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How to See the Best of Lisbon in One Day (+Map, Itinerary & Tips)

How to See the Best of Lisbon in One Day (+Map, Itinerary & Tips)

Are you visiting Portugal and have just one day in Lisbon and are wondering how to see the very best that the city has to offer? This article should give you some great ideas for some of the best things to do in Lisbon in one day.

We cover some of the main Lisbon attractions that you can see in just a day. In addition, you can read about a great activity that you shouldn’t miss when in Lisbon. Find out!

We visited Lisbon with kids, but this itinerary isn’t family-specific. It covers most of the must-see places in Lisbon that every first-time visitor should see. At the same time, the fact that we did this with children, shows that this itinerary should be doable for everyone.

We don’t often visit big cities when we travel with kids. Our recent 10-day trip to Portugal was different, however. We wanted to see the highlights of the country, the best towns in Portugal, and so there was no way we would skip Lisbon.

But we also knew in advance that we would only want to spend one day in Lisbon with kids. But how to see the best of such a big and interesting city in just one day and with three young kids in tow?

In this post, I am sharing our one day Lisbon itinerary. Despite the fact that we were traveling with three young children and only had one day in Lisbon, we wanted to get the most out of our short stay in the city and see some of the main highlights of Lisbon.

We managed to see a lot of the main tourist sights of Lisbon in a day, but we also took the time to discover more local areas, find some hidden gems, and taste some delicious local food. We ended our day in Lisbon in style by taking a sailing cruise on the Tagus River. Undoubtedly the highlight of Lisbon for the children, and a great relaxing way to end the perfect day in Lisbon for the whole family.

Below, you can find a detailed description of what to do in Lisbon in a day and a map following our itinerary. At the bottom of this article, you can also find suggestions for what to do if you have a day or two extra in Lisbon. Read on!

TIP: If you find planning a day in Lisbon overwhelming, take a look at this highly-rated day tour that covers the main highlights in just half a day. Alternatively, this private tour shows you the very best of Lisbon in one full day. Or read on for a do-it-yourself Lisbon day tour with our top tips!

Lisbon in a day - best things to do and map

Lisbon in 1 day – Our Itinerary and Walking Map

To make the process of planning your day in Lisbon easier, I created this Lisbon walking map that illustrates the walk described in this post.

My phone shows that we walked a total of 10km in Lisbon. This includes a 2km walk from the sailing boat to the Time Out Market, which wasn’t such a good idea after all. If I were to do it again, I would definitely take a taxi here as well.

Lisbon in one day walking map and itinerary
Click on the map to enlarge it. (Map made with GoogleMaps).

Here’s what to see and do in Lisbon in one day :

1. Admire the Best Viewpoints of Lisbon – Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Miradouro da Graça

We started our day in Lisbon with a taxi drive to one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city – Miraduro do Senhora do Monte.

It was the highest point of our Lisbon day itinerary and we were very glad we chose to go there by taxi rather than walking. It saved us a lot of climbing and ensured that the kids weren’t exhausted in the morning already.

The views from here are stunning – it’s well worth including this spot in your 1-day itinerary!

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte in Lisbon
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte

After admiring the view over the city, we walked towards the nearby St. George Castle.

On the way there we passed the Graça Church and Monastery where we stopped at another viewpoint – Miradouro da Graça.

This walk was also our first introduction to Portuguese azulejos – traditional tiles that are an essential part of Portuguese architecture.

Miradouro da Graça viewpoint in Lisbon
Miradouro da Graça

2. Visit the Castle of Saint George – Castelo de São Jorge

Our first stop at Alfama was the Castle of Saint George. We had read that the castle itself is not very interesting, but the views over the city are beautiful. The queue at the castle was huge, however.

Since we already visited two viewpoints (with more on the itinerary later on), we decided to skip it and spend more time wandering the narrow streets of Alfama. Read on…

TIP: If you want to see the Sao Jorge Castle, it’s best to get skip-the-line tickets in advance. If we had known that it was so busy there, we would have definitely done this. The views from the castle look really nice, so if you can squeeze it into your Lisbon 1-day itinerary, I think it’s worth it.

