Things to Do In Lisbon

Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon Portugal

What are some things to do in Lisbon, Portugal?  How should you spend your time there?  Well, however, you want of course!  Travel is about the experience, so don’t get too hung up on seeing everything your first time. Enjoy all the new sights, food and culture of your new destination.  

Here’s how I spent 2 days in Lisbon, Portugal to get you started with some ideas.

Where: Lisbon, Portugal
How Long: 2 Days
Weather: Mostly rainy and windy
Traveling Companion: Moe (my childhood friend, read more about our friendship here)
Day 1: The Jeronimos Monastery, Monument to the Discoveries, Pasteis de Belem
Day 2: Riding Tram 28, Alfama Neighborhood, LX Factory
Useful Info: Getting Around, Where We Stayed, Places to Eat


Day 1

 

We stayed at the Flores Guest House while in Lisbon and they had the cutest breakfast delivery ever! Each room had a little hook outside the door where they would deliver your breakfast basket by 8:00 a.m. every morning.  Then whenever you were up and ready, you just opened your front door and retrieved your basket.

The baskets are filled with fruit, bread, meat and cheese, juice and a “surprise” item, that usually consisted of fresh baked good.  You could put in requests to tailor the basket more to your preferences. For example, we asked instead of the meat and cheese if we could just have extra fruit for the rest of our stay.

Basket of fruit and pastries from hotel in Lisbon

This basket was made up of croissants, rolls, fruit, jam and orange juice.

So after enjoying our lovely breakfast, we went to catch the bus to visit the Jeronimos Monastery.  

Jeronimos Monastery  Lisbon, Portugal

TIPS:

  • Arrive early (preferably before noon) as the lines can get long.  
  • The Jeronimos Monastery costs €10. You can pay an additional €2 for a combo ticket to also visit their National Archaeological Museum.
  • Additionally, you can also purchase this combo ticket at the National Archaeology Museum (in case the ticket line at the monastery is too long – purchase there and then skip the line at the monastery) OR you can also buy a combo ticket at Belem Tower should you choose to see that first.
  • Plan to visit Pasteis de Belem either before or after, it’s totally worth it!

For more information on hours and directions visit the official Jeronimos Monastery website.

 

Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon Portugal.

This view is across the street from the beautiful Jeronimos Monastery.

The Monastery is 500 years old and is beautiful inside and out.  It is architecturally stunning! The intricate carvings all throughout it will keep you gasping in awe as you walk around each corner and discover something new. It is no wonder that it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Jeronimos Monastery Cloister

The cloister inside the monastery.

Jeronimos Monastery is constructed out of limestone and took 100 years to build.  I can just imagine them chiseling out the beautiful carvings by hand.  That’s some dedication to detail!

Jeronimos Monastery gargoyles

There are faces, creatures and designs carved everywhere.

Limestone archways

Beautiful limestone archways that overlook the cloister.

Pasteis de Belem   Lisbon, Portugal

After visiting the Monastery we walked a few blocks up the street to try pastel de nata at Pasteis de Belem.  Pastel de nata (or pasteis de nata for plural) is a Portuguese custard tart and is a must try when in Lisbon. Pasteis de Belem was the top rated place to have pasteis de nata in all of Lisbon.  They use the same recipe that the monks at Jeronimos Monastery created in 1837.

Pasteis de Belem history

Now that’s a recipe with some history!

Navigating Pasteis de Belem

It can be a little confusing when you first arrive at Pasteis de Belem.  Outside at the furthest entrance, we found a HUGE line of people waiting to buy pasteis to go.  However, we wanted to sit inside and take a break from the rain.

The first entrance you reach when walking from the monastery is the entrance for those wanting to sit inside.  You’ll see the entrance and the cashier line for those purchasing to-go orders to your right as you walk inside.

When you enter you will want to follow the blue signs (straight and to the right) for “Table Service: Service de Mesa 400 Seats” until you reach another sign that says “Queue for Seating.”  Don’t panic if it seems really long, with 400 seats the line moves very quickly! 

