As the capital of Portugal, it would be a crime not to visit Lisbon at least for a few days. From gorgeous historic buildings to wonderful museums to enjoy, your stay in Lisbon will be filled with memorable experiences.
There is SO much to see and do in Lisbon, you will feel as though you won’t have enough time to look at everything! I recommend four to five days to get the most out of your stay in Lisbon, but if you have limited time that’s okay, too. I have provided a detailed two-day itinerary of just a few things you can do in Lisbon. Hope you enjoy it!
One of the simplest ways to get the most out of your short stay in Lisbon, is by taking a walking tour. There are many out there for different amounts of time, but Free Tours by Foot is a great way to tour different areas of Lisbon. Broken down by region, you can choose whichever area you’d like to learn about. If you are more interested in learning the history of Old Lisbon, there is that option for you. Walking tours can vary in length, but most are about two and a half hours. It’s the perfect way to explore a region in depth while still having time to do your own exploring.
If you don’t want to take a walking tour and want to make your own path, no worries! Below are many of the best attractions to see while in Lisbon. Even if you did go on the walking tour, some of these must-see destinations may have been missed, so take the time to check them out.
Praca do Comercio
Fortunately, many of Lisbon’s best sites are within walking distance from each other. To start this path, you should begin at the Praca do Comercio. At the bottom of Tejo Estuary, you will see a collection of large bright yellow, Pombaline style buildings surrounding three styles of the plaza. You will likely pass this plaza on several occasions throughout your stay, but with each passing, take time to try and find all of the hidden gems in this plaza.
When you pass the Praca do Comercio, you can find Alfama. Walk along its narrow cobblestone roads taking in the beautiful old architecture that surrounds you. Hopefully the scenery will distract you from the fact that you are going uphill! This area gives off the feeling of going into the past, or being transported into a Disney movie. It is a great place for all those of you who need the perfect Instagram picture. Once you make it up the hill you will find Sao Jorge Castle, one of the most emblematic symbols of Lisbon.
Sao Jorge Castle
This castle is one of the most well-known landmarks of Lisbon, standing upon the highest peak in the city. If your walking tour doesn’t take you here, you have to go immediately after. Originally built as a fort, this castle is quite different to the typical European castle. You can spend hours in the castle delving into the history of Sao Jorge Castle while enjoying one of the best viewpoints of Lisbon. This landmark is not just the fort, but also has a luscious garden filled with native plants and exhibitions showcasing archaeological discoveries. If you want to explore this wonderful site, you can find tickets on their website.
Time Out Market
With all this walking you are bound to get hungry. There are many places to eat in Lisbon, but I recommend Time Out Market as it is the best place to try many different foods at once. This Portuguese food hall has a multitude of delicious food stalls each offering a variety of cuisines. Time Out Market isn’t just for tourists, it is incredibly popular among the locals as well. Practice your Portuguese and ask some of the locals which food stands you should try! If you want to see all of the food offerings at Time Out Market, you can view their website here.
After enjoying a delightful meal, it’s time to get back to exploring! There are many different museums in Lisbon, but one of my favorites is the Azulejos museum. Azulejos are a significant part of Portuguese culture and give you a whole new perspective on tiles. You can learn about all the history of tiles in Portugal and understand better the significance of azulejos in Portuguese culture. These aren’t just regular tiles though, they are covered in spectacular paintings that portray gorgeous historical scenes.
After all this walking, you probably don’t want to walk anymore (I’m tired just thinking about it!). It’s time to sit back, relax, and listen to some Fado music. Fado music is a type of Portuguese singing that is sung at many locations, but mainly at pubs, cafes, and restaurants. This form of singing is very expressive and portrays melancholy. The lyrics portray the harsh realities of life while providing glimmers of hopefulness that things will get better. It is a great way to experience Portuguese live music while relaxing after a long day.
I promise this day will have much less walking than the last! For your second day in Lisbon, you have to check out the regions of Belem and Cascais. These two regions provide a relaxing, yet picturesque experience to enjoy while you are in Portugal.
This charming district in west Lisbon is famous for its incredible architecture. There are two sites that are must-go places while you are in Belem: Torre de Belem and Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.
Torre de Belem
The architecture of this tower stands out from the rest. Its North African inspired architecture has the most spectacular details on its exterior. The best view of this tower is from the outside, seeing the imposing tower contrast against the deep blue ocean. You can take a boat onto the water to get a “front row seat” kind of view as well.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Built in 1502, this monastery is Portugal’s most well-known example of Manueline architecture. Each column is carved with ropes, monsters of the sea, coral, and other oceanic themes. It signifies the importance of sea travel throughout Portugal’s history. This monastery is expansive, yet does not skip out on the details. Take your time to roam around this building and see the spectacularly small architectural details in the building.
With a quick 30-minute train ride from Belem, Cascais is the best beach town to take a relaxing beach day break from all the traveling. Fortunately, all of the beaches are in walking distance from the historic center, so you can enjoy the history of the town while also getting in the sun rays! The train tickets only cost about €2.25 (about $3) making this a cheap, but rich in memories, experience.
Praia da Duquesa
You can’t go to Lisbon and skip enjoying the seaside! After exploring the historic town with its cobblestoned roads, museums, and award-winning restaurants, you need to go to the beach. There are a multitude of beaches that Cascais has to offer like Praia da Duquesa. This beach is located on the Costa da Estoril which is the tranquil side of the coast. Here you will find calming waves perfect to soak and swim in. If you don’t want to swim, you can lay in the sand and appreciate the beautiful ocean views that lie in front of you.
Praia da Rainha Beach
This beach was previously the private beach of Queen Amelia in the 1880s, but now is open to the public. This relaxing beach is not only for taking a break, but also for enjoying a spectacular view. The deep blue water gently crashes on the jagged rocks, creating one of the most picturesque views in all of Lisbon. This beach is quite small though, so be aware that it may be crowded as there is not much space.
Cantinho do Avillez
To finish your packed two days, you deserve a treat! This restaurant is owned by the famous Jose Avillez, a world-class chef with two Michelin stars. After working in a multitude of high-class restaurants, Jose Avillez decided to return to his home of Cascais to open this incredible restaurant. The cuisine focuses on contemporary Portuguese food that stems from the chef’s childhood. Get a taste of this traditional Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist.
If you enjoy your time in Lisbon so much that you decide to stay even longer, check out this article to see what other activities you can do in four days! I hope that you have the time to see all of these wonderful sights and have a great time.
Enjoy your time in Lisbon, boa viagem!
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