We live in Lisbon. We love Lisbon. The capital of Portugal is a very welcoming city. These days, a lot of people, around 50.000 to be more exact, will be visiting Lisbon to attend the Web Summit, one of the greatest tech conferences of the world. If you are one of those lucky people, read on, we’ve selected the best things to do in Lisbon just for you!
Lisbon, the city of the seven hills, is known for its nice blend of richness in culture, history, shopping, nightlife and startup scene. From all of its seven hills, you can find many “miradouros” – viewpoints – to enjoy the stunning sights over the imposing São Jorge Castle, the old city’s pastel-colored buildings, the Tagus Estuary and the 25 de Abril Bridge. Being a coastal capital city, some of the best things to do in Lisbon are related to the ocean or the river. Just outside the city, you’ll find a beautiful string of Atlantic beaches, from Estoril to Cascais.
The Web Summit takes place from November 7th to 10th. Usually the weather in Lisbon is already a bit “winterish” this time of the year. For now, temperatures are expected to range between 10 and 20 degrees celcius and it seem to be sunny days. We recommend to bring an umbrella as you never know. Keep up with the local weather here.
In our personal opinion, and as locals, the best things to do in Lisbon are:
1. Eat codfish and other fresh fish
Yes, if you love fish and other seafood, Lisbon is a paradise. In fact, you can eat a freshly grilled fish on every corner of the street in Lisbon. The fish is always fresh and usually served with boiled potatoes and veggies. Codfish is served in many different styles: grilled, cooked, baked with cream in the oven, fried with grated potato, and so on. Of course there are many meat and vegetarian options too. Our favorite restaurant for some freshly grilled fish and meat is “O Último Porto”. It’s not that easy to get there, but a taxi or a nice walk will take you there and you won’t regret 😉
2. Go to the Oceanarium
I remember going to the Oceanarium back in 1999 when it opened. Since then, of course, I’ve been there again. The Oceanarium is one of the best things to do in Lisbon on a rainy day. The Oceanarium actually ranks #1 on the things to do in Lisbon by TripAdvisor! You can spend and entire morning or afternoon here. It’s very educational (for all ages), very friendly and easy to access, especially if you’re staying near Parque das Nações for the Web Summit.
3. Enjoy Portuguese art at the National Museum of Contemporary Art
Personally one of my favorite museums of Lisbon. Another great thing to do if the weather is not helping. Located in Chiado, in the heart of the city, only the building is worth a visit. The building has a neo-modern architectural style that respects and honors the pre-existing historical vestiges. I really enjoyed the temporary exhibition that is on at the moment: a retrospective exhibition of the stereoscopic photographs of Francisco Afonso Chaves, a Azorean naturalist. The permanent collection crosses the history of Portuguese art from the second half of the 19th century until today. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays: 10am-6am and costs 4,50€.
4. Feel the city vibe from a different perspective on a sunset sailing tour in Lisbon
On the blog of SeaBookings, of course we have to recommend a boat tour. This 2h boat tour gives you a unique perspective over the city. It’s one of the most special things to do in Lisbon as it takes place during sunset, giving the trip a magical touch. Recently, Brazilian blogger Flávia tried the sailing tour in Lisbon and shared her experience on the blog. Make sure to book on time to assure your seat.
5. Grab your first wave during a surfing lesson
Lisbon has been in the news as a candidate to the new tech capital with sun, startups and surf. Yes, within 20min from the city center of Lisbon, you can go surfing. Surfing is a very popular sport under the locals and expats in Lisbon and going on a surf trip is a great way to feel this trend. Surfing in Lisbon will also count as the workout you needed during those days away from home!
We recommend booking a full surf trip. A local surfer will pick you up at your accommodation and take you to the best surf spor according the conditions and your level of experience. You’ll get a theoretical introduction on the beach before jumping into the waves. A lot of fun is guaranteed and believe us, by the end of the day, you’ll be happy to be in bed!
6. Get lost in Alfama / Mouraria
Alfama and Mouraria are our favorite neighborhoods in Lisbon. If feels great to wander around the narrow streets and cute squares to stumbleupon hidden “miradouros”. Grab a coffee and a pastry so now and then or have a glass of Portuguese wine with a view. You can explore these neighborhoods on your own or you can get a local to walk you through or even run you to the most exciting points of interest.
7. Discover Belém
Belém is the “Discovery” neigborhood of Lisbon. From here, the discoverers left Portugal to conquer the world. You can find several touristic attractions and monuments related to the Age of the Discoveries in Belém: Torre de Belém (the tower), Padrão dos Descobrimentos (the Discovery monument) and the impotent Monastery of Jerónimos. Don’t leave Belém without having one of the famous and delicious pastries – pastel de Belém. The cue to get them may look big, but it’s rather fast. You can eat the pastel in the cafe itself with a nice coffee or take away and sit on the grass by the river to grab some sun.
8. Grab a drink in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré
Lisbon’s nightlife is amazing. In the famous Bairro Alto the idea is to grab a drink in one of the little bars and drink it on the street. You’ll be surrounded by hipsters, Erasmus students, LGBT, or others, depending on the street you’re in. Accept the challenge to find the cheapest beer: 0,50€ for 33cl or discover the best Caipirinha in town! After Bairro Alto, go with the flow down to Cais do Sodre for some more drinks on the streets or try some dance moves. Wanna dance a bit more? Grab a Uber to Lux, the best discoteque of town and choose your music genre on one of the three dancing floors.
That’s Lisbon. What else. Of course there are many more things to do. Tourist things, like grabbing tram number 28 or going to a Fado concert, for example. Depending on your taste and available time, go and have some fun. We love Lisbon and are happy to share some more tips & tricks with you, so feel free to throw some questions or suggestions! And enjoy the Web Summit! See you there!