VIDEO: Five Things to Do in Lisbon
In recent years, Lisbon has emerged reenergized from a challenging recession, becoming a major attraction in Europe and drawing travelers from all over. Portugal’s capital has evolved into a quintessential European destination, adding trendy shops, hotels, and restaurants to round out the city’s cultural resources and markers of its rich history. When it comes to what to do in Lisbon, enjoying the city’s simple luxuries is best—it’s not difficult to spend countless days wandering through the narrow streets, sampling local food and wine, checking into boutique hotels, and exploring both ancient castles and modern art museums. If you’re on the hunt for fun things to do in Lisbon, we’ve got you covered with a slew of suggestions for how to best while away your Portuguese vacation.
No trip to the City of Seven Hills (though that’s a misnomer—there are actually eight) is complete without a train ride. But this isn’t your average Amtrak: the capital is known for its iconic wooden Remodelado trams, which were added in the 1930s to help locals and tourists navigate the city’s twisting streets and steep slopes. Begin your trip by taking Tram 28 to get the best views of some of the city’s finest neighborhoods like Estrela, Baixa, and Graça. Make sure to stop at Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte for a stunning panoramic view of the city’s skyline.
Related: Lisbon Travel Guide
After summiting Lisbon’s peaks, head underground to discover the capital’s ancient Roman foundations. Sign up for an archeologist-led tour underneath a bank in Baixa where you can see the excavation of Iron Age ruins—Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros—thought to have been a Roman sardine factory.
And of course, vacationing in Portugal means spending plenty of time sipping a glass of the country’s famous wine. Madeira and Port are perhaps the best known among Americans, but you’d be remiss to leave without sampling a vinho verde. Often made from Alvarinho grapes, it’s a light and refreshing young wine that pairs well with a seafood dinner and a warm summer night.
Any native will tell you the key to experiencing the best of Lisbon is to leave plenty of unscheduled time for meandering about the city’s many neighborhoods, each distinctly its own. Be sure to wander through the Moorish alleyways and winding streets of Alfama, where you can find castles that are now hotels and the Romanesque Sé de Lisboa Cathedral.
Whatever you do, don’t leave Lisbon without trying one of its famous treats, pastéis de nata. Head to Anitiga Confeitaria de Belém to try one (or several) of these custard-filled cinnamon tarts that have been a Portuguese staple since 1837.