Daniela overlooking Lisbon from Sao Jorge Castle, Portugal

How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon: Two-day itinerary

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In just a weekend here you’ll only scratch the surface. Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in Europe (after Athens) and there are so many secrets and gems to uncover. Hopefully this guide gives you some ideas, context and inspires you to return to go deeper.

To have an excellent time in Lisbon you have to go with the flow. If you hear music wafting from a street nearby or see a cute house you want to take a photo of then just follow your instinct. For that reason I’ve kept this comprehensive 48-hour guide to Lisbon quite loose, giving you the freedom to choose your own adventure and embrace the rhythm of the city.

Here’s what I would do in Lisbon if I had just two days to get under its skin.

Day 1 in Lisbon

Lisbon skyline from java Rooftop

Start on the streets

There’s no better way to get to know Lisboa than by walking the cobblestone (calçada) footpaths. Chances are your accommodation is surrounded by a neighbourhood of skinny streets, old colourful buildings covered in tiles and cute old neighbours who are absolutely, definitely spying on you. It’s what we call CCTV here.

Within a few blocks, no doubt you’ll stumble on a pastelaria peddling sweets, fresh bread and coffee. Do as the locals do, order a bica or café (short, dark espresso) and if you’re feeling hungry ask for a sandes misto with ham and cheese or devour your first pastel de nata for the day.

Read next: The best cooking classes in Lisbon

Jump on a tram

One of my favourite first memories of Lisbon is leaning out the window of a rattling old wooden tram, feeling a warm autumn breeze wash over me. It’s an experience I try and repeat when I can. Five different lines rocket along rails through some of the most charming, winding and skinny streets of this city.

The tram 28 is more of a tourist attraction than a public transport option these days due to its popularity. It’s best to catch it from one end or the other as it fills up and can be hard to get a seat along the route. I like to take it from Campo de Ourique to Graça – getting off in Graça at the top of the hill saves some huffing and puffing and the viewpoint is mint.

Eletrico tram outside the Sé Cathedral
Electrico tram outside the Sé Cathedral
Miradouro da Graca, Lisbon Portugal
Miradouro da Graca

Choose your own adventure

Stepping off the tram in the charming local neighbourhood of Graça, wander over to the creatively named Miradouro da Graça and soak in the views. Miradouro means viewpoint and as a city of seven hills Lisbon has them in spades. This is one of the best.

Related read: 11 best viewpoints in Lisbon

Alternatively, disembark for São Jorge Castle. The top-of-the-hill location has had fortifications on it since the first century BC, occupied by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and, of course, the Portuguese, who took the castle in the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. Inside you can wander the garden, walk around the walls, climb up the towers and soak in incredible views over the city. There is a fee to get in, and usually a queue. If you don’t want to wait, here’s a skip-the-line ticket.

Lisbon Sao Jorge castle, Portugal
Standing on the rampants of Sao Jorge castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Explore charming Alfama

Plug Miradouro de Santa Luiza” into your Maps app and start a slow wander downhill. You’re heading towards Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood and (no coincidence) one of the only ones that withstood the tragedy of 1755 – a mega-earthquake that struck close to the city on a major religious holiday. Candles tumbled as churches collapsed, causing massive fires across the city that lasted almost a week. Three tsunami waves triggered by the quake demolished most of what was left of the city’s downtown.

On a lighter note… Miradouro de Santa Luiza is my favourite lookout. It’s completely covered in antique azulejos (tiles) and there’s usually someone playing acoustic guitar. From here walk 20 meters uphill to Portas do Sol lookout. Then you have a choice – head downhill towards the river into Alfama, or follow the tram tracks to the (cathedral), or get lost in Mouraria

Chances are you’ll be hungry, so there are some lunch suggestions below too.