Plate of pasteis Portuguese custard tarts

What a beautiful sight! These are enough to make me want to return to Lisbon, Portugal.

We both decided to get 6 of the pasteis, some hot chocolate (if a cup of thick, molten chocolate is your thing you’ll want to try it too) and a pot of tea.  Hey, this was going to be our lunch and not just a snack, so don’t judge us.

Portuguese custard tarts covered in cinnamon and sugar

Now to add that nice coating of cinnamon & sugar!

Our plate of pasteis arrived, we each took one and added the obligatory cinnamon and powdered sugar on top.  DON’T SKIP THIS PART. Sorry, don’t mean to yell, but the cinnamon really adds that extra
something special.

Then we bit into the pastry, it had a crispy flaky outer shell with a warm custard filling that made you smile and go mmmm.  For something that appears to be so simple, it was really very delicious. I ate all 6 of mine and drank my whole pot of tea! Oh yeah, that’s how I roll. Moe was the runner up with 4 pasteis, pretty good for her first time. And you can see below that she thoroughly enjoyed them.

Girl eating Portuguese custard tart

Moe is having her “mmmm good moment” eating her first pasteis de nata.

After we slowly waddled, I mean walked out of the cafe, we decided since the rain had stopped for the moment that we’d walk over to the Monument to the Discoveries or as it’s also known: Monument to Henry the Navigator.

The Monument to the Discoveries   Lisbon, Portugal

The monument is really impressive!  It is huge and rises up alongside the water.  I loved the beautiful map they had built into the ground using stones and pictures.  From the monument, you can also get nice views (at least when the weather is good) of the April 24th Bridge as well as the large Christo Rei or Christ the King statue (it looks similar to Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue).

Girl walking by The Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon, Portugal

Moe walking along the water.

There’s a great boardwalk where you can watch sailboats pass by or wander over to the marina.  If the weather is nice you can also take the sidewalk along the road to walk down to the Tower of Belem.  Due to the weather, we chose to skip this. But the tower is beautiful and would have lovely views on a sunny day. There is also a viewing area from inside the Monument of Discoveries as well as historical information regarding the monument.

Sailboats and bird by water in Lisbon Portugal

If you look you can just make out the small silhouette of the Christ the King statue in the background by the bridge.

National Archaeological Museum

It began to rain again, so we made our way to the National Archaeological Museum. Its entrance is just to the left (when facing it) of the Monastery.  Since it had only been an extra €2 we had purchased the combo ticket at the Jeronimos Monastery.

The archaeological museum is very small, but it has some nice exhibits on Egyptian and Roman artifacts as well as a small area for archaeological items specific to Portugal.  If you have extra time and are interested in archaeology and ancient artifacts, then the €2 will probably be worth it. If you’re pressed for time or just don’t have any interest, it is definitely not a “must-see.”

Archaeological Artifact at museum in Lisbon Portugal

This was an ancient “doll” that had movable arms and legs.

We caught the next bus back to our guest house and along the way we enjoyed views of the beautifully tiled buildings and the ancient aqueduct that was built in the 1700s.  It is one of the few structures to survive the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. 

Day 2

Tram 28

It is raining even harder today. We were thoroughly soaked on our way to the historical Tram 28 stop.  Our hope is to get a nice tour of the city as we ride it up to Saint George’s Castle.

We get on the tram and it is very full and the windows are fogged over.  We laugh about our “scenic ride.” Eventually, someone opens up some windows and that does help with the fogging.  However, the tram continues to pick up more and more passengers and at one point there was a ticket officer squeezing through the crowd to check that we all had valid tickets.

That, by the way, is a fairly common procedure that we’ve seen throughout our travels in Europe.  They will pass through on the subways, buses, and trains checking to make sure everyone has paid. Usually, this seems to happen on the weekend vs the weekdays.  So it’s always good to make sure you have a valid ticket or pass. You can be hit with hefty fines or as we saw on one train, the police might even be called in.

