The Ultimate Travel Guide to Lisbon, Portugal | For First Time Visitors — Her Nomad Eyes (2024)


Written By Scotia

Lisbon, the captivating capital of Portugal, is a city that demands exploration. With its rich history, charming neighbourhoods, and breathtaking views, there's no shortage of things to do and see in this vibrant city. Over time, Lisbon has become one of Europe’s most-visited destinations, so it’s best to visit in the shoulder season when the weather is still warm, accommodation is cheaper, and the streets are less crowded. So grab your walking shoes and join us as we unveil the best things you must do while visiting Lisbon, along with an extra hidden gem for intrepid adventurers.

When I first arrived in Lisbon, I was struck by the breathtaking view from the train window as I crossed the Tagus River. The hills were a sea of terracotta tiled roofs, making for a spectacular sight.

Here is my travel guide to exploring Lisbon, Portugal!

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Essential Information

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Language: Portuguese

Currency: Euro

Best Time To Visit: The weather in Lisbon is nice all year. The best time to visit is from March through May and October when the weather is warm and fewer tourists are around. The busiest months are June to September when the weather is hot weather, and tourists take their summer breaks, so it’s best to avoid these months.

How To Get There: Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport is well connected to major cities in European and the United States. The airport is located just 7km from the city, and you can easily take the metro or a taxi to the city centre. If you’re travelling to Lisbon from within the country, the best way to do so is by train. Gare do Oriente Station is the main station and from there, you can take a taxi to where you need to go. The train takes three hours from Porto and three hours from Faro, Algarve Coast.

Getting Around: The best way to see Lisbon is on foot and by using buses, trams and the metro.

Best Things to Do in Lisbon

Get Lost in ALFAMA

Alfama is a charming district and one of the oldest in Lisbon. It captures the essence of the city with its narrow cobblestone streets, vibrant tiled buildings, and iconic yellow trams bustling around. The area is perfect for exploration. You can wander through the labyrinthine maze of alleys, discover hidden viewpoints, and visit the beautiful São Jorge Castle to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

The best way to explore Alfama is to walk or take a tram to the top of the hill and walk down. You’ll find many hidden shops, cafes and colourful buildings that are perfect to photograph. Don’t miss Miradouro das Portas do Sol, which has one of the best views in the city over Alfama and the Tagus River! From there, it’s easy to get to the romantic terrace of Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which also offers stunning views over the city and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Tram 28 was an excellent way to get to Alfama and other attractions in Lisbon. However, it has become so popular among tourists that it is always crowded. The Lisbon red tram is a great alternative that follows the same route as Line 28. Although it’s more expensive (around €20), it will be much more comfortable. You can easily hop on and off, and the ticket is valid for 24 hours.

» Book your guided walking tour to learn more about Lisbon’s history and picturesque neighbourhoods

Indulge in Pastéis de NATA

No visit to Lisbon would be complete without tasting the delicious Pastéis de nata. Head to the iconic Pastéis de Belém, which is famous for its original Portugese tart, the delicious pastéis de belém. This spot is highly regarded as the best place to try the traditional pastry in Lisbon. Travel Tip: The café is very popular, so it’s best to arrive early to avoid long queues.

If you don’t like waiting in lines, several other bakeries in Lisbon serve excellent homemade pastéis de nata. One of my go-to bakeries for delicious pastéis de nata is Manteigaria, which has multiple locations around Lisbon.

» Don’t just settle for tasting the famous pasties de nata; why not take the next step further and join a pastel de nata cooking class to learn the art of making these mouthwatering pastries at home?

Marvel at the Belém Tower

In the picturesque Belém district, you'll find one of Lisbon's most iconic landmarks, the Belém Tower. This 16th-century fortress was built to protect Libsbon’s harbour, which was once the starting point for many exploratory voyages, setting the stage for Portugal's Age of Discoveries. As you walk around the tower, take in the intricate Manueline architecture and enjoy the grandeur of the Tagus River.

You can go inside the tower and access the viewing area, but if the line is too long, you might want to skip it and view it from the outside like it did. The tower makes for some beautiful photos, especially during sunrise and sunset. I enjoyed taking lots of photos of this beauty!

Visit Jerónimos Monastery

Lisbon boasts many impressive architectural marvels, but none are quite as impressive as the Jerónimos Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see attraction, with its intricate Gothic design and ornate carvings. Take some time to explore the peaceful cloisters and admire the Manueline architecture, which pays tribute to Portugal's explorers and their voyages.

Explore Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is one of Lisbon's most vibrant neighbourhoods and the best way to experience its charm is on foot. Start your exploration at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a scenic viewpoint with panoramic views of the city and Castelo De São Jorge, which is directly opposite. As you wander through the narrow streets, you can enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and quirky shops, art galleries, and enticing eateries. While you continue to walk, you should keep an eye out for hidden viewpoints like Miradouro de Santa Catarina, which offers great city views.

