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The best independent guide to Lisbon

LisbonLisboaPortugal.com

The best independent guide to Lisbon

Undiscovered Lisbon: hidden gems, secret sights and authentic experiences in 2024

Lisbon is the vibrant capital of Portugal, which is rightfully regarded as one of the most fascinating cities in Western Europe.

The city contains many attention-grabbing tourist attractions, which bucket-list visitors flock to. These sights include Lisbon Castle, Jerónimos Monastery, Torre de Belem, and a ride on the number 28 tram.

However, you may prefer exploring places with fewer tourists, or perhaps you’re seeking a more authentic holiday. Fortunately, Lisbon boasts many hidden gems and alternative experiences just waiting to be discovered by independently-minded visitors. Some of these treasures lie far from the well-trodden tourist paths, while others are simply overlooked by the majority.

In this article, we present a selection of our favourite hidden gems and secret sights in Lisbon. We have included a diverse range of historic monuments and unique attractions to cater to all types of people, whether you are a long-term resident or a first-time tourist eager to uncover Lisbon's lesser-known delights.
Related articles: 10 top of Lisbon48 hours in Lisbon

The best secret and undiscovered sights of Lisbon

Here are our favourite hidden gems and less-visited sights in Lisbon. This list is in no particular order, as certain sights will appeal more to some visitors than others. Found at the end of this section is a map detailing the location of each attraction.

1) Palacio da Ajuda - A magnificent neoclassical palace that can rival any European 18th-century royal residence. Its lavish interior, with opulent rooms and exquisite decorations, is much more impressive than anything found in Sintra. However, it is often overlooked by tourists, making it a hidden gem worth exploring.

Palacio da Ajuda

The grand banquet hall of the Palacio da Ajuda

2) 8 Marvila and Fábrica de Braço de Prata - Marvila is the new artisan district of Lisbon, with pop-up bars, restaurants and art studios opening within the many abandoned warehouses along the waterfront. 8 Marvila is the centre for this blossoming artisan scene, while the Fábrica de Braço de Prata is an urban trendy night venue. Marvila is edgy and interesting, but its dilapidated appearance means it’s not for all.

8 Marvila Lisbon

The food and bar area of 8 Marvila

The Abel Pereira da Fonseca

The Abel Pereira da Fonseca

3) Number 24 tram - Nearly every tourist attempts to ride the number 28 tram, but the number 24 route is just as scenic - using the same traditional yellow trams - and you are much more likely to get a seat. The 24 route departs from the Praça Luís Camões and heads to Campolide, passing through the pretty Príncipe Real district. The route ends near the Amoreiras shopping centre, where you can find an amazing rooftop viewpoint called the Amoreiras 360°. (Tram 24 guide)

24 tram Lisbon

The number 24 tram as it passes through Príncipe Real

Amoreiras 360 Lisbon

The Amoreiras 360 is one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon.

4) Feira do Relógio market - A lively Sunday morning market where Lisbon’s residents shop for fresh produce and bargains. The stalls stretch for over 2km, with many cheap clothing and hardware stalls, but between the dross are farmers’ stalls, unique gifts and tasty food stands.

Feira do Relógio market Lisbon

5) Tapada das Necessidades - The peaceful gardens of the 18th-century Palácio das Necessidades (unfortunately not open to the public as it houses government offices). Within the gardens are shaded walks, cactus gardens, ponds with geese, and even some noisy peacocks. If you want some tranquillity away from the city, this is the place to go.

Tapada das Necessidades park
Largo das Necessidades

The view over the Tejo estuary and bridge from the Largo das Necessidades

6) Central Tejo - Lisbon's first power station has been restored to its 1909 grandeur, which is when it first began producing electricity. Here you can explore the vast furnaces and colossal industrial machinery while learning about the development of electricity. A truly unique museum.

Central Tejo Lisbon

7) Pavilhão Chinês - A bar that is more of a treasure-trove of collectables and curiosities. Packed into the five rooms are Portuguese memorabilia and foreign trinkets that pay homage to the bar’s former use as an antiques store.

