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Lisbon Attractions - Free Things to do in Lisbon

Top Lisbon Attractions

Top rated Free Lisbon Attractions and Paid Attractions list

1. Belem (Free)

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The Belem region of Lisbon dates back to the Palaeolithic period. The full name for this area is actually Santa Maria de Belem, with Belem being the Portuguese word for Bethlehem. It comprises a civil parish which has a rich tapestry of history. Notable Portuguese explorers all began their journey from this district including: Prince Henry the Navigator, Bartholomeu Dias and Ferdinand Magellan. In the modern day, Belem is home to impressive architecture, historical sights, bars, restaurants and shopping. The main street Rua de Belem draws droves of tourists to admire the buildings which date back 160 years.

There are a lot of attractions situated around Belem. The Belem Tower is a must for any visitors, an iconic symbol of this part of Lisbon. Other popular landmarks include the Jeronimos Monastery and it's surrounding museums. One of the most popular of these is the Coaches Museum, displaying an array of extravagant carriages and offering fascinating insight into the opulence of 18th century Lisbon. There is also the stunning Belem Palace which has been the residence of many of Portuguese monarchs. The gardens here are particularly beautiful to peruse during the summer months.

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2. Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanario de Lisboa) (Paid)

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The Lisbon Oceanarium was founded in Parque das Nacoes in 1998. The park was the exhibition site for Expo 98 which was held in Lisbon. The Lisbon Oceanarium is still in operation today and is currently the world’s largest indoor aquarium. The site attracts in excess of one million visitors each year and boasts over 16,000 animals from 450 species. The largest tank at the facility is more than 5,000 metres cubed in depth.

The Oceanarium is an extremely popular attraction and is along with Lisbon Zoo, is a must see for any visitors with a soft spot for animals. The exhibits that can be found at Lisbon Oceanarium are: Penguins, Seagulls, Sea Otters, Sharks, Rays, Chimaeras, Seahorses, Crustaceans, Amphibians, Jellyfish, Marine plants, Terrestrial plants, Echinoderms: (Starfish, Sea Urchins), Cnidaria: (Sea Anemones, Corals), and Mollusks: (Cuttlefish, Sea Snails, Octopuses)

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3. Gulbenkian (Paid)

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Founded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Gulbenkian Park hosts the head office, a museum, an exhibition space, an art library and a congress area. The foundation in charge was established in 1956 by the Portuguese Government to help promote arts, charity, education and science. It originated from a clause in the will and testament of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an American businessman and philanthropist. The foundation has since grown and centres can now also be found in Paris and England. It is also responsible for one of the most important orchestras in Portugal, the Gulbenkian Orchestra.

The Gulbenkian Museum which lies at the site of the headquarters, draws in thousands of tourists to peruse its impressive collection. Many of the pieces of art that can be found in the Gulbenkian Museum are in fact pieces from Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian's private collection. The art is displayed so that tours can be enjoyed as both a chronological and geographical walk through time and place. Many different styles can be enjoyed from Oriental, Armenian and Classical art to pieces from the Renaissance. Artists on display include: Rembrandt, Renoir, Rodin, Manet and Monet.

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4. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte (Free)

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The Miradouro da Senhora do Monte literally translated means the 'Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint.' This landmark marks the highest point in Lisbon and the panoramic views that can be beheld are simply spectacular. The sights can be reached by bearing right up the Calcado do Monte which leads you right up to the top of the city. This vantage point offers quiet reflection from the busy streets below, calm infuses the area as you rise out of the city streets.

The peaceful ambience and removal it offers from city life, has made the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte a popular place for couples to congregate. As well as the whole city, this point offers wonderful views of St George's Castle. A small chapel is situated at the top, overlooking the view, which is dedicated to the worship of Saint Gens. Just out front, you will find a small statue of the Virgin Mary which appears to be watching out for the city below.

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5. Chiado (Free)

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Situated between the districts of Bairro Alto and Baxia, Chiado populates an elegant square and its surrounding area. The main streets that run past it are Carmo and Garrett offering a wealth of interesting shops to explore. The picturesque streets draw thousands of tourists looking to admire the architecture and soak up the charming atmosphere of this cultural haven.

The Chidao area was seriously damaged by a fire in 1988 which saw around 18 buildings destroyed. Famed architect Alvaro Siza Vieira, was called upon to rectify the area and his handiwork has contributed to the fact that this area now boasts some of the most expensive real estate in Portugal.

Chiado boasts the popular cafe 'A Brasileria', which was once a favourite haunt of the poet, Fernando Pessoa. Statues of other famous literary figures can also be found adorning the streets nearby, including impressions of Fernando Pessoa and Luis de Camões. Several museums are located here including the Chiado Museum which began life as a convent. Several theatres are on hand to provide entertainment come the evening.

