15 Things Lisbon is Famous For

What is Lisbon famous for? Lisbon is famous for its sunny weather, great nightlife, colorful buildings, Fado music, and friendly locals. It’s also home to famous landmarks like the Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. As for food, Lisbon is famous for its seafood and Pastéis de Belém, a type of custard tart.

The capital of Portugal, also known as the ‘city of seven hills’, is the perfect balance between modern and old. Located on the banks of Tagus River, Lisbon is a favorite among tourists from all over the globe.  

lisbon panoramic view

If you’ve ever traveled to Lisbon, you know what makes this city one of the best European destinations! However, if you haven’t and always wondered what is Lisbon famous for, the answer is right here.

1. Belem Tower

belem tower lisbon

If you ever ask yourself what’s the most famous landmark in Lisbon this is it! The Belem Tower or Torre de Belém is Lisbon’s most iconic monument and the one you absolutely need to visit when in the city.

The tower was built back in the 16th century close to the north bank of the river. It’s one of the best examples of Portuguese Manueline architecture in Lisbon. It also features elements from other architectural styles such as Moorish. This landmark is not only important to Portugal’s history but also to the world as it marks the Age of Discoveries.   

Don’t miss the chance to visit and spend some time in the surrounding area; the views are stunning!

2. Jerónimos Monastery

jeronimos monastry lisbon

And when speaking of important landmarks, I couldn’t leave Jerónimos Monastery out. It’s located in the Belem area so you should definitely visit it when visiting the Belem Tower.

It’s the most prominent example of Portuguese Manueline Architecture in Lisbon and in Portugal. Surprisingly it survived the 1755 earthquake, which devastated the city, with little to no damage.  

In the church you can visit the tomb of navigator Vasco da Gama, as well as a one of a kind Manueline cloister that will amaze any architecture nerd.

3. Trams

street tram lisbon

If I have to choose one of the things from this list to make the perfect postcard it would definitely be the trams. Even though Lisbon has a modern public service system that serves the entire city, the trams are still alive and well!

If you’re planning on hopping on one, take the 28 tram from Praça do Comércio up to Alfama. It’s a scenic tour that will take you through the heart of this old neighborhood.

4. Praça do Comércio

praca comercio lisbon

When the 1755 earthquake hit Lisbon, this area was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt. That’s why this area is much more organized, as buildings and streets were built to withstand any future earthquakes. In Portuguese it’s known as the Baixa Pombalina, as homage to the diplomat who rebuilt Lisbon after disaster struck.

Taking a stroll through this area and through Rua Agusta is a wonderful experience.

5. Alfama District

alfama lisbon

When visiting Lisbon you definitely need to include Alfama in your plans. If being one of the oldest places in the city doesn’t convince you enough, you should go and see for yourself how amazing this neighborhood is. There’s a surprise around every corner of every pastel building.

You’re bound to find authentic cuisine and authentic locals who will offer you the best of Portuguese hospitality!

6. S. Jorge Castle

saint jorge castle lisbon

S. Jorge Castle is sitting on top of the tallest of the seven hills that surround Lisbon. Its first constructions date back to the 1st century BC and it has been occupied by many different peoples until the Portuguese were able to conquest it in the 12th century.

It’s a place filled with history that also happens to offer one of the best views in town! It’s open to the public every day.

7. Santa Justa Elevator

santa justa elevator lisbon

If I had to choose the most unique landmarks in Lisbon, I’d go with this one! The Santa Justa Elevator is usually filled with tourists and the streets are quite narrow, so you should visit it in the early hours of morning to avoid crowds.

It was built in 1901 to connect the downtown area with Carmo Square. If you decide to take the trip up, don’t miss the chance to visit the amazing Carmo Archaeological Museum, which is located on the ruins of an old church.

8. Fado Music

fado lisbon
Image Credit: hometown-lisboa.pt

Fado music is tied to Lisbon and is one of the things Lisbon is famous for. This musical genre was born during the 1820s in Lisbon and is most known for its mournful lyrics and tunes, which capture the meaning of the Portuguese word saudade – it means longing something or someone, usually from the past.

