City trip to Lisbon, Portugal
I just ❤ Lisbon. The capital of Portugal has to be one of the most captivating cities in Europe. There is so much to do and to see. Historic sights, beautiful squares, stunning views, delicious food, scenic rides and astonishing engineering feats are just a few city attractions.
And yes, it is equally fun to check out the city with your friends, as a couple or as a family.
The best things to do in Lisbon
Excursions from Lisbon
#1 Start to explore the city by Tram #28
Begin your visit to Lisbon with a ride on vintage Tram #28. The tour will give you a quick snapshot of some of the most beautiful parts of Lisbon.
This relict of the 1930s runs through the popular tourist areas of Graca, Baixa and Estrela before it gracefully climbs the steep hills and navigates the sharp turns of the Alfama district where the line ends.
The tram is particularly popular with tourists. So:
- Go early (or late) in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Get on board at the first stops, preferably at Martim Moniz (or Campo Ourique), thus ensuring you still have a chance for a seat.
- As the tram crowds, beware of pickpockets.
- When standing, hold onto something; otherwise, there is a good chance that you will stumble when the tram suddenly breaks.
- Buy a ticket for public transportation from any metro station or
- use the Lisbon Card, which will get you free access to the famous #28 tram ride and more like:
- access to up to 26 museums and monuments in the city
- unlimited free travel by bus, metro and tram
- free access to the Santa Justa elevator
- discount at many venues, restaurants, Aerobus, and shopping centres
- free train travel to Sintra and Cascais
- a guidebook
Check rates and buy your Lisbon Card here.
#2 Get out at Cemiterio dos Prazeres
At the end of tram line #28, you will find the fascinating Cemetery dos Prazeres. Life after death is suspiciously similar to earthly existence in this graveyard. The rich enjoy their peace in palaces, while the poor anonymously decay into dust.
Cemiterio dos Prazeres translates as the ‘Cemetery of Pleasure’. It is named after the Prazeres district in Lisbon.
The cemetery was established after a cholera epidemic in 1833 and was the first in Portugal.
For more eternity, visit the Convento Do Carmo.
#3 Visit the haunting Convento do Carmo
The Carmo convent in Lisbon is adjacent to a Gothic church built between 1389 and 1423. Unfortunately, the building is severely damaged. Only the walls are still standing after the great earthquake in 1755 and the subsequent fire.
In the monastery, you will see the haunting body of a girl. She will remain young forever, even though the beauty of her youth has long since been lost. Her tanned skin wrinkled, her haircut unkempt. She is an unnamed girl, a Peruvian mummy.
The Portuguese took her from her last resting place in Chancay in the 16th century. They brought her to Lisbon to exhibit her in a glass cage. She is not the only one displayed in this cabinet of curiosities of the ‘Do Carmo’ archaeological museum. A young man, grotesque in his mummified death, belongs to the same Peruvian party.
The mummies are in good company. In addition, the museum contains an Egyptian sarcophagus and some tombs: from the illegitimate son of King Dinis (14th century) and of Queen Maria Anna of Austria (18th century).
Address Convento Do Carmen, Largo do Carmo, Chiado
Right, time for some lighter entertainment. Off to the Lisbon football stadium.
#4 Tour the Benfica Estádio da Luz
Discover the Portuguese passion for football on a guided tour of the Estádio da Luz. The tour is strictly for football fans. Otherwise best to skip this tour.
The stadium has a capacity of 65,000 spectators, which is a lot of folding seats. There is also heaps of grass, which is green.
Inside are the guest changing rooms. This section is relatively austere, in contrast to the dressing rooms of the home club. These seem to have a swimming pool, sauna, massage rooms and many more beautiful things, but this is not shown during the tour. Just like the skyboxes, which are also not accessible for touring guests.
Stadium address Av. General Norton de Matos, Lisboa
#5 Admire the Vasco da Gama bridge
The Ponte Vasco da Gama is a bridge over the Tagus River east of Lisbon, named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1469-1524). The bridge is a whopping 17 km long, making it the second-longest bridge in Europe.
On the Lisbon side of the bridge is a large shopping centre, with various restaurants, terraces and a park. Especially the latter is ideal when visiting with small children, as they can safely run free.
- Take a ride in the cable car, which floats above the Tagus river at the height of 30 meters. While riding, one overlooks the Park, the Oceanarium, the Portugal Pavilion, the towers of St. Gabriel and St Raphael, the Atlantic pavilion (Meo Arena), the Vasco da Gama Tower and the Vasco da Gama bridge.
The ride takes approximately 10 minutes. A ticket costs 6 euros for an adult.
- Discover more than 8,000 sea creatures from the North Atlantic, Antarctic, Temperate Pacific and Tropical Indian Ocean at the Oceanário de Lisboa.
After smelling the sea air, it is time to head to the coast.
#6 Enjoy the Lisbon beaches and coast
Lisbon is located on the Atlantic coast. The water is, therefore, less warm than the Mediterranean. It can also be quite windy. But nevertheless, it is always nice to get a breath of fresh air on the beach. Especially when travelling with children.
