This post is also available in: Dutch

Latest update: 9 August 2023

It’s always nice to immerse yourself in local customs. That goes for Lisbon too. The city is known for the yellow trams, pastel de nata, and fado. But there’s more! Don’t miss these unique things to do in Lisbon and typical Lisbon food!

The yellow trams of Lisbon

Lisbon’s yellow trams have been around for a long time. In 1873 it started with a horse tram line, followed by a cable tram in 1890. When the electric trams arrived in 1901, the original trams disappeared. The tram was the means of transport for the inhabitants of Lisbon. That changed with the arrival of the metro and the bus, but not every bus fit through Lisong’s narrow streets. The trams are here to stay, especially since they are actually also a tourist attraction.

Tram line 28 runs a popular route through the city, passing many attractions in the Graca, Alfama, and Baixa districts. You pay the conductor 3 euros, regardless of how long your ride takes. With the Lisbon Card, a tram ride is free of charge.

Typical Lisbon food: enjoy a Pastel de Nata

The Pastel de Nata is also famous outside Lisbon. It is a small round pastry with yellow cream. That sounds simple, but the preparation is quite complicated, and there is a whole story behind the Pastel de Nata. The original is Pastéis de Belém and has a slightly different recipe than the Pastel de Nata. The Pastéis de Belem was made by the monks in the monasteries of Lisbon. The name and preparation are protected, and now only one bakery (this one) in all of Portugal is allowed to make this puff pastry. Which is why it’s always busy at the bakery. So basically, all other bakers in Lisbon make Pastel de Nata. Get a few and compare!

Every year there is a competition to see who makes the tastiest Pastel de Nata. The winner of 2022 is Casa do Padeira (Google Maps location). Those from the Manteigaria and Fábrica de Nata chains are also always good. You haven’t actually been to Lisbon if you haven’t eaten this typical pastry!

Tip! Would you like to make your own Pastel de Natas? Join a cooking class in Lisbon.

Typical Lisbon: discover the Fado music

The Fado is the Portuguese version of the life song. The style originated around 1829 in Lisbon and has become increasingly professional over the years. There are now fado houses where you can listen to melancholic music. The Fado museum in Lisbon (Google Maps location) is worth a visit, where you learn more about the music’s origin and can also listen to it.

It is even more fun to listen to and see it live in Lisbon, as it’s typical to the city. You can go to various Fado houses in Lisbon in the evening. For example: Clube de Fado, Fado in Chiado, or Fado ao Carmo. If the choice overwhelms you, you could join a guided tour. Check out the options below.

Portuguese tiles: azulejos

Looking around you on the street, you will see them everywhere: the azulejos. These painted tiles decorate houses, gardens, and more. There is even a museum in Lisbon dedicated to it: Museu Nacional do Azulejo. You can see how the tiles are made and how the paintings have changed over the years. The museum is in a former monastery, so the building itself is also impressive. Buy a ticket.

Google Maps location

Typical Lisbon food: canned sardines

Perhaps Lisbon is where the expression “packed like sardines” originated. The expression means too many people in too small a space, like the canned sardines. In Lisbon, and all of Portugal for that matter, they love sardines. People order grilled sardines in restaurants, but they even serve it straight from the can. There are many shops scattered throughout Lisbon where they sell these cute cans. Thousands of cans in all kinds of designs and colors. They make an excellent typical Lisbon souvenir. But be careful with the price: some are very expensive.

Typical Lisbon for cod fans

The Portuguese love sardines, but cod even more. Guess how many kilos of cod a Portuguese eats on average per year…?

Almost 60 kilos!


So you could definitely say Lisbon is famous for cod. And it’s not even a local fish! All the cod gets imported. People cook with it at home just as much as they order it in restaurants. Be sure to try the cod croquettes: pastel de bacalhau, a typical Lisbon snack. Some makers also add cheese to them. Some shops in Lisbon sell nothing other than that this typical snack. Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau is a well-known chain where you can get this famous snack.

Ginjinha bars in Lisbon

Ginjinha (or Ginja) is a Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries, herbs, and spices. It’s not my taste, but visiting a ginjinha bar is still fun. A Ginjinha (Google Maps location) is a tiny bar where you can try the drink.

Other ginjinha bars are Ginjinha sem Rival (Google Maps location) and Ginginha do Carmo (Google Maps location). You get a small shot glass, but it’s not a shot. You have to sip it. The alcohol percentage is about 18%. Cheers to typical Lisbon!

More Portugal inspiration?

  • Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Campspace. Would you rather stay in a hostel? Check Hostelworld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. Try WithLocals for experiences with Portuguese locals. Book your ‘free’ walking tours with Freetour.com or GuruWalks, and try bike tours with Baja Bikes.
  • Attractions and museums. Interested in a 5% discount on museums and other attractions? Use this discount code at Tiqets: KIMOPREIS22
  • Car rental. If you want to compare prices, check out Discover Cars or Rental Cars.
  • Flights. Compare all your options! Be sure to check out Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Guidebooks. I love paper guidebooks to flip through. Buy them at Amazon.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel.   
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? Maybe Expedia or CheapOair has a good option.
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Train and Bus Travel to Portugal with Busbud. And reserve buses and trains on the go with 12Go or Omio.
  • Yoga retreat. Or maybe treat yourself to a yoga retreat in Portugal.

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