The great thing about Lisbon is its size. The tiny town is largely navigable on foot, which makes sightseeing accessible and easy. Secondly, there are never that many tourists in Lisbon, which means queues and crowds are rarely a big deal, as they can be in other European capitals.
For me, Lisbon is about slow-paced sightseeing. Rushing in Lisbon is like shouting in a library: impolite and unnecessary. I like to punctuate my sightseeing with lots of bicas (coffees) in the city’s many street cafes. You can take your time here as it’s easy to see most of the main sights in one weekend.
Midday in the peak of summer is a fairly miserable time to be walking around the steamy city looking at sights. Give yourself a long lunch and catch most things first thing in the morning or at sunset. Many of the city’s best sights have spectacular views over the river, which always makes sunset, in this westerly-facing city, a good time to check them out.
I always recommend first time sightseers to invest in a Lisboa Card (17–33.50 euros), which offers free or discounted entrance to more than 80 Lisbon museums, sights, and tours, including the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos , the Torre de Belém and the National Pantheon. It also allows for unlimited free public transport.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
Lisbon has plenty of historic sights, which, luckily, escaped the ruinous destruction that the two world wars inflicted on much of the rest of Europe’s pretty capitals. So there are plenty of intact and functioning historic features to be found here. Religion is a big factor, and the city has some spectacular churches and cathedrals. Culture is a big deal and I’ve tried to include the best of the city’s museums. And, of course, I’ve given a nod to some of the city’s best beaches in the Cascais and Estoril sections.