Views from St George Castle in Lisbon
Views from St George Castle in Lisbon – Photo

3. Explore Historic Alfama District

The old historic district of Alfama is such a beautiful area to wander around. It’s probably the most authentic district in Lisbon, and should be on every Portugal bucket list!

With just a day in Lisbon, you will have to be selective about how to best spend your time. This is one of those areas that you really should explore a bit deeper. So don’t rush through!

You can either do it on your own, join a walking tour of Alfama (and other parts of the city), or even consider this highly-rated segway tour that allows you to see the very best of this interesting area in a short time.

From the castle, we headed to Miradouro de Santa Luzia – another incredible viewpoint over the rooftops of Lisbon. Adjacent to it is Largo das Portas do Sol – a small charming town square with another great viewpoint.

Largo das Portas do Sol viewpoint in Alfama Lisbon
Largo das Portas do Sol viewpoint

Despite the fact that we had a guidebook with an Alfama walking itinerary and map, we quickly got lost in the maze of little streets and narrow passageways.

We didn’t mind! We stopped looking at the map and just wandered around the streets that lead to some amazing discoveries: several incredible viewpoints over the rooftops of the old Lisbon, interesting street art, local restaurants, cafés, little shops…

TIP: If there is one area in Lisbon where a tour would have been useful, it’s probably here in Alfama. It’s so easy to get lost and lose track of what you wanted to see…

Fado night in Alfama Lisbon
Alfama Café with live Fado music every evening
Portuguese azulejos tiles in Lisbon
Portuguese azulejos tiles

We passed several churches and old buildings with uncountable different patterns of Portuguese azulejos…

Local women were hanging laundry to dry while men were sitting on a bench in front of their houses watching an occasional tourist with just as much interest as we were watching them…

Exploring Alfama district in Lisbon with kids
Exploring Alfama

We walked towards the Cathedral of Lisbon (Sé de Lisboa) and watched the famous Lisbon tram 28 make its way through the steep narrow streets and the busy traffic…

As we sat at a local cafe enjoying ice cream and some drinks, we were talking about how Lisbon had such a great atmosphere and how we would love to return for a longer stay in the future.

Famous Lisbon tram 28 passing the Se Cathedral
Famous Lisbon tram 28 passing the Cathedral

It was in these little streets of Alfama that I fell in love with Lisbon. I wished we had more time to explore the city! Unfortunately, we only had one day in Lisbon and so in the afternoon we left Alfama and headed to the busy city center, also known as Baixa (the low part).

Walking the narrow streets of Alfama district in Lisbon
Exploring narrow streets of Alfama

4. Visit Baixa and the Must-sees of Lisbon

Commerce Square – Praça do Comércio

We left the narrow streets of Alfama and headed to Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio).

Commerce Square is a huge town square, once home to a royal palace that was destroyed during the earthquake of 1755. Now it’s home to several government buildings and the statue of King José I right in the middle of it.

The Commerce Square with big open spaces lined with classical buildings with yellow facades and galleries with arcades could not be more different from the old district of Alfama. While life seems to have stood still in Alfama, the city center was bustling with life.

Praca do Comercio in Lisbon
Praca do Comercio

Cais das Colunas

The Commerce Square meets the Tagus river at Cais das Colunas – a marble flight of steps that is flanked by two impressive columns.

Cais das Colunas in Lisbon
Cais das Colunas

Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta

We spent some time by the Tagus river and then headed Northwards towards the Rua Augusta Arch (Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta). The impressive arch was built to commemorate the reconstruction of Lisbon after the big earthquake. You can visit the viewing platform at the top for a small fee.

Rua Augusta itself is a pedestrian street with a variety of shops and restaurants. There are street artists and performers and many vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs and memorabilia. This is probably the most touristy and the busiest area of Lisbon.

Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta in Lisbon
Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta

5. Ride the Historic Santa Justa Lift

Our next stop was Elevador de Santa Justa. Santa Justa Lift is a 1901 industrial-age masterpiece that brings you from the Baixa district all the way up Carmo Hill in the Chiado district. Even if you have just one day in Lisbon Santa Justa lift is not to be missed!

