How to Spend 2 Days in Lisbon: An Efficient, Fun-Filled Itinerary!

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Only two days in Lisbon?! You better be ready to run.

After all, Portugal’s absurdly attractive capital is packed to the brim with sights, views, and unbelievable treats, with unbelievable uphill walks to match.

So if you’re hoping to conquer Lisbon in 48 hours or less, then I suggest you prep your cauldron of coffee now.

For what it’s worth, the work is worth it and you’ll soon be what I am: smitten. After two visits (and several laps of the local Pastéis de Nata circuit), I’m convinced this is one of the best city breaks you can enjoy in Europe… so long as you plan properly.

There are tons of amazing things to do in Lisbon, but there are also many easy mistakes that first-time visitors can make. So, let me help!

Here is my guide to experiencing two days in Lisbon, packed with the top highlights in the city and some of the more alternative gems that make the city so magical!

Save this Lisbon in 2 Days Itinerary for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

Getting Around Lisbon

Before you arrive, here’s everything you need to know about getting around town: 

  • Download the Bolt app: Bolt is essentially a more affordable version of Uber. I used it during my trip in Lisbon, and the most expensive ride was only €10. Definitely make sure to download it before you get here!
  • Public Transportation: Between the buses, trams, metro, and ferries, Lisbon’s public transit system can take you anywhere you want in 30 minutes or less. The easiest way to pay would be to get a Viva Viagem card (a reloadable transit pass) at any metro station.
  • Walking, walking, and more walking: The city center is fairly small and all the main attractions are within walking distance. But be warned – Lisbon isn’t called “The City of Seven Hills” for no reason. You’d certainly save a lot on a gym membership by living here because just going to grab a coffee is a full workout. But with scenic views of the charming old town, the colorful houses, and the river at nearly every turn, walking around Lisbon is the prettiest workout I’ve ever had. 
  • Download CityMapper: For some reason, Google Maps kept leading me astray in Lisbon. The CityMapper app is more accurate and has all the bus and metro schedules on it. 

Okay, now that the transportation info is settled, it’s time for sightseeing!

Day One: Lisbon’s Top Sights

The first day of our Lisbon 48-hour itinerary is all about getting the touristy must-sees out of the way. Today, you’re in for a whirlwind tour of Lisbon’s best sights, with enough time to relax and guarantee that you’ll fall head over heels for this vibrant city.

Breakfast/Brunch in the City Center

We’re starting our day off right with breakfast in the city center. Breakfast isn’t traditionally a big meal in Portugal, but in recent years more and more brunchy breakfast places have begun to spring up around town. Here are some recommendations:

  • Fauna & Flora: Arguably the most popular brunch spot in the center. They have all the classic breakfast dishes and a few things you won’t find anywhere else (what’s an avocado-salmon “nest”? I have no idea, but I intend to find out) 
  • Zenith Brunch & Cocktails: All-day brunch? Breakfast cocktail hour? Say less. 
  • Dear Breakfast: A cute brunch cafe located right outside one of the famous yellow tram stops, so you can sit back and watch as it goes by.

Alternatively, you can just pop into a bakery and inhale a few pastries to power you through the day!

Morning: Enjoy Alfama

We’re going to kickstart our two days in Lisbon with a visit to the glorious Alfama neighbourhood, a photogenic maze of hilly streets that oozes history from every cobble thanks to its status as Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood.

The significance of this neighbourhood is best understood with a little story. In case you didn’t know, 1755 was a year that changed Lisbon forever.

It was on the 1st of November, 1755 that one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history shook the city.

Adding further drama, this day coincided with a Catholic holiday where thousands of candles were lit across the city’s many churches. As the earth shook, these candles got knocked over, causing massive fires that engulfed the city… followed promptly by one of Europe’s largest ever tsunamis.

… and Alfama was one of the few parts of town to largely escape the damage.

So, a wander through Alfama today is a wander through historic Lisbon at its finest, hence why it makes sense to start your day here.

