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Best things to do in Lisbon: your sustainable guide

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In 2019, Portugal was awarded the Best European Destination for Sustainable Tourism by ITB, thanks to its efforts in reducing the negative impacts of tourism.

But that’s not the only thing that Portugal’s got going for it. A rich culture full of history, the freshest seafood, long coastlines, and calming green natural landscapes are just some of the things you will experience in one of Europe’s best tourist destinations. 

Our sustainable travel guide below helps you find the best eco-friendly things to do in Lisbon while minimising your impact (check out these eco hotels in Lisbon too).

Eco-friendly things to do in Lisbon and surroundings

Stepping into Portugal’s capital city Lisbon will make you feel like you’re exploring a historic city, but with aspects of modern life seeping in. The small cobblestone streets with local cafes are just a few blocks away from a main avenue lined with office buildings and apartment blocks. 

The great news is that you can explore all of that and more in an eco-friendly manner easily. Simply follow our sustainable guide below:

A walking tour

Lisbon is a small and walkable city, so a walking tour is the best things to you can in Lisbon to discover the city. 

things to do in lisbon

During your walking tour you will learn about the culture, the architectural landmarks, and even get a chance to try some pastel de nata (the world renown Portuguese custard tart). The best part? You’re not emitting any carbon emissions while walking. Win-win. 

Local tip: try the sweet liqueur Ginjinha in Alfama, where locals sell it right outside their window. It tastes even better in a chocolate cup instead of a disposable cup!

Explore Lisbon’s surroundings

“Lisbon” can mean the city centre, as well as the municipality of Lisbon. Usually people mean the city centre when saying Lisbon.

However, don’t spend your time just in the city. Explore the surroundings like Belem, Cascais, or the southern beaches by Caparica for a different vibe. 

best things to do in Lisbon: Belem tower lisbon
Belem Tower

A bus ride, tram, or a few train stops away and you will have beaches and hiking trails available to you. 

Surfing

The beach is just a few train rides away from Lisbon. There are multiple beaches where you can surf. 

If you want to take surfing lessons, there are surf schools in Carcavelos, but you can also venture further south of Lisbon to Caparica.

Cooking class

Portuguese food
Grilled robalo

Take a cooking class at Lisbon Cooking Academy and learn to make Portuguese meals. The school takes great care to keep a sustainable approach, from their supply chain to their recycling and community support.  

Miradouros

Miradouros mean view point, and there are plenty of those in Lisbon. You’ll have to put on some good shoes and get ready for an uphill walk, but the views are worth it.

The tram 28 will take you around the most popular landmarks, including Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Trams are zero emission. 

Hiking 

There are plenty of trails around Lisbon, from beginner level to more adventurous. Cabo da Roca in Sintra is a popular trail and there are two levels: beginner and advanced. Both have great views.

There are also various other trails around Sintra, more inland. South of Lisbon in Arrábida Natural Park you will find more paths for walking and hiking, many of them with a view of the Atlantic. 

Take a tile tour

tiles lisbon
Santa Luzia miradouro

You will notice beautiful azulejos (tiles) on many buildings, and they are an iconic symbol of Portuguese architecture. Unfortunately, many of these vintage looking tiles that are for sale were actually stolen off buildings.

The most sustainable way to appreciate the tiles is by taking a tile tour with a local guide and learning about their cultural significance. You can also take a tile painting class.    

Head to one of Lisbon’s many parks

Parque Eduardo VII Lisbon
Parque Eduardo VII

Lisbon is full of green spaces. There are so many parks in and around the city centre where one can get a sun tan on the grass, sit on a park bench and read, or just walk their dog. These parks are safe, well lit, and clean. 

Notable parks in the city include:

  • Principe Real
  • Jardim de Estrela
  • Park Eduardo VII and Estufa Fria
  • Bela Vista Park
  • Parque das Nações
  • Gulbenkian Park
  • Monsanto (not so easily accessible by public transport)

Sustainable shopping in Lisbon

Lisbon is full of local and sustainable shops for you to discover. You can shop second hand and vintage, instead of buying new.  

LX Factory

LX Factory is an old industrial factory from the 19th century that has been refurbished into a trendy area full of restaurants, shops, and office spaces. A few notable eco shops include Näz Concept store, Organii, and Amazing Store.

Príncipe Real neighbourhood

The Príncipe Real neighbourhood is full of concept stores and eco-friendly local shops. These include: Fair Bazaar, Isto, and Flavia Aranha.

Vintage shops

Lisbon has a variety of vintage shops, most of them in the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood. You can also find some in the Baixa area, such as “A outra face da lua”.

Second hand bookshops

There is a second hand bookshop called Stuff Out that has a very cute store where you can hang out and read at leisure. Most of the books are in Portuguese, but they also have books in French, English, and German. They also offer Portuguese classes there. 

Another notable second hand bookshop that has books mostly in English is called Bookshop Bivar, run by a very nice Portuguese lady. 

Sustainable places for food 

The first step for sustainable consumption is to eat local instead of at chain restaurants. Thankfully in Lisbon and Portugal in general, it’s easy to find small local traditional restaurants everywhere, called Tascas.

The next step is to find restaurants that practise zero waste, which is not an easy feat. Here’s a list of sustainable restaurants and eateries in Lisbon.

Kitchen Dates

The first zero-waste restaurant in Portugal, Kitchen Dates uses only local ingredients directly from producers, within 50km of their location in Telheiras. They compost their food waste into fertilisers, and they also provide workshops and catering services. 

Nãm mushrooms

Nãm mushrooms are made from used coffee grounds. The waste that is then produced from mushroom production is used as a fertiliser. You can visit the farm and learn about the zero waste movement, and have lunch there. You can also get your own home kit to grow your own mushrooms. 

Veggie wave for fresh juice

Located at LX Factory, this juice stand focuses on providing fresh seasonal fruits with a minimal impact on the environment. Try one of their juice mixes for a health boost. 

Sustainable grocery shops in Lisbon

If you’re looking for zero waste and sustainable places to buy groceries and produce, check out the list below:

Maria Granel

Maria Granel is a zero waste grocery store that promotes healthy eating and also sells kitchen items and bathroom necessities such as shampoo bars. They sell organic ingredients in recyclable packaging and you can weigh the amount you want to purchase.

Miosotis

Miosotis is an organic market that sells seasonal produce, cosmetics made of natural ingredients, fair trade products, and household items made of sustainable materials. There’s also a restaurant there, as well as a coffee shop. 

Replaneta

Replaneta is a grocery store that sells dried fruits, nuts, and food products that you can buy in bulk, but they also sell eco-friendly items such as cosmetics. You can also get vegan meals there., 

Fruita Feia

Fruita feia literally means ugly fruit, and the purpose is to show that even fruits and vegetables that don’t look perfect are still totally ok to consume. You would need to sign up for this in order to receive a basket on a regular basis, so it’s perhaps more suited for long term visitors. 

Papafigos

Similar to Fruit Feia, Papafigos is perhaps better suited for long term visitors. You can order a box of their organic, sustainably produced fruits, vegetables, herbs, and eggs, and pick it up every Saturday morning at Jardim Botto Machado in Feira da Ladra, Lisbon.

Our final thoughts on eco-friendly things to do in Lisbon

Portugal’s capital city is a must visit not just for its architecture, surrounding nature, and delectable cuisine, but also because it offers plenty of opportunities for a sustainable trip, listed above. 

Don’t forget to brush up on cultural facts and etiquette in Portugal before your trip.

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