​​Lisbon is the westernmost capital of Europe and the biggest city in Portugal. The European continent ends at Cape Roca, not far from the city, and the vast Atlantic Ocean extends beyond it. Lisbon does not have much history; it was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, tsunami and fires, but was soon reborn from the ruins of the Marquês de Pombal. Nevertheless, you will find reminders of Lisbon's imperial past at every part of the city: magnificent cathedrals, elegant palaces, and pompous monuments to kings and marquises. But the main attraction is the long walks through Lisbon's streets. There are hours of climbing up and down the steep streets, up and down staircases, admiring the divine azulejos, photographing the flower potted windows, the tiny balconies with picturesque laundry hanging on them, and listening to the sounds of the Fado.

The city of Lisbon sits on seven hills, so it's worth stocking up on comfy shoes.

Lisboa Card

Lisbon has a Lisboa Card tourist pass that allows you to save money on your vacation. Nearly a hundred museums, sightseeing, and entertainment are included. Discounts range from 15% to 100%. In particular, you can visit the Mafra Palace, the National Museum of Ancient Art, the Belem Tower, the Santa Giusta Lift, the Jerónimos Monastery, and other sites for free. A bonus is free public transportation, including trips to the suburbs, and small discounts in stores. There are three types of Lisboa Card: 24 hours (19 EUR for adults and 12 EUR for children), 48 hours (32 EUR and 18 EUR respectively), and 72 hours (40 EUR and 21 EUR).

Belém Tower

The Belém Tower is the best example of the exotic Manueline style and a majestic bastion at the mouth of the Tagus River. The Belém Tower is considered one of the main landmarks of Lisbon and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Since 1515, the tower has welcomed returning Lisbon sailors with Venetian arcades, an abundance of architectural decorations, and a statue of the Virgin Mary of Good Returns, the patron saint of Portuguese sailors since the time of Vasco da Gama. It is worth coming here to admire the amazing architecture, check the best collection of ancient cannons in the casemates, see the unusual rhinoceros sculptures and enjoy the views of the river expanse.

As you approach the tower, whether from the city quarters or along the river, you will gradually discover in all the fascinating details a fantasy manuelino in which elements of Gothic, Renaissance, Moorish styles and exotic motifs come together. Note the many maritime details: nautical knots, ropes, and representations of astronomical spheres, all designed to capture the power of Portugal at sea. There is the open terrace On the first floor of the tower, from which the monarch himself greeted returning travelers. It is worth a look! The perimeter of the terrace is decorated with Moorish pinnacles resembling exotic headdresses.

In the casemates of the Belém Tower, there are 16 cannons, a reminder of the true purpose of the building. Then it is worth ascending to the second floor of the tower; on its southern side there is a vast balcony in the Venetian style, decorated with an arcade with figured Manuelino rosettes. The upper gallery offers a dizzying view of the Tagus River.

Holders of Lisboa Cards can visit the Belém Tower for free every day.

The Palaces of Lisbon

Majestic palaces from different centuries are another notable attraction in Lisbon.

Belém Palace

The Belém Palace or Belém National Palace immediately catches the eye of tourist arriving in Belém, once a royal suburb and now one of Lisbon's neighborhoods. It is a magnificent building with a rose-colored tiered facade, hidden behind a high fence. It is now the residence of the president of Portugal, so most travelers see the structure only from the outside, but it is possible to arrange a visit by appointment.

Raised flag over the building means that the President is in the palace.

Prince Manuel laid out the palace in the 16th century, and it was built by the Counts of Aveiras. The facade is very unusual: it consists of five similar buildings connected, rather modest for a royal and presidential residence. Later, when the ruling family was firmly established in the Belém Palace, they constantly changed the interiors, adding a menagerie and a riding school. The central part shows Mannerist and Baroque features. The side structures are combined into a terrace, which may be accessed by special stairs. The entire space is generously decorated with panels of Portuguese azulejos tiles. Visitors can also explore the smaller but interesting Museum of the Portuguese Presidents.

This complex is often called the "pink palace," thanks to the color of the walls and the snow-white trim, making it look festive and ornate. In front of it, a very pleasant and well-groomed garden stretches. The facades once faced the Tagus River, but that water has receded over time and they are now separated by about 200 meters.

