Are you looking to see the best of Lisbon in a day? If so, you’re in for a treat!

Whether you’re on a layover, or you just happen to be spending one day in Lisbon, Portugal, I’ve got the tips, tricks and best things to do in Lisbon in one day – all you need to know to get the most out of your 24 hours in this beautiful city.

Cobblestone streets, food to die for, whimsical trams and enchanting viewpoints – that pretty much sums up Lisbon. It was a wonderful surprise when I arrived in the Portuguese capital and I almost immediately fell in love with the city. 

To be fair, my first impressions of Lisbon were helped by the fact that we were staying in the sweetest apartment ever. Located in Graça – one of the oldest districts in Lisbon – and just a two minute walk from Miradouro da Graça, our apartment had a little terrace overlooking insane views of the city.

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A Bit About Lisbon

If you haven’t been before, Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, situated on the west coast of the country. It’s a coastal city that looks over the Atlantic ocean, so you can expect some of the best views and amazing seafood.

Speaking of food,  Lisbon is renowned for the famous Pastel de Natas – a custard tart that is to die for! Honestly, make sure you try one (or two, or three) while you’re here. 

I was afraid I wasn’t going to get to taste this delicious treat as I have a gluten intolerance. But I managed to find an entirely gluten free bakery – Zarzuela –  which happened to make some pretty delicious pastel de natas (yes, yes, I pigged out that day… and the next day when we went back!).

A plate with a gluten-free pastel de nata and an almond croissant, dusted with powdered sugar. The plate features a vibrant blue and yellow pattern, adding a cheerful touch to the presentation. In the background, part of a red and white floral fabric is visible

But don’t stop at the Pastel de Natas, you’ll also need to try out some of the other traditional dishes such as Bacalhau (dried and salted cod), Carne de Porco Alentejana (pork and clams) and Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew).

And of course, let’s not forget the wine! Portugal is known for its Port wine and Vinho Verde (green wine). It would be rude not to give the local favourite a try while in Lisbon. 

Getting lost in Lisbon’s winding streets is something that really added to my experience of Lisbon. With colourful buildings, quaint cafes and street art at every turn, it’s hard not to get swept away with the city’s cuteness.

One of my favourite things about Lisbon was the many viewpoints (or ‘miradouros’ in Portuguese) scattered around the city. Lisbon is sometimes referred to as the ‘City of Seven Hills’ and each of these vantage points offer incredible panoramic views of the city.

After the great earthquake and fire of 1755, Lisbon was rebuilt with a unique blend of Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture. You’ll be able to spot this when walking through the streets.

Where is Lisbon and How to Get There

Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, located on the western coast of Europe. In fact, not too far outside Lisbon is the most western point in Europe (I recommend visiting if you’ve got more than just one day in Lisbon). It sits along the Atlantic Ocean and is known for having a mild climate, beautiful beaches, interesting history and the yummiest, freshest seafood.

Coming from other cities in Portugal, Lisbon is just over 300km from Porto, the second largest city in the country, and around 280km from the Algarve region in southern Portugal. 

If you’re flying into Lisbon, you’ll likely arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport which serves both domestic and international flights. You can also reach Lisbon by train or bus from various cities throughout Europe.

Two iconic yellow trams passing each other on a street in Lisbon, with historic buildings in the background. The buildings feature classic Portuguese architecture with wrought-iron balconies and pastel-colored facades. A pedestrian is seen walking on the sidewalk, adding a touch of daily life to the scene.

Once you’ve arrived in Lisbon, getting around the city is pretty easy. You’ve got public transportation such as buses and the metro, or you can do as the locals do and hop on one of Lisbon’s famous vintage yellow trams. 

Your Lisbon In A Day Itinerary (With Map!)

Ok, let’s get this exciting itinerary going! It’s pretty jam-packed, but you can take it at your own pace and swap out some activities if you’d like – I give a few alternatives at the end. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of the day:

Morning:

  • Visit to Belém Tower
  • Jerónimos Monastery

Midday:

  • Lunch in the Alfama District
  • Explore São Jorge Castle

Afternoon:

  • Tram 28 Ride
  • Visit to Baixa and Chiado

Evening:

  • Sunset on the River Tagus
  • Dinner in Bairro Alto

FOR PEACE OF MIND, FIND OUT HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR TRIP!

How to Spend the Morning in Lisbon

Your day in Lisbon should definitely kick off with a hearty Portuguese breakfast. The city is laden with charming cafés and pastelarias where you can pick up the traditional dish of Pastéis de Nata. The locals (and I) love a sweet treat for breakfast!

