What I love so much about Europe is that in one to three hours you can be in a whole other country and an entirely different city. Like Lisbon! Portugal’s capital is cool, young and at the same time traditional. And the best part: it lies right on the sea and is a hotspot for surfers!
In the mornings you can go for a little walk in the city, enjoy the beautiful views and have one of the best flat whites ever, and in the afternoon you can then throw yourself into the waves with a surfboard. In the evening you can go out for a nice dinner in one of the many restaurants – the perfect day!
In the coming lines I will tell you what you can experience and which Lisbon sights not to miss!
Things to do in Lisbon!
The most important info first
The best way to get to Lisbon is by plane, almost all major airlines and many low cost carriers like EasyJet or Ryanair fly into Lisbon several times a day. Check Skyscanner for the best flights for you and you are ready to go! On average a flight from Germany will take three hours.
There is a bus as well as a train going from the airport directly into the city. You pay 1,35 Euros to take the bus all the way into the city center. Best to get a ticket with a prepaid charge so that you can use the trains and buses any time. We put 10 Euros onto our card and could use it to get around Lisbon for several days, including a trip to Cascais.
Alternatively you can also take an Uber which of course is more comfortable and really pays off if you are traveling with friends and you can share the fare. It is also nice if you don’t find a train station anywhere close and have already been up and down many of Lisbon’s hills, because the city really has a lot of them!
Since Lisbon lies much further South than many other big cities and capitals in Europe it can already be nice and warm in February. 15 degrees are definitely possible and we also could sit outside only wearing a t-shirt in February. The most beautiful time for Lisbon is Spring from April on, since then the temperatures rise up to 20 degrees and the city awakens more and more.
In the end Lisbon is worth a visit during every season: In summer it’s pretty warm with degrees up to 28 and it hardly ever rains. In November you can still have temperatures around 20 degrees. The winter months are those with the most rain though.
The best things to do in Lisbon for every interest
Lisbon really has something for everyone, be it cool architecture, wonderful views, nice bars and restaurants, beautiful beaches or one of the best coffees in the world! Here comes an overview of the best Lisbon sights for every interest for you.
For the best views
As mentioned before Lisbon stretches over several hills and though it might be a little tough getting from A to B because of that, time and again you will have amazing views! And all over the city you will encounter so-called Miradouros. Here every day you can sit down somewhere else and watch the sun setting. There are seven of these viewing hills.
One of my favorite viewing points is the Miradouro da Graça because from here you see the city, the Castelo de São Jorge, the bridge and the other side. To get there you have to walk through the many little alleyways of the Alfama neighborhood and that alone is worth it!
You also have great views from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara where a few bars and restaurants await you. You can also visit the Basilica da Estrela. Not many people wander out here, even though you can go onto the church roof and the dome. There is a small fee to get up but it is definitely worth it, from the roof you have a 360 degree view of Lisbon! Definitely one of the best things to do in Lisbon!
For coffee junkies
If you love coffee as much as we do and not just any coffee but Third Wave Coffee then there is only one place to go: Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Lisbon! This hip cafe has typical Scandinavian interiors, white furniture and a few cactuses on the tables. And believe me, they have one of the best flat whites in the world! The Copenhagen Coffee Lab Lisbon is right up there with Ristr8to Coffee in Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand, Nano Kaffee in Berlin or one of our absolute favorite cafes, the Coffee Gang in Cologne.
And not just the coffee is excellent here, you also get delicious pastry and cakes. The idea for Copenhagen Coffee Lab Lisbon came from two young girls, a Portuguese and a Dane, that worked at the original in Copenhagen before and now opened another branch with her friend in the middle of Lisbon. Definitely try the cinnamon rolls, but the chocolate raised pastry, the carrot cake and the bread with meat or cheese on it are great too!
A flat white costs 3 Euros and is served in a beautiful mint green coffee cup. The cafe is open daily until 7 pm, during the week it opens at 8 am, on weekends at 10.
