The Best Way to Spend One Day in Lisbon

Lisbon is Portugal’s vibrant and captivating capital city! So, if you only have one day in Lisbon do you know how you would spend it? I do!

I’ve been to Portugal twice, both times spending time in Lisbon. That’s allowed me to experience the city by spending quality time in some of the best neighbourhoods. And with no shortage of things to see and do in this amazing city, you won’t be able to cover everything, but a day in Lisbon is better than none.

I will share some tips on how to make the most of your 1-day in Lisbon like pre-booking entry will save you time in long lines. I will share the best Lisbon one day itinerary making sure you see some of the highlights like the Alfama Neighbourhood and the main square of Praça do Comércio.

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What to See in Lisbon in 1 Day

view of red roof tops and colourful buildings in a day in Lisbon

If you’re in a hurry, and just want to know what to see in Lisbon in one day use my list below as a quick at-a-glance view of what I recommend.

  • Historic Alfama Neighbourhood
    • St George Castle (option to tour)
    • Viewpoints of Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro Sta. Luzia
    • No. 28 Tram
  • City Centre Baixa Neighbourhood
    • Praça do Comércio
    • Rua Augusta
    • Rossio Square
  • Monument-focused Belém Neighbourhood
    • Belém Tower
    • Jerónimos Monastery
    • Monument to the Discoveries
  • Trendy Cais do Sodre Neighbourhood
    • Time Out Market
  • Lively Chiado Neighbourhood
    • Dinner and Fado performance

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Is One Day in Lisbon Portugal Worth It?

red rooftops with colourful buildings with bridge and sea in one day in lisbon

Absolutely! Even if you only have one day, it’s worth exploring Lisbon!

I fell in love with Lisbon’s charm. With its narrow streets and colourful buildings, this city is a photographer’s dream.

I also love the food in Lisbon, especially the delicious pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts).

Lisbon is a great walkable city, albeit there are some serious hills to climb, which means that there are a great number of viewpoints waiting for you at the top!

My favourite thing to do in Lisbon is simply to explore and wander each of the neighbourhoods. Each has its own distinct vibe and energy. You can choose to do as little or as lot as you wish with my one day Lisbon itinerary.

But, I do need to warn you- you won’t be able to see and do it all. Depending on your pace, you may need to drop a couple of activities from the list. That’s ok. The important thing is for you to experience enough of the city to determine if you want to return.

A common question I get asked by travellers “Is the Lisbon Card worth it for 1 day in Lisbon?” And I will always say No! The Lisbon Card is not worth it for 1 day as it’s expensive and may not cover all the attractions you plan to visit. It’s better to pay as you go, especially based on this itinerary I’ve created, there are a few attractions which you will have to buy tickets for.

Watch for my other tips throughout this article!

What to Do in Lisbon for a Day

I’ve decided to build this Lisbon 1 day itinerary by neighbourhood- it not only maximizes your time, but it allows you to see the differences between the Lisbon neighbourhoods.

1. Explore the Historic Alfama Neighbourhood

view of rooftops, colourful buildings in what to do in lisbon for a day

Exploring the Alfama district is a must-do experience for anyone visiting Lisbon.

As the oldest district of the city, it oozes with charm. Its narrow and winding streets, colourful houses, and traditional shops and restaurants make it an authentic neighbourhood to wander around.

You’ll likely get lost in the maze of streets, and if you do, just use your navigation app on your phone to get back on track.

The medieval St George Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Lisbon, mostly because of its stunning panoramic views from the Miradouro De Sao Jorge Castle.

1-day Lisbon Tip: If you’re a traveller who loves history and castles then include this in your Lisbon itinerary (it’s best to get the skip-the-line tickets in advance). If not, I recommend saving it for when you have more time in Lisbon.

Grab your skip-the-line entrance ticket with a guided tour of St George Castlecheck prices and book your dates

2. Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro Sta. Luzia (Alfama Neighbourhood)

Next up, I recommend that what to do in Lisbon for a day is to visit the Miradouro Sta. Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol for the best views in the city.

These two nearby viewpoints offer stunning vistas of the Tagus River and the colourful buildings of Alfama.

Not only does it offer scenic views, but I think it’s one of the prettiest spots in Lisbon. With its beautiful azulejo-tiled walls, fountains, and blooming flowers, this is one of the best must see places in Lisbon Portugal.

Take a moment to relax on one of the benches and soak up the charming neighbourhood’s atmosphere. You might even catch some live entertainment! It’s a great spot to recharge before continuing your Lisbon adventure.

3. No. 28 Tram

cobblestone street with tram and buildings and one day in lisbon

For a classic Lisbon experience, take the No. 28 tram from Miradouro Sta. Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol to Praça do Comércio.

This vintage tram line has been operating since the 1930s and takes you on a scenic journey through the winding streets and hills of the city. Along the way, you’ll pass by Se Cathedral, a stunning Romanesque church with Gothic influences (it will be on your left). Hop off at Praça do Comércio, in the heart of the Baixa District.

If you’d rather walk (or if you think the Tram is just too touristy), follow the tram tracks downhill for about a 15-minute walk.

4. Praça do Comércio (Baixa Neighbourhood)

arch with marble in a day in lisbon

Praça do Comércio is the city’s main commerce square, and features the iconic Rua Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta).

The square was originally the location of the Paço da Ribeira, the royal palace of Portugal until it was destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

After its reconstruction, the square became a hub of trade and commerce, serving as the gateway to Lisbon’s port.

Today, it still plays that role as Praça do Comércio is lined with restaurants making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Take a moment to soak in the stunning views of the Tagus River and the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, and snap a photo in front of the statue of King Jose I in the center of the square.

This site is one of the top things to see in Lisbon in 1 day.