After sunset, the streets come alive as people fill the bars and restaurants to listen to music and drinks. Bairro Alto is known for it’s nightlife and one of the most popular places to dine out in Lisbon.

» To discover more about the neighbourhood’s history, book your guided walking tour in Lisbon.

LX Factory

The LX Factory is a creative and cultural space located in the industrial-chic district of Alcântara. It is home to artist studios, galleries, trendy boutiques, and hipster cafes. You can explore the lively street art, browse through independent bookstores, and indulge in a scrumptious brunch at one of the many eclectic restaurants available.

Indulge in the flavours of Lisbon

If you want to experience more of Lisbon’s food culture and cuisine, local food tours are an excellent way to get started. These tours can help you discover hidden gems, try delicious dishes and learn culinary secrets from passionate locals. From the iconic pastéis de nata to the savoury bacalhau, Lisbon's culinary scene is best enjoyed with insider knowledge. To sample some of the city’s top food vendors and restaurants, consider taking a food and wine walking tour.

» Discover more immersive food experiences in Lisbon.

sailboat cruise Along the Tagus river

Taking a sailboat cruise along the Tagus River in Lisbon is a truly unforgettable experience. Admire the city’s beautiful waterfront and iconic landmarks, such as Belém Tower and the imposing 25 de Abril Bridge. You can choose between a daytime, sunset or night cruise, and I recommend the sunset cruise for a more picturesque and romantic experience.

» Book your sailboat cruise along the Tagus River in Lisbon

Discover the Feira da Ladra Flea Market

If you happen to visit Lisbon on a Tuesday or Saturday, make your way to the Alfama district to the Feira da Ladra flea market. From vintage treasures to quirky trinkets, you'll find it all here. Lose yourself among the stalls, chat with friendly locals, and hunt for unique souvenirs to take home.

Hidden Gem: Mercado de Campo de Ourique

For those looking for an authentic Portuguese experience that is away from the tourist crowds, Mercado de Campo de Ourique is my hidden gem recommendation. This traditional market and food hall offers a range of food stalls, local products, and family-run eateries. You can enjoy trying some local delicacies while immersing yourself in a true Lisbon atmosphere. It’s a hidden gem that’s worth exploring.

Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for hidden city gems, Lisbon has something for everyone. So pack your bags, embrace the nomadic spirit, and create memories as you embark on a journey to this amazing city.

More Things to Do in Lisbon

  • National Tile Museum - Unique collection showcasing the history of azulejos (decorative tiles) from the 15th century till the present day. There is also a nice cafe and gift shop.

  • MAAT Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology Museum - Exhibitions by contemporary artists, architects, and thinkers. The modern futuristic building is located on the banks of the Tagus in Belém. There’s also a great cafe overlooking the river (Wed-Sun).

Where to Eat & Drink in Lisbon

Lisbon’s food scene is fantastic. You can find classic Portuguese dishes, local specialties and delicious fresh seafood on food menus throughout Lisbon. Not to mention local wines and liqueur. Local specialties to try when you are in Lisbon: Bifana (Portuguese pork sandwich), bacalhau (salted cod), grilled sardines, Piri Piri chicken,chouriço (Portuguese sausage) and Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tart). Lisbon has several great cafes and restaurants; here are my top picks:

  • Copenhagen Coffee Lab ($, Cafe and bakery) - several locations, including Alfama and Alcântara.

  • Fauna & Flora ($, Cafe) - delicious brunch menu with specialty coffee, fresh smoothies, and juices.

  • Time Out Market ($$, Food Market) - a popular food hall with restaurants and stalls selling local specialities

  • Topo Chiado ($$, Contemporary) - restaurant and rooftop bar

  • Taberna da Rua das Flores ($$, Portuguese) - popular restaurant serving traditional dishes with a modern twist - reservations are recommended

  • Tapisco ($$$, Mediterranean) - a modern restaurant serving Spanish tapas and Portuguese petiscos.

  • Lumi Rooftop Bar & Restaurant ($$, Contemporary) - stylish rooftop restaurant and co*cktail bar


I stayed at Sunset Destination Hostel ($) and loved the rooftop area and swimming pool overlooking the Tagus. The hostel has private rooms and tidy dorms. I also stayed for one night at Destination Hostel ($), which is convenient for catching the train to Sintra from Rossio Train Station.

Here are a few other alternatives I have found for places to stay that would suit any budget;

  • ($-$$) - Art Deco hostel with private suites and dorm rooms.

  • Vincci Baixa ($$) - Elegant 4-star hotel in the city centre.

  • Memmo Alfama ($$$) - Boutique hotel with wine bar, swimming pool and views over the Tagus River.

Are you planning on visiting Lisbon for the first time? Let me know in the comments below.

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