The capital of Portugal is truly amazing. A city built on seven hills with lots of monuments and the Tagus River flowing by, you simply cannot miss it. It can be done in one day, but you won’t be bored here even if you visit for a week. In our article, we will show you the most interesting sights in Lisbon. We will go, for example, across the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, to the Alfama district or to the Belém Tower, which is on the UNESCO list.
Neither of us are exactly city type people, so we don’t spend too much time in them. Many people pay for accommodation for several nights in the capital, get to know the sights slowly, hang out in cafes and use public transport. Nothing against that, but we will describe to you how to see the best in one day, and above all with acceptable costs .
Arrival by car
If you drive to Lisbon from the south, you will probably use one of the two toll bridges over the Tagus Estuary. Pricing information is available below in the practical advice and tips section. The Ponte 25 de Abril bridge is shorter, cheaper and takes you directly to the center. It mainly looks similar to the Goldengate bridge in San Francisco, so driving is a nice experience. We purposely arrived early in the morning to avoid the queues, but with six lanes in one direction, travel during rush hour might not be that difficult. Parking in the center is quite tricky, but we managed to park for free approximately between Praça do Comércio and Santa Apolónia station.
The most interesting sights in the center
Head first to the main square, Praça do Comércio . It is one of the largest and most beautiful in Lisbon, and in its center is a statue of King Joseph I. The dominant building at the edge of the square is the Arco da Rua Augusta . There is a lookout point at its top, the entrance fee is approximately 3.5 euros/person. Be sure to also walk from the square to the Tagus River, there is a nice view of the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
Lisbon sits on seven hills, so if you don’t want to pay for the view from the arch, there are plenty of alternatives. You can find one of them above the Santa Justa lift . The historic elevator serves to facilitate transport between parts of the city and from the vantage point you can see the entire center, the river, and especially the adjacent church Igreja do Convento de Santa Maria do Carmo . But it will cost us 5 euros/person. crazy price for the lift, so we prefer to walk everywhere. If you have a 24-hour public transport ticket, you can ride the lift for free, see below.
Entrance to the lookout is also charged (1.5 euros/person), but we managed to pass unnoticed. There are also nice views from the opposite side of town, so head across Rossio Square to Castelo de são jorge . It’s up to you if you decide to go inside and pay about 10 euros/person. for entry. It didn’t seem that important to us, so we decided to skip the castle. You can find all the necessary information about the castle on the > official website <. From the castle, it is a short walk to the Alfama district , which is probably the most beautiful in the city.
Just a short walk from the castle will take you to the super viewpoints Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Both are free and provide nice views. There is also a small garden and a church of the same name at the first mentioned. From the viewpoints, continue to the churches of Igreja da Graca and Igreja de São Vicente de Fora . Behind the second one you will find a small flea market and the Pantheon (Church of Saint Engrácia). Entrance to the Pantheon is charged, unlike other churches, the price is 4 euros/person. It’s a rather high amount for a church, so it was enough for us to take a nice photo from the outside. On your way to the churches, you will certainly meet tram No. 28. This is a local attraction, because on its route, historic wagons pass through the narrow streets of the Alfama district, where at any given moment almost nothing can fit except a tram. Information on fare prices can be found below.
The other main Lisbon sights are located a little to the side of the center, so you will have to drive to them. You can easily get to the Belém district from the center by car or tram no. 15. A day ticket costs 6.4 euros and you can also use it for the metro, buses and even elevators. A single ride is probably not very worthwhile, as it costs 3 euros. One of the main attractions in the Belém district is the Mosteiros des Jeronimos Monastery , which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance costs 10 euros/person, but the view from the outside is also very nice. Together with the adjacent fountain on Praça do Império square, you will have beautiful photos.
Tip: You can park for free in the large parking lots along Praça do Império.
Right across from the monastery is the Monument to the Discoverers by the Tagus River . We weren’t inside, but the view from the top of the monument can be nice. The entrance fee is 6 euros/person, you can find the complete price list > here <. Even if you don’t go inside, it’s worth a look, walk around the water and take a picture of the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge from the other side. A more visited monument by the river is the nearby Belém Tower . It once served as a gate to the city and protection from invaders. The basic entrance fee is 6 euros/person. There are also nice views from the top terrace. During our visit, we did not see such queues anywhere as in the Belém district, so it is necessary to steel your nerves a little before the tour.
