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Lisbon is one of the most picturesque cities in all of Europe. With stunning architecture from numerous time periods, lively cobbled streets, and a setting right on the Rio Tejo, Lisbon is a dream destination and the star of Portugal. There are numerous things to see and do in the city and you’ll be able to cover many of the main highlights with our one day in Lisbon itinerary and travel guide.
Lisbon is a city that can be visited year-round, however, some months are better than others.
Winter (November – February) – Unlike other northern hemisphere destinations, Lisbon doesn’t see freezing cold temperatures in the winter. While it may be sunny (but chilly) for your day out in Lisbon, there are equal amounts of cloudy, wet days as well. In the winter, you can expect the weather to be damp and cool, which makes it the least desirable time to visit Lisbon. Pros: discounted prices and fewer tourists. Cons: damp, cool weather, and a quiet atmosphere.
Spring (March – May) – This is one of two ideal times to visit Lisbon. During the spring, the weather is warm but not unbearably hot. The tourist season hasn’t fully picked up during the spring, and there are many festivals and events taking place. Pros: good weather and fewer tourists than the high season. Cons: weather can still be unpredictable during these months with downpours possible.
Summer (June – August) – The summer is the peak Lisbon tourism season. The weather is great, there’s a buzz in the air, and dining outside is enjoyable. Pros: lots of events and things going on, great weather and you can visit the nearby beaches or lounge by your hotel pool. Cons: lots of tourists, higher prices, and you’ll need to book ahead of time or accommodation options won’t be available.
Fall (September – October) – Another great time to be in Lisbon is during these two autumn months. The sky is blue, the weather is great and the tourists have thinned out by this point. Pros: fewer people at popular sites and prices start to reduce. Cons: not as warm as the summer.
Lisbon Airport, also known as Humberto Delgado Airport, and sometimes Portela Airport (why does an airport need three names?) is an international airport located 7km northeast of the city center of Lisbon. The airport is the main international gateway to Portugal.
- Transfer – the quickest and most convenient option, you can book in advance with Intui Travel.
- Taxi – grab a cab which will cost around €15 – €20 and take about 20 minutes. Make sure the meter is running before you set off.
- Bus – the Aurobus departs every 20 minutes for the 40 minute journey to Cais do Sodre in the centre of the city. Tickets cost €4 for a one way journey.
- Metro – take the subway, which has a direct line from the airport into the city, and connects with the other three metro lines, taking you pretty much anywhere you want to go. You must buy a Viva Viagem card for €0.50 before your first tip, which can then be topped up as needed. A single trip costs €1.50. For great value, buy a 24 hour transport pass for €6.40 which allows you to travel on all of Lisbon’s metros, trams and buses, as well as some of Lisbon’s iconic elevators.
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For sheer glamour and a superb location, stay at the Altis Avenida Hotel, in the heart of 19th century Baixa Lisbon and on the grandest street of all, Avenida da Liberdade. With elegant rooms, marbled bathrooms and a rooftop bar and restaurant with killer views, plus efficient and welcoming service, this is a top spot in which to stay after a day in Lisbon.
Another great location, close to vibrant Rossio Square and perfect for exploring, is The One Palacio da Anunciada, a charmingly restored 16th century palace right in the centre of town. With beautiful outdoor spaces, a pool and simple decor that allows the history to shine, this is a wonderful place to enjoy a one day Lisbon itinerary from. Oh, and the breakfast is pretty special too!
See & Do
Seeing the best of Lisbon in a day is very achievable on foot, thanks to the walkable nature of the city, and its’ well-placed lifts, elevators and trams to help with longer distances and hills. Our Lisbon one day itinerary will take you on an easy stroll through this wonderful city, and show you what to do in Lisbon for a day.
Visit Livraria Bertrand
Ride the Elevador de Santa Justa
This 19th-century, wrought-iron elevator was once a practical mode of transportation, but these days it’s more of a tourist attraction and one of the top things to do in Lisbon in one day. The views from the top are gorgeous, and in order to avoid the lineups, make sure to visit before 10am or after 3pm.
If you have a 24 hour public transport pass, this ride will be included in that. Which is a good thing as the elevator is overpriced at €5.30, whereas the transport pass is just €6.40.
Enter Through the Rua Agusta Arch
Enter into the enormous Praca do Comercio plaza through the Rua Agusta Arch, which was built in 1875 to commemorate the reconstruction of Lisbon after the devastating earthquake in 1755. The arch has six columns and is quite ornate. If you have time, head up to the top of the arch for an awesome viewpoint
Visit The Praça do Comércio
Continuing along the gorgeous calcada portuguesa (Portuguese pavement) with its pretty mosaics, once you pass through the arch, you enter into the Praca do Comercio. Wander around the plaza while taking in the amazing architecture and the statue of King Joseph I.