On a hot day head to Sesimbra Port. Kayak to beautiful cliffs, caves and hidden beaches.
Cascais is approximately 35 kilometres east of Lisbon. It used to be primarily a fishing village but has also been an important seaside resort for over 100 years. There are two beaches in the centre of Cascais: Praia da Rainha and Praia da Ribeira.
The more extensive sandy beaches are located east of Cascais, towards the resort of Estoril.
Travel by train to either Cascais or Estoril. The journey will take approximately half an hour. Use your Lisbon Card here.
After all this sightseeing, it is time to eat!
#7 Eat at the Michelin restaurant Lisbon
For the best Michelin star food, call on Eleven. The restaurant is located in the heart of Lisbon’s business district and is surrounded by lush gardens. The architecture of the building is modern, minimalist and organic, using natural materials such as wood and decorative stones. Through the large windows, you view the city and the Tagus.
Eleven is not suitable for small children.
Address Eleven Restaurant, Rua Marquês de Fronteira, Jardim Amália Rodrigues, Lisboa
#8 Have a delicious Pastéis de Belém with your coffee
The one Portuguese sweet that you should try is the Pastéis de Belém or Pastéis de Nata. It is a delightful pastry filled with custard and crème brûlée.
For the best result: order a coffee and eat the pastry with cinnamon and powdered sugar sitting on one of the terraces with a view of the city.
#9 Tour Sintra, the city of the palaces
If you have enough time, go to Sintra for the day. In the town itself and nearby you can find several beautiful palaces and castles:
- The most important is the Palácio da Pena (1840-1850), built around a monastery from the 16th century.
- The Palace of Queluz, the former summer residence of the Portuguese kings, is a palace from the 14th and 16th centuries.
- The Moorish Castle, Castelo dos Mouros from the early Middle Ages.
- Sintra Palace.
- Quinta da Regaleira
- Palace of Monserrate
- Convento dos Capuchos, a monastery from the 16th century.
Tips for a visit to Sintra
- Sintra is 25 km west of Lisbon. It is easiest to take the train from Lisbon from Rossio station. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes. Use your Lisbon Card here.
- If you prefer to go by car, keep in mind that the road to it is relatively steep. There is little parking space in Sintra itself.
- To avoid the biggest crowds, go early in the day.
- Or book a guided tour from Lisbon, click here.
And last but not least to either prepare for your holiday or to relive your days in Lisbon afterwards:
#10 Read the book or watch the movie ‘Night train to Lisbon’
‘Night Train to Lisbon’- both the book and movie – feature the Cemiterio dos Prazeres, the vintage tram #28, winding narrow streets and the Tagus. It is a beautifully moving travelogue.
The story begins when Raimond saves the life of a woman who is about to jump off a bridge. As a result of this meeting, he receives a book written by the Portuguese Amadeu de Prado, a diary recorded during the second republic in Portugal *.
Fascinated by the rich and immersive life of Amadeu, Gregorius decides to leave everything behind to start looking for the writer.
The script is based on the book of the same name by the Swiss Pascal Mercier.
* The second republic was a military dictatorship from 1933 until the Carnation Revolution in 1974.
Sleep in the best Hotels in Lisbon
Lisbon is built on 7 hills. In other words, it matters where you stay in terms of convenience. Is there public transport close by? Is it safe with children? Will you have sufficient space? Would you rather sit by the beach or in a nice neighbourhood?
Are you travelling as a family with 2 children under 16? We think the Novotel is an excellent choice for a family. The hotel has a great breakfast buffet, spacious rooms and the children sleep in your room for free.
To view the availability and prices of the Novotel in Lisbon, click here.
Just the two of you
The charming Casa Belmonte is located just 3 minutes walk from the metro station Marques de Pombal. The airport is a fifteen-minute drive from the guest house.
To view prices and availability of the Casa Belmonte, click here.
Are you staying a little longer and want more space?
The stylish Flora Chiado Apartments are located in the centre of Lisbon.
View and book the apartments here.
Of course Portugal has a lot more to offer. If you like to extend your holiday look below for more tips.
Why Vizela in northern Portugal is like ‘chicken soup for the soul’
Vizela is a small town and excellent spot to relax. Wellness & Spa, good food, wine, close to the Atlantic, friendly people and it is close to Porto.
The 50 shades of light in Beja, Portugal
Beja in Alentejo Our visit to the sleepy town of...
Alentejo, the best kept secret of Portugal
Alentejo in the south of Portugal is a rural delight, off the beaten path. Beautiful beaches, nature, wine and above all food.
Evora highlights in Alentejo, Portugal
Évora, the main city of Alentenjo forms the heart of this region in the south of Portugal. The main attractions are UNESCO sites, excellent food & wine.
Reguengos de Monsaraz, a taste of Portugal
Reguengos de Monsaraz is a small place in Alentejo, a rural area in southern Portugal. Wine Capital of Europe in 2015.
Porto city break: what to do & what to see
Porto city break: what to do & what to see