Other sights and places in Lisbon
If you have more time and options, check out the Aqueduto das Águas Livres aqueduct in the Campolide district. You can also stop at the former royal palace of Ajuda , which today serves as a museum. The basic entrance fee is 5 euros/person, information about opening hours can be found > here <. You should also not miss a ferry ride across the Tagus River to see Lisbon from the other side. You can see a wonderful view of the whole city from the Christ the King statue .
As you can see, there is really a lot to see in Lisbon. You can find lots of other tips on what to do and where to see in the > guide <. Our tour, during which we discovered the most interesting sights in Lisbon, was relatively quick and unusual for many visitors. Even so, we managed to get around everything interesting in one day, we looked at the overpriced monuments from the outside and we partially walked the route of tram No. 28 from the outside. From an overcrowded carriage, you won’t be able to see the beautiful historic tram passing through the narrow alley anyway. Below we have prepared for you practical advice about Portugal in general, as well as some tips on where to look next.
Practical advice and tips
In this section you will find interesting information about traveling by car, road tolls, swimming in the ocean, Portuguese people, weather, etc.
If you go to Portugal by car, you will definitely be interested in the highways. These are charged and there is a system of toll gates. The price of the toll is approximately 6-9 euros/100 km. Unfortunately, there are two types of toll gates operating here, in one you can pay manually in the usual way, in the other type only electronically. You can find more information > here <. In addition to highways, there are also tolls on two Lisbon bridges – Ponte 25 de abril (1.75 euros/passenger car) and Vasco da Gama (2.75 euros). Tolls are collected only in the direction to Lisbon. Complete price list available > here <.
Before driving, be prepared for several times higher fuel prices than here. Portugal has some of the highest phm prices in Europe. So it pays to refuel in neighboring Spain. Driving in Portugal is otherwise completely relaxed, no one is in a hurry and everyone is disciplined.
Most of the parking lots along the beaches were free and you could sleep on them freely. If one of the locals helps you with parking, they will definitely ask for at least a euro. It’s up to you whether you pay the self-proclaimed parking lot manager. During the trip around the Iberian Peninsula, we stopped enjoying it and later we didn’t pay and looked for places ourselves. Fortunately, no one ever took revenge on our car 😊
Beaches and swimming
Portuguese beaches are beautiful. Cliffs of various shapes and sizes never ceased to amaze us. Unfortunately, the cold water spoils the comfort on the sandy beaches . Portugal is completely surrounded by the Atlantic and you can tell. The water was sometimes so icy that you just had to refresh yourself and quickly climb out again. In addition, especially in the west, a continuous wind blows near the ocean, which not only makes staying on the beach unpleasant, but mainly creates high waves . Swimming was sometimes prohibited by hanging a red flag, but mainly it was not possible in the waves. Even if I admit that it’s dangerous, it’s worth it. On the other hand, surfers will find their way, for whom Portugal is a paradise.
Despite the mentioned difficulties, staying on the beaches is a great experience and you should definitely not miss them during your visit. Thanks to the wind, the sea is also not so hot and you can comfortably walk along the beaches even in summer. This is, for example, a pleasant change compared to south-eastern Spain.
The Portuguese are easy-going people and their mentality reminded us a bit of us. They are not as “steamy” as the Spaniards, so they are energetic already in the morning. If, like us, you go outside the campsites and accommodation, you will definitely appreciate the taps with drinking water . You can find them in almost every city. The problem is if there is only a drinking fountain with a small flow in a given place. Then you will catch a trickle of water in the pet bottle in the wind and become an attraction for the locals. But as they say: where there’s a will, there’s a way. The last area is food. It has worked for us to use Lidl, where food prices are similar to ours . If you are tempted to try something local, try fish, seafood and various pork dishes. No matter how you decide to get to know Portugal, you will definitely not regret it.