If you prefer to be organised, or like to get a feel for a new city, learn some history, and get a lay of the land, then join a walking tour which takes in all of the sights mentioned above and more. Our pick is this top rated private tour with an English speaking local guide.
Ride the Elevador Castelo
From the grand Praca do Comercio, make your way to the Elevador Castelo, which is a somewhat hidden elevator that helps you avoid walking up the steep hills of Lisbon! The building itself is an attraction, and the views from the elevator are great as well.
Explore the São Jorge Castle
Take in a Sunset View
Because Lisbon is such a hilly city, there are numerous miradors (Miradouros) offering fantastic views. The best time to visit is in the early evening, when the sun is low enough in the sky that it’s not too hot! Many people bring drinks to the viewpoints (grab your favourite bottle of wine!), some speakers for music, or even an acoustic guitar for a jam session. Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro da Graça are all good options – just take your pick and enjoy.
Visit the Time Out Market
Ride the Trams
Riding the elevator is one thing, but Lisbon is known for its cute trams that clamber up and down the hilly streets. Tram 28 is the most popular one for tourists and connects Martim Moniz with Campo Ourique, passing through the popular Graca, Baixa, Estrela and Alfama districts.
If you just want to experience a quick tram journey, have a look at the Bica Tram, otherwise known as the Elevador da Bica (yep, the same word for lifts) which connects Largo do Calharizon, on the southern edge of the Bairro Alto, to Rua de São Paulo, via a few hundred beautifully photogenic metres.
Listen to Fado
The traditional music of Portugal, Fado’s roots can be traced back to 1820’s Lisbon, when Portugal was in the midst of the Liberal Revolution. The Portuguese word saudade, meaning longing, is used to describe the melancholy and mournful lyrics and tunes. Fado has been on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2011, and is a must-do activity when you have just one evening in Lisbon.
Pastel de Nata are best eaten warm from the oven, when the pastry is crisp and the custard is heavy with caramelisation. Ask for it warm when you order.
Top Five Lisbon Travel Tips
- Skip the Lisboa Card. If you follow our itinerary many of our Lisbon sightseeing suggestions are free. You need to spend at least 2 days in Lisbon to get value for money from the card.
- Don’t eat the ‘free’ food. Many people sit down to enjoy a meal and are impressed to see complimentary bread, cheese, and olives arrive just moments after. These are not free, and if you don’t want them, just tell the waiter right away. Otherwise, you’ll find charges on your bill at the end of the meal.
- Watch your pockets. Lisbon in general is a very safe city. But at the popular tourist sites and on crowded trams, pickpockets have been known to roam.
- Dine away from the tourist areas. Food and drinks are much more expensive around the main plaza than other places in Lisbon. Avoid eating in that area to save on food costs.
- Wear good shoes. One of the best things about Lisbon is that while it’s a trendy, hip place, it’s ok to dress casually (unlike other cities in Europe). Wearing sneakers with your dress is common here ladies! Don’t try to wear heels on Lisbon’s hilly streets.
Do you have just a little longer to spend in Lisbon?
Do you have just half a day more in Lisbon, or perhaps you can extend your trip and see Lisbon in one weekend? Add these attractions and day trips from Lisbon to your itinerary;
- Visit Belém Tower – Take a stroll west along the river to the Torre de Belem, officially the Tower of Saint Vincent. A 16th century fortification, Portuguese explorers once embarked on their adventures to discover new lands from here. Now a symbol of Portugal’s great Age of Discovery, the Belem Tower stands proud in the Targus river.
- Climb the Sanctuary of Christ the King – Cross the river to the other side and see the 20th century statue of The Sanctuary of Christ the King, modelled on Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, which stands over the river and provides spectacular views of Lisbon from the top.
- Chill at the Lisbon Greenhouses – Visit the often overlooked Estufa Fria, or Greenhouses, a haven of lush tropical and exotic plants and water features. The plants are housed in three magical greenhouses with slatted bamboo roofs, in the northwestern corner of Parque Eduardo VII.
- Be amazed by Sintra – Take a day trip to one of Portugal’s favourite national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the city of Sintra, once the home of Portuguese royalty. Home to colourful Pena Palace and Quinta Da Regaleira, where the mysterious Initiation Well is a top Instagram draw, Sintra is like nowhere else in Europe. On our recommended and very well reviewed Sintra day trip you’ll also see Capo de Roca, mainland Europe’s most westerly point, some of the best beaches in Portugal and the lively town of Cascais, one of Portugal’s top coastal resorts.
- Visit Porto – Take a high speed train from Lisbon to Porto
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