Located in the western part of Iberian Peninsula, nestled along the Atlantic coast and Tagus River, the bustling capital of Portugal is considered to be among the most beautiful European capitals. Lisbon is a city full of contrasts: it is known for its delicious food and Portuguese wine, world-famous “pastéis de nata”, Fado music, old city quarters, long riverbank, breathtaking monuments and spectacular viewpoints.
I had the opportunity to visit the Portugal capital many times on a cruise ship where I've worked as a shore excursions staff. Here is my list of the most unique things to do in Lisbon!
Lisbon by tuk-tuk is an awesome way to explore Lisbon, and there are many tuk-tuk tours offered by local tour agencies and cruise ship companies. Exploring by tuk-tuk is a great way to visit Lisbon as a large portion of the city is very old, full of narrow cobblestone streets climbing uphill that you can't visit by bus or by car. Tuk-tuk vehicles can easily move around those streets and reach stunning city viewpoints much faster than other means of transport.
Tuk-tuk tours in Lisbon don't have any fixed prices. They depend on your itinerary, tour duration and your group size. Tuk-tuk vehicles can usually fit up to 6 people each, and the driver of a tuk-tuk is a tour guide at the same time. The places I recommend you to visit by tuk-tuk are Miradouro da Graça Viewpoint, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Alfama district, Praça do Rossio, Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara.
This is by far the most fun way to visit Lisbon! Amphibious vehicle is a sort of a bus than can enter into the water as well, so you get the tour of the city both by land and by water in a just 2-hour time (that's normally the tour duration).
In the land part of the tour, you'll enjoy a panoramic drive through the historical quarter of Lisbon, passing by the Praça do Comércio, Rossio Square and Avenida da Liberdade, before you reach a remarkable historic district of Belém. After the land portion of the tour, the Hippotrip bus will drive into the Tagus River, and the moment itself is the highlight of the tour! Once on the water, your bus will sail along the river and get close to iconic Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries and other landmarks. The tour by Hippotrip amphibious bus tour is educational, guides are at the same time animators, so you'll laugh a lot while learning about the history and landmarks of Lisbon.
Highly recommended, for everyone!
If you want to feel the authentic spirit of Lisbon, this is the most unique way to do so! Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, situated in the heart of the city, on the slope between São Jorge Castle and the Tagus River. Alfama is a colorful labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, numerous tiny squares, whitewashed houses and picturesque buildings, which makes of Lisbon the city of contrasts.
Once you start climbing up the streets, in every corner you can smell the taste of traditional local delicacies coming from tiny, authentic cafes, or you can come across beautiful, unexpected viewpoints offering unique views over the Lisbon and the Tagus River. Some major city landmarks are located in Alfama, such as Sé Cathedral, the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, baroque Church of Santa Engrácia, Castelo de São Jorge. Besides historical buildings, Alfama district preserves the ancient spirit of the city and therefore should be among the first things to see on your bucket-list. The best way to explore it is on foot, by you can also do it by tuk-tuk or by tram.
This is one of the things you absolutely have to do in Lisbon! Pastel de nata is a delicious pastry with custard dusted with cinnamon. The creation of pastéis de nata is associated with Catholic monks of the Jerónimos Monastery who created the recipe in the 18th century. Only a handful of people know the original recipe of pastéis de nata and an interesting fact is that the recipe has never been written down. Nowadays, pastéis de nata have been produced world-wide but the original recipe is being kept in secret: the original ones are produced by Pastéis de Belém pastry factory in Lisbon, and one of the places where you can try them is Café Pastéis de Belém.
Lisbon is also famous for its great wines produced in the wine region located west and north of the city, known as Estremadura. Throughout centuries, many families have preserved the tradition of wine-making and many of them offer wine tasting tours followed by a visit to the wine cellars. I highly recommend trying these two Portuguese delicacies!
There is a several kilometers long waterfront promenade along the Tagus river, where you can find some of the most iconic landmarks of Lisbon. The promenade is more than 9 kilometers long and a part of it encompasses the very heart of Lisbon where Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) is. Praça do Comércio is one of the main squares of the city which historically served as the main trading place, as the southern end of the square is open to the Tagus River. The square is huge and in the middle of it proudly stands out the bronze equestrian statue of Joseph I – the king of Portugal in the 18th century. Another place of interest on the square is the famous Rua Augusta Arch, that gives way to the main pedestrian street of Lisbon – Rua Augusta. However, if you decide to spend time along the river, you'll be able to admire one of the symbols of Lisbon – the 25th April Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe.
I case you don't want to walk or use other means of transport while exploring Lisbon, another cool and unique way to visit the city is by Segway. There are many Segway tours offered by the local tour agencies, and usually cruise companies offer Segway tours for their guests (you can book the tour onboard your cruise ship). There are different Segway tour itineraries: there are Alfama district Segway tours, Old Town tours, Belém riverside tours, and a few others.
The duration is normally 3 hours, but they can always customize the tour according to your preferences. Prices depend on the tour duration, the itinerary and the size of the group, and normally they are charged per group. One of my favorite itineraries is Belém by the riverside Segway tour, which includes the visit to the three most iconic symbols of the city: Belém tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument of the Discoveries.
If you are looking for adrenaline-rush and an unconventional way to visit Lisbon, it is great to do it by Segway. If you take a tour, you get a local guide/instructor as well, and they can provide you with a valuable insight in the city's history and share local stories.
I hope my list will help you plan your perfect Lisbon itinerary, or at least give you an idea of the ways to visit Lisbon! More in detail, you can read on my blog! Thanks for a read!