Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, home to about half a million people. Situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Tagus River, the city offers a blend of ancient history, modern culture, and natural beauty. A visit to Lisbon is a chance to immerse yourself in these attractions and leave with unforgettable memories.
The city’s Mediterranean climate features mild winters and warm summers, but without the extreme heat you might find in southern Spain. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the diverse and delicious Portuguese cuisine.
- Lisbon is a great city to explore on foot. I’d pack some food and just wander
- Explore the Carmo Area and downtown Lisbon, including Camoes Plaza and the surrounding streets.
- You definitely need to visit the Sé, Belem, and other touristy spots that are actually worth seeing.
- Start by getting a day pass at the metro station and head to Terreiro do Paço on the blue line. Enjoy the square and the riverfront, then walk up to Chiado.
- While you’re there, check out the Elevador de Santa Justa for an amazing view of the city. Afterward, head down to Rossio Square and grab lunch at either Casa das Bifanas or Tasca Pombalina.
- From Rossio, you can head up to the castle from Martim Moniz Square. Then explore Alfama and its traditional neighborhoods. That covers a good chunk of the city’s historical parts.
- If you’ve got time, you can also check out nightlife in Cais do Sodré, Bairro Alto, or Santos.
What people say on Reddit
The alfama neighborhood is really special and that’s what I would spend my time doing. Honestly just wandering around and getting lost is a worthwhile way to spend your time. Try some food and coffee, listen to some Fado as the night goes on.
Walking up to see the Miraduoros (viewpoints) will get your steps in but it’s worth it and something I would definitely recommend if you just have 24 hours.
For food I would recommend the time-out market. So much good food and so much to choose, pick something that sounds good and it will be. Also tons of desert options (including Manteigeria, which ended up being my favorite pastel de nata).SgtTaters
Go to Ponto Final for dinner. Right on the water with a beautiful view of the bridge and some of the best seafood I had in Portugal. Also, time out market is super fun and easy if you’re into food. Have a Sagres beer for me.melissqua
If you’re only going to be in Lisboa for 15 hours, this is a great suggestion. The Timeout Market is very busy and very touristic but all 3 of our guides have suggested it to us. It has the usual tourist foods in including pasteis de nata and cod cakes but some of the best chefs in Lisbon have stalls there and locals go there to eat great food at good prices. We were there on the day Portugal played South Korea and the place was packed and the atmosphere was electric. Really, really fun. Went the next day (Saturday) and it was just as packed but without the cheering. From Timeout you can easily walk to Alfama, or up the hill to Rossie Square and the Santa Justa Lift, and maybe catch the 28 tram. Tell your cab driver to take you to Timeout and it should be about $25 each way. Have fun!NoPirate9
Lisboa is a really walkable city and everything is pretty close to each other, but in any case, the metro can take you pretty much anywhere you like. I would skip sightseeing too, since you have only a few hours, and I’d rather just wander around the historic center and old neighborhoods like Graça and Alfama. There are lots of good food here, and in my opinion, the more simple the restaurant looks like the better the food will taste, so try not to go to restaurants in the touristic areas.
About museums and art galleries, I would suggest going to Museu do Azulejo, MAAT and Calouste Gulbekian. Plus, if you like street art, you should definitely visit LX Factory which is a hub of art studios, antique cult shops and bars/restaurants (there is a bar there which is really nice to go and watch the sunset). At night, even though you are gonna be here on a Monday, you can definitely find something you dig, mostly around Cais do Sodré and Pink Street.bernardomartins
Will One Day Be Enough for Lisbon?
Yes, you can easily fall in love with Lisbon in just one day. While the city has many popular tourist attractions, none of them are absolutely essential for a great experience. You can just walk along elegant boulevards like Avenida da Liberdade or Rua de Baixa, and still enjoy this sunny city.
For example, my first day in Lisbon quickly became my favorite, simply because I spent it walking around, mostly in Alfama district, which is perfect for aimless wandering. This area is famous for its narrow, winding streets and historic buildings. Here, you can enjoy the soulful sounds of Fado, traditional Portuguese music. If you make your way to the top of Alfama, you’ll reach São Jorge Castle and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a 24-hour itinerary for Lisbon. You don’t have to follow it exactly, but this should give you a good idea of the city’s main cultural and historical landmarks.
I will also share the most popular tourist routes and offer various options for getting around the city.
Morning in Lisbon
The best way to start your day in Lisbon is with breakfast at a coffee shop. The city has a vibrant coffee culture that kicks off in the early morning. Locals gather at various cafés around town to enjoy tasty Portuguese pastries and strong coffee while engaging in leisurely conversation. These local coffee shops combine historical charm with modern design, making them cozy spots to relax and socialize.
