Top 10 Things To Do In Lisbon, Portugal

Travel guide for planning a vacation or trip to Lisbon, including top tourist attractions and things to do.

Like most great cities, Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, does not focus itself too intensely on any one type of entertainment. Instead, it appeals to the masses with a variety of attractions. The food lover will delight in the tantalizing menu options of sun-drenched patio restaurants (including variations of the notoriously Spanish marisco paella), the music lover will indulge aplenty in fado, the melancholy music that developed in Lisbon during the 19th century, and the cultural connoisseur will drown in a medley of historical buildings.

There are, however, some tourist attractions that are more highly regarded than others. In particular, there are some that distinguish themselves as being "authentically Portuguese." While you might be able to visit certain theme parks and restaurants anywhere, the "top ten" of Lisbon listed below are unique to the spirited city itself.

1. Museu Aquario Vasco de Gama. This museum is devoted entirely to aquatic life and plants; there are roughly 4,000 species with 200 live samples. The museum itself is open every day from 10 am through 6 pm.

2. Arcadas do Faia. This is a casa de fado, or an establishment focused on the performance of fado music. This particular casa de fado is renowned for its high prices, but it also employs predominantly local people and serves superb Portuguese food. It opens at 10 pm and closes at 2 am, with the exception of Sunday night.

3. Marionetas de Lisboa. This theater caters to children aged 3 to 12 years. It both holds workshops to construct marionettes and offers children's party packages. The Marionetas de Lisboa have been on tour through many European countries since the theater's founding in 1985, but retain the strong, Portuguese flavor.

4. Antiks Picturas. This art gallery showcases Portuguese art pieces from the last century. There is also a permanent exhibition of contemporary jewelry. It's worth noting that this gallery closes for the afternoon siesta from 1 pm through 3 pm.

5. Enes arte contemporanea. Like Antiks Picturas, this gallery features "masterpieces" of Portuguese art. However, as the name would suggest to even those who couldn't string together a sentence of Portuguese, the gallery exhibits relatively modern pieces.

6. Jardim Botanico. This is one of the best gardens open to the public in Lisbon. It includes an associated park, so the children won't feel out-of-place or bored.

7. Casa Fernando Pessoa. This museum (with an attached open air bar and restaurant) showcases the work and life of Fernando Pessoa, the well-known Portuguese writer who lived during the early 20th century.

8. Feira Popular. While amusement parks may not have formerly qualified as a cultural event, this particular park retains surprising cultural flair and individuality. Rather than showcases the ubiquitous delights of Six Flags or other, similar theme parks, the Feira Popular is much like a fairground with the associated popcorn, candy floss, game stalls, and music.

9. The Lisbon Players. This amateur dramatic company draws players from the entire international community. Operas are even done in English which, after so much misunderstanding, might appeal to the out-of-place tourist. Everyone is welcome to act, direct, and view the backstage area.

10. Sintra. Sintra, with its lush, wooded heights and fresh greenery, offers unique rides in horse-drawn carriages. The experience offers tourists the chance to see local architecture in a slightly less urban environment than that of the city center.

While each tourist brings with him unique expectations, there is truly something to pique all interests in the Portuguese city of Lisbon.

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