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Finding things to do in Lisbon, Portugal is an easy task; Lisbon has led a very adventurous life. From its very beginnings, Lisbon has been molded by a variety of cultures and influences.
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Likely founded by the Phonicians in 1200 BC, Lisbon also has a strong Roman history and influence and was ruled by the Moors for over 450 years while adopting and adapting to the rich Moorish architecture and culture. An earthquake in 1755 then changed the landscape of the city, once again opening it up to new architectural styles. Following its re-capture by the Christians in the 12th Century, Lisbon’s Golden Age began in 1498 with Vasco Da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India. This discovery opened trade routes and the wonders of the East to Portugal and beyond.
Lisbon is one of the most intriguing cities in all of Europe and it holds an abundance of treasures for tourists to discover. The Portuguese food is delicious, the wine as well, and the weather usually great. With a population of over 500,000 in the city proper (3 million in metro Lisbon), Lisbon is a compact city, making it easy to find a great hotel in Lisbon that meets your every expectation.
As an added bonus, Lisbon, Continental Europe’s westernmost capital city, enjoys mild winters, sunny summers and a steady stream of year-round tourists looking for the top things to do in Lisbon.
Top Things to do In Lisbon
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Amassed over a period of 40 years by oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, this collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European art is one of the world’s finest private art collections. He donated all of his stupendous art treasures to the country when he died in 1955. An Egyptian mummy mask, 2700 year-old alabaster bowl, a collection of rare Chinese porcelain are but a few of the exquisite treasures of this museum.
Fado is a traditional form of music linked to Portugal that is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the lives of the poor. The Fado Museum’s mission celebrates Fado’s value as a symbol of the City of Lisbon, and its deep roots in the tradition, cultural history and identity of the country.
Berardo Collection Museum
Located at the Belem Cultural Centre, the Berardo Collection Museum is a highlight of Lisbon’s contemporary architectural vista. Art lovers can wander through a collection of 250 pieces of Modern and Contemporary art from 70 artistic trends – ranging from Picasso and Warhol, to Portuguese artists Paula Rego, Vieira da Silva, and Pedro Cabrita Reis.
Located on Lisbon’s Alcântara Docks, the Oriente Museum opened its doors in May 2008. Since then, an excess of 70 thousand visitors have toured this venue, discovering Asian culture and history.
There are many more museums in this culture-rich city, but we wanted to focus on the best of what there is to see in Lisbon.
Lisbon’s Monuments and Historical Sites
Queluz National Palace
The National Palace of Queluz gives visitors a view of the cultural and natural heritage of Portugal. The palace was built in the 18th century, a historical period that combines baroque, rocaille and neoclassical influences. The palace is enhanced by several gardens, each with its own character and design.
Castelo de São Jorge
Overlooking the city, the Castle of St. George occupies an exceptional site in Lisbon and is clearly one of the top things to do in Lisbon. Visiting the castle is on every tourist’s list because the fortified citadel dates from medieval times and offers a glimpse into the lives of the people during that time period. As a bonus, the citadel provides a panoramic view of the city of Lisbon itself.
Nature in Lisbon
Lisbon’s mild climate makes it a welcoming home for such natural venues as the Jardim Zoológico, the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Lisboa , and the Parque das Nações and its nearby Oceanário de Lisboa. Learn more about Lisbon’s Nature in the City.
Lisbon’s Waterfront: Belem
Lisbon’s waterfront launched some of the world’s greatest explorers. And, today the architecture of Belém’s palaces and towers blends with contemporary museums and monuments. Within the same square kilometer, you’ll find the tombs of long-dead kings, you will now find the heartbeat of modern Lisbon. Shops, discos, cafe’s and a selection of some of the finer Lisbon Hotels can be found in this bairro.
The Lisboa Card
The Lisboa Card is your passport to the top things to do in Lisbon. It affords you the easiest and most convenient way of getting to know Lisbon on your own. The Lisboa Card allows free and unlimited travel on buses, trams and funiculars, the underground, as well as on certain CP train lines. And it provides free admission to 26 museums, historic buildings and many other places of interest.