Nestled at the mouth of the Tagus River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find one of Europe’s oldest and most underrated cities: Lisbon, Portugal! From its vibrant culture and fascinating history to its culinary delights and stunning architecture, Lisbon effortlessly blends traditionalism and modernity. We had the pleasure of spending one FULL day immersing ourselves in this enchanting city and all that we can say is… We are in love with Lisbon! So get ready to lose yourself in the iconic pastel-hued streets as you wind through its charming neighborhoods taking in the captivating blend of Fado music, breathtaking viewpoints, and a culinary scene that's as diverse as it is delicious!
Watch our “How to Spend One Day in Lisbon” travel vlog for a closer look at our experience in the beautiful city!
And if you’re a foodie like us, be sure to check out our “Portuguese Food Tour | What & Where to Eat in Lisbon, Portugal” food guide!
If you want to make the most of your time in Lisbon, we recommend booking your tours and experiences ahead of time so that you don’t waste precious travel time waiting in lines!
⬇️ Best Tours & Experiences in Lisbon ⬇️
⬇️ Entrance Tickets & Skip-The-Line ⬇️
Where to stay in Lisbon:
While we haven’t personally stayed at all of these properties, each of them came highly recommended!
Or you can use the map below to find your perfect accommodations…
Now, let’s get into how to make the most of your time in this beautiful city!
8:00am: Pastéis de Nata & Bica for Breakfast
When visiting Lisbon (especially for the first time) it’s a must to have Pastéis de Nata (or Pastel de Nata for singular) for breakfast! These small, round, custard-filled pastries with a flaky, crispy crust that is filled with a custard filling known as "creme" are the most popular pastry in all of Portugal for good reason! And if you want to complete the experience (and you’re a coffee drinker) be sure to ask for a “bica” with your Pastel (or Pastéis) de Nata. A Brasileira do Chiado is the birthplace of the term “bica” (a Lisbon word for a shot of espresso) which is an abbreviation of “drink this with sugar” (“Beba Isto Com Açúcar”). This was an attempt to make coffee, which was a novelty at the time, more pleasant to drink.
Manteigaria (Rua Augusta 195-197, Baixa, 1100-619)
Fábrica da Nata (Praça dos Restauradores 62 -68, 1250-110)
Dear Breakfast (Largo de Santo António da Sé 16, 1100-499)
9:00am: Take in the sites at the famous Praça do Comércio
No visit to Lisbon would be complete without a stop at the famous Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), one of Europe's largest and most magnificent squares! For over two centuries the royal palace stood at this site up until 1755 when it was destroyed by the Great Earthquake and tsunami that followed. Instead of rebuilding on the original site, the royal family moved to another residence in the district of Belém, and the new square and arcaded buildings served as the government headquarters and port of entry to the city. Nowadays, most of the government offices that once surrounded the square have been taken over by picturesque restaurants and cafes. In the center of the square stands a more than 50-foot tall statue of King José I, the man credited for the massive rebuilding effort that created Praça do Comércio. On the southeast end of the square you have beautiful, unobstructed views of the Tagus River and on the opposing end stands the 100+ foot tall Rua Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta), which serves as the gateway to the city and was built to commemorate the city's reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. Construction on the arch began in 1755, but the arch that we see today was not completed until 1875. For about 4€, visitors today can ascend to the top of the arch by elevator and spiral staircase to take in the panoramic views of the city below. Book your Rua Augusta Arch ticket here!
9:45am: Visit the Castelo de São Jorge (R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129)
Known in English as Saint George's Castle, this historic site sits atop the highest hill in Lisbon (São Jorge Hill) and is one of Lisbon's most emblematic landmarks. Its beginnings date back to the 5th century when a small fortress was built by the Visigoths which was later modified and enlarged by the Moors in the 11th century, and during the reign of Afonso I of Portugal (1109 – 1185), it was altered and in later years transformed into a Royal Palace. Finally, the completely restored structure that we see today was finished in the 1940s.
A visit to Saint George's Castle can take upwards of 2 hours if you choose to explore all of the castle's eleven towers as well as the small museum and the bar and restaurant. That said, if you’ve only got a day in the city, we suggest skipping out on the bar and restaurant since the highlight for most people is the breathtaking views of the city from the top of São Jorge Hill anyway.
Pro Tip: Save some time and skip the line by purchasing your tickets in advance!
If a visit to Saint George's Castle isn’t in the cards for you whether it be for budget or time constraints but you still want to take in some epic views of the city, then we highly recommend checking out Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Largo Santa Luzia, 1100-487). One of Lisbon’s most romantic spots, this landscaped terrace can be found next to the Church of St. Lucy (“Santa Luzia”) and offers sweeping views of Lisbon, specifically the old Alfama neighborhood and the Tagus River. Plus, it’s very budget friendly since it’s free to visit!
Pro Tip: If you’re an early-bird and you really want to get the most out of this experience, try visiting at sunrise for the most breathtaking views.
