Travel Guide: Lisbon in 48 hours
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Language: Portuguese
- Airport: Lisbon-Portela airport (easily accessible by metro, which is connected directly to the airport)
Put on your walking shoes, strolling up and down the steep hills around Lisbon will get you in shape in no time!
We opted to walk the entire day so we could find those hidden gems and off the beaten paths we are always on the lookout for. However, if you feel like gaining some time, busses and trams are plentiful and generally speaking, public transport is pretty decent!
Miradouro de Sao Pedro
We started our day around the Avenida da Liberdade, which is a big boulevard with a nice walking area where you can find some convenient morning coffee around the little stands.
We walked up our first hill of the day towards the Miradouro de Sao Pedro. Even in the morning, it was close to 26 degrees so the steep hill was quite challenging! Soon enough we were rewarded with an amazing first panorama of Lisbon.
There are plenty of Miradouro’s around the city and all offer a great viewpoint as well as a nice terrace or park to sit, relax and enjoy the views over the city.
Walking back down we see many of the small trams that bring people up the hill (why did we only notice this on our way down?). Walk towards the Praça dos Restauradores and then to the Praça Dom Pedro IV, which is a great place to sit down and absorb the motions of the vibrant city life.
The square is also part of the Baixa district, which is considered the central part of Lisbon. Because the area was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755, you will find refined, straight streets which now form an important commercial area.
Santa Justa Lift
A very noticeable structure in the Baixa district is the Elevador de Santa Justa. Rising up the district, this beautiful industrial-aged elevator is a wonderful piece of art. Transporting tourists up Carmo Hill in style, it offers great views over Lisbon at the top.
If you don’t mind the waiting line, you can take the lift up to the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo church. We skipped the queues and just walked around the block to explore the site!
Time Out Market Lisboa
Continue exploring the lovely streets of the Baixa area towards the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s largest plaza. If you feel hungry at this point, take a right turn until the end of the street, where you find the busy, yet cozy Time Out Market.
This enormous food hall is foodie’s paradise. With a variety of different food and drink stalls there are just too many options to choose from. From burgers to fish to pastries to wine and cocktails, too much options your belly can handle!
The place might get really crowded during noon though, however we found no trouble finding seats during Summer season when arriving after 13h30.
Walk back to the Praça do Comércio and continue next to the water, making a left turn straight up the maze of cobbled, narrow streets that are so recognizable for the Alfama district. This is Lisbon’s soul and the old-fashioned residential area is a step back in time!
Being one of the favourite area’s of many Lisbon fans, this is a great place to spend some time while getting lost in the little back streets. We’re big admirers of experiencing the atmosphere of this wonderful historic neighbourhood!
Make sure to walk past the Miradouro de Santa Luzia for another amazing view over the city and visit the Se cathedral to witness some impressive architecture.
If you don’t feel like walking up the Alfama district – or if you just want to ride the tram – the iconic number 28 tram rides up the neighbourhood. We found the historic trams quite packed and in combination with the heat, we preferred walking over melting inside a poorly ventilated carriage.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
On top of this hill, the Castelo de Sao Jorge proved to be a strategic stronghold for over 400 years. The Castle is seen from almost all over Lisbon and despite the paid entrance, it’s certainly worth a visit!
We enjoyed the beautiful castle and its grounds, the impressive walk on its walls and towers and finally, the breath-taking views the place has to offer.
An evening in Lisbon
Traveling back to the Baixa area, we found some amazing restaurants from different origin that we really enjoyed, but our favourite was the butcher shop O Talho. Located a little bit outside the city center and owned by chef Kiko, one of Portugal’s celebrity chefs, this elegant restaurant offers modern and innovative dishes. We had a wonderful meal, which was resolved around enhancing the flavour of an amazing collection of meat that the in-house butcher shop has to offer.
It’s easy to find some amusement in Lisbon after the sun has gone down. Either it is by witnessing an authentic Fado show, Portugal’s national music treasure, or by exploring one of the Miradouro’s for a nightly panorama over the city. Whatever you prefer, it’s not hard to relax from your long day of walking up the city’s hills.
One memorable thing during our visit was the amazing evening we spent at Largo do Duque de Cadaval, a quiet square with some wine and cocktail bars and some very enjoyable live music.
Just west of Lisbon’s inner city, the area of Belém is another place we could easily spent a full day. Get up early and take the bus or tram to the Belém Tower, which is best to be visited as early as possible.
This fortified tower played a significant role in Portugal’s maritime discoveries and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists are all around and travel coaches form an infinite line in the nearby parking area. As a result, make sure you arrive early in the morning if you want to visit the tower without losing too much time in the long queues.
However we found the tower and its history very impressive, we experienced this as a very crowded area with an unpleasant atmosphere and suspicious merchants clamping you by the arm to sell their sunglasses, scarfs, umbrella’s, selfie-sticks or just about anything a tourist might possibly need.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
This extravagant monastery is one not to be missed. Its imposing architecture immediately attracts one’s attention and is equally impressive as its inside. The amazing stonework and rich history makes this one of the most visited places of Lisbon!
You can visit the church for free, however the monastery itself requires a small admittance fee.
Jardim de Belém
A few parks surround this area but the Jardim da Praca do Imperio in front of the monastery and the Jardim de Belèm are great to wander around and enjoy the great Lisbon vibes. The parks are large and beautiful and are surrounded with many cafes, restaurants and pastry shops, such as the famous Pastéis de Belèm!
Pastéis de Belèm
You can find Pastel De Nata, Portugal’s famous pastries, pretty much everywhere in Lisbon. Nonetheless, its original, secret recipe is only known in Pastéis de Belem. For almost 200 years, the bakery produces these delicious custard tarts hand by hand and using the same traditional methods the monks of the nearby Jeronimos monastery used during the 18th century.
Ponte 25 de Abril
Energized by the tasty pastries, walk back towards Lisbon using the walkways next to the Tagus river. Passing Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the monument to celebrate the 15th and 16th century Portuguese explorers and some lovely docks that make you daydream of life on the open sea, you will soon enough spot the impressive Ponte 25 de Abril.
This sister bridge of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge was designed by the same architect, making its resemblance significant! With over 2km in length and hanging 70m above the Tagus river, this suspension bridge is massive and a definite eye catcher!
Extra: a day in Sintra
Staying for an additional day? A day trip to the town of Sintra is one of our recommendations! Only 25km from Lisbon and easily accessible by train, this fascinating town has a variety of historic monuments that are worth visiting.
The town center, its National Palace and the Moors castle are both interesting and exciting. However, the Pena Palace (pictures above) raises the bar of impressing architecture and made us speechless.
Its colours are stunning and the surrounding park is a place that is created for fairy tales. I would not have been surprised spotting elves and knights here!
All our Lisbon travel tips gathered on the map:
What we liked
- The unique atmosphere in the city was one we felt very comfortable with. The relaxed, laid-back lifestyle and friendly attitude of the Portugese certainly amplifies all these good vibes!
- The weather! Every day seemed warmer than the previous one, making walking up the hills or standing in queues more exhausting than we would have thought. Unwanted sweat aside, we loved being out in the sun!
- Portuguese love food, and so do we. Instant match!
What we disliked
- I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked if I was interested in a wide variety of drugs. One time is funny, but after a few times I started questioning my looks.
- Portugal has so much great food we had no idea where to start. Fortunately our friend Zara created the amazing Lisbon in 100 bites guide that we thankfully used!
More tips to share? Questions to ask?