Lisbon One Day Itinerary: How to Spend 1 Day in Lisbon

Are you looking for what to do with one day in Lisbon? I love Lisbon so I want to share my Lisbon one day itinerary with you. My itinerary not only shows you the best things to see in Lisbon but also practical travel information like where to stay and how to get around Lisbon.

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I have to be honest, one day is not enough for Lisbon. Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and one day doesn’t do it justice. I love everything about Lisbon, from stunning viewpoints, unique architecture, yummy food (don’t forget the egg tarts). So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to try to cram everything into one day.

Besides the nice viewpoints and monuments, I also love that Lisbon has a vibrant yet laid-back atmosphere and an awesome culinary scene. It is also known as a great option for a European girls trip!

But if you are like me, and only got one day in Lisbon, I will try my best to show you how to well spend a day here. I will not only you the top things to do in Lisbon in one day but also practical logistic information. In addition, my Lisbon day itinerary can be modified depending on your interest (or you can turn it into a 2 day Lisbon itinerary).

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Summary of My One Day Lisbon Itinerary

If you are short on time like I was, here is a brief summary on how to spend one day in Lisbon to see its highlights, viewpoints and famous tourist attractions.

Morning
– Start your day exploring some of the best viewpoints in Alfama
– Visit Castelo de S. Jorge and the Lisbon Cathedral
– Explore the maze-like streets of Alfama

Noon
– Make your way over to Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown, to explore the waterfront area
– Visti Chiado for the oldest bookstore and the Pink Street

Afternoon
– Explore the famous Belem District
– Come back to Bairro Alto to finish up the night

Important Pre-Travel Tips for Lisbon

  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Dinner in Portugal is late, around 9 to 10pm. Don’t go eat earlier than 8pm
  • Lisbon Card is the official tourist card. It gives you unlimited free travel on public transportation, free entry to most attractions and museums and free train ride to Sintra and Cascais.
  • Public transportation is great in Lisbon but you can also use Bolt or Uber
view of Lisbon from observation deck and viewpoints during one day in Lisbon

Best Tours to Take in Lisbon in a Day

Since one day is pretty short to explore Lisbon, I think for some, the best way to explore is to do a tour so you can understand what you are looking at, or you can find the best food by a local. Below are some tours I would recommend for a day in Lisbon.

  • Lisbon Walking Tour: This 3 hour walking tour takes you to Bairro Alto, Chiado and Alfama neighborhoods for you to discover the best sights (and understand the significance behind them). You also get to ride on the famous Lisbon tram and discover things you wouldn’t have discovered yourself. Book here.
  • Lisbon Sightseeing Tour on Tuk Tuk: If mobility is an issue for walking tours, then you should consider a tuk tuk tour that take you up and down the hills of Lisbon. The tuk tuk tour is unique and takes you to the best spots in Lisbon as well as some of the best viewpoints (without walking)! Book here (or this 4 hour one).
  • Lisbon Food and Wine Tour: I can go on and on about the food in Lisbon! If you love food then you certainly cannot miss this food and wine tour where you will discover some of the best local foods and wine. You will also discover a bit of history behind the city and history of its wine and food. Book here (or this one).

Districts to Visit During One Day in Lisbon

If tours are not your thing, you can still explore Lisbon in a day on your own!

Before we jump into the detailed Lisbon one day itinerary, I just want to highlight a few key neighborhoods in Lisbon so you have a rough idea of what I am talking about when I mention specific neighborhoods.

  • Alfama: the most eastern district on this Lisbon itinerary. Known as one of the most historic and charming neighborhoods in Lisbon, Alfama is famous for its maze-like cobblestone streets, viewpoints, castle and Lisbon cathedral.

  • Baixa: West of Alfama, Baixa is the “downtown” of Lisbon by the Tagus River waterfront. Known for the famous Praça do Comércio and shopping/ eating and Rossio Square.

  • Chiado: Adjacent to Baixa, Chiado is another charming neighborhood known for the oldest bookstore, Convento do Carmo, restaurants and cafes.

  • Bairro Alto: Up the hill from Chiado, it is renowned for its energetic nightlife, restaurants and bar scenes. You will find many Fado houses (traditional Portuguese music) in Bairro Alto.

