Lisbon in a day:
How best to spend one day in Lisbon.
Wondering how best to spend 1 day in Lisbon, Portugal?
Are you visiting Lisbon, but sadly have very little time to explore the city? Do you want to make the very best of your stay, in this special city that has captured so many traveller’s hearts?! Wondering what to see in Lisbon in one day?
Lisbon certainly is best explored over a couple of days. At the least I would suggest to stay in Lisbon for 3 days or more. But, if you are stretched for time and don’t have any alternative then you can certainly tick the main sights and impressive Lisbon landmarks off your list of things to see in a day in Lisbon!
Whilst it may seem a daunting task, since there are so many things to see in Lisbon in one day, it certainly isn’t impossible!
In this post I’m going to help you out by outlining what you should see and do if you are really tight on time. In this 1 Day Lisbon Itinerary, I’m going to guide you through how I would spend my day in the city, in the hope that you will get to truly experience the essence of this wonderful place.
After which, I’m sure you will feel inspired to return again soon.
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Lisbon is known for it hills, some more treacherous than others. As such I’ll start off on higher ground and move down-wards from there, in order to help ease you into a full day of walking & sightseeing. This will be the perfect start to your One day in Lisbon itinerary.
Kicking off at Parque Eduardo VII, walk up the park to the top viewing platform by the statue and water feature as well as a massive Portuguese flag proudly waving in the wind. Or you may want to cross the road and head further up to the top of the Jardim Amália Rodrigues.
From here, take in the beautiful views sloping down over Lisbon. You’ll be able to see all the way down Avenida Liberdade right down to the waterfront. Straight ahead and to the left you will also be able to see the castle of São Jorge (Castelo de São Jorge) perched atop one of Lisbon’s many hills I mentioned earlier.
Tip: The Parque Eduardo VII park is the location for the cities biggest festive fairs. If you’re visiting over December then head over here for the best Portuguese Christmas fair and admire the festive cheer!
After snapping some photos and admiring the view, head back down Parque Eduardo in the direction of the Marques de Pombal roundabout found at the bottom of the park. You cannot miss this roundabout, it has the statue of the Marques Pombal who was know to have rebuilt the city of Lisbon after the horrific earthquake, fire and tsunami of 1755.
If you are facing Marques de Pombal, then head down on the left-hand side of the park and stop about halfway down when you get to the beautiful Pavilhão Carlos Lopes building, which should be to your left. It’s hard not to miss this one. It is a stunning yellow-y building with gorgeous blue and white tiles. We stop by here often on our morning walks, just to admire the architecture and beautiful intricate tilework that is so authentically Portuguese.
Stop 2: Avenida Liberdade:
Next up on our 1-day in Lisbon itinerary, once you reach the Marques de Pombal roundabout, head straight across from here and walk through Avenida Liberdade. This beautiful tree-lined Avenue happens to be the most expensive street in Lisbon! Here you will find all the elite fashion houses, from Michael Kors to Prada, Gucci and many more, all located along this premium piece of Lisbon real estate.
Although shopping here may be reserved for the ultra-rich and something I certainly cannot afford, it still is worth strolling through. Definitely visit one of the bars / kiosks dotted all along this avenue (they’re green dome-roofed kiosks you’ll see on the side of the avenue and also found throughout the city!). Why not stop here and enjoy a Portuguese drink as you admire the gorgeous Lisbon scenery.
Despite it being located where on this posh stretch, prices are generally speaking very reasonable. It’s a perfect spot to relax, drink in hand and watch the city go by.
Stop 3: Rossio Square:
After sipping a coffee, tea or even a cocktail or two (come on, you’re on holiday in Lisbon, right?!), head further along Avenida Liberdade till you get to the end of the avenue.
From here you can carry on further down and to the left, you will now reach the well-known Rossio square.
The square itself is rather pretty with its wave patterned tiles and fountains on either side.
Be sure to look out for the bright carnival-esque shop selling canned sardines with your birth year on. The shop is called O Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha Portuguesa, which translates as “The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines”. I know this sounds very random, but I think that these fun, quirky, and colourful sardine tins make a rather cool and somewhat unique souvenir to remember Lisbon by!