Pavilhão Chinês Lisbon

8) Estrade de Chelas Street art - A once forgotten area of the city has been transformed into an urban art gallery, with vibrant images sprayed onto the side of the crumbling buildings. Between the usual graffiti tags are exquisite pieces of art and vibrant murals.

Estrade de Chelas Street art
1918 by Ricardo Romero

1918 by Ricardo Romero

Insight: The finest murals of Lisbon are found in the Quinta do Mocho neighbourhood, but this is sadly too dangerous for most tourists to go to.
9) Ciência Viva in the Pavilhão do Conhecimento - A fantastic science museum with hundreds of interactive exhibits that is perfect for families, especially on a wet day. One huge room is designed for under-fives, while the second room is for older children (5 to 12) and for more inquisitive minds. Combined with the crafts and skills basement and temporary exhibits, this is a must for all families with younger children.

Ciência Viva Pavilhão do Conhecimento

10) Day trip to Setubal - A historic and gritty port city that makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon if you want to experience the real side of modern Portugal. There is a lot to see in Setubal, but it unashamedly does not seek to cater to tourism, unlike other popular day trip destinations like Sintra, Cascais or Óbidos. (Guide to Setubal)

Setubal

11) Mercado de Campo de Ourique - A traditional market that encompasses a food market with a range of stalls. This is a much better option than the overly crowded and touristy TimeOut market.

Mercado de Campo de Ourique stalls

12) Pensão Amor (Bar) - A quirky bar located in a former brothel, which retains its original 1970s eclectic décor, mirrored rooms and risqué murals. The entrance to the bar is on Pink Street, but this is easy to miss due to the building’s former use as a brothel.

Pensão Amor Lisbon

13) Ferry ride to Cacilhas - Instead of an expensive boat tour, ride the ferry from Cais de Sodre to Cacilhas, which passes close to the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. While in Cacilhas, dine in one of the many inexpensive seafood restaurants, explore the Dom Fernando II e Glória sailing ship, and walk along the riverfront to the Jardim do Rio (number 17 in this list).

ferry Cacilhas

14) Street art by Bordalo II - Large-scale animal sculptures made from recycled materials and waste objects, drawing attention to the impact of consumerism on wildlife.

Lince Ibérico de Bordalo II

15) Olaias Metro Station - An impressive metro station on which a significant portion of the budget for the construction of the red line was spent. It features colourful pop-art light creations and a cavernous platform area designed as a cathedral.

Olaias Metro Station

16) Ascensor do Lavra - The least used funicular in Lisbon, which makes an ideal location for photos. The Lavra funicular is very close to the much more popular Ascensor do Gloria, and at the top of the route is the peaceful Jardim do Torel.

Ascensor do Lavra

17) Jardim do Rio - A small grassy park on the southern banks of the Tejo estuary, and a romantic setting for watching the sunset. Forget the tourist-focused Ponte Final restaurant nearby and bring a bottle of wine and snacks to enjoy the view from here. For an even better view, ride the free Elevador da Boca do Vento to the top of the cliffs.

Jardim do Rio

18) Padaria São Roque - The ‘cathedral of bread’, or so it proclaims on a tile painting hanging from the wall. An ornate setting for an inexpensive coffee and cake in the Príncipe Real district.

Padaria São Roque

19) Miradouro de Santo Amaro viewpoint and Capela de Santo Amaro - This peaceful setting offers views over the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Tagus River and is located within the courtyard of the Capela de Santo Amaro. The chapel itself is interesting, as it is an unconventional circular structure adorned with intricate tile paintings.

Miradouro de Santo Amaro viewpoint Lisbon

The interactive map below shows the location of each of these sights and attractions. Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points.

Legend: 1) Palacio da Ajuda 2) 8 Marvila 3) 24 tram 4) Feira do Relógio market 5) Tapada das Necessidades 6) Central Tejo power station museum 7) Pavilhão Chinês 8) Estrade de Chelas street art 9) Ciência Viva 10) Setubal 11) Campo de Ourique market 12) Pensão Amor 13) Ferry ride to Cacilhas 15) Olaias Metro Station 16) Ascensor do Lavra 17) Jardim do Rio 18) Padaria São Roque 19) Santo Amaro viewpoint
Note: There are over 20 art installations by Bordalo II in Lisbon and these (sight 14) have not been included in this map.