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6. Cascais Beaches (Free)

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Despite being the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon still affords sun worshippers plenty of opportunity to soak up some rays. Just a 30 minute drive down the road tourists will find beaches aplenty, offering everything from a relaxing day out to thrill seeking water-sports. The Cascais area makes up a lovely long stretch of sandy beaches, with the coastline offering a mixture of terrain to explore. From seemingly endless strips of golden sand to rocky coves, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The beaches range from around 25 to 50 kilometres in distance from Lisbon. A couple of the popular closer ones include Praia da Morena and Praia da Sereia at around 23.5 km away and Praia do Tamariz which is 28.2 km. The first two make up Caparica's beach, a 15km stretch of sand which is a popular haunt for families looking to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. The latter, Praia do Tamariz is famed for getting busy come evening, built back from the shore are a selection of busy bars and the famous Estoril casino is just a short walk away.

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7. Lisbon Zoo (Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa) (Paid)

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Founded in 1884, Lisbon Zoo is a fantastic day out for all the family. Established by Dr. Van Der Laan, who owned the largest aviary in the country at that time, he collaborated with Bento de Sousa, Sousa Martins and may Figueira to begin to build what is now one of the most popular zoos in Portugal. Lisbon Zoo was moved to its current location in 1905 and now plays home to more than 2000 animals. The zoo is heavily involved in the conservation of endangered species and assists in scientific research. Receiving in excess of 800,000 visitors annually, there are an array of fun educational activities on offer throughout the year.

A trip to Lisbon Zoo offers the chance to see a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. From several types of leopards and tigers to dolphins and alligators, you will be hard pressed to find a species not featured. The zoo also runs 'Animal of the Month', offering the opportunity to discover more about some of their more unusual inhabitants. Each Saturday they run 'Wild Saturdays'; guided trips by the zoo keepers, educating visitors about the habitats and secrets of the many species who live here.

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8. Alfama (Free)

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The Alfama region of Lisbon is the oldest district in that area, reaching from Sao Jorge Castle to the banks of the Tejo river. Populated with traditional white Portuguese buildings with distinctive red topped roofs, the meandering Medieval alleys attract many photographers to it's picturesque streets. The name Alfama originates from the Arabic word 'Al-hamma', which means baths or fountains, chosen due to the hot springs that could be found in the area. It is home to several 'freguesias' or parishes, which are scattered with lovely bars, restaurants and attractions.

The best vantage point to see this area from is the Sao Jorge Castle, also offering fantastic views across the whole city. The main street which runs through the Alfama district is the Rua do Barao. It is named after a former baron of Kings Dom Afonso V and Dom Joao II, Joao Fernandes de Silveria, who resided on this road. The district is also now home to a selection of designer shops situated across the waterfront and popular club 'Lux'. The area is most famous for surviving the 1755 earthquake, largely due to the dense bedrock which makes up its foundation.

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9. Palace of the Marquises (Palacio Fronteira) (Paid)

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The Palace of the Marquises was inherited from a long line of family member that had occupied the building as their home. It was decided that the historical interest should see the premises transformed into a gateway to give an insight into the relevance of the property to people in the present day. The building acts as a museum and is still home to many relevant features that were part of designer Bishop John Mascarenhas original concept in the 17th century. There are fascinating ranges of ceramics from this period that come second only to the famous National Tile Museum in Lisbon.

One impressive feature of the palace is the Room of Battles, which colourfully depicts some of the country’s most historic battle scenes. The outdoor garden is equally spectacular. The gigantic 5.5 hectare space is filled with mythological figures and more Portuguese ceramics. The garden hedges are kept styled to match the four seasons of the year and highlight the level of care and attention the descendants pay to keep the history of the venue alive.

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10. National Tile Museum (MuseuNacional do Azulejo) (Paid)

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Lisbon’s National Tile Museum showcases the history of MNAz tiles from as early as the 16th century. The museum is proud to hold one of the most well-preserved and complete collections of ceramics in the entire world. There are a number of experts on site that are continuously researching and restoring artefacts.

The current museum boasts its renowned permanent exhibition and regular temporary exhibitions. The temporary exhibitions showcase an example of historic ceramics more specific to another country. There are numerous educational services provided at the museum, making it suitable for all ages. Refreshments are at hand too, with a delightfully quaint restaurant within the premises.

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11. Bairro Alto (Free)

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Situated within the heart of Lisbon is the Bairro Alto, a cosmopolitan centre of activity. Dating back to the 16th century, this area is famous for attracting artists and writers. The meandering streets are somewhat quieter during the day, livening up at night as a wealth of bars and restaurants attract tourists aplenty. The area was on of the few to be hardly effected by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, however it was this event that inspired the improvement of roads and better links to the Baixa.