Stop 4: Rua Augusta street & arch:
From Rossio square you are basically at the start of the famous Rua Augusta shopping and pedestrian street. Lined with various shops as well as street performers, putting on a show, this street can get pretty packed, especially during peak season. But it’s still worth a visit, even if just to say that you’ve seen it!
Word of warning – don’t be put off by the men trying to sell you drugs. Unfortunately, this is one annoyance you have to deal with in Lisbon but they are pretty harmless to say the least. So just ignore them and move on.
If you head all the way down the street you should reach the Rua August Arch, you can’t miss it!
Top tip: you can actually go up to the top of the Arch. Not many people realise this, a great hidden spot in Lisbon that’s worth checking out.
The entrance to the top is fairly cheap at only about 3€ per adult. And I would highly recommend it. The views from the top are so beautiful and, in my opinion, you get one of the best aerial views over downtown Lisbon from the top of the arch.
Stop 5: Praça do Comércio:
Once you’ve finished admiring the breathtaking views up top, it’s time to head on down and go through the arch onto the main square of Praça do Comércio. This is the large open square by the river front framed by yellow buildings all round.
Head towards the water and if you have the arch now behind you, turn right and head all along the riverfront. (But do look back at the arch to catch a glimpse of the castle on the hill). You will see the Christ the Redeemer statue as well as the April 25th bridge (that resembles the Golden Gate bridge) in the distance.
Alongside the riverside you will find a couple more kiosks, ideal to stop off at and enjoy a few more drinks!
Stop 6: Cais do Sodré:
You will eventually get to an area known as Cais do Sodré (which is also where you will find the train and metro station of the same name). In fact, the Cais do Sodré train station is where you can catch the train to get to Cascais from Lisbon when planning a Lisbon day trip!
Across the road from Cais do Sodre station there is a fabulous food market, known as the TimeOut Market or the Portuguese name being – Mercado da Ribeira.
Stop 7: Lunch - TimeOut Market – Mercado da Ribeira:
The TimeOut Market is any food-lovers dream! Why not grab something to eat. It’s the perfect break on our 1-day Lisbon itinerary, allowing you to grab some lunch.
The market comprises tons of food stalls, allowing you to sample the very best and most delicious foods found in Portugal.
With so many delicious Lisbon foods to sample, I would highly recommend you try the croquets or the bacalhau (salt cod fish – very traditional).
Also found at the same market, is a small pastry shop named Manteigaria. Here they sell the famous and scrumptious Pasteis de Nata (traditional egg custard tarts).
You cannot leave Portugal before trying one of these! Definitely buy some to take-away, so you get to savour and enjoy them later. You can never have enough Pasteis de Nata!!
Of course, you can also grab a drink here. Portugal is known the world over for it’s incredible array of Portuguese wine regions and wines. TimeOut is the perfect spot to sample a few of these whilst enjoying the local fare!
If the market is not quite your taste, or you find the setting to crowded, then you thankfully don’t have to wander too far out to find a spot to eat. Situated in and around this area you will find a good selection of Lisbon restaurants to dine at instead.
Stop 8: Chiado:
From Cais do Sodré I would suggest making Chiado your next stop. Catch the metro directly from Cais, catching the green metro line only one stop on to Chiado. Or if you’ve had one too many Pasteis de Nata and feel energetic enough, you could also consider walking up a very steep hill to get to Chiado. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Chiado is regarded as one of the chic areas of Lisbon and you’ll find no shortage of trendy shops, restaurants and bars scattered around. It’s also a very popular choice when considering where to overnight in Lisbon with a good selection of hotels located here, even one or two Palace hotels in case you’d like to feel like a true royal in Portugal!
Consider visiting the Carmo Convent and ruins. Also, if you’re looking for a spot to grab a drink whilst ogling at even more gorgeous views over the city, then head over to Topo Chiado, situated right behind the Carmo ruins.
