Located on the banks of the Tagus River and stretching over several hills, Lisbon is a must in your Portugal itinerary.
The Portuguese capital is a great travel destination for those who want to experience culture and history in a cosmopolitan city.
So, what to do in 2 days in Lisbon? Read on to learn about the perfect Lisbon itinerary.
In recent years, Portugal has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole world. Aside from its natural beauty and history, this coastal country on the Iberian Peninsula offers one of the best climates and the most affordable destination in Europe.
As a result, its capital, Lisbon, is an ideal place if you seek good weather and delicious food. In addition, Lisbon is quite famous for its bustling nightlife and for being such a vibrant city.
Lisbon’s attractions are rich in culture, color, and a feeling of individuality. Graffiti walls, which can be found all around the city, are a key example of such individuality.
And although the Portuguese capital is relatively small, it has a wide range of activities and tourist attractions. Actually, Lisbon has been catching the attention of all sorts of people, especially digital nomads.
And this is mainly because it mixes creative co-workspaces, trendy bars, and alternative options for all tastes with the traditional cobblestone streets, tiled facades, and the sound of fado.
In a way, Lisbon is a metropolis with a country town vibe.
How to Visit Lisbon
How to get from the Lisbon airport to the city
First things first… You will probably arrive in Lisbon by plane so how do you go from the airport to the city?
The easiest and cheapest option is to take the subway. Keeping in mind that from the airport to the city center, you need to take the Red Line and maybe transfer to a different one, depending on where you will be staying.
In the metro ticket machines, you can buy the VIVA VIAGEM card, a rechargeable card that allows you to insert credits for all public transport, and best of all, it costs only 0,5€.
It is valid for a year, and after you buy it, you just need to insert as many credits as you want to spend on transport including the subway, buses, trains, trams, and even elevators.
However, if you travel as a group or with a lot of luggage, it might be worth checking the prices for taxis, Uber, or Bolt.
We also found a company with which you can prebook your taxi from Lisbon Airport so that you can have a smooth arrival.
This is the best option especially if you are coming from a long-haul flight and you are dead-tired.
- Best Deals
- Safety first policy
- English-speaking drivers
- Hassle-free Airport arrival
How to Move Around Lisbon
When it comes to the means of transportation to move around in Lisbon you have quite a few options. In fact, although Lisbon’s subway does not have many lines, there are other options such as buses, trains, the famous streetcars (or trams), and elevators.
But, overall, Lisbon’s transport network is very good and covers all the regions you might want to visit.
Just so you have an idea, tickets purchased on the subway ticket machines cost 1.50€, and the card to ride unlimited times for one day in the subway is 6.30€.
Another good option is the Lisboa Card. Besides public transport, this card includes entrance to some monuments and train tickets to Sintra and Cascais. The price of this card is around 17,50€ for a 24h period and 36€ for a 72h period.
Of course, you always have the option of renting a car but in a city like Lisbon, I recommend moving around with public transportation.
Top tours in Lisbon
As you have probably guessed, some of the most famous landmarks in Portugal can be found in Lisbon. But, besides the obvious attractions, the Portugal capital has so much more to offer! Here is a list of places that you cannot miss when visiting Lisbon.
The Streets of Lisbon
Without a doubt, Lisbon’s greatest attraction is its urbanization and the way it occupies its steep hills. Lisbon streets are angular with many houses overlapping each other, creating beautiful angles never seen before.
But with such beautiful streets, you may end up taking longer than necessary to reach your destination as you might want to photograph every corner.
Ride the streetcars
When you think of Lisbon, you probably imagine those yellow trams going up the narrow streets of the city, right?! The most famous and touristy tram is Line 28 that runs through Alfama, Baixa, and Chiado, some of the most popular areas in the city.
Starting at Martim Moniz Square and ending at Campo Ourique, this is a ride like no other!
Torre de Belém
Of course, no list of Lisbon highlights would be complete without Belém Tower. The 98-foot-tall tower, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built to serve as a military defense in the middle ages.
The construction is made up of a medieval keep in Moorish architecture, with Islamic and oriental characteristics. The tower which has served as a fort, jail, customs house, and lighthouse, is now the main postcard of Lisbon.
Castelo de São Jorge
Built to protect Lisbon from enemy invasions, the São Jorge Castle is nowadays one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal.