There was a long queue at the elevator when we visited. However, since Elevador de Santa Justa is one of Lisbon’s must-see tourist attractions, we decided to wait.

After a while, we soon understood why it was taking so long – the old elevator is incredibly slow. On top of that, everyone has to buy a ticket inside the elevator itself, which seems to take forever. We couldn’t understand why they don’t just open a separate ticket desk; the whole experience would be so much more relaxing for everyone involved.

Anyway, a long wait and an expensive short ride to the top turned out to be well worth the wait. Once on top, you can climb to the viewing platform for the best 360° views over Lisbon.

Elavador de Santa Justa - Santa Justa Lift Lisbon
Santa Justa Lift

Santa Justa Lift Practical Information:

The lift is open daily from 7 am till 11 pm.

The Santa Justa Lift ticket price is 5,50 EUR. This includes a trip up, the viewing platform, and the trip back down. Kids travel free.

Good to know: The lift is part of the public transport network in Lisbon so you can travel free with a 24hrs public transport ticket. In this case, you’ll have to pay separately to access the viewing platform (1.5-2 EUR if I remember well).

TIP: Santa Justa Lift is also included with the Lisbon Card. It might be worth exploring some of these options, as a single ride is really priced for tourists unaware of alternatives.

Rossio square as seen from Santa Justa Lift viewing platform
View on Rossio square from Santa Justa Lift viewing platform

6. Praça Dom Pedro IV – Rossio Square

Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV) is one of the most popular Lisbon town squares, among the locals and tourists alike. Rossio Square dates from the 18th century; there is even a cafe – Café Nicola – that dates from that period.

There are also several other traditional shops here, where you can buy and/or taste typical Portuguese food or drinks.

Rossio Square or Pedro IV Square in Lisbon
Rossio Square
Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon
Make sure to try Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon

I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful patterns on the pavements!

The kids loved a small shop that is specialized in sardines. Here, you can buy a tin of sardines with your birth year on it. Each tin contained a historic fact from that year. I assume the sardines themselves are more recent… 🙂

Portuguese sardines shop in Lisbon
Portuguese sardines shop on Rossio Square

Don’t miss the incredibly beautiful Rossio railway station as well! The building exterior is worthy of a castle!

We ended our 1 day Lisbon city walk at Restauradores Square at the southeast end of Avenida da Liberdade. From here we took a taxi to the river where we boarded a sailing boat for a different view on Lisbon.

Rossio station Lisbon
Rossio Station

7. Take Your Family on a Sailing Cruise in Lisbon

We only spent one day in Lisbon, but even then we were not sure how much the kids could handle as there is so much walking involved in visiting a city. Usually, they are exhausted after a whole day of sightseeing.

So in anticipation that this would happen, we booked a private sailing cruise on the Tagus River. It would allow us to see more of Lisbon without having to walk, and it would be a fun experience for the whole family!

We really wanted to do a sunset sailing tour, but the sunset was quite late, so, with the kids, we opted for a late afternoon boat tour.

There are so many different options for boat tours on the Tagus river, so you can always find an experience that best fits your wishes and Lisbon trip itinerary. With prices starting around 30-40 EUR per person, this is a very affordable luxury and an experience I highly recommend. In my opinion, a sunset sailing tour is an absolute must when in Lisbon!

Lisbon sailing cruise
Sailing cruise is fun for the whole family

This sailing tour was amazing and the whole family loved it! It was also great to relax and explore more of Lisbon at the same time.

Not only did we have the whole boat to ourselves, but we could also choose which part of Lisbon we would sail by. Since we already visited the city center during the day, we chose to see Belém district from the waterside. It was a great choice!

We passed the harbor and Cristo Rei Statue overlooking the city. Under the 25 de Abril Bridge and on to Belém where we could admire some beautiful architecture of old and modern museums standing side by side by the river. We also passed the Monument to the Discoveries, saw Jeronimos Monastery in the distance, and sailed all the way to the Tower of Belem.

