What to see in Lisbon: itinerary for 1-5 days

Lisbon sights in a day

Lisbon has a very compact center and it is possible to see all of its historic neighborhoods in a day. But be prepared for a lot of walking up and down hills, and sometimes you can lighten your load with the elevators, funicular railway and ski elevators, which are interesting attractions in and of themselves.

Perhaps buying a Bus Turistic is not a bad idea for a day trip because it allows you to explore the districts of Belem far away from the city center, the Avenida da Liberdade and the modern area of Parque das Nações. To get around all of this on public transportation in one day along with a walk through the city center is simply not realistic. A ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus costs 20€. If you want to explore Lisbon only in the center, you can not use public transport at all.

And the many museums of the Portuguese capital will also bypass those who have only one day to see the city. In this article I will confine myself to describing the historic districts of Lisbon, the ones that deserve a walk.


I will start from the very heart of the city, the Place de la Comércio or Palacio de la Palacio. The official name is still Palace Square, but it is a relatively new name and is therefore referred to by the older name of Place de Commerce. The area around the square is called Baixa, which literally means low place. This area was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and the triple tsunami that followed, so it is built up with relatively young houses, there is a clear grid of streets crossing each other at right angles.

It is the city’s most touristy neighborhood, because along the pedestrian street of Augusta, which connects Comercio Square with Rosio Square, there is an insane amount of restaurants and stores in the city. Facing the Augusta arch, the Chiado and Bairro Alto neighborhoods are on the left and the Alfama neighborhood and Castel Sant Gheorghe on the right, very visible from the square.

It is only 2,5€ to the top of the arch but not necessarily a spectacular view of the Portuguese sidewalk, the calçada, the whole street is often crowded with café tables and crazy crowds of tourists strolling through it.

The calçada is the traditional paving of Portuguese streets and squares, and most often the designs are two-color. Basalt is used for the black stone and sandstone for the white. There are many patterns that can be done in this way. Below you will see examples of calçada in the photographs.

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Lisbon sights

Commerce Square, Augusta Arch

The center of the square is adorned by a monument to the Portuguese king José I. He was an absolute nobody as a statesman, in fact all the power in the state belonged to the Marquis of Pombal. José I, on the other hand, indulged in amusement and after the earthquake he left the capital and settled in a tent camp near the Ajuda Palace in Belem. But a sculpture of this inglorious man stands on the main square of the Portuguese capital.

Lisbon sights

Monument to José I.

The sculpture is quite entertaining, one elephant on a pedestal of sorts.

Lisbon sights

Elephant on pedestal

The square of Commerce in Lisbon is very similar to the square of the Unification of Italy in Trieste. On one side it faces a river, but the river is so wide that one would like to call it a sea.

Lisbon sights

Lisbon's Comercio Square is a must-see

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How many people do you personally know who can proudly say that they have seen Lisbon? None of us do!

And that’s because Europe’s westernmost capital seems too far away and… not mysterious enough. And also not too interesting – how about Paris or Barcelona, which regularly receive excellent reviews?

In the popular mind, a tour to see Lisbon does not seem to be a must-do. And many put it off “for later”: when money happens and everyday problems do not obscure the mental eye with an impenetrable fence. Those who come, however, are actually rewarded with a dessert, “the cherry on the cake”.

After all, Portuguese culture is so distinctive and unlike most others in Europe. Lisbon is incredibly unique and distinctively beautiful. In addition – in the manner of expensive penthouses – it has several levels!

In addition, as a necklace surrounded by cities, each of which is worthy of a hotel tour. After all, only after seeing Sintra and its palaces, any traveler understands that all was not in vain. And then there are Cascais and Estoril, Setubal and the amazing Obidos.

The Alcobaça Monastery, which keeps the story of eternal love, and its “bellicose” counterpart in Batalha. Cape Cabo da Roca, towering over the blue Atlantic Ocean, and Nazaré, which for centuries beat off the biggest waves in Europe!

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And that’s not even counting the surfing towns of Peniche and Erijsera. And also the possibility of a quick trip from Lisbon to Porto. The second largest city in the country and home of Port wine.

A must for tourists in Lisbon

What to see in Lisbon – Day 1

The best place to start exploring the Portuguese capital is the central Baixa district. That includes the main square, Praça do Comércio. It looks imposing and interesting even in pictures – words get stuck in your throat when you see it in person.

