Lisbon One Day Itinerary: How to Spend 1 Day in Lisbon
Are you looking for what to do with one day in Lisbon? This Lisbon one day 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.
This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and a must-visit while in the country. This old city is full of stunning viewpoints, unique architecture, yummy food (don’t forget the egg tarts), so there is much to be discovered whether you are spending just a day or 2 days in Lisbon or spending a week here.
If you have just one day in Lisbon, you can surely get a taste of the city and its magic. This post not only shows you the top things to do in Lisbon in one day but also practical logistic information. In addition, this Lisbon day itinerary can be modified depending on your interest (or you can turn it into a 2 day Lisbon itinerary).
Summary of Lisbon One Day Itinerary
If you are short on time, here is a brief summary on how to spend one day in Lisbon to see its highlights, viewpoints and famous tourist attractions.
– 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
– Make your way over to Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown, to explore the waterfront area
– Visti Chiado for the oldest bookstore and the Pink Street
– 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
- Public transportation is great in Lisbon but you can also use Bolt or Uber
Best Tours to Take in Lisbon in a Day
Since one day is pretty short to explore Lisbon, sometimes it may be best spent doing 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.
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.
Best Things to Do in Lisbon in a Day: Detailed 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. Although the hills make exploring a little more of a workout, they are great for supplying the city with stunning viewpoints.
The most popular 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.
A visit here will give you some of the best views of the city and as a result, the lines can be extremely long. 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.
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 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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is located in the Chiado district of Lisbon, also steps away from the top of Santa Justa Lift.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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 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.
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
The best place to stay in Lisbon is 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!
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.
Is One Day Enough for Lisbon?
One day is enough to see some of the highlights of Lisbon, but one day is really not enough to fully explore the city.
With one day in Lisbon, you can see a few things from each of the popular neighborhoods: Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Belém and Bairro Alto if you start early and finish late.
Personally I would spend at least 2 or 3 days in Lisbon for a more relaxed pace (so you don’t feel pressured to cram everything into one day). With 2 days or 3 days in Lisbon you can relax a bit, spend more time at museums, monuments and other important sites in Lisbon. You can also do a day trip or two from Lisbon with 2 or 3 days.
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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Other Portugal Travel Articles
Like this post? Pin this one day in Lisbon itinerary to Pinterest!