If you’re considering Lisbon solo travel:
Then let me be the first to say that taking a Lisbon (or a solo trip to Portugal in general) will be one of the best decisions of your entire travel life.
You betcha but I stick by my words since Lisbon (and Portugal in general) is THAT awesome.
Not only are there plenty of things to do alone in Lisbon, but this city is extremely safe, diverse, and culturally vibrant; from historic trams to quaint, old-world neighborhoods, this city oozes charm at every turn.
And I haven’t even Started Discussing the Pastries, like Pastéis de Nata.
Talk about a dessert lovers foodie eutopia.
Did I mention that Lisbon is cheap? As far as European cities go, Lisbon is a relatively inexpensive city, making it the perfect place for solo travel since costs can get a little steep when you have no one to split the cost of a taxi or hotel room with.
So Have I Convinced you to Book Your Trip to Lisbon Yet?
Even if I still haven’t convinced you to start traveling Portugal alone as a female, stick around for a while.
Read on and discover some of the fantastic things to do alone in Lisbon, learn about some of the foodie meccas where dining alone in Lisbon can actually be fun, and even figure out where to stay in Lisbon as a solo traveler,
By the end of this post, you might begin to wonder why you ever wanted to travel with someone in the first place! So embrace your travel freedom and explore some of the amazing activities that Lisbon offers solo travelers.
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1. Enjoy the Foodie Scene at Time Out Market
So culinarily speaking, Lisbon, Portugal is kind of a big deal.
From Cozido a Portuguesa (Portuguese stew) to Caldo Verde (a traditional kale, potato, and onion soup with garlic and olive oil) to my personal favorite Pastel de Nata (a sumptuous egg tart that will change the way you feel about eggs altogether), the Lisbon food scene has it all.
But how can you experience some of Lisbon’s culinary flavor when you’re all alone?
Well, I’m gonna hop on the tourist bandwagon and declare that Time Out market (Mercado da Ribeira) is an amazing place to try some of the best local foods that Lisbon has to offer.
This market is an informal, cafeteria-style market that is surrounded by an assortment of food stalls, making eating alone here a fairly normal experience. Therefore, you’ll feel none of the awkwardness that ensues when you sit down to a formal dinner on your own.
Entering the Market:
You’ll find an assortment of vendors selling fresh meats, fish, produce, and prepared foods that make it feel as though you are doing a mini food tour of sorts.
And While this Market is Enormous:
It still gets insanely crowded and has been known to run out of seating. Therefore, I recommend visiting the market super early, super late, or during the week since you can avoid the crowds and actually find a seat.
***Also check out Rua de Duque which a 5-minute walk from the Rossio Train Stations. This street is where all the locals go for cheap and delicious food.
***One of my favorite things to do alone in Lisbon is to head over to the tiny, unassuming shop, appropriately named, “O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo” and eat as much cake as humanly possible. Seriously, they have the best chocolate cake in the world!
Actual footage of me stuffing my face at Time Out Market.
2. Stroll Through the Charming Neighborhood of Alfama
When I asked for a list of the “top things to do in Lisbon” while planning my trip, the one thing that EVERYONE highly recommended was the Alfama District.
I wasn’t too excited though since Alfama wasn’t a top Lisbon attraction per say. See, I wanted a big name site with bells, whistles, fireworks, and a ticker tape parade (weird American thing).
Yeah, Alfama is none of those things.
Instead, Alfama is an unassuming, historic district in Lisbon that astounds almost everyone who visits. Walking through these charming streets, you’ll find enchanting buildings swathed in the vivacious colors of local tile work.
The architecture, tile work, and historic trams whizzing through Alfama all make you feel like you’ve gone back to a time when Twilight was just a time of day (not a book) and the only cell phones available were called Carrier Pigeons.
So During your Solo Trip to Lisbon:
Take a moment to stroll along the tiled sidewalks and cobbled streets, and marvel at the neighborhoods of Lisbon’s past that have not been completely and totally gentrified (yet).