The structure, perched on a hill, has the scars of more than eight centuries of wars and Moorish history. Apart from enjoying the castle’s architecture, you can climb one of the towers for a scenic view of Lisbon.
Top organized tours in Lisbon
2 days in Lisbon Itinerary
No, two days are not enough to see all the incredible places to visit in Lisbon, but you can get a taste of it by following this practical itinerary to see a lot and spend little! So, here is how I recommend you plan for two days in Lisbon.
Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Lisbon
Start your first day in Lisbon by exploring Praça do Comércio, the main square in Lisbon. Close by is the Rua Augusta Arch, from where you have a view of Lisbon’s pedestrian street itself, Rua Augusta, where the main international stores are.
And here is a special tip: this is a great place to buy the best souvenirs from Portugal! Also in Rua Augusta is the Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau, which sells creamy codfish cakes that can be accompanied by a glass of wine. The price is fair and will satisfy your hunger for a long time.
Walk to Alfama… or use tram 28
Made entirely of narrow cobblestone streets and steep climbs, Alfama is a neighborhood featuring some of the best viewpoints in Lisbon, such as Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
After a short climb, you will arrive at the Igreja da Sé. Also known as Lisbon Cathedral, this is the oldest church in the city. Climb a little bit further and you will reach the one and only Castelo de Sao Jorge at the top of the hill!
On the way down from Alfama district, it is time to visit the Church and Museum of São Vicente de Fora. There you will find the largest collection of baroque tiles in the world. Remember that Portugal is the tile capital of the world!
And if you happen to be there between Wednesday and Monday, be sure to visit the Feira da Ladra, an antique fair that takes place next to the National Pantheon.
Walk to the Santa Apolônia Station and take the subway to the Rossio Station…
Rossio Square is yet another very important and popular square in Lisbon. On the corner of the square is A Ginjinha, which is a traditional place in Lisbon to taste the Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries.
After trying this delicious liquor, it is time to explore Bairro Alto on your way to Baixa-Chiado. And the best way to get there is for sure going up the Santa Justa Lift.
This metallic structure, kind of gothic, has a walkway at the top of the lift which serves as a viewing platform. If you have credit on your VIVA CARD, you can use it to go up the lift.
As you make it up, right behind the Elevador de Santa Justa is the Carmo Church and Convent with its medieval ruins and archaeological museum.
This is also a great region to go shopping. I highly recommend a stop at Ale-Hop and Livraria Bertrand, some of my favorite places to buy books and souvenirs in Lisbon.
Walking a little further, you will soon reach Praça Luís de Camões, where I suggest you stop for traditional Portuguese tapas at Taberna da Rua das Flores.
Head down to Cais do Sodré
After visiting churches and historic squares, it is time to see the alternative side of Lisbon. So, follow Rua do Alecrim until you reach Rua Nova do Carvalho, popularly known as Pink Street, in Cais do Sodré.
This used to be an alley of prostitutes and sailors, but since 2013 it has been revitalized, with pink painted floors, graffitied walls, and lively bars.
It should be getting dark by now, so it’s time to head to Mercado da Ribeira, also known as Time Out Market.
There you will find dozens of kiosks with the best of the country’s greatest chefs and at a much more affordable price. This is where Manteigaria sells the second-best pastel de nata!
Day 2: Exploring Belém
Departing from Praça da Figueira, tram 15E takes you right to Belém
Start the second day by visiting Jerónimos Monastery, built to show off the naval power of Portugal. The visit is a must and I highly recommend taking your time to walk around the cloister.
Afterward, I suggest you start walking towards Belem Tower. But, take your time as there is plenty to see along the way! Start by crossing the Praça do Império Garden until you reach the Padrão dos Descobrimentos.
This monument in the shape of a caravel is another tribute to the brave navigators of the Great Navigations. On the floor, there is a map with the dates of when the Portuguese arrived at their destinations. And there were many destinations!
If you are a bit hungry, right in front of the monument you can have fresh seafood at the Ostras Sobre Rodas.
Walking a little along the banks of the Tagus River, it is easy to get to the Torre de Belém, a Manueline-style fortress offering breathtaking views of Lisbon and the Tagus River.
Time for the best pastry in Portugal!
