Lisbon in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

If you only have 24 hours to visit Lisbon you can use this guide to get to know the essentials of this beautiful city.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

9 min read

Lisbon in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Lisbon Tramway | ©Julian Dick

Lisbon is a city with a lot to see and a lot to do. But you will not always be lucky enough to have several days to visit it. If you only have 24 hours to get to know the Portuguese capital, don't worry. If you organize yourself well you can visit the most important monuments in just one day.

With this itinerary designed to make the most of your visit, you will get to know the historic center of the city and the Belém district in just a few hours. These two areas concentrate most of Lisbon's must-see sights and will even give you the chance to enjoy some of the country's traditions.

Start the day with the best views: The Portas do Sol viewpoint in Alfama

The Portas do Sol viewpoint| ©Vitor Oliveira
The Portas do Sol viewpoint| ©Vitor Oliveira

Lisbon is known as "the city of seven hills". And it is that the city itself grows around them. Thanks to this orography we have the possibility of contemplating several panoramic views of the whole city. The best view, in my opinion, is the one offered by the Mirador de Portas do Sol. You can know all the details with a tour of the Alfama neighborhood.

This viewpoint gives us beautiful views of the old part of the city with the Tagus River in the background and is the best place to start the day. Near this point there are several terraces where you can have a good breakfast while enjoying the views and recharge your batteries to start the day. Very close to it we also have the Mirador de Santa Lucia.

Another way to know the basics of Lisbon is with a guided tour, some of them offer you the best things to see and do in the city center. Just keep in mind the times and check beforehand the route of each one so you don't miss anything.

Book a tour of Alfama and São Jorge neighborhoods

Stroll through the historic Alfama neighborhood

Alfama neighborhood| ©Vitor Oliveira
Alfama neighborhood| ©Vitor Oliveira

Both the Portas do Sol and Santa Lucia viewpoints are located in Alfama, a neighborhood that grows in the east of Lisbon on the slopes of the hill below the Castle of St. George, and strolling through its streets is a must in the Portuguese capital. If you do not want to miss any detail, you have the option to book a guided tour of the Alfama neighborhood.

Delight yourself with the architecture and admire some of its monuments such as the Castle of St. George or the National Pantheon. Unfortunately, having only 24 hours, we won't stop to visit inside these two places and many others. But the outside views and the walk are attractive enough to enjoy the area.

Book a guided tour of the Alfama neighborhood

Admire the Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral| ©Ian Gampon
Lisbon Cathedral| ©Ian Gampon

Of all the monuments in the Alfama district, there is one that stands out above the rest and that deserves a more leisurely visit. This is the Cathedral of Lisbon, known as the Catedral de Sé.

It is one of the oldest buildings in Lisbon, as it is one of the few that has survived the many earthquakes and fires that have ravaged the city throughout its history. Romanesque in style, it houses the remains of the patron saint of Lisbon, St. Vincent, as well as a beautiful cloister and a treasure of great value. It can be visited for free and paying an extra 2,5€ we can add to the visit the cloister and the treasure.

A fun way to get to know the Cathedral is with a tuk tuk express tour of Lisbon. One of its stops is in this place, where the guide will tell you, in Spanish, the most important of its history.

Book an express tuk tuk tuk tour

Take the Santa Justa Elevator and get to know Rua Augusta

Santa Justa Elevator and Rua Augusta| ©Rob Oo
Santa Justa Elevator and Rua Augusta| ©Rob Oo

After visiting the Cathedral we will head to the historic center of Lisbon. Here there is a lot to see, but we will prioritize one of the most famous points of the city, the Elevador de Santa Justa. Located on the street with the same name, about 20 minutes from the Cathedral, this particular elevator connects the neighborhoods of Baixa Pombalina and Chiado. It is 45 meters high, which also allows us to have good views of the center of Lisbon.

If we are on time, near this point we find the ruins of the Convento do Carmo and Pedro IV Square, two places worth visiting, but only if the clock allows us to do so.

After visiting the Elevador de Santa Justa it is time to visit the most famous street in Lisbon. Rua Augusta is the main artery of the Baixa district in the heart of Lisbon. It is a long pedestrian street that is home to countless stores and restaurants.

Book a tour of Lisbon

Walk around the Commerce Square

Commerce Square| ©Francisco Anzola
Commerce Square| ©Francisco Anzola

The historic Praça do Com ércio is accessed through the Arco da Rua Augusta and leads to an extension crowned at its center by the equestrian statue of José I and directly on the banks of the Tagus River. A key stop if you book a tour of Lisbon.

Here we can go up to the Mirador do Arco and contemplate its architecture, photograph the equestrian statue of José I and approach the Cais das Colunas pier on the banks of the Tagus.

This square is also a hub for transport, both maritime and streetcar, which passes very frequently and we will use to approach another area that we will visit in the afternoon.

Book a tour of Lisbon

Stop for lunch

Belém pastries| ©André Luís
Belém pastries| ©André Luís

If the morning has gone smoothly, you will arrive at Praça do Comércio at noon and it is time to stop for lunch. At this point you have two options:

  • Find a restaurant in the vicinity of the square.
  • Take a tourist streetcar that will take us to the Belém neighborhood and eat there.
  • Take a gastronomic tour in Lisbon to get to know the local products and take 100% advantage of lunch.

