Travel

Lisbon Activities

Activity neighborhood
Castelo de São Jorge
Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, Alfama
Set on the city's tallest hill (where its Middle-Age inhabitants could best see incoming threats), São Jorge Castle was originally built by the Moors, before it was captured by the Christians who eventually ruled the city. Despite its dramatic history, today, the castle is one of the city's most relaxing and tranquil places—there are peacocks wandering around the grounds, and gorgeous views of the city from the defensive towers. Leave a little time to explore the camera obscura.
Explore Alfama
Alfama
Alfama is one of Portugal's oldest districts, and since the hilly area is filled with sets of stairs and narrow alleys, it's best explored by foot (though the 1930's-style tram that makes up the only public transportation here is worth hopping on for fun). The neighborhood's never really been tony, and though hipsters have taken over several restaurants and storefronts, the original community is still very much intact thanks to generous rent control programs. There are several attractions worth exploring while you're here. Start with Castelo de São Jorge, the beautifully restored site of the Christians' 12th-century defeat of the Moors, where there are tons of lookouts with views of the sea and surrounding neighborhoods. Also visit the Church of St. Anthony, the birthplace of its namesake, the patron saint of lovers—newly married couples often leave flowers here in hopes of a happy marriage, and single people try to throw coins into his book for good luck finding a partner. Though it's not a must, it's fun to check out the Fado Museum, which memorializes a specific musical style born in Alfama: a solemn, dramatic singing and guitar style…
GoCar
16 Rua dos Douradores, Baixa
Leaning into being a tourist (or playing tourist in your own city for a day) can be extremely entertaining. Such is the case with GoCar's cool take on the common city tour: a talking, GPS-guided go-cart vehicle that takes you around the big—as well as some lesser known—sights of Lisbon. Following the suggested routes laid out for you is simple, as is making an unplanned pit stop for photos, or veering off to do more of your own thing. Each car fits two people (the driver must be at least twenty-one years old, but kids can ride shotgun); small groups and families can reserve a mini fleet of their own.
Harfang Spirit Sailboat Tours
Doca do Espanhol, Alcântara
The Portuguese have always been a seafaring people, and the tradition is alive and well at Harfang, a sailing concession owned and operated by Nuno Alexandre, an Olympic-class sailor, and his partner Carol. The duo provides breathtaking cruises along the Atlantic coast in their forty-four-foot Dufour yacht; you can watch dolphins surf the swells from the spacious deck, relax, and enjoy some snacks in one of the yacht's three cabins, or take up a personal sailing lesson.
LX Factory
103 Rua Rodrigues de Faria, Alcantara
This creative mini-neighborhood, where you can wander through restaurants, cafes, shops, and design studios occupies a heavily graffiti-ed industrial site. A hangout and workspace for members of Lisbon's vibrant creative crowd, it's also a nice repose from the more touristic parts of town. The Ler Devagar bookstore, which makes up the central hub of the development, is built around a two-story printing press and features floor-to-ceiling shelves of books.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Praça do Império, Belém
Secular since the 1800's, Jerónimos Monastery is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the incredible Manueline-style architecture, all done in limestone over the course of more than one hundred years. It's a required tourist destination because it's so photogenic (sculptures and intricate design elements are carved into every detail), but the grounds are enormous, so particularly if you come by on a weekday, you'll have plenty of moments to yourself. Photos: Paulo Valdivieso, Shadowgate
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