The Best Things To Do In Lisbon

Lisbon, the coastal, sloping capital of Portugal. It is Europe’s oldest and most Western city and provides the perfect city break destinations for a multitude of reasons. Whether you are looking to explore the culture, enjoy the nightlife, taking the family or looking for a beach holiday, Lisbon has it all. On top of that it also is one of the best value for money city break destinations in Western Europe. The winding cobbled streets, terracotta roof tiles and wooden trams which meander their way through the Alfama District all add to the charm of this vibrant city.  

Belem Tower  

The Belem Tower or Torre De Belem is a jewel of Lisbon. The fortified tower is in the Santa Maria de Belém region and was built to defend the city in 1514 to 1519. In the past there have been many uses for the tower such as a lighthouse and custom house for ships. Due to its past it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The Belem is one of  the most popular and photographed buildings in Portugal and it's easy to see why with its incredible late Gothic architecture. You can walk around the tower yourself or take a guided tour if you wish. 

Tower of Belem

Jeronimos Monastery  

This monastery is located in the Belem district along with the Belem Tower. Considered to be one of the most decorative  churches in Lisbon it is well worth a visit. Also, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Church used to sit on the banks of the River Tagus. Due to the River subsidence this has left space for the beautifully landscaped gardens which now sit adjacent to this impressive monument.   

Sao Jorge Castle  

The Sao Jorge Castle dates back to medieval times and overlooks Lisbon from the hilltops. It was used to protect the city against invasion. After losing the importance and appeal once had, the castle was used for a variety of other purposes, such as an army barracks and prison. The castle is another of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions and can get very busy. It is advisable to book in advance depending on what time of year you are looking to visit.   

Lisbon Zoo  

Right in the heart of Lisbon you will find the Lisbon Zoo. The zoo has an incredible variety of animals on show from Lions to Dolphins. There are also plenty of activities for the kids, so it is the perfect destination if you are on a city break with the family. 

monastery of jeronimos
Sao Jorge Castle

Alfama District  

The Alfama District is the oldest district in Lisbon and is also known as the ‘village within a city. As one of the only areas of Lisbon not to be destroyed or damaged by the earthquake in 1755, much of the Alfama many historical landmarks remain. The area has plenty of Fado bars (a local music genre which originated in Lisbon) and restaurants cooking local cuisine. Have a stroll through the area at your own pace or take a tour and learn more about the history of this enchanted segment of the city. 

Alfama District of Lisbon

Praça do Comércio  

Praça do Comércio, or the Terreiro do Paço as it is otherwise known, is the largest plaza in Lisbon. Located on the banks of the Tagus River it was a replacement to the Ribeira Palace which was destroyed in the earthquake in 1755. This is a great spot for tourists, not only for its grand architecture, but it is a transport hub location. From here you can take a tram to the Belem District.  

Eduardo VII Park 

The largest public park in the whole of Lisbon, the 64-acre gardens raised location provides views overlooking the city. Two large greenhouses with ponds, tropical plants and cacti are the main attractions of the park. The park is also used for concerts and cultural events.

Praça do Comércio
Eduardo VII Park Lisbon

Lisbon Tours & Attractions

Map of Lisbon

 History and Culture of Lisbon  

Prior to Roman existence the area of Lisbon was inhabited by Pre-Celtic and then Celtic tribes. There are still, even to this day, of evidence of their existence on the outskirts of the Lisbon area.  

The Roman era began in 202 BC, and during this time the city thrived. It was economically strong and was technologically advanced compared to other cities. Also known for its fish sauce called Garum, Rome’s high society requested much of the produce to be delivered to Rome. In the first half of the 5th century, barbarian control overcame Lisbon due to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.   

From the beginning of the 8th century the city was once again invaded, this time by Muslim forces. Muslim rule followed, and many Mosque’s and houses were built. When visiting the Alfama District area, you will still see remnants of this period. During the 11th and 12th centuries, again Lisbon was invaded several times, eventually returning to Christian rule.   

In the centuries that followed the city significantly expanded due to the wealth it was receiving through trade. Although due to a crisis, Portugal lost its independence from Spain. Many wars between the Spanish and Portuguese broke out finally leading to the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, which was a peace treaty between the two nations.   

1755 saw a major earthquake hit the area which destroyed a large portion of the city. Instead of trying to rebuild what had been destroyed, new plans for redevelopment were put into place largely around where the city is today.   

During the World War II Portugal remained neutral but was a major port, where refugees from war ridden countries were fleeing to the US.  

Pictures of Lisbon

Hotels In Lisbon

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