***Watch out for pickpockets who may take advantage of you while you’re taking 12,000 photos and not really paying attention to your valuables.***
3. Check out Local Street Art
Like most concrete jungles of the world:
The graffiti in Lisbon has been transformed into the worldwide craze that is known as “street art”. Not that I am dissing a publicly accessible form of art that strips away the elitism of traditional art galleries.
But, where can you find the best street art in Lisbon?
First up, the Gloria Funicular! Fun little factoid for you, the Gloria funicular was opened back in 1885 and became a national monument in 2002.
To access this funicular:
Head to the west side of the Avenida da Liberdade, in Restauradores square. The funicular is around the corner from the tourist office in Palácio Foz and super easy to find since it connects Lisbon’s downtown with the Bairro Alto.
As you ride the funicular up the hill, you’ll see a ton of street art on your right since this area is a designated street art gallery that is filled with mesmerizing and poignant pieces of art.
To Find More Street Art:
You can hop on the Tram 28 stop, near Lisbon Cathedral. Continue uphill and on your right, after a few stops, you’ll find some of the most famous street art pieces in all of Lisbon.
Still not enough street art for you?
Well, while you’re stuffing your face at Time Out Market, check out some of the street art there, and then head on over to LX Factory, a renovated industrial complex that houses some of Lisbon’s most eclectic shops, restaurants, and street art murals.
Take some time to enjoy some unique murals that are fashioned out of discarded objects to redefine the human definition of waste and to promote more sustainable consumption practices.
There are even several “streetments” in the area that display public quotes like, “Until debt tear us apart”; quotes that force you to reevaluate traditional societal values and norms.
***If you’re obsessed with street art like me, then you may want to book a Lisbon street art walking tour. This way, you can quickly and easily see as much Lisbon street art as possible.***
4. Eat Pasteles de Nata (My Favorite Activity on this Whole List)
To find the best pasteles de Nata in all of Lisbon, you must head to Belem; a beautiful district in Lisbon that lies right along the water.
As you Exit the Train:
Walk past the President’s snazzy pink palace and head right over to Pasteis de Belém where you can devour Portugal’s most famous pastry of all, pastels de nada (Of all my Lisbon travel tips, this is the only one you need to listen to).
It is mandatory that you eat at this pastry shop (it’s on the right as you walk along the main road away from the water) since this bakery has been creating these carb bombs of delight for the past 187 years.
5. Ride on the Famous Tram 28
You know how you need to have an obligatory trolley ride in San Francisco?
Well, in Lisbon it’s kind of the same thing. Just replace the trolly with a tram and you’re in business. But if you’re gonna ride the tram in Lisbon, why not ride the best one? Am I right?
If I had to pick just one super awesome tram to ride in Lisbon, number 28 would be it. This tram line has the most scenic route and will expose to all the natural beauty that Lisbon has to offer.
Sadly, I’m not the First Person to Say this:
Therefore, Tram 28 will be packed with people and have a line to board the tram that is about two hours long (with locals who want to taser you for stealing their spot on the tram).
To avoid the hordes of tourists:
Try and board the tram either late at night, early in the morning, or at a stop that is in the middle of the line, like Lisbon Cathedral.
Lisbon also has some incredible funiculars that you can check out as well.
Don’t ask me for a technical definition since all I know it that it operates on a track and basically goes straight up and down some major hills in Lisbon.
The three funicular railways in Lisbon are known as the Gloria, Bica, and Lavra. The Bica line will take you which chugs along Rua da Bica from Rua S. Paulo, near Santos, to the Calhariz district. This one is a little tricky to find though since the lower station is virtually hidden behind a facade of Rua de S. Paulo but since it’s the most traditional of them all, it’s worth the impromptu scavenger hunt to find the damn thing.
You also have the big, bad Lavra Funicular, which climbs along some of the steepest hills in Lisbon since it links the Largo da Anunciada and the Travessa do Forno do Torel.
So Moral of the Story?
It doesn’t matter whether you ride a tram or a funicular, just make sure that you ride some form of mildly traditional public transportation that is not a bus or the metro.
