9 Awesome things to see and do whilst visiting Lisbon
Lisbon truly is one of those special cities that instantly grabs your attention and steals your heart. From the get go it’s easy to see why it has gained the nickname, ‘The City of Light’. With it’s stunning “calçadas” (sidewalks with mosaic stone motives), tree lined streets, gorgeous “miradouros” (viewpoints) with amazing views overlooking the city of Lisbon, all it’s colour, vibrancy and history, it’s no wonder that everyone so easily falls in love with this place.
But how do you start planning your visit, what should you see and do?
Well, look no further! In this post I’m going to share my insider tips and suggest some really cool experiences you can partake in whilst you are visiting Lisbon, some of which are free too. A great way to save money when visiting Lisbon, Portugal. Lets go!
Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills and so it’s only natural that you would come to expect stunning views all round. And Lisboa certainly does not disappoint in this department. Wherever you are in Lisbon, you are bound to find a ‘miradouro’ or lookout point close-by.
But why not take advantage of these gorgeous vistas and enjoy an outdoor movie with a view?
That’s right, for the last few years now we’ve loved going to the Cine Society outdoor movies situated at Topo Chiado just behind the famous Carmo ruins in the area of Chiado. It’s a fabulous night out, I mean, what’s better than watching a movie under the stars with gorgeous views of the city, complete with a Portuguese drink in hand!
Be sure to get there early and enjoy a sun-downer whilst you watch the sun set over Lisbon. Then grab some popcorn and settle into one of the comfy deck chairs, sit back relax and enjoy the outdoor movies on offer.
The Cine Society program kicks off in May and feel free to visit their website to book your tickets: CineSociety.
2. Outjazz - Outdoor Jazz in a Lisbon Park
If you are headed to Lisbon between the months of May to September and you happen to be looking for a chilled activity to enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon, then look no further than Outjazz!
Every Sunday, starting from 5th May, Outjazz will be headed to various parks around Lisbon. It’s a free jazz & soul concert with lots of drink stalls around (or you can just take your own food & drink too).
So why not head over with a bunch of your friends, a picnic basket and blanket and hey, if the beat hits you, dance! There really isn’t a better way to enjoy a sunny Sunday in Lisboa!
For the schedule, go check out – Outjazz.
3. Lisboa Social Press
It’s easy to see why many creatives, from writers to artists & musicians alike, have been so inspired by Lisbon. It truly is a city of light, colour, sound and vibrant movement that easily captures your heart at first sight!
And if you’re into trying something new and different to do during your trip to Lisbon, away from the humdrum of tourists, then I would highly recommend a visit to Lisboa Social Press.
Co-founders, Jilly & Tom, will host you in their art studio in the heart of downtown Baixa and there are various printing workshops available, including amongst others:
- Design & Print your own Postcards and Patterns
- Print & Drink evenings
I’ve had the pleasure of attending both of these events and I can honestly say, it was brilliant and so much fun.
Tom & Jilly are exceptional at creating a relaxed and comfortable environment where you get to create your very own postcards and prints inspired by your trip to Lisbon, the perfect souvenir from Lisbon, Portugal, to remember your visit by!
They are brilliant at guiding and helping you along the process. Both come from a solid Art & Printmaking background and will offer support throughout the workshop and it’s a wonderful sense of pride and achievement when you create your first print!
Now, I must also add, you don’t have to be put off these workshops if you feel you aren’t creative enough. Honestly, you don’t need to be a modern day Picasso to enjoy these workshops, it’s for everyone. The style & techniques used lends itself to any design and every print created ends up looking absolutely stunning! S
Feel free to check out the LSP Facebook Page for more info and to see some of the beautiful prints that have come of these workshops.
4. Lisbon Under the Stars
Whilst hosting a visiting family member in Lisbon, we decided on a whim to book the Lisbon Under the Stars show. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting but all I can say is WOW!!!
This year (2019) from the 2nd of May through to the 17th of July Lisbon Under the Stars will be returning to the Carmo Ruins in Chiado, one of Lisbon and Portugal’s most notable landmarks, for another round of their spectacular and immersive show. In a nutshell, the history and story of Portugal is projected onto the ruins of the Carmo church (that has no roof, so you are literally under the stars!).
This for me was absolutely one of my favourite and most unexpected experiences in Lisbon. The precision, colour the sound all blew me away and I cannot recommend this enough to anyone wanting a different take on learning about some of the history and culture of Portugal.
To book your tickets and for more info, go check out their website – Lisbon Under the Stars!
This truly is a unique experience to be a part of when visiting Lisbon, so don’t hesitate.
You can thank me later for this one 😉
5. Pastel de Nata baking workshop
Before I travel to any new destination, I no doubt will start with research, research, and some more research. And if like me you’ve started reading up on Portugal, you would by now know that Portugal is big on pastries and food in general! Just about every street corner has a pastry shop that sells all sorts of delicious sugary pastry delights.
Without a doubt the most famous of these treats has to be the Pastel de Nata (or custard tarts in English), which is something you absolutely have to eat when visiting Lisbon! It is one of those things you just have to indulge in when visiting Portugal. Enjoying a warm out-the-oven pastel de nata whilst sipping an espresso coffee. Yum.
