1-day Lisbon itinerary (12 to 24 hours)
This 1-day Lisbon itinerary is ideal for someone staying in the city for at least 12 hours or a full day.
Figuring out what to see or do in one day in Lisbon was the most challenging task related to this blog post. And after taking a long hard look at my notes, I realized I was down to three possible itineraries, and I couldn’t part with any of them. You can choose from one of them.
I used the Metro Blue Line as a reference because that’s the one serving most of the possible entryways into Lisbon: Santa Apolónia (if you’re arriving by train or by ferry), Jardim Zoológico (if you’re coming by long-distance bus), and São Sebastião (which connects to the Red Line from the airport and from Oriente train and bus station).
This is similar to my recommendations for Sunday afternoon during your weekend in Lisbon. Except for this option, I’m not including the MNAC museum.
Instead, I suggest you get off at the Baixa-Chiado Metro station (Largo do Chiado exit), walk down Rua Garret, and turn left at Calçada do Sacramento towards Largo do Carmo.
At that square, Largo do Carmo, two important historical moments happened. The first, the Great Earthquake of 1755 that completely changed the landscape of the city. The second, the revolution of 25th April 1974 that reinstated democracy after almost 60 years of a conservative dictatorship.
The ruins of Convento do Carmo are the perfect site for travelers who aren’t staying in Lisbon for long but have a thing for historical buildings. The gothic convent was one of the few places that barely survived the earthquake, and not much of it remains, except the main walls of the church (roofless since that time).
I know the convent is on every list of top things to see, but I always recommend it because it’s unique. It also doesn’t take long to visit.
Before leaving, go around the back of the convent to look at the view:
- The castle on top of the hill.
- The Santa Justa lift.
- The old buildings cascading down Alfama.
- The reconstructed buildings of Chiado (that survived a massive fire in 1988).
- The Rossio square.
If you want a quick snap of the multiple layers of Lisbon, this place is it.
Alfama is the place to get lost. However, getting lost is a better option when you have plenty of time to waste.
If you’re staying in Lisbon for just one day, that is not the case. I suggest you pay for a guided walking tour of Alfama, preferably one that’s under three hours.
A paid tram tour is one of the best and most convenient ways to see Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods for those who only have a few hours in the city.
I should warn you, though, that it’s not the most comfortable – these are refurbished old trams, riding on rails built at a time when traffic wasn’t an issue.
I suggest the Historic Hills Tram Tour (you can click to buy a ticket below) because:
- It’s hop-on/hop-off, and the ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you can explore as much or as little as you want;
- If you’re going to do the whole tour without getting off the tram, it’s a ride of about 1.5 hours (it starts and ends at Praça do Comércio downtown);
- It follows a route that’s very similar to the one from tram 28, except in this case it’s not public transport, so you’re reducing your negative impact on locals’ mobility;