The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
Lisbon is an energetic and captivating city, which has so much to offer visitors new to the city. There’s history, heritage, hills, delicious food, bags of character and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife; plenty to entertain visitors with just 24 hours to discover the city.
No matter the reason for the short stay, be it flight connection, an extension to work trip or last-minute getaway, with enough coffee and determination a significant portion of Lisbon could be discovered in only 24 hours. This guide will detail an intense (but plausible) itinerary for 24 hours in Lisbon.
Related articles: 48 hours Lisbon – 3 days Lisbon - 1 week - Lisbon introduction
This is the quick summary for 24 hours in Lisbon, the full detailed guide with links to further information follows this section.
• Hour 1 (9am) – Rossio square and Praca dos Restauradores
• Hour 2 (10am) – The Elevador de Santa Justa and Largo Do Carmo
• Hour 3 (11am) – Rua Augusta, Archo de Rua Augusta and the Praça do Comércio
• Hour 4 (12am) – Rua De Arsenal, City hall and Cais de Sodre district
• Hour 5 (1pm) – Lunch in the Timeout Market
• Hour 6 (2pm) – Ribeira das Naus and Lisbon’s waterfront
• Hour 7 (3pm) – Religious hour; The Se Cathedral and Igreja de Santo António church
• Hour 8 (4pm) – Alfama district and the Miradouro de Santa Luiza
• Hour 9 (5pm) – Explore Lisbon Castle
• Hour 10 (6pm) – Lisbon’s best viewpoint and the Graca district
• Hour 11 (7pm) – A ride on the tram 28
• Hour 12 (8pm) – A Late dinner in Largo do Carmo
• Hour 13 (9pm) – Change of clothes freshen up for night out
• Hour 14 (10pm) – Bairro Alto; the start of the night out
• Hour 15 (11pm) – Praca Luis Camoes – the night continues
• Hour 16 (12pm) – Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint (break from partying)
• Hour 17 (1am) – The Bica Funicular bar street
• Hour 18 (2am) – Cais de Sodre – Home of Lisbon’s clubs and late-night bars
• Hour 19 (3am) – Pink Street (Cais do Sodre) – very late-night socialising
• Hour 20 (4am) – Belem districts and late-night sightseeing
• Hour 21 (5am) – Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and Padrao dos Descobrimentos by night
• Hour 22 (6am) – Late night stroll along the Belem waterfront and sunrise at the Torre de Belem
• Hour 23 (7am) – E15 Tram back to Praça do Comércio (Baixa)
• Hour 24 (8am) – Rua Augusta, experience Lisbon stirring and the start of the day
An interactive map of the 24-hour tour is shown below, the yellow tags are the nightlife stages
So, you just have just 1 day in Lisbon, and sleep isn’t really a necessity, then let’s compress 3 days of sightseeing, nightlife and culture into a crazy 24 hours.
Alternative: For a more realistic 1 day tour of Lisbon, consider following this itinerary until around 9pm when most sane people would be exhausted and need some rest.
Travel Tip: Purchase a 24-hour unlimited public transport ticket, this allows the use of all trams, buses and funiculars, including the Elevador de Santa Justa. These are purchased from any metro station and cost €6.
Rossio is the heart of Lisbon and is a bustling square with open-air cafes, grand architecture and cobbled streets of nauseating stone patterns.
To the north of Rossio is the often overlooked Praca dos Restauradores, and this square is dominated by a huge obelisk, while hidden next to the pink Foz Palace is the Ascensor da Glória funicular.
Don’t miss: A glass of Ginja from the traditional home of the drink, A Ginjinha.
Related articles: Baixa district guide
Rossio’s cobbled streets will make your head spin after too many Ginjas
The Elevador de Santa Justa is an industrial aged marvel that whisks passengers up the steep hill from Baixa to the pretty Largo Do Carmo. Overlooking the Santa Justa are the skeleton ruins of the Igreja Carmo church, a permanent memorial to the horrors of the 1755 earthquake
Insider tip: The Elevador de Santa Justa is included in the 24hour transport ticket
Related articles: Largo Do Carmo guide
The Neo-gothic Elevador de Santa Justa was constructed in an era when iron was used as an art form
The Rua Augusta is the main pedestrianised avenue, connecting Rossio to the magnificent Praça do Comércio. The Rua Augusta is always a hub of activity with a mix of traditional shops, gimmicky tourist attractions and busy cafes. The Praca do Comercio was historically the commercial centre of Lisbon and was where sailors, merchants and financiers would converge to fund voyages or trade expensive cargos.
Don’t miss: The view from the top of the Archo de Rua Augusta (€2 entry)
Related articles: Baixa District - Praça do Comércio guide
The Rua Augusta looking towards the Archo de Rua Augusta
The Rua De Arsenal connects Baixa to Cais do Sodre and is home to important government and ministerial buildings, including the neoclassical styled, Camara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon city hall).