The trouble with Alfama though is that it’s VERY hilly, and finding a way to efficiently explore all the sights without a constant up/down is tough. So, just be mindful that you should make a bit of a plan before you head out (or follow mine), otherwise you may be getting quite the workout.

First though, let’s chat about an optional activity for certain days of the week.

If your visit coincides with a Tuesday or Saturday, then a fun addition to your two days in Lisbon may be a visit to the massive outdoor flea market, Feira da Ladra, a great place to score Lisbon souvenirs on a budget.

Here, you’ll find an eclectic mix of classic Lisbon souvenirs, vintage clothes, and random flea market knick-knacks.

This place can be packed by noon, so try to get here bright and early…. and steer clear of the tile stalls. Unfortunately, many of the ‘antique’ tiles being sold here are procured through illegal means.

In the vicinity of this market, you’ll also find key Alfama attractions such as…

  • National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional) | Entry Included w/ Lisbon Card: A beautiful neoclassical building housing the tombs of famous Portuguese figures
  • Church of São Vicente of Fora: A lavishly decorated 17th-century church and monastery considered one of the finest buildings in Lisbon.

If time (and preserving your leg strength) is a priority though, what I’d recommend is tactically starting at the top of Alfama then wandering down, ideally catching a bus, tram or taxi to the top at the start of the day.

If you want to start at the highest point, São Jorge Castle is your place. Fortifications have stood on this site for thousands of years, but following that aforementioned earthquake, what we see today is largely the result of extensive restorations in the 1940s.

To be honest, I don’t think entering the castle is a must-do, especially if you’re on a time crunch, but the views are truly spectacular. If you DO plan to visit though, make sure you arrive at opening time to avoid crowds and buy your tickets in advance.

If you’d prefer to explore Alfama at a more relaxed pace, then I’d suggest simply walking around and seeing where your explorations take you.

To me, the charm of this neighbourhood is anchored in its maze-like mix of residential and commercial streets, and discovering the little gems on your own is half the fun.

For the Type A amongst you however, here are some of the main sights to check off your list as you wander down from the castle.

A short walk from the castle, you’ll find the Amália Rodrigues Mural, a unique mosaic dedicated to one of the most famous Portuguese singers of all time, famed for popularizing Fado.

From there, you can head to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro Portas do Sol, which are both close to each other, and offer beautiful views.

The best way to fully ‘drink in’ the view though is at Bar Terraço de Santa Luzia, where you can enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine with truly epic views.

From there, I’d weave my way through Alfama’s signature charming streets to continue onwards to the other main sights…

  • Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa): The city’s oldest church, dating back to the 12th century
  • St Anthony’s Church: A pretty Baroque Church from the 18th century, supposedly marking the birthplace of Saint Anthony
  • Casa dos Bicos: AKA the House of Spikes, a unique building adorned with diamond-shaped stones, once a palace and today home to the Saramago Foundation

Take a Lunch Break

After all that walking, it’s time to grab a bite! Whether you choose to dine in Alfama or move onwards to Baixa (our next stop, though beware of many tourist trap restaurants), you truly are spoiled for choice.

Lisbon is a serious foodie dream and you won’t have any trouble finding a good place to eat.

Here are some places recommended by a friend who lives locally:

  • Focaccia in Giro: Their made-from-scratch focaccia is their specialty, and the outdoor terrace is the perfect spot for people-watching. 
  • Bonjardim: A traditional Portuguese restaurant that’s blown up recently for having the best Peri-Peri chicken in Lisbon. Make sure to get a reservation in advance because it can get packed!
  • Il Mercato Lisboa: The freshly made roasted truffle and pumpkin ravioli is the stuff of dreams.
A cheese and tomato sandwich and mint lemonade at an outdoor restaurant.
Lunch at Focaccia in Giro

Afternoon: Explore Baixa & Chiado

Alright, from the historic streets of Alfama, our afternoon will be spent in the (much more modern) Baixa neighbourhood, which was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake with an easy-to-navigate grid layout, making exploring much easier (though perhaps a bit less charming).

