Weekend in Lisbon: Our guide to the best things to do

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Alessia Armenise
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Lisbon, with its wide glittering river, cobbled streets and cornflower blue skies, is the ideal place to spend a long weekend. Here, we reveal the Portuguese city’s must-visit spots…

The clock is ticking and the sun is finally shining around Europe (yes, even in the UK). If you missed your chance for a long break in May and the city is feeling more and more like a prison, it’s time to think about your summer holidays, a weekend break or at least a nice staycation in one of London’s great hotels.

If remote paradises like Hawaii, Florida or Jamaica seem like an impossible mirage, don’t panic – one of the hottest holidays destinations for 2018 is just a couple of hours away. Portugal has been on globetrotters’ radars for years thanks to its incredible weather, fantastic food and breathtaking landscapes. This year, though – maybe also thanks to the Eurovision contest that was held there just a few of weeks ago – Lisbon is the real place to be during the summer.

To help you navigate the gorgeous Portuguese capital, here is’s pocket guide for a dreamy escape to Lisbon.

The best things to see in Lisbon

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

If it’s your first time in Lisbon, download your Lonely Planet guide and get ready for a couple of days of serious walking. First stop, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – one gorgeous example of Portugaise Manueline style, located near Tagus river. The imposing monastery is a Unesco World Heritage site, so it is best to wake up early so that you can avoid the tourist crowds.

Castelo de São Jorge

Fancy diving into Portuguese history? Then this 11th-century archaeological site is the perfect place to spend a morning. The castle features 11 towers, a camera obscura (the best way to enjoy an incredible view of the city and gardens), and belvederes to relax in. Whoever said that history is boring?  

Praça do comércio

Praça do comércio is the main square in Lisbon city centre. Surrounded by typical Portuguese buildings, the square is open on the south side on an incredible view of the Tagus river. Close to Lisbon Cathedral, São Jorge Castle and the cool neighbourhood of Baixa, the square is an easy must-see to tick off your list. 

Convento do Carmo

The Convento do Carmo, home to the Carmo Archaeological Museum, is a truly wonderful example of Portuguese gothic architecture. Numerous exhibitions are held there, but the aisle of the old convent is, perhaps, the most impressive feature of all. Surrounded by derelict arches, under the blue sky, you’ll feel like you’ve been teleported to another era.  

Palacio Nacional de Sintra

If there is only one place you are going to visit, make it the National Palace of Sintra. Tucked away on a hill surrounded by natural beauty, this majestic palace is the only monarchical residence that still stands intact in Portugal. Classified by UNESCO as World Heritage site since 1995, it is definitely worth a detour. 

The best places to stay in Lisbon

Tivoli Avenida Liberdade

Located in the center of the Portuguese capital, the luxurious Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa Hotel, is the perfect location to explore the city. During the day, indulge in a shopping spree on Avenida Liberdade or take advantage of the hotel’s incredible spa. At night, just around the corner, the buzzing neighbourhood of barrio alto offers the best of Lisbon’s nightlife.

Book here: Tivoli Avenida Liberdade

XL Boutique Hotel

An intimate hotel in the heart of downtown Lisbon, XL Boutique Hotel is a cosy home away from home. The icing on the cake? The charming staff are trained to be your best friend in town, and will  happily guide you to the best spots and attractions that the city has to offer.

Book here: XL Boutique Hotel 

Palacio Ramalhete

A delightful boutique hotel, decorated to pay tribute to the Portuguese architecture, Palacio Ramalhete is the hidden gem you’ve been searching for. With a pool overlooking the river Tagus and three courtyards to stroll around, this magnificent 18th-century building is definitely your go to if you want to forget your routine… if even for just a couple of days.

Book here: Palacio Ramalhete 

Palacio Belmonte

A real oasis in the heart of Lisbon, you will be stunned by the beauty of Palacio Belmonte. In this ancient noble residence covered in the most traditional white and blue tiles, every suite has its own character and overlooks the jaw-dropping city of Lisbon and the shimmering water of river Tejo. It’s a real-life heaven difficult to beat.

Book here: Palacio Belmonte

The Lumiares 

A more modern take on Portuguese decor, The Lumiares is perfect if you want a comfortable and stylish cocoon. The fully equipped apartments are made to accomodate your needs while the hotel also offers a spa for relaxation and a rooftop bar to sip on one of Lumni Restaurant’s amazing cocktails and enjoy an incredible view of the bohemian neighbourhood of Barrio Alto.

Book here: The Lumiares

The best things to do in Lisbon

A romantic cruise on Tagus River

If you are on the hunt for a romantic tour of the city, nothing beats a cruise on Tagus river. A guided tour to explore the city comfortably at sunset, when the temperature is sweeter and the light is magical. While enjoying the incredible view of Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower (both UNESCO World Heritage sites), this may be the perfect spot to pop the question – if you were inspired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding!

Tagus River Sunset Cruise in Lisbon, from £22.20

A bike tour around the city

Lisbon is a hilly city. If you are only around for a couple of days, hiring an electric bike could save you time and muscular pain! Ride around the charming districts of Chiado, Alfama and Bairro Alto and enjoy some incredible panoramic views from the National Pantheon, São Vicente Monastery and historic St George Castle. Minimal effort, maximum fun!

Lisbon Hills Electric Bike Tour, from £31.20 per person

A one-day long adventure

Azenhas do Mar

If you are planning a longer escape to the Portuguese capital, you will have time for a day trip to the charming Sintra Mountains, where you’ll discover the fascinating town of Sintra and its UNESCO-listed historic centre. The tour also covers some of the most charming little villages that surround the capital, like Cascais, Cabo da Roca and Azenhas do Mar. If you ever want to escape the fog for good, this is your time to house-hunt!

Sintra and Cascais Small Group Tour from Lisbon, from £40.00 per person

A treat for the foodies

Pasteis de nata

If you are on a diet, Lisbon is not the place for you. Home to the freshest seafood and the most delicious sweet treats – there is no way you can say no to Portuguese delicacies. A three-hour long food tour around Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama, will give you a good taste (pun not intended) of Portugal’s incredible gastronomy. And if you haven’t tried pasteis de nata yet (the country’s traditional pastry), you are definitely missing out.

Private Lisbon Food Tour: The 10 Tastings, from £40.00 per person

A dive into Portugal’s delicious wines

Who said that wine is a French-only business? A private tasting tour from Lisbon to Azeitão is what you need to discover the Portuguese wine tradition while enjoying a taste of local cheeses and sweets – all while taking in the amazing landscape that opens up around you. As delicious as it is, there is much more to try than Porto!

Lisbon Wine Tasting Private tour of the Setúbal Region, from £71.30 per person

Images: Provided