The Lisbon bucket list is spectacular, knowledgable, tasty, but most of all – colorful. The pastel-colored buildings, the bright orange roofs, the stunning Azulejo tiles, and even the world-class street art – the Portugal capital has enough pigment to satisfy even the most pretentious painter.
While the Lisbon bucket list may look a bit long, it’s not that hard to finish it in a week or so. Most of the experiences are close to each other and don’t require much time. If you follow the tips in my Lisbon travel guide, you’re guaranteed to have a complete bucket list and memories for a lifetime.
Ride a Wooden Tram
Don’t know about you, but when someone says Lisbon, the first thing that comes to my mind is a vintage wooden tram. While many recommend riding line 28, I urge you to skip it and book a tram tour. Why? Because the public trams are still used by the locals and having to cram inside with a bunch of tourists is quite annoying.
See the Tower of Belem at sunset
The tower of Belem is the icon of Lisbon and the most famous landmark in Portugal. The symbol of the city is best enjoyed at sunset in the park next to it.
Explore the nearby Sintra
Perfect for a day-trip, Sintra is a colorful little town full of fairytale castles. From the colorful Pena Palace to the lavish National Palace and the rugged Moorish Castle, Sintra features all types of fortresses and is a genuine feast to the senses. One of the must-see places in Europe and a definite Lisbon bucket list adventure.
Get lost in Alfama
Alfama neighborhood is the oldest area of Lisbon. A beautiful maze of tiny cobbled alleys, the best way to discover Alfama’s hidden gems is to simply get lost in there.
Enjoy the sunrise at miradouro Portas do Sol
Miradouro is a word you’ll encounter a lot in Lisbon. Meaning a viewpoint, the miradouros are everywhere in hilly Lisbon. Probably the most famous one is Portas do Sol – the Gate to the Sun. While still amazing at sunset, the viewpoint is eastern-orientated, so the best show is at sunrise.
Discover the Carmo Convent ruins
In 1755 Lisbon became a victim of one of the deadliest earthquakes in human history. It raised the city to the ground leaving just a few structures from the old Lisbon standing.
Located in the ruins of the old Church of Santa Maria do Carmo, the Carmo Archeological museum presents a glimpse of the past of the beautiful Gothic architecture of old Lisbon.
See the Monastery of the Hieronymites
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983, Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most popular attractions in the country and the final resting place of the explorer Vasco de Gama. Considered to be one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline architecture style, a visit to the Jerónimos monastery is a Lisbon bucket list no-brainer.
Eat way too many Pastieis de Belem
Portugal is famous for its delicious custard tarts called Pastel de Nata. And the best pastel de natas are made in Pasteis de Belem – the exact same bakery where the famous egg tard was invented in 1837.
See the 360′ views from Castelo de São Jorge
No European trip is complete without a castle visit. Castelo de São Jorge is the former guardian fortress of Lisbon that will take you on a journey through time and will also present an incredible 360′ panoramic view over the city.
Enjoy the views from the Santa Justa Miradouro
The Santa Justa lift is one of the biggest tourist traps in Lisbon. Its miradouro, however, is spectacular. Skip the long line and go to the free elevator on the back to enjoy a stunning view of central Lisbon.
Explore the most beautiful church in Lisbon – Igreja de São Roque
While the Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa) is the most popular church in town, the one that deserves a spot on your Lisbon bucket list is definitely Igreja de São Roque. The most beautiful church in the city will wow you from the moment you step inside and won’t let your jaw close until you leave.
Ride Ascensor da Gloria
The Lisbon ascensors look a bit like trams but are more like a hill-elevators. I’m pretty sure that they are unique to the city; therefore, riding one is a definite Lisbon bucket list activity. While the locals still use the ascensors, they are not as packed as the trams and are considered more of a tourist attraction than a mean of transportation.
Discover the amazing street art
I knew Lisbon has one of the best street art scenes globally, but it still took me by surprise. The masterpieces on Lisbon’s streets are such a high quality that, if you ask me, they should be in a museum.
Some of the top graffiti places are the upper stop of the Gloria Ascensor, Rua das Gaivotas, LX Factory, Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, Fábrica do Braço de Prata, and Avenida Conselheiro Fernando de Sousa.
Have dinner at Mercado da Ribeira
Mercado da Ribeira, also known as the Time Out Market, is Lisbon’s primary food market since 1982. Being taken over by the Time Out Lisbon magazine in 2014, the market today offers not just the regular meat, fruit, and vegetable stalls, but also a tremendous indoor food hall.
