Lisbon is full of so many wonderful sights to visit that we created a list of the Top 50 Things To Do in Lisbon.
However, with only one day in the city, it’s impossible to see them all. Therefore, we have created the Complete One Day Guide to Lisbon, where we’ve organized our top picks for your enjoyment.
If you end up staying longer in Lisbon and want to continue exploring with us, we have created a 3-Day Guide to Lisbon to help you dive deeper into Portugal’s capital.
Ready for an adventurous day in Lisbon? Put on comfortable walking shoes because there is much to cover!
If you want to explore the city effortlessly and with narration by a local guide, download these audio-guide tours in Lisbon.
1. Morning in Alfama
We suggest starting the day in Lisbon with a walking tour through Alfama. Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and offers a glimpse into when the city began. Spoiler alert.... it stretched back to the Romans!
- If you start at the base of the neighborhood the first big sight you’ll come upon is the Lisbon Cathedral. It was first constructed in 1147 by the Christian Crusaders and is now the most important church in the city.
- The next site on your way up Alfama is São Jorge Castle, a historic hilltop citadel established in 200 B.C. The São Jorge Castle complex includes ruins of the royal palace, big gardens and castle walls and towers that must be climbed!
- Around the castle are many of Lisbon's cutest cafes and artisan shops full of character, waiting to be explored.
- Two of the best viewpoints are below the castle, Santa Luzia Miradouro and Portas do Sol. Situated only a few minutes walk apart, both offer the iconic view of Lisbon homes clustered together with their terra-cotta roofs; a maze of homes which continue until the river’s edge.
- Across from Portas do Sol is the Palácio Azurara, which displays different examples of Portuguese decorative art from the 15th to 19th centuries.
→ While there isn't time in one day to visit all of the museums, here is a quick guide to Lisbon's most popular museums.
- Finally, get ready to hike to the top of the neighborhood to see the city from the Graça Miradouro, a favorite with locals and visitors. The viewpoint offers visitors a chance to see São Jorge Castle, the patterned streets of Baixa, point out the peeping dome of Estrela Basilica and admire the 25 de Abril Bridge.
- Beside it is Igreja da Graça, originally constructed in the 13th century. One of the oldest churches in Lisbon, Igreja da Graça offers visitors the chance to admire gilded chapels, ornate baroque details.
After finishing the tour of Alfama, you can either take the Tram 28E down the hill or make your way down on foot.
Staying in the heart of Lisbon's historic district promises convenience and charm. Read more about the best hotels in Alfama, with boutique hotels and five star hotels offering unforgettable experiences.
2. Afternoon in the City Center
Explore the center of Lisbon and the closest neighborhoods to the low and flat Baixa district. Here you will discover wide boulevards, grand plazas and neoclassical style architecture.
- At the base of Alfama is Praça do Comércio, a grand plaza situated between the city center and the banks of the Tagus River. Prior to the devastating earthquake of 1755, Praça do Comércio was the site of the Royal Palace.
- Today the square and the unmissable Rua Augusta Arch celebrate the new city that rose from the rubble. If you’d like, you can actually take an elevator to the top of Rua Augusta Arch and gain an incredible view of the downtown area.
- There are many places to sit and dine in the square and we suggest having lunch or a snack at the old haunt of Lisbon’s literature circle, the Café Martinho da Arcada.
- Passing under the Rua Augusta Arch leads directly onto the popular pedestrian-only shopping street by the same name. Shopping, tourist friendly restaurants, hotels, boutiques, pastelarias and bars all line the patterned black and while stone street of Rua Augusta, as well as Bertrand Livraria, the world’s oldest bookstore. Its doors opened in 1732 and have welcomed curious readers since.
- As you continue up Rua Augusta, you will pass the gothic elevator, the Santa Justa Lift. There is a hidden elevator inside the Cork Shop on Rua do Carmo, which takes you to the top street to access the viewing deck of Santa Justa, allowing you to skip the paid line below.
→ The audio-tour exploring the highlights of Lisbon allows you to discover secret tips and advice from a local to ensure you make the most of your time in Lisbon.
- From the top of Santa Justa Lift you can directly take the path to Carmo Convent. Once the largest church in Lisbon, it was destroyed by the earthquake and only the skeleton structure remains.
- Head inside to discover the convent and the Carmo Archeological Museum which includes art, intricate carved sacopogi, coins, beautiful tile murals and even a few mummies.
- Just a bit past Carmo Convent and on the streets below is Rossio Square which greets gazers with a wave-like patterned floor and the magnificent neo-manueline style Rossio train station. Trains depart from here to Sinta, the magical nearby city, which we have created a full day guide to Sintra for you.
- Located in Rossio is A Ginjinha, Lisbon’s oldest bar. Here you can order a shot of the traditional cherry liqueur, ginjinha.
3. Evening in Belém
For the last portion of the day we have planned a short trip to the neighboring district of Belém. To reach Belém we suggest using the most convenient form of public transportation which would be the coastal train. Head to Cais do Sodré train station and buy a ticket to the Belém station.
- Once exiting the train, head directly to the Monument to the Discoveries, built to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, the leading figure in the Age of Discovery. For a small fee you can take an elevator to the top of the monument and see an incredible view.
- Follow the riverside walkway until you reach the Manueline Belém Tower, the most symbolic of all of the monuments in Lisbon. The defense post turned UNESCO World Heritage Site marks the location where ships embarked and disembarked.
- The next recommended stop, across the street, is the Jerónimos Monastery. The UNESCO World Heritage monastery honors Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer to complete the first journey to India. It's a not-to-be-missed attraction and an incredible example of Manueline style- a testament to the wealth funded by the spice trade.
There are many more not-to-be-missed attractions in Belém and that's why touring with Belém audio-guide created by a local resident is the best way to explore.
- After finishing at the monastery, walk back toward Lisbon along the riverside. The large pedestrian path, feet from the Tagus river, rewards with a view of the bridge and the Cristo Rei.
- Along the way, stop at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which offers an ideal location to take a photo. The rooftop has a giant deck where people come for sunset to enjoy the picturesque view before them. This is a great attraction for those traveling with kids, as well the the other sites we have listed in our Top Place to Visit with Kids in Lisbon.
- Hop back on the train and exit at the next stop toward Lisbon- Alcantara. End the day at LX Factory, Lisbon's creative hub. The alternative creative center is full of boutiques, bars, restaurants and art studios. Finish with a fantastic dinner and drinks and perhaps a bit of music or dancing.
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the complete Guide to Lisbon in One Day. Now, you have seen all the main things and discovered enough history to tour your friends and family through the city next time!
If you are spending more time in Lisbon, definitely check out our list of 50 Things to Do In Lisbon and discover what else you would enjoy about the city.
→ Did you know that Lisbon has become a sought out destination for events, parties, weddings and retreats? Contact our M.I.C.E. department who specializes in books and discounts and allow us to help you with your group reservation, tickets and tours in Lisbon!
Be sure to tell us what your favorite part of this one day trip in Lisbon was in the comments below!