It’s no secret that I’ve spent a lot of time in Lisbon this past year, I’ve been twice in the space of twelve months and I’ve managed to fill my Instagram feed with pictures of the beautiful city. I’ve definitely fallen for Portugal, but I decided to show you six things you can do if you’re intending on going, a guide, if you will.
A lot of our visits weren’t really planned, I didn’t know what we were going to spend the week and a half doing, and I didn’t really expect us to do much, but once I was there, we found something to do every day and really packed a lot into my stay. So, here were my favourite things to do which I think you should definitely check out!
Go to Jerónimos Monastery
When we visited the monastery, we hadn’t planned for it. We were actually heading to a museum and it was there on the way, I think Pedro caught on to my interest in the building and asked me if I wanted to go in. The line was huge though, and even though we managed to skip the line because of his broken leg, had he been well, I think it was worth waiting in such a long line.
If you like pretty architecture and learning a little bit about the history of where you are, I’d say this is a really great place to go. We spent around 40 minutes in the monastery in total, so I wouldn’t plan your entire day based around this visit.
When you’re finished looking around the monastery, you can go into the church and take photographs of the sculptures, light a candle for a loved one or just sit and have some time alone. We really didn’t spend much time in the church just because it wasn’t that big, and it was easy to get around it pretty quickly anyway. There was another part inside the church that you had to pay to go and look at, but it was a small room and we didn’t think it was worth paying for so we left it, but you may want to go and check it out and see what we missed!
Have a walk down the river
On my first full day there, we got up early enough to have breakfast in a nearby café and then spent the rest of our day near the river. We actually walked along it quite far, we ended up in the square and I got the chance to do some shopping and bought a blouse from Pull & Bear. But by the river is so pretty, and there’s tons of places to grab a snack or a drink. When we were in the square, we sat in one spot having a glass of coke and I had a really tasty fruit salad.
I’d suggest doing this on a sunny day when you’re just in the mood to relax, there are obviously beaches in Portugal but Lisbon is a city where there’s no beach smack bang in the centre, so having a stroll by the river and having something to eat matches up equivalently to being on the beach and relaxing with the sun on you(and I don’t like the beach, so it was the better option anyway), it’s pretty easy to get to the river too because you just have to keep going downhill and you tend to end up there no matter what.
I did feel like this was a good first day activity, after being up since 4am the day before, being on a plane and then having the task of finding the AirBnB and settling in, you don’t really feel up to galavanting all over the place, so this is definitely something to do if like me, you’re not good at travelling.
Visit Lisbon Zoo!
This is definitely something you should do on a hot day though, you’re walking outside for the entire time. We were lucky enough for it to be a nice day with only a drizzle of rain, and we even got to see the dolphin show. The zoo is huge – it looks quite small from the outside so I wasn’t expecting us to see much, but when you’re strolling around its massive. The dolphin show is a good watch too, it’s amazing what these animals can do.
Have a wander around Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
This was another planned outing, we spent all day here looking at the art and sculptures, and then we spent an hour in by the pond and we went and had a drink and some snacks in the café. It was a really beautiful day too so we could’ve spent the entire visit in the gardens, the place is huge too. There’s a lot to see and we had a really good day out here.
Take a look at Museu Coleção Berardo
Another art museum, and a train or tram ride away, but it’s so different to the other one. This is more modern art based and there’s a lot of strange exhibitions, also, we went on a Saturday which meant it was free entry. We didn’t pay a penny to get inside! We spent a few hours walking around and as interesting as it was, we were really tired by the end of it. I think it’s because we went to the monastery first and not because of the size of the museum though, but there was so many little rooms and huge exhibitions. We saw a lot in this one and I do think it’s worth going, and I’d definitely go again.
Visit the Aquarium
This was definitely a spur of the moment decision we had on my last Sunday there. I don’t even remember how it came up to be honest, but we ended up going an hour and a half before closing time. There’s a permanent exhibition, which is very similar to what you’d see in any aquarium, only with a giant fish tank in the center of everything else surrounding the entire facility, and there’s a temporary exhibition which gets built over a few months, stays for a little while and then gets taken down. We actually preferred the temporary exhibition over the permanent one. It was different, it looked pretty and the entire layout and structure of the room was just…different to how the rest of the aquarium is set up. I definitely recommend checking it out though regardless of which exhibitions are on, I was very excited to get to see otters.
I definitely love spending time in Lisbon, and both times I’ve been I’ve really enjoyed my time there. It’s definitely a city with a lot to do, if you’re willing to hop on the subway and go looking for things to do, then it’s even better. I felt like we were all over the place and I was only there for eleven days!
If you go, let me know what you get up to!