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, pay a visit to the Castelo de São Jorge and stroll the medieval streets of Alfama. You’ll spend the afternoon sightseeing in the Baixa and Chiado districts.
Go to the Martim Moniz Square early in the morning to guarantee a place on tram 28 that will take you on a journey covering some of the most scenic corners of Lisbon. Get off at Basílica da Estrela and 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).
On your way back, hop off at the 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.
Head to the ramparts of the Castelo de São Jorge to visit the medieval castle, and Lisbon’s most important tourist site. Then, stroll the picturesque narrow and maze-like streets of Alfama.
Go down to the Baixa neighbourhood and have lunch – perhaps at Restaurante Solar dos Bicos (Rua Dos Bacalhoeiros, 8A-8B) or at Café-Restaurante Martinho da Arcada Marquês (Praca do Comercio, 3), the oldest café in Lisbon.
Do some shopping on Rua Augusta, the 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 Lisbon’s most famous Bolo Rei (King’s Cake) and several pastries and sweets. Make a quick detour to toast with cherry liqueur at Ginjinha do Largo de São Domingos, opposite the church with a surprising interior.
Admire the wrought-iron tower known as Elevador de Santa Justa. There is usually a long queue to go up the lift, and trust me it’s not worth the wait. It’s a very short journey, and you get the same view if you walk 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 might 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).
Just north of the Igreja de São Roque, find the 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.
Head to the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, known for its lively nightlife and for being an important fado stronghold. Just wander the tangle of cobblestone before finding one of the best fado restaurants in Lisbon. If you prefer, go back to Alfama, where the song is said to be born, for a night out of fado.
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 Torre de Belém, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Oceanarium.
Be up early so that you can beat the crowds. Catch tram 15 to reach Belém. Admire the caravel-shaped Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) on the natural route along the waterfront to visit 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.
Belém is also famous for the pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém, so don’t forget to enjoy one in between the sights.
By 10.45am, you’ll be ready to pay a visit to the UNESCO-listed Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. You’ll have time to visit the Church of Santa Maria and the Cloister.
After an hour or so, head for the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), Lisbon’s most important cultural centre, to admire the building and, if time allows, visit some exhibition. Then, go for lunch – perhaps at Restaurante Descobre (Rua Bartolomeu Dias, 65/69), 5 minutes west of the CCB.
Catch tram 15 to head back to the Terreiro do Paço and then take the metro (blue line) to spend the afternoon at the 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 Oceanário, 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.
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.
Depending on the hour, you may want to have dinner at the Parque das Nações – finding a place shouldn’t be hard, or head back to the Chiado and Bairro Alto, the area that has the highest concentrations of top restaurants in Lisbon.