Going back along Avenida Brasilia, it is time to try the real pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém. Their history is old and since 1837 Pastéis de Belém has kept the same secret recipe that makes it the best of the best. And this is no exaggeration!
The next stop is a little over 10 minutes’ walk away, and it is MAAT, Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology. Opened in 2016 with a futuristic architectural style, the museum is known for its art and technology exhibitions.
Let’s wrap up with the best views of Lisbon?
You can finish off your day by walking or taking the tram 15E back to LX Factory, which is a historic industrial complex with several art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs. When visiting the LX Factory, one of the bars to visit is Rio Maravilha.
You can have a drink on the rooftop while looking out at a wonderful view which includes the Cristo Rei statue and the 25 de Abril Bridge, which resembles the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.
But what if you want to stay an extra day?
In case you have 3 days in Lisbon, I highly recommend exploring the most modern area of the city.
Regardless of where you are staying, it is always easy to get to Oriente station, the main station in this area which is most known as Parque das Nações.
Upon arrival, head to the Lisbon Cable Car from where you get a breathtaking view of Lisbon and the Tagus River below you. After boarding on one side and traveling 3,300 ft, you reach the other side which is 66 ft high!
The next attraction to be visited in this neighborhood is the Centro Vasco da Gama. With modern architecture, this mall has more than 170 stores. It is a good option for lunch and to look for souvenirs. Even if you have no intention of shopping or eating there, a walk through this shopping complex is well worth it
And to finish up, why not visit the Tile Museum? Do you know those famous white and blue Portuguese tiles? Well, in this museum you will have the opportunity to discover where this tradition came from!
And what if you want to get out of town and go on a day trip? Well, you have some really good options which, by the way, including exploring some of the most beautiful towns in Portugal.
Day trip to Cascais
19 miles from Lisbon, Cascais is a very popular day trip, especially in the summer because of its beautiful beaches.
But it is worth taking a stroll along the boardwalk and in the center of Cascais before spreading out a towel on one of the beaches. A great option is to rent a bicycle to ride around Cascais.
Among its highlights is the impressive Boca do Inferno cliff. It was named so because the opening in the rock has a shape that resembles a mouth and also because the sea waves hit it and produce a frightening noise.
Some of Cascais’ main attractions include the marina, the fortified Old Town, and Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum.
Sintra is certainly the most classic of all the Lisbon day trips. Located just 18 miles to the west, the historic town is nothing like the busy capital.
Standing among the mists of the Sintra Mountain Range, Sintra’s scenery dazzled even the Portuguese royalty, who chose Sintra as their refuge from the heat and spent the summer months there.
The two must-see Sintra castles are the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, both located next to each other at the top of the mountain. At the bottom, be sure to take a walk through the friendly historic center and taste the famous queijadas (cheesecakes).
Day trip to Óbidos
Óbidos is a small medieval village overflowing with charm with its labyrinthine alleys flanked by white houses, colored by flowers, and surrounded by an impressive 14th-century wall. The town which is actually a castle is so unique it was a wedding gift from King D. Dinis to his wife, D. Isabel.
It is very easy to visit Óbidos in just one day since the historic center is very small and does not concentrate a large number of attractions. Do not miss the Porta da Vila with its tile-decorated oratory, the colorful and lively commerce on Rua Direita, and the church of Santa Maria.
But the city’s greatest attraction is really its walls and you can explore its entire mile of extension free of charge. At some points, it reaches 43 feet above ground level, which guarantees incredible views of the white village below.
Best places to eat in Lisbon
Portugal is the synonym of good food filled with their local olive oil, plenty of seafood, and delicious pastries. Of course, you can find restaurants with all types of but what about typical and traditional Portuguese food? What are the best restaurants in Lisbon?
Budget eating: Located in Baixa, Restaurante Floresta das Escadinhas offers simple Portuguese food filled with local flavors. Cooked to perfection, they are most known for the octopus and squid dishes!
Mid-range prices: Close to Cais do Sodré, you will find a modern seafood restaurant, the Frade dos Mares. Also quite popular for their octopus, you cannot go wrong with the shrimp risotto and the traditional Cataplana.
Fine cuisine: With 2 Michelin stars, ALMA Henrique Sa Pessoa serves local meat and fresh seafood to accompany their extensive wine list. Located in Chiado, they offer a tasting menu with a great mix of traditional Portuguese food with a dash of international influence.