Lisbon santa luzia miradouro, Alfama lookout

Things to do & see in Alfama

Where to eat near Alfama

Read next: Where to eat in Lisbon: best restaurants and tascas

Life at Feira de Ladra, Lisbon Portugal
Life at Feira de Ladra
Pork sandwich at O Velho Eurico, Lisbon Portugal
O Velho Eurico

Snack your way through Baixa and Róssio

The best way to see the sights is with a snack in hand. Allow yourself to get lost as you wind your way down the hill to Baixa, popping by As Bifanas do Afonso for a pork sandwich if you’re extra hungry.

After, aim for Casa do Alentejo. The Moor-inspired building is incredible and young locals love the tavern courtyard for its cheap drinks and petiscos (snacks) from the Alentejo, a region famous for its prized black pork and cork production.

On the way, try a shot of ginjinha liqueur at Ginjinha Espinheira or Ginjinha Sem Rival. Both opened in 1840 and serve the same drink made from tiny cherries, aguardente, water, sugar and cinnamon. It’s delish.

You’ve probably heard of Jamon Iberico, meet its cousin presunto iberico. Yep, over in Portugal they also have black pigs (porco preto), roaming the fields of the Alentejo region, catching shade beneath the cork trees, and fattening up on a diet of acorns. Open since 1890, Manteigaria Silva is a traditional grocer and deli where you can pick up Portuguese cheese, wine, dried fruits, conserves and, of course, the precious cured ham. While here, check out the bacalhau (salted cod) shop next door.

Wander across Praça da Figueira into Confeitaria National for a sweet treat and coffee stop. Founded in 1829, this traditional bakery has counters piled high with egg-yolk-laced sweets. 

Read next: The best Portuguese street food and snacks in Lisbon

Eat all the pastéis de nata

Last stop is one of my favourite pastel de nata spots in Lisbon at Manteigaria. But before you order, a lesson in Portuguese for you. One tart is a pastel de nata. Plural tarts are pasteis de natas.

Um pastel de nata, por favor.

Dois pastéis de nata, por favor.

Look, most hospitality staff speak near-perfect English but a bit of effort goes a long way. Time it right and you can eat your tart while watching the pastry chefs pump out more through the glass window. When they ring a big bell, the tarts are fresh out of the oven. Don’t burn your tongue.

Related read: The best pastéis de nata in Lisbon

Pastel de nata from Manteigaria, Lisbon
Pastel de nata from Manteigaria

Santa justa lift chiado, Lisbon Portugal

While in the area, check out:

  • Santa Justa Lift: lots of hills! They built this neo-gothic elevator in 1899.
  • Convento do Carmo: build in 1389, the cathedral was left in ruins after the 1755 earthquake.
  • Rossio Station: Central Station, but if Central Station were in romantic Manueliene architecture.

Now you have a choice, head towards the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) or a lookout to chill out with a beer, or squeeze in a few cool shops first.

Shop for proper souvenirs in Chiado

If you want to shop, head up the hill to Chiado. Here you’ll find my favourite Portuguese shops to pick up some incredible, not-so-average souvenirs.

  • A Vida Portuguesa: This is like a mini department store of Portuguese goods. Think incredible quality traditional goods such as crockery, soaps, skincare, books, stationery, blankets, foods, linen and gifts.
  • Burel: This wool factory pushes the limits of wool – find blankets, scarves, bags, boots, clothing and more.
  • Bertrand: The world’s oldest bookshop. 
  • Ceramica na Linha: Portuguese-made ceramics sold by weight. Great value and beautiful pieces. I always walk out of here with something.
  • Fábrica Sant’Anna: Don’t buy second-hand tiles – people might have stolen them from a building – buy new ones from this amazing tile factory that has been open since 1741. 

Related read: The complete guide to sustainable shopping in Lisbon

Fabrica Sant'ana, Lisbon
Fabrica Sant’ana
A Vida Portuguesa shop in Lisbon Portugal
A Vida Portuguesa

Catch the sunset by the river, on a rooftop or at a lookout

Lisbon is a city of hills, and therefore a city of lookouts too. At the top of nearly every hill is a viewpoint. You can find one near you by googling “miradouro” on Google Maps. Two of my downtown favourites are Miradouro de Santa Catarina and Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. If not a viewpoint, then find a rooftop bar or head for the riverfront.