Baixa is home to a number of Lisbon’s most iconic sights, but given its position in the city centre, it’s also filled with a number of tourist traps, pickpockets, and crowds.

So, be mindful of your valuables (and brush up on how to avoid pickpockets in Europe!) I say this from sad first-hand experience.

There’s a lot to explore in Baixa, but here’s a rough route to follow.

Start your explorations in Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s main square. Overlooking the Tagus river, this picture-perfect spot stands as a symbol of the city’s resilience.

Built following the 1755 Earthquake, the square today is lined with vibrant architectural eye candy, as well as a few shops, cafes, and restaurants.

From the square, you can walk through the Rua Agusta Arch, built to commemorate the city’s post-earthquake reconstruction.

You can actually climb to the top of the arch for a view over the square, although to be honest, there are many better viewpoints to be enjoyed in Lisbon.

From there, you can choose your own adventure through the neighbourhood’s grid-like streets, with the ultimate goal of reaching Rossio Square.

The Santa Justa Lift is a must-see stop along the way (although I’d advise skipping the forever-lengthy line-up to ride it). The view up top is great, but you can easily get up there on your own without waiting in line… which we will do later!

Gawking at it however is 100% encouraged.

This unique structure is one of the most iconic sights of Lisbon, designed by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, a great admirer of Gustave Eiffel (yes, of the Parisian Tower) whose influence can clearly be seen on this imposing metal wonderwall.

When you’ve had enough of meandering around dodging tourist trap restaurants, continue our Lisbon two day itinerary by visiting Rossio Square, a lively square adorned with fountains and monuments, plus cool squiggly cobblestones.

From here, it’s time to venture onwards to the elegant Chiado neighbourhood, famed for its cafes, restaurants, boutiques and bookshops… including Livraria Bertrand, which holds the title of world’s oldest bookstore still in operation according to the Guinness Book of World Records, dating back to 1732.

Of course, Carmo Convent is another must-see in this area, serving as a stark reminder of the 1755 Earthquake. It was on this spot almost 300 years ago that the convent’s roof collapsed during an All Saint’s Day Mass, crushing the congregation below.

Today, the convent ruins are accessible via a small entry fee.

From here, you can easily access the famous view seen from the top of the Santa Justa Lift – just find Bellalisa Elevador on Google Maps (it’s a former restaurant that’s closed now, but still visible on Maps) then follow the stairs next to it to get amazing views over the city.

You can even pay 1.50 to access the very top of the lift for the full experience, although the view from just that area is stunning enough as-is.

Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Chiado, and seeing for yourself why it’s one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods in the city!

And if you don’t mind the detour: you can also make an extra trip to see one of Lisbon’s most photographed spots, the very Barbie ‘Pink Street’ (a 10ish minute walk from Carmo Convent).

Sunset: Drinks at Park (or a Miradouro)

Lisbon has no shortage of glorious places to catch the sunset, thanks to the many miradouros (viewpoints) dotted around the city.

The best view in my opinion however goes to Park, a buzzing and youthful rooftop bar that is discretely plopped over a multi-story parking garage. If you try to find this place on Google Maps, you might struggle, because there’s absolutely zero signage to guide your way.

Here’s how you find Park – get to the address via Google Maps and walk into the parking garage. Find the elevator and go to the top floor. From there, you’ll access Park via an additional set of stairs.

Psst, get there early – this bar is no secret among locals and around sunset on a nice day, it gets really packed. If you don’t manage to find a place to sit, don’t worry, the parking lot just a floor below gives you a glimpse of the same view, so you can meander down there (though of course, the ambiance is nowhere as good).

Lisbon's skyline as the sunsets

Alternatively, the Miradouro de Santa Catarina is a short walk away, so you can catch sunset from there. 