  • Belem: West of downtown Lisbon, Belem is a historic district along the Tagus River bank. Belem is famous for Belem Tower, Monument to the Discoveries, Jerónimos Monastery, MAAT, etc.

There are many other interesting districts to explore in Lisbon, but you won’t be able to fit them if you only have one day in Lisbon. If you have 2 days in Lisbon, you can explore areas such as Estrela, Alcântara (where LX Factory is), Príncipe Real, and Santo António district of Lisbon.

Map of Lisbon Attraction in a Day

To make things even easier and more visual for you, below is my Lisbon Map that shows you the best spots to visit if you only have one day in Lisbon.

My Detailed One Day Lisbon Itinerary

This Lisbon itinerary assumes you are spending a full day in Lisbon and staying overnight. Since there is a lot to see and one day is really short to fit everything in, you will need to start your day early (like 8am or 8:30am at the latest) and end your day late.

If there are certain things that do not interest you, feel free to skip or add other things to this sample Lisbon itinerary.

In addition, you can technically break up this itinerary into a 2 day Lisbon Itinerary if you are the type to take things slow, start the day late, spend hours in restaurants and cafes. Either way, you will find useful information to arrange how to spend one or 2 days in Lisbon.

Stop 1. Admire the views from Miradouro da Graça

Lisbon is a city built on hills and you will notice this when your legs start burning after the various hills you will walk up throughout the day (at least I did). Although the hills make exploring a little more of a workout, they are great for stunning viewpoints.

View from Miradouro-da-Graca in Lisbon | best viewpoints in Lisbon

My favorite viewpoint in Lisbon is Miradouro da Graça which offers amazing views of the whole city. From up here, you can spot Castelo de São Jorge, the whole city below, and the 25 de Abril Bridge which crosses the Tagus River.

This viewpoint is right next to Igreja Paroquial da Graca and you will find a bar called Esplanada da Graça selling coffee and some other drinks. There are a few chairs and tables at this bar with the view. The viewpoint is free so you don’t really need to get a drink.

Most people come here for sunset because the view is spectacular but it can get super crowded since the area is small. Therefore I put this viewpoint first to visit in the morning so you can avoid the crowd and still get the view.

Stop 2. Visit São Jorge Castle (St. George Castle)

Lisbon is home to an authentic castle that sits high on the hills of the city. Located in the Alfama neighborhood, São Jorge Castle is one of the most popular places to visit.

What to do in Lisbon in one day | View from Sao-Jorge-Castle

A visit here will give you some of the best views of the city and as a result, the lines can be extremely long. We waited at least 15 minutes for it but it could’ve just been a busy day. The views from Miradouro da Graça are just as beautiful and have no line. Therefore, you can choose to visit the castle or just view it from afar.

If you do decide to visit the castle be sure to buy skip-the-line tickets beforehand. One day in Lisbon is a limited amount of time and it would be a shame to waste it in line as I’ve learned.

Personally I enjoyed visiting St. George Castle since I love the history and architecture and I never get an opportunity to see castles in New York City.

Stop 3. Explore Alfama, Visit Viewpoints and Lisbon Cathedral

The Alfama District is an authentic and beautiful area to explore in Lisbon that is the perfect place to get lost. This is the oldest part of Lisbon and makes up a large portion of the historic center of the city. Although Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, it is still nice to enjoy free activities!

The streets are full of tiled buildings, narrow alleyways, and beautiful architecture – and offer some of the best photo spots in Lisbon.

Viewpoints (Miradouro das Portas do Sol & Miradouro de Santa Luzia)

While exploring Alfama, be sure to stop by Miradouro das Portas do Sol & Miradouro de Santa Luzia, that is if you are not tired of view points by now. If you can only visit one of these 2 viewpoints, I would suggest Miradouro de Santa Luzia. I just simply love the beautiful azulejo tiles at this viewpoint (there is also bougainvillea)

Lisbon Cathedral

Another famous attraction in Alfama is the Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa), one of the oldest and most significant religious landmarks in Lisbon. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and it was constructed in the aftermath of the Christian reconquest of Lisbon from the Moors. The church was rebuilt after the earthquake in the 1770s.

You can go inside the cathedral and upstairs is a museum. However photography (including phone cameras) is prohibited inside the museum area. You have to pay a small fee if you want to explore the entire cathedral (including the museum upstairs and the cloisters).