If you didn’t go uphill to Chiado, keep following Rua Augusta to the river. At the end of the pedestrian avenue you’ll find the Rua Augusta Arch (you can climb to the top of it) and the grand square, Praça do Comércio. Across the square, you’ll hit the river and there’s nothing nicer than wandering the banks on a sunny day. Soon enough you’ll come across a bar or two to stop for refreshments.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Lisbon Portugal
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Praçq do Comercio and Arco de Rua Augusta, Lisbon Portugal
Praçq do Comercio and Arco de Rua Augusta

Fun riverside bars in Lisbon:

If you ended up in Chiado, wander down Rua do Alecrim towards the river or seek out a miradouro or rooftop bar. 

Related blog: 11 best viewpoints in Lisbon

Rooftops and miradouros (lookouts)

View from Park Bar, Lisbon Portugal
View from Park Bar

Where to go for dinner in Lisbon

Don’t be the tourist that leaves Google reviews complaining about sassy service and not-free snacks at tascas without understanding the dining culture here. A tasca is essentially a Portuguese bistro. They are usually cheap and family-run. You can enjoy a traditional Portuguese meal with wine, and often get change from €15. I adore eating at these spots. There is so much variety in Portuguese cuisine and the vibes at a tasca can be so fun.

I have tonnes of suggestions for where to eat in Lisbon – and I’ve listed some of my favourite places in this guide here. Follow the list, tip your waiter and don’t turn up before 8pm (you’ll embarrass me).

Another spot to stick on your radar for food is the Time Out Market. It’s a giant food court with 25 or so permanent kitchen counters from Michelin-starred chefs and other local highlights, curated by street culture magazine Time Out. The editors have hand-selected some of the best restaurants around the city. It’s a good chance to see the variety of Portuguese food in one area, but it’s often a fight to find a table, and you get a buzzer to collect your food that will arrive at all different times.

Kick on into the wee hours in Bairro Alto or at Pink Street

“Pink Street” is a pedestrian street filled with bars and restaurants. My favourite pick for snacks is Sol e Pesca, an old fishing tackle shop that is now lined with tinned fish and serves them in interesting ways. Povo, Bacchanal and Pensão Amor are also fun.

Bairro Alto is an old suburb of skinny streets and the smallest bars you’ve ever seen. The drink prices are ridiculously low, attracting crowds of students and the British to the streets every weekend. I can’t tell you where to drink here (again, go with the flow), but if you stay out late enough look for the pop-up salesmen selling pão com choriço (hot chorizo bread) or chamuças (samosas) from plastic tubs.

Day 2 in Lisbon

Today you will eat the best pastel de nata of your life, if you didn’t already yesterday. Jump on the number 15 tram and rattle over to the western suburb of Belém (pronounced to almost rhyme with a very nasally version of lame – “be-lame“).

Kick off with a tart

Pastéis de Belém is my equal top, all-time favourite pastel de nata in Lisbon. The pastry is super crunchy and the custard has a nice savoury, eggy element to it. You can line up outside to get takeaway tarts for the park, or wander through the rabbit warren to the line for a table. These guys are the masters of massive numbers, so any queue moves at lightning speed. Personally, I like to dine in so I can order an imperial (small beer), empada de pato (duck pie) and pastel de bacalhau (salted cod croquette) before my pastel de nata.  

Daniela eating a pastel de nata from Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon
Heaven is this pastel de nata from Pasteis de Belem
Interior of Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon
Dive into the rabbit warren to find a table

Continue with culture and art

Belém is basically a suburb of parks and museums. For history lovers, seek out the Jeronimos Monastery, Torre de Belém and Monument to the Discoveries. Wave to the President as you pass by his pink palace.

