If you are planning, or have booked, a walking or cycling holiday to Portugal it’s a great idea to take a couple of days to explore the country’s vibrant capital city of Lisbon. This fascinating and visitor-friendly city has plenty for you to do during a short break. Why not add this trip to the start or finish of a holiday in Portgual?
10 must-dos in Lisbon
This list is a mix of the more popular attractions and things to do, as well as a few lesser-known hotspots and ideas. Wander the old town: The oldest district of Lisbon, Alfama, offers a wonderful maze of narrow streets, leading from the Tejo estuary uphill to Lisbon Castle. The many amazing tiled buildings will make you stop every five minutes to gaze up in wonder. In this area you’ll also discover some of Lisbon’s most historically important buildings, including the castle, Sé Cathedral, the National Pantheon and Saint Anthony’s Church. Visit the castle: Most people would agree that the best tourist attraction in the Alfama district is Lisbon Castle. The fabulous views from the castle alone make the entrance fee worthwhile. Wander the various areas and ramparts of the castle and discover its roots dating back to the 7th century. This was also the location where the Christian Crusaders defeated the North African Moors in 1147. The castle was left to become a ruin during later years but was restored again during the 1940s. Take in the views: Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills. Walk to the top of these hills for beautiful views across the wider capital. One lovely place to sit and enjoy a drink while taking in the panorama over the city and river is the Largo da Graça in Alfama. Also known as the Sophia Andresen viewpoint, this tree-shaded plaza situated in front of Graça Church and has a cafe serving drinks and light bites. [caption id="attachment_18110" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Lisbon's famous trams. Pic credit: Martin Cooper on Flickr Creative Commons.[/caption] Ride Tram 28: Lisbon is famous for its network of historic trams. The number 28 connects the district of Graça with Baixa and passes through the streets of Alfama. This narrow and undulating tram route is unsuitable for modern trams, so Remodelado trams dating from the 1930s do the job perfectly. Picture postcard Belém: This picturesque district to the west of Lisbon is another location of many notable tourist attractions. Belem is situated on the northern banks of the River Tagus and is an ancient harbour. Many of the 14th century “voyages of discovery” departed from here. The best way to see Belém is during a 30-minute walk from Pastéis de Belém to the Torre de Belém. This route passes the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Discoveries Monument and goes through many lovely parks. The Park of Nations: Another great destination is the Parque das Nações (Park of Nations), which was originally the site of Expo 98. It has since been transformed into a modern area of Lisbon with a smart shopping centre, a cable car and also the Oceanarium, which is rated on TripAdvisor as the world’s best aquarium. Historic Sintra: This UNESCO world heritage village is easily reached by train from Lisbon and offers a popular day trip. Treats include the Pena Palace, the National Palace and the Moors castle. If you have a car you can access a fantastic beach, Praia da Ursa. Eat ice cream at Santani: The beach and village of Cascais are well worth visiting simply for an enjoyable few hours at the coast – and because they are so close to Lisbon. A must-do while you're there is to visit Santani, one of Portugal’s most famous ice cream parlours. To reach Cascais take the train from Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon all the way until the end of the line. Dining out with a difference: One dining recommendation is to "dine out with view". There are plenty of restaurants and cafes boasting of fabulous views. Two to recommend are Chapitô in Costa do Castelo, Alfama, and Via Graça, in Graça. On the way back from Cascais, visit Mercado da Ribeira. This unusal dining location offers the chance for diners to buy from lots of different food stalls then eat their pick-and-mix meal at a large central table among all the other diners. Another amazing place to eat is Grapes and Bites in Bairro Alto. Voted as one of Portugal’s top 10 places to dine it offers delicious tapas and a huge selection of good wines. There is usually a live musician playing and singing. 8th hill brewery: As I have written above, Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills. There is a brewery called 8ª Colina (8th Hill) in the Graça district which sells a range of crafts beers.