The square is nestled on the banks of the full-flowing Tagus, once considered the gateway to Lisbon. Ships carrying Brazilian treasures used to dock here, as did state delegations arriving in Portugal.

Today’s tourist takes a different route, rather exploring the old authentic districts of the Portuguese capital – Baixa is not one of them.

But that does not stop him from seeing the parade of Lisbon. And the Praça do Comércio and the buildings flanking it retain a significant, indeed majestic, appearance.

Beyond the Arc de Triomphe begins Rua Augusta, the city’s main pedestrian promenade. Stores, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants – you can find everything here, if you have money!

Praça Dom Pedro IV, or Rossio Square, when you google maps, rounds out the Baixa neighborhood to the north. It was once infamous for the public burning of heretics. The Portuguese Inquisition was housed in one of the palaces.

Earthquake in 1755 as if in retaliation thoroughly destroyed the area. And during the reconstruction emphasis was made on uniformity with the surrounding new buildings, rather than on the preservation of colorful historical flavor.

The Rossio train station, whose spectacularly eclectic New Manueline-style building is a minute’s walk from the square, is a popular starting point for rail travel to Sintra. The Róssio Metro station (green line) is based below the square, and another one, Restauradores (blue line), is nearby.

Santa Justa and Bairro Alta

Next door to Pedro IV Square is Lisbon’s famous landmark, the Santa Justa tower elevator. It connects the Baixa with the Bairro Alto and is a popular tourist attraction.

The openwork cast-iron structure (1902) looks rather incongruous against the background of the surrounding 18th century houses. But, like any blatant ugliness, attracts the curious.

Santa Justa - You can see the whole of Lisbon from here.

However, perhaps we are in vain to “roll” on the architect, clearly inspired by the success of the Eiffel Tower. Because in such dense buildings only the use of iron could solve the problem of lifting.

You can take the elevator for a ride. And even look at the city rooftops from its observation deck nestled 45 meters high. Ticket for 2 rides with access to the observation deck costs 5.3 €: www.carris.pt/pt/viagens-ocasionais.

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Another memorable way to get to Bairro Alto is the Ascensor da Glória. Whose yellow carriages run from Restauradores square – round trip costs €3.8 in 2020.

Bairro Alto has several observation decks of its own. In the summer heat, the one in the São Pedro de Alcântara Park is especially relevant. And the views are good, and the shade is present.

Most tourists choose the Mirador de Santa Catarina. From which you can especially see the Tagus and the famous April 25 bridge.

Option 2 (preferred).

You don’t go to any Market Square, but climb up – literally! The game is worth it, because the dominating castle of St. George is an amazing observatory point. And at the same time it is a historical monument, of course.

One of the most important attractions in Lisbon, by the way. From its walls you can perfectly see the maze of narrow streets of the Alfama district, where you are guaranteed to wander after your visit to the Castelo de São Jorge. Here it is worth seeing if only the Cathedral of Lisbon, a mighty edifice dating back to the twelfth century.

You can also enlist the help of a knowledgeable guide. Individual guided tours of Lisbon are not expensive. By local standards: 25-30 € per person.

After the first day you will have only to go to Santa Justa and gaze at this cast iron monster. Then you can relax and get ready for the next touristic exploits.

A ticket to St. George’s Castle costs 10 €, and 5 € for ages 13-25: castelodesaojorge.pt/site/pt/precos-horarios-e-informacoes-uteis. But this is not enough for the Lisbon travelers. And so right on the central page of the castle, they are trying to sell bluticket packages of varying sizes. For 24, 18 and 16 € respectively.

Where to Stay

We’ll take the nerve to recommend a few not the cheapest, but, not afraid of the word – cool options. Book it well in advance, otherwise – no complaints accepted))))

Pay attention, for example, to Palacete Chafariz D’El Rei by Unlock Hotels. It is small (only 6 rooms) and occupies a historic building in Alfama. Can win you over with interiors and views from the rooftop terrace.

For the same money you can be accommodated in Lx Boutique Hotel, which is located near the port and the Commerce Square. And the price includes breakfast.

For those who want to save money, we recommend The 7 Hotel. It occupies a nice building almost in the center. In reviews praise small but clean rooms and excellent noise isolation.