Queluz Palace

Do you want to see how the Portuguese kings used to live? Then come to the Queluz Palace on the outskirts of Lisbon. The luxurious palace complex was built in the mid-18th century as a summer residence for royalty and court nobility. The first people of the state had a lot of fun here, throwing great balls and social events. The Queluz palace has survived to this day, despite the destructive fire that befell it. After the fire, the mansion had to be thoroughly restored. Travelers are now able to walk through all the rooms and peek into the magnificent halls of Queluz Palace. All the rooms of the palace of Queluz were richly decorated and literally hung with paintings and filled with statues. Also pay attention to the garden behind the palace. You will enjoy beautifully trimmed bushes, fragrant flower beds, and gurgling fountains. Do not hurry to leave the palace immediately after the tour. Sit in the pavilions in the park, or stay for a live instrumental concert. Feel yourself like a true king or queen!

Mafra Palace

In the suburbs of Lisbon lies the largest palace in Portugal — Mafra Palace. It was built at the beginning of the 18th century for the birth of the long-awaited first-born child of the royal couple, João V and Anne of Austria. In addition to the traditional rooms, it includes a monastery, a basilica, two towers with bell towers, and a giant library. The palace has a total of 1200 rooms, and the total area is equal to the area of almost ten soccer fields. If you are lucky enough, you may hear the chimes of a hundred bells during the tour.

Saint George's Castle

The historical pearl of Portugal's capital is St. George's Castle. This ancient fortress of the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors became a Portuguese trophy in 1147. Today, St. George's Castle welcomes tourists with the peace and cool of its shady courtyard, its impressive collection of medieval cannons, and breathtaking panoramic views of Lisbon's red mosaic of tiled roofs, interspersed with the blue ribbon of the Tagus River. You can enjoy the appearance of the castle from afar; it is perfectly visible from almost any part of Lisbon city. Its mighty walls stand out clearly against the blue Lisbon sky, and its foundations seem to merge with the high hill above the Tagus River.

The entrance to St. George's Castle is the main castle gate. After passing through the massive wooden doors, you enter a quiet courtyard planted with lush greenery, shaded by benches and roaming peacocks, geese, and ducks. Here you will be greeted by a statue of King Afonso Henriques and a series of medieval cannons — a reminder of the formidable days of the fortress' history. After you have walked around it, you will see the entrance to the underground archaeological museum with findings from ancient times to the 18th century. There is also a show about the history of Lisbon, "Olissiponia".

Must-visit in Lisbon city:

  • Belém Tower

  • Belém Palace

  • Lisbon Cathedral

  • Lisbon National Museum of Ancient Art

  • Praca do Comercio

Lisbon Cathedral

The two twin towers of Lisbon's Cathedral are visible from every part of Lisbon city, their lean and rather cramped silhouette towering above the cheerfully colored facades of the old Portuguese nobles' estates. The main temple of the capital, referred to succinctly as "Se", bears witness to almost all of Lisbon's history; once a Roman temple, then a Visigoth church, then a mosque, and finally a cathedral. This eventful fate is reflected in its appearance: the attentive eye can see Romanesque, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Gothic features. After visiting the Lisbon Cathedral indoors, it is definitely worth descending to the Gothic aisle: in the mysterious semi-darkness of the dungeon, you will see a lot of archeological discoveries of 2000 years of history.

Meeting with the cathedral is worth starting with stepping a little further to gaze at the magnificence of its ancient facade. The impressive Romanesque structure of the temple-fortress is supplemented by a recognizable Gothic rosette above the main portal; squat bell towers with narrow windows and battlements stand on either side; the top of the construction is framed with battlements. It is a veritable formidable knight on guard of the true faith, as imagined by the early Crusaders.

When you enter the Lisbon Cathedral, you find yourself in a classic Christian basilica: the central nave and two side aisles, separated by rows of columns resting on stainless steel arches, as well as the transept, form a Latin cross in plan. The Gothic vault and the many stone statues of the saints will probably catch your attention. Also worth seeing are the sarcophagi of Afonso IV and the knight Lopo Fernández Pacheco, great examples of stone carving. In the Gothic aisle of the Lisbon Cathedral, you can see the underground layers of the cathedral. Note the ruins of an ancient Roman street and Moorish houses, as well as a medieval water collection cistern.