Yellow street tram in Lisbon Portugal

Although not Tram 28, we saw this one when hopping off in Alfama.

Due to the fogging of the windows, I would recommend taking Tram 28 on a sunny day if you’re hoping for a scenic ride. For us, it was mainly a mode of transportation.

Walk thru the Alfama neighborhood to St. George’s Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge)

We hopped off Tram 28 and took time to soak in the views around us.  We were now in Alfama, the medieval neighborhood in Lisbon that survived the great earthquake, tsunami, and fire of 1755 (talk about the ultimate trifecta of destruction!).  It is a charming neighborhood with smaller streets, shops, and cafes. It has a different feel than the “newer” neighborhoods that were rebuilt after 1755.

Looking over the top of the Alfama Neighborhood in Lisbon.

Alfama Neighborhood with St George’s Castle on the hill.

We walked up to the Castle but decided due to the rainy weather to not pay to go inside, the castle is mostly outdoors and one of its highlights is walking the old walls and taking in the views — views which we didn’t have on this stormy day.  So I’ll save that for another visit.

The walk to the castle though was an interesting one.  We passed through an area with old ruins that had been turned into an outdoor studio for graffiti artists.  

girl pretending to touch graffiti finger on the wall

Having fun with the graffiti

There was also an outdoor urinal, which as an American, was quite a novelty and the first we’d seen on our travels. So we couldn’t miss that photo opp!

Outdoor urinal with a girl inside it.

Moe is peeking over the urinal door.

Next up was the LX Factory, so we hopped a bus and headed that way.

LX Factory   Lisbon, Portugal

Bumblebee Art Sculpture in Lisbon's LX Factory

This must bee the place. (Oh yeah I said that!)

The LX Factory is an old warehouse district turned artsy.  There are art studios, cafes, bookstores and outdoor art sculptures all inside this old factory area.  Once inside the LX Factory gates, you’ve got warehouses on each side of a small street.  We made our way to the bookstore, Ler Devagar, and stepped inside not a moment too soon. We heard the rain just thunder down on the metal roof and I said to Moe “boy we made it here just in time!”  

Ler Devagar

View of artsy Lisbon bookstore from the second floor.

Looking down on this creative bookstore.

The bookstore is so cute! It has multiple levels of books, both used and new to search through.  There is also a fairly large selection of English books. Additionally, they have a cafe so you can grab a comfy seat and have a cup of coffee while reading a book – or in our case – listening to the rain.

Unicycle art decoration in bookstore in Lisbon Portugal.

I loved all the hanging art pieces.

We spent time looking upstairs where they have their used books selection as well as a small local artist exhibit.  Then we wandered back downstairs by the cafe and found a comfy seat by the window to watch the rain and look through some books.  We even had fun finding Waldo in the “Where’s Waldo Book” we found in the children’s section. Hey, we’re still kids at heart!

We eventually decided that although it is still raining cats and dogs outside that we would quickly dash out and into the adjoining cafe next door.  We go inside WISH Slow Coffee House and put our name on the list. It’s about a 20-minute wait as they are quite busy with all of us trying to escape the rain.

WISH Slow Coffee House

Soon we are seated at a window seat that gives us a view of the main street in front of the shops.  We are warm and comfy as we leisurely sit here and watch the people pass by with their umbrellas or those not-so-fortunate without umbrellas dashing as fast as they can.  Then there’s the guy not looking where he’s going and sploosh he steps right into a puddle. Ahh man!

People walking with umbrellas in the rain

People watching from a dry seat.

It was so relaxing and fun to just be sitting there in this refurbished warehouse eating lunch while watching the rain and the people passing by.  I sat there and thought to myself, I am in Lisbon, in a cafe. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t out sightseeing, I was experiencing the city right where I sat. Moe soon turned to me and said, “I’m having a really great time.” It was nice that we both felt the same about this very simple, yet enjoyable moment.

Bagel Sandwich

A delicious grilled pear with goat cheese bagel sandwich.