Photo by Rob De Putter on Unsplash

Evening: Enjoy dinner or some nightlife in Bairro Alto

I stayed in this district during my time in Lisbon and let me tell you: it completely transformed at night. After the sun goes down, the streets light up with bustling restaurants and cool bars completely packed with people. It’s the center for all things nightlife in Lisbon so if you’re looking to dance the night away, this is where you want to be!

Wondering where to grab a bite? Here are some recommendations?

  • Cevicheria: If you like seafood, this is the place for you! Cevicheria is one of the hottest restaurants in town, but alongside that popularity comes a particularly painful wait for a table. I dined at their sister restaurant while in Lisbon (sadly now closed) but it was AMAZING. So I have no doubt that Cevicheria is delicious too.
  • Rocco: If you’re feeling particularly boujee, then you have to check out this glamorous bar. Oddly enough, the most beautiful part of this restaurant is the bathroom. Just trust me on this one, but it’s the best place to take all your group photos.
  • Nova Wine Bar: a more laid-back and affordable option. The owners know everything there is to know about wine and how best to pair it with food. If you ask for a recommendation you won’t be disappointed!
A plate of ceviche

Day Two: Diving into ‘Alternative’ Lisbon

Now that you’ve explored the mainstream hotspots of beautiful Lisbon, it’s time to dip your toes into all that Lisbon has to offer beyond the city center. 

The great thing about spending two days in Lisbon is that you have extra time to branch out from the main hotspots. Today, prepare yourself for sweet treats, cool sights, and a foray into the alternative.

Breakfast: Treat Yo’self to as Much Pastel de Nata as Humanly Possible

It’s time *cue the music* for the famous pastel de nata. Pastel de nata is a sweet custard tart with a crisp flaky crust that is so good, you can hear the Hallelujah chorus start to play when you take your first bite. 

Pastel de nata and espresso is a traditional Portuguese breakfast, but you can – and should – eat them throughout the day. I don’t care if it’s dramatic, I’m going to say it anyway – you need to be eating one of these pastries every single chance you get. They’re that good. 

It’s been hotly debated who has the “best” pastel de nata in Lisbon, and if you asked 100 people, you’d get 100 different answers. You’ll have to see for yourself, but personally, I’d say these are some strong contenders for the best pastel de nata in Lisbon:

Morning: Take a Mini-Trip to Belém

Belém is a small town about a 10-minute train ride from central Lisbon. It’s a great way to see a different side of Portugal without spending too much time or money to get there! There are historic buildings, great restaurants, and peacock-filled botanic gardens that make it an absolute must for any trip to Lisbon.

PRO TIP: If you’re traveling in a group, I highly recommend sharing a Bolt to Belém instead of taking the train. While the train ride itself isn’t long, the ticket line always is. Taking a Bolt skips the hassle and doesn’t cost much more than the train ticket would.  

We’ll start our visit with one of the most famous sights of Lisbon: the Tower of Belém, a unique tower framed by the sea dating back to the 16th century.

This mystical sight looks straight out of a fantasy film, and while it’s possible to pay entry to visit the inside, I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize this if you’re short on time, as there’s not a lot to see in the tower itself.

If you do decide to explore it further though, you have to make it your mission to find the rhino. Instead of a gargoyle, the Tower of Belém has a rhinoceros statue keeping watch over it. This was from the Great Rhino/Elephant Battle of 1515 – I swear, I’m not making this up! 

The story behind this crazy fight started when the first-ever rhino arrived in Lisbon in the 1500s as a gift to the king, who thought it would be a good idea to try to make it fight an elephant.

It didn’t go as planned – it’s hard to make elephants do anything they don’t want to do, and the elephant just sort of walked away – making the rhino the default winner!

The statue is a bit hidden on the tower, and part of the fun is trying to find it on your own. No spoilers here! Your only hint is that it’s easier to see when the tide is low.