Alfama District

Food & Drinks in Alfama

There are also a ton of local shops and restaurants in Alfama so you can always stop by to grab a cup of coffee or a bite (if you haven’t already). My personal favorites include Copenhagen Coffee Lab and Ludo’s.

The Alfama District is continuously ranked as tourists’ favorite neighborhood in Lisbon where people fall in love with the cultural and historic roots of the area. Be prepared to walk up some steep staircases and down various cobblestone streets while enjoying this charming area.

Stop 4. Soak in Praça de Comércio (in Baixa)

Now you will leave the Alfama District after an eventful morning. You can take the tram or just walk to Baixa, in particular to Praça de Comércio, also known as Commerce Square.

Praca de Comercio is a large square located beside the Tagus River in Lisbon. It is one of the largest squares in Europe and is the perfect place to walk around for a stroll and some photos.

It begins from the stone arc (Arco da Rua Augusta) that sits at the end of Rua Augusta, which then opens up to the massive open area that used to be home to the Royal Palace until it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755. The middle of the square holds a statue of the king who built the square in the absence of the palace.

You can actually pay for a ticket to go up Arco da Rua Augusta, where you will have a birdseye view of the square and the river. Note that if you have a Lisbon Card you can go up the arch for free.

When the Royal Palace was around, there were government buildings around the square. Now instead of these buildings, you will find restaurants, shops and cafes around the square.

The square serves as a gateway to the waterfront, where you can find the Cais das Colunas, two iconic marble columns at the edge of the Tagus River. This is the perfect place to people watch (or dog watch as I saw one of the cutest dogs by Cais das Colunas by the water).

Stop 5. Walk Up Rua Augusta in Baixa

Rua Augusta is the most popular and touristy area of Lisbon and for good reason. This is a long street enclosed by colorful buildings that are filled with the best shops and restaurants. One end of the street is the beautiful stone arc of Arco da Rua Augusta.

Although this is a touristy area it is a lovely place to grab a bite to eat or some ice cream during your one day in Lisbon. Almost all restaurants have patios and sitting outside in this lively area to people watch and admire the surroundings is amazing! 

As you walk up Rua Augusta, you will come close to the famous Santa Justa Lift and Fábrica da Nata, one of the best places to get Pastel de Nata, Portuguese egg tart.

Stop 6. Santa Justa Lift (Optional)

The Santa Justa Lift is a quirky architectural design constructed in the Neo-Gothic style. It was built in the 20th century by a French architect who was a protege of Gustave Eiffel. Within this structure is a lift that people can ride to the top to a viewing platform and back down. The views from the platform offer magnificent views of Lisbon.

Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon

The lines for the lift are very long and cost 5 euros. But there are alternative ways to get to the platform. You can either access it from a passage next to the church just up the streets or with an elevator located in a shop in a building behind the Lift.

Lisbon Santa Justa Lift view from top

If you want to save time and money, I actually recommend that you do not take this lift. But if you have a Lisbon Card then it might be worth it since the cost of the lift is covered in the Lisbon Card.

Stop 7. Explore Baixa and Chiado

Baixa and Chiado are adjacent neighborhoods that are often explored together especially after you get off the Santa Justa Lift. In these two neighborhoods there are several famous attractions and sights you should visit.

Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV)

Rossio Square is one of the most popular squares in Lisbon. It is located a couple of minutes walk after getting off the San Justa Lift and it is always lively and exciting to visit.

Lisbon-Rossio-Square-Statue

The square was officially named Praça Dom Pedro IV in the 19th century, in honor of Dom Pedro IV, a Portuguese king who also served as Emperor of Brazil. So it is no surprise that you will find a 27 meter tall monument with his statue in the middle of the square.

The square is the perfect place to sit and relax and admire the beautiful buildings and wavy tiles on the ground. There are various shops and restaurants surrounding the square which are perfect for grabbing a bite to eat. You will also find the beautiful neoclassical style Dona Maria II National Theater on the northside of Rossio Square.

Carmo Convent

Carmo Convent is located in the Chiado district of Lisbon, also steps away from the top of Santa Justa Lift.

Carmo-Convent in Chiado Lisbon things to do in one day

The convent was founded in 1389 by Nuno Álvares Pereira, a nobleman and military leader who later became a saint. The convent used to be a Catholic convent but it was destroyed during the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon. Now what is left are the pillars and the arches above the pillars.

