Lisbon Day Trip
Do you want to visit as much as possible of Lisbon in one day? We’ve partnered with our friends at Expedia-AARP.com to bring you a packed one-day itinerary to help you see the most important sites in Lisbon. I warn you now, it’s going to be a full day so make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes, start early and bring plenty of water with you.
King Edward VII Park
We always like to start the day from King Edward VII Park aka Parque Eduardo VII. It’s really nice to have a quick wander around especially in the early mornings. It is the largest park in central Lisbon, covering 62 acres. Situated on a hill, with a rather formal garden design, it has incredible views over Praça Marquês de Pombal, Avenida da Liberdade, and the Tagus River. Closest metro stops: S.Sebastiao, Parque or Marquês de Pombal on the Blue Line.
As you exit the park, heading downwards towards the river, you will pass the very fancy statue of Marques de Pombal, who played a significant role in rebuilding Lisbon after the devastating earthquake of 1755. Take a few minutes to admire the striking figures on the base. From here, it’s a lovely stroll down Avenida de Liberdade, a Parisian-style boulevard, which links King Edward VII Park to Lisbon’s historic center. It’s a beautiful boulevard, lined with trees, fountains and statues and plenty of street side cafes where you can enjoy a coffee and a pastel de nata – a typical Portuguese breakfast!
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Rossio Square and St George’s Castle
As you approach Rossio Square, take a look to your left, and you’ll see St George’s Castle aka Castelo de São Jorge up on the hill. If you’re feeling energetic, it’s fun to walk up through the narrow cobblestoned streets of the Alfama district up to the castle. Don’t worry about taking a particular route, part of the fun of exploring Lisbon and its neighborhoods is losing yourself in the alleys and back streets. You’ll never get too lost, look upwards and keep heading towards the castle.
Not so keen on hills? Well, if you’ve started early, head to Martim Moniz Square. It’s a short walk from Rossio Square or take the metro to Martim Moniz on the Green Line. From here, jump on Tram 28 which will take you through some of the most scenic parts of Lisbon. But be warned, tram 28 is popular, it’s no longer Lisbon’s best-kept secret. Go as early as possible; otherwise, you have to wait in line a while and the tram can get really crowded. An alternative to Tram 28, but which will take you on a circular route up to the castle area, is Tram 12. If you are planning to use the trams, it’s much cheaper to use a Viva Viagem Card. More on that in our Travel Tips section.
If you’ve taken the tram up, consider walking back, so you have a chance to explore the back streets of Alfama. Be sure to stop on the way down at the Largo das Portas do Sol or the nearby viewpoint at Santa Luzia. Great views and a nice place to break for a coffee, or snack.
Take A Ferry Across The Tagus River For Great Food And Views
By now you’ll probably be getting ready for lunch. There’s plenty of eating places in Alfama, or at the bottom of the hill in Chiado, Lisbon’s shopping district, but let me tell you about our favorite spot by the River Tagus. You will need to take the metro to Cais do Sodré which is located at the end of the green line. Just one stop from Baixa-Chiado or two stops from Rossio if you decide to board there. From Cais do Sodré metro station, follow the signs to the ferries to Cacilhas.
Yes, we are going to cross the River Tagus. Boats depart every 10 minutes or so, and take roughly 10 minutes to reach the south side and cost just over a Euro per person. Once you disembark, walk west along the river for about 10 to15 minutes. You will pass many derelict warehouses and be wondering where on earth is she taking us? Finally, you will come across two restaurants, the Pont Final and Altire-te ao Rio Almada. Both have great views of old Lisbon and delicious food. Average cost around €20-25 per head. Yes, you can find cheaper food in Lisbon but they won’t have the views across the river of the old city, so treat yourself.
Cristo Rei – Lisbon’s Statue of Christ
If you have the time or still have plenty of energy after lunch, you could walk or take bus 101 from Cacilhas to the Cristo Rei, Lisbon’s Statue of Christ. If you’re planning to walk, a little further on from the restaurants there is the Elevador Panoramico de Boca do Vento which will take you up the cliff, otherwise, that’s rather a steep walk, and you still have lots to see yet. Even if you don’t make it to the statue of Christ, the view from the top of the elevator of Lisbon and the April 25 bridge is pretty impressive.
However, if you do make it as far as the Cristo Rei, the view from the terrace overlooking Lisbon and the April 25 Bridge is stunning and on a really clear day, you can even see the Pena Palace in Sintra and the attractions of Belem, where we are heading to next. It’s also possible to go to the top of the 110-meter statue, although we have never done that. Cost is €5 and there’s a lift that takes you to the top.