5. Rua Augusta to Rossio Square

square with buildings in one day in Lisbon

Soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the Baixa neighbourhood by walking along Rua Augusta pedestrian street to end at Rossio Square.

Perhaps do a little window shopping at the local stores or grab lunch in one of the many restaurants along the way.

Just before you arrive at Rossio Square, at the intersection of Rua Augusta and Rua Santa Justa, look to your left and see the Santa Justa Lift, also known as the Carmo Lift.

This popular tourist attraction in Lisbon provides stunning views of the city from its upper platform.

Lisbon 1 day Tip: Santa Justa Lift entrance costs include access to the observation deck is €1.50, while the ticket to ride up and down the elevator is €5.30 (or free with Lisboa Card). I recommend you admire it from the street level and skip the ride up/down (due to the long lines).

If you are hungry, grab a quick bite. I recommend these nearby places:

  • For Pastel de Nata there are 3 good ones along Rua Augusta, try: Manteigaria – Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata (no. 195-197 Rua Augusta) or Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau (106 Rua Augusta) or Fábrica da Nata (275 Rua Augusta)
  • One of the most famous coffee shops in Lisbon, Cafe Nicola, has views of Rossio Square and offers a lunch menu

6. Jerónimos Monastery (Belém Neighbourhood)

monastery with sky in 1 day Lisbon at Jeronims Monastery

From Rossio Square, take the tram to the Belém district, where you’ll find some of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks.

First, visit the Jerónimos Monastery. It’s an absolutely awe-inspiring monument and a masterpiece of Portuguese Gothic architecture. No wonder it’s been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Once you’re inside, take your time to explore the ornate chapels, cloisters, and other architectural wonders.

I highly recommend not missing the grand entrance hall, which is decorated with intricate carvings and statues. Another highlight of the monastery is the stunning Igreja Santa Maria de Belém (St. Mary’s Church), which features a soaring nave and intricate vaulted ceilings that will take your breath away.

Pre-book your ticket to avoid any long lines. Grab your skip-the-line entrance ticket – check prices and book your dates!

7. Tower of Belém (Belém Neighbourhood)

tower on water in one day in lisbon

Next head to the nearby Tower of Belém, a 16th-century fortress and another UNESCO site.

Because you’re short on time and can only view the Belem Tower from the outside. But don’t worry, you can still appreciate this beautiful landmark and take some great photos as one of the most Instagrammable places in Portugal.

8. Monument to the Discoveries (Belém Neighbourhood)

monument with cravings in 1-day in lisbon

Walk along the waterfront and visit the Discoveries Monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), which pays tribute to Portugal’s explorers and their achievements. This impressive monument stands tall at 52 metres.

You can climb to the top which offers stunning panoramic views of the Tagus River and the surrounding area. If the lines aren’t long, this would be worth doing for the €6.

9. Time Out Market (Cais do Sodre Neighbourhood)

Take the tram back to the city center and stop at the Cais do Sodre train station.

A short walk from there is the iconic Time Out Market, a great spot to enjoy a late afternoon aperitif and a small bite to eat to keep you fueled until dinner.

This lively food hall is a foodie must for what to do one day in Lisbon.

The atmosphere is vibrant, and the selection of food stalls is incredible, offering everything from traditional Portuguese cuisine to international delicacies. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, savoury sandwiches, or sweet treats, you’ll find it all here.

You can take your pick from a range of wines, beers, cocktails, ginjinha liqueur or even non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy with your late-afternoon aperitif.

10. Explore Chiado Neighbourhood

pink building with laundy in lisbon in a day

Begin your exploration of the Chiado neighbourhood at the picturesque Largo Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, lined with colourful buildings and charming cafés.

Take a stroll down my favourite Lisbon street called Rua Garrett, home to upscale boutiques, restaurants, and Livraria Bertrand – the oldest continuously running bookstore in the world.

According to the plaque posted at the storefront, the Bertrand bookshop dates back to the first half of the 18th century, placing it in the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘Oldest Operating Bookshop’.

11. Dinner (Chiado Neighbourhood)

Finish the day with dinner at a typical Lisbon restaurant. Try some petiscos (or small plates) of Portuguese delicacies, and sip on a glass of local wine or port.

Here are the restaurants that I’ve tried and recommend that are in or close to the Chiado neighbourhood.

Note that reservations are required at these restaurants and anytime after 8 pm is the usual dinner hour in Portugal.

12. Fado Performance or Rooftop Bar

End the day with a nightcap at one of Lisbon’s rooftop bars, where you can admire the city skyline and reflect on your day of discovery in the heart of Lisbon. Try the nearby Park Bar for a casual atmosphere with amazing views or a more upscale restaurant and bar called Terraço BA.

Adding a Fado performance is a wonderful way to experience the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as Fado performances can be very popular and often sell out quickly.

What to Do with More than 24 Hours in Lisbon

Even though this 1 day in Lisbon itinerary was packed with so many incredible sights in some of the best neighbourhoods in Lisbon, I did have to leave out some great ones, like MAAT, or Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Carmo Convent, Elevador da Bica, Se Cathedral to name a few.

No need to worry, use my comprehensive guide to spending 2, 3 or 4 days in Lisbon to see everything this great city has to offer!

Lisbon is not only a stunning city to explore but also an excellent starting point for day trips to some of Portugal’s most beautiful destinations that are just a short distance away.

As a Holidaymaker

Lisbon is a city full of surprises that can be explored in just one day. I do recommend leaving lots of room in your 1 day Lisbon itinerary to explore on your own. That’s part of the fun!

For more travel experiences be sure to check out my Portugal Travel Guide where you’ll find travel resources – everything from accommodations to train travel and all my articles about Portugal.

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