My advice is to first eat at a restaurant near the square to refuel and then take a streetcar to the Belém neighborhood in time for dessert. The ride from the Plaza del Comercio to Belém is 20 minutes and, once there, we can look for a pastry shop to taste the typical Belém pastries with a coffee.

It is worth mentioning that Lisbon is a city with a strong gastronomic tradition. There are plenty of gastronomic tours in Lisbon and wine tastings that can be done throughout the Portuguese capital.

Book a gastronomic tour in Lisbon

Visit the Belém neighborhood

Houses in the Belém neighborhood| ©Eneritz Uriarte
Houses in the Belém neighborhood| ©Eneritz Uriarte

There is a lot to see and do in this neighborhood of Lisbon. For this reason, and so that you don't miss anything, I recommend you to book a tour of the Belém neighborhood. I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

To get to the Belém neighborhood from Praça do Comércio we just have to take the streetcar line 15. The trip takes just 20 minutes. Technically, Belém is not a neighborhood of Lisbon, but it is a city that was annexed to the capital. It is, therefore, about 7 kilometers from the center, but is home to many of the most important places in Lisbon.

The Jerónimos Monastery or the Belém Tower, two of the most representative symbols of Lisbon are located in this area. This area was one of the least affected by the 1755 earthquake that severely affected many parts of the city and, therefore, better preserves its monuments. Its origin dates back to the sixteenth century, coinciding with the era of the conquistadors, which greatly conditions the character of its buildings.

Book a tour of the Belém neighborhood

Discover a world heritage building: The Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery| ©Minh TRAN
The Jerónimos Monastery| ©Minh TRAN

Lisbon is a city with a lot to see and a lot to do. And visiting the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém neighborhood is a must. So that you can make the most of the day, I recommend you book your tickets in advance.

This building was born out of the golden age of the great explorers who brought numerous riches to the Portuguese capital and built the monastery as a sign of greatness. Such was the investment that it took more than 100 years to build it. Its facade, the interior of the church or its cloister are the highlights of this World Heritage Site since 1983.

It is not only the most visited monument in Lisbon, but also in all of Portugal, so I recommend you to get your tickets in advance. It is open every day of the week except Mondays. It is a must visit if you travel to Lisbon.

Book tickets for the Jeronimos Monastery

Don't miss the Monument to the Discoveries

The Monument of the Discoveries| ©Matt Kieffer
The Monument of the Discoveries| ©Matt Kieffer

Leaving the Jerónimos Monastery and very close to the Tagus coast is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument or the Monument to the Discoveries. If you want to know it in depth, do not hesitate to book a tour of the Belém neighborhood

This spectacular construction of 52 meters high was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator and as a tribute to all the adventurers and discoverers who marked the history of Portugal.

The very ground where the building is erected is also part of the ensemble, since it is represented on it a world map with the voyages and expeditions of the most famous explorers who departed from Portugal. Located on the banks of the Tagus, this monument is worth stopping for a few minutes to contemplate it before approaching the last stop on our itinerary.

Book a tour of the Belém neighborhood

End the day at the Belém Tower

Belém Tower| ©Jan Krutisch
Belém Tower| ©Jan Krutisch

To end our day in Lisbon we will visit another of the main symbols of the city, the Belém Tower. Despite its apparent simplicity, this small fort was also declared a World Heritage Site. It is contemporary of the Jerónimos Monastery and was built by order of King Manuel I to serve as a fort and lighthouse.

Although at first it does not impose too much by its dimensions, its charm is in its shape and in the small details. It is when we look at its decoration that we appreciate the charm of the tower. If we have time to spare, we can go inside to enjoy the views of the Tagus and the Belém district.

To do this, do not forget to book your tickets for the Tower of Belém in advance to make the most of the day and the visit. This is the ideal place to end our day trip to Lisbon.

Book tickets for the Belém Tower

Tips for visiting Lisbon in one day

Aerial view of the Moorish Castle in Sintra| ©Hellotickets
Aerial view of the Moorish Castle in Sintra| ©Hellotickets

To make the most of your 24-hour visit to Lisbon I leave you these tips that may be useful:

  • Much of the itinerary is done on foot through cobbled and steep streets so choosing good footwear is of vital importance.
  • Don't let the sheets stick to you. In this scenario it is best to start the day with the first light of day. Since the views from the viewpoints of the Alfama district are more beautiful and we will have less difficulty finding a good place on a terrace for breakfast.
  • Lisbon is a city with a long gastronomic tradition. To eat near the Commerce Square you have good quality-price restaurants, also in the streets between the Santa Justa elevator and the Commerce Square. Da Prata 52 or the Paludarium are two good places.
  • Leave room for dessert and when you visit the Belém neighborhood you can't miss the traditional Belém cakes. They are cream tarts that you can enjoy in any cafeteria, but the best ones are found near the Jerónimos Monastery.
  • Among the most visited monuments in Portugal is the Jerónimos Monastery, book your tickets in advance.
  • To go from Commerce Square to the Belém district, it is best to book the streetcar. But you can also book a cruise along the coast along the Tagus and is a good option if you want to relax.

Book Lisboa Card