If you have more time left and you’re up for seeing a bit more of Lisbon, then why not head up the hill from Chiado towards the other very hipster and trendy area of Lisbon, known as Príncipe Real.
But be sure to pop into the stunning São Roque church on your way up. It is definitely one of the most beautiful churches to be found in Lisbon, with very detailed and ornate gold statues lining the walls. It really is an amazing work of art to appreciate and admire, even if you are not religious or Catholic.
Stop 9: Príncipe Real:
Once you get to the top of the hill, you will get to one of my favourite Miradouros (viewpoints) and views in Lisbon.
The Miradouro São Pedro de Alcantara offers yet more brilliant views over the city. I do have to mention though, that at the time of writing this article, there is some construction work taking place in the gardens below. In saying taht, you are still able to enjoy the views! And you should visit this Miradouro regardless.
Heading further along the road, through Príncipe Real, you´ll understand why this area, similar to Chiado is regarded as quite trendy. With it’s bars, concept restaurants and boutiques, it is one of those areas to be seen in! This swanky area is also considered the gay area of Lisbon with many gay clubs and bars found here.
Top Tips: A funky and unique place to grab something to eat or drink is at Lost In. As the name may suggest, it’s a hidden gem that you need to find and it’s not too far up the road from the Miradouro. When you arrive, head out to the outdoor terrace with its colourful umbrellas and very comfy seats to lounge on, and enjoy yet more views over Lisbon. Yes, it’s the views never end, partly what makes Lisboa so special!
Also found in Príncipe Real is the Embaixada shopping centre, located in the Ribeiro da Cunha Palace. It is one of the most iconic buildings in the neighbourhood, a Moorish / Arabian palace. Inside you will find one of the best places to head to if you are a lover of Gin. And it also happens to be aptly name, Gin Lovers. Honestly the best Gin cocktails are found right here!
Tips to make the best of your One Day Lisbon Itinerary
Tip 1: Don’t try and do it all!Unfortunately with such a short time frame you just won’t realistically to do and see it all. Rather focus on the highlights that you’re really interested in and plan the rest for your next visit! You honestly won’t see all of Lisbon in a day.
Tip 2: Why not speed things up – City Sightseeing Bus:Not sure what to see in Lisbon in one day, feeling like you don’t have enough time? Then I have just the solution for you! I always love booking a Hop-On Hop-Off city sightseeing bus, especially if stretched for time. This way, I always feel like I get to cover so much more of a city and I can always go back to the sights I really want to see in more detail. Book here for the Red Sightseeing bus tour or here for the Yellow Bus tour for a 24 hour ticket. Also check out the extra value added benefits that each of these tickets will offer you. For instance entry into certain sights or free public transport.
Tip 3: Don’t waste your day in Lisbon waiting in endless queues:As I’ve already mentioned, you unfortunately will not get to see and do it all. So don’t bother with queues to see specific attractions. Unless of course it is a place you’ve been dying to visit. Rather make the best of your day and try see as much of the city as you can.
Tip 4: Don’t get caught in the tourist trap restaurants:Per my suggestion in this guide, try grab lunch at the TimeOut Market in Cais do Sodré. Don’t get caught in the tourist trap restaurants, especially the ones lining Rua Augusta. You will get a far more authentic foodie experience by having a bite at TimeOut!
Tip 5: Use public transport effectively:Lisbon has a fantastic public transport system and it won’t cost you an arm and leg to get around, even if using cab hailing services. Check out my essential guide on Lisbon’s Transport system for useful tips and tricks pertaining to transport in the city.
Lisbon One Day Tour:
Without a doubt, cramming in everything to see and do into a fully rounded Lisbon one day itinerary can be tricky. But in saying that, you can honestly still see and do so much. Especially if you work smartly and pre-plan your time and routing.
Hopefully in this guide I’ve given you some good tips & inspiration on what to do in Lisbon in one day
If you do happen to find some additional time in your travel plans or are able to extend your stay, and you’re looking for some additional Lisbon travel inspiration, then go ready some of my other posts.
Either way, I am confident that after you get a little taste of Lisbon, you will be inspired to return time and time again to see and explore even more!