Visit Lisbon: 21 Must See Spots On Your Next Trip To Lisbon
by Lana Katsaros and Bernardo Henriques
Whether you are spending a day or two in Lisbon, or an extended period of time, there are some places you just can’t miss if you want to experience the true essence of Lisbon.
We have listed the top 21 places in Lisbon to explore, from ruins that survived earthquakes, to delicious pastries, and rooftop bars.
Lisbon is divided into distinct neighborhoods shaped by the seven hills of the city and each boasting their own unique feel and offerings. No matter where you wander, you’ll be sure to be greeted by beautiful architecture, kind people and delicious food.
For detailed self-guided walking tours around the city, make sure to download the Walkbox App where you can view images, maps, and detailed descriptions of even more Lisbon hot spots, even offline.
#1. Praça do Comércio
This square, also known as Terreiro do Paço, is a beautiful and grand square open to the Tagus River. It can be viewed from the Rua Augusta Arch. It's one of Europe's most beautiful squares and a very important landmark in Lisbon. In 1503, the royal family moved from the São Jorge Castle to the Palace Paço da Ribeira located close to the river and which became the official residence of the Portuguese royals until the catastrophic 1755 earthquake took place. Come to people-watch and marvel at the beautiful sea views and listen to musicians often play music in the square. This area is abundant with cafes, many of which are historically significant and beautiful.
#2. Rua Augusta Arch
A Triumphal Arch for a triumphal entrance into the city, which was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. It was completed in 1875, with a neoclassical project by Veríssimo da Costa. The 33m high viewpoint at the top is open to the public with lift access (for a small fee) and offers an unparalleled 360-degree panoramic view. From the lift it is still necessary to climb 70 steps to reach the terrace.
#3. Santa Justa Elevator
Inaugurated in 1902, this metallic and neogothic style elevator is a National Monument and one of the city's most important landmarks. It is composed by a metallic tower where two elegant wooden cabins circulate and by a crosswalk that connects the upstairs floor to the Carmo neighbourhood. It was designed for public transport, between downtown Lisbon (Baixa) and the Carmo and Chiado neighbourhoods. At the top of the elevator, where the original steam motor used to be installed, there is an observation platform that offers 360 degrees stunning views of the historical centre of Lisbon, also at night. It is a much sought-after monument by tourists and there are always long queues of people waiting in the street to catch the elevator. As an alternative, and for only €1.5, you can visit the platform on the top of the Elevator, taking the stairs from Carmo Street, on no. 29 on the right side.
#4. Confeitaria Nacional
A stunning pastry shop and restaurant founded in 1829 which still remains in the same family. The shop's speciality is its vast variety of pastries/deserts, homemade with original centenary recipes and beautifully displayed on the shop windows and on vintage cake stands. The first King Cake (Bolo Rei), traditional Portuguese Christmas cake, was made in the Confeitaria Nacional in 1870, an adaptation of the French “Gateau des Rois”. Climb to the upper floor to admire the beautiful wood fan shaped stairs and the stunning tea and dining rooms, where you can savor a delicious cake/dessert or meal.
#5. Casa Pereira da Conceição – Teahouse
Home not only to tea, but chocolates and premium biscuits. The interior is simply stunning and the selection is large enough to accommodate almost anyone. This beautiful teahouse was founded in 1933. Today it sells chocolates and fine premium biscuits in addition to tea and hot drinks.The interior is composed of antique furniture Luis 16th style, oriental and Portuguese china pieces, antique scales and coffee mills, all the products are beautifully and perfectly displayed.
#6. Rossio Gastrobar
At the top of the Altis Avenida Hotel, on its seventh floor, you will find a terrace where you can enjoy an incredible view over Rossio and the rest of the city. Comfortably seated in armchairs, you will be able to enjoy drinks, homemade offerings and a menu imagined by chef João Rodrigues and executed by chef João Correia. To extend your evening, head over to Dom Pedro IV Square, which is a two minute walk for an epic example of traditional Portuguese-patterned calsada pavements. The former Roman circus site is a great place to wander and people watch after dinner.
#7. Chiado Neighborhood
Chiado is one of the most emblematic and elegant neighborhoods in Lisbon. Churches and theaters merge with centenary cafes, old bookstores and international brand stores, giving it a cosmopolitan and unique atmosphere in the city. In the 19th century, it became the center of Portuguese romanticism, and a meeting point for intellectuals. Following the great fire in August 1988 many buildings were rehabilitated in the1990s, during the reconstruction of Chiado.
#8. Bordalo II (2020)
On the corner between Rua de Santa Justa and Rua de Carmo, you will find Pelicans by Bordalo II. This piece is made with scraps on order from Montepio Associaçao Mutualista. Artur Bordalo, from Lisbon, uses the artistic name Bordalo II in tribute to his grandfather, the painter Real Bordalo.
#9. A Brasileira
A Brasileira is one of the oldest and the most emblematic café in Lisbon. This cafe was founded in 1905 by Adriano Telles, a rich emigrant who returned from Brazil. In the 1920's A Brasileira became very famous and a place where intellectuals and artists used to gather. The Fernando Pessoa bronze statue that lies outside A Brasileira and was created by the sculptor Lagoa Henriques in 1988. It has become a symbol of Lisbon.
