Lisbon; is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded by the Phoenicians in 1200 BC, making it older than Rome! With so much history, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Lisbon.
The nation’s capital attracts over 3.5 million visitors every year who come to enjoy the warm climate. You might be asking the question about what to see in Lisbon in one day? This itinerary covers the city highlights including the colourful old houses of Alfama looking out over the Targus river and the iconic yellow trams trundling their way along the ancient cobbled streets.
Thanks to its compact historical centre, it is possible to see the best of Lisbon in a day. It’s a great destination for a girl’s weekend away, a romantic city break, a family vacation, a stop off on a road trip or travelling solo.
This one-day Lisbon itinerary covers the city’s main landmarks, as well as gives you advice on the best places to stay and tips on the most efficient way to see everything.
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Lisbon One Day Itinerary - How to Use This Guide
So, if you’re only in Lisbon for one day, you’ll want to spend your time seeing stuff, and not reading a long article. You’ll be glad to hear this article is split into sections to help you find the information quickly.
If you’re in a hurry, then the first section gives you a glance and overview of how to spend a day in Lisbon. The second section gives you more details on the best places to visit in Lisbon in one day, plus useful information like opening times and fast track entry and how to get to them efficiently.
In the final section, you’ll find FAQs about spending 24 hours in Lisbon, like when to visit and where to stay, and suggestions for other things to do in the city that you may want to see.
What you can expect in this article...
One Day Lisbon Itinerary - At a Glance
Here’s a quick look at what to do in Lisbon for a day. This section is for you if you’re in a hurry. You can also download this quick reference Lisbon guide with a location map and checklist of everything included in this article.
Top Things to See in Lisbon in One Day
If you have one day in Lisbon, here are 12 things not to miss. These top Lisbon landmarks are all included in this city guide.
- Praça do Comercio
- Rua Augusta Arch
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Alfama District
- São Jorge Castle
- Miradouro da Graça
- Yellow Iconic Tram 28
- Rossio Square
- Elevator de Santa Justa
- Convento de Carmen
- Time Out Market
- Pink Street
…plus eat copious numbers of Pastel de Natas
One Day in Lisbon - Breakdown of Day
Start the day at Commerce Square, where you’ll find Arco de Rue Augusta. Head to Lisbon cathedral and try to snap the iconic image of the famous yellow E28 tram going past the front. Meander your way, getting lost in the streets of Alfama district stopping off for a Pastel de Nata en route. Visit San Jorge Castle before heading to Miradouro da Graça for a panoramic view over the city before catching a ride on the E28 tram back to the city centre.
Stoll up Lisbon’s most famous shopping street to Rossio Square. Pick up lunch from one of the market stalls here before heading to the Santa Justa lift. Take a ride to the upper part of town to the lookout point before heading to the ruins of Convento de Carmen. Take the ancient scenic steps of Calçada do Duque back down to the lower town before catching the Metro at Rossario.
Spend the early part of the evening eating your way around the Time Out Market. Try out several dishes by hopping from venue to venue. With your stomachs full, take the short walk to Pink Street, one of Lisbon’s top spots for nightlife. Finish off the day by enjoying the trendy cocktail bars or if you’ve got the energy, the lively nightclubs along this iconic street.
One Day in Lisbon Itinerary
One Day Lisbon Itinerary - Morning
Praça do Comercio
Location: Praça do Comércio MB, 1100-148 Lisboa
This Lisbon in one-day itinerary starts at the Praça do Comercio (Commerce Square). This large, and open square is one of Lisbon’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks. One side is open and faces the Targus River. The three other sides are flanked by ornate buildings featuring columned walkways.
On the side of the square, opposite the river, you’ll see the Arco de Rue Augusta (or the Rua Augusta Arch). You’ll see plenty of trams trundling past the arch, if you time it right, then it makes a great photo.
If you’re interested in doing a guided walking tour of Lisbon, the Commerce Square is usually where they start. Look out for the guides standing next to the Estátua do Rei Dom José I statue in the centre.