Monument to the Discoveries in Belem Lisbon
Monument to the Discoveries in Belem

If you have two days in Lisbon, I suggest you visit the Tower of Belém and the Jeronimos Monastery on the second day. Be sure to book your tickets in advance!

But if you only have one day in Lisbon, as we did, seeing Belém from a boat is a great alternative. I would still love to see the inside of the monastery, but that’s for the next time.

Belem tower Lisbon
Belém Tower

We loved the sailing cruise as it was such a great and relaxing way to see more of Lisbon without having to walk even more. Our kids give the sailing tour thumbs up as well. Not only were they happy to rest their legs after a long day of exploring Lisbon, but they could also actually pilot the boat and help with the sails.

The sailing tour became an absolute highlight of Lisbon for kids! And us? We got the best views, time to relax, and a glass of wine. What more could one wish for?!

Lisbon sailing cruise on Tagus river
Perfect way to end our day in Lisbon
Sailing the Tagus river in Lisbon with kids
Our kids were so happy they could ‘drive’ the boat!

8. Have Dinner at the Time Out Market

We ended our day in Lisbon with a late dinner at the Time Out market.

It’s a bustling place with tens of different food courts serving a huge variety of local and international dishes and drinks. Highly recommended!

Time Out Market in Lisbon is a great place to try a great variety of Portuguese dishes
Time Out Market

Suggestions for 2 to 3 Days in Lisbon

If you have two days in Lisbon, make sure to visit the Belem district as well! Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem are not to be missed. Make sure to buy skip-the-line tickets for Jeronimos Monastery and/or the tickets for Belem Tower in advance! The queues are really long here.

If you have one more day in Lisbon, be sure to also visit Sintra, just outside of the city. It’s the best day trip you can make from Lisbon and an absolute must in Portugal! Here you can read our suggestions for planning your Sintra day trip from Lisbon.

TIP: After this first short visit to Lisbon, we have been back to the city and explored a bit more. Here you can find our complete guide to the best places to see and things to do in Lisbon. Take a look for additional suggestions!

READ ALSO: Best Day Trips from Lisbon

Practical Information for Visiting Lisbon

  • Airport transfers. Taxi is a good way to get to the city from the airport, but we found that our taxi driver seriously overcharged us, compared to what we paid for the other taxi rides in town afterwards. If you want to be sure that you are not paying too much, you can book a highly-rated and very affordable airport transfer in advance. These private airport transfers are much cheaper than what we paid for a taxi…
  • Getting around. We found that taking a taxi is the best way to get around Lisbon for a family. Taxis are cheap, fast, and easy. With the five of us, it was probably one of the cheapest options as well.
    Alternatively, you can opt for the Lisbon city card or a city public transport pass. Taking a hop-on hop-off bus and/or tram is also a very good way to see Lisbon in a short time because the city center is big and there is a lot of walking and climbing involved.
  • Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking a lot! If visiting between April and October, make sure that you also have sun protection and a sunhat. It can get really warm in the city!
  • The best time to visit Lisbon is in the spring or in the fall, when the weather is mild and it’s not too busy. Read also our guide to Portugal in April.
  • For Lisbon accommodation, I suggest staying in the city center, within walking distance from Baixa and Alfama. We stayed on Av. de Liberdade, close to Rossio Square, and the location was perfect for sightseeing, dining, and shopping. On top of that, it’s easily accessible by public transport and is really one of the best locations to stay in Lisbon. Here are some of the best hotels in this area:

So, this is what our day in Lisbon with kids looked like. Planning to visit Lisbon in 1 day and have a question? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Planning to visit more places in Portugal? Make sure to check our other guides as well – see below!

More tips for your trip to Portugal:


Madeira and the Azores:

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One day in Lisbon
How to spend a perfect day in Lisbon Portugal. See the main highlights of Baixa, wander the narrow streets of Alfama, take Santa Justa elevator and end the day in Lisbon with a sunset sailing cruise on Tagus river. Find all of this and much more in this guide to the best of Lisbon!
How to see the best of Lisbon (Portugal) in one day

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Rita Weyer

Friday 12th of April 2024

Loved your travel guide to Lisbon and plan to use the itinerary and map next month- so THANK YOU !! My husband is 77 and he loves to walk but going up hill can be difficult but not impossible. It appeared that your itinerary start at the top of the hill and mostly walk down hill. Is that true?


