Lisbon in 2 Days – What to Do and See and Where to Eat

Do you have two days to see Lisbon? This is an itinerary especially designed for those planning a two-day or weekend getaway in the Portuguese capital.

Follow this itinerary if you have two full days to spend in Lisbon. It describes what to do and see and where to eat while you’re out sightseeing. It includes dinner at a fado restaurant.

Day 1 in Lisbon

On the first day, you’ll ride on the scenic tram 28, visit the medieval castle and stroll the medieval streets of Alfama. You’ll spend the afternoon sightseeing in the Baixa and Chiado neighbourhoods. The day will end at a fado restaurant.

Morning

Tram 28

Tram 28

Go to the Martim Moniz Square early in the morning to guarantee a place on tram 28 (or 28E where “E” stands for “Eléctrico”, the Portuguese word for tram). The tram will take you on a ride covering some of the most scenic corners of Lisbon. To save money, use your Viva Viagem card.

The queues for tram 28 can be long if you don’t arrive early – even off season you may have to wait 20 minutes or more to get into the tram. An alternative is the shorter ride on tram 12 (or 12E) from Praça da Figueira, which makes a circular route from Praça da Figueira, past Martim Moniz, and climbs the castle quarter.

If you take tram 28, you’ll cross the historic centre towards Basílica da Estrela where you can visit the church built in the Neoclassical and Baroque styles. Climb its dome for a panoramic sweep of the city (admission €4, open 9.30am-12pm and 2pm-6.30pm).

Whether returning on tram 28 or going on tram 12, hop off either at Largo das Portas do Sol or the nearby Miradouro de Santa Luzia, considered one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Lisbon. Admire the panoramic views and the blue-and-white azulejos (tile panels), depicting the Terreiro do Paço (which you’ll visit in the afternoon) before the great earthquake of 1755.

View from the Castelo de São Jorge

View from the Castelo de São Jorge

Head to the ramparts of Castelo de São Jorge to explore the medieval castle, which is Lisbon’s most important tourist site.

After visiting the castle and admiring the views over Lisbon’s red rooftops and the River Tejo, stroll the castle quarter and get lost on the narrow and maze-like streets of Alfama.

Lunch in Alfama or Baixa
There’s a somewhat limited selection of places to eat in Alfama, and an endless selection if you walk down to Baixa, where you’ll be spending part of the afternoon. Here are some picks:

  • Chapitô à Mesa: Fairly close to the castle, it offers food as well as views. See other Rooftop Restaurants and Bars in Lisbon.
  • Café-Restaurante Martinho da Arcada Marquês (Praça do Comércio 3 – Terreiro do Paço): the oldest café in Lisbon serves traditional Portuguese food. You can sit beneath the old arches or inside.
  • Restaurante Solar dos Bicos (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 8A-8B): it offers Portuguese food that can be sampled in the outside seating area.

Afternoon

Terreiro do Paço

After lunch, stroll on the riverside Terreiro do Paço and see the Portuguese calçada (sidewalk pavement) from the top of Arco da Rua Augusta.

Do some shopping on Rua Augusta, Baixa’s main commercial street, and visit its two main squares – Rossio and Praça da Figueira. Don’t miss the century-old Confeitaria Nacional at Praça da Figueira that serves several pastries and sweets, including Lisbon’s most famous Bolo Rei (King’s Cake) eaten especially during Christmas.

Make a quick detour to toast with cherry liqueur at Ginjinha do Largo de São Domingos, opposite the church which has a surprising interior.

Convento do Carmo

Admire the wrought-iron tower known as Elevador de Santa Justa. There is usually a long queue to go up the lift. Some people think it’s not worth the wait: the journey is very short, and you may get a similar view by walking up to the Convento do Carmo. On your way there, window shop on Rua do Carmo and Rua Garrett where you can still find century-old establishments.

If the timing works out, you may want to squeeze in a visit to the Igreja de São Roque, a church with an austere Renaissance façade that hides a surprising and exuberant interior of gold, marble and azulejos (hand-painted tile panels).

Ascensor da Glória

Ascensor da Glória

Just north of the Church of São Roque, find Ascensor da Glória, one of the three funiculars still in operation in Lisbon. Next to it, you’re treated to a stunning panorama of the castle and the Baixa district from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.

Evening

Head to the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, known for its lively nightlife and for being an important fado stronghold. Just wander the tangle of cobblestone streets before finding one fado restaurant. If you prefer, go back to Alfama, where the song is said to be born, for a memorable night out of fado.

If fado is not you for you, check out these alternative picks:

Day 2 in Lisbon

You’ll spend the day between the riverside districts of Belém and Parque das Nações, visiting some of Lisbon’s top attractions, such as the Tower of Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery and the Oceanarium.

Morning

Drawbridge of the Torre de Belém

Be up early so that you can beat the crowds. Take tram 15 to reach Belém. You may want to visit the Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém) first, since the queues tend to be longer here. You’ll visit the amazing monastery afterwards. Buying a combined ticket gives you access to these two monuments in addition to the Archeology Museum.

For this second day, you may want to see Lisbon’s riverside attractions from the comfort of a hop on hop off bus tour. You can hop on and off as many times as you wish for 24 hours, giving you a chance to explore these areas in more detail.

Head to the river front and admire the caravel-shaped Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) on the natural route along the waterfront to the peculiar Torre de Belém, which opens at 10am (save time in the often long lines by booking your entry ahead). Be rewarded by a fine panorama of the waterfront and the river from the tower’s top terrace.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

By 11am, you should be ready to get back and visit the UNESCO-listed Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. You’ll have time to visit the Church of Santa Maria and the Cloister, and possibly the Archeology Museum in a wing of the Jerónimos Monastery.

After an hour or so, head for Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), Lisbon’s most important cultural centre, to admire the building and, if time allows, to visit some exhibition.

Belém is also famous for the pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém, so don’t forget to enjoy one in between the sights, or after lunch as a dessert.

Lunch in Belém
There’s a selection of places to eat close to Pastéis de Belém.

Afternoon

Parque das Nações

After lunch, catch tram 15 back to Terreiro do Paço where you can take the metro (blue line) to spend the afternoon at Parque das Nações.

The Expo 98 was responsible for converting an ugly industrial area into the futuristic Parque das Nações, a neigbourhood of ocean-themed buildings.

If you took the metro, you get off at the vaulted structure known as Gare do Oriente (Oriente Station), designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Take a look around the nearby Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre which has some top-floor eateries and a terrace, or just head straight to the Oceanarium, an aquarium holding 5 million liters of sea water and a diversity of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. This is a place that will surprise you.

Parque do Tejo’s riverfront walk

On your way to and from the Oceanarium, go under the impressive Pavilhão de Portugal’s roof by the Portuguese architect Siza Vieira. Be sure you stroll the walkway by the river around the sunset, and admire the views on board of the teleférico, a gondola lift that glides 30 metres above the Tejo edge.

Evening

The area of Chiado and Bairro Alto has the highest concentrations of places to eat in Lisbon. For some picks, check out the following pages:

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