Lisbon is a fast-modernizing metropolis, where everything is accessible by bus, metro, or tram. From a vibrant theater scene to a historic opera house, art galleries to museums, beaches to cobblestone streets – you’ll love all this hilly seaport has to offer. And as one of the most affordable cities in the world, Lisbon is the perfect base for study abroad. Here are eight free or inexpensive, must-do activities in Lisbon…
Explore the São Jorge Castle
Located on the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, São Jorge Castle is one of the most iconic symbols of the city, steeped in history. It was built in the 11th century as a Moorish castle and later became a Royal Palace for the King of Portugal and his court. Step inside its walls and go back in time to find 11 towers, a series of gardens filled with native Portuguese forest species, an archaeological site, and more. The castle’s courtyard also offers the best views of the city’s red rooftops and the Tagus River.
Enjoy beautiful, traditional Fado music
Meaning destiny or fate, Fado is integral to the Portuguese experience. The music is raw and emotional; signifying longing, love, and nostalgia in each powerful song. Learn about its deep roots and history at the Fado Museum. Then, get a taste of this traditional genre as you walk through the charming cobblestone streets of the Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon. You can also find singers performing at rustic taverns in the evening. For an unforgettable experience, have dinner at a full-on Fado restaurant, where you can enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine while listening to Fado singers crooning through the dining room.
Take a ride on Tram 28
Rest your legs from the steep hills and take a ride in a whimsical yellow tram, bursting with traditional charm. These historical trams date back to the 1930s and are a great way to see numerous historic districts. You can stop in Graça for stunning city views, the Alfama for São Jorge Castle, Estrela for its park, and many other sights along the way.
Eat the world’s finest custard tarts
Lisbon’s world-famous custard tarts are creamy, sweet, and perfectly crisp. The original ones can be found at Pasteis de Belém, where a line of customers generally extends down the block. Don’t let the long wait deter you – their secret recipe has been guarded since 1837 – so there’s nothing quite like them. Grab a plate of warm custard tarts, a cup of coffee, and you’ll understand why more than 10,000 tarts are sold every single day.
Spend a day in Belém
A delightful district to the west of downtown Lisbon, Belém is home to many historic wonders. Explore Belém Tower, a medieval fortified tower with decorative battlements and Arabic design, and marvel at the wonders of the Monastery of Jerónimos. There are also plenty of museum options, including Belém Palace; Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; National Museum of Archaeology; Popular Art Museum, and more. You’ll always have something to do in Belém.
Relax at Edward VII Park
Named after Britain’s King Edward VII, this is the largest park in central Lisbon. Take a break from your studies and walk through this sloped, scenic park, featuring tree-lined walking paths and a number of statues. The park also offers two estufas - the hothouse which is home to exotic plants, and the Estufa Fria greenhouse, filled with tropical plants, ponds, and endless varieties of palms and cacti.
Catch some sunshine
Bring your homework, a good book, or some snacks to the Ribeira das Naus to enjoy the warm sun and the breeze of the river. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.
Grab a bite to eat at the market
Inside Mercado da Ribeira – Lisbon’s biggest traditional food market – try any of the 25+ restaurants offering everything from seafood to pizza. After a tasty meal, explore the nearby antique shops and bookstores. There’s even a studio to check out live music!
The adventures in Portugal are endless.
Study abroad in Lisbon!