In Lisbon, you’ll find many iconic cafés, each with its own unique atmosphere tied to the city’s rich history and culture. While I could list a dozen worth visiting, you’ll ultimately decide which café becomes your go-to for morning coffee. One of my favorites is Café a Brasileira, founded in 1905 and located in the Chiado district. Its historic façade and interior offer a uniquely sophisticated atmosphere. The café’s outdoor terrace is a popular spot where you can people-watch and soak in the city life. Celebrities, artists, and writers, including the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, have frequented this café, adding to its allure.
So, what should you have for breakfast? If you’re a fan of baked goods, you can’t go wrong with Pastel de nata, a layered custard pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. As for coffee, Lisbon espresso is a robust option. If you prefer something milder, Café com leite (coffee with milk) is a good choice.
For a creamy taste similar to a latte but with more milk, try Galão coffee. If you’re looking for something closer to what you’re used to, an Americano is a milder option. Adding savory snacks like salgados—pastries filled with meat, cheese, or seafood—will make you feel like a true Lisbon local.
Check out Copenhagen Coffee Lab, known for its trendy Scandinavian atmosphere, branded coffee, and delicious pastries.
Or try Hello, Kristof, a chic designer café offering excellent coffee, fresh juices, and tasty pastries. Other cozy spots include the rustic Heim Cafe, perfect for brunch Heim Cafe Instagram, and Comobå, which offers organic coffee and vegetarian/vegan food in a relaxed, bohemian setting with a lovely courtyard.
For the history ambiance, try Martinho da Arcada on Comercio Square, one of Lisbon’s oldest cafés, dating back to 1778.
Visit Alfama District
I’ve mentioned Alfama before, but it deserves a deeper look. It’s one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods, spared from the 1755 earthquake, which allows it to retain its medieval charm. Alfama has been home to a mix of communities, including Moors, Jews, and Christians, making it a significant part of Lisbon’s cultural and maritime history.
The neighborhood is famous for Fado music, Portugal’s soulful genre. I recommend catching a live Fado performance in one of the local taverns to fully appreciate Alfama’s emotive atmosphere. Don’t miss São Jorge Castle, perched on a hill, offering breathtaking views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. You can wander through the narrow, winding streets adorned with colorful tiles known as azulejos and explore historic buildings and squares. If you visit on a Tuesday or Saturday, check out Lisbon’s Feira da Ladra flea market for unique antiques and vintage souvenirs.
Alfama is best explored on foot, so comfortable shoes are a must. Other options include tuk-tuk tours and the iconic Tram 28, which offers a scenic route through Alfama. Just be prepared for crowds, especially if you’re heading to São Jorge Castle.
Useful tip It’s best to visit in the morning to beat the crowds. And be cautious with your belongings, as touristy areas can attract pickpockets.
Take a ride on Tram 28, an iconic vintage tram. As it winds through narrow, twisting streets, you’ll get to see a lot of Lisbon’s landmarks. Your journey will include the historic districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. You’ll pass by São Jorge Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, Graça Viewpoint, and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, among others.
- The best time to ride Tram 28 is early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Try to get in line at the first stop super early or hop on at the second stop.
- Don’t forget to validate your ticket when boarding. Tickets are available at the tram stops.
- Watch your belongings.
- Aim for a window seat for the best views, but be ready to stand if it’s crowded.
- Enjoy this affordable and unique way to see the city.
Now it’s time for lunch. The food is so good in Lisbon!
Look for local restaurants that offer traditional Portuguese dishes like Bacalhau à Brás, Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, Arroz de Marisco, Feijoada, and Frango Piri-Piri. Usually, these places have a cozy, rustic design and friendly staff, so you’ll feel right at home. They also speak English quite well (compared to Spain).
My restaurant recommendations:
- Cervejaria Ramiro: Perfect for seafood lovers.
- Taberna da Rua das Flores: Known for Portuguese tapas and wine.
- Cantinho Gourmet: Offers gourmet Portuguese cuisine.
- O Prego da Peixaria: Great for steak and cocktails.
- Mercado da Ribeira: A vibrant food market.
Remember to reserve a table in advance, just in case.
Belém is another must-see, known for the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. It has a rich maritime history dating back to the 16th century.
- Belém Tower: A 16th-century fortress with intricate Manueline architecture.
- Jerónimos Monastery: A UNESCO World Heritage site that’s a marvel of Manueline design.
- Try pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém.
Go to LX Factory
LX Factory is a trendy, artistic space where you can find designer shops, art studios, and street art.
- Secret Garden Bar: An excellent spot for cheap drinks and live music.
- Underdogs Gallery: Showcases urban and street art.
- Hangar 7: Known for exhibitions by emerging artists.
- 25 de Abril Bridge: A perfect spot for watching the sunset over the Tagus River.
In short, LX Factory is a must-visit if you want to see modern Lisbon.
Have Dinner at a Riverside Restaurant
In Lisbon, you’ll find plenty of riverside restaurants that offer stunning views of the Tagus River and a wide variety of cuisines, ranging from local to international. Some restaurants have a modern style, while others offer a more relaxed vibe with outdoor seating. What they all share, though, is an amazing view of the riverbank, especially at sunset.