Cais do Sodre is the up and coming district of Lisbon, and much beloved by urban trendy, travelling workers and people in the know. In only 2011 no right-minded person would visit the once seedy district but now it thrives on its rugged character and banging nightlife.
Related articles: Guide to Cais de Sodre
The Camara Municipal de Lisboa
One of the best ways to discover Lisbon and to meet fellow travellers is to join a guided tour. We have worked with Getyourguide.com for the last six years, and some of the best tours of Lisbon include:
The Timeout food market brings together the best of Portuguese cuisines, with dishes designed by Portugal’s finest chefs, all set around a bustling communal seating area. The hectic and social atmosphere of the market, reflects that of a traditional Portuguese café, and is a wonderful location for lunch. With so many different food stalls, the choice of food is extensive, and often it is difficult to select to one meal. Adjoin the Timeout market is the Mercado Da Ribeira the old covered market of Lisbon, filled with stalls selling fresh produce and fish.
The Timeout market, reflecting the tourism transformation of Lisbon; pushing out traditional market
stalls to create one of Lisbon’s most popular attractions…
The newly rejuvenated Ribeira das Naus extends along the waterfront between Cais do Sodre and the Praça do Comércio. This is the setting for tourists and Lisbon’s residents alike, to relax, socialise and watch the estuary water traffic. There are numerous pop-up bars and cafes along the waterfront and is a great time re-energise before climbing the hills into Alfama.
Alternative activity: Departing from Cais do Sodre ferry terminal are inexpensive commuter ferries that cross the Tejo estuary to the town Cacilhas (20 minutes €1.25 single)
Related articles: Ferry guide
The Ribeira das Naus overlooking the suspension bridge and the busy ferry routes
It’s the middle of the day you need somewhere peaceful, cooling and a chance to reflect. Luckily the 24-hour route is passing the gothic Se Cathedral and the charming Igreja de Santo Antonio. The Igreja de Santo Antonio was constructed on the birthplace of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon. The whole city celebrates his feast day on the 13th June with street parties, a carnival and grilled sardines, and the beginning of June is a wonderful time to visit Portugal.
Don’t miss: The iconic picture of Lisbon as the yellow number 28 tram passes in front of the Se Cathedral.
How can you as a reader believe that we have insider knowledge of Lisbon, well we did get married in the Se!
Alfama is the ancient district of Lisbon and is a maze of narrow cobbled streets that lead up from the estuary to the castle. This district was historically the poorest area of the city, home to sailors and dock workers, but has since been transformed into fashionable and chic, without being sterilised of its character. The Portas do Sol is the only large open area in Alfama and the vantage point provides wonderful views over the roofs of the district.
Insider tip: The best way to explore Alfama is simple to get lost in the labyrinth of alleys and uphill climbs.
Related articles: Alfama district
The view from the Portas do Sol which includes Alfama and the new cruise ship terminal
Lisbon castle is one of the best and most popular tourist attractions of Lisbon. The castle dates from the 9th-century Moorish era, but its surprisingly good state of repair is due to a massive restoration project in the 1940s. From the battlements there are panoramic views over Lisbon, while the keep is formed from heavily fortified walls. Visiting the castle later in the day also avoids the tourist crowds.
Don’t miss: The drawing of Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake, which is housed in the first room of the Nucleo Museologico.
Related article: Guide to Lisbon castle
Lisbon castle is high above the rest of the city, apart from the viewpoints visited in the next hour........
The Miradouro da Graça provides wonderful views of the castle and central Lisbon. The only downside is it’s another up-hill walk from the castle.
The Miradouro da Graça viewpoint is situated close to the Graça district and this is the least touristy of all the areas that are visited during the day. The main street of Graça is popular with the Portuguese and is lined with family-run businesses, if you are after an immersion into Portuguese daily life then choose to spend longer in Graça.
Alternative viewpoint: The Miradouro de Nossa Senhora (GPS 38.71922, -9.13289) is the highest point of Lisbon and is the best viewpoint of Lisbon. The viewpoint is again reached from the Graca district, but is a much longer and steep walk, which is probably not wanted after 10hours of sightseeing
Related guides: The best viewpoints of Lisbon.
The view from the Miradouro de Nossa Senhora
The number 28 tram is the classic yellow tram which rattles and screeches through Alfama, Baixa and onto the Estrela district in the west. The tram is a joy to ride, and if you can get a window seat, it provides an outstanding tour of Lisbon.
Unfortunately, the tram is always crowded, but hopefully by 7pm it should be less busy (but it may not!). The tram passes through Graça and this stop is before the very popular tourist stops near the Se and in Baixa. For this more relaxed hour of the tour ride the tram from Graça to Estrela and then ride the tram back to Baixa.