Praca do Comercio

The Praca do Comercio was a starting point for great geographical discoveries that began in the 15th century. At that time, it was called “Palais” because the first building on it was the royal palace of Ribeira. Then came the construction of the port, the shipyard, the House of India, and other administrative buildings related to international maritime trade. The proximity to the water ruined Palace Square — during an earthquake, its buildings were swept away by the tremors and squalls of water.

The square is a reminder not only of the great flood of the 18th century but also of the murder of kings in the 20th century. On February 1, 1908, the carriage of the penultimate king of Portugal, Carlos I, was shot by activists of the Republican Party. In the assassination attempt, the king was killed on the spot, his heir Luis Filipe was mortally wounded, and Prince Manuel, the future last king of Portugal, was hurted.

Lisbon National Museum of Ancient Art

The Lisbon National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon is the largest and greatest gallery in Portugal. Here you may enjoy thousands of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and antique furniture from the 14th to 19th centuries. The museum's rich collection includes paintings by such popular artists as Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch, Raphael, Diego Velázquez, and other world-famous painters.

The exhibition of the Lisbon National Museum of Ancient Art is divided into floors. On the first floor, you will find works by European artists. On the second floor are works of art from Africa and Asia from the Middle Ages. The third floor of the museum complex is entirely devoted to an exhibition of Portuguese painters' works. The legendary painting "The Temptation of St. Anthony" by Hieronymus Bosch is especially popular among Lisbon tourists visiting the National Museum of Ancient Art. It is curious that, originally, the museum was attached to the monastery of St. Francis, and when the collection became too large, a separate building was built for it. Since then, the National Museum of Ancient Art has become a popular place among Lisbon travelers. Almost all the guests of Lisbon city come here.


The Alfama district in Lisbon is one of the most visited neighborhoods in the Portuguese capital. Alfama belongs to the old part of Lisbon city, so within its boundaries are located the greatest number of attractions, causing interest among visitors. A walk through the neighborhood is a fascinating insight into the history of old Lisbon city.

Alfama is a centuries-old neighborhood in Lisbon city. Alfama gets its name from the longtime inhabitants of the Moors, who have lived there since 711. There are some beautiful architectural monuments from those times which have been preserved to this day and which have become assets of the Alfama district. The most famous landmark left by the Moors is part of the mighty city wall and its watchtower, situated in the square of Saint Raphael. In addition, the modest settlement was for a long time occupied by the Visigoths and the Romans, and from the XV century, the area became a European district. If you travel to Lisbon, you have to visit Alfama!

Around Lisbon


Sintra is an ancient Portuguese city with more than 11 centuries of history. It is located 23 km northwest of Lisbon city. Here you will find great exotic parks, ancient forests, castles, palaces, and monasteries. Sintra has everything for relaxation: beaches, clear water, beautiful coastal views, surfing, fishing, and lots of attractions. In 1995, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sintra is the best place to pause the time and relax after the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.

The historic center of Sintra is a maze of streets, staircases, arcades, and unusual palaces, so it is best viewed on foot or by car. Two huge white cones can be seen almost everywhere in the city. It is the hood of the kitchen of the National Palace of Sintra, the summer residence of the royal family since the 15th century. Several private palaces are open to the public. These are the Castle of the Moors, built on the site of an ancient sea fortification, the Eastern-style Monserrate Palace, and the mysterious Regaleira Palace, built by a Freemason, with underground caverns and corridors. The 18th century palace, Palacio de Seteais, is now a 5-star hotel with the best service.

Golden sands, clear Atlantic waters, and coastlines with magnificent cliffs make Sintra's beaches a delightful place. The beaches have everything for water sports, like surfing and fishing, and you can paraglide from the nearby cliffs. The Atlantic coast near Sintra has the best marine life and vegetation. Here you may find octopuses, cuttlefish, squid, mussels, shells, and various kinds of crabs, lobsters, and crayfish.

The best beaches in Sintra are Agrada and Grande.

Serra da Estrela

The Serra da Estrela, with its highest peak, the Tower (1993 m), is a beautiful mountain, where you can listen to the music of nature by listening to the diversity of vegetation and birds, to the flocks of sheep guarded by dogs whose breed is named after the mountain. It is really worth visiting if you are traveling to Lisbon city.