Where to stay in Lisbon
One of the most important decisions when planning any travel itinerary is choosing where to stay. So, which is the best region in Lisbon?
Imagine that Baixa is the region that is at sea level, while Chiado is one level above Baixa and Bairro Alto is still one level above Chiado. These three regions together form the coolest parts to stay in Lisbon.
Even though it is not official, I consider Baixa to be the center of Lisbon, because it is the commercial center, with many people walking from one side to the other every day, and it has a face of an urban center since this is where the daily life of Lisbon’s inhabitants happens.
Staying close to Augusta Street guarantees a good location near the city centre. Yes! Lisbon Hostel is an award-winning hostel perfect for solo travelers, as is the Lisbon Lounge Hostel.
In Chiado, you can feel the traditionalism of Portugal and still be in the middle of a bohemian atmosphere that blends with the modernity and elegance of the neighborhood.
It is a relatively small proportion of Lisbon, which practically blends with Baixa and Bairro Alto. Alface Hall Hostel & Bar is a great option for those who are willing to share a hostel room.
Closely related to Chiado, Bairro Alto is almost a continuation of the neighborhood except that it extends uphill past Luís de Camões square. If I stated that Chiado was a bohemian neighborhood, Bairro Alto can be considered the “after-party”.
Surrounded by bars, clubs, and lots of people on the streets, it is the perfect place to enjoy the night in the capital.
If you want to stay in the heart of the hustle and bustle, this is your place. For those who like hostels, Lookout Lisbon! The hostel is very simple but successful among budget travelers. For those who like a hotel full of charm and personality, Bairro Alto Hotel is the best option.
Map of hotels and Airbnb in Lisbon
Insider tips about visiting Lisbon
That Lisbon is a famous destination in Europe, we all know. We also know the most famous landmarks and any quick search can tell you where to eat and drink. But, what else? What are some tips that the locals have to share?
Eat Snails! Yes, those snails that you usually see in the garden of your house, in Portugal they are raised in snail farms to be sold, for nothing less than eating. The snails are cooked in a kind of broth with water and spices, then served with a ladle and everything!
Go out for breakfast! The pleasant climate of Lisbon makes its various bakeries set tables on the sidewalks where you can enjoy your breakfast outside. A good option is to have breakfast at A Padaria Portuguesa. This Portuguese chain has several stores throughout the city, with options for all tastes. And they have breakfast menus starting at only 2.50€!
Visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum Gardens. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is recommended by many tour guides and travel blogs regarding Lisbon’s highlights. However, they neglect to mention how to make use of the surrounding area like a local. The museum’s gorgeous green gardens are a popular place to unwind after lunch under a tree or take a nap on a hectic touristic day.
The best time to visit Lisbon
As the weather in Lisbon is very good all year round, there is no perfect season when it comes to climate, but the best time for those who want to enjoy all the attractions in Lisbon is from April to September when the weather is always sunny, and the days are longer.
It is also worth mentioning that rain in Lisbon is not a problem and people do not stay home because of it. In Lisbon, rain is usually light and not very frequent. So, this should not be an issue for you, provided you know what to pack for Portugal.
The peak season in Portugal occurs in summer, between June and August, and in winter, between December and January. During these months, airline tickets and hotels are more expensive all over Europe because of school vacations and the end-of-year festivities.
Therefore, there is much more tourism in Lisbon at this time, and everything is more crowded and expensive. If you want to make the most of Lisbon and not spend so much, try to travel in off-season months, where everything is cheaper and emptier.
In my opinion, springtime in Lisbon is one of the most breathtaking times of the year, a new city seems to blossom, and Portuguese society looks more cheerful, in a more peaceful and pleasant climate.
However, don’t forget that Lisbon in winter can also be magical, besides cheaper and with fewer crowds.
About the Author
I’m Camila, an Oceanographer from Brazil which is where my journey began. My studies have taken me to unique places around the world since I was a teenager. I found in my academic career the chance to come across different cultures and languages while working as a scientist. By having lived in several countries I have been able to share my experiences as a travel content writer for the last 4 years and I still have plenty more to tell. I have a great passion for the outdoors and animals, especially dogs and seals (which, let’s be honest, are basically sea dogs!).