Check Availability: Lisbon City Guided Tour
In the past, the square went under a different name. It was called Terreiro do Paço. It got the name from a palace that once stood here, the Paços da Ribeira (Ribeira Palace). At the time, this was the King of Portugal’s residence. However, the area was completely destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755.
If you’re interested in learning more about the city’s history, including this devastating earthquake that nearly destroy the city, and you have the time, there’s a great little museum on the east side of the square called The Lisboa Story Centre.
Useful to know: The striking yellow arch is synonymous with Lisbon. A great photo opportunity is from Rua Augusta looking through the arch and out to the square, you can also go inside and climb the Rua Agusta Arch.
Related Article: Have a bit longer? Check out this two-day Lisbon itinerary
Location: Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa
Once you’re finished at the Praça do Comercio, take the short walk from the northeastern corner along Rua da Alfândega and meander your way up to the cathedral. You’ll find the Sé de Lisboa (Cathedral of Lisbon) located at the junction between Cruzes da Sé and Rua Augusto Rosa 66.
The Cathedral was built by Lisbon’s first king and dates back to the mid-12th century. This is the oldest church in the city. It’s also one of the most popular places to visit in Lisbon in one day, you’ll find that every Lisbon guided walking tour goes past this iconic landmark.
This is another great photo spot in Lisbon. The tram route runs past the cathedral and along Largo da Sé and Cruzes da Sé.
Useful to know: This junction is where the famous photo of the colourful yellow tram going past the front of the Cathedral is taken. If you don’t manage to snap your own pic, or there are simply too many people, every tourist shop in the city will sell this iconic picture of Lisbon on postcards, prints and posters.
It’s also free to go inside the Sé de Lisboa. Just be respectful as this is still an active place of worship.
Location: Alfama district covers the area between the Cathedral and Sao Jorge Castle
No one-day Lisbon itinerary would be complete without spending some time exploring the neighbourhood of Alfama. This is the oldest district in the city, and the narrow labyrinth of cobbled streets ooze with history.
The area of Alfama is located on a steep hill and stretches across the area between São Jorge Castle and the Tagus River. While you’re exploring the area, head over to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia for views over the Targus River.
In the past, this neighbourhood was associated with poverty and crime. Its location outside of the city walls is a testament that this is where the poorer people used to live. However, unlike the rest of Lisbon, the area remained pretty much untouched by the 1755 Great Earthquake. This means although it’s been gentrified and tidied up, pretty much all of what you see has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
If you were ever wondering what to visit in Lisbon in one day, Alfama is it. Allow a decent amount of time to get lost in the charming alleyways that frequently open up into quaint squares. Compared to its undignified past, today Alfama is a hive of intimate restaurants, artsy boutique shops and Fado venues.
The Fado is a type of music that came from Alfama. It’s soulful and emotive, sung with passion in intimate venues. It takes influence from acoustic sounds twinned with folk music with lyrics about the hardship of life and sorrows. If you have an interest in live music, I highly recommended coming back in the evening to experience a Fado performance for yourself.
Despite the revival of the area, Alfama is still a residential area. While you’re walking about, you’ll see locals going about their daily lives, clothes-laden lines, stretching across balconies and delicious smells wafting from kitchen windows. It has such an authentic and rustic feel to the place.
Book in Advance: Traditional Fado Show in Alfama
Related Article: Hate reading? See Lisbon in Photos here
Try the Pastel de Nata
Location: Santo António, Rua do Milagre de Santo António 10, 1100-351 Lisboa, Portugal
After a busy morning, of exploring, you’re probably ready for a mid-morning break. A must-do in Lisbon is to try the delicious little Pastel de Nata. These mouth-watering custard tarts are sold everywhere in Portugal, although their official home is the Jerónimos Monastery in Santa Maria de Belem. If you have longer than 1 day in Lisbon, then I highly recommended taking a trip out to the Belem district, to see two stunning UNESCO-listed landmarks.
Just between Alfama and Sao Jorge Castle is a cafe called Santo António. They claim to make the best Pastel de Nata. After eating my body weight in Pastel de Natas, I wholly concur they are delicious. To make sure I’m not making it up, I think you should go taste them for yourselves.