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Day 2

If the first day we looked at Lisbon and got acquainted, the second day should be devoted to the iconic places. Such as the Belem Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery – included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The first is a peculiar monument commemorating the voyage of Vasco de Gama, which opened to Portugal the sea route to India. And only after that a defensive fort! A separate visit inside costs 6 € and will not enrich the curious.

But if you buy a combined ticket that includes a visit to the Jerónimos Monastery, the situation changes dramatically. For the latter is simply a song to the Gothic in its Portuguese sense, and to its apotheosis, the Manuellino style.

The price of a complex ticket – 12 €, children under 12 are free of charge.

Lisbon's Jerónimos Monastery is a must for you.

If you’re not crazy about high-altitude views and photos, climb to the top of the Monument to the Discoverers, erected on the promenade nearby. And you’ll enjoy the view in all directions and admire the beautiful mosaic donated by South Africa at the foot!

The monument is good on its own, with bas-reliefs “in faces” showing the heroic maritime history of Portugal.

Day 3 and 4

Sintra and its palaces are obviously at the top of the list of sights to see around Lisbon. The easiest way to get to the famous town is from the well-known Rocío station. Trains go frequently, the journey time is about 40 minutes and the timetable: www.cp.pt/StaticFiles/timetables/lisbon-urban-trains.pdf.

The trip and excursions will take a whole day. And still not enough time!

Next on the program is usually a visit to a town called Obidos, which is frozen in time, around the 13th century. Was once a traditional wedding gift of the Portuguese kings to their wives. And today – one of the links of the popular sightseeing route in the suburbs of Lisbon.

And, of course, we do not forget the famous Portuguese monasteries.

For example, to Santa Maria de Alcobaça from Lisbon, it takes about 2 hours by car or by bus Rede Expressos. It takes about the same to get to Batalha.

The Templar town of Tomar with its monastery of Christ can also be reached by train. The ticket costs less than 10 €, the journey takes less than 2 hours from the station Oriente.

Day five

It won’t be out of place to recover after the (probably) intense out-of-town program. And so the day should be spent lazily crawling between museums. Or in general to devote to the inhabitants of the seas and oceans – Lisbon has the largest oceanarium in Europe. Very modern and family oriented!

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Ticket prices, however, do not look overly budgetary. For anyone aged 13-64 you have to pay 19 €. A family ticket for 2+2 will cost 50 €: www.oceanario.pt/en/visit/tickets/.

In a series of interesting gatherings we would like to single out:

  • The National Museum of Ancient Art at R. das Janelas Verdes, 1249-017. The most important art gallery in the country, admission costs 6 €
  • Doca de Alcantara Norte Oriental Museum, Av. Brasília. The collection is a visible reflection of the centuries-old close trade ties between Portugal and the countries of Asia. Presented objects from China and Japan, India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. The exhibition can be seen for 6 €.
  • National Tile Museum, dedicated to the history of the traditional Portuguese ceramic tile azulejo. It is housed in a former monastery at Rua da Madre de Deus, 4, which gives it even more charm. Tickets cost only 5€
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Museum at Av. de Berna 45A. On display are not only paintings (Rubens, Rembrandt, Turner), bequeathed by the American billionaire. But also rare furniture, decorative objects, samples of antique and oriental art. The price for a visit starts from 10 €.

When to go

Lisbon is a very warm city. On the internet there are enough reviews of tourists who went there in April and May and were literally shocked by a serious heat above +30 degrees. However, in a positive sense – in Russia at this time has not yet melted snow everywhere.

In summer the number of tourists, like everywhere else, is off the charts. And precipitation practically does not fall, which makes a long stay on the streets a test of strength.

September is good in Lisbon (temperatures above +25) with very little rain. It gets noticeably worse in late fall, when it pours like a bucket and squalls come in from the Atlantic.

In November though, the weather is not so good everywhere in Portugal – except perhaps in the Algarve. But the prices are pleasant and the tourists are almost gone!

December is an interesting month to visit. The temperature is +15-18 degrees, the rainfall is not too nerve-racking, and in Nazar (120 km to the north) the maximum height of the waves is registered.

January and February are very pleasant here. The usual temperature in Lisbon during this period is quite unusual for Europe: 14-16 degrees Celsius!

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