A few months ago, I arrived in Lisbon with a huge backpack swung over my shoulders, not yet knowing the sound of fado music or the poems of Fernando Pessoa. From the photos, Lisbon reminded me of my home in San Francisco with its sweeping hills and tourist-packed trams. Its enchanting image pulled me in and after spending time in Lisbon, I found it to be better than I could have imagined.
Lisbon is a city where you can relax, take in the views, and enjoy a bit of history. If you get the chance to visit, even if it's just for 24 hours, you won't be disappointed. Here's your quick guide on how to spend 24 hours in Lisbon:
Lisbon By Day –
Grab Breakfast at Heim Cafe
Start your visit in Lisbon by going to Heim Cafe for breakfast. The owners, Hanna and Misha, arrived in Portugal from the Ukraine almost two years ago and opened Heim Cafe in the winter of 2016. They wanted to build a place where people could feel at home. After finding a shop for sale on Rua Santos-O-Velho, the duo went to work on building their future cafe. Cafe Heim (meaning home) has crafted a welcoming environment with wonderful food, refreshing drinks, and cozy tables overlooking Lisbon's iconic streets.
Mon,Wed,Thur,Fri,Sat,Sun 09:00 — 20:00
Rua Santos-O-Velho, 2 & 4
Take the 28 Tram to Praça Luís Camöes
From there, you can continue your tour by hopping on Tram 28 towards Praça Luís Camöes. The route gives you a tour of the capital as it snakes from Estrela Park to Barrio Alto. A single ticket onboard the tram costs €2.90. You're better off purchasing a 24-hour public transportation ticket which includes the metro, bus, and bus services in addition to the tram.
When you arrive in Praça Luís Camöes, you'll see a busy square with the statue of the famous poet in the middle. On one end, you'll find a historical kiosk serving traditional Portuguese refreshments and on the other, two Baroque churches.
Praça Luís de Camões
2715-311 Lisboa, Portugal
Walk Around the Baixa-Chiado Neighborhood and Shops
As you wonder on, you'll enter Lisbon's Baixa-Chiado district. This vibrant neighborhood is the heart of the city and is filled with a variety of restaurants, boutique shopping, and magnificent plazas. Visit the world's oldest bookstore still in operation, Livraria Bertrand, and discover the work of Portugal's famous writers. While you walk around, you might notice a line of people waiting to go up an elevator. This is the Santa Justa Lift! It originally helped locals get up Carmo Hill, but it now serves as a lookout point. If you want to go up the Santa Justa Lift, but don't want to wait in line, you can walk to the upstairs side following some switchback streets and still enjoy the great view.
Santa Justa Lift
R. do Ouro, 1150-060 Lisboa, Portugal
Try Some Cherry Wine at Ginjinha do Carmo
While walking by kiosks in Lisbon, you might notice little bottles of dark red liqueur lining the windows. This is ginjinha, a Portuguese liqueur infused with sour cherries. The drink is served in shot form and you can also drink it from a small edible chocolate cup. A glass will cost you about €1.50. Swing by Ginjinha do Carmo to sample this sweet drink.
Ginjinha do Carmo
Thur,Fri,Sat 13:30 — 02:00 and Sun,Mon,Tues,Wed 13:30 — 00:00
Calçada do Carmo 37, 1200-016 Lisboa, Portugal
Enjoy the National Azulejo Museum
As you wrap-up your day of sightseeing, venture into the historic Alfama neighborhood to learn about the history of Portugal's colored tiles, known as azulejos. Located in an old convent, the National Azulejo Museum is home to century-old tiles and handpainted porcelain.
National Azulejo Museum
Tues,Wed,Thurs,Fri,Sat,Sun 10:00 — 18:00
R. Me. Deus 4, 1900-312 Lisboa, Portugal
Lisbon By Night –
Enjoy the View at Miradouro de Santa Catarina
There's no better spot to enjoy the sunset in Lisbon than at Miradouro de Santa Catarina. This lookout is referred to by locals as Adamastor because of a statue in the center of the park. People from all different walks of life come here to take in the view. With a beer in your hand, you'll be able to watch ships sail by on the Tagus River and listen to street performs serenade you as the sun goes down behind the Atlantic.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
401, R. de Santa Catarina, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal
Dine at a Traditional Portuguese Tapas Bar
When you start to get hungry, walk to one of the delicious Portuguese restaurants close to the miradouro. Just down the street, there's Fumeiro de santa catarina, a small tapas bar with a delicious wine selection.
Fumeiro de Santa Catarina
Tues,Wed,Thurs,Fri,Sat 19:00 — 00:30
Travessa do Alcaide 4C, Lisbon 1200-013, Portugal
Listen to Fado Music in Alfama
After dinner, head to the opposite side of the city for a fado show. This achingly beautiful music is filled with longing and will leave you with chills even after the last note has faded. Intimate venues create a better listening experience, so try Sr Fado–a tiny Portuguese restaurant run by a singer & violinist.
Wed,Thurs,Sat,Sun 19:30 — 00:00
R. dos Remédios 176, 1100-081 Lisboa, Portugal
Dance the Night Away on Pink Street
Not far from where you started your night, awaits a boisterous, infamous street colored in pink. Pink Street used to be a shady dwelling for brothels and other sleazy endeavors, but in 2011 the area was given a makeover. Now, it's a bustling center for nightlife.
If you're looking for a place with good drinks and even better music, head to Pensão Amor. The bar is located in an old boarding house and is themed after a 19th-century burlesque club. When you walk inside, you'll be greeted with crimson velvet furnishings and dozens of antique prints lining the walls.
Sun,Mon,Tues,Wed 14:00 — 03:00 Thurs,Fri,Sat 14:00 — 04:00
R. do Alecrim 19, 1200-014 Lisboa, Portugal
I hope you enjoy your experiences in Lisbon and if you have other recommendations for people, leave them in the comments!