Ponto Final Restaurant in Almada, just across the river from Lisbon, to experience traditional Portuguese cuisine. Enjoy fresh seafood while taking in views of the Lisbon skyline and the Tagus River. The place has a charming, rustic atmosphere.
Cantinho Gourmet is a fabulous restaurant located on the riverbanks in Belém. They offer a mix of Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s a cozy, inviting place where you can have lunch while enjoying views of the Tagus River.
Kais Restaurant is set in a converted hall by the Tagus River. It offers a fusion of Portuguese and international cuisines. The riverside terrace is especially popular for outdoor dining.
Darwin’s Café is in the LX Factory district and provides a modern, industrial chic setting with river views. It’s known for its brunch and modern cuisine.
Walk Down the Pink Street
Pink Street, or “Rua Nova do Carvalho,” is a lively and colorful street in the Cais do Sodré area of Lisbon. The street has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century when it served as a red-light district bustling with nightlife to cater to sailors and travelers.
Today, the area has undergone significant changes and has been repainted pink, earning its current name. It has transformed from a red-light district into a trendy and vibrant center for nightlife.
Pink Street is now the go-to spot for Lisbon’s nightlife, famous for its bars, clubs, and live music venues that attract both locals and tourists. In the evenings, the street is buzzing just as it was back in the 16th century, filled with people enjoying drinks, music, and dancing.
Do some bar-hopping
Pensão Amor is a stylish bar and club with a retro vibe. Located in a former brothel, it’s known for its eclectic decor, live music, and cocktails.
Bar Sol e Pesca, while not on Pink Street itself, is close by and known for its canned seafood and Portuguese wines. It’s a quiet place to start your night.
Lust in Rio Club has a rooftop terrace and offers fantastic views of the Tagus River. It’s a popular place for electronic music and late-night dancing.
Cinco Lounge Cocktail Bar stands out for its creative atmosphere and craft cocktails.
The Decadente is a trendy restaurant bar with a terrace, known for its craft beers, wines, and cocktails.
If you’ve got just one day in Lisbon, here’s how you can make the most of it. Start your day with breakfast at one of the city’s old or modern coffee shops. Then, head to the Alfama district to check out the São Jorge Castle and take a ride on the historic tram 28.
For lunch, grab a bite at a local restaurant and spend the afternoon admiring the Bélem Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. Need a pick-me-up? Stop by Pastéis de Belém for a quick snack.
Afterward, head to the LX Factory to explore creative exhibitions or shop in the boutiques. For dinner, you’ve got options: dine at a restaurant overlooking the River Tagus, or perhaps listen to some Fado music in a local tavern. If you still have energy, dive into the nightlife on Pink Street.
While this is an ideal plan, take your time and enjoy all that Lisbon has to offer at your own pace. Trust me, one day is just the beginning; you’ll want to come back to explore more.
- If you’re a fan of palaces and tilework, don’t miss the Palace of the Marquesses of Fronteira. It’s less crowded than the spots in Sintra and well worth the visit.
- The Oceanário is a bit pricey but a must-see.
- In the city center, Praça do Comércio is worth a visit.
- For beautiful sunsets, check out Lisbon’s observation decks like Mirador da Senhora do Monte or San Pedro de Alcantara.
- If you’re heading to Sintra the other day, consider skipping Pena Palace’s interior to avoid long queues. Instead, take the bus from Sintra to Cabo da Roca and hike down to Praia da Ursa. You can buy a 24-hour tourist ticket for the bus in Sintra that allows unlimited bus rides.
- For authentic Portuguese food, look for restaurants offering francesinha, a traditional northern Portuguese sandwich. Brazilian food is also worth trying.
- The Portuguese usually shake hands when meeting. In informal settings, friends may greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. Lisbon folks are polite and friendly, so remember to say “por favor” (please) and “obrigado/a” (thank you, for men and women respectively).
- Dress is generally casual, but some places like churches and upscale restaurants require more formal attire. Beachwear is for the beach, not the city.
- It’s common to leave a tip of around 10% at restaurants and cafes. Tipping isn’t included in the bill, so you can round up if you prefer.
- During live Fado performances, it’s customary to maintain respectful silence and you can applaud after each song.
- Lisbon has a convenient public transportation system including trams, buses, and the metro. You can buy a card that gives you unlimited rides and discounts on attractions.
- If you need a taxi, you can use Uber or local services.
Where to stay in Lisbon for one day
Alfama is a historic district and a good choice for those who want to soak up the Lisbon spirit. Avenida da Liberdade is an area with luxury hotels and high-end shops. Bélem is for those who love the sea sights. The area is far from the city center, but it is quieter. Bairro Alto is famous for its nightlife with many bars and clubs, and it is a great option if you like a vibrant nightlife. Chiado is a trendy area with shopping and cultural attractions.