Lisbon Itinerary: The Best of Lisbon in 2 days

Updated October 1, 2019
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Lisbon Itinerary: Yellow tram in Lisbon

Two days in Lisbon. Is it really enough time? I’ll be honest with you and say that since it’s such an awesome city you’ll probably leave wanting more! BUT if 2 days in Lisbon is all you’ve got then you’ll want to see the absolute best of it, and this Lisbon itinerary is going to help you do it. 

I haven’t laid out exactly what you need to do hour-by-hour because people arrive and leave at different times, want to see different things, and are staying in different places. So instead this is the highlights of what to see in Lisbon in 2 days, grouping together what you could fit into each day.

 

What to do in Lisbon – Day One

Belém

I recommend heading out to Belem as a starter to your 2 days in Lisbon. It’s good to get out of the city centre and see some of the history of Lisbon before venturing back in and focussing the rest of your stay in the central area, where you can wander around and find yourself lost (happily!) within all of the different neighbourhoods.

Belem is on pretty much every Lisbon itinerary for good reason! It’s the old home of shipyards and docks of the 15th century and is a rich heritage of life on the sea. Some definitely highlights of your two days in Lisbon can be found here!

Belém Tower

Built in 1514, the Belem Tower is a gorgeous piece of architecture located right on the sea. Visitors can enjoy the view from the roof terrace atop the five-story structure. The Manueline style building was used to protect the city in the 16th century, hence it’s location basically in the river! 

The Belem Tower is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm from October through April (6:30 pm-close from May to September). Keep in mind the tower is closed on Mondays and some public holidays. Entrance fees cost €6 for adults, children under 12 are free.

The entrance is also included with a Lisboa Card, which you could consider getting for your 2 days in Lisbon. It includes unlimited free travel (including to the nearby places of Sintra and Cascais if you have time for a day trip) and entrance to many of the museums and attractions. 

Lisbon Itinerary - 2 Days in Lisbon - Belem Tower in the sea with bridge

Jerónimos Monastery

Inside the monastery, you’ll find the gorgeous Church of Santa Maria as well as a two-story cloister. Aside from the eye-catching architecture and sculptures, you can also visit the tomb of Vasco de Gama who discovered a sea route from Europe to India.

It’s €12 for adults to visit the church and climb atop the tower and children under 12 are free. Fees are included with the Lisboa Card or if you enter on the first Sunday of every month. Hours are from 10 am to 6:30 pm in the summers and the Jerónimos Monastery closes at 5:30 pm in the winter.

Pastel de Nata

Of course, you can find Pasteis de Nata all over Lisbon, but one of the most famous places to get them is in Belem. A delectable egg custard tart, the Pastel de Nata is an excellent sweet treat served warm with a crumbly crusted and baked to perfection. Delicious! The Pastéis de Belém have been made here since 1837 from an ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. 

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)

Located on the northern bank of the Tagus River about 15 minutes walk from Belem Tower, this impressive granite monument celebrates the Age of Discovery, when the Portuguese set out across the ocean to explore new lands in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It’s free to wander around the monument and impressive all on its own, but if you’d like to go to the viewing platform at the top it’s €6 for an adult and €3 for teenagers. The viewing deck hours are 10 am to 7 pm in the summer and 10 am to 6 pm in the winter.

Lisbon Itinerary - 2 Days in Lisbon - Monument in shape of boat with sailor statues

MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology)

For a modern marvel nestled in a historic district, head to the MAAT. The Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology showcases modern movements in art, architecture and tech. If you enjoy modern art, it’s worth it to add this to your jaunt around Belem. If modern art and architecture aren’t quite your thing, the exterior of the building provides a dramatic backdrop for a walk by the river and it’s still worth a visit to wander the impressive grounds.

The museum is open to visitors from 11 am to 7 pm throughout the year, but it is closed on Tuesdays and some public holidays. The entrance to the museum is €9 for adults to visit both the Central building and the MAAT or just €5 for the MAAT, discounts are available.

25 April Bridge

Reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the 25 April Bridge spans across Lisbon’s Tagus River. As the longest suspension bridge in Europe, it is an engineering marvel, but you’re only allowed to walk (or run) across it one day of the year, for the Lisbon Half Marathon. You’ll be able to view it as you walk along the riverside.

Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square)

Back in the city, the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon is an excellent place to people watch and soak in a little history. The square was rebuilt in its entirety after the devastating 1755 earthquake and is still a meeting place for locals today. 

Main square in Lisbon at night

Ride the Tram

Trams are a part of everyday life in Lisbon and no visit to Lisbon is complete without a tram ride. Tram 28 makes its way from Graca, Alfama, Baxia, and Estrela and is an ideal route for visitors looking to explore these districts, although it can be extremely busy with lines at both ends. 