The other main sight of Belem is Jerónimos Monastery, an imposing structure dating back to 1502, known as one of the oldest buildings in Lisbon to not be rebuilt, thanks to its survival during the 1755 earthquake.

The cloisters here are a beautiful highlight, although lengthy line-ups make it much less tempting if you’re short on time. If you do decide to go inside, make sure you book a ticket in advance. (FYI entry is included w/ a Lisbon Card)

Otherwise, the monastery is still stunning from the outside, and there’s a cute park out front where you can relax and listen to the busking musicians.

Next door, there’s also the (free) Santa Maria de Belém Church, which is worth a look if the line-up isn’t too long.

Time permitting, there are a few other unique sights in Belém to check out, including…

  •  MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)
  • Museu Nacional dos Coches (the National Coach Museum) | Entry Included w/ Lisbon Card:

Lunch Time

Now we’re grabbing a bite to eat in one of Belém’s tasty restaurants. Some of the best ones that aren’t to be missed are: 

  • Pastéis de Belém: The OG pastel de nata bakery. In 1837, monks from the Jeronimos Monastery created the recipe and began selling them in the shop across the street, and the rest is history. 
  • Miolo: An adorably pink cafe that feels vaguely like a Barbie Dreamhouse (that serves pancakes that are absolutely out of this world). 
  • Cervejaria Portugália: A waterfront brewery next door to the Monument of Discoveries. I can only personally vouch for the gelato, but it was to die for. 
  • Pão Pão Queijo Queijo: This sandwich shop recommendation came to me from a local who has lived in Belém her whole life, which means it must be amazing.

Afternoon: LxFactory

Alright, now shifting gears after a fabulous morning in Belém, we’re moving onwards to LxFactory, which is hands down, one of the coolest places in Lisbon! 

Once upon a time, it was an old textile factory, but now it houses second-hand stores, outdoor markets, killer restaurants, a three-story bookstore, and usually live music.

Here are a few stops you especially shouldn’t miss:

  • Ler Devagar Bookstore: In my opinion one of the most photogenic and unique bookstores in the entire world. Part bookshop, part record store, and part concert venue, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.  Not to mention that the photo ops are endless.
A woman reads a book in a large bookstore, behind a cardboard cutout of a woman on a bicycle hanging in the air
A low point in my life: pretending to read for a photo opp
  • Mex Factory: did I love this place just because of the ambiance? Maybe. But the vibes were immaculate. At one point, the band sang the Tequila song, and every single diner was treated to a free shot of tequila. That, plus cheesy burritos and fruity cocktails make this the perfect spot to spend a Saturday afternoon. 
  • More Than Wine: A whole store dedicated to different Portuguese wines. Of course, if you’re in Lisbon, trying Lisbon wine is a must!
  • LX Market: Every Sunday the Lx Factory holds an outdoor market with stalls of vintage or handmade clothing, jewelry, and decor.
  • LX Hostel Rooftop Bar: stay long enough, and I can recommend catching the sunset from the roof of LX Hostel. You’ll be able to see the red April 25th bridge, the Tejo River, and the Christ statue during golden hour.
Lisbon's iconic red bridge

Evening: Take a Fado Boat Cruise

Fado is traditional Portuguese music that started right here in Lisbon.

One of the best ways to end your time in Lisbon is to catch a boat from the Praça Comércio for a sunset cruise!

With a tour like this one, you’ll get treated to drinks, live music, and sunset views of this beautiful city. Most cruises take you down to Belém and back, so you’ll get a different angle of all the monuments you saw earlier.

I Hope You Enjoyed This Guide on How to Spend Two Days in Lisbon!

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! I think you’ll be well prepared. Armed with this 2 Day Lisbon itinerary, I hope you’ll be able to make the most of every second you have in this gorgeous jewel of a city.

Safe travels, and happy Pastel de Nata-ing! As always, if I missed any important places, let me know in the comments.

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights: For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

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