Having had many friends & family members visit us from abroad, we’ve had more than our fair share of these tarts. But how many is too much, right?! So with this said, we happened to see an ad on Facebook for a Pastel De Nata baking workshop, and thought to ourselves, we might as well go check it out.
So off we went to Pastelaria Batalha, situated next to Praça Luís de Camões in Chiado, where we met João, our teacher for the day and who also happens to be the owner of this family-run bakery. João takes you (and the group participating) through a masterclass on pastel de nata baking and teaches you all the tricks and tips so you can replicate and bake the perfect custard tart back home.
This was such a fun afternoon experience and besides learning this ins and outs of these irresistible pastries, you also learn about João’s bakery and his family story, which I thought was such a lovely touch and made us all feel part of this award winning pastelaria.
To book this experience – feel free to visit their site – Pastelaria Batalha.
6. Sunset river cruise on the river Tagus (Tejo)
I’ll keep saying this over and over again, Lisbon has stunning, jaw-dropping views that seem to endlessly stretch over the city, the orange rooftops, colourful buildings and down to the river Tejo.
But, you don’t always have to stay on the banks of Lisbon to enjoy the stunning views. For a somewhat different perspective, why not take a sunset river cruise on the river to enjoy Lisbon from a new angle.
On a sunny & summery afternoon, head to the docs of Belém and hop on board a yacht that will take you on a 2 hour cruise all along the river. It’s a beautiful way to experience and view the Lisbon city and all whilst watching a gorgeous sunset (and boy, are the sunsets in Lisbon beautiful!!).
Booking this experience ahead of time is advised – so go check out our friends at Tagus River Cruises for more info and to book your spot.
7. Take a walk on the Lisbon aqueduct and enjoy more awesome views!
Continuing on my theme of views (yes, I cannot get enough of them), I am happy to share with you one of the best kept secrets of Lisbon. That being the impressive and imposing Águas Livres Aqueduct, which you may have caught a glimpse of driving through Lisbon from the airport.
This system which was constructed between 1731 and completed in 1799 and even withstood the earthquake of 1755, is today classified as a National Monument. It is considered an extraordinary feat of engineering and supplied water to Lisbon and surrounds for decades. It was one of the largest water supply systems in the world and up until the 60’s still supplied water to Lisbon.
Today though, for a small fee, you can actually walk atop and all along the aqueduct and enjoy spectacular views over Lisbon.
Visit the aqueduct at:
- Aqueduto das Águas Livres, Travessia do Vale de Alcântara – Calçada da Quintinha, no. 6.
- Or call them on +351218100215.
- Hours: Tue – Sat 10:00 – 12:30 and 13:30 – 17:30.
- It is closed from 30th Nov through 01st Mar.
- Entrance cost – 3€
Official website for Aqueduto das Águas Livres.
8. Take a free guided tour of a Roman archaeological site hidden underground in downtown Lisbon.
Don’t you just love it when you find truly unique attractions that also happen to be free? So do I and no. 8 on my list of unique things to do & see whilst visiting Lisbon, ticks exactly this box.
In the heart of downtown Lisbon, in the Baixa area not far from the well known Rua Augusta street, you can visit the Núcleo Arqueológico. And the best part? It just so happens to be situated underneath a bank, the Millenium BCP bank and is one of Lisbon’s free attractions. Not only that, it’s also somewhat of a hidden gem in Lisbon that not many people actually know about!
This archaeological treasure remained hidden until the bank started carrying out renovations between 1991 – 1995. It is then that they discovered this archaeological structure which provides insight into 2500 years worth of history of Lisbon.
Today the Millenium BCP Foundation manages the site and also offers free guided tours (approx. an hour long) which have to be booked in advance. Note that tours only run Mon – Sat (excluding Sundays & Public Holidays).
Fore more info and to book, go check out Millenium BCP Foundation’s site.
9. Visit the secret underground Roman galleries of Lisbon
Last but definitely not least on our list is a visit to the underground Roman galleries found hidden under the streets of Lisbon. I have to add a disclaimer though: I’ve added this as the last item on my list, just because it’s so difficult to actually get confirmed on this experience.
Due to water levels, the galleries are unfortunately only open for a short period each year and as such, this experience is one that you would be lucky to get onto. I however felt it necessary to still include in my list of unique things to see & do in Lisbon, because with careful planning and some research, you can still get a spot on one of the tours on offer!
It would no doubt make for an unforgettable experience and you’ll be able to learn more about the ancient Roman history of Lisbon (or Olisipo as the city was known back then), dating back to the 1st century AD. In order to book a spot, I would suggest contacting the Lisbon Tourism Board to check availability and if the galleries will be open during your visit to Portugal.
Lisbon is a one of a kind city and if you are visiting soon, then I really hope that this article has inspired you to take part in these unique experiences and things to see and do during your stay.
If you have been on one of the above mentioned experience or have any other suggestions you think may benefit other readers, then please feel free to comment on this post and share your thoughts, tips and tricks!
As always, wishing you a fantastic trip to Portugal! You’re going to love it here 😉