***The metro, bus, tram, and funicular all use the same ticket system so if you buy a Lisbon Card or a rechargeable metro card, you can use that to board any of these forms of transportation. And always get your tickets beforehand because buying tickets onboard is extremely expensive (like over €3 for a two-minute trip).***
6. Watch a Fado Performance
Fado is a soulful, melancholy, Portuguese singing style that is both emotional and brooding by nature, kind of like all the hormonal teenagers that you know.
But Instead of Whining Indeterminately:
The heightened feelings evoked by Fado are further intensified by the sounds of mandolins and guitars crying in the background. Yeah, I went there. LoL. Do you need a hanky?
Kidding! This singing style can also have a light-hearted, jovial feel about it as well.
For an authentic Fado experience:
Visit some local clubs like A Nini, Adega Machado, Bela, Casa de Linhares, Club de Fado, and more.
These venues tend to be intimate (real estate code for small) yet exceedingly popular, so book ahead if you want to snag a coveted seat.
Just know that there are signs for Fado clubs everywhere so even if it’s not the FINEST Fado club in the world, you can still get a taste for this style of music, without booking an expensive tour.
7. Explore Some of Lisbon’s Cathedrals
Notice how I listed “Cathedrals” and not just one specific Cathedral in the header right?
Yeah, that’s because Portugal loves Cathedrals so much that you can literally find them everywhere you turn.
I wanted to hate this Lisbon attribute since I am neither super religious nor a huge fan of Cathedrals, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t hate on all the Cathedrals here since they are all so grandiose, with intricate architectural details that are unique to Portuguese culture.
My favorite of these details are the tile mosaics that displayed some fairly common Catholic ideology in a truly unique and beautiful way.
So even though I don’t typically run out and do all my sightseeing in churches, I would still add some of Lisbon’s historic Cathedrals to your Lisbon solo travel guide.
Some of my not surprising faves include Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral), Igreja de São Roque (one of the first Jesuit churches in the world), Convento da Ordem do Cormo (shows the destructive power of the 1755 earthquake that devastated much of Europe) and Igreja de Santa Engrácia (a National Pantheon that is home to the tombs of famous individuals like Vasco de Game).
8. Visit the Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)
To say this museum blew me away is probably the grossest understatement of 2018. So as I proclaim my adoration for this museum, multiply that sentiment by 10,000 and you’ll understand how I felt about this museum.
So I say with absolute conviction, if you only visit one museum in all of Lisbon, this should be it.
Not only is this institution a great introduction to the cultural significance and creative process behind Azuelejo (tile) manufacturing, but the building itself is a great place to relax and escape some of the urban chaos that Lisbon creates.
A charming space, filled with skylights, quaint doorways, and cascades of fuschia flowers that will ensnare you and force you to take a picture or two or ten.
Once You’ve Enjoyed this Beautiful Place:
Be sure to check out some of the historic and ultra-modern tiles mosaics on display here; works of art that truly are unlike anything I have ever seen.
This museum hides a full-scale church inside that is dripping with exquisite tile work that is obviously religious by nature.
What? That’s not Impressive Enough for You?
Okay, then definitely visit the panoramic, tile map of the entire city of Lisbon on the top floor and prepare to be amazed by everything that this tile museum can show you during your solo vacation in Lisbon.
***If you decide to visit this museum, I highly suggest taking the bus there and then walking through Alfama on the way back since not only will you get to explore this beautiful district, but you’ll run into some stunning Cathedrals too!***
9. Explore the Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square in English)
The exquisite, Praça do Comércio square is the largest, and most majestic, of all of Lisbon’s plazas.
Adjacent to the Tagus estuary:
This expansive plaza was originally built in 1755, after a major European earthquake that destroyed virtually the entire city, and stood as a prominent commercial center where traders would sell their foreign wares and where financiers would fund perilous expeditions into the great unknown.
Between the traditional buildings that line the square and that magnificent statue of King José I that prominently stands in the center, this plaza is a must see for anyone visiting Lisbon.
***This square is an important transport hub where trams headed West, towards Belem, depart from the Northern side of the square. There is also a ferry terminal on the Southern side of the square that houses boats that cross the River Tagus.***
10. Visit the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
Feel like you haven’t quite gotten your fix of European and Asian paintings yet?
