Ask a city of 500,000 people about Lisbon’s best “local” sights and you’ll surely get 500,000 different answers. But the vast number of unique and charming attractions are a big part of the Portuguese capital’s appeal. You can see the major sights, such as the Sao George Castle, the Torre de Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery. But after that, what’s a visitor to do? We’ve put together a list of our favorite Lisbon insider hotspots for you to check out on your next trip.
In a town that has historic tiles topping everything from sidewalks to rooftops, Lisbon’s National Azulejo (Tile) Museum might seem like overkill – but it’s absolutely worth a visit. The museum showcases a wide variety of types, eras and installations of tile. Each tile underscores Portugal’s position at the crossroads of European, Middle Eastern and African design.
Lisbon is graced with many classic gardens and the grandfather of them all is the Botanical Garden adjacent to the Natural History Museum. Its planting began in 1873, which means it has several large and spectacular tropical specimens. More than that, we love this sprawling oasis and its rough-around-the-edges look for a long walk amid the green.
Fans of art from a more recent era will enjoy a trip to the LX Factory. The recast warehouse is one of our favorite Lisbon hotspots. It has transformed the area near the base of the 25 de Abril Bridge into a center for cool shops and galleries. If that’s not enough style for you, head to MAUD for a strong dose of the latest designs in fashion and architecture.
Back in the late 1800s, Lisbon built the first funicular – Ascensor do Lavra – to move its citizens from sea level to hilltop. Our current favorite is the Ascensor da Bica. It moves up Rua da Bica – a boisterous block, especially during the festival of Santo Antonio in June. If you love the Bica, board the Ascensor da Glória – which shimmies up to the Bairro Alto and its viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcântara. Or try 1905’s straightforward Elevador do Santa Justa for a lift to Largo do Carmo.
History says the Largo do Carmo Square played a key role in the 1974 revolution, but locals know the tree-lined square is the perfect spot for an afternoon break – perhaps a coffee or a glass of Sangria? After a break, continue to explore the ruins of Convento do Carmo, a Gothic cathedral destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and tsunami, and a peruse the National Archeological Museum.
Wandering the narrow alleys of the Alfama gives us an idea of what a working class neighborhood must have looked and sounded like a few hundred years ago. The Alfama is definitely touristy but we think it’s definitely worth a trip.
If you want to try the latest Portuguese food concept, visit one of Lisbon’s extraordinary cervejarias. Loosely translated as “beer halls,” these restaurants serve craft beer and local seafood, not unlike a Japanese izakaya.
A long night of eating, drinking, dancing and socializing in the restaurants and clubs of Barrio Alto can last until morning. Want a more cutting-edge club scene? Lisbon will deliver. The legendary Lux club attracts the world’s best DJs for dancing until dawn. Both the Intendente and Cais do Sodré areas are transforming themselves from “red light” districts into haute clubs of “beautiful decay.”
Discover the Possibilities! Portugal.com makes it easy to explore these Lisbon insider hotspots! Our tours include a “48-hour Lisboa Card” which provides visitors with free or discounted transport and admission to many of the city’s most popular attractions. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will craft the perfect Lisbon experience for you!