The Ultimate Guide: 2 Days in Lisbon, Portugal
Ah Lisbon, the city of seven hills, winding streets, and rich history- also, the last stop of my amazing road-trip through Portugal. The Portuguese capital only came under my radar recently – what was I doing with my life? But I’m glad I did because there are a plethora of things to do, coffee shops to discover, and incredible locals to mingle with. Oh, and did I mention it is ridiculously photogenic? You will undoubtedly fall in love with Lisbon after visiting.
Are 2 days in Lisbon enough?
2 days in Lisbon is enough to get a good taste of the Portuguese capital. But if you want to get the most out of your visit, spend at least 3-4 days in Lisbon and 1 in Sintra. But I have a good feeling that no amount of time will be enough in this picturesque place.
Getting around Lisbon
Lisbon is very pedestrian friendly, and you could easily walk to all the attractions, or take public transportation. The city’s public transport is well connected and easy to navigate – just in case you need to give your legs a break.
Uber is also available in Lisbon, and it’s the easiest way to get around. It's inexpensive compared to other major cities – average ride 3-5 Euros.
If you plan to take public transportation, get a VivaViagem refillable card at the metro station. It’s very convenient, and you can use it on the train (to go to Sintra), metro, bus, and tram. You will also benefit from the reduced fares by using the card. Another option is to get a 24-hour Transportation card for about 6 Euros.
Fun Things To Do in Lisbon, Portugal
Walking tour in Lisbon
One of the first things I like to do when visiting a new city is a walking tour. You get to learn about the place you are calling home for the next few days, and you will feel more connected to the city – that anonymous bronze statue all of a sudden has a name and a story.
Book Your Lisbon Tours
Shop at The World's Oldest Bookstore Still in Operation
73 R. Garrett, Lisbon, Portugal
I have a thing for bookstores, so when I heard the oldest one in the world was located in Lisbon, I knew I had to check it out. Opened in 1732, the Livraria Bertrand is officially the oldest operating bookstore in the world - recorded on the Guinness World Record.
Tip: Want to get a unique souvenir? Buy a book here! Every book purchased here gets a stamp that reads “This book was purchased at Livraria Bertrand, the oldest bookstore still in operation in the world established in 1732.” – Make sure to request the big stamp.
Book suggestions: I recommend getting A Brief History of Portugal (you are in Portugal after all) or The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa – one of the most prominent writers in Portugal, aka the famous bronze statue sitting in front of Café A Brasileira. Both books are available in English.
Explore Lisbon famous neighborhoods: Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Alfama
Wandering the intricate streets of Lisbon was my favorite thing to do – hills and all. Dedicate at least a day to explore the neighborhoods. But beware, you will quickly lose track of time photographing every charming building you encounter!
Baixa and Chiado
Baixa and Chiado districts are located in the heart of Lisbon, where you will find most of the historical monuments and the famous shopping street. It’s the tourist hotspot so it can get very hectic during the day.
Attractions in Baixa-Chiado:
Praça Luís de Camões
Praça do Comércio
Bairro Alto and Alfama
These are my favorite districts to explore in Lisbon. Alfama’s narrow and maze-like streets are great to get lost in – and most likely you will. Barrio Alto offers all the trendy restaurants and bars in the city – at night, this neighborhood comes to life!
If you happen to be in Lisbon on St. Anthony’s Day – June 13th – you will witness Portugal’s biggest celebration of the year! The city shuts down, but the neighborhoods get dressed up in colorful ornaments, drink and food stand propped up everywhere, and the air infused with the distinguishable smoke of sardines on the grill. It’s a celebration that brings the entire city to the narrow streets of Alfama and Bairro Alto. It’s incredibly fun to experience!
Take in the views from a Miradouro in Lisbon
Watch the sunset at one of the many famous viewpoints in Lisbon. My favorites ones are the Miradouro das Portas do Sol and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. They are right next to each other, so you don’t have to walk far to enjoy both!
If you can’t get enough of miradouro in Lisbon, also check out:
Miradouro da Graça
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Miradouro Sophia de Mello
Have culinary experience in Lisbon at LOCAL
LOCAL – a unique chef's table restaurant that embraces local ingredients and traditions, wrapped in a modern presentation, but with a few twists.
