The Top Things To See in Lisbon, Portugal



Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is a city of contrasts, blending ancient history with vibrant modernity. From its picturesque cobblestone streets to its iconic landmarks and scenic viewpoints, Lisbon offers an unforgettable journey through time and culture. Here are the top sights to explore in this captivating city, each with its own rich history and unique charm.


Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

History and Description: Built in the early 16th century as a fortress to defend the mouth of the Tagus River, Belém Tower is a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. This UNESCO World Heritage site features a blend of Manueline and Moorish architectural styles, adorned with intricate carvings and maritime motifs.

What to See: Explore the tower’s interior, climb its narrow staircases for panoramic views, and admire the sculptures and maritime symbols that adorn its façade.

Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)

History and Description: Also located in Belém, Jerónimos Monastery is a masterpiece of Manueline architecture. Constructed in the 16th century, it was commissioned by King Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India. The monastery’s ornate cloisters and exquisite detailing reflect Portugal’s wealth and maritime power during the Age of Discovery.

What to See: Visit the Church of Santa Maria, where Vasco da Gama and other prominent figures are buried, and explore the monastery’s cloisters, adorned with intricate carvings depicting biblical scenes and maritime motifs.

Alfama District

History and Description: Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest and most picturesque neighborhood, characterized by its narrow winding streets, colorful houses, and sweeping views of the Tagus River. This historic district has retained its Moorish influence and is known for its lively atmosphere, Fado music, and traditional taverns.

What to See: Wander through Alfama’s labyrinthine streets, visit the São Jorge Castle perched atop the hill, and discover hidden gems such as the Sé Cathedral and the National Pantheon.

São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)

History and Description: São Jorge Castle is a Moorish fortress dating back to the 11th century, built atop the highest hill in Lisbon. Over the centuries, it has served as a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a prison. Today, it offers panoramic views of the city and houses archaeological excavations revealing Lisbon’s ancient history.

What to See: Explore the castle’s ramparts, towers, and gardens, visit the onsite museum to learn about Lisbon’s evolution, and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the Tagus River from its battlements.

Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa)

History and Description: Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in the city, dating back to the 12th century. Built in a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles, it has undergone numerous renovations and additions over the centuries. The cathedral has survived earthquakes, fires, and sieges, making it a symbol of Lisbon’s resilience.

What to See: Admire the cathedral’s façade, adorned with rose windows and intricate stone carvings, explore its interior filled with religious art and artifacts, and descend into the crypt to see archaeological remains dating back to Roman times.

Chiado District

History and Description: Chiado is Lisbon’s elegant and cultural heart, known for its charming cafés, historic theaters, and upscale boutiques. Rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1988, Chiado seamlessly blends old-world charm with contemporary flair, attracting artists, intellectuals, and visitors from around the world.

What to See: Stroll along Rua Garrett, Chiado’s main shopping street, visit the historic Bertrand Bookstore, one of the oldest bookshops in the world, and relax in one of the district’s iconic cafés, such as A Brasileira, frequented by writers and poets.

Pastéis de Belém

History and Description: No visit to Lisbon is complete without indulging in Portugal’s most beloved pastry, the pastel de nata. While these custard tarts can be found throughout the city, the original and most famous ones are served at Pastéis de Belém, a bakery located near the Jerónimos Monastery. Dating back to 1837, this institution has been delighting locals and visitors alike with its secret recipe passed down through generations.

What to See: Join the queue (which moves quickly) to savor freshly baked pastéis de nata, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar, and enjoy them with a cup of Portuguese coffee in the bakery’s historic café.

Lisbon’s rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture make it a captivating destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the soul of Portugal. From ancient monuments to charming neighborhoods and culinary delights, the city offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Whether you’re wandering through its historic streets or savoring its culinary delights, Lisbon is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart and mind.