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What to See and Do

Terreiro do Paço

The Terreiro do Paço (in English: The Palace Square) is the city's most emblematic square. It was built after the 1755 earthquake and subsequent tsunami and fires that destroyed most the city of Lisbon. The square brings together Downtown Lisbon and the Tagus River, and is the home not only of several ministries and governmental offices, but also of restaurants and coffee shops, including Martinho da Arcada, one of the Lisbon's oldest and a favourite writing hangout of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. At the square you can also find other tourist attractions such as the Lisbon Story Centre, as well as the “Turismo de Lisboa”. A walk around the Baixa Pombalina or simply Baixa (Downtown), as the locals call it, is mandatory. There you will find some other highlights of the city, including the “Elevador de Santa Justa” (Santa Justa Lift), an iron relic from the beginnings of the 20th century built by Mesnier de Ponsard, and the ruins of the “Convento do Carmo”, a convent destroyed during the 1755 earthquake, which has been maintained as a ruinous reminder of this natural disaster.


Tram Rides

A visit to Lisbon cannot be complete without a yellow tram ride. The tramway network (in Portuguese: Rede de Elétricos de Lisboa) has been operating since 1873. Once one of the main means of public transportation in the Portuguese capital, today trams are found mostly in the historical neighbourhoods and are a popular touristic attraction. A tram ride is one of the best ways of absorbing the charm of the small narrow streets that go up and down the hills and typical neighbourhoods, such as Alfama, Castelo and Graça. We suggest you take the no. 28 starting from either Chiado or Rua da Conceição and head all the way to Graça, a residential area that is host to one the finest viewpoints in Lisbon, the Miradouro da Graça.



Belém is another very popular area with both foreign and national visitors. Start with a walk around the gardens or a visit to a museum, such as the Berardo Museum Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, a free of charge museum located inside the Centro Cultural de Belém. You can visit a Manueline-style monument, such as the Jerónimos Monastery. Another popular attraction is the National Coach Museum which displays several beautiful historical coaches, a testimony of the country's former economic power. In Belém you will also be able to try the “Pasteis de Belém”, an iconic recipe for the classical pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) which, at this café, should be enjoyed warm and served with powdered sugar and cinnamon on top. They do not travel well, so even if you buy several you should try to eat them immediately, which we are sure you will not find too hard. After the sweet treat, there is nothing like a walk on the riverside, passing by some of Lisbon’s iconic landmarks like the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Manueline Belém Tower and the “25 de Abril” bridge.


The Oceanarium

In 1998, the World Exhibition of Lisbon took place, with its motto, “The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future”. Honouring this motto, Lisbon’s Ocenarium was built, and since then over one million people per year have visited the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. The Oceanarium includes four tanks, each representing different habitats with their native fauna and flora: the north Atlantic coast, the Antarctic coastline, the Pacific kelp forests, and the tropical Indian Ocean coral reefs, arranged around an extremely impressive fifth central tank. The main objective of the aquarium is to display the richness that can be found in the five oceans and also to inform and educate visitors about the environmental challenges that oceans face in today’s world.

Night Life:

Lisbon prides itself of its vibrant, long, and varied nightlife. From traditional fado houses in Alfama, Madragoa and Bairro Alto, to small bars and tasquinhas, to trendy clubs and bar lounges, there is something to cater to everyone’s taste. We recommend living the Lisbon nightlife like a local, by trying a bit of everything in the same night. A usual night out in Lisbon should start with dinner and friends. For the more adventurous, we suggest you try one of the small traditional restaurants of Alfama (also known as tasquinhas or simply tascas), some of which have live music and fado performances, often delivered spontaneously by locals, to entertain you during dinner. Don’t forget to try the local cuisine: delicacies like chouriço assado (spicy pork sausage barbequed at the table) and sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines), which are delicious paired with a nice glass of Portuguese wine. If you prefer fine dining, then Eleven, Belcanto or 100 Maneiras are all good options. The Bairro Alto is the central meeting point after dinner, with several small bars and pubs located along the sinuous streets crowded with locals and tourists alike. The Bairro Alto establishments will close around 2 a.m., but this is far from the end of a typical night out in Lisbon:  after this you can watch the crowd walk down the hill towards Cais do Sodré, Lux, or down the river to the Avenida 24 de Julho and the docks. Most clubs will be open until morning.


Photos: © Turismo de Lisboa

Terreiro do Paço


Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

The Oceanarium

Historic Neighbourhood of Alfama