Seeing some of the highlights of Lisbon in 2 days is not impossible, but it is heartbreaking for someone like me who massively suffers from travel FOMO. The Portuguese capital has definitely won me over, but I wish I had more time to explore it.
Since it was a part of a longer road trip through Portugal, I only had 48 hours in Lisbon, enough to realize how vibrant and fascinating it is. From historical landmarks and museums to colorful neighborhoods and amazing Portuguese dishes, it has so much to offer.
If you’re having a hard time prioritizing and deciding what to include in your itinerary, here’s my suggestion.
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WHERE TO STAY FOR 2 NIGHTS IN LISBON
It isn’t so central, but since this quick city break was a part of a road trip from Lisbon to Porto and we already picked up the car at the airport, a hotel with normal parking was very much needed.
The street where Hotel Miraparque is situated has plenty of parking spaces to offer, and the hotel itself was great for a short stay. Right next to it, you’ll also find the scenic Eduardo VII Park. You can read more reviews and browse the hotel’s latest prices here.
LISBON CARD – SHOULD YOU GET IT?
I’m always a bit suspicious of city cards as many of them don’t actually save you money, but a 48-hour Lisbon Card combined with this itinerary returns the investment.
With free use of public transportation and free entrance to some of the city’s most visited attractions (as well as other discounts you can check out here), it’s more convenient to have the Lisbon Card, which saves a few euros in two days.
Read more reviews and get your Lisbon Card here.
2 DAYS IN LISBON, PORTUGAL – ITINERARY SUMMARY AND MAP
Day 1: Carmo Convent, Santa Justa Lift, Rua Augusta Arch & Praça do Comércio, Lisbon Cathedral, streets of Alfama, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, São Jorge Castle, Fado concert.
Day 2: Belem Tower, Monument to the Discoveries, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Palace, National Coach Museum, Ajuda National Palace.
If you have more time to spend in Portugal yet you’re not planning a road trip, I definitely recommend taking some day trips from Lisbon as there are plenty of beautiful places to visit around it.
Click here to access the My Maps interactive map of this two-day Lisbon itinerary.
TOP FREE & PAID WALKING TOURS IN LISBON
When you only have 2 days in a city, walking tours can be a wonderful way to explore it.
If you want to change this itinerary a bit and see more of Lisbon with a guide, consider booking one of these top experiences:
- Food and wine walking tour
- Free tour of Lisbon
- Free tour of the neighborhood of Alfama
- Free walking tour of the district of Belem
- Free street art tour
- Free tour of the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Chiado
- Free walking tour of the neighborhood of Mouraria
- Free Fado tour
- Sunset cruise on the Tagus river
LISBON IN 2 DAYS – DAY 1 – BAIXA, CHIADO & ALFAMA NEIGHBORHOODS
I love visiting medieval buildings, and the Carmo Convent is a unique one, as it’s a reminder of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
The 14th-century structure used to be Lisbon’s largest church, and today, it is a roofless nave that also houses a small archaeological museum.
As sad as it is to think about the destruction the earthquake has caused, it feels strangely enchanting to wander through the ruins, which seem like something out of a historical movie.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, October to April 10 AM – 6 PM,
May to September 10 AM – 7 PM.
Admission: €5 (or €4 with the Lisbon Card).
SANTA JUSTA LIFT
Only a 2-minute walk away from the convent, you’ll get to the infamous Santa Justa Lift, a 19th-century elevator connecting the neighborhoods of Baixa and Chiado that has become a major tourist attraction.
It’s also located near the lively Praça Dom Pedro IV, also known as Rossio Square.
Admission: €5.30 to ride up and down, €1.5 to access the observation deck.
I’ve skipped out on riding it, but if you purchase the Lisbon Card, you can visit it for free.
RUA AUGUSTA ARCH & PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO
Head south, and you’ll get to Rua Augusta Arch, an impressive triumphal arch and one of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments.
