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The Top Things To Do In Downtown Lisbon, Portugal

We arrived by bus to Lisbon, Portugal at 4AM to the Gare do Oriente station, north of the city. Unfortunately the metro was not yet running, but the 10km taxi ride to our hotel was only €10.

Lisbon is the hilly capital of Portugal located along the Tagus River. Many buildings facades are covered decorative ceramic tiles, giving this historical city an individual beauty. This along with the warm weather and culture make Lisbon a not to miss destination.

We checked into The Keep – Sleep Boutique, for a few hour nap before sunrise over the beautiful city of Lisbon.

Lisbon, Portugal

What to see in Lisbon Walking Map:

The best things to see in Lisbon:

Castelo de S. Jorge

São Jorge Castle

The São Jorge Castle overlooks the center of the historic center of Lisbon.

Tickets are €8.50/adults, €5/students under 25, and free/children under 10.

  • November to February: 9AM to 6PM
  • March to October: 9AM to 9PM

Roman Theatre of Olisipo

Walking down the hill from São Jorge Castle we walked straight past the archeological ruins of a Roman theatre. Their used to be a road where the archeological site is, but now the road is gone. It is worth walking by, but not worth going out of you way to see.

Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major

Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major

At the bottom of the hill is the Cathedral of St. Mary Major. This 12th century church has survived many earthquakes throughout its history. The grand architecture is quite humbling.

Cais das Colunas

Only a few blocks away is the Cais das Colunas, a flight of marble steps, that descend into the Tagus River. There are two columns in the water, as it used to serve as an official arrival point to the city by boat, but now it solely serves as a beautiful view of the river.

Praça do Comércio

Praça do Comércio

Right behind the Cais das Colunas is Commerce Square. At the center of the square is a statue of King José I, king during the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, in which the square and city were destroyed.

From the square is a great view of the 25th of April bridge, and is the grand entrance to the old city of Lisbon.

Arco da Rua Augusta

Praça do Comércio

Opposite the river and across the square is the Rua Augusta Arch. Walking under this beautifully decorated arch, you enter the door into old Lisbon downtown.

Lisbon Baixa

Heading through the arch, you walk down the grand Rua Augusta, through Pombaline Lower Town. This elegant district was primarily constructed after the 1755 earthquake. The walking street is lined with many shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy the afternoon.

Design and Fashion Museum

As we were walking down Rua Augusta when we saw an interesting looking building. It turns out it was the Museu do Design e da Moda. This free museum displays modern industrial design and clothing. This quick museum is worth walking though while downtown.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 6PM.

Chiado Neighborhood

After walking up Rua Augusta, we headed a few blocks west to Chiado Square and the surrounding neighborhood. This area features a mixture of modern and old stores, including many of the international high end brands. If you are not looking to shop or eat, there is not too much to see.

Café A Brasileira

The highlight of Chiado is the Café A Brasileira. The café has an architectural combination of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. It once served as a center for intellectuals, artists and writers, including including Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.

While the food is not the best, where else will you be able to enjoy a coffee with a statue of Fernando Pessoa?!

Elevador da Bica

Elevador da Bica

We continued walking west, past Largo de Camões square and on to the Ascensor da Bica.

The city of Lisbon is known for their yellow trams. Elevador da Bica is one of three funicular railways within the city, which now serve mostly as a tourist attraction. The little tram costs €3.60 for a two way ticket up and down the hill.

Igreja de Santa Catarina

Further west is the Santa Catarina Church. We just happened to have walked past the church on our way to While it did not look like much from the outside, the inside is ornately decorated with many sculptures, paintings and stonework. It is one of the more impressive artistic works we saw in Lisbon.

São Bento Palace

São Bento Palace

São Bento Palace serves as the home to the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament. This huge palace makes for a great photo, and is not too busy with tourists.

Behind the assembly building is a mansion, which serves as the Prime Minister house. It is not worth walking up the hill to it, unless you like to look at privacy walls…

Águas Livres Aqueduct

Lisbon, Portugal Panoramic

The Águas Livres Aqueduct is a beautiful 18th-century delivery system of clean drinking water to the city of Listbon. The Mãe d’Água reservoir, the largest in the aqueduct system now serves as a water museum. While the museum does not have much to offer, it is worth checking out if you have some free time.