Address: Rua nova da Piedade 10, 1200-405 Lisboa
For street artists
All over Lisbon you will find really cool street art and graffiti. You should definitely stop by the LX Factory, a kind of artist and design factory. The whole area of the old factory is covered with graffiti and there are a couple of cool shops and restaurants. The two street markets Feira das Almas and Feira da Ladra are also worth a visit. At the former you will find mostly designer selling self-made goods like jewellery or clothes. This market only takes place once a month and always at a different location. The Feira da Ladra is a flea market and is held Saturdays and Tuesdays close to the Pantheon. Apart from second hand stuff there is also great food and live music.
But even just walking through the city you keep passing cool graffiti and of course beautiful houses. The old Lisbon was completely destroyed in the earthquake and the devastating fire resulting from it in the 18th century but the (new) houses still have something special about them. Some of the facades are made of beautiful mosaics, often in different shades of blue. Especially when the sun is shining this makes for a beautiful composition. And in between you keep finding ruins and dilapidated houses and it is precisely this mixture that makes Lisbon’s very special charm.
In Lisbon you find one great restaurant next to the other. Whether you feel like having typical Portuguese, Mexican or a good pizza, you will find something you like here. Mercado da Ribeira right across from the Cais do Sodré station is pretty expensive and touristy. Still the atmosphere at this market hall is pretty cool and you can try your way through the various dishes from juicy burgers to fresh fish and seafood to delicious steak sandwiches, you can get pretty much everything here!
For the very freshest fish you have to go to the Cervejaria Ramiro in Intendante. This restaurant is frequented by a lot of tourists nowadays but it is just as popular among the locals. Here you get whatever was caught fresh that day. The shrimp à la Aguillo for instance is really good, but the lobster or the oysters are super delicious too.
If you are craving Mexican and a cool atmosphere you should definitely head to the Pistola y Corazon Taqueria! They make the best tacos in all of Lisbon! But beware, the most of them are pretty hot. Pizzeria Lisboa is the place to go for fantastic pizza. The pizzas come straight from the stone oven and are super thin and delicious. The place is really quaint but a little pricier.
Lisbon, next to Barcelona, is the only big city in Europe where you can surf. And you even have several spots to choose from. Most of them are in the Northwest of the city like Carcavelos, Bafureira and Praia de Poca close to Cascais. You can reach all of them easily by train. A little after Cascais you can also surf really well at the Praia do Guincho.
The best waves and places for surfing however are around Ericeira and even further North around Peniche, the two surfing hotspots! Lisbon to Ericeira is around 45 minutes, to Peniche you will need at least an hour and 15 minutes. But South of Lisbon you can also hit the waves at the Costa da Caparica. This long sandy beach really is super nice and only 20 minutes from the city center.
If you like living with like-minded people or simply are looking for a cool place to sleep then definitely have a look at the Surf Office! Especially if you like sitting at your laptop a lot the way we do then you are in good hands here. Because the Surf Office is a mix of guest house and co-working space and since Peter, the founder, likes surfing they also regularly organize trips to the best surfing spots around Lisbon. The rooms are simple but you get to use the big kitchen and washing machine. And the coolest thing about the Surf Office really is the community and the people! Just like in a hostel people sometimes go out together in the evening or eat together.
For late risers
There actually are several really beautiful design hotels in Lisbon where you almost want to stay in bed all day long. The Memmo Alfama is especially cool. The rooms are modern and really bright. One night in a double room starts at 190 Euros and you get to stay in the wonderful Alfama neighborhood. The apartments and rooms at Brown’s Downtown are also super cool, all very stylish with lots of wood interiors. The hotel is centrally located and close to the Cais do Sodré station, rooms start at 97 Euros a night.
If you like it simple yet modern then check into the My Story Hotel Rossio right in the city center. The rooms here are also really bright and you can get a double for 137 a night and up. The Lisbon Cheese & Wine Suites are also super cool, these are different apartments scattered all over the city and rented out at different prices.
Lisbon is perfect for a city trip!
Lisbon definitely is one of the coolest cities in Europe and there are so many things to do in Lisbon! With a little luck you can even still sit outside in a t-shirt in November. If you like surfing then Lisbon really is perfect for you! The most surfing spots are less than an hour away so you can even just head out to go surfing for half a day. There also are lots of really good restaurants in Lisbon and some of the best coffee ever. And once you have seen the sunset from one of the many Miradouros you will have fallen in love with this city.
Do you maybe have some cool suggestions for this city and what do you think are Lisbon’s top sights to see?