One of the best things about visiting Europe is the ability to city hop with ease—after all, the continent’s impressive Eurail does have train routes through a whopping 33 countries, making it easy to spend the day in Paris, and the night in Barcelona; the day in Prague and the night in Vienna.
All these dizzying travel opportunities amount to one thing: the chance to day-trip all over Europe relatively quickly and easily. So what’s the best way to pack a day full of some of the absolute best things to see and do in one amazing city?
A great way to experience the continent’s best spots is to make capital cities the destinations du jour—and while cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome, and Madrid are obvious choices, less-visited cities like Lisbon may fall under the radar when it comes time to create a European itinerary. However, this historic and stunning city is definitely worth a look due to its distinctively eclectic vibes—a place where tradition and proud heritage blend perfectly with modern city hustle and bustle to create a Portuguese paradise filled with fun activities and attractions. Below are some of the best ways to have an unforgettable 24 hours' worth of fun in the stunning Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
The Best Of Lisbon In One Day
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Lisbon is on foot, trodding the cobblestone streets throughout the cool city’s quirky neighborhoods and colorfully classic architecture. And while joining a walking tour is one way to learn about Lisbon’s hidden corners, there are also ways for travelers to create their own travel itinerary that’s more laidback and customizable. The following are just some of the best neighborhoods in the city for travelers who want to get a taste of Lisbon’s liveliest spots—all in a single day.
Lisbon’s Oldest District: Alfama
Super charming and steeped in cultural heritage, Alfama is a labyrinthine district perfect for getting to know the city’s more traditional side. Though the twisty streets may seem hard to navigate, it’s worth a visit here if only to explore; there’s a surprise around every corner in this historic neighborhood.
- Enjoy the stunning views at the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, one of the city’s best viewpoints stretching over the rooftops and out to the Tagus River
- Climb up through Alfama’s winding streets to the Sao Jorge Castle for some stellar panoramic views amid the crumbling castle walls—for those who want a break from walking, take the famed Number 28 Tram to get close to the castle
- Visit the oldest church in the city, the Lisbon Cathedral, then spend some time in the National Azulejo Museum, a tiled treat housed in a 16th-century convent
- Check out the Alfama nightlife with dinner at Portas do Sol and enjoy the city’s famous fado music
The Hustle And Bustle Of Bairro Alto
The vibrant Bairro Alto is a booming spot that’s considered one of Lisbon’s coolest neighborhoods. During the day, stroll through the hilly streets and scope some well-known historical landmarks; then spend the evening soaking up the Bairro’s bohemian vibes while barhopping and checking out the colorful local cafes in this region known for its nightlife.
- Hiking up Bairro Alto’s hilly slopes is not the only way to get around, the neighborhood also has several working funiculars; the perfect way to see the sights. Grab the Ascensor da Gloría to scope some of the best views of the historic downtown
- Bairro Alto is quickly gaining a reputation as a culinary hotspot, and the best way to take a bite is by taking a food tour: stay authentic with spots like 100 Maneiras; grab some delish Italian at Casanostra; have some French cuisine made with fresh Portuguese ingredients at Essencial
- Scope the views from one of the city’s most iconic viewpoints Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara
- Check out some of Lisbon’s most distinctive street art by day, then head to Zé dos Bois (ZDB) at night for the best of the local art and music scene—def one of the coolest places to be
Lisbon’s ‘Downtown’: Baixa And Rossio
Considered by many to be the heart of Lisbon’s downtown area, the area between Baixa and Rossio is packed with some of the city’s top landmarks in addition to a ton of shopping and dining opportunities. A great balance of Lisbon’s historical and modern sides, these neighborhoods are a fun, tourist-friendly, and easy way to explore a slice of Lisbon life.
- Visit the oldest (circa 1732!) operating bookstore in the world, Livraria Bertrand, a true Lisbon landmark
- Explore Baixa’s underground (literally!) gems, the Núcleo Arqueológico, and the ancient Roman tunnels, both believed to date back to the 1st century AD
- Stroll through the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), home to stunning architecture like the Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta, a historic archway with its own viewing area. Want more views? Then be sure to ride the historic Santa Justa Lift, another area architectural marvel
- Visit one of the area’s historic cafés and people watch—Café Nicola and Café A Brasileira are both great spots to get a caffeine fix and some great neighborhood photos
- Visit the lovely Rosso Train Station, then grab dinner at the trendy restaurant Sacramento do Chiado
A great way to see Europe is by visiting its capital cities—and Lisbon is definitely one of the coolest. Even travelers that only have 24-hours to spend in this dynamic Portuguese city can get a snapshot of its best sights, sounds, and tastes by choosing one of its distinctive neighborhoods to explore on foot—the best of lovely Lisbon, all in a single day.