The cafe has an open-plan kitchen, so you can see the pastries being made. There can often be a queue here although there is ample seating both upstairs and down, you can also get them to take out. If you’re interested in learning to bake your own, then you can even attend a Pastel de Nata baking workshop.
Check Availability: Pastel de Nata Baking Workshop
São Jorge Castle
Location: Castelo de S. Jorge, R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal
After enjoying one (or two) Pastel de Natas, your Lisbon one-day itinerary continues with a climb up the hill to Sao Jorge Castle. The castle is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Lisbon. It can be seen in most places around the city.
São Jorge Castle dates back to the 1st century BC when it was little more than a small Roman fort on top of São Jorge Hill. The building that stands today is an accumulation of hundreds of years worth of history dating from the 5th to 11th centuries.
The castle walls feature eleven towers and turrets, which are connected by the wall walk. There are also manicured gardens with the resident peacocks strutting their stuff. The views from the castle are a great vantage point to take some beautiful photos of Lisbon.
Save Time: Skip the Line Ticket for Sao Jorge Castle
Miradouro da Graça
Location: Calçada da Graça, 1100-265 Lisboa, Portugal
Lisbon is made up of 7 hills, so naturally, with so many high points, there are going to be some pretty epic lookouts. The Miradouro da Graça is one of the most popular viewpoints in Lisbon. From your previous location at Sao Jorge Castle, it’s about a 10-minute walk.
The lookout point is popular with locals and tourists and offers views looking out over the rooftops of the city, Alfama, Sao Jorge Castle and onto the Targus River. It’s popular at all times of the day, and if you have more than 1 day in Lisbon, it’s worth coming back later in the day. You’ll see an influx of people coming here at sunset to admire the views.
Ride the Iconic E28 Tram
Location: Get on at Graça, 1170-165 Lisboa | Get off at Rua Conceição, 1100-161 Lisboa
The morning of your Lisbon 1-day itinerary ends with a ride on the instantly recognisable E28 yellow tram. If you have limited time in this city, then this is one of the top things to do in Lisbon in one day.
There is a tram stop less than 5 minutes walk away, along Rua da Voz do Operário. Take the tram back into the city centre and get off near Rua Augusta. This is the road that leads to the Augusta Arch that you saw earlier today.
The iconic tram route winds through the narrow and curvy streets. It does get busy at peak times, so there may be a queue.
Although Lisbon overall is a very safe city, the crowdedness of the trams has made it a prime area for pickpockets. If you’re carrying a daypack, then wear your bag on your front, and don’t have anything of value in your back pocket.
One Day Lisbon Itinerary - Afternoon
Location: Praça Dom Pedro IV, 1100-193 Lisboa, Portugal
The afternoon of your Lisbon in a day itinerary starts with finding some lunch. From the tram stop, head north along Rua Augusta. If you keep walking along this long shopping street, then you’ll eventually come out to the highly photogenic Rossio Square.
This is one of Lisbon’s liveliest and visually stunning squares. The black and white cobbled geometric patterned square is flanked by beautiful ornate architecture. Dotted around the square are markets and pop-up stalls where you’ll find all sorts of options to pick up a quick lunch.
Elevator de Santa Justa
Location: Rua do Ouro, 1150-060 Lisboa, Portugal
This is one of the quirkier things to see in Lisbon in 1 day, the Santa Justa Lift. It’s located in the Chiado district and was used to connect the lower part of the town with Bairro Alto, the upper part of Lisbon.
The Neo-Gothic structure was built in 1902 by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard. Do you notice anything familiar about the architectural style? If you’re thinking of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, then you aren’t wrong. Ponsard was a student of Gustav Eiffel, the designer behind Paris’s most beautiful landmark. Ponsard was clearly influenced by his teacher.
Although you can walk up to the upper part of town, it’s more fun to take a ride in the Elevator de Santa Justa. Ride up the 45m lift and then walk out onto the viewing platform at the top. This is a great vantage point to photograph Sao Jorge Castle that you saw earlier in the day.
Related Article: How many of these Iconic Landmarks in Portugal have you seen?