Saturday 13th of April 2024

Hi Rita, yes, this itinerary is pretty much downhill + flat(-ish). That said, Lisbon is a hilly city and you can't completely avoid stairs and hills. For example, the Alfama neighborhood has quite some stairs, but also there, if you start at the top and walk toward the Cathedral, you will mostly be going down. So all in all, it's not too challenging and you can always decide to hop on a tram or take a taxi for bigger distances if walking becomes too much. Have a great trip!

Perez Maria

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

4 adults our cruise ship docks at 7:00am our flight to Spain is at 8:55pm only in Lisbon for half a day . Any recommendations or advice on what to do , also we will have our luggage with us. By the way this is in Nov


Wednesday 30th of August 2023

Hi Maria, there are a few options. One is to find luggage storage and explore the city. For that, see the recommendations in our article. You can do most of this with the time that you have, just skip the sailing cruise and Time Out Market or something else, depending on your interests. The other one book a private tour and visit Sintra (and hopefully you can leave your bags in the car and maybe they can even drop you off at the airport if it works out time-wise). You can find tons of private tour options here. You'll need to tell them where to pick you up, so at that time, explain exactly what you need and see if they can accommodate. Hope this helps.


Sunday 26th of February 2023

Thank you for this itinerary! My husband and I will be traveling to Lisbon at the end of our Algarve trip. Your information made me decide to spend an extra night so we would have a day to tour around Lisbon. We will also be traveling with our 3 sons (aren't boys the best) all under the age of 7. Do you have any other gems (or blogs) about parts of Lisbon that your boys loved? We will be staying between the Lisbon cathedral and the Sao George castle (both about a 10 minute walk) so I was glad to see them on your list! I will probably follow your plan and I think we will do a boat tour as well! Thank you for the information! Very excited for our trip in July.


Sunday 26th of February 2023

Hi Leanne, with just a day in Lisbon, this itinerary will keep you more than busy. Our kids really enjoyed the sailing trip and the Time Out Market for dinner. And, of course, all the Portuguese food and Pasteis de Nata. If you would have one more extra day, I'd definitely recommend adding Sintra to your itinerary. But there's always a good reason to plan a repeat trip to Portugal if you can't make it there this time. ;) PS Enjoy the Algarve too! We love it there and will be spending a lot of time in the region this year.


Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Hello! I am planning my first time visit to Lisbon and am hoping to see all the sights I can and follow your wonderful blog recommendations. I viewed your lodging suggestions and the rates were a bit high. It is hard to gauge without knowing the city how close hotels are to main attractions as every hotel I click seems to say "perfect location" in the reviews.

I was viewing 2 that were Vincci Liberdade and Turim Boulevard - do you have any input if these seem rather far away from main sites in Baixa?

I also was viewing one in Principe Real, and was unfamiliar too if that would be rather distant from attractions. I was trying to use Rossio square as a landmark when checking hotels for distance.

Thank you, I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into your blogs.



Monday 7th of March 2022

Hi Cheyenne, the hotel prices in Lisbon can be quite high, indeed. So much depends on when exactly you travel, when you book, etc. From the hotels/areas you mentioned, Turim Boulevard seems to be the best in terms of location (and an amazing hotel, but it looks quite expensive to me too...). It's very close to the metro and so you can quite easily get anywhere you want to be from there. All in all, it really depends on you and how you like to travel - if you stay further away, you'll just have to take public transport/ taxi more often, that's it. We always prefer to stay in the heart of the city so that we can walk to most attractions, but Lisbon is quite spread out, so it's not always possible anyway. Hope this helps a bit.


Saturday 22nd of February 2020

This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing.


Friday 28th of February 2020

Glad you found this useful, Melissa. Enjoy your time in Lisbon!

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