#10. Sea Me
A tribute to the gastronomic relationship between Portugal and Japan, Sea Me is an original cross between a modern snack bar and a traditional seafood restaurant. It serves only quality fish and seafood-based dishes. Start your experience with the fabulous sardine nilgiris, continue with the sea bass salad with seaweed. Finish your meal with cuttlefish fried in its own ink.
#11. Elevador da Glória
Looking for a classic photograph of a famous Lisbon tram? Funicular was inaugurated in 1885 and built by engineer Raul Mesnier du Ponsard of French descent, also responsible for the Santa Justa Elevator. It is one of the busiest funicular lifts in Lisbon, transporting 3 million passengers every year. It's been a National Monument since 2002.
#12. Bairro Alto Neighborhood
One of Lisbon's traditional neighborhoods, built at the beginning of the 16th century as the first urban plan of the history of the city, forming outside the walls of the historical city, it is characterized by an almost orthogonal tract. From the 1980's Bairro Alto became the center of bohemian life in Lisbon. The bars are small and at night the narrow streets get filled with people in a festive atmosphere.
#13. Carmo Ruins and Archaeological Museum
The Carmo convent was founded in 1389 and was the main gothic temple in the capital, on par with the Lisbon Cathedral (Sé) until it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. The museum's collections are on display in the open in the convent's ruins and also in the chapels of the church. The entrance fee includes a tour of the convent's ruins, the church and the museum.
#14. TOPO Chiado
TOPO Chiado has a direct view of downtown Lisbon, with the Santa Justa elevator as the main part of this view. The menu, inspired by seasonal and macrobiotic cuisine, is varied, and the drinks and cocktails menu is second to none. On weekends and holidays you can enjoy the brunch menu, and at night, you can dance with a cocktail to the music of their DJs.
#15. Castle of São Jorge
Castle of São Jorge is one of the greatest landmarks in Lisbon. It was built on the highest hill of the historical center, to defend the city from enemy attacks. The first fortress dates back to the 1st century B.C. and, throughout history, the castle has always been the main target of successive attacks by romans (1st century B.C.), Suevi (5th century), Visigoths (6th century) and Muslims (8th century-12th century). The conquest of Lisbon from the Moors in 1147, by King Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, was consummated with the conquest of the castle. The castle reached its prominence in the 13th century, when Lisbon became capital of the kingdom and the royal palace (Paço de Alcáçova) and the Bishops Palace moved there.
The moving of the royal residence to the Terreiro do Paço (Praça do Comércio) in the 16th century and the destruction caused by the 1755 Earthquake led to the castle's decline.
Between 1938 and 1940, extensive restoration works took place. It was classified as a National Monument in 1910.
This is the most genuine and charismatic neighborhood in Lisbon and the second oldest neighborhood in Europe, after El Pópulo in Cádiz. Here, you will find a maize of cobblestone narrow streets, alleys, stairs and squares, flanked by small ancient colourful houses. Most of its old residents have a strong sense of community, reminiscent of life in an ancient village.
Alfama was founded by the Arabs in the 8th century under the name "al-Hamma", which means "hot spring", by the various springs of warm water that existed in the area and fed the fountains. Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was home for the sailors that took part in the portuguese discoveries. Alfama has preserved its unique architecture, cultural and sociological elements, giving it its authentic character. This also results from the fact that this was one of the areas in Lisbon less destroyed by the great Earthquake of 1755.
#17. Pastéis de Belém
The shop originated soon after the 1820 liberal revolution, when many convents and monasteries were closed down. One of the monks who left the Jeronimos Monastery started selling the custard tarts that were made in the monastery in a nearby sugar cane refining shop. This is how the Belém custard tart (pastel de belém) recipe was created.
Pastéis de Belém is now home to traditional sweets, including that much loved Pastéis de Nata. The cafe is beautiful, airy, and a perfect stop on your walking tour.
#18. Jerónimos Monastery
A very short walk from Pastéis de Belém is the Manueline architecture masterpiece from the 15th century and one of the greatest Portuguese artistic and historic symbols.
The construction was started by King Manuel I in 1501. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Monastery was improved with new structures, rooms, altarpieces, frescoes and paintings. The monastery gained importance as a royal pantheon. It was only slightly damaged by the 1755 earthquake. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. This is an unmissable spot visit on your trip to Lisbon.
#19. Belém Cultural Centre (CCB)
Belém Cultural Centre is an iconic cultural center in Portugal, designed by Manuel Salgado and the Italian Vittorio Gregotti. It was built to host the Portuguese presidency of the European Union in 1992. Today it offers an intense and diversified cultural programming in a multi-functional space with 6 hectares.
#20. Bordalo II (2015)
Next to the north façade of the CCB, you will find one of the most emblematic pieces of urban art in Lisbon entitled "Big Racoon" by the artist Bordalo II. This piece was created in 2015 as part of the series Big Trash Animals and uses several pieces of scrap metal and other trash materials.
The recent Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), built in 2016, soon became an important landmark in Lisbon due to its futuristic architecture and unique surroundings. The stunning south facade, covered in 15 thousand ceramic mosaics, reflects the light from multiple angles depending on the time, day and season. It has an amazing pedestrian roof with garden areas and a spectacular viewpoint.
Lisbon’s 21 Must See Spots Map
Do you want more detailed tours, photos, and maps of Lisbon? Thirteen free Lisbon walking tours have been curated on the Walkbox App! These tours include street art specific maps, cafes and shops, and neighborhood specific essentials. Maps are available offline as well.
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