It was built right after the 1755 earthquake to commemorate the city’s reconstruction and was officially completed more than 100 years later.
When you go through the arch, the gorgeous coastal square of Praça do Comércio is right in front of you.
Not only is it one of the largest squares in Europe but also where the Royal Palace of Ribeira, the main residence of the Kings of Portugal in Lisbon, used to stand.
Within 10 minutes of walking, you should be getting to the 12th-century Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church in the city (and possibly the oldest building in Lisbon). With a mix of Gothic and Baroque architectural styles, it is a true beauty on the inside and out.
The cathedral is free to explore, but you can also visit the cloister or treasury for €2.50 (or pay €4 to access both).
Now it’s time for my favorite activity – freely roaming the streets of a charming neighborhood, which is the perfect adjective to describe Alfama.
From its pastel-colored houses to the little hidden squares, it is an absolute delight to explore this district, which is the oldest in Lisbon.
Want to explore Alfama with a guide? Take this free walking tour!
MIRADOURO DAS PORTAS DO SOL
It’s hard to keep up with all the lookout points you can find in Lisbon, but Miradouro das Portas do Sol is definitely an unmissable one.
Overlooking Alfama with the São Vicente de Fora Monastery and Church of Santa Engrácia standing out, it provides an ideal postcard scenery.
SÃO JORGE CASTLE
One of the city’s most visited sites, the São Jorge Castle is a must-have on your 2-day Lisbon itinerary.
Though there were fortifications on the São Jorge hill since the 2nd century BC, the castle was built in the 11th century by the Moors, conquered by the first King of Portugal in 1147, and majorly restored in the 20th century.
Throughout the years, it served both as a fortress and a royal palace and witnessed significant events in Portugal’s history.
It is an absolute privilege to be able to step back in time and tour this incredible Portuguese landmark, which also offers picture-perfect panoramic views of Lisbon.
Opening hours: Every day, March to October 9 AM – 9 PM,
November to February 9 AM – 6 PM.
You can get your ticket to the São Jorge Castle here.
Getting to know the local culture is one of the things I love so much about traveling, and Fado is an inseparable part of Portugal’s culture.
This incredibly soulful music genre was born in Lisbon in the 19th century and was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO a few years ago.
I was having dinner at a restaurant, and without knowing there was also going to be live music, I got to enjoy a short Fado concert. You can find quite a few restaurants that host Fado performances like Restaurante Fama d’Alfama and Sr. Vinho.
Alternatively, you can also take a themed walking tour that ends with a concert or just purchase tickets to one of the Fado venues in the city (the Lisbon Card gives you a 10% discount on the ‘Fado in Chiado’ show).
You might also like:
- Best cities to visit in Portugal
- Obidos photo diary
- Northern Portugal road trip
- Is Porto worth visiting?
- Lisbon packing list
LISBON IN 2 DAYS – DAY 2 – BELEM DISTRICT
Belem is not a central district, but it’s definitely a must-visit as it’s home to some of the most important landmarks in Lisbon.
I suggest you get there early because you’d want to see all of its highlights (well, at least most of them). To explore it with a guide, you can also take a free walking tour of Belem (one of the best free things to do in Lisbon).
The 500-year-old Belem Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. But what makes it so special?
Thanks to the Portuguese discoveries, Lisbon became an international center of commerce in the 15th-16th centuries, and there was a need to protect the city.
Sitting on the Tagus river, the Belem Tower was built as a part of Lisbon’s defense system but also marked the starting point of explorers’ journeys.
Apart from the tower being a symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries, it is also worth appreciating its stunning Manueline-style exteriors.
I skipped out on it (which meant I could start my day earlier), but you could also purchase a ticket to get inside the tower.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, October to April 10 AM – 5:30 PM, May to September 10 AM – 6:30 PM.
Admission: €6 (free to visit with the Lisbon Card).
MONUMENT TO THE DISCOVERIES
A more recent monument commemorating the Portuguese discoveries, the strikingly beautiful 56-meter (183.7 feet) high sculpture sits proudly on the banks of the Tagus river.