The water museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM to 5:30PM. Entry tickets cost us €5.

What makes the price of admissions is the very nice panoramic view of the city from top of the aqueduct.

Marquis of Pombal Square & Eduardo VII Park

Marquis of Pombal Square & Eduardo VII Park

Sunset was arriving fast as we quickly walked the kilometer to Marquis of Pombal Square & Eduardo VII Park.

Marquis of Pombal Square is a roundabout and meeting point of several of the major roads in the city. In the center is a large column dedicated to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal.

For sunset we almost had to run to the top of the hill in Eduardo VII Park. It was absolutely worth it to see the maze design and view of the city as the sun went down. Just the picture from that moment says it all.

Rossio Square

It was already dark when we finally arrived at Rossio Square, so we ended the sightseeing for the day and enjoyed walking around the area, looking for a place to eat. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

The next morning:

Praca da figueira

This large square is located at the top end of Rue Augusta. The massive square is in someway the center of downtown Lisbon. You will most likely walk past this a few times during your visit.

Santa Justa Lift

The Santa Justa lift is a national monument that takes the public up to a great viewpoint. Tickets are €5 up and down, but it is not the only way to get to the view.

You can also walk up the hill on the other side and can get almost the same view. If you want to enter just the viewpoint from this side, it costs only €1.50. The experience of riding a short elevator is not really worth it, but is a great way to avoid walking up hill!

Carmo Convent

Up the hill and behind the Santa Justa lift is the Carmo Convent and Carmo Archeological Museum. This historical convent lays in partial ruins and serves as an archeological museum. The vast gothic architecture is quite the marvel.

Teatro da Trindade

We then walked west to the Teatro da Trindade. The theatre along with many of the buildings in the surrounding square have beautifully decorated edifices. The inside of the theatre is also well decorated if you have the chance to go inside.

Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara

Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara

Just a few blocks north of the theatre is the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara. This small park provides the best view point of the city. There is also a cafe, so you can enjoy a meal or drink while soaking in the sun over Lisbon.

Jardim Botanical de Lisboa

Continuing north along the road, we reached the botanical garden is worth visiting if you have some free time with nothing to do. It is a nice walk through many plant species, but we visited in the fall and there was not much in bloom. It felt like a public park, minus the grassy areas.

The botanical garden is free on Sunday until 2PM.

This was our last stop in downtown Lisbon, as we walked west to outer Lisbon and along the River Tagus. Make sure to check out our second Lisbon travel guide for information about this part of the trip.

Where to sleep in Lisbon:

The Keep – Sleep Boutique

The Keep hotel

The Keep is located on the edge of old city Lisbon, on the same hill as the Castelo de S. Jorge. The simple yet homely accommodations are perfect for those traveling on a budget.

The priceless panoramic view of Lisbon from the patio is worth it all. It is the perfect combination of budget and quality that we have seen in a long time, at €25/night for double private room, it can’t be beat.

You do need to walk up two stories of steep steps to get to the hotel, due to its location on the hill, so if stairs are a problem, this is not the place for you.

As always, if you have any suggestions or places missing from this Lisbon travel guide, please let us know in the comments.

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Monday 3rd of July 2017

[…] you have not tried Pastel de Nata before you have no idea what you are missing out. Lisbon, Portugal is a beautiful BIG city. There is so many things to visit and the fact it is located near water […]


Saturday 7th of May 2016

So many amazing things to do in Lisbon, I wish I could've seen them all. IDK if it's something that people really like doing, but I also enjoyed trying the sour cherry liquer ginjinha from Praça de São Domingos

Travel To Blank

Saturday 7th of May 2016

Thank you for this great tip, we will have to check it out next time we visit Lisbon!

Gissel Brito

Wednesday 20th of April 2016

Wonderful post. Being Portuguese myself, I feel you have mentioned great activities :)

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Monday 7th of December 2015

[…] Our trip to Lisbon, Portugal was split up into two different groups, geographically. Our first day in Lisbon we spent in the downtown area of Lisbon, of which you can see the travel guide here. […]

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Friday 4th of December 2015

[…] The hilly city of Lisbon, Portugal offers arts, history and architecture. Known for their yellow trolley, but has so much more in this Lisbon travel guide.  […]