11:00am: Take a ride on the famous Tram 28
Another must-experience attraction when visiting Lisbon is the iconic Tram 28!
While Tram 28 is just a normal line of public transportation in Lisbon, it happens to pass by many of the city's most significant landmarks in districts like Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela, and because the route also uses 1930’s, heritage-style tram cars, it's become a popular tourist attraction in the city. There are LOADS of tips and tricks on how to make the most of your experience on Tram 28, and the Lisbon Tourism website has done an excellent job compiling those tips and tricks, so we recommend checking out their site for ALL of the details. That said, our big takeaways after experiencing it for ourselves are these…
1.) A single ride will cost you 3€, but if you purchase your tram ticket with a Viva Viagem card (metro card) and save 1.50€ per person, per ride. An even better option is to purchase a 24-hour Viva Viagem public transportation ticket which is only 6.60€ which gives you access to ALL public transportation for a 24-hour period!
2.) If you ride the one-way Tram 28 route in its entirety, it will take just under an hour, but you don’t need to ride the full route of Tram 28. The Baixa and Alfama districts are the most scenic and desirable sections of this route, so we suggest trying to board the tram at the Igreja Sta. Maria Madalena stop and ride through the Alfama district all the way to the Martim Moniz terminus. Or if you just want a scenic Lisbon tram experience but don’t necessarily care if it’s the famous Tram 28, consider taking Tram 12. It’s much less crowded which can make for a more pleasant experience! Also, it travels through the desirable Baixa and Alfama districts (just like Tram 28) and riding a full loop on the Tram 12 route takes less than 30-minutes.
11:45pm: Get high on the Santa Justa Lift (R. do Ouro, 1150-060)
Opened in 1902, the Santa Justa Lift stands 147-feet tall and is without a doubt one of the most popular attractions in the city. And if you think its architectural style is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower, then you would be correct! The designer of the lift, Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, was a student of the great iron craftsman Gustave Eiffel. After studying under Eiffel, Raoul returned to his home city of Lisbon to design his own iron masterpiece, the Santa Justa Lift. Interestingly enough, the lift is actually a part of Lisbon's public transportation system since it serves a very practical purpose… Transporting people from the bottom of the hill to the top and vice versa. Since it is part of the public transportation system, you can use your Viva Viagem metro card (including the 24-hour Viva Viagem card) to ride the lift. Forewarning… The line to ride the lift can get extremely long, especially during peak hours (10am-3pm) during the summer months!
Pro-Tip: The lines to ride the lift up are always longer than the lines to ride down, so we recommend either walking or taking the Elevador da Glória up the hill, then riding the Santa Justa Lift down.
And if you don’t have the time or patience to wait in line or don’t want to spend the money to ride an elevator (albeit historic and beautiful), but you still want to take in the views that the lift offers, then I’ve got good news! The upper platform can be accessed by the Largo do Carmo by following the path to the right of the Carmo Convent and then going through/beside the Bellalisa Elevador Restaurant. Our favorite part about this insider tip? It’s FREE and offers magnificent views of the city!
For more tips and info on visiting the Santa Justa Lift, Click Here!
12:15pm: Visit Carmo Convent (Largo do Carmo 27, 1200-092)
This former Catholic convent originally built between 1389 and 1423 was largely destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. At the time of the earthquake, the Carmo Convent was the largest church in Lisbon. Today the roofless cathedral stands in partial ruin and is all that remains of the arches and rubble that caved in on the congregation as they were attending mass. This hauntingly beautiful piece of architecture now serves as a museum and a stark reminder of the devastation left by the 1755 earthquake. Visiting the Carmo Convent is a unique experience and well worth the 5€ per adult admission price.
1:00pm: Visit Livraria Bertrand (R. Garrett 73 75, 1200-203)
Opened in 1732, Livraria Bertrand holds the Guinness World Record as the world's oldest bookstore still in operation. Now, whether you’re a book lover or not, visiting the world's oldest bookstore is a pretty cool experience! Plus, if you purchase a book from their shop, they’ll stamp the inside of the book for you stating that “We hereby certify this book was bought at the oldest operating bookshop in the world.”! It’s definitely worth a quick (or not so quick) pit stop in our opinion!
From Sardines and Bacalhau to Bifana Sandwiches and Piri Piri Chicken, Lisbon is sure to please when it comes to gastronomical experiences and quick, casual bites are no exception! If you want a more in-depth look into the Lisbon food scene check out our “Lisbon Food Guide: 10 Must-Try Portuguese Foods & Drinks”!
Casa da Índia (Rua do Loreto 49 51, 1200-471)
O Trevo (Praça Luís de Camões 48, 1200-283)
Time Out Market (Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479)
Eating Bear (R. da Madalena 62/64, 1100-404)
Baía do Peixe (Praça do Comércio 9, 1100-148)
2:30pm: Explore the Chiado and Baixa Districts and beyond!