Next, head back across the river to Belem. Take the ferry over to Cais do Sodré and make your way by metro to Terreiro do Paço. One stop on the Green Line to Baixa-Chiado and then one stop on the Blue Line. From the subway, walk across the fabulous Praça do Comércio which is still referred to as Terreiro do Paço as this is where the Paços da Ribeira (the Royal Ribeira Palace) stood before being completely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.
From here take Tram 15 all the way to Belem. Sadly Tram 15 is not one of those lovely old characterful trams like the famous tram 28. The fare is €2.90 each way. It also gets quite crowded, so as an alternative you could take bus 728.
Monument to the Discoveries
You could easily spend a whole day in Belem, there is so much to see and do, but it does get jam-packed especially during July and August, on weekends, and when the big cruise ships are in. So for most people, a few hours is enough. If time is limited, we suggest heading to the iconic Padro dos Descobrimentos Monument statue aka The Monument to the Discoveries first. If you take a selfie here and post on Facebook, everyone will know you’re in Lisbon. It’s also possible to go inside the monument. Inside you will find a small museum and a viewing platform at the top. The cost to enter is €3, and most people spend around 30 minutes there. Note that the monument is closed on Mondays.
From here, it’s a pleasant stroll along the Tejo estuary to the famous Torre de Belem aka the Belem Tower. It’s a beautiful building and another iconic star of Lisbon. It’s possible to go inside, but the queues have always been so long whenever we are in the area, so we never have. If you have more patience than us, the price to enter is €6, and please let us know what it’s like. Note that this too is closed on Mondays.
Just next to the Belem Tower is a bar, it looks tempting but it’s very much tourist prices, and the food is rather average. Our advice is if you’re thirsty, pick up something at one of the local vendors and relax in the park under the shade of a tree.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Next stop, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. It’s a stunning looking building. It costs €10 to enter or €12 for a combined ticket that includes entry to the Belem Tower. The queue to enter the monastery can be really long during high season but there’s rarely a queue to enter the church, and that’s free to go inside.
Time For Some Dessert
If you’re beginning to feel a bit peckish, just a short walk away is the famous Pastéis de Belem bakery. You will inevitably see a long queue outside but don’t panic, this is the queue for takeaways. Just ignore the line and head inside and find yourself a table. Service is a bit slow and surly, but oh boy, the Pasteis de Belem are worth it. And if you’re only spending one day in Lisbon, well this is a must-do!
By now, you must be exhausted. It’s time to enjoy a well-deserved sunset cocktail. There are some nice looking bars along the Tejo estuary or our choice, is to head to the LX factory located under the 25 de Abril bridge. Then jump in an Uber, take the tram, or bus and go and enjoy the bars, restaurants and the night-life of Barrio Alto.
Top Tips For Seeing Lisbon In One Day
I said it at the beginning and I’ll say it again. Wear comfortable shoes. The streets of Lisbon are not designed for heels. The cobbled streets can also be a bit slippery even when it hasn’t been raining so take extra care.
If you are planning on using the buses, ferries, and trams, you will save money and time if you buy a travel card. These can be purchased at any metro station. Unfortunately, the ticket counters are often closed at the metro stations, so you have to use the ticket machines which can be a bit confusing.
Navigating Public Transportation In Lisbon
First of all, you need to purchase a Viva Viagem card through the ticket machine at any metro station which costs €0.50.
Then you have three choices.
Buy a single ticket for a specific journey in Lisbon which cost €1.45. But if you’re planning to make more than one trip, this isn’t the most cost-effective or efficient method.
Zapping – this works well if you visit Lisbon often like we do or spending a few days. Just top up the Viva Viagem card with a minimum of €3 and in multiples of €5. Each journey will cost less than buying single tickets each time.
If you are only spending one day in Lisbon, consider buying a one day ticket which is valid for 24 Hours. It costs €6.30 and allows you unlimited travel on the metro, bus, tram, funiculars, and elevators. Or €9.35 and this includes the ferry to Cacilhas.
Another option, although we personally haven’t used it is to purchase the Lisboa Card. These can be bought in advance. A card costs from €19 for one day to €40 for three days. It includes 29 free museums, including the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, and unlimited free public transport. It also offers discounts on many museums and activities. I think if you’re staying more than a day and like visiting museums, it would definitely be worth getting. If you do purchase a Lisboa card, let us know in the comments what you think.
Hope you have a fantastic time exploring one of our favorite European cities. If you have any top tips or recommendations for seeing Lisbon in one day, or even longer, be sure to let us know.