Head to the popular A Padaria Portuguesa, known for its fresh bread and pastries. There are a few of these dotted around the city but for the purpose of my itinerary, I recommend starting out at the one at Av. da Torre de Belém. It opens at 7am so you can choose to start your day in Lisbon nice and early if you wish.

If you’re in the mood for something savoury, the traditional bifana (pork cutlet sandwich) is a must-try. And if you can’t start your morning without a coffee, try a Galão, a milky coffee similar to a latte – it’s also a pretty big part of the Portuguese breakfast experience. 

Start at Belém Tower

Once you’re adequately fuelled up, make your way to Belém Tower. This iconic monument is a must-see for anyone visiting Lisbon. It’s also one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The tower was built in the 16th century as part of the city’s defence system and has since become one of Lisbon’s most recognisable landmarks.

Back in the day, Belém Tower was also used as a base for the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, during his voyages to the East. Its stunning Manueline architecture and scenic location make it a great spot for photos.

A view of the historic Belém Tower in Lisbon, seen from the water. The tower's ornate, fortress-like architecture stands prominently against the backdrop of a clear sky and nearby greenery. The water in the foreground reflects the tower, enhancing its majestic appearance.

Speaking of photos, Belém is set on the bank of the Tagus River so you’ll be able to get amazing shots of the tower, water and Ponte 25 de Abril bridge (the one that looks just like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco). 

I know you’ll likely have gotten a taste of Pastel de Nata at breakfast, but Belém is also the birthplace of this delicious custard tart. So, obviously it would be a travesty not to try one from the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery while in the area. 

Explore Jerónimos Monastery

Following your visit to the Belém Tower, it’s time to head over to Jerónimos Monastery, just a stone’s throw away. This is another one of Lisbon’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built in the 16th century, the monastery is a stellar example of Manueline architecture, with beautifully detailed carvings decorating its exterior. 

It’s not just a treat for the eyes, but a journey back in time to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The monastery was constructed as a monument to Vasco da Gama’s successful voyage to India and his tomb can be found just inside the entrance.

Inside, you’ll also find the Church of Santa Maria, with its beautiful intricate columns and high-vaulted ceilings.

If you’re in need of a little caffeine pick-me-up at this stage, treat yourself to a ‘bica,’ a strong Portuguese espresso, at one of the nearby cafes.

Midday

Wander Through Alfama District (and have lunch!)

As the day moves on, it’s the perfect time to head over to Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. Known for its winding streets and alluring alleyways, 

Alfama was saved during the great earthquake of 1755, and the fire that followed, making it one of the few areas that still retains its original charm.

You’ll likely get lost in the maze-like streets of Alfama, but getting lost in a new city is all part of the fun, right?

A smiling woman leans on a balcony railing with a panoramic view of Lisbon, Portugal, in the background. She wears a summer outfit with a black top and a red floral skirt, complemented by a stylish straw hat and sunglasses. Behind her, the terracotta rooftops of Lisbon's buildings spread out towards the historic São Vicente de Fora monastery and the National Pantheon, visible under a clear blue sky.

You can’t visit Alfama and not make it up to the Miradoura de Santa Luzia, a stunning viewpoint that offers fantastic views of the city and the Tagus river. It’s the perfect spot to take some photos and capture your memories of Lisbon too.

In fact, I splurged on a photoshoot in the Alfama District and was so happy I did. It was a lot of fun and I got some great photos back at the end.

BOOK YOUR OWN PHOTOSHOOT IN LISBON HERE!

A woman in a black tank top and red floral skirt poses at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon. She wears a straw hat and sunglasses, leaning casually against a tiled wall with a backdrop of vibrant purple bougainvillea flowers and historic buildings. The sunny day highlights the scenic overlook, known for its picturesque views.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all that walking, head to one of Alfama’s traditional restaurants for lunch.

Check out one of these restaurants:

  • Restaurante Farol de Santa Luzia
  • Audreys
  • As Bifanas do Afonso

After lunch, take some time to explore the quaint shops and markets in Alfama, where you can find some souvenirs and gifts to bring back home.

Explore Castelo de São Jorge 

Once you’ve satisfied your appetite, it’s time to burn off some calories and head up to the magnificent São Jorge Castle. Perched high above Lisbon, this historic fortress offers some great views of the city and the Tagus River.

The castle was actually what saved Alfama from the great fire of 1755, as it acted as a barrier and prevented the fire from spreading further. 

Today, you can explore its walls and towers, wander through its gardens, and learn all about it through exhibitions and displays.

We already know Lisbon is full of incredible viewpoints, but the one at São Jorge Castle is pretty special. You’ll be able to see all of Alfama and beyond from this vantage point.