Points of Interest:
Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs (Basílica de Nossa Senhora dos Mártires - R. Serpa Pinto 10D, 1200-445)
Praça da Figueira
Praça do Rossio
Praça dos Restauradores
Monumento dos Restauradores Obelisk
Church of Saint Dominic (Igreja de São Domingos - Largo São Domingos, 1150-320)
Lisbon Cathedral (Largo da Sé 1, 1100-585)
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
Avenida da Liberdade
25th April Bridge
Manteigaria Silva - traditional grocers - best Iberian presunto (Rua D. Antão de Almada 1 C e D, 1100-197)
Confeitaria Nacional - oldest bakery in Lisbon with royal roots (Praça da Figueira 18B, 1100-241)
Pink Street (R. Nova do Carvalho, 1200-019)
Time Out Market (Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479)
3:30pm: Take a Tuk-Tuk ride to the Belém neighborhood (20-30 minute ride)
While tuk-tuks aren’t a traditional mode of transportation in Lisbon, once they made their first appearance in the mid-2000s, there’s been no going back! In just over a decade, tuk-tuks have become one of the most popular ways to explore and get around the city since their relatively small size and ability to handle tight corners make them ideal for navigating Lisbon's sometimes challenging streets and alleys. If exploring the city by tuk-tuk sounds right up your alley (see what I did there?) then check out this Tuk Tuk Sightseeing Tour!
4:00pm: Pastéis de Belém for an afternoon snack (R. de Belém 84 92, 1300-085)
If you’re a fan of Pastéis de Nata like we are, then you can’t come to Lisbon without trying the original egg custard tart, the Pastéis de Belém! This is where the iconic pastry was born and to this day, they still use the original recipe! And you may wonder why these are called Pastéis de Belém rather than Pastéis de Nata. Well… That gets a little confusing, but the simplest explanation is that pastéis de nata is the generic term for the pastry whereas Pastéis de Belém is the name brand. Pastéis de Belém is actually copyrighted, meaning that Pastéis de Belém (the cafe in Belém) is the only place in the world where you can get Pastéis de Belém (the pastry). Everywhere else in the world has to call their version of the tasty treat Pastéis de Nata.
4:45pm: Visit the Belém Tower (Av. Brasília, 1400-038)
The Belém Tower (officially the Tower of Saint Vincent) was built between 1514 and 1520 and was erected for the purpose of serving both as a gateway to the city of Lisbon and as a defense system against possible invasions and attacks from the Tagus River. Some say that the tower was built on a small island close to the banks of the Tagus River but has shifted closer and closer to the northern shore over time. Others say that the tower was originally in the center of the Tagus River and that the earthquake of 1755 was so intense that it moved the island all the way to the northern bank. Which version of history is true, we may never know, but either way, a visit to the Belém Tower is a must when visiting Lisbon.
5:30pm: Explore the Waterfront Promenade at Belém
The Waterfront Promenade at Belém is a beautiful riverside walk that links the Monument to the Discoveries (AKA Discoveries Monument) and the Belém Tower with plenty of cafés, restaurants, and sites along the way.
6:30pm: Sunset Cruise with Lisbon by Boat (meet at the Doca de Belém beside Monument to the Discoveries at least 15 mins before departure)
Rated as one of the best boat tours in all of Lisbon, this 2-Hour sunset cruise with Lisbon by Boat is absolute perfection! During the tour, your fun and knowledgeable captain and his first-mate share details and interesting facts regarding many of the major monuments & sights of Lisbon. During their entertaining and narration you’ll be served cold beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and typical Portuguese appetizers all while enjoying an amazing sunset over Lisbon. And did we mention that all of this happens aboard a luxury sailing yacht?? Needless to say, we LOVED our sunset cruise with Lisbon by Boat and think you will too! They also offer daytime cruises, dolphin watch tours, and even private charters, so be sure to check them out during your Lisbon vacation!
9:15pm: Dinner & Fado Music
I’m going to be honest… Even though Fado music is Portugal's musical pride, before planning our trip to Portugal, I’m ashamed to say that we had no clue what Fado music was before planning our trip to Portugal. That said, our experience at Duque da Rua Wine & Tapas Bar ended up being one of the major highlights of our time in Lisbon. For those that may be in the same boat that we were in before our visit, Fado (which translates to “fate”) is characterized by its melancholic melodies and the use of the 12-stringed Portuguese guitar and classical acoustic guitar. Fado’s sound and lyricism are unlike any other music that I’ve heard and it is often described as a music of longing, loss, and nostalgia. The shows are intimate and engaging, and even without knowing the language, you can feel the soul and emotion pouring out of each performance. It is something that you have to experience when visiting Portugal.
Duque da Rua (R. do Duque 23, 1200-158)
Povo (R. Nova do Carvalho 32, 1200-161)
Mesa De Frades (R. dos Remédios 139, 1100-453)
A Baiuca (R. de São Miguel nr 20, 1100-544)
Adega Machado (R. do Norte 91, 1200-284)
Tasca Do Chico (R. do Diário de Notícias 39, 1200-141)
Clube de Fado (Rua de São João da Praça, 94, 1100-521)
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