What are the best free things to do in an amazing city like Lisbon which rests on seven hills and is blessed with beautiful old neighbourhoods? Our local editor Rita has picked some of her favourites. Take a look!
1. Stroll around Feira da Ladra
Feira da Ladra literally translates to ‘Thief Fair’ and is the oldest market in Lisbon. It sells a mishmash of all sorts of things – from vintage evening gowns, to hand painted tiles. Even if you don’t have a budget to buy anything, the market is a fascinating place to walk around and take a few photos!
Photo credit: fedee P
2. Hang out with ducks at Gulbenkian
Gulbenkian is a huge concrete bunker of a museum surrounded by a garden with a lake. There’s an impressive amphitheatre on site that hosts regular concerts but for some free fun – head to the lake and lay down on a blanket to watch the ducks and soak up the sunshine.
Photo credit: Rita Alves
3. Observe local life at Jardim do Príncipe Real
Jardim do Principe Real has been a favourite spot in Lisbon for locals to hang out for centuries. Old men like to come to the garden to play cards, families take their kids to the playground, and couples sit in the shade of the stunning cypress tree, which is more than 100 years old. What’s more, there’s a Biological Products Market every Saturday with deliciously fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.
Photo credit: Paulo Guerra
4. Smell the roses at Jardim da Estrela
Popular with families, Jardim da Estrela is a splendid garden with two playgrounds, a bandstand and a terrace café where locals enjoy spending warm and sunny afternoons. And if you’re craving more of Lisbon’s green spaces, check out the secret gardens tour.
Photo credit: Pedro Tavares Silva
5. Dive into the multiculturalism of Martim Moniz
Named after a noble knight, Martim Moniz is a square full of life and one of the most multicultural areas in Lisbon. There are Chinese grocery stores, Indian eateries and Turkish kebab shops on this block. On weekends there are often a DJs spinning tunes in the square and local kids playing football.
Photo credit: ludovic
6. Take in the view at Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte
Lisbon is a city spread out over seven hills, which means there are some wonderful viewpoints to enjoy. Although it’s not the most popular of the peaks, Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte is the highest point in the city and offers truly breathtaking views of Lisbon, without the tourist crowds.
Photo credit: Nuno Morão
7. Sing Fado in Largo do Chafariz de Dentro
Located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Largo do Chafariz de Dentro is a square where you’ll find charming cafes, grocery stores and friendly locals drinking Aguardente and singing Fado songs…join them! If you’re keen to explore some of Lisbon’s other historical neighbourhoods, why not connect with a local guide by booking a walking tour.
Photo by Rita Alves
8. Sunbathe at Ribeira das Naus
Once an old boatyard, Ribeira das Naus has become the place to go if you want to enjoy the sun. With a large grassy area and wide steps that lead down to the water, you’ll find locals and visitors laying about on deckchairs and drinking beers in the afternoon. On a hot day there’s the added bonus of a breeze coming off the river.
Photo credit: Diego BIS
9. See the sights at Santa Luzia Viewpoint
To take in the beauty of Santa Engrácia’s dome (also known as National Pantheon), Santo Estevão’s Church and the two white towers of São Miguel’s Church, head to Santa Luzia Viewpoint. If you fancy learning about some of the city’s history while you enjoy the view, why not book a tour with a local.
Photo credit: Guillén Pérez
10. Check out Centro Cultural de Belém
Stretching across 140,000 square metres, Centro Cultural de Belém is one of the most impressive buildings in Lisbon. This cultural centre hosts opera, ballet and symphony concerts – as well as international conferences and events. It’s always a hive of activity and well worth checking out.
Photo credit: Ricardo Amado
11. Stand in awe of Torre de Belém
Rising out of the sea, Torre de Belém looks like something out of a fairy-tale. This beautiful tower, which stands at the mouth of the Tagus River, was built in the 16thcentury and has become the most iconic building in Lisbon. Other buildings to marvel at in the area include Jeronimos Monastery’s, Church of Santa Maria de Belem and the Discoveries Monument. There are some amazing stories behind this part of Lisbon and booking the Belem Walking Tour is a wonderful way to experience everything the area has to offer.
Photo by Alex Paganelli
12. Watch pasteis de nata being made
Sweet custard tarts, served warm with cinnamon sprinkled on top. If you’ve never tried Portugal’s most famous dessert – natas – then you’re in for a treat! The best place to watch these delicious pastries being made is Manteigaria where you can view chefs masterfully making the tarts behind the counter. Why not take a pastry workshop while you’re in Lisbon?
Photo by Felix Kolthoff
13. Get arty at Coleccao Berardo
This modern art gallery is located in Belem and showcases a range of contemporary art exhibits that include works from Picasso, Dali and Warhol. Admission on Saturdays is free!
14. Appreciate the modern side of life at Parque das Nações
Most travellers head to Lisbon to take in all the old buildings but if you’d like a break from history and to see a more modern side of the city – take a trip to Parque das Nações which is locally known as Expo Park. Back in 1998 Lisbon played host to the World Fair at this site and it’s now a place where you can enjoy a few outdoor art sculptures, as well as stroll along the waterfront.
15. Search for street art
From giant portraits of political figures, to quirky cartoon characters – there’s plenty of colourful and intriguing street art all around Lisbon. Head to Mouraria to see a wall full of art that pays tribute to the music of Fado – and then to Bairro Alto, where you’ll find murals of Combi vans next to illustrations of uprisings.
Photo by Suad Kamardeen