  • Entrance Fee: Adults – €10; Students, Seniors (65+) – €5; Children under 12 – free.
  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm (Mar-Oct); 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (Nov-Feb)

WANT TO SKIP THE LINE AND HAVE YOUR OWN TOUR GUIDE? BOOK THIS EXPERIENCE!

Lisbon Afternoon 

Ride Tram 28

There’s something magical about Lisbon’s trams, and the iconic Tram 28 is another must-do when visiting the city. This old tram takes you through some of Lisbon’s most charming neighbourhoods, including Alfama and Baixa.

But be warned, it can get quite busy and you’ll likely have to wait to get on.

A close-up view of the famous Tram 28 in Lisbon, showcasing its yellow and white exterior with passengers visible inside. The tram is seen next to another red and white tram, both on a busy street lined with historic buildings. The destination sign reads "L. CAMOES," indicating the tram's route through Lisbon's iconic neighborhoods.

I recommend getting on somewhere a little further from the centre to avoid long queues. I got on at Graca and took the tram into the city centre.

Another tip for avoiding the crowds is to take it in the morning, but before or after rush hour. Remember, this isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s also used by locals to get around the city. 

  • Ticket Price: €3 for a single journey; €6 for an unlimited 24-hour pass
  • Operating Hours: Daily from 6:00 am to 11:45 pm every 10 minutes during rush hour and 15 minutes off peak

TAKE THIS AUDIO GUIDED TRAM TOUR AND LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT LISBON AND ITS ICONIC TRAM ALONG THE WAY!

Explore Baixa and Chiado

After your tram ride, you’ll find yourself in the bustling neighbourhoods of Baixa and Chiado. This area is known for its wide streets, squares, cafes and boutique shops.

The perfect way to continue your day is by taking a leisurely stroll through these neighbourhoods, where you’ll notice a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication.

A view of the Elevador de Santa Justa in Lisbon, an ornate iron elevator tower that rises above the surrounding buildings. The structure features intricate neo-Gothic designs and balconies, offering panoramic views of the city. The bright blue sky provides a striking contrast to the historic architecture.

Make sure to pay a visit to the historic Elevador de Santa Justa, a stunning, wrought-iron lift that offers fantastic views over downtown Lisbon. It’s not every day that you get to ride in a 19th-century lift with panoramic vistas on offer!

To go up in the lift, you’ll need to pay €5.30 (return), and you’ll almost definitely have to queue. However, if you want to avoid the long line and paying a fee, but still want to  enjoy the view, head up to Travessa Dom Pedro de Menezes instead. You’ll be able to reach the top of the Santa Justa lift here without having to pay for the elevator ticket! 

Evening in Lisbon

Sunset on a Vintage Sailboat

This was one of my favourite things we did in Lisbon. You’ll meet at Docas de Santo Amaro (the old harbour), and head out on the Tagus River for two hours. 

We found it to be the perfect place to watch the most spectacular sunset and, after taking in the views, we were also treated to some complimentary drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and some Portuguese snacks.

A woman standing on the deck of a wooden sailboat, facing the sun with her arms outstretched. She is wearing a white top and red pants, enjoying the feeling of freedom and the scenic beauty of the open water under the bright sunlight.
A breathtaking sunset view from a wooden sailboat, with the sun setting over the horizon and casting a warm glow over the water. The boat's railing and sail are visible, with distant silhouettes of cranes and buildings adding to the serene, picturesque scene.

Onboard, there’s also an expert guide (the captain!) who’ll tell you all about the history of the monuments you sail by. 

The best part was when they got the sails up, and we glided along with just the sound of lapping water. You’ll have great views of Torre de Belém, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and other landmarks as you sail past.

TIP: THIS TOUR BOOKS OUT QUICKLY, SO YOU’LL WANT TO BOOK IN ADVANCE!

Dinner in Bairro Alto

After the sun sets, head to the Bairro Alto district for a delicious dinner. This area is known as Lisbon’s nightlife hub, but it also offers up some of the best food in the city. 

Some recommendations for  dinner in Bairro Alto include:

After dinner, take a stroll through the narrow streets of Bairro Alto. You’ll hear live music coming from the bars and restaurants and the night is yours to enjoy!

I suggest either heading for a night of dancing on Pink Street or watch a live Fado show!

Got More Time in Lisbon?

Is one day enough to see the best of Lisbon? Probably not. You’d want at least 4 days to truly appreciate everything in the city. Still, if you’ve only got one day in Lisbon, my itinerary hits all the highlights and main attractions.