Working from 10 AM to midnight from Sunday to Wednesday and from 10 AM to 2 AM from Thursday to Saturday, Mercado da Ribeira is one of the best places to have dinner in Lisbon.
Learn some history in the Maritime Museum
Portugal proud itself of great explorers and brave sailors. To learn more about the country’s rich sailing history and see artifacts from Vasco da Gama’s and Pedro Álvares Cabral’s ships, you should explore the criminally underrated Maritime Museum. The full-sized vessels from different eras make the museum a wonderful experience for children too!
See Also: How to Spend 10 Days in Portugal
Get on top of the Monument of Discovery
Located in Belem, the Monument of Discovery celebrates Portugal’s Age of Discovery explorers. It’s also the best viewpoint in the area. Get to the top to find the map on the mosaics behind the monument.
Enjoy a traditional Fado show
One of my favorite Lisbon bucket list activities, the fado show, is something you just can’t miss. The traditional Portuguese music show is best enjoyed in the Alfama district with a glass of wine and tapas.
Stroll down the pink street
Officially called Rua Nova do Carvalho, the pink street is a popular Instagram spot during the day and a formidable party place after dark. While I believe it’s hugely overrated, it’s kind of unique and picturesque, so it may be worth a spot on your Lisbon bucket list.
Treasure-hunt at Feira da Ladra
Don’t know about you, but I love the European flea markets. The items on sale there hold so much history that you can almost feel their soul. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, Feira da Ladra is Lisbon’s most prominent flea market.
Check out LX factory
Situated in a former abandoned industrial site, the LX Factory is the busiest creative, cultural, and gastronomic area in Lisbon. Home to over 200 small hipster businesses, the factory is a contemporary place that guarantees a good time.
Get an authentic Portuguese meal at Bairro Alto
A vibrant maze of winding alleys that goes up and down the hills – this is the central Lisbon district of Bairro Alto. Particularly renowned for its nightlife, recently, the neighborhood is gaining more and more exposure due to its food scene. Bairro Alto is a great place to sit in one of the traditional Portuguese tascas (taverns) and order authentic petiscos or codfish. It’s also a popular area for wine-and-food tours.
Have fun with the street performers
Most of the big European capitals have a colorful plethora of street artists, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Lisbon ones. There wasn’t a day without me stopping to watch a show or two. You can find them around the more touristy spots and pracas (squares).
Watch the sunset over the Tagus
Watching the sunset is a favorite bucket list activity, no matter where you are. The one over the Tagus river is best enjoyed on a boat with a shot of Ginjinha.
And speaking of Ginjinha…
The authentic Portuguese liqueur is made by infusing sour cherries with alcohol. Often called just Ginja, this tasty red beverage also has a children’s version (with water instead of alcohol).
I bet you’ve never done that one before. By hunting, I don’t mean to climb them or something – just photo-hunting. Lisbon’s lovely balconies and windows are often surrounded by beautiful azulejo tiles that turn them into a fine piece of art.
Get a book from the tiniest bookshop in the world
Cozily tucked at the beginning of Escadinhas de São Cristóvão, Livraria Simão is considered to be the smallest bookshop in the world. With less than 4 square meters of space, the place is tiny indeed, but with 4000+ books on sale, it certainly has a lot to offer.
Get to the top of Rua Augusta Triumph Arch and enjoy the views
Just like every self-respected European capital, Lisbon has a triumphal arch. It’s enormous, it’s beautiful, and you can climb to the top of it. Built to commemorate the city’s rebirth after the infamous 1755 earthquake, the arch offers terrific views of Baixa and the Tagus river.
Try bica coffee
Similar to espresso but a bit smoother, Bica is a traditional Portuguese coffee. The name originates from the way the coffee beans flow from the machine to the tray. Apparently, to the Portuguese, it looks like a water spring or a fountain (also called bica).
Explore the Azulejo Museum
Exploring a tile museum doesn’t sound like a Lisbon bucket list activity. Quite frankly, it sounds more like a contender for the most-boring-places in-the-world award. Azulejo’s are not your average tiles, though. The tin-glazed ceramic tilework is a symbol of the country, and it’s considered a traditional form of art in Portugal.
Unwind at a Cascais beach
And just because every cool city must have a beach, Lisbon has one just 30-min away from the center. After you’ve completed all of the adventures on the list, there’s no better place to unwind than Cascais.
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed the colorful Lisbon bucket list.
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