The following section provides details of each attraction and why it has been included in our list of the best secret sights of Lisbon.

Palacio da Ajuda

The Palacio da Ajuda is a magnificent and beautifully restored national palace, which was the Portuguese royal residence during the 19th century. Within the neoclassical palace are 35 lavishly furnished staterooms, including the stunning banquet hall and throne room.

It amazes us that, so few people visit the Palacio da Ajuda, except for an infrequent coach tour or school trip. The palace is a fascinating building boasting a rich history, and should be high on your list of places to visit while in Lisbon.
Our opinion: Tourists crowd to the Palacio de Pena in Sintra, but the Palacio da Ajuda offers more sumptuous and lavish staterooms and has much more to see inside.
Tourist details: €5 Entry - Travel: bus 630 or E18 (this was originally a tram service) - Typical visit: 45minutes
Official website: http://www.palacioajuda.gov.pt/

Palacio da Ajuda Lisbon

The majestic exterior of the Palacio da Ajuda

Tapada das Necessidades and Palácio das Necessidades

The Tapada das Necessidades park is the quietest park in Lisbon, and is an oasis of calm within the hectic city. The park may be a slightly unkempt and ramshackle, but this is because few in Lisbon even realise it exists, possibly even Lisbon council.

At the southern side of the park is the pink Palácio das Necessidades, a former national palace, but is sadly not open to the public, as it houses the foreign ministry. In front of the palace is the Miradouro do Largo das Necessidades, with its views across the Alcantara district and Tejo Estuary.
Our opinion: If you want to forget that you are in a bustling city, then the Necessidades is the destination for you, and its only a 15-minute walk from the LX Factory artisan centre.
Tourist details: Free Entry - Travel: E15 Tram (Alcântara stop) - Typical Visit: 30minutes

Palácio das Necessidades

The Palácio das Necessidades is not open to the public, as it houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Miradouro do Largo das Necessidades

The view over the Tejo estuary and bridge from the Largo das Necessidades

Jardim dos Cactos Tapada das Necessidades

The Jardim dos Cactos (cactus garden) in the Tapada das Necessidades

Feira do Relógio market

Portugal has a vibrant market scene, and one of the most authentic experiences of Lisbon is to visit Feira do Relógio (Market of Clocks). This is by far the largest market in Lisbon with over 2km of varying stalls, selling every imaginable item. There is a lot of dross; cheap clothes and bric-à-brac, but hidden within this are unique craft stalls, a vast fresh produce section and tasty street food.

The market is held every Sunday morning (9am-2pm) on the Avenida Santo Condestável, which is served by the Bela Vista metro station, on the redline.
Advice: This market is held in one of the more deprived areas of Lisbon, when visiting the Feira do Relógio always use common sense, and do not flash valuables or cash.
Insider tip: While in the market do try a Bifana, a thinly sliced fried pork in a papo Seco (bread roll), from one of the food stalls.

Feira do Relógio market stalls

The Feira do Relógio has a large fresh food section

Bifana  Lisbon

A Bifana is a favourite with the Portuguese

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte

The Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is the finest viewpoint in Lisbon, with unrivalled views across the Baixa district, the Tejo Estuary and of the castle. To reach the viewpoint it is a demanding uphill walk from either the castle or the Graca district, but the views are worth the effort.
Insight: This viewpoint was traditionally where young lovers would meet, without the prying eyes of family members. Nowadays it is popular with tuk-tuk tours……
Related articles: The best viewpoints of Lisbon

Bacalhau à Brás

Forget all of the gourmet food nonsense which is sweeping through Lisbon, true Portuguese food is hearty and filling, and no Lisbon meal sums this up more than Bacalhau à Brás.

This dish takes three unlikely ingredients; batata palha (matchstick-thin crisps), Bacalhau (sundried salted cod) and scrambled egg, and creates a delicious and incredibly filling meal.

For an authentic Portuguese meal, combine the Bacalhau à Brás, with a Caldo Verde soup for starter, a Baba de Camelo for dessert and a café (strong expresso). Baba de Camelo is a tasty mousse, but is given the revolting name of camel slobber!