For those that prefer a loop, ride Tram 12 which makes it’s way up steep hills and narrow alleys along with the Baxia and Alfama districts. Tourist trams are also a great way to explore the city and take part in its living history since many of the trams have been in circulation for centuries. A single tram ticket costs €3 although you can purchase a 24-hour public transport ticket which only costs €6.40 and includes trams, buses and metro stops as well.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia

Lisbon has plenty of hills, which also means plenty of views! The Miradouro de Santa Luzia terrace is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the city of Lisbon. With beautifully tiled walkways and lush gardens, Miradouro de Santa Luzia sets the scene for romance too! Visiting this relaxing oasis in the city is free and best at sunset.

Explore Alfama

The narrow, cobbled streets of Alfama take you back to an old-world charm in the heart of Lisbon’s old town. You’ll hear the folk sounds of Fado, traditional Portuguese music, coming mysteriously from the maze of buildings. You can also pay a visit to the historic 1st century BC Castelo de Sao George. One of the oldest continually occupied establishments in Europe.

Tram in Lisbon Alfama

What to do in Lisbon – Day Two

Chiado and Bairro Alto

Chaido and Bairro Alto are located close together and are two sides of the same coin. One is the trendy and fashionable area by day and the other by night. Spend some time exploring both neighbourhoods during your 2 days in Lisbon. 

For a shopping experience like no other, head to the posh neighbourhood of Chiado. Chiado is the heart of Lisbon fashion and the streets are littered with world-class shopping and intriguing cafes and restaurants.

For a night out on the town head to the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon. Home to Lisbon’s happening, yet intimate nightlife scene, Barrio Alto boasts several bars and small restaurants. Start your night out by taking the Elevador da Bica into the heart of the action. This old tram car has been transporting passengers up the hills of the Chiado and Bairro Alto districts since the 1890s.

Both districts are open all day and free to wander around, however, keep in mind that Barrio Alto is best seen at night when the streets come alive with people looking to relax with a drink. For upscale eats, head to Mini Bar or Cantinho do Avillez. For tapas and a drink be sure to check out Cantinho Lusitano. For reasonable, family-friendly food visit Restaurante Aurora.

Below are some ideas of what to do in these areas for the second of your 2 days in Lisbon, although you can, of course, wander off course! 

Tram in Lisbon on steep street

Avenida da Liberdade

The beautiful tree-lined road makes it’s way prominently down the heart of Lisbon. Touted as one of the most expensive shopping streets in Europe, the Avenida da Liberdade is the place to be for luxury designer wares. Even if you don’t have the pockets to shop here, you’re always welcome to window shop and the beautiful walkways are littered with statues and manicured gardens, making the Avenida da Liberdade an excellent place for an afternoon walk.

Rossio (D. Pedro IV Square)

Walk along the funky paved D Pedro IV Square. Also known as Rossio, this has been the centre of Lisbon since the middle ages. Popular with visitors and locals alike, this central meeting place is home to a variety of bars and restaurants, as well as an ideal place to sit back and people watch.

Convento do Carmo (Carmo Convent)

In 1755 Lisbon experienced a terrible earthquake that left the city in ruins. As a reminder of this tragedy, the city left the Convento do Carmo or Carmo Convent left as-is after the quake. You can walk the eerie property, and stand beneath an open-air ruin with several delicate arches piercing the blue sky.

The convent ruins are open from 10 am to 5 pm. The entry fee is €5 for adults. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and children.

Santa Justa Lift

Head to the Baixa district for an elevator experience unlike any other. Take the 19th-century elevator up 45m for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Admire the intricate gothic-style metalwork on the way to the top. This attraction gets super busy, so be prepared to wait in line. If you hold a 24-hour public transport ticket, you can ride the elevator for free, otherwise, it’s €5.30 return. The Santa Justa Lift is open from 7:30 am until 11 pm in the summer (9 pm in the winter).

Largo de Camoes

One of Lisbon’s most beautiful squares marking the border between the Barrio Alta and Chiado neighbourhoods, lined with impressive tile work and beautiful architecture, the Largo de Camoes is certainly worth a stop. Wander the Rua do Alecrim leading out of the square, which leads to the heart of the Bairro Alto district.

The Square itself boasts beautiful geometric patterns that are a pleasure to walk. Can you spot the mermaid and caravel in the designs? There are two churches lining the square, along with other historic buildings. Not to mention the bronze statue of the famous Lisbon poet, Luis de Camoes. Have a meal at A Brasileira, a cafe that’s best known as a historic meeting place for intellectuals and artists alike.