Well, if you’re an art obsessed weirdo like me, I mean enthusiast, then make sure you stop by this vibrantly yellow, 17th-century palace, that has been expertly converted into the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.
In addition to paintings:
This museum also houses a collection of decorative arts that are sure to, dare I say, tickle your fancy? Okay, I’ll stop being creepy now.
11. Take a Day Trip to Sintra
One of the best Lisbon day trips, Sintra is basically all my childhood dreams come true (I’ve heard Porto is amazing too).
Everywhere you turn, you see these majestic, vibrantly colored castles that emerge from a series of beautiful mountains covered in thick, lush forests (lush is code for it’s damp and wet in Sintra so dress accordingly).
Getting to this magical land of Moorish castles and pastel-hued manor houses can be a bit tricky though, so I booked a day tour from Lisbon just to make my life a little easier (you can also spend the night there and enjoy a fantastic 24 hours in Sintra).
But it’s up to you since many people do this day trip on their own and have a fantastic time.
If you do visit, take some time to explore the vibrantly colored, Moorish style castle known as Palácio Nacional da Pena; a truly eclectic and architecturally exciting palace that is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.
If You Have Time:
Also stop and explore the Quinta de Regaleira, an enchanting villa with intriguing mythological statues and beautiful stone spires that capture the wondrous feeling of Sintra’s natural landscape.
***If you want to make your life a bit easier, then book a Sintra day trip like me! With this tour, you’ll also get to explore Cabo de Roca and the beautiful Cascais.***
12. Visit Belem Tower
This Unesco World Heritage site in Belem is actually a former military fortress that has come to represent the strength, courage, and power associated with the Age of Discoveries.
Believe it or Not:
.Francisco de Arruda actually designed this fortress in1515 to defend the city’harbor from foreign attack.
The only thing attacking Belem Tower are selfie stick-wielding tourists, yearning to see some exquisite filigree stonework and a super awesome stone rhinoceros.
Brace Yourself Though:
To get some amazing views of the surrounding river, you’ll need to climb up a steep, narrow, stone, spiral staircase that only one person can ascend at a time.
And while the view is worth the climb:
I suggest visiting during the week since the crowds here can get pretty insane on the weekend. And I don’t know about you but a sudden case of claustrophobia is not my idea of a good time.
13. Walk Along Rua Augusta
As Lisbon’s Main Pedestrian Walkway:
Rua Augusta is a lively place that is filled with cafes, shops, street artists, and paved mosaics that will impress even the most lackluster of travelers.
Take time to stroll along this pedestrian thoroughfare and savor the vibrating pulse of this captivating city.
As you near the end of this iconic road:
You’ll see that the street begins to open up on o Comercio Square, through the city’s beautiful, triumphal arch. Truly one of the best sights in all of Lisbon.
14. Explore Jerónimos Monastery
If you Only See one Thing in Belem, this should be it!
This enchanting monastery was built in 1498 to honor the many discoveries of the world explorer, Vaco de Gama (he is actually buried in the lower chancel).
Today, you can still explore the church and marvel at a series of columns that appear to naturally grow into a vast network of stone masonry. , which is itself a spiderweb of stone.
As you Absorb all the Beauty Here:
Stop by the upper choir and see an amazing view of the church; a spot where you can clearly see the rows of seats that are Portugal’s first Renaissance woodcarvings (feel free to ooh and ahh here).
After Exploring the Church:
Move into the cloisters, a place of peace and contemplation that is dripping with exquisite architectural details in the building’s scalloped arches and magnificent columns that are intertwined with a vast network of leaves and vines.
You Can Avoid One Thing Though:
The Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Yeah, it’s kind of lame.
15. Embrace the Majesty of the Lisbon Botanical Garden
Tucked away in the Principe Real district of Lisbon is the Lisbon Botanical Garden; 20 acres of botanical bliss for anyone looking to escape the surrounding city.
Completely Hidden from View:
This garden has become a sanctuary of solitude for local residents, since the park’s opening in 1873.
Once considered a premier urban oasis Southern Europe:
This garden now shows signs of wear and tear but is still a fantastic place to relax and explore one of the largest collections of subtropical plants in all of Europe.