The Carmo Convent is now an archaeological museum where you can learn more about Lisbon’s history and they even have a 3D movie! Ticket costs about 5 Euros for this ruin and museum but it’s well worth a shortstop.

Livraria Bertrand

Livraria Bertrand is the oldest bookstore in the world. It was founded in 1732 by Pedro Faure in Chiado, so this is the original store even though it actually moved from the original location in Chado. Now there are more than 50 branches in Portugal, including a couple in Madeira.

Just by looking at the bookstore on the outside or inside, you probably would never guess how old the bookstore is. The bookstore has a small cafe so you can get coffee and read books.

If you do buy a book from here, you can get the book stamped (in Portuguese or English) that basically says you bought this book from the oldest bookstore in the world.

Stop 8. Pink Street & Time Out Market

About 10 minutes walk from Livaria Bertrand will bring you to the Instagram famous Pink Street. The vibrant pink street is very unique to Lisbon and is lovely to visit and admire during the day. 

Lisbon Pink Street instagram photo spot

However, once the sun sets, it really comes alive! There are bars and restaurants all along the pink street and the area offers a lively night out experience. But of course if you are planning to take an Instagram photo here without people you will have to come early in the morning. But if you just want to see it (and the umbrellas above the street) then any time of the day will be fine.

If for whatever reason you haven’t eaten lunch, you can stop by the Time Out Market right next to Pink Street. Inside Time Out Market you will find various food vendors selling all types of food and drinks.

Personally I think you can find better food elsewhere in restaurants in Baixa and Chiado. Since I have been to the Time Out Market in New York City and Chicago, it is less appealing for me. But if it’s your first time visiting a Time Out Market, you may love the lively atmosphere and selection of food and drinks.

Stop 9. Discover Belém

If you still have time and energy and it is not too late in the afternoon, you can add Belem to this one day Lisbon itinerary.

Belém is located about 20 minutes (by car) west of Baixa but it is a very popular place to explore for tourists. It is right by the banks of Tagus River and it is deeply connected to Portugals’ maritime heritage and Age of Discovery.

Besides its connection to the Age of Discovery, Belém is also known as the birthplace of pastel de nata (egg custard tart) as well as the home of famous monuments, museums and monastery.

You can easily get to Belém by train, bus, or car. Once arrived, there are several things you can explore, depending on your interests and time.

And if I were to be honest here, you can literally spend a day exploring Belém since there is a lot to see and experience. If you had 2 days in Lisbon I would totally add this to the second day of your itinerary so you don’t have to rush. But with only one day in Lisbon, you will have to decide how much you can see.

Some of the best things to see and do in Belém include:

  • Jerónimos Monastery: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a monastery that was built in the 1500s. You can tour the beautiful courtyard garden, cloisters and the free church. Tickets to Jerónimos Monastery are included in the Lisbon Card.

  • Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries): a beautiful caravel shaped monument featuring 33 statues of key figures from the Age of Discovery, including Henry the Navigator at the forefront. You can go to the top for 10 Europes (Lisbon Card gives you a slight discount).

  • Torre de Belém (Belém Tower): another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Belém Tower is an iconic fortress that once guarded the entrance to the port of Lisbon. You can go inside the tower and to the upper levels. The tower entrance is covered by the Lisbon Card.
Belem Tower in Lisbon 1 day 2 days itinerary

  • Pastéis de Belém: this pastry shop is supposedly the birthplace of the egg tarts. There is always a long line so you can determine whether it’s worth waiting for or not. I really loved the egg custard tart. You can eat in or take out, and there are other pastries and food besides the egg tarts that you can get.
Pastéis de Belém Egg custard tart

  • Palácio de Belém (Belém Palace): Originally a royal residence, Belém Palace is now the official residence of the President of Portugal. While the palace itself is not open to the public, you can still explore the beautiful gardens.

Stop 10: Back to Bairro Alto for Dinner and Nightlife

After an eventful day, head back to Bairro Alto to get dinner and drinks.

One good thing about spending a day in Lisbon is that dinner hours are very late, usually starting around 9pm, so you have a long time to explore during the day. Even though most restaurants don’t start getting crowded till 9, you can still find restaurants that are open at 7pm and the only people eating inside are tourists.