This nature park is great for walking, horseback riding, or biking. Among the marked routes of varying degrees of difficulty, with a total length of 375 kilometers, you will definitely find the best one that suits your physical abilities. During the colder months, the Serra da Estrela becomes the only place in Portugal where you can go skiing, sledding, snowboarding, or motor-sledding. There are various trails with auxiliary infrastructure and artificial snow tracks where you can ski any time of the year.


The Cascais travel center includes the old town, with a rich historical and architectural ensemble, and a lively pedestrian zone with many cafes and restaurants. Most tourists choose Cascais because of the best beaches. The most popular and largest beach in Cascais is Guinho. It has the highest waves in the area, so Guinho attracts extreme sports enthusiasts such as surfers, windsurfers, kite surfers, and so on. If you want just to have a quiet swim and laze on the beach, you can choose smaller beaches, such as Torre or Riberia. They are all well equipped with showers, toilets, changing cabins, lifeguards, rental shops, and cafes.

Shopping in Lisbon

Lisbon is one of the ten best European cities for shopping. There are many stores, markets, boutiques, and shopping centers that offer clothing, shoes, and accessories by fashionable designers and well-known democratic brands. Portugal itself is famous for excellent shoes at reasonable prices, and most travelers can’t leave the market without buying a new pair.

Do not forget about the siesta in Lisbon. All markets, except grocery stores, are closed from noon to 3 p.m.

The most popular shopping places are Chiado and Baixa. The first one has the best street markets next to boutiques of fashion brands. Go to Baixa for souvenirs. The historic center of Lisbon is full of small shops selling linen, pottery, embroidery, wine, and cork products. The wines are better to buy in supermarkets (e.g., Jumbo). There you will find a better choice and lower prices. The most interesting shopping centers are Centro Colombo, Freeport Outlet Center, and Centro Vasco da Gama. The first one is the largest market in this part of Europe. The second one is located in the suburbs, but it's worth visiting for the fine prices.

What to taste in Lisbon?

Lisbon is the best place to taste Portuguese wines. They are not as popular as French or Italian wines, but they are worth a traveler’s try. Not only the famous Port, whose birthplace is Porto, but also Madeira, Setubal, and other wine regions. Travelers may taste the best wine at the special tours or visiting wine regions. Among the alcoholic beverages is the liqueur ginja, which contains a cherry in every bottle. Do not pass by the Portuguese cheese. It is produced in almost every region, and each product has its own characteristics. Among the Portuguese sweets, the best are the pastries "Pastel de Nata". For pastries made of puff pastry with milk and egg cream, the best place to go in Lisbon is the café pastry shop marked "fabric proprio". This means that everything is made on the spot, and the pastries are always fresh. Not all tourists know this great secret!

Where to eat in Lisbon?

Go to small cafes or coffee shops for breakfast. You won't be able to eat in a restaurant before noon in Lisbon. From 12:00 to 15:00, the restaurants serve lunch, and then almost all of them close for a siesta. Portuguese cuisine is varied, but seafood dishes dominate the menu. Fish delicacies in Lisbon are cheaper than the beef we are used to. So lobster or grilled sardines cost less than the delicacy of a calf's tail.

In restaurants, the waiter brings an appetizer before serving your order. Anything you touch will be included in the bill.

There are several specific cafes — marisqueira and churrasqueira. The first offers fish and seafood dishes, the second specializes in grilled meat. Both come in a variety of formats, from simple eateries to full-fledged restaurants. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m., after which most restaurants in the city close. The only exceptions are night bars and clubs, but you're unlikely to get a great meal there.

Lisbon for kids

In Lisbon, young travelers will not get bored — the Lisbon city has everything for the best holiday. First of all, visit the Lisbon Zoo. Here young visitors may admire lions, leopards, monkeys, lemurs, and seals. The conditions here are similar to the wild ones. Be sure to visit the Lisbon Oceanarium. It is one of the largest aquariums in the world; its volume exceeds 5 million liters, and its population is over 25 thousand sea creatures from four different oceans. One of them is a huge Pacific octopus weighing 250 kg.

After enjoying time with wildlife, visit the Puppet Museum of Lisbon. Puppets from different times and places are waiting for children here. Some of the local artists "acted" on the stage of ancient theaters; others took part in modern performances. Young tourists will be interested in workshops where they can learn how to manage puppets.