Entertainment and cultural things to do in Lisbon
Ready to move to Lisbon? That’s great! Lisbon is a fascinating city, full of attractions and people from all over the world. It offers a variety of fun and unusual activities, but how do you find the gigs, or best cultural things to do, in Lisbon? Read on for insider tips on things to do in Lisbon, sporting events, nightlife, and wonderful street art.
Enjoying Lisbon is easy! Whatever you choose to do, you’re bound to have a good time, because it’s a vibrant lively city, with lots of young people and a cosmopolitan and inclusive lifestyle. From March to September, you’ll find unexpected feiras (block, street parties), get-togethers, small concerts, and neighborhood events everywhere.
Top 5 things to do in Lisbon and more
Some events are an essential part of the local identity and heritage. Here we go with a selection of some of the most enjoyable and unusual activities to do in Lisbon. Taking part in these events, or visiting the places we mention, is a great way to get to know the town, make friends, and start experiencing what life in this beautiful European city is all about.
Admire the street art
First and foremost: explore the amazing street art in Lisbon! The hundreds of buildings decorated by graceful iconic azulejo tiles make strolling around Lisbon an artistic experience like no other. But there’s more to this artistic immersion than these beautiful hand-painted tiles. Local artists have turned many neighborhoods into open-air museums by painting graffiti and murals.
Where to see the street art in Lisbon
To enjoy Lisbon’s street art and lose yourself in a contemporary urban artistic experience, make sure you roam the Alfama and Mouraria neighborhoods: both are enhanced by stunning fado-inspired street art. In Graça you’ll see evocative murals that recount the Carnation Revolution, and tell the stories of literary icons such as poet Fernando Pessoa. And don’t miss the street art in Lisbon’s underground stations: Maria Keil was among the first to illuminate these with contemporary art, but you can find designs by Nadir Afonso too, as well as black and white cartoons!
Attend Lisbon concerts and festivals
Music plays a leading role in the Portuguese capital, and Lisbon gigs are among the most exciting and heartrending in the world. After all, this city is the birthplace of marvelously lyrical Fado music! Cultura Na Rua events and Lisbon music festivals are a way to start experiencing the local culture, and discovering the heritage, firsthand.
Can’t-miss gigs in Lisbon: the Cultura Na Rua events
Looking to join the locals and enjoy the best of life in Lisbon? Make sure you take part in at least one of the Cultura Na Rua events! Cultura Na Rua, namely “culture in the street”, ideates and manages 4 incredible citywide musical and cultural events every year. These events are aimed at preserving the local heritage and offering Lisboans and visitors an authentic taste of Portuguese culture. The events are generally held in April, June, late summer, and during the Christmas season.
Abril Em Lisboa celebrates freedom
For instance, next year’s Abril Em Lisboa event celebrates freedom, precisely “of expression, of thought, of religion, through different art forms” and will comprise concerts, theatrical work, movies, exhibits, and debates.
Summer activities in Lisbon
The summertime Cultura Na Rua festivals, among which the glorious Festas de Lisboa, are certainly a must-see. Held in a wide range of city squares and streets, and include amazing Lisbon concerts, plays, dance performances, film festivals, and literary events. The Festas de Lisboa also honor ancient traditions such as the Marchas Populares, the Casamentos de Santo António, the Arraiais Populares and the Tronos de Santo António, bringing them back to life with plays and reenactments.
Learn more about Cultura Na Rua events and Lisbon concerts on the association’s official website.
Exciting Portugal: music festivals 2022 in Lisbon
Lisbon’s musical and cultural scenario is nothing short of extraordinary, so if you’re dancing, partying, and generally having a good time, check out the list below and get tickets as you can!
- Rock in Rio – originated in Rio De Janeiro, Brasil, and traditionally held over two consecutive weekends in June in Lisbon, this superstar-packed music festival beckons fans and rock devotees from all over Europe.
- NOS Alive – arguably one of the most incredible music festivals in the world, is held each summer on the Algés riverside, near Lisbon. Generally held during the second week of July, it endures 3 or 4 days and offers a wide selection of concerts and events, including fado music and comedy.
- Festival Estoril Lisboa – ever since its first edition, back in 1975, this festival has been bringing a wide range of artists, orchestras, chamber ensembles, choirs, and soloists performing all kinds of music to Lisbon. The theme of this year’s edition, which will be held from June 24 to December 16, is “Mare Nostrum”, i.e. “our sea”, which focuses on Mediterranean culture. The Festival celebrates the 5th centenary of the death of King Manuel I and the 60th Anniversary of the Estoril International Music Courses. The summer program includes concerts in Lisbon, Estoril, and Cascais with the first performance held on the premises of the former Picadeiro Real.
- Jardim Sonoro – a three-day underground electronic music festival that brightens the start of fall in Lisbon filling it with resonant melody. This year at its 48th edition.
More cultural activities to do in Lisbon
Lisbon’s intriguing festivals also comprise events dedicated to movies, art, and culture in general that are not necessarily related to music. Attending one or more of the following, for one or two evenings, is in our opinion, among the most engaging cultural things to do in Lisbon.