Convento de Carmen
Location: Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa, Portugal
Now from the top of the Santa Justa lift, take the short walk to Convento de Carmen. In this Lisbon 1 day itinerary article, you might have noticed I’ve mentioned the Great Earthquake of 1755. Well, these beautiful ruins of the Gothic-style Carmo Convent are a relic from that day.
If like me, you’re a fan of ruins, then you’ll love this place. Once, a roof would have covered this building, but what’s left today are remnants of the crumbling walls and columns. There’s a small museum here that house some interesting artefacts which include tombstones and mummies! The whole place has an ethereal feel about it.
The Great Lisbon Earthquake happened on 1st November 1755. By coincidence, it was All Saints Day. Reaching a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, the earthquake flattened the city. Any building that survived the tremors, was then destroyed by either fires or the tsunami that followed.
Alfama was the only area that remained pretty much untouched. It’s thought that over 60,000 people lost their lives on that day.
Scenic Steps of Calçada do Duque
Location: Calcada Do Duque, Lisboa 1200-158 Portugal
From the Carmo Convent, turn right and head along Rue da Condessa. Walk to the end of the road until you reach the steps of Calçada do Duque. These steps curve down and eventually lead you to the back entrance of the train station.
These steps are one of the original ways that residents would have walked from the lower districts of Lisbon to the upper part. About halfway down the steps, you’ll get a great view of the Sao Jorge Castle on the opposite hill.
Keep walking down, because you’re going to the Metro station, Rossio, next for the quickest way to get to your next destination.
One Day Lisbon Itinerary - Evening
Time Out Market
Location: Time Out Market, Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisboa, Portugal
The evening of this 1 day Lisbon itinerary, starts at Time Out Market. If you had more time in Lisbon then you could walk from Rossio Square – it will take about half an hour. The quickest way to get there is to use the Metro.
The Metro takes less than 10 minutes. Get on at Rossio Metro Station, and take the green line south towards Cais do Sodré. It’s two stops. Get out at Cais do Sodré and then it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the Time Out Market.
Under the roof of a historic market hall, you’ll find the best gourmet food space in Lisbon. It’s home to 26 restaurants, 8 bars, boutique shops plus a music venue. It’s popular with locals and tourists and is open daily until midnight. Whether you’re looking for sushi, burgers, vegetarian options or traditional Portuguese fare, you’ll find it here.
Party at Pink Street
Location: Rua Nova do Carvalho, Lisboa
You’re quickly coming to the end of your time in the city. After one full day in Lisbon, keep a little bit of energy to enjoy the nightlife. Finish the evening and head to the popular Pink Street.
The nightlife doesn’t really kick off until late in Lisbon. Aim to arrive at the famous Pink Street (Rua Nova do Carvalho) around about 11 pm, this is when the bars and clubs will start to come alive. This street and the neighbouring roads in the Cais do Sodré area. are some of the liveliest areas for nightlife in the city.
It’s easy to get to from Time Out Market, it’s a mere 3-minute walk.
In the past, this area was home to Lisbon’s red light district. The area has been tidied up, the road painted pink and it’s now one of the coolest places for partying. Pensão Amor, Bar do Cáis and Sol e Pesca are great for cocktails, and drinks set in stylish venues.
Still, got the energy after this full-on one-day itinerary? Lisbon has its fair share of nightclubs where you can have a crazy night of dancing until the early hours. Europa and Jamaica Bar are two great venues.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
You’ll find accommodation all over Lisbon, however, for convenience, stick with the more central ones making it easier to sightsee in a short time. Here are three great places to stay in Lisbon.
Luxury Accommodation - 5* Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel
Located in central Lisbon, just 700m from Rossio Square. This 5-star hotel is partially built into the historical 14th-century Muralha Fernandina. Surrounding it are views of 17th-century noble households. Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel offers rooms with free WiFi air con, flat-screen TV, and a Blu-ray player. Rooms have a fully equipped private bathroom with a bath or shower, free toiletries, and a hairdryer.