Bairro-Alto-Lisbon what to do in one day

Bairro Alto is a beautiful neighborhood in Lisbon and the best place to experience a lively nightlife experience. It is the epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife which is full of bars, clubs, restaurants and Fado houses. Drinking on the street is legal here too!

How to Get Around Lisbon

Lisbon is super easy to get around by a combination of walking, public transportation or car.

Besides going to Belém, you can pretty much walk around all the other neighborhoods mentioned in this itinerary (and you will probably be looking at 20-30k steps in a day). But walking really is the best way to explore the cobblestone alleys of Lisbon.

We took public transportation (tram, metro, funiculars, buses, train) around Lisbon. We had a Lisbon Card, so public transportation was included for free (this includes Santa Justa Lift). If you don’t have the card, you can get a navegante occasional smart card for €0.50 (used to be called Viva Viagem). You can buy and load this card at a ticket machine in any metro station.

Lastly you can always take Uber or Bolt in Lisbon. The price of a ride is fairly cheap. Note that Bolt is more commonly used by locals but both work well.

Where to Stay in Lisbon

I always suggest staying in the city center, especially if you only have one day in the city. The top neighborhoods to stay in are Alfama and Bairro Alto/ Chiado. These two neighborhoods are stunning in themselves and near most items on this list. With only one day in Lisbon, you need to favor proximity over anything!

Best Hotels in Bairro Alto/ Chiado: The Lumiares Hotel & Spa or Raw Culture Art & Lofts or Lisbon Rentals Chiado

Best Place to stay in Alfama: Castle Inn Lisbon Apartments or Dalma Old Town Suites or Proa d’Alfama Guest House.

When to Visit Lisbon

The best time to visit Lisbon is in the shoulder season months. From March-May and September – October the weather is still beautiful in Lisbon and the summer crowds have thinned down. 

In addition, costs for accommodation and flights are cheaper during this time. It is also a great idea to visit Portugal in winter as the perfect place for winter sun.

Things to Do if You Have 2 Days in Lisbon (or Longer)

If you are spending 2 days (or even 3 days) in Lisbon, there is so much more you can do. For one, you can spend a day exploring Belém and Alcantara (stop by the LXFactory there).

With 2 days in Lisbon, you can also explore more museums, churches and viewpoints such as Igreja de São Vicente de Fora, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Church of Saint Roch, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, and take a nice sunset sailing tour at the end of the day.

Lisbon sunset sail

If you want to check out a fancy neighborhood, be sure to stop by Parque Eduardo VII, one of the most famous parks in Lisbon and its surrounding area. This area is the most expensive area in Lisbon, so you will find high end designer boutiques and luxury hotels.

There are also a number of day trips you can take from Lisbon if you have 2 days or more:

  • Sintra: Just a 40-minute train ride away, Sintra is a must-visit for its fairytale palaces, lush gardens, and enchanting forests. It is one of the best photo spots for Instagrammers so you should go early or you can book a tour to visit.
  • Cascais: Just 30 minutes west of Lisbon, this charming seaside fishing town is known for its beautiful beaches, picturesque streets, and the stunning Boca do Inferno cliff formation. 
  • Óbidos: A medieval town approximately an hour’s drive from Lisbon. Famous for its well-preserved castle walls, narrow cobbled streets, medieval market and fair, and the traditional Ginja liqueur. It is often visited together with Fatima, Batalha and Nazare on a tour (or this one).
  • Évora: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Évora is rich in Roman and medieval history, with landmarks like the Temple of Diana, Cathedral of Evora and the Chapel of Bones. You will also find its iconic whitewashed houses and pretty tiles. You can visit by yourself or with a tour like this.
  • Arrábida Natural Park: Located about 40 minutes south of Lisbon, this park offers stunning coastal scenery, beautiful beaches, and opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting.
  • Berlengas Archipelago: A nature reserve known for its clear waters and biodiversity. It’s great for hiking and bird watching. Berlenga Grande is the only island you can visit and there is a daily limit of 550 visitors. You can hit the beach, visit a cave, and explore Fort of São João Baptista.

This post was written in collaboration with Samantha Karen, the owner and author of the travel blog Sam Sees World. As a full time traveler she has visited over 50 countries with more on the way. You can also look at her Pinterest and Instagram for more travel inspiration.

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