Visiting Lisbon is one of the coolest things you could do this summer. The Portuguese capital is full of life, colour and home to some of the best seafood in Western Europe. Add long, sunny days to the equation, cheap cocktails and welcoming people who speak great English, and you've got one of the best European cities which should make it to your bucket list.
I think Lisbon impresses even from before you land, as the closer to get to this city, the more of the incredibly vivid coloured rooftops you get to see. It looks surreal actually. Houses upon houses, crammed next to each other, forming one of the quaintest European city. Narrow, winding streets will take you on an incredible journey full of culture, history and epic views.
There are so many things you need to know before visiting Lisbon. It's hard to imagine how one could spend just one day in Portugal's capital city, as I spent over a week there and I could have grown roots in this city. This is how much I loved it. I was most impressed with how warm and welcoming everyone was. I know it sounds a bit cliché, as everyone says 'oh, the friendly people; oh, so nice'. But really, the Portuguese are a different type of friendly bunch. They have Latin blood running through their veins which essentially translates to passionate, spirited and curious people, wanting to get to know you and tell you their story. But don't just take my word for it, spend 24 hours in Lisbon, enter an intimate family run restaurant and let the chatter begin. And once you fall in love with Lisbon, don't forget to check where to stay in Lisbon.
To start a day in Lisbon you need to position yourself right next to Trafaria Praia. Why? Because this is where locals come to chill. During evenings you will see many people gathered around, drinking beer and hanging. It has a real San Francisco vibe to it actually. In the morning it’s quiet, thus makes it a great place to gather up all your energy for the day, take some snaps of the river bank, and emerge yourself into the heart of Lisbon. Ready?
Praça de Comércio
Nothing beats a lazy sunny morning around Praça de Comércio. This is a popular meeting point for tourists and locals alike. You can check out the statue of King Jose or sit down in one of the restaurants around and grab a cup of coffee. Your brilliant day has only just began.
Arco da Rua Augusta
From Praça de Comércio make your way under the Arco da Rua Augusta and into the heart of Lisbon. Take a second to admire the Arch’s beautiful architecture, a historic building created to commemorate the city’s revival after the tragic 1755 earthquake.
Start walking towards Rua da Conceição, and wait around a few minutes until you get to see one of the famed Lisbon yellow trams.
From Rua da Conceição take a left towards Igreja da Madalena, where you can stop for a brief minute to admire the exterior (or interior if you’d like) architecture. Continue your trip towards the Church of Santo António, an 18th century baroque building. Another 2 minutes will take your right to the Lisbon Cathedral, a great Parisian Notre Dame look alike. You can go in and explore the interior, or take a seat on a nearby bench and soak in the city’s atmosphere, as it becomes alive because of the morning rush.
From the Lisbon Cathedral, continue the journey further East, towards Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district. Prepare to be amazed by intimate, winding, streets and Italian like houses with a Portuguese twist. In my opinion, Alfama is one of the coolest places in Lisbon, having a unique feel to it. I advise to allow yourself to freely explore the district, by venturing through the maze of little streets. When you see a small pastry shop, make sure to buy a snack, as you have a few hours still before you’ll sit down for late lunch. I recommend buying lots of Pastel de Natas. Yum!
São Jorge Castle
Once you’ve seen enough of Alfama, it’s time to do your daily work out by walking up the hill towards São Jorge Castle. Make sure you have plenty of water with you, as the hills are quite steep and unforgiving. Have a wander around the castle’s courtyard and head over to the Miradouro do Castelo, an exceptional view point which offers fantastic photographic opportunities. Marvel at Lisbon’s rooftops and admire the 25th of Abril bridge which can be seen from this hilltop.
After you’ve seen how beautiful Lisbon looks like from all angles, it’s time to eat in one of Lisbon’s best seafood restaurants. It’s about 20 minutes away from the São Jorge Castle, but I can assure you it’s well worth the walk. The restaurant itself is anything but fancy and it has a market feel to it. It’s loud and rushed, but clean and well priced, with incredible food. If you want to experience the high end restaurants in Lisbon, this is not the place for you. When I went to Ramiro, myself and G ordered the large tiger prawns, a crab, oysters, mussels, some smaller prawns and a relatively large lobster. This was enough for two people, however I would say to order some side dishes as otherwise the crab might be a bit sickening. Don’t forget to order a beer, sit back and enjoy your fresh seafood.
Praça Luís de Camões
After you had your satisfying late lunch, start strolling towards Baixa and towards Praça Luís de Camões. This is a really nice square located in the Chiado district, and features several cafes and plenty of boutiques for the love of shopping. You can chill here, grab a cup of tea, or just take some photos with this historic place.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
From Praça Luís de Camões, stroll for about 10 minutes towards the Miradouro de Santa Catarina, where you can enjoy more beautiful views over Lisbon’s rooftops. I think this is a great place to spend half an hour just being and observing the city. Take is easy, snap away and soak in Lisbon’s vibe. If you time your day nicely, then you might be able to enjoy some cool sunsets up here, which usually translate to some of the most epic vanilla skies you will ever capture on pictures.
End your evening by dining in O Chiado, a lovely family ran restaurant with some of the best service in Lisbon. I recommend ordering the gin and tonics here as they are really big, and sure to give you the required dose of happiness. If you still have time and fancy some late night fun, make your way back to where you started, by the river bank, grab a couple of beers and mingle around locals and tourists keen to spark a conversation and have a good time.
There are plenty of things you could do in Lisbon in just one day, but for 24 hours, I think I would love to enjoy this exact itinerary. What are you most excited about in Lisbon? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.