Art lovers can pop into the Berardo for modern and contemporary art, or walk along the waterfront to MAAT for super new-age expression. There’s also the Maritime Museum, and the Coach Museum, filled with gilded horse-drawn carriages, and if the weather is too good to be indoors (almost all the time) there is a spectacular esplanade along the river from Belém to Alcântara (the bridge pylon) so I recommend walking or grabbing an electric Bolt bicycle (via an app).

Tip! Get skip-the-line-tickets: Jeronimos Monastery, Torre de Belém

Daniela on the roof terrace of the Monument to the Discoveries
On the roof terrace of the Monument to the Discoveries
Oyster van outside Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon
Arguably the best way to enjoy the Monument to the Discoveries

Best fish lunch in the city

If it’s lunchtime and not a Sunday, head to Último Porto for the best fish barbecue in Lisbon. It’s in a weird, hard-to-find spot tucked inside the docks but it’s one of those places you’ll remember long after leaving. Choose from various types of fish or cuts of meat and watch it get shuttled to the mega charcoal grills near the shipping containers outside.

Street art in Alcântara

Welcome to my suburb. This area is fairly local but also includes the LX Factory, a gentrified old warehouse-turned-hipster micro neighbourhood that is fun to explore. It’s filled with restaurants, bars, tiny shops, artisans, the world’s coolest bookstore and stacks of cool street art. There’s often pop-up events and a nice market every Sunday.

Cruise the river at sunset

See Lisbon city, the Belém Tower, Discoveries Monument, Praca do Comércio, Cristo Rei and, if you’re extra lucky, dolphins as you spend the afternoon cruising the river, wind in your hair and wine in your belly. A few times last summer a group of 10-12 friends hired the whole boat where we could bring our own food and drinks. Very fun!

Most small boat companies leave from the Alcântara Docks for €30-50 per person. Most include commentary and a welcome drink, some include snacks or an open bar. Some take you out in a small vessel or a traditional boat, but while others are big party boats or even a speedboat. Here’s a few you can try:

Daniela and Jorge on a boat cruise
Sunset boat cruise in Lisbon Portugal

Want help planning your trip to Lisbon? ✨ Book a one-on-one video call with Daniela and get custom help organising your perfect Portugal itinerary. Find out more here.

So, that’s my 48-hour guide to Lisbon. It was a long one but I hope you found it useful. Let me know what you got up to and please share it.

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Picture of Daniela Sunde-Brown

Daniela Sunde-Brown

I'm an Australian travel and food writer who has called Lisbon home since 2018. To help others explore Portugal, I write deep stories about Portuguese traditions, regional dishes, local artisans, and sustainable fashion and ceramics
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5 Responses

  1. Yay for you Ola D!! What a beautiful thing you’re doing. So full of good info and with a lovely friendly kind tone. I want to come and eat custard with you today! Oh the tyranny of distance.
    Love from us and especially me,

  2. This was such a delight to read and see, Daniela. I want to jump on a plane and fly over immediately! I guess that’s out of reach for a long time for us, but I can live it vicariously through your wonderful images and words. Thank you, again, lovely one!
    PS I adore tiles too. I think that’s be my most favourite thing to look for if I was there. Plus the food, too! And the architecture, and landscapes, and colour, colour, colour! 💜💜💜.
    Enjoy! Xx

    1. Thank you so much Sheryl! It’s really fun to have this space to share my adventures. I’ll make sure there are plenty of future tile posts to keep you dreaming until you can pop over! 🙂

  3. I am so happy to have found your site! I am super excited now about my impending visit to Portugal – you have so many cool spots listed here. I think I’m going to need more time – or just move there! Many thanks – I’ll be following along.

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Headshot of Daniela Sunde-Brown in a tiled dress with a straw hat on

Olá, I'm Daniela

I’m an Australian travel and food writer who has called Lisbon home since 2018. To help others explore Portugal, I write deep stories about Portuguese traditions, regional dishes, local artisans, and sustainable fashion and ceramics 🙂

– buy me a coffee –

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