You can come across Fado shows, which usually include dinner, easily when in Alfama.

9. 25 de Abril Bridge

abril bridge lisbon

The 25 de Abril Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Lisbon and Almada, on the south bank of the Tagus River. This bridge is one of Lisbon’s symbols and it is usually compared to Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

To catch the best pictures of it, go to the waterfront area or to one of the many rooftops around town. LX Factory is nearby and offers incredible views, and in my experience some tasty cocktails!

10. Lisbon Nightlife

pink street lisbon

One of the things Lisbon is famous for is the busy nightlife! Places like Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are where all the action happens, but you can find bars and nightclubs all around the city.

For a first-timer, I’d recommend Bairro Alto. Since it offers many bars in the same area, it’s perfect for bar-hopping until you find the one that’s right for you!

Cais do Sodré is also a great choice. There are tons of unique places to be discovered, including the infamous Pink Street.

11. Sunny Weather

lisbon viewpoint

One of Lisbon’s selling points is how sunny it is during the year. No matter the season, you can almost always count on a blue sky and a mild temperature. It’s actually the sunniest capital in Europe and one of the sunniest cities in Europe and what Lisbon is famous for!

And is there any better way to enjoy the weather than to go up to one of the seven hills around the city to take a look at the breath-taking views? You can also join locals during sunset and enjoy some end of the day drinks while soaking up on the views. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Miradouro da Graça are the best Lisbon viewpoints.

12. Famous food in Lisbon

pasteis de belem
Pastéis de Belém

There’s a reason why everyone boasts about Portuguese food and you’re about to find out!

Since Portugal is a coastal country, seafood and fish dishes can be easily found at affordable prices. Cod is Portugal’s specialty, and it is said that the Portuguese knows how to cook it over a thousand different ways.

If you feel like eating meat, try a Bifana (meat sandwich), Prego (another meat sandwich), or Cozido (assortment of meats and vegetables). Sweets are also a huge deal and no trip to Lisbon is complete without tasting Pastéis de Belém, a Portuguese custard tart pastry.

And in case you were wondering about the most iconic drinks, don’t worry! You need to try Ginjinha, a sweet liquor usually served on a chocolate cup. Portugal also has incredible wines so make sure you also give them a try.

Also Read: 25 Mouthwatering Portuguese Desserts You Must Try

13. Famous museums in Lisbon

maat contemporary art museum lisbon

Lisbon has so much to offer when we’re talking about Portuguese culture and history! And even though the city is a living history book filled with so many important buildings and landmarks, nothing beats a visit to a few museums.

The city has a vast offer of museums that emphasize how well it blends its history with its present. The National Tile Museum, the National Coach Museum, and the National Museum of Ancient Art are some of the best to discover Portugal’s heritage. But you can also visit modern museums, such as the MAAT, the Fado Museum or the MUDE.

If you want to avoid the crowds, go either very early in the morning or during lunch hours.

14. Lisbon Oceanarium

oceanario lisbon aquarium

Oceánario de Lisboa is one of the biggest and most impressive aquariums in Europe. It includes four marine habitats filled with all sorts of aquatic animals, from otters to sharks. It’s one of Lisbon’s main attractions and definitely worth a visit. However, it can get quite crowded with families.

The aquarium is located in Parque das Nações, a beautiful waterfront area with a thriving food scene and amazing views over the Tagus River.

15. Sintra

pena palace sintra
Pena Palace

No trip to Lisbon is complete without a visit to the nearby town of Sintra (30 min drive). This whimsical place filled with castles, misty forests, and sumptuous palaces looks like a fairytale. Visitors always fall in love with its magical atmosphere.

Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Caste of Moors, and the Monserrate Palace are some of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve ever visited.

Lisbon is packed with places full of history, hip restaurants, and inviting coffee shops. You will never run out of things to do! Between museum visits strolls around the city, and discovering the thriving food scene, you will have plenty to see, do, and taste. Now that you know what Lisbon is famous for, it’s time to plan a visit with the help of this Lisbon itinerary.

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