Bacalhau à Brás

Bacalhau à Brás

Central Tejo (Tejo Power Station)

The Central Tejo was the first power station constructed in Lisbon, and this imposing neogothic brick building, has been lovely restored. Stepping inside are colossal furnaces and gigantic machinery, while the museum provides an insight into the horrendous conditions endured by the workers. The Central Tejo may not appeal to everyone, but is a truly unique museum, and we highly recommend it.

Insider tip: Most visitors completely miss the Central Tejo, as they first visit the ultra-modern MAAT museum (which gets mixed reviews), and then almost forget about the power station. We suggest beginning with the Central Tejo.
Tourist details: Entrance fee: €5 (Central Tejo & MAAT €9) - Transport: E15 tram (Altinho stop) - Typical visit: 30 minutes
Official website (MAAT): https://www.MAAT.pt/en/exhibitions/power-station-tour
Related articles: Belem district

Central Tejo Lisbon

The Tejo Power Station was a coal-fired station, and the coal was unloaded on the banks of the Tejo Estuary

Central Tejo Lisbon

The huge furnaces which powered the generators

How about a small group tour?

One of the best ways to discover Lisbon and to meet fellow travellers is to join a guided tour. We have worked with Getyourguide.com for the last six years, and some of the best tours of Lisbon include:

Pavilhão Chinês

The Pavilhão Chinês is the quirkiest bar of Lisbon, and packs vintage toys and collectables from floor to ceiling in every single room. The extensive assortment of exhibits is better than any museum, and all can be enjoyed with a game of snooker and drink!

The Pavilhão Chinês is situated within the Príncipe Real district, one of the most fashionable areas of Lisbon. Across the street from the bar is the “Embaixada Concept Store”, a high-end artisan shopping centre housed in a grand mansion.
Embaixada website: https://www.embaixadalx.pt/
Related articles: Príncipe Real district

Pavilhão Chinês Lisbon

Vintage trinkets fill every available space within the Pavilhão Chinês

Campo Pequeno

The Campo Pequeno bullring is the Arabic inspired bullring, with its domed towers and distinctive orange brickwork. The venue is frequently used to host live music and there is no more of an atmospheric location within the city.

Beneath the bullring is a large shopping centre, and the surrounding district is a prosperous business area.
Tourist information: Travel; yellow line metro (Campo Pequeno metro station)

Campo Pequeno Lisboa
The Graça district

The Graça district is one of the hidden gems of Lisbon, because it is just so typically and normally Portuguese. There’s been no flood of tourism, no drive to become arty or pretentious, or transformation from an influx of wealth; it’s just a pleasant district with Lisboetas going about their daily lives. .

Along the bustling main street, the Rua da Graça, are family run business, cafes filled with locals, and every so often the number 28 tram trundles through. Graça is rarely discussed in any travel guide as there’s actually not much to see, apart from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and the Igreja e Convento da Graça, but for atmosphere and authenticness, Graça cannot be beaten.
Related articles: E28 tram

Pensão Amor (cocktail bar and night club)

The Pensão Amor bar was converted from a disused-brothel, and much of the former “heritage”, has been retained in the décor and ambience. There are burlesque themes, controversial pieces of art and suggestive murals, along with excellent cocktails and buzzing late-night atmosphere. The Pensão Amor is situated on the Pink Street in the Cais do Sodré district.

Pensão Amor Lisbon
Ler Devagar - Lx factory

There are numerous trendy and funky shops and pop-ups within the Lx factory site, but the most unique is the Ler Devagar book shop. This shop is based within a former printing press, and the atmospheric book store is centred around the old printing machine.

Our opinion: Lx Factory is an artisan hub full of independent shops, creative studios and unique food venues. The site is popular with tourists, so not included in this guide of “hidden sights”, but we certainly recommend a visit during your time in Lisbon.

Ler Devagar bookshop
Olaias Metro Station

Olaias metro station is a fusion of colour and gothic-inspired architecture. There are huge pillars, characteristic of the nave of a gothic church, supporting the vast chamber, while vivid ceiling hangings (ornaments) add intense colour to the station. When travelling along the red line, it is worth exiting the carriage at Olaias to admire the station.

