Between the historical landmarks, majestic townscape, and rich food culture, it’s possible to spend months in Lisbon and discover something new every day. However, if you only have a weekend, you can still walk away with a lasting impression of the city. Here’s my guide on how to best explore Portugal’s capital in 48 hours.
When to visit – I visited early February and being from England I was shocked at how amazing the weather is! I was walking around in shades, eating my dinner outside and they weren’t that many tourists about. Great time to visit. Getting around
I arrived around 5.45 pm, I totally had a head blag when I realised the time is the same as the UK! I don’t plan my trips but one thing I do is research airport transport. I worked out that the best thing for me to get was the Aerobus to the nearest stop to my hostel. For a round trip, it cost around 6 euros! You can find more about the service here – https://m.aerobus.pt/en-GB/Home-3.aspx
Belém Tower, officially the Tower of Saint Vincent is a 16th-century fortification located in Lisbon that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
This place felt like it belonged in Game of Thrones, with five floors leading to a roof terrace.Each story is connected by a small and narrow spiral staircase, which, on the busiest days is a little overwhelming, having to wait your turn to climb and descend.
Entrance fee: €6 for an adult
Getting there: The Torre de Belem is located within the Belem district of Lisbon, approximately 2.5km from central Lisbon.Tram: line 15. or Bus: lines 27, 28, 29, 43, 49, 51 and 112. Train: Belem, Cascáis Line.I decided to use the hop on hop off buses to get here, which made travelling and seeing what I wanted easy.
Best time to go: Around 3 pm although in summer it’s open a bit later. If I stayed closer I definitely would have visited it in an evening and for sunset.
Photo/sight tip: Look at for the windows, located on the five floors. These felt like they were designed for photographers.
The Jerónimos Monastery, also called Hieronymites Monastery, is along with the Tower of Belém, one of the most visited sites in Lisbon. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983. This landmark is called Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Portuguese.
Make sure you visit the Church attached to the Monastery.
Entrance fee: € 10
Getting there: Tram: line 15. Bus: Mosteiro Jerónimos, lines 727, 28, 729, 714 and 751.Train: Belem, Cascáis Line. Boat: Belem Ferry TerminalThis is only around a 10-minute walk from the Belém Tower. you walk through some amazing gardens so don’t rush.
Best time to go: I went around 4 pm, it was super quiet and I didn’t wait in line to get my ticket. Don’t be put off by the church next door and the line to get in, this is free to visit but worth the wait.
Photo/sight tip: Look at the walls and all of the detail, depending on the weather, the sun reflecting on them makes a great picture and for the church, well! It’s all beautiful.
Castelo de S. Jorge
São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) is one of Lisbon’s most emblematic landmarks. The silhouette of the Castle stands out both by day and when illuminated at night, located on the summit of São Jorge hill, the highest in Lisbon.
Entrance fee: €10 although I got in for a student due to my age this was only €5.
Getting there: Tram: Miradouro Santa Luzia, line 28. Bus: Castelo, line 737.I decided to walk up to the castle, although it’s up quite a steep hill, I’d highly recommend doing it.
Best time to go: I got to the entrance at around 10 am and managed to explore the stunning views of Lisbon on my own for around 30 minutes before the tourist groups came! I’d say its worth making this your first point of call.
Photo/sight tip: Look out for windows and the stunning 360° view of Lisbon and make sure you take your time!
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a bold and imposing monument situated on the banks Tejo Estuary. The monument celebrates the 15 and 16th-century Portuguese explorers and visionaries, who established Portugal as the most powerful seafaring nation of the era.
Entrance fee: The entrance fee to the museum and viewing platform is €6.00 while the exhibit room entrance fee is €4.00.
Getting there: Around a 5-minute walk from Belem Tower, follow the directions for the tower.
Best time to go: I visited around 2 pm, it wasn’t super busy on the platform and tourists would come in big groups so if you waited a little bit you could be the only person.
Photo/sight tip: Standing on the pier/walkway up to the monument makes for great photos. Don’t rush and you’ll be able to get a shot without tourists
Santa Justa Lift
The Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the truly unique tourist attractions of Lisbon. This 19th century industrial age marvel transports passengers up 45m from the Baixa district to the Largo do Carmo. The Lift has a stunning observation deck at the top and offers magnificent views over Baixa.
Entrance fee: You can buy a return fee for €5.30 for the lift and €1.50 for the viewing platform.Instead of using paying twice to use the lift, around the corner, you will find some steps which allow you to skip the queue for the lift and go straight to the platform. I did this in the evening.
Getting there: Metro: Baixa / Chiado, blue and green lines.Although the lift is around a 5 minute walking from Praça do Comércio
Best time to go: For the day time shot in February, I went around 1 pm and the evening was around 8 pm. You may have to work your timings out due to the time of the year you are visiting!
Photo/sight tip: Using the platform for both day and evening, By using the tip about the stairs you can beat the lines.
Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio is Lisbon’s main square.It was built on the site where the old Royal Palace used to exist before it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755.
The southern end of the plaza is open and looks out onto the Tagus River. The other three sides have yellow-coloured buildings with arcades all along the façade. When the square was first built, the commercial ships would unload their goods directly onto this square, as it was considered the “door” to Lisbon.
Entrance fee: Free
Getting there: Metro: Terreiro do Paço, blue line; Baixa / Chiado, Green and blue lines.It’s the central point in Lisbon, I made sure this was my main hub point. Going left or right can get you to the main tourist points.
Best time to go: Any time of the day, make sure you visit in the day and night time! I went around 11 am and 9 pm for the night time shot! Although it was quiet due to the time of year I visited.
Photo/sight tip: Wait at the gate looking down the streets, every few minutes a famous yellow tram will go past, get your camera ready and snap away.