alfama district,  one of the oldest districts of Lisbon. Made up of quaint cobbled streets littered with picturesque buildings, street art and amazing views of the city. You could spend hours roaming around, a new photo opportunity at every turn.  Make sure you've got your walking shoes on though! It's very hilly! Be sure to visit in the evening as well, listen out for the Fado music, and you'll find the perfect spot for drinks and entertainment.

Lisbon Timeout Market

2. Eat at the Time Out Market Lisboa

In fact, eat here multiple times. Trust me, it's that good. 

Whilst it can be fun to stumble into a restaurant in the city and find a hidden gem if you're looking for guaranteed good food, with something for everyone, the Time Out Market Lisboa is the place to be. It can be absolutely heaving so it can be pretty hard to get a table, but I suggest watching for someone to leave, snap it up and then go off individually to pick your food, knowing your table is ready and waiting! You'll find top restaurants and chefs, carefully curated to offer the most delicious food in Lisbon. The market is located in an old marketplace, the Ribeira Market. The atmosphere is buzzing, and the food is divine and the wine flowing. Think of it as an upmarket, trendy food court, that only serves 5-star food.

 
Jerónimos Monastery Lisbon, Portugal
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3. Visit the Jerónimos Monastery

Built in the 1500's, the Jeronimos Monastery is well worth the visit. The Cloisters are absolutely breathtaking with intricate carvings and stunning arches everywhere you look. Be sure to take your time and soak up the impressiveness of your surroundings!

It can be busy, so be sure to buy your tickets online to avoid the queues!

4. Eat Portuguese Custard Tarts

Daily.

Of course, my favourite thing to do in Lisbon involves food... You'll find these delicious custard tarts known as Pastéis de Nata all over Lisbon. We had some every day, all slightly different, but all delicious! I'd highly recommend visiting Pastiés de Belém, which was founded in 1837 and is the only place with the secret original authentic recipe. You can choose to dine in, or grab some to go, don't be put off by the large queues, it moves fast! Be sure to get extra to save for later!

5. Castelo de São Jorge

The Moorish Castelo de São Jorge has stunning views of the city of Lisbon. Come here to enjoy a glass of wine, whilst you watch the sunset overlooking the orange roofs of the city below. If you're into history you'll love exploring the walls of the castle,  the oldest parts date back to the 6th century, but most of it was built in the 11th century during the Moorish era. So bare in mind, these are ruins, rather than a full-blown castle.

 
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6. Visit the Carmo Convent

To be completely honest, if it wasn't for the fact I was with my history buff dad, I probably would have skipped this. But I'm so glad we didn't. The gothic church that was left roofless after an earthquake in 1755, is something special. There is also a small archaeological museum inside what used to be the main alter.

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7. Take a ride on the 28 Tram

If you've ever seen a photo of Lisbon, most likely, it involved a tram. Whether you decide to ride one, or simply use it for the perfect photo opportunity, the vintage style of the Lisbon trams has a certain charm about it. You'll want to get there early to (try) avoid the queues. But it's a great way to see the city!

 

8. Explore Lisbon Cathedral

If you haven't seen enough churches and historical buildings, be sure to visit as it's the oldest church in Lisbon, work began on the cathedral in 1147! You'll find many architectural styles, mainly as a result of modifications and renovations after earthquake damage. Right outside the cathedral, the old trams run, so you'll be sure to get the perfect photo opportunity!

9. Eat Sardines

Portugal is famous for its sardines. I can't stand them. But my dad ate enough for all of us combined!  You'll find plenty of restaurants serving sardines, particularly if you eat by the coast. If you want to buy some sardines to take home, be sure to visit Conserveira de Lisboa, established in 1930, a shop dedicated to tinned fish. You'll find stacks of flavoured sardines, mackerel and more. The shop looks like it's stepped out of a time machine and the packaging is adorable. They make a great gift!

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10. Get out of the city and explore Sintra

Only an hour out of Lisbon, Sintra is perfect for a day trip but you could easily spend longer as there are so many things to do and see. It's is one of the most visited places in Portugal. Check out this post for to discover the best things to do in Sintra!

Give it a miss

I'd suggest skipping the Santa Justa Lift. Although, I would DEFINITELY view it from the bottom - it's pretty impressive.

You can actually reach the top elevator level by walking around the back. In fact, we stumbled upon it by mistake after deciding not to bother with the elevator! If you want to walk, head towards the Carmo Convent, next to the Bella Lisa Elevador restaurant, and you'll find the bridge that connects to the elevator boasting the same stunning views. There is also a top viewing platform that cost's extra, after riding the elevator, but you can walk around the back over the bridge rather than going up the first bit of the elevator, and then you can pay the €1.50 to go up to the very top.

I didn't ride it, so perhaps it is incredible and worth doing, but if you're just after the view I wouldn't bother!

The queue was absolutely insane (when we were there it would have easily taken over 2 hours), and we were only on a short trip.

It's worth noting though - it is technically part of the public transport network of Lisbon, so you can ride the lift using your  24-hour public transport ticket. So if you've got one of those, don't fancy walking up the hill and the queues aren't too bad, I'd say go for it!

 
Santa Justa Lift - Lisbon Portugal The Travel Escape 5

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10 Things you must do in Lisbon – and what to avoid!

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