Boutique Accommodation - AlmaLusa Baixa Chiado
AlmaLusa Baixa Chiado is located in a renovated 18th-century building surrounded by historic Lisbon landmarks. It’s just a stone’s throw from Commerce Square and Rossio Square. Rooms come with air con, high-speed WiFi, and a large HD Smart TV. The private bathrooms come with a power shower and free toiletries. Each unit has been individually decorated by a noted interior designer, featuring a historical inspiration from the Portuguese aristocracy.
Budget Accommodation - This is Lisbon Hostel
Set in a restored 19th-century building in central Lisbon, just 5 minutes walk from Rossio Square. This hostel features a roof terrace with panoramic views over Lisbon’s rooftops. This Is Lisbon Hostel has heated private rooms and shared dorms, some have direct access to a terrace. Rooms have free Wi-Fi and deposit boxes.
The hostel features a shared living room where a daily continental breakfast is served, there is also a fully-equipped communal kitchen and onsite bar.
One Day in Lisbon, Portugal - FAQs
One Day in Lisbon Route Map
Here’s the route map for this one day Lisbon itinerary. Click on it to access the interactive map.
Is It Better to Do a Lisbon One-Day Tour or Self-Guide?
Yes and no. This 1 day Lisbon itinerary will cover all the highlights of the city in a short space of time and it is totally doable. However, if you prefer to let someone else take you around the best areas, then most walking tours of Lisbon last between 2 -3 hours, they will give you a basic idea of where everything is, and then you can go back and re-visit any places of interest.
It really depends on your travel style and if you want to know more about the history, or if you prefer to wander. Both are great options.
What Are the Best Things to Do in Lisbon Portugal in One Day?
If you’re asking that question, then I guess you didn’t read the list at the top 😉 or better still download this checklist straight to your phone.
The absolute must-see things in Lisbon are the district of Alfama, Lisbon Cathedral, the iconic yellow trams, and both Commerce and Rossio Square.
Is One Day in Lisbon Enough?
Although you can easily see the highlights, it would be impossible to fully see Lisbon in a day. Even with several days here, you’d only just scratch the surface of this fabulous city.
The great thing about Lisbon is that the main tourist spots are all fairly central, so you’ll be able to get a pretty decent vibe of the place even if you were just on a day trip to Lisbon. If you have longer, and your itinerary is flexible, I’d recommend spending at least two days in Lisbon.
What shall I do with two days in Lisbon?
If you had an extra day, then stick with this itinerary for the first day. You can check out this full Lisbon in two days itinerary. There are ideas on other places to see, including a day trip to the fairy tale castles of Sintra. It also goes into details about how to see the Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower.
Both the Monastery and Belem Tower have UNESCO heritage status and are an easy train ride out of the city.
Related Article: Love Fairytale Castles? You’ll adore Sintra (it’s just 30 minutes from Lisbon)
What if I only have one afternoon in Lisbon?
If you’re limited to seeing Lisbon in half a day or just an afternoon, then the must-see places would be Alfama District, the Praça do Comercio, and Arco de Rue Augusta, then take a ride on the E28 tram and the viewpoint from the Santa Justa to lift.
How do I get from Lisbon Airport to the City Centre?
There are several ways to get from Lisbon Airport to the city centre. The easiest is by Metro. There is a direct line the ‘Aeroporto – Saldanha’, that makes the journey in about 20 minutes. You can also catch the Airport Bus, although this has restrictions on luggage size and takes slightly longer.
If you want a direct door-to-door service, then book an airport transfer in advance.
What’s the Best Way to Get Around Lisbon?
Lisbon is blessed with loads of frequent and affordable transportation options. Utilize the metro and trams to get around. There are two easy options. You could either buy the Lisbon Card which covers most of the public transport in the city, plus the Lisboa Card gives you either free or discounted entry or a load of attractions.
Or you could use the Lisbon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus to get to all the iconic landmarks.
Now Go and Have the Perfect Day in Lisbon
Hopefully, this one-day Lisbon itinerary has given you a pretty solid idea of how to see the highlights of the city efficiently. You can download this checklist and map for offline viewing.
If there is anything I didn’t mention, then comment in the section below and I’ll try to answer it.
Staying in the country for a bit longer? Then why not check out this other useful articles.
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