How to Spend 1 Day in Lisbon

Historic Lisbon Cathedral with its twin Gothic towers, captured alongside the famous yellow Tram 28, a symbol of Lisbon's charming public transport, against a cobblestone street backdrop on a sunny day.

Spending 1 day in Lisbon?  Have I got the itinerary for you!

Wander through a city full of colorful tiles, delicious pastries, and gaze at sunsets that look like fiery paintings. 

Spending just one day in Lisbon is enough to do all that and more!

The best things to do during 1 day in Lisbon are snapping photos at the iconic tram, eating pastel de nata, exploring incredible viewpoints, visiting the Castelo Sao Jorge, and shopping at the oldest operating bookstore in the world.  

We’ve got you covered on the most amazing things to do during 1 day in Lisbon- let’s dive in!

Part 1: Belem

Begin your day in the neighborhood of Belem.  I recommend beginning here because it is the furthest from all of the other attractions in Lisbon! 

After finishing your two stops here, you can zip right back into the center of town for the rest of your day.

I recommend spending one hour between the infamous Torre de Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery if fits into your schedule.  The towering church has immaculate architecture, both outside and inside.

Torre de Belem (and Gardens)

Twilight descends on the historic Belem Tower, a fortified landmark by the Tagus River in Lisbon, with a walkway leading to its imposing structure, a picturesque scene for travelers compiling a Lisbon itinerary.

An emblem of the Age of Discoveries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed in the early 16th century as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. 

It represents a masterpiece of Portuguese Manueline architecture, with its intricate limestone carvings and stonework that feature maritime motifs reflective of Portugal’s seafaring heritage. 

Visitors can explore its battlements, and enjoy panoramic views of the Tagus River and beyond.

For added value and convenience, there’s a combined ticket available that grants admission to both this iconic tower and the nearby Jerónimos Monastery, another architectural gem and cultural treasure.

Since Belem is not walking distance from other central neighborhoods of Lisbon like Alfama District or Barrio Alto, it will be essential to take a bus through the public transportation system or ride share like Uber or Bolt.  

Time: 30 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: ☀️ Summer: 10:00am-6:30pm. ❄️ Winter: 10:00am-5:30pm.  ⏐  Website  ⏐ 💲Price: Free to explore outside. $6.50 to enter inside⏐

Jeronimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun, with its intricate Gothic architecture and ornate spires, stands as a must-visit landmark on any Lisbon itinerary.

Jeronimos Monastery tells a thousand stories with just one gaze. It’s not only a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it also embodies the Age of Discovery.

This architectural gem showcases the stunning Manueline style, something you won’t see just anywhere. 

Imagine wandering through its ornate gardens and being a part of history that dates back to the 1500s! 

This will be your final stop in Belem.  Consider snagging a pastry at Pasteis de Belem or heading directly to the Barrio Alto neighborhood.  

Time: 30 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:30am – 6:00pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: Free. Paid options for garden ⏐ 

Eat Pastel de Nata

Pasteis de Nata by Nick Fewings via Unsplash

Pastel de Nata is literally the best.  It is not overrated, and I stand by this!  (I considered getting a pastel de nata tattoo, story for another time).

It’s not just a dessert, it’s a Portuguese hug for your taste buds!

Made from a flaky, buttery pastry crust filled with a lusciously creamy custard that’s just the right kind of sweet – it’s the Portuguese egg custard tart that everyone’s raving about.

Trust me, once you take a bite, you’ll be floating on cloud nine!  They are small and compact making it easy to grab a sweet to-go while exploring during your busy day.

This little piece of heaven is best enjoyed sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Tip: One of the most recommended places to get Pastel de Nata in Lisbon is Pasteis de Belem. 

However, I did not come across any of these incredible treats that I did not like during my entire stay in Portugal.  

Part 2: Barrio Alto

Wander Cobblestone Roads

Cobbled streets and traditional pastel-colored buildings under a clear blue sky, capturing the charming essence of Lisbon's historic neighborhoods for an itinerary highlight

One of the best places for exploring colorful, historic buildings lined along cobblestone roads is in the Barrio Alto neighborhood. 

Snap a photo of the Tram

Historic Lisbon Cathedral with its twin Gothic towers, captured alongside the famous yellow Tram 28, a symbol of Lisbon's charming public transport, against a cobblestone street backdrop on a sunny day.
Lisbon Cathedral by Dennisvdwater

Let’s be real- the vibrant, yellow tram at the top of a cobblestone hill is an icon of Portugal. (And one of the best Lisbon Instagram spots).

This tram line traverses Lisbon’s historic quarters, hills, and main attractions, offering a picturesque glimpse into the local life and a convenient way to explore the city’s key landmarks.

These vintage, yellow trams are not only a symbol of Lisbon’s charm but are an integral part of its public transport system since the 1930s.

The tram’s history is closely tied to Lisbon itself, with the Remodelado trams that run on the 28 line having been in service since the 1930s, surviving the test of time and modernization.

 ⏐  Time: 1 Hour ⏐ 🕑 Hours: Varies ⏐ 

Part 3: Graca and Alfama

Castelo Sao Jorge

Sao Jorge Castle by Creative Cat Studio

Dream of standing at the top of the world, or at least, Lisbon’s world? Because that’s exactly how you’ll feel on top of Castelo Sao Jorge—one of Lisbon’s crowning jewels, throning high above the historic Alfama district.

If you have only one day in Lisbon, this is your cannot-miss stop.  Why?  Well, besides it being one of the most visited attractions in the city, the castle is a time capsule where you get to walk in the footsteps of both warriors and kings, all while soaking in some of the most jaw-dropping views of the city.

Plan for at least 1.5 hours at Castelo Sao Jorge to fully embrace the experience.