- MOTELx – are you a horror movie fan? Well, Lisbon has what you’re looking for! The MOTELx horror movie festival held in September showcases international horror pics alongside locally-produced ones.
- Queer Lisboa – the only film festival in Portugal dedicated solely to screening films that recount and portray gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transexual, intersex, and other non-normative sexualities and identities.
- Jardim de Verao della Gulbenkiam – concerts, movies, readings, debates, lectures, workshops, and family activities held in the amphitheater of the lovely Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation park. Added value: virtually all the events hosted are free of charge.
Fun and unusual things to do in Lisbon
See the Lisbon botanical garden
The Jardim Botânico houses 1500 amazing species including sequoias, Madeiran geraniums, jacarandas, and a striking butterfly house. Check the Lisbon botanical garden’s official website for details, directions, and opening hours.
Visit a neighborhood market
Immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, colors, and scents by browsing the stalls of one of the many neighborhood markets. The following list includes a selection of the most charming ones.
- “Feira da Ladra” or Mercado de Santa Clara – Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472
Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm
- Feria do Relogio – Av. Santo Condestável WC, 1950-011
Sundays only, from 7 am to 2 pm
- Feira das Galinheiras – R. Maluda 4, 1750-167
Sundays only, from 7 am to 2 pm
- Lx Market – R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300-501
Saturdays only, from 11 am to 8 pm
- Time Out – Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479
Sunday to Tuesday from 10.00 am to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 are to 1 am.
- Campo de Ourique – 106, R. Coelho da Rocha 104
Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 10 pm
- Admire, and buy, local crafts at the Feira internacional de Lisboa. See the official website for full details, dates, and opening hours.
Sporting events in Lisbon, Portugal
Rich in green areas and cycling routes, surrounded by beaches, and inhabited by thousands of young and active people worldwide, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most sport-friendly cities. Also, if you’re into attending fun and exciting sporting events, Lisbon Portugal has a lot to offer.
The following are among the most sought-after events scheduled to be held in 2022:
- Lisbowl Festival – an international American Football tournament. In Lisbon from July 24 to 26, 2022.
- Liga Pro Skate – a professional skateboarding competition held in several Portuguese cities throughout the year. See dates and locations here and details on the official LPS Portugal website.
Finally, you might want to join the locals at a soccer game. If, so, we’d suggest seeing Benfica (extensively: Sport Lisboa e Benfica ComC MHIH OM) play at Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz. Benfica is Portugal’s most famous and awarded team, and a game held in this grand stadium is a thrilling experience!
Beaches near Lisbon
“Where are the urban beaches in Lisbon?” is one of the most common questions we get from those planning to visit or move to Lisbon. Many think that living in Lisbon means enjoying daily swims in the ocean, but truth be told there aren’t any urban beaches in Lisbon. What is true, however, is that there are a variety of spectacular beaches in the surroundings of Lisbon, and many other lovely beachfront wave-caressed havens just a scenic drive, or train ride, away. Among these, a few of our favorites are:
1. Praia do Guincho
A lovely 1km-long beach is located between Cascais and Sintra in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Its golden sands and amazing waves are beloved by surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers. You can swim, sunbathe and relax with a drink at the Bar do Guincho.
How to get there – Take the train to Cascais from Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon (one every 20 minutes) and get off in Cascais. From Cascais, take the Scotturb bus n. 405 or n. 415.
2. Praia do Abano
A little beach right by Praia do Guincho. Walk over the rocks behind the Bar do Guincho, or along the gravel road behind the parking lot, to reach it and enjoy the tranquillity and breathtaking vistas.
3. The beaches near Ericeira
Ericeira, once a fishing village, is today one of the most popular beach and surfing resorts in Portugal. Renowned as Europe’s only World Surfing Reserve, the area boasts spectacular beaches that yearly host a variety of championships, including the World Qualifying Series (WQS).
How to get there – Take the Mafrense bus from the Campo Grande terminal in Lisbon: you’ll find the stop right outside the Campo Grande metro station (green and yellow lines), and get off in Ericeira.
4. The beaches of Comporta
Comporta is a peaceful oasis nestled between rice paddies, dunes, pine tree forests, and the ocean. Beloved by the local elites, the area comprises tiny villages and a plethora of sensational beaches and is perfect for those seeking trendy tranquillity and very comfortable and highly-serviced harmony with nature.
How to get there – The best way to get to Comporta is by car. Alternatively, you can take a train or a bus from Lisbon to Setubal, then a ferry boat from Setubal to Troia, and then a bus or taxi cab from Troia.
Where to surf in Lisbon
Surf devotees moving to Lisbon are bound to be charmed: the area’s climate allows you to enjoy the waves virtually year-round, and the best surfing beaches are less than one hour away. Wondering where to surf while you’re in Lisbon? The most popular and closest surfing destinations are Carcavelos beach, just 26 minutes by train from the city center, São Pedro do Estoril, Guincho, Praia da Cresmina, and Ericeira.