A woman in a straw hat and sunglasses is leaning out of a red tuk-tuk on the cobbled streets of Lisbon. The tuk-tuk, with a Ferrari logo on its side, is driven by a person in the front seat. The scene captures a fun and adventurous moment in the historic streets of the city.

But, if you’re lucky and have more time in Lisbon, here are a few suggestions for some more popular attractions and day trips:

  • Take a tuktuk tour of Lisbon: we had the most fun riding through the streets of Lisbon on our own personal tuktuk tour. Not only is it a unique way to see the city, but our guide was fantastic and took us to some hidden gems we probably wouldn’t have found on our own.
  • Take a helicopter ride: Not something you get to do every day, but you’ll have the best views in the city if you take this helicopter ride over the city!
  • Take a day trip to Sintra: located just 30 minutes from Lisbon, you’ll find the fairytale town of Sintra. It’s home to several palaces and castles including the famous Pena Palace.
  • Visit Cascais:  About 35 minutes from Lisbon, Cascais is a charming seaside town with beautiful beaches, delicious seafood (you need to try Baia do Peixe restaurant!), and a laid-back vibe. Spend the day lounging on the beach or explore the colourful streets.
  • Take a Portuguese cooking class:  What better way to throw yourself into the culture than by learning how to cook traditional Portuguese dishes? This cooking class not only teaches you how to make delicious food, but also gives you a glimpse into Portuguese traditions and customs.

Best Time to Visit Lisbon

Lisbon is a great city to visit year-round, but the best time really depends on your personal preferences. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip:

  • Weather: Summer months (June-August) can get quite hot in Lisbon, with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees Celsius. If you prefer cooler weather, spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are great times to visit.
  • Crowds: Summer is peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and longer lines at popular attractions. If you want a more relaxed experience, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) or even during winter.
  • Festivals: Lisbon hosts various festivals throughout the year, such as the Popular Saints’ Festival in June and the Lisbon Book Fair in May. Check the festival calendar before booking your trip if you want to join in on the celebrations.
  • Budget: Prices for accommodation and flights tend to be higher during peak tourist season (summer months). Visiting during shoulder seasons or off-season can save you money on travel expenses.
A woman wearing a straw hat and sunglasses stands confidently on the tracks in front of a yellow funicular in Lisbon. The funicular is making its way down a steep, narrow street lined with historic buildings, with the Tagus River visible in the background. The scene captures a moment of exploration and urban charm in the heart of the city.

A Few Tips and Tricks for Your Lisbon Visit

If you’re planning a trip to the city of Lisbon, there are some handy tips and tricks you’ll want to know. Trust me, it’ll make your visit so much easier, and you’ll thank yourself later.

First things first, always pack a good pair of comfortable shoes. Lisbon is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets. While they’re amazing to look at, they do tend to be uneven and can be slippery when wet. Your trusty trainers or sturdy walking shoes will be your new best friend..

Public transport is your key to discovering the wonders of Lisbon. The Lisbon Card is like your golden ticket to the city. This magical little card gives you unlimited access to public transport and free/discounted entry to many museums, monuments, and attractions. 

As the old saying goes, “When in Lisbon, eat as the Lisboetas do!” Well, alright, I may have made that up. But seriously, delve into the culinary delights of this city.

And, never underestimate the power of a friendly smile and a simple “obrigado” (thank you) in Portuguese. Here are some other phrases you might need in Lisbon:

  • Hello: Olá
  • Goodbye: Adeus/Tchau
  • Please: Por favor
  • Excuse me: Desculpe-me
  • How much?: Quanto custa?
  • Where is…?: Onde fica…?
  • I’m lost: Estou perdido(a)

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Pinterest pin graphic titled "HOW TO SPEND 24 hours in Lisbon - ITINERARY" from European Day Trips. The image features a panoramic view of Lisbon with the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Tagus River in the background. Below, a yellow tram navigates a colorful street lined with historic buildings. The website "www.europeandaytrips.com" is displayed at the bottom.
Pinterest pin graphic titled "The BEST of LISBON IN JUST ONE DAY" from European Day Trips. The image shows a yellow tram passing through a narrow, picturesque street with pastel-colored buildings and wrought-iron balconies. The website "www.europeandaytrips.com" is displayed at the bottom.

So there you have it! Everything you should see and do if you only have one day in Lisbon.

Lisbon truly is a gem of a city, and whether you’re there for just a day or you’ve got an entire month, there’s always something new to explore. 

Remember to take heed of the safety tips, brush up on some basic Portuguese phrases, and most importantly, don’t forget your walking shoes. They don’t call it the city of seven hills for nothing!