It depicts a ship with more than 30 historical figures, including Henry the Navigator and Ferdinand Magellan.
Alongside the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), you’ll also see a big beautiful square with tiles that form a compass and a Mapa Mundi (medieval European map of the world).
Along with the Jeronimos Monastery (the next stop) located behind the monument and square, the entire scenery is just spectacular. It is something you don’t want to miss, especially when you only have two days in Lisbon.
JERÓNIMOS MONASTERY & PRAÇA DO IMPÉRIO GARDEN
The Belem Tower shares its UNESCO World Heritage Site status with the Jeronimos Monastery, a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, an exquisite example of Portuguese Manueline architectural style, and another symbol of the Age of Discoveries.
To get there from the Monument to the Discoveries, you need to go through the lovely Praça do Império Garden.
Constructed by the order of King Manuel I in the 1500s, the monastery is associated with the Portuguese explorers in a couple of aspects.
Apart from the fact that it was built on the site of a church where Vasco da Gama had prayed right before his journey to India, the monastery’s monks also provided spiritual guidance to other sailors setting off to find new lands.
As cliche as it may sound, it is a place that can make you feel like you’ve been transported to the past. Each and every corner is abundant in architectural embellishments, including many sea-themed details.
Opening hours: Every day, October to April 10 AM – 5 PM, May to September 10 AM – 6:30 PM (6 PM on Sundays).
Admission: €10 (free with the Lisbon Card).
If you don’t want to purchase the Lisbon Card, get your tickets in advance here.
PASTÉIS DE BELÉM
I love Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts), and I love old bakeries and cafes. So after visiting the monastery, you must head to Pasteis de Belem, an iconic spot established in 1837 that sells a one-of-a-kind type of tarts.
Even today, the bakery follows the ancient recipe created by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery, which makes the tarts unique and worthy of the patented name Pasteis de Belem. No other bakery can use this name as it goes hand in hand with the secret recipe.
Try one of those yummy pieces of heaven, but don’t miss out on other sweet baked goods, which you’ll see on their display counter.
BELEM PALACE & GARDEN OF AFONSO DE ALBUQUERQUE
While I did not take a tour inside the Belem Palace, I did manage to see a bit of its pastel pink exteriors.
The 16th-century building (which was reconstructed in the 18th century) is a former royal residence of the Portuguese monarchs and the current residence of Portugal’s president.
It also faces the lovely Afonso de Albuquerque Garden, named after the Second Governor of Portuguese India.
Note: The palace is currently closed to the public.
NATIONAL COACH MUSEUM
Have you ever wondered what Cinderella’s carriage would look like in real life?
Luckily, you can get a taste of the fairytale at the National Coach Museum, which houses an exquisite collection of European royal carriages from the 16th-19th centuries, one of the finest in the world.
It’s not surprising that it’s one of the city’s most visited museums, so it must be on your Lisbon itinerary. BUT, since our next and last stop (the Ajuda Palace) closes at 6 PM (last entry at 5:30 PM), see if you have enough time left to visit the museum.
It really depends on how much time you’ve spent in each place, and that’s why I suggested starting this day early.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM.
Admission: €8 (free with the Lisbon Card).
AJUDA NATIONAL PALACE
Last but not least, a short bus ride will take you to the Ajuda National Palace.
Royal palaces always fascinate me. They make me wonder what noble life was like, and I love seeing the luxurious decor, the old paintings, and the colorful frescoes. Of course, this one was no exception.
After the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, King José I wanted to build a new royal palace on Ajuda hill. But before it was completed and the monarchs could actually live there, Napoleon invaded Portugal, and the royal family had to flee to Brazil.
It was only a few decades later that King Louis I and his wife moved into the palace, which finally became an official Portuguese royal residence.
Opening hours: Friday to Wednesday 10 AM – 6 PM.
Admission: €5 (free with the Lisbon Card).
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