We stayed there for over 2 hours just watching people and enjoying the ambiance and good food.

We tried the carrot cake for dessert and it was some of the best carrot cake I have ever eaten!  Not to mention the Jasmine tea they served us was top notch! I also tried their slow-roasted coffee as they slow roast their beans in house.  They have a variety of good coffee choices to try.

Uber & Making Our Own Adventure at the Mall

The rain had no intentions of letting up, so we decided we’d go watch a movie at a nearby mall (they show them in their original language throughout Portugal). We requested an Uber, which met us at the door so we could avoid getting wet. It was great! Oh and Uber in Lisbon is VERY affordable! I highly recommend using it here, there were a couple of times where it was cheaper for us to split the fare for Uber than take the bus.

At the Mall

The movie we planned to see was sold out, so we went shopping instead! Soon what was just casual browsing turned into a friendly competition of who could try on the ugliest outfit.  Now that was fun! Although not as much fun when we actually saw ourselves in the silly outfits…

We grabbed dinner in the mall and hailed another Uber ride back to the guest house.  

Although Day 2 wasn’t our typical “see it all” style of sightseeing, it was a lot of fun and memorable. And that’s how it should be, don’t hold to tightly to your “to-do” list while traveling, leave room for change and spontaneity.  You never know what memories you might create.

To learn about our visit to the Palace of Pena on our final day in Lisbon, read about it here: Day Trip to Sintra, Portugal.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Lisbon

Everyone here has been so friendly! Really, we’ve met nothing but helpful people, friendly people and they have a great sense of humor here too.  And the food! Not to mention the beautifully tiled buildings!

To say I enjoyed my time here in Lisbon would be putting it mildly.  I hope to return and explore the entire country of Portugal in greater depth in the future. We just touched the tip of the iceberg on things to do in Lisbon, there was so much more to see!

There are amazing, friendly people everywhere and traveling never fails to reveal this to me.

USEFUL INFO:

Getting Around Lisbon, Portugal:

Purchase 24-hour transit passes or single-use passes from any metro station (including at the Lisbon airport). There are also some local stores that sell it as we purchased ours from the newspaper store by our hotel.

We used the Viva Viagem 24 hour carris/metro card. This allowed us unlimited travel on the metro, bus, trams & funicular for a 24 hour period.  Check out this article from Lisbon Guru for more information regarding their metro cards. 

There is also a Lisboa Card which is a sightseeing pass, we didn’t use these on our trip, however, you can check it out and see whether or not it makes sense for your visit.

Uber in Lisbon: https://www.uber.com/cities/lisbon/

Uber was incredibly affordable and often cheaper and more efficient than using public transportation.

Where We Stayed:

The Flores Guest House
https://www.facebook.com/floresguesthouse/ 
Address: Tv. Piedade 38B, 1200-405 Lisboa, Portugal

They have the cutest breakfast delivery I’ve ever had.  They leave a breakfast basket outside your door each morning by 8:00 a.m. for you to retrieve when you’re ready.

I would definitely stay at Flores Guest House again, it is located near excellent restaurants all within minutes of walking and the staff that runs it could not have been more helpful and kind.  We really enjoyed our stay there.

Restaurants we enjoyed:

Cantinho Lusitano
Rua dos Prazeres 52, 1200-355 Lisboa, Portugal
http://www.cantinholusitano.com/cantinhoeng.html 
Overall Thoughts: Love the small dining atmosphere, service was impeccable, food was delicious, I highly recommend! To read more about our adventures at dinner, please check out this article “Dinner at Cantinho Lusitano.”

Churrasqueira da Paz
R. Paz 80, 1200-320 Lisboa, Portugal
https://www.facebook.com/Churrasqueiradapaz/

Pasteis de Belem
R. de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
https://www.facebook.com/pasteisdebelempaginaoficial/

WISH Concept Store & Slow Coffee House
Espaço G 02a, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300-472 Lisboa, Portugal
https://www.facebook.com/wishslowcoffeehouse/

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