Seven things to do near the river in Lisbon
If the Lisbon nightlife doesn’t speak to you, get yourself to the other bank. At Ginjal Terrasse, in Cacilhas, there are concerts, DJ sets, exhibitions and even tango lessons, all on the riverbank. If you prefer, you can also make your way there in the late afternoon to have a few drinks with a gorgeous view over Lisbon. The last boat from Cacilhas to Cais do Sodré is at 1.20am and the first one is at 5.20am, so it’s nice to know there are things to do on this side of the river while you wait.
Dipping your feet in the water is a tradition embraced by the hordes of tourists that take off their shoes and walk down the ramp at Ribeira das Naus, ignoring both the pollution and the slippery floor signs. In the summer, some even wear bikinis and go in up to their knees. We don’t recommend doing this, but this new river beach is one of the best spots in the city to look at the river with a drink in your hand. Pitcher Cocktails – which has had a bicycle cart in Ribeira das Naus since 2014, and recently opened another one near the Tower of Belém – takes pride in its lemonade “considered by many as the best in Lisbon”. To refresh your spirits, there’s also mojitos.
If you’re sick of sleeping on this side of the river, one night over on the other side, facing Lisbon, could be just what you need. There are more and more options for accommodation in Trafaria (a 20-minute boat ride from Belém), and even some with foreign names, like Trafaria Beach Apartments, which has a small rooftop. Don’t let the name fool you: there’s no beach here, only the river, but Cova do Vapor, the first beach of the Costa da Caparica with a view on the Bugio lighthouse, isn’t far.
Need a place to stay? Take a look at our guide to the best hotels in Lisbon.
Almost like a human centipede. Bike Bar Tour’s vehicle, which has been offering tours along the river since late 2013, can hold up to 17 people, but only 10 will need to pedal to make it move. The others? Well, the others drink. The bike is ideal for stag dos or birthday parties: there’s unlimited beer, sangria and rosé for the whole hour of the tour (for kids’ parties they have sodas, too). You can also bring your own music on a USB stick to play on the ride. The experience takes place nearby MAAT museum.
Bike Bar Tours, every day in Belém and Cais do Sodré. +351 91 787 6210. One-hour tour: €20/person with drinks
Elevador da Boca do Vento, in Cacilhas (a 15-minute boat ride from Cais do Sodré), is a less busy alternative to Cristo Rei for altitude selfies. The ride costs €1 and links Almada Velha to the riverbank, where you will find the Jardim do Rio garden. At the top of the hill, there’s a viewpoint with cocktails from Boca do Vento’s bar. From time to time, an extreme sports company organises bungee jumping sessions there, for the bravest of us who literally like to jump in head first.
It is no longer necessary to compete with strangers to get a table on the terrace of Atira-te ao Rio (literally translated, Throw Yourself into the River). Even less necessary: shivering over your romantic dinner just to enjoy the view of the Tagus. This restaurant in Cais do Ginjal has four dining room windows to guarantee a view to all patrons. So staying “inside” is no longer a problem.
Cycling along the river always seems like a good idea, until it’s time to go home, and you find yourself going up whatever Lisbon hill you’re staying on like you’re in the Tour de France. To avoid this, rent your bike at Belém Bike. If your legs can take a whole day of pedalling, it will cost you €10 and sore thighs. If you want to cycle between Baixa and Belém, that can also be arranged. Lisbon Bike Rentals, in Cais do Sodré, rents mountain bikes, road bikes and even electric bikes, for €20/3 hours.
Take a look at Lisbon's bike tours as well.
More things to do in Lisbon
Warning: this list is bound to grow, Lisbon being one of the best cities in the world. So don’t approach the sights listed below as a definitive guide, but rather as a taste of everything Lisbon has to offer, including the activities that are excluded from our recommendations (for now). Wear comfortable trousers and go from there.
Want to get to know the Portuguese capital like a local? Try one of the many Lisbon tours on offer. With these, you can tackle the city’s charming streets and take in sights and attractions on foot, by bike, bus, boat – even in an old school VW Beetle if that’s what you fancy.