As one of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe, Lisbon is a great destination for a quick getaway that won’t leave a big dent in your travel fund or savings account. With hostels in the city centre starting from just £8 GBP per night with breakfast included, Portugal’s capital should be on every budget travellers bucket list.
Not only is Lisbon extremely cheap, but there is also a lot to do. In fact, I would recommend spending at least a week here to discover the sights and wander the beautifully tiled streets.
In no particular order, here are 10 things you absolutely can not miss in Lisbon, Portugal:
#1 Sao Jorge Castle
Standing high above the city is Sao Jorge castle. Named as one of the best attractions in Lisbon, the castle is a hotspot for tourists and for good reason. Boasting some of, if not THE best views of Lisbon, it is not to be missed.
Tip: Skip the long queues that run all down the street by arriving early, but also consider visiting during sunset for spectacular views over Lisbon.
#2 Jeronimos Monastery
An architectural gem and UNESCO world heritage monument, Jeronimos Monastery is another popular attraction which is located in the Belem district of the city. With its stunning ornate style architecture, it should be at the top of any Lisbon itinerary.
Tip: You can purchase a combined ticket for the Monastery and Belem tower from either of the attractions, which is 12 EUR for adults paying full price or 6 EUR for students. There are also several other options for combined tickets for other places of interest in the area.
#3 Museu Nacional Do Azulejo – The National Tile Museum
While exploring Lisbon, it is hard not to notice that the cities buildings are adorned with beautiful decorative tiles. A must for design, pattern and history lovers, the national tile museum is one of Lisbon’s hidden treasures. The museum allows visitors to delve into the history of Portugal’s capital and admire the impressive collection that dates back from the 15th century.
Tip: Entrance to the museum is a bargain at just 5 EUR or 2.50 EUR for students. I would recommend keeping your schedule free to spend at least 2 hours here and end your visit by grabbing lunch at the cafe.
#4 Belem Tower
Listed by UNESCO as a world heritage monument, Belem Tower is an important symbol of Lisbon and the cities history. Built in 1515 to protect the harbour, the tower boasts some architectural beauties and great views of the 25 de Abril bridge.
Tip: Although it is worth a visit, the poorly organized queues mean you can waste quite a bit of your time stuck waiting around. For some, it is not worth the wait once they get inside. If you decide you want to visit, it may be worth heading down to the tower early to try and beat the crowds.
#5 Padrao Dos Descobrimentos – Discoveries Monument
If views are what you’re looking for, skip queueing to get inside Belem tower and take a short walk to the Discoveries Monument. The views from here are more impressive and if you visit outside of peak hours, you may not need to queue at all.
#6 A taste of a world-famous custard tart
Located just a short walk away from Jeronimos Monastery is Pasteis de Belem, home to Portugal’s most famous custard tart. Rumour has it that only three chefs at one time know the recipe that tens of thousands of people flock to taste each day. You simply can not visit Lisbon without trying one.
#7 The views from the Elvador de Santa Justa
The Elvador de Santa Justa lift dates back to the 19th century and is decorated with beautiful arches and geometric patterns. From the top, you can get some of the best panoramic views of Lisbon which are especially stunning during sunset.
Tip: A return ride in the lift costs €5.15 EUR, however you can purchase 24-hour public transport ticket for €6.15 EUR from any metro station within the city. This includes entry to Elvador de Santa Justa, journeys on the popular number 28 tram, travel to Belem and the Gloria Funicular making it great value for anybody wishing to explore the city.
# Take a walk along Belem waterfront
After a busy day of sightseeing and navigating around the hilly streets of Lisbon, a walk along the waterfront in Belem is a great way to wind down in the evening. From here you can admire many of the cities main attractions, or just relax with a sangria before heading back to your room for the night.
#9 A stroll around the Alfama neighbourhood
As Lisbon’s oldest district, the neighbourhood of Alfama is a popular spot for tourists and photographers and it is not hard to see why. The charming tiled streets and colourful doors make Alfama a stunning neighbourhood for a morning stroll.
The Alfama tour ran by Discover Walks begins at 11am and 4pm each day and will see you on a guided tour through some of Lisbon’s most popular and historical spots. The tour is free, but you are expected to tip your guide whatever you believe the tour was worth.
#10 A day trip to Sintra and Cascais
There is a lot to do in Lisbon, so if your trip is short than this may be hard to squeeze in, but a day trip to Sintra and Cascais is definitely worth considering. Yellow Bus is a tour operating service that runs day trips in and around the area of Lisbon. I booked onto their half-day tour from Lisbon to Sintra, Pena Palace and Cascais and it was exactly what I was looking for.
After spending the morning strolling the streets of Lisbon and visiting the tile museum, I joined this tour before returning to Lisbon in time to watch the sunset from Elvador Santa Justa. Perfect.
Tip: If you are short on time but still want to explore some of Lisbon’s surrounding towns and cities, book onto a half day tour instead. This way, you can still fit in some more sightseeing in central Lisbon, but still get to explore somewhere new and exciting.
Have you ever been to Lisbon? What were the highlights of your trip? Let me know in the comments below!