All the dishes feature a traditional Portuguese ingredient from fresh bacalhau to flavorful black skin pork. The menu changes regularly, but it’s a great way to sample Portugal’s best.
The small restaurant is comprised of an “open kitchen” and one table that can seat 10 people. You will be sharing your meal in a commune table where dining among strangers can quickly turn into feasting among friends. Eating at LOCAL is undoubtedly an experience you cannot miss when visiting Lisbon.
Visit the LX Factory
LX Factory, the trendy quarter of Lisbon where you can lose track of time browsing all the cool shops or sipping coffee at an artsy café, amid street art and factory buildings. If you visit on Sunday, you will find a flea market set up on the main street for you to peruse.
Extra Day Bonus: Go on a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra
Your Lisbon itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to Sintra. The historic town is a UNESCO heritage site – no surprise there - worth visiting on a day or two. Here you will find breath-taking palaces, beautiful gardens, and the ruins of an ancient castle all amid lush hills. Although many are familiar with Pena Palace, Sintra offers numerous amazing places for you to explore, and you will soon discover that a day may not be enough. Post on Sintra coming soon!
Only Have 2 Days in Lisbon? Skip these tourist hotspots
Lisbon is a very popular city – and for many great reasons – but that also means tourist traps and long lines await. Although you may find some of these attractions worthwhile – we all have different taste and opinion after all – If you are exploring Lisbon in two days, you may not want to spend it waiting in line.
Here are several attractions that you may be better off skipping, and the alternatives that are worth your time.
Tram 28 used to be a great way to explore all the attractions in Lisbon, but now that’s so popular, it means waiting in lines for hours – especially during high season. Oh, and the pickpockets love this tourist hotspot.
Alternative: Walk the Tram 28 route! Lisbon is a great place to explore by foot, as you will find many hidden gems along the way, and colorful buildings you won't be able to resist photographing. Want to give your legs a break? Hop on a tuk-tuk, they are everywhere! If you would like to ride a tram, try the newly re-opened route 24.
Tip: If Tram 28 is on your bucket list, go early and start at Campo Ourique – the last stop on the loop. You may encounter a shorter line and a higher chance of grabbing a seat.
Santa Justa Lift
The Santa Justa Lift is one of the top attractions in Lisbon, which means, you know it: long lines. There’s also a fee to take the lift, and the view is not the best in town – many locals advise to skip it.
Alternative: Visit some of the famous miradouro in Lisbon for the best views of the city. Check out the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
Castelo de São Jorge – Jorge Castle
With an entrance fee, wait-line as long as an hour, and views that could be easily matched elsewhere; you may find Castelo de São Jorge disappointing. Not to mention, the castle is technically new as it was rebuilt in the 1940s during Salazar regime.
Alternative: 15 minutes outside of Lisbon, you will find The National Palace of Queluz – a gorgeous Portuguese 18th-century palace – with much more to see and explore. If you have an extra day, check out the Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra on your day trip. The castle, located on a hilltop, boasts a unique style, and impressive views amidst the lush forest.
The Timeout Market, in theory, is every foodie’s dream, “The Best of Lisbon Under One Roof.” But having tried several other restaurants in the city beforehand, Timeout Market simply didn’t measure up.
Alternative: You are better off trying different restaurants in Lisbon. There are plenty of options to choose from – as you will see in the next section - and at a better price.
Where to eat in Lisbon
With so many dining options in the Portuguese capital, you may wonder where to eat in Lisbon. But fear not, here’s my list of restaurants and coffee shops you should definitely try when visiting. It includes all the places I've enjoyed, the locals recommended, and restaurants on my bucket list. I have also included vegan/vegetarian options.
Tip: Create a list on Google Maps and save all the locations for easy access.
Coffee Shop | Breakfast + Brunch
Searching for a little oasis to have brunch at? Look no further, Café Janis offers delicious food and aromatic coffee amid cozy décor. If you need something stronger than coffee, they also serve cocktails to spice up your brunch.
Escalfado is a little of a hybrid, coffee shop meet restaurant. For breakfast, make sure to try the Baked Eggs or their Ricotta Pancakes yummy! For lunch, try the Caramelized Goat Cheese Salad – it’s to die for – or the Pork Belly. Top it all off with a coffee and chocolate cake. The restaurant is tucked away in a small alley, but worth searching for. Whether you stop by for a delicious lunch or an afternoon break, Escalfado is the perfect neighborhood café you just can’t miss.