Insider knowledge: It is widely believed that so much money was lavished on Olaias Metro station during the construction of the red line (in 1998), that there were almost no funds for the remaining stations, which are bland in comparison.
Related articles: Lisbon metro guide

Olaias Metro Lisbon
Lisbon to Cristo Rei via Cacilhas

Cristo Rei is one of the most prominent monuments of Lisbon, and at the base of the statue is a wonderful viewpoint. The statue is very popular with tourists, but the route to it via Cacilhas is lesser-known and offers many interesting sights along the way.

The first stage is the ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas, and this service passes close to the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Cacilhas is famed for its seafood restaurants and moored in the docks is the Dom Fernando II e Glória, the last sailing ship constructed for the Portuguese navy.

From Cacilhas there is a bus (service 101) from the ferry terminal to the Cristo Rei statue. An alternative route is to walk along the banks of the Tejo estuary and use the Elevator of Boca do Vento to ascend the steep cliffs. Sadly part of this route is past abandoned docks and is very grim.
Tourist details: Cacilhas ferry €1.40 single, 101 bus €1.45, Elevator of Boca do Vento free, Cristo Rei viewing platform €6.00
Related articles: Lisbon ferry - Cristo Rei guide

Ciência Viva - Pavilhão do Conhecimento (for children)

The Ciência Viva is an outstanding science museum which will captivate children of all ages. There are interactive and hands-on exhibits and the museum is widely regarded as the best family-friendly activity in Lisbon. The Ciência Viva is housed in the Pavilhão do Conhecimento which is in the Parque das Nações area of Lisbon.
Pavilhão do Conhecimento official website: https://www.pavconhecimento.pt/
Insider knowledge: The Pavilhão do Conhecimento is close to the Oceanário de Lisboa, one of the finest aquariums in Europe. We could not include the Oceanário as a “secret attraction” as it is always busy, but is another great family-friendly activity.

Day trip to Setubal

Setubal is a busy port city with a rich fishing heritage, a magnificent fort and charming centre, but is completely overlooked by most tourists. There are sufficient sights in Setubal to fill a day’s sightseeing, but you could also include the castle in Palmela, the paradise beaches of Tróia or a dolphin watching tour. Setubal is connected to Lisbon by a direct and inexpensive train service.
Related articles: Our guide to SetubalDay trips from Lisbon

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The best guide to Lisbon

top 10 Lisbon
Where to stay which district Lisbon
3 days in Lisbon
Secret Lisbon
Lisbon Nightlife
Lisbon day trips
lisbon beaches
lisbon for families
1 week in Lisbon
48 hours Lisbon
Lisbon sunsets
lisbon Portugal guide
Baixa district Lisbon
belem distrcit Lisbon
lisbon shopping
alfama district Lisbon
Cost of a holiday to Lisbon
Parque das Nações district Lisbon
Alcantara district Lisbon
sintra portugal
Costa da Caparica
Cascais Portugal
24 hours in Lisbon
Lisbon viewpoints
lisbon food and meals
lisbon airport guide
wet day in Lisbon
Lisbon museums

We Need Your Support
The digital landscape is evolving, and small publishers like us are feeling the pressure. Search engine biases and AI plagiarism have made it increasingly challenging to thrive.
You can make a difference by bookmarking our site for easy access and sharing your favorite articles with others on social media.
If you spot an error, please let us know. With over 1,600 pages to maintain, we greatly appreciate your vigilance.
Please contact us at: [email protected]

top 10 Lisbon
Where to stay which district Lisbon
3 days in Lisbon
Lisbon Nightlife
Lisbon day trips
lisbon beaches
lisbon for families
1 week in Lisbon
48 hours Lisbon
Lisbon sunsets
lisbon Portugal guide
Baixa district Lisbon
belem distrcit Lisbon
lisbon shopping
Secret Lisbon
alfama district Lisbon
Cost of a holiday to Lisbon
Parque das Nações district Lisbon
Alcantara district Lisbon
sintra portugal
Costa da Caparica
Cascais Portugal
24 hours in Lisbon
Lisbon viewpoints
lisbon food and meals
lisbon airport guide
wet day in Lisbon
Lisbon museums