Inside info: the tram is included in the 24-hour public transport ticket
Warning: The 28 tram is a plagued by pickpockets – hide expensive cameras and never give them the opportunity.
Related article: Tram 28 guide
The number 28 tram as it heads into Baixa
After a long days sightseeing it’s time for a delicious dinner. The tourist street of Rua Portas de Santo Antão (close to Baixa) is crammed full of restaurants and always has a great atmosphere.
For a romantic setting try the open-air restaurants on the Calçada do Duque, which from the steep incline provides open air dining with wonderful views over central Lisbon. One of our favourite areas for a meal is the Largo do Carmo, which was visited in the second hour of this tour.
Related article: Guide to the Largo do Carmo
A pastel nata, a delicious desert or lunch time treat
Time to take off those well-worn day clothes and comfy shoes, for something more glamorous and stylish. Hopefully your hotel is close by…
So, let the fun of the night begin!
Bairro Alto is the nightlife district of Lisbon and is also the highest point of the city. This is convenient as most people begin their night at the top of the hill in Bairro Alto and work their way downhill to Cais do Sodre during the night. Bairro Alto is home to underground bars and small venues, where at the weekend the socialising spills onto the narrow-cobbled streets.
Let’s move the night downhill to the Praca Luis Camoes. This section of the city was historically a popular meeting point for artisans and intellectuals, and the square is named after Portugal’s most famous poet Luis Camoes. At 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night you won’t meet any intellectuals, just a bunch of drunk partygoers.
The Praca Luis Camoes by day
The Miradouro de Santa Catarina offers some of the best views of the Tejo estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. The viewpoint attracts, and ecliptic mix of people, and does have a bit sketchy atmosphere (best not to flash expensive camera), but the view at night can’t be beaten.
The Miradouro de Santa Catarina
The Elevador da Bica is another of Lisbon’s traditional funiculars which climbs one of the steepest streets in the city. At 1pm it won’t be running but luckily, it’s a downhill walk from Bairro Alto/ Praca Luis Camoes to Cais do Sodre. The street around the Elevador da Bica is another popular nightlife street with lots of small bars.
Cais do Sodre has become the late night club and bar district of Lisbon, since the residents of Bairro Alto demanded the closing time of their districts bars at 2am. So the party continues down the hill at the former red light district, which is much more tolerant to late night revelries. The busiest nights are Thursday, Friday and Saturday but at the height of the tourists season there will be something going on every night.
Cais de Sodre before thr drinking
For the second hour in Cais do Sodre head to the distractive pink street (as the floor is painted pink). The once grim bars full of sailors and trouble, have been revamped along the district and now is full of lively (and often drunk) tourists and locals. For Live music try Music Box, with it ecliptic selection of styles and patrons.
Warning: Bouncers are awful in Lisbon and will often try to ruin a night. Never try to enter a club when part of a large group of men, and expect selective pricing (e.g. I don’t like you and it is €100 to get in)
Alternative: For a bit more stylish (and less manic) scene head to the clubs of the Santos or Alcantara docks (1km) from Cais do Sodre.
Your head is probably swaying from a combination of drinking, dancing and the amazing atmosphere, but this is no time to stop, as it now to our favourite district of Lisbon, Belem. It may be 4am but this is the best time to visit Belem, as it’s the only time of the day when the district is not crowded with tourists! A taxi or Uber is needed to travel from Cais do Sodre to Belem (5-6€) and ask to get dropped off at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Related article: Tourist guide to Belem
Take a walk from the impressive Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (note the decretive western Portal) to the discoveries monument (the Padrao dos Descobrimentos), which stands on the waterfront and admire the night-time views of the Ponte 25 de Abril Suspension Bridge.
Obviously at this time of night everything is shut, but most of Belem’s monuments are best viewed from the outside, and the walk is a great way to sober up……
Related article: Padrao dos Descobrimentos
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The banks of the Tejo Estuary between the Discoveries Monument and the Torre Belem is one of the most scenic sections of the city, even when viewed before dawn. The route passes the ancient Belem lighthouse, the Doca do Bom Sucesso harbour, the Torre de Belém and ends at the Combatentes do Ultramar. The highlight of this night-time walk will be the Torre de Belém, a delightful fort which once was sat in the middle of the Tejo and guarded the estuary.
The Torre de Belem as viewed from the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
For the penultimate hour, it is a gentle stroll back to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, passing the CCB conference centre, and catching the E15 tram back to the Praça do Comercio. The E15 passes close to the modern artisan district of Lisbon Lux, which is housed in a converted factory, but no artist will be up at 7am (unless they’re in Cais do Sodre)
Related article: E15 tram guide
The E15 tram back to Baixa
Wander back to Rossio square, via the Rua Augusta and watch as the city awakens for another day. Consider collapsing in an open-air café for an early morning coffee and congratulate yourself for spending 24 hours in Lisbon.
Praca do Comercio
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