Romantic cobblestone streets, art nouveau cafes, a diverse range of cultures. Portugal’s capital may be small but it has plenty to offer. Make the most of your holiday overseas with our guide to the top 5 things to do in Lisbon. We’ll help you enjoy the best the world has to offer.
1. Avenida de Liberdade
The main avenue of the city, Avenida de Liberdade was built after the great earthquake of 1755, which destroyed much of Lisbon. Initially, only the elite were allowed to walk on the promenade, a prohibition enforced until 1821 – but it’s now open for everyone to enjoy. Among the charming fountains and café tables stands the Monument to the Heroes of the Great War, a tribute to the 50,000 Portuguese soldiers who fought in World War I.
2. Elevador de Santa Justa
The Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the city’s best-loved landmarks, and was originally built in 1902 by Raoul Mesnier (an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, which explains its similarities with the Eiffel Tower). For a small price, an elevator will transport you from the lowest point of the city (Baixa) to the highest (Barrio Alto), and there’s a café at the top where you can get an amazing view of the city.
3. Praca do Comercio
This vast waterfront square, also known as ‘Terreiro do Paço’ or ‘the palace’s square,’ is where the royal palace stood for over two centuries until 1755, when it was destroyed by the great earthquake. The royal family moved to another residence in the district of Belem, and the new arcaded buildings became the entrance to the city. It’s now one of Lisbon’s loveliest sites, and on the north side, you will find one of the city’s legendary cafes, Café Martinho.
4. Casa do Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa
Fado is a melancholic style of acoustic Portuguese music dating back to the 1820s. Still an intricate part of the culture, it’s mostly found at late-night clubs, you can also hear a sample of it, and get a lesson in its history, at this quirky museum. Situated in an old bombing water station, it has an auditorium, exhibition area, cafe, esplanade and shop.
5. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Regarded by many as Lisbon’s most important landmark, this monastery thankfully managed to survive the great earthquake. It was constructed by Manuel and is said to be the finest example of Manuel architecture in Lisbon. Portuguese seafarers used to pray in the chapel before their departure into the unknown, and the monastery is decorated throughout with sea monsters and other maritime symbols. Don’t forget to go up to the ‘coro alto’ to see the beautiful choir stalls, made of carved oak and chestnut.