There are so many sights to see in Lisbon, and though it’s tempting to try and see everything in one day, we normally prefer a more gentle pace. Try the following walking itinerary starting along the Avenida da Liberdade. This will take you by many of the major sights of Lisbon and allow for some good coffee stops along the way.
Walk Down Avenida da Liberdade
Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon’s main boulevard and a must see in Lisbon. It runs for one mile from the Marques de Pombal Square located at the base of King Edward VII Park (Parque Eduardo VII) to the Restauradores Square in the Baixa district of Lisbon. The street is lined with expensive restaurants and designer shops, but that is not why we enjoy this walk. We love the impressive 19th-century Portuguese buildings, the wide tree-lined cobblestoned paths, and enjoying a coffee and a pastel de nata at one of the many outdoor streetside cafes.
After the devastating earthquake of 1755, the Avenida da Liberdade was built and named the Passeio Publico (public street) which was somewhat ironic as on either end of the avenue at that time were large gates to keep the general public away from Lisbon’s wealthy!
Visit Rossio Square
As you stroll down towards the river, you’ll pass through the Praça Dom Pedro V also known as Rossio. It’s a busy, bustling area with many tourists and office workers (and the occasional pickpocket!!!). It was here that military parades and bullfighting events used to be held and also, the public punishments for heretics during the Inquisition. Today, it is home to theatres and the neo-Manueline Rossio Station where trains depart for Sintra. Close by is the Praça da Figueira, a busy square filled with outdoor cafes with views of the castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge).
See Santa Justa Lift
Continue walking, and you’ll come across one of the most famous sights in Lisbon, the Santa Justa Lift (elevador de Santa Justa). It’s free to go up if you have a one-day travel pass, if not it will cost you five euros. The queues are usually very long. Some people have been known to stand in line for up to two hours, and it’s a really short ride. However, the views from the viewing platform are great. If you want to go to the top, but don’t want to wait for ages, nor want to spend five euros or have to climb uphill, come closer, I’ll let you into a little secret.
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Almost opposite the queue to the Santa Justa lift is a small shop (I don’t think it has a name!) selling cork handbags and souvenirs. At the back of the shop is a lift, it looks likes a tradesman lift. On the front is a small sign saying Topo. Admittedly this lift has no view, but it’s free, and it will take you most of the way you want to go! When you exit the lift, you’ll find yourself in Topo Chiado. It’s a nice rooftop bar with views over the castle and the Elevator de Santa Justa, and right behind the Convento do Carmo museum.
Relax Below Carmo Convent
Stop for a drink. I’d recommend ordering drinks from the bar rather than waiting for table service or walk through the bar and along the passageway to the top of the lift. If you don’t have a travel pass, it will cost you Euro 1,50 to climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top, but it’s a must see in Lisbon and really worth it.
While you’re in this part of the city, pop round to the Largo do Carmo which is located in front of the ruins of the Carmo Convent. It’s a lovely square with several eateries and a nice vibe. On Sundays, they often have an artisan craft market here. The Carmo Convent dates back to 1389 but was severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake. Entering the grounds of the convent is possible. It’s also home to a small archaeological museum.
Shopping Along Baixa and along Rua Augusta
From here head down into Baixa and along Rua Augusta. This is the main shopping street. It’s pedestrianised and home to many shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. You’ll often come across street entertainers, musicians and fado singers.
People Watch In Praca do Comercio
To enter the main square, the Praca do Comercio (often referred to as the Terreiro do Paço), you will pass through Rua Augusta Arch. This was built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon after the earthquake. We haven’t actually done it ourselves, but it’s possible to go to the top, and I’d imagine the views would be fantastic. If you go up, please let us know what it’s like. I believe there’s a small fee to enter, around three euros.
Our walk ends at the Terreiro do Paço/ Praca do Comercio. It’s one of Lisbon’s most beautiful squares. It’s lined with 18th-century buildings, many of which are government offices. There are bars, cafes, and museums. In the centre is a giant statue of King Dom Jose I who survived the earthquake and appointed the Marquês de Pombal in charge of the rebuilding of Lisbon. It’s a lovely square to end at, a great place to people watch. Too tired to walk anymore, just in the far corner of the square is the Terreiro do Paço metro stop or by the archway, you can take a bus or tram.
If you are looking for a more jampacked itinerary with more sights to see in Lisbon, then click here!