Time: 1 hour ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: $16.23.  Purchase online or at entrance ⏐

Miradouro de Senhora do Monte

Elevated view of Lisbon with the Santo Estêvão Church standing prominently among the sea of terracotta rooftops, overlooking the calm waters of the Tagus River, a scenic vista to be admired on a Lisbon itinerary.

Located footsteps from the castle in the Graça neighborhood, one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon is your next stop!  

Nothing short of magical, the Miradouro de Senhora do Monte, or Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint, gifts visitors with one of the most spectacular views across Lisbon.

Perched atop the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, it’s a spot that beckons travelers to rest their legs and immerse themselves in the picturesque tapestry of vibrant, orange terracotta rooftops, the ancient São Jorge Castle, and the sparkling Tejo River stretching beyond the city.

The best part? This breathtaking view won’t cost you a single euro. 

To make the most of your visit, swing by a local ‘pastelaria’ for a pastel de nata to enjoy that sweet taste of Portugal as your eyes dance over the city’s grandeur.

Tip: Extra time in Graça?  Stop at the nearby chapel or take a leisurely stroll down to the eclectic Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s oldest flea market.

Want to go viewpoint hopping?  You are just a 4-minute walk from another famous viewpoint, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, in the Alfama neighborhood.  

Time: 30 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours ⏐   Website  ⏐💲Price: Free ⏐ 

Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

View from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara in Lisbon, showing a tapestry of colorful buildings with the iconic São Jorge Castle in the distance, set against a bright blue sky with fluffy clouds, a visual treat for those exploring the city on a Lisbon itinerary.

This was my favorite spot in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon.  Out of nowhere, this park has one of the best views in all of Lisbon

You literally go from charming, narrow cobblestone rows to an incredible, vast lookout.  I loved it!

It is located on a beautiful plaza, allowing you to spend even longer to enjoy these views. 

The park features local vendors selling pineapple drinks and more.  It’s a great location to stroll, relax, and appreciate some incredible views, and of course, spread out after all of that narrow walking!

Website  ⏐💲Price: Free ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours ⏐ 

Part 4: Evening

Livraria Boltrand

Livraria Boltrand is the oldest operating bookstore in the world.  It actually kind of surprises me I don’t see it on more itineraries! 

You definitely don’t come across a gem (and fun fact!) like this every day.  Guinness World Records confirms it! 

Livraria Boltrand is conveniently located on the main street of the Chiado neighborhood.  This cultural icon offers a unique experience for book lovers, with centuries of literary history waiting to be explored. 

Its vaulted rooms provide a historic touch to modern architecture.  Rooms upon rooms of books feature classics as well as new books.  Books at the store are written in both Portuguese and English.

The best part?  Every purchase is stamped with a special “Oldest Bookstore in the World” sticker after you purchase!  Talk about a conversation-starter souvenir.  

Tip: Visiting Livraria Boltrand makes for a great alternative visit from the Lello Bookstore in Porto, famous for its claim to the start of Harry Potter inspiration.  

Time: 30 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am – 10:00pm ⏐ Website  ⏐ 

Dinner: Time Out Market

Ready for dinner?  Your next stop is a 15-minute walk from the library.  Lisbon’s Time Out Market is a culinary wonderland where the charm of Lisbon’s food scene comes to life under one roof – it’s where you want to be!

Why choose just one dish when you can sample several? Whether you’re a pescatarian, vegan, or someone who’s all about a hearty meat dish, the Time Out Market in Lisbon has got your back.

This offers everything from traditional bacalhau to innovative vegan treats.

And the best part? No one has to compromise – grab a table with your pals, and everyone can dash off to whatever stall calls out to them. So cozy, so communal – it’s like a family dinner but with endless options and none of the dishwashing!

I’m totally a sucker for markets- but especially Time Out Markets.  My other favorite is in Chicago!

Time: 1 hour ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 10:00am – 12:00am ⏐ Website  ⏐

Itinerary Notes

Spending one day in Lisbon is amazing, but you can’t make it to everything.  Some people skip Belem due to its distance from central neighborhoods, but I think it’s worth it.

Consider swapping out any activities you feel like you can skip on this itinerary, with the following alternate options:

  • Santa Justa Lift
  • Ruga Agusta Arch
  • Rosio Square
  • City Center

All of the activities on this list and itinerary come highly rated, so there’s no going wrong! 

This was built by combining my personal experience with the best-rated stops.  What’s best for me might look different for you!  

The time recommendations under each activity are a ballpark recommendation of how long to spend in one place to have time to travel to and enjoy the next places.  

Increase or decrease the amount of time you spend in any place to your liking.  Take what works and leave the rest!  

Sustainable Tourism Notes

Yes, Lisbon has been increasing tourism significantly in recent years.  Of course this is great for the economy, but always remember your part to be respectful as you are visiting a local town with local homes:

  • Do not take pictures of locals unless you have permission
  • Be respectful of business closing times
  • Consider alternate options to BNB when possible.  Local apartment rates have increased significantly in this area due to tourism.
  • Spread kindness, always.

Wrapping it up

How magical a day in Lisbon can be! From the picturesque sunrise at the miradouros to the nostalgic chug of Tram 28, Lisbon offers an experience where every moment is full of culture and beauty.

The adventures you’ll have here – whether it’s a taste of the legendary pastel de nata or the hunt for treasures in Feira da Ladra – are the kind that you remember sweetly until your next trip!

For the curious soul, a one-day trip to this enchanting city isn’t just a stopover; it’s a treasure trove of moments that will turn into stories to be told for years to come! 

If it’s your first time in Lisbon, you’re really in for a treat. Get ready to fall in love with the city, one cobblestone at a time!

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As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).