Sights, attractions and a hidden gems in Lisbon
The number 28 tram is a Lisbon institution. Commissioned in the 1930s, it has a nostalgic charm. You can use it for an all-day sightseeing tour of many sights. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat, that is. Tram line 28 goes from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique. As you ride, you’ll pass through the Estrela neighborhood (read all about Lisbon’s neighborhoods) with its Baroque basilica, past the Portuguese Parliament, and through the city’s bustling main square.
The best time to use the tram either early in the morning or late at night, when there are fewer crowds.
The popular tram 28 is often full, so boarding at the start or end stop gives you the best chance of getting a seat. At stops in between, there is virtually no chance of getting on.
The tram 28 is simply one of the most popular sights in Lisbon. Don’t waste valuable time waiting – just take a picture if you can’t get a seat and move on to the next exciting Lisbon sight.
Youcan also take other trams such as the 15 or 12; both have great routes as well.
Read more about the tram 28 in our travel tip about how to get around Lisbon.
Good to know: The Lisboa Card includes the ride in tram 28.
Castelo de São Jorge
The Castelo de São Jorge is a castle built by the Moors that has served as a royal seat for centuries. It’s one of Lisbon’s oldest buildings and a top tourist sight.
The castle offers an incredible view of the city, with high trees providing shade on hot days. There’s also a permanent exhibition inside that tells you all about Lisbon’s history, plus a camera obscura in one of the towers where you can see a 360 degree image of the city.
On two large squares near the castle, you can play boules and dominoes. And if you get hungry, there’s a restaurant and café inside the castle grounds.
Climbing the steep hill to get to the castle is definitely worth it for the breathtaking views alone.
Wandering the narrow, cobbled streets of Alfama, Sé and Mouraria, which surround the castle, is the best way to explore this historic area and discover its hidden gems. From quaint restaurants to stunning views of Lisbon, there’s plenty to see and do around every corner. So take your time strolling through these beautiful neighborhoods – you never know what you might find!
Good to know: There are elevators in some places around Lisbon that can help you avoid having to walk up steep streets. Just keep your eyes open. For example, the Graffiti Carpark, a parking garage, offers such an opportunity.
In Belém stands an awe-inspiring piece of late Gothic architecture – the Jerónimos Monastery.
Built with wealth from its prosperous nautical trading, it remained unscathed by the 1755 earthquake. At 300 meters long and adorned in lavish decorations, mosaics and a magnificent cloister inside; this monastery is no less than amazing!
Symbols of Portugal‘s maritime supremacy adorn every inch: honouring Vasco da Gama who discovered India via a sea route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope back in 1498 – his tomb rests here too.
It truly marks a legacy that will continue to fascinate for centuries more!
Good to know: You have free access with the Lisboa Card.
Elevador de Santa Justa
The Elevador de Santa Justa passenger elevator has been connecting the Baixa and Chiado (Baixa-Chiado) districts for over 100 years.
It was originally powered by steam engines, later by an electric motor, and overcomes the 8-meter height difference between the two places. The elevator tower is neo-Gothic in style and catches the eye, and the elevator cars are decorated with wood and brass fittings that give off a nostalgic vibe.
Once you reach the top, you can continue on up a spiral staircase to see the elevator’s drive. Even further up is a café with a beautiful view.
Good to know: The ride in the elevator is free, if you have the Lisboa Card.
Often the wait time is 1 or 2 hours if you want to take the elevator from bottom to top. The other way around is much faster. Or you could just take a picture and move on to the other sights instead of wasting time in line here. Because let’s face it, it’s a beautiful elevator, but it’s “just” an elevator.
Tower of Belém
Nestled at the edge of the city, the old lighthouse stands as a guardian of Lisbon. Slumbering in its ancient bricks is centuries of history.
Today, it still offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and serves as a reminder of bygone days.
Throughout its captivating journey, the Torre was a lighthouse and watchtower. Here royal audiences were held; here valiant struggles for Lisbon occurred. When Spain conquered the city in 1580, it served as an incarceration facility before being transformed into a customs house.
A few times restorations took place and by 1910 it had acquired national monument status. Since 1983 this iconic structure has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site registry!
The Tower of Belém rises 35 meters from the Tagus River. From the observation deck, you get a unique view over the estuary and the district of Belém.
Address: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisbon
Sé de Lisboa Cathedral
One of the jewels adorning Lisbon is certainly the Sé de Lisboa Cathedral in Alfama.
It stands as a beacon within this captivating city, being its main church and also one of its oldest sites for worshiping. The construction was originally done in Romanesque style but has now Baroque and Gothic touches to it too. The 20th century brought about restorative works on account that there were still traces from an earthquake three centuries ago present. In fact, you can spot remnants coming from antiquity inside the eastern cloister – these provide evidence supporting how long-standing this cathedral really is.
The National Pantheon in Lisbon, known also as the Panteão Nacional or Igreja de Santa Engrácia, is a beautiful baroque church from the 17th century that was never used as an actual church.
When you step inside, you’ll be amazed by the gigantic arches and naves. You can even get your steps in for the day by climbing up to the large dome. Once at the top, you’ll be able to enjoy a magnificent view of the entire city from the spacious terrace.
A must-see when you’re in Lisbon – get your tickets here!
Livraria do Simão
Lisbon is home to many hidden gems, one of which can be found behind small doors at Livraria do Simão.
This famous bookstore has become well-known for its tiny size and the quality of books it sells.
Small, but with room for all tastes, here you will also find rare books, prints, manuscripts, comics, records old papers and lots of stories to listen to!
In 2008, former chemistry teacher Simão Carneiro decided to dedicate himself to his passion: literature.
He was looking for a place to open a bookstore in central Lisbon when he came across this curious space in the middle of Escadinhas de São Cristóvão—one of the city’s most “secret” streets.
And so, Livraria do Simão was born.
This 4 square meter store can hold up to four thousand books of various languages, genres, and values—including novels, poetry, and short stories. It’s so small that no two people can fit inside at the same time! But visitors are always welcome according to owner Simon and his son.
What’s more, Simon is also a great storyteller—one of the reasons why so many people flock to this unique spot.
Address: Escadinhas de São Cristóvão 18 (Mouraria)
Lisbon is a city full of unique sights and hidden gems! From the cobblestone streets of Alfama to the colorful buildings in the old city, there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a cultural experience to remember or simply want to relax and take in the beautiful scenery, Lisbon is the perfect destination. With its stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, and amazing cuisine, you can be sure that your visit to Lisbon will be an unforgettable one.