It would be easy to spend days taking in the bohemian atmosphere of Bairro Alto. Tourists can lazily peruse the interesting shops, whilst listening to the local musicians playing in the local Fado style late into the night. Many of the bars make the most of their 3am license making this area busy late into the evening. For anyone looking for a good place to drink with fascinating company, the Bairro Alto is definitely it.

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12. Parque des Nacoes (Free)

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The Parque des Nacoes or 'Park of Nations' lies within the newest parish of Portugal's capital, The Administrative Reform of Lisbon. The area was developed during Expo 98, a World Fair that was held their in 1998. The modern, contemporary architecture that make up this area is a stark contrast to the older buildings you will find throughout Lisbon, giving you a real taste for Portugal as part of the present day world. The theme of the fair was 'the Oceans: A Heritage for the Future', and as you wander around you will really see that they rose to the challenge. Looming monoliths and state of the art construction typify the style of buildings, which also offer a wealth of entertainment to enjoy inside.

At the Parque des Nacoes you will find plenty to do. The Vasco da Gama shopping centre will satisfy even the most dedicated of shopping addicts. The Oceanarium is definitely worth a look, being deemed by many as the most amazing aquarium in Europe. There is also a casino, marina and plenty of restaurants. Many of the bars and restaurants have stunning views, looking out onto one of the world's longest bridges, Vasco da Gama.

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13. Monastery of St. Jerome (Jerónimos Monastery) (Paid)

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Designed in the Manueline style, Jerónimos Monastery dates back to 1501. The monastery is a celebration of different Portuguese voyages from this era, established by King Manuel I. During 1496, he approached the Pope for permission to create a new monastery which would be largely funded by expeditions to Africa, Asia and South America. King Manuel I enlisted French architect Dioga de Boitaca, who was start work transforming what was originally a small chapel by the Tagus river. Upon completion the king invited the Order of Saint Jerome to stay there. The project was finally completed in 1600 which also saw touches from the Renaissance and Baroque era blended into the design.

The monastery is seen as a perfect piece of Manueline architecture, which is a type of design specific to Portugal. A walk around this attraction allows tourists to experience a wonderful blend of distinctive intricate sculpture and masonry. Impressive artwork can also be found depicting fascinating scenes of St Jerome. The monastery is also home to several notable mausoleums, including the tomb of King Manuel I and other Portuguese royalty.

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14. Lisbon Cathedral (Free)

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Dating all the way back to 1150, Lisbon Cathedral or 'Sé de Lisboa' is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The cathedral was built on the site of an ancient mosque by Portugal's first king. The building would later become the home of the first bishop in Portugal, Gilbert of Hastings. The building itself has endured many environmental disasters and its survival has seen the addition of several architectural styles over the years. The imposing towers that dominate the entrance however, remain distinctly Medieval, joined in the middle by a delightful rose window.

A tour around Lisbon Cathedral will take you past an array of interesting sculpture and design. The entrance hosts a baptismal font from 1195, then further into the first chapel on the left an intricate nativity scene can be found. Several additions built in the Gothic style can be found, including three tombs erected in the mid 14th century. Lisbon Cathedral suffered during the 1755 earthquake, after which the main chapel was re-built in the neoclassical and Rococo styles.

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15. Baixa (Free)

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Baixa is the district placed directly in the centre of Lisbon. The architecture and design tourists will find there today, are testament to those who were involved in the rebuild after the devastation the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The area stretches from the riverfront to the Avenida da Liberdade. The renovation that took place after the earthquake is still heralded as one the first great feats of European urban planning. The area offers a prime example of neoclassical design with simply stunning architecture to behold. It is currently under application to become a World Heritage Site.

The meandering streets are home to many quaint cafés, restaurants and shops. Charming souvenirs can be picked up by the bagful, whilst street performers provide an entertaining twist to any day out. Rossio Square is a popular place to sit back and relax with a bit of lunch, which looks out onto the National Theatre and Saint George's Castle. Baixa is a popular tourist district and many hotels can be found in this charming area.

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16. Science Museum (Pavilhao do Conhecimento) (Paid)

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Lisbon’s Science Museum provides an impressive interactive experience into the history of science and technology. The museum was built in 1998, in time for Expo 98 which was held in Lisbon. The concept was brought to life by renowned architect Carrilho da Graca and engineer Adam Antonio da Fonseca. The original purpose of the museum was to specifically showcase ocean related technology. The museum donned the title ‘Knowledge of the Seas’ to begin with. The first attractions contained a range of vessel models and included a life-sized model of Leonardo da Vinci’s submarine conception.

