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Tourism in Portugal’s capital of Lisbon has exploded in the last five years – and I see why. This beautiful city of incredible architecture built on gently undulating hills is the perfect long weekend getaway destination. We spent just three nights in the city, but could have easily stayed longer. This two day Lisbon itinerary squeezes in all the best things to do Lisbon and the surrounding areas into just 48 hours.
- 1 Day One of the Two Day Lisbon Itinerary
- 2 Day Two of the Two Day Lisbon Itinerary
- 3 Where to stay for a two day Lisbon itinerary
- 4 Time to linger longer than a two day Lisbon itinerary?
Day One of the Two Day Lisbon Itinerary
Breakfast at one of Lisbon’s bougie cafes
Lisbon has no shortage of boujix cafes. The city is littered with clean eat-health food-green smoothie-brunch places. My favourite was Stanislav Café, but depending on where you’re staying, Bowl and Tease are excellent too. Start your day early with a big feed before a lot of hill climb strolling around Lisbon.
Wander to the Main Square and infamous Pink Street
Although Lisbon is a reasonably sized city, it’s possible to walk to most of the main attractions. Spend the morning wandering around the city centre. Every street you turn down seems to have yet another beautiful church to peek into, or another inspiringly colourful tiled house to gaze at longingly.
Don’t miss the Santa Justa Lift in this area – it’s pretty impressive. Connecting the lower streets of Baixa with the upper Largo do Como (Como Square), this functioning elevator isn’t just a tourist attraction!
However, one thing you could miss in the day is the Pink Street. Splattered across social media, the Pink Street has gained the reputation as one of the most ‘instagrammable’ spots in Europe. I’ll be honest, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be – it’s pretty grotty. At night on the other hand, the street comes alive with vibesy bars and nightclubs.
Taste the local delicacy
Within ten minutes walk of this area is the unmissable Manteigaria ‘pastels de nata’ shop. This is possibly the most essential stop in the whole two day Lisbon itinerary. I can confirm I’ve done you all a favour and sampled these custardy goodies from nearly all the top recommended cafes in Lisbon, and I can say with some certainty these were by far the best (!). A little birdy did tell me that those from Pastels de Belem are even better, but Belem is a little too far out of the city centre for a two day Lisbon itinerary.
Get lost in Alfama
After refuelling on natas, it’s time to lose yourself in my favourite area of Lisbon – Alfama. This gorgeous neighbourhood is the oldest in the city, complete with the most colourful tiles the city has to offer lining the narrow winding lanes up Alfama’s hill. If you can’t face the trek up, hop on the infamous Tram 28.
After nosying round the countless independent shops and craft stores, wind your way the whole way up to Castelo de S. Jorge in time to catch golden hour and the sunset over the city. The view from here is one of the best in Lisbon, so why not kill two birds with one stone of exploring a historic castle and watching the glowing red roofs of Lisbon in the evening light.
As the sun sets, wander back down to Miradouro de Santa Lucia – a beautiful terraced viewpoint with live music and an incredible atmosphere. Linger a little longer here to take it all in – it’s worth it!
Dinner at Time Out Market
Get ready for some delicious food at the Time Out Market for dinner. Here, an incredible array of local and far flung cuisines come together in a swanky food market, complete with several wine bars. It can take a few minutes to find a seat, but just keep wandering around until one comes available.
If you’re seeking a night on the town in your two day Lisbon itinerary, head to the Pink Street for the centre of Lisbon’s nightlife.
Day Two of the Two Day Lisbon Itinerary
Venture out to Sintra
On Day two of the two day Lisbon itinerary, venture out to the beautiful historic town of Sintra. Just 40 minutes by train from central Lisbon, this easy day trip has some of the most rewarding sights in the whole of Portugal. Famous for its collection of 19th century Romanist architecture, the town has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Sintra is jam packed with beauty, from the town itself being built on the gentle slopes of a hill, to its numerous palaces and castles. Aside from wandering round the town itself, the four main things to see are the Sintra National Palace, the Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle and the well at Quinta da Regaleira.
In order to see all four main attractions at Sintra in just one day of your two day Lisbon itinerary, it’s necessary to start the day early – not least because they tend to get busier and busier as the day goes on. It’s important to recognise that the palaces and castles are relatively spread out, and whilst it is possible to walk the hills between all of them, it’s a lot easier to hop in one of the many tuktuks to get around. For an idea of price, expect to pay five euros per person from the city centre to the top of the hill (Pena Palace). We chose to get a tuktuk on the way up and walked down – if you choose to do the same, take the path down from the end of the car park at the Pena Palace. This allows you to avoid walking along the road, and is also a really pleasant adventure off the beaten track.
An ideal route around Sintra in a day is to first visit the National Palace in the heart of Sintra town. Costing 10 euros to enter, it’s well worth the cost to explore this sprawling complex of beautiful interiors. Allow 45 minutes to an hour to get round the whole space.
Next, catch a tuktuk up the hill to the brightly coloured Pena Palace, asking your driver to take you via the viewpoint for a quick photo opportunity. The Pena Palace’s exterior is possibly the most impressive of Sintra’s landmarks and is well worth the steep ascent to visit. Vehicles can only reach as far as the palace gardens, meaning the final 30 minute walk must be completed on foot to reach the palace itself. We took local recommendations of only purchasing the seven euro gardens ticket, as opposed to the 14 euro gardens and palace interior ticket – the Pena Palace is far more impressive from outside than inside, unlike the National Palace!
From the Pena Palace, wander down to the Moorish Castle, then down further to the well at Quinta da Regaleira. Make sure to reach this before closing time at 5pm.
Dinner at LX Factory
After a long day of exploring the fairytale castles of Sintra, head back to Lisbon for a delicious dinner and wander around the LX Factory. Oozing with cool, this hipster complex of independent shops, cafes and restaurants will satisfy those appetites after the hill climbs at Sintra. Most of the streetside shopping stalls start to pack up by 6pm, so aim to get there before then for a decent nosy round the gorgeous crafts.
Where to stay for a two day Lisbon itinerary
Naturally, there are tons of accommodation options in Portugal’s capital. Ranging from international hotel chains to boutique bed and breakfasts, it’s easy to find your ideal accommodation option. We stayed in this gorgeous and remarkably cheap apartment around 20 minutes walk from the main square.
Time to linger longer than a two day Lisbon itinerary?
If you’ve got time for a third day, I would have loved to get out to Cascais – a small seaside fishing town just one hour from Lisbon’s city centre. For me, it’ll be a great excuse to go back to this amazing city as so many people have recommended it!
Why not make a week out of your holiday and head north to Porto too? Portugal’s second city is arguably even more beautiful than Lisbon. Blog post coming soon on how to see Porto in just one day!