Old Buildings in Lisbon with tiles

Rua Augusta Arch

The stone arch of Rua Agusta stands triumphantly in the heart of Lisbon as a symbol of the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. Each of the six 11m-high columns is adorned with intricate stonework and interesting craftsmanship. It’s worth a stop to marvel at this architectural masterpiece and walk underneath its archways.
The Rua Augusta Arch is open all hours of the day and is free to visit.

Parque das Nações

A modern marvel in the heart of an ancient city, the Parque das Nações has a variety of activities for adults and families alike. It’s a bit further out of the city but worth looking at if you have the time. Visit the expansive Oceanarium or try your luck at the Lisbon Casino. See the modern marvels from the air by riding the cable car. Each activity holds different hours and different pricing, but wandering the grounds of the Parque da Nations is free.

Day trips from Lisbon

If you have an extra day in Lisbon then you could take a day trip to explore more of Portugal. Probably the most popular day trip from Lisbon is to Sintra. It’s easy to get to by public transport or there are plenty of tours to choose from. This resort town is full of pastel-coloured buildings set in the mountains and lush forest and is also home to Sintra National Palace and Pena Palace. 

Read more: 15 Awesome Day Trips from Lisbon

Sign in Sintra Portugal

Things to eat in Lisbon

With such a rich heritage of exploration, art, and science, it’s no surprise that Lisbon is also home to a healthy foodie scene. Known for it’s simple, yet delicious foods, there are a few must-tries when visiting Lisbon. We already mentioned the delicious pastel de nata, but don’t forget to also try the following:

  • Bifana: A simple thinly-sliced, stewed pork sandwich. Add a splash of mustard or Piri Piri. Perfectly paired with a cold beer.
  • Caldo Verde: A healthy, yet hardy kale and sausage soup that’s considered a staple food for much of Portugal.
  • Bacalhau: This historical dish is still a fan favourite in Portugal, especially Lisbon. It’s a salted cod cake with a delicious cream-based sauce to top it off.
  • Cozido: A hearty dish of boiled and stewed veggies with a variety of meat. A must-have for the cold winter months.
  • Ginjinha: Not so much a food than a liquor. This rich, sweet alcoholic drink is made from cherries. Taste with a bit of chocolate for an added touch of luxury.

Eating an egg tart in a bakery in Portugal

Where to stay in Lisbon

With so much to do in Lisbon, finding a place to base yourself can seem like a real challenge. Chiado is an excellent choice for those looking to fully explore the city. You’re located far enough away from the bar scene of Barrio Alto to get a quiet night’s rest, but you can quickly access the neighbourhood should you choose. You are also within walking distance for Principe Real, Baixa and Bairro Alto. Principe Real and Baixa are also great districts to base yourself from.

Best time to visit Lisbon

Even though Lisbon claims the tourist season is from May to August, it actually isn’t the best time to go. Typically the streets are overrun with tourists, the temperatures are quite warm, and hotel costs and airfares are quite high. Expect to be elbow-to-elbow with people at major tourist sites, including nearby beaches.

The best time to visit Lisbon is actually either between March to May or September to October. Typically, the weather is still quite warm and pleasant during this time, but not too hot. Also, it’s the shoulder season for tourism which means that everything is still open, but the rates are far more affordable.

View of Lisbon rooftops

Overtourism in Lisbon

“Overtourism” has become an issue in the travel industry in recent years, and Lisbon is one of the poster children of it, along with other European destinations like Barcelona, Venice, and Dubrovnik. In the peak season, the city can be crowded with visitors in such a way that it negatively impacts on the lives of locals, including on where they can live (thanks to the prevalence of things like Airbnb), being able to get around the city, and on smaller local businesses. 

I absolutely love Lisbon, and I think it’s a wonderful place for people to experience. But as a travel blogger, I also need to be wary of promoting somewhere that is already suffering from overtourism. So I always caution visitors to think about their impact on a place when they visit. Consider going to Lisbon in the off-season or shoulder season (you can read about why off-season is my favourite time to travel in Europe here!) and always look past the major touristic spots or chains and try to find local businesses to support. It’ll make your trip all the better for it!

Yellow tram in Lisbon

Lisbon is such a cool city, and if you only have a couple of days to experience it then you’ll want to make the most of it! Use this Lisbon itinerary as a guide to get you started, but remember to step off the beaten path and follow that random street to see what’s there. And enjoy every minute of your 2 days in Lisbon!

Planning your trip to Portugal?

Sonja x

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Lisbon Itinerary - 2 Days in Lisbon

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