In 1999 the museum became its current title ‘Pavilhao do Conhecimento’, which translates into English as the ‘Pavilion of Knowledge’. Today there is over 4000 square metres of exhibitions that range between physics, mathematics and technology. The museum is suitable for people of all ages. Children will be fascinated by the See, Do, Learn! workshop.

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17. Vasco da Gama Bridge (Ponte Vasco da Gama) (Paid)

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Vasco da Gama Bridge is an impressive manmade spectacle. The bridge is the longest in Europe and stretches an incredible 17.2km across the Tagus River. The bridge was opened in 1998, after 3 years of construction. The main purpose was to alleviate congestion into the city from other routes by providing a useful access point over the river. The bridge was also built in time for Expo 98, Lisbon’s World’s Fair that was in celebration of 5 centuries since Vasco de Gama discovered an aquatic route from Europe to India.

The project cost in excess of $1bn to complete by four different construction companies. The bridge has been given a life expectancy of 120 years and is able to withstand winds of over 155mph. Fears of another earthquake such as that of 1755 are redundant, with the bridge being able to withstand one four times as strong. Traffic on the bridge is treated as a motorway, enabling speeds of up to 75mph on most sections.

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18. Feira da Ladra (Free)

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Dating all the way back to the thirteenth century, Feira da Ladra is one of the busiest flea markets in Portugal. For tourists coveting interesting souvenirs, this is the place to go. Many believe the name originates from the Portuguese word 'Ladra' meaning a female thief, however it is actually derived from 'Ladro' which translated is the word for a bug commonly found in antiques. The market can officially be dated back to the 17th century, although these type of gatherings are believed to have been held throughout Lisbon for as far back as the 12th century.

Feira da Ladra begins at Campo de Santa Clara street close to the popular Tram 28 stop. Sellers from all walks of life come together to sell all manner of goods, all that is required from them is a license from the City Hall. The majority of items for sale are second hand making it the perfect day out for budding antique hunters. Everything from vintage clothes and shoes to books, antiques and furniture can be found. Haggling is commonplace, so do not be afraid to try and beat down the price a bit!

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19. Paula Rego Museum (Casa das Histórias Paula Rego) (Free)

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Situated in the west side of Lisbon, the Paula Rego Museum offers visual delights inside and out. The museum was designed by acclaimed architect Eduardo Souta de Moura, winner of the Prisket prize. The contemporary building has drawn inspiration from the area's existing architecture with a modern twist. The impressive structures can be easily recognised due to the red coloured concrete which has been used to create the two pyramids. Assisted tours are around the building can be participated in, giving visitors a more in depth insight into the Paula Rego Museum.

The museum is named after the artist whose work makes up the main collection, Paula Rego. A significant selection of her paintings, etchings and drawings are displayed here, representing over 50 years of her impressive career. Certain works are on rotation, but guests are guaranteed an exciting journey through her changes in style and form. Other works that can be found here are by her late husband, Victor Willing including 15 of his oil paintings. The buildings also play host a fully equipped auditorium where interesting lectures and talks are regularly held.

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20. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park (Free)

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Situated to the edge of Lisbon, Sintra-Cascais is one of 13 National Parks in Portugal. It officially received its status in 1994, but has been a protected area of land since 1981. Spanning a massive 145 km2, it stretches all the way out to the beautiful coastline. 25 kilometres is within the borders of Lisbon, but it also includes the mountainous Serra de Sintra range and the westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo de Roca.

The Sintra-Cascais is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike, with many historical sights and landmarks falling within its borders. The whole area has been deemed by UNESCO as a cultural heritage area. Multiple terrains make up the park and visitors can enjoy everything from trekking around the hills to lazing on beautiful beaches. Lakes, sand dunes and stunning coastline can all be found, where an array of interesting flora and fauna grow. Several rare species call this area home including the Eagle-de-Bonelli and Peregrine Falcons. One of the most famous attractions to be found is the Pena Palace which stands atop a hill above Sintra, the views there are simply breathtaking.

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21. Carmo Convent (Convento da Ordem do Carmo) (Paid)

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The Carmo Convent is situated in Central Lisbon and was competed nearly six centuries ago in 1423. The Great Lisbon Earthquake unfortunately ruined the building in 1755, along with many other historic sites in the local area. The building was originally constructed for the Carmelite Order by request of Portuguese knight NunoAlvares Pereira. Post-earthquake, Carmo Convent sees an element of open air architecture from the remaining structure.

In the modern day Carmo Convent is home to a quaint archaeological museum. Guests can marvel at the interesting historic artefacts here that paint a vivid picture of Portuguese history. The nave contains a range of fountains, windows and tombs that have found their home here from all over the country. Here is where the impressive tomb of King Ferdinand I can be found.

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