I get it – you’re done with tourist traps like the 28 tram and Time Out market. You want to get under the skin of this awesome city and experience the many amazing things it has to offer besides the usual.
That’s why I’ve put together a guide of fifty fantastic things to do in Lisbon that won’t have you squeezed in like a sardine. From cosy fado bars to riverside dining, there are activities for every occasion.
1. Entra Tucked away in trendy Marvila, this restaurant serves a “surprise menu” for €19.50, which includes a starter, fish dish, meat dish and dessert. Simply tell them your dietary requirements (all can be catered for) and enjoy! Drinks not included. Book here.
2.Riverside dining in Cacilhas If you like dining al fresco you’ll love the riverside restaurants in Cacilhas, serving fresh produce and stunning views. Take the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas and walk right along the waterfront for about 20 minutes. You’ll be greeted by two lively restaurants, Atire-te ao Rio and Ponto Final. Booking recommended.
3. Chafariz do Vinho This restaurant, set in an old aqueduct in Principe Real, offers a delicious tasting menu paired with Portuguese wine. Ideal for unleashing your inner sommelier. Book here.
4. Illegal Chinese Out of the ordinary, but a Lisbon institution, why not try going for an “illegal Chinese”? Expect to pull up a chair in a Chinese mama’s front room, bring your own bottle and eat until you can’t walk. Various locations, most famous being Rua do Benformoso 59.
5. Mercearia do Campo A relaxed bar with seriously tasty tapas in Campo de Ourique, that exudes a friendly Brazilian vibe. With an outdoor area and table football in the downstairs bar, it also multitasks as a gastro gift shop and event space.
6. Mercado de Campo de Ourique The Time Out market’s less famous little sister is ideal for groups who can’t decide what to eat – here you can have it all. Cake and cocktails, seafood and steak, it’s all on the menu in this modest market. Explore the list of restaurants here.
7. A Praça My favourite restaurant on the LX Factory complex, A Praça keeps it simple in classy surroundings. The cuttlefish risotto is divine. Book here.
8. Harmonia The souped up second iteration of Zé do Cozido, which was always my favourite traditional tasca. The swanky new setting still offers up a satisfying Portuguese menu. I usually go for the octopus or the succulent plumas de porco – and am never disappointed. Book here.
9. Maria Mil Reis This cute and cosy restaurant is made so special by the friendly Brazilian owners. Offering delicious Portuguese fare with a Brazilian twist near Avenida de Liberdade. Book here.
10. Cantinho do Aziz You don’t find Mozambican cuisine in many places, but luckily Lisbon is one of them. From prawn and coconut curries to traditional matapá, the entire menu here is delicious. I usually opt for the Bakra Piri Piri. Book here.
11. Ginjinha Sem Rival The best, and one of the oldest places to enjoy a shot of the traditional cherry liqueur ginja. Located just off Rossio square.
12. Ferroviário Recently renovated rooftop venue with sweeping views of the river, complete with fairy lights and live music events.
13. Café Klandestino A recent addition to the booming Intendente neighbourhood, this speakeasy bases its cocktails and tapas on ingredients smuggled between Portugal and Spain in the 1950s (think coffee and conserves).
14. Rio Maravilha Brazilian bar with a belting view at the top of LX Factory. Always a lively way to start a night out. Accessible via elevator next to Sushi Factory.
15. Bosq A small nightclub in LX Factory with two dancefloors that has the advantage of being open earlier and located closer to town than the Santos mega-clubs. I cannot get enough of the Latin DJ downstairs (Reggaeton, funk, samba, yes!) Check what’s on.
16. Casa Independente An oldie but a goodie, this hidden bar in Intendente square does shabby chic to perfection. Its outdoor terrace strung with lanterns and bunting is a Summer institution.
17. Topo Chiado A crowd pleaser mostly due to its spectacular view of the Castelo São Jorge and proximity to the Elevador Santa Justa. Tricky to find, accessible via Largo do Carmo.
18. Musa Brewery A microbrewery in hipsterville Marvila, this one is for beer connoisseurs that would feel at home in London’s Hackney. Read how it all got started.
19. Crafty Corner Another delight for craft beer fanastics, sample over 12 beers on tap that are rotated weekly. Check out what’s brewing here.
20. Anjos70 I love the underground vibe of this bar/event space, in the heart of my own neighbourhood. Also has a monthly art and flea market, as well as a full agenda of cultural activities including yoga and theatre classes.
21. Sesimbra Busy fishing town with a large beach and seafood aplenty. I enjoy Portofino Restaurant, ask to occupy a sun lounger before you eat, and your meal tab will pay for it (minimum spend €25 each). Buses go from Praça da Espanha. Click for timetable.
22. Walk between Estoril and Cascais A refreshing and easy stroll (40 minutes max) along the seafront, taking in coastline views and ending in popular seaside resort Cascais. Trains every 15 minutes from Cais do Sodré, alight at São João do Estoril.
23. Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo A hidden beach paradise which is a rocky trek down (sometimes almost vertically) from Sesimbra. Allow up to 45 minutes. The sight that awaits you is so serene and spectacular that you’ll be glad you braved it. Take snacks, there are no facilities here.
25. Convento de Capuchos These convent ruins are the ideal city escape, surrounded by lush greenery and steeped in history. Car required.
26. Costa da Caparica A short skip across the river will land you on Costa da Caparica to enjoy #beachlife. A calmer option than the train line beaches and only accessible by car. Uber approximately €20 each way.
27. Setúbal The King of Lisbon’s neighbouring coastal towns, Setúbal is the ideal springboard to discover stunning beaches and the Parque Nacional da Arrábida. Make sure you try the local delicacies, choco frito (fried cuttlefish) and the fortified wine moscatel.
28. Palácio da Bacalhôa Take a tour of this glorious 15th Century palace and working vineyard that produces delicious red, white and dessert wines (and taste them afterwards in the Bacalhôa shop). Book here.
29. Palácio Monserrate Although Palácio da Pena hogs the limelight as the most famous palace in Sintra, this villa and surrounding park is both romantic and peaceful, not to be missed.
30. Quinta da Regaleira An imposing gothic residence with endless gardens, lakes and fountains to explore, another highlight of the Sintra UNESCO world heritage site.
31. Fado To experience Lisbon’s best fado bars, book ahead. I always enjoy the tiny Mascote da Atalaia in the heart of Bairro Alto for an authentic taste of the tradition. Online booking available.
32. Casa do Alentejo A cultural house dedicated to all things Alentejo, this place almost defies description. Part event space, part restaurant, it is decked out with glorious azulejos, high ceilings and chandeliers. Wander in off the streets of Chiado for a feast for the eyes.
33. Miradouro da Graça My favourite “lookout” in Lisbon, with amazing panoramic views of the Castelo de São Jorge and Ponte 25 de Abril. There is a great kiosk to grab a beer and a pastry too.
34. Espaço Baião You can also enjoy plenty of Brazilian culture in Lisbon. If you’d like to learn the popular dances forró or samba da gafieira, check out the courses and open dance events at Espaço Baião.
35. Street Art Tour Get to know the stories behind some of Lisbon’s stunning street art. Take a deeper dive into the political, economic, and social issues that inspire the artwork with the all-woman projectLisbonStreetArtTours.com.
36. Tile Painting There is nothing that says “Lisbon” louder than hand painted tiles. At this workshop in Benfica you can try your hand at the ancient art, taking home your masterpiece.
37. Pastel de Nata Workshop Learn to make Portugal’s most tempting tart with the bakers credited with making the third best pastel de nata in the country. For groups of up to 10 people. Book here.
38. Miradouro de Santa Caterina Beer and buskers, that’s what I associate with this lookout point. Grab a bite at trendy Noobai cafe or bring your own beer and soak up the view and good vibes.
39. Surfing School You don’t need to travel far from Lisbon for an array of surfing schools – both sides of the river have plenty on offer. Carcavelos is a popular choice.
40. Museu do Fado Museums deserve a post of their own… but if you can only squeeze one into your trip learn all about the history of Portugal’s soulful songs at the Museu do Fado in Alfama, a stones throw from the best places to hear it live.
41. Rooftop Cinema Indulge in a classic movie night with a view. Topo Chiado hosts Ciné Society, Lisbon’s seasonal rooftop cinema company. Enjoy full use of the bar and a popcorn stand (not included in price).
42. LX Factory market Sunday is the day to trawl LX Factory’s flea market where you can buy everything from local handicrafts to potted plants and vintage threads.
44. Irish Pub Quiz English language pub quiz that does exactly what it says on the tin. Last Sunday of the month at Hennesey’s.
45. Teatro Trindade Drama, music, comedy, DJs, this theatre in Baixa has a packed schedule. Dance forró to live music on Mondays. Check the agenda.
46. Lisbon International Sailing Club There’s no better way to take in the views of Lisbon than aboard a sail boat on the Tejo. Lisbon International Sailing Club welcomes new members, your first two trips are free.
47. Cinema São Jorge Step back in time in this old fashioned movie house on Avenida da Liberdade that shows an eclectic mix of international cinema. Choose carefully if you don’t speak Portuguese, as foreign films won’t be subtitled in English. Listings here.
48. Lisbon Under the Stars This immersive sound and light show in the ruins of the Carmo Convent has won international awards, and returns this summer. Experience 600 years of Portuguese history accompanied by some of the nation’s most famous faces in 3D. Get your tickets here.
49. Storytelling Nights Everybody has a unique story to tell. This monthly event invites people from all walks of life in Lisbon to tell their stories to a captive crowd. Prepare to laugh, cry and raise the odd eyebrow. Join the MeetUp group here.
50. Fabrica do Braço Prata Once an arms factory, now a bohemian event space boasting jazz concerts, art exhibits and film screenings. Private dining also available. Check out the agenda here.
What did I miss? Add your recommendations in the comment box below!