Comoba delivers delicious breakfast and great atmosphere. The staff is super friendly and attentive. It’s slightly pricier than other coffee shops but worth it. Make sure you try the Poached Egg on Corn Fritters and Matcha Pancakes.
If brinner weren’t a thing, it would be at Fauna and Flora! They serve delicious breakfast all day, even at dinnertime. The menu is full of vibrant fresh foods and plenty of options for meat lovers and vegans. It’s a little further away from the city center, but worth stopping by. If you are staying in the area, make sure to check it out.
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Tapisco offers uncomplicated yet delicious food amid modern dining setting. The open kitchen is an invitation for your senses to enjoy the food before it even hit your palette. The highlight of the restaurant is La Bomba de Lisboa and the Entrecote - mouthwatering! It can get packed, so make sure to make reservations in advance on their website.
I first read about A Cevicheria on Ckanani.com, and a few locals also recommended it. A Cevicheria, like the name indicates, specializes in Peruvian cuisine with a hint of Portuguese influence. The eatery is part of a group of restaurants owned by celebrity chef Kiko Martins. I highly recommend arriving early, as it is first come first serve, and the place is tiny and very popular. I tried to dine here twice, but the waiting time always exceeded an hour. If you don’t mind waiting, order their famous Pisco sour at the window.
Other restaurants owned by Chef Kiko:
Eat like a local at a Tasca! Tasca is a traditional restaurant that serves rustic Portuguese dishes - no-frills, simple, and affordable meals. Grab lunch at one these tascas and mingle with the locals.
Vegan -Vegetarian Friendly
Being vegetarian or vegan can be difficult in meat-loving Lisbon – or at least that’s what a vegan I met in Lisbon said. If you are, don’t worry! I have a list of restaurants for you as well.
Belcanto headed by chef José Avillez – one of Portugal’s most prominent chefs - offers reimagined Portuguese cuisine amid a romantic and sophisticated backdrop. At No. 42 on the Top Best Restaurants in the world and 2 Michelin star holder, Belcanto is without a doubt at the top of the culinary scene in Lisbon – a place you shouldn’t miss if you value culinary experiences.
Tip: Make sure to book way in advance and book seats at Belcanto’s chef’s table for a close-up action of the kitchen
R. Anchieta 15, 1200-224 Lisboa
The chef behind Alma, Henrique Sá Pessoa, aims to be innovative, taking inspiration from around the world and traditional Portuguese cuisine – resulting in a delectable fusion. Alma, boasting 2 Michelin star, is not to be missed if you seek the best restaurants in town.
Where to stay in Lisbon
Fortunately, there are plenty of great accommodations for you to choose from in Lisbon. Whether you are looking for a luxurious hotel, a comfortable apartment, or a simple and quaint place - this city has it!. But your burning question might be, what's the best neighborhood to stay in Lisbon? Here’s the breakdown and the best neighborhoods to stay in Lisbon.
Baixa-Chiado is essentially the heart of Lisbon – and the most popular area. Here you will find many of the historical landmarks, as well as the glitzy shopping street. It’s very centric, and you could easily walk everywhere from this neighborhood.
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in the city, full of charming buildings and winding streets. It’s a great location, and most likely, where you will spend a lot of your time exploring. Be prepared for some steep hills – even for Lisbon’s standards.
Bairro Alto is where you will find hundreds of bustling bars and restaurants – it truly comes to life after dark. It’s a great place to stay if you are looking to enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife. But if you value early good night sleep – as I do – you will be better off staying in a different neighborhood.
Where to stay in Barrio Alto
Principe Real is an upscale area known for its hip restaurants, trendy gay bars, and art galleries. One of the main attractions in the area is the Principe Real Garden and the Moorish-style Embaixada palace – a creative retail concept that focuses on Portuguese design, fashion, and culture.
Estrela is a lesser-known district, as it is less touristy and only formed a few years ago by merging the former neighborhoods of Lapa, Santos-o-Velho, and Prazeres. Although it is not packed with attractions, the area is lovely to wander. If you love exploring hip coffee shops, this is your neighborhood.
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