Lisbon 24 hour checklist – what should I see and do?

Lisbon 24 hour checklist:

  • Jerónimos Monastery
  • Monument of the Discoveries
  • Belém Tower (Sunset?)
  • Castelo de São Jorge  (Sunset?)
  • At least one meal at one of my favorite seafood places
  • Eat a Pastel de Nata

This is the minimum I believe you should accomplish in 24 hours in Lisbon. Yet, it is quite a load of medieval history, architecture, and culture.

These are the must-sees. But, I think I can provide you with some itineraries that will allow you to squeeze in a lot more.

 

Statue of St. Vincent and Church of Sao Vicente de Fora, Lisbon

 

Maximizing your 24 hours in Lisbon

If I only had 24 hours in Lisbon, I would start by making sure I was only traveling with a carry-on.

This would allow me to get off the plane, clear customs and immigration, and quickly head straight to the airport metro station.

I would probably buy myself a 24 hour Lisboa Card. The card allows free admission to the metro, buses, elevators, and funiculars.  You can read my article, Lisboa Card | Everything you need to know

It also offers free admission to several of Lisbon’s museums, and discounted admission to others.

Or, I would settle for a Viva Viagem Card and put a 15 euro balance on it, which will allow me to ride the metro, buses, and trams.  For more information read What is the Viva Viagem Card? Everything you need to know

Rossio Square, Lisbon
Rossio Square / François Philipp from Darmstadt, Germany, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

I would take the metro to Rossio Square, which is one of the main transportation hubs in downtown Lisbon.

With only 24 hours in Lisbon, I would try to book lodging in the Baixa district near Rossio Square or, on Avenida Liberdade near Rossio Square.

This would allow you to quickly enter and leave the city, and you are close to transportation and most of the major sites.

Moving slowly and seeing the main attractions

Most of the things on my basic, must-see itinerary for 24 hours in Lisbon are in the same neighborhood.

Regardless of where you choose to start, you should also be able to enjoy a beautiful sunset as well.

Plan A – Start at the castle

 
 

The Rossio Metro station has two exits – the west side is Praça Dom Pedro, and the east side exits to Praça da Figueira.

At Praça da Figueira, you can find the 737 bus, which will drop you off right outside of the castle door. This is the fastest way up the hill.

After the castle, you will walk downhill so that you can experience Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods and some of the city’s best views.

Castelo de São Jorge

This is Lisbon’s most-visited site. There has been a settlement on this hilltop since before the Roman occupation of the area in the BC era.

The Muslim Moors took over the hilltop and the surrounding area and started building the fort that you see today.

Due to the earthquake of 1755 and several years of neglect, little remains from that time.

Afonso Henrique led a band of Christian knights (many from England on their way to the Crusades) to retake the castle from the Moors in the early 1100s.

Shortly after, he became the first king of Portugal.

Feel free to take an hour or two to enjoy the views, explore the remains of the castle, and enjoy the peacocks that live on the castle grounds (The Portuguese explorers brought the birds’ ancestors back from Asia).

Exit the castle and start heading downhill.

Home – Castelo de São Jorge (castelodesaojorge.pt)

Admission: 10 euros

Finding more sites to see in 24 hours in Lisbon

As you head down the hill, you will wander through the Alfama -Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood.

You can spare a few hours as you make your way to the bottom, so feel free to explore the alleys.

If you see a store offering Ginja or Ginjinha, stop in and have a shot.

This uniquely Portuguese liquor is made from ginja berries, sugar, cinnamon, and a brandy-like liquor.

The shot generally sells for 1.25 euros.

To learn more see my article, Your questions about Ginjinha answered here

Pastel (Pastéis) de Nata

Be on the lookout for any baker, pastry shop, or sandwich shop offering Pastéis de Nata.

You can find these yellow custard pastry pies topped with cinnamon anywhere in the city, and you should sample them at different shops.

Sometimes they are called Pastéis de Belém, because they were invented by the monks at the monastery in Belém.

The monks sold the original recipe to a neighborhood bakery, which is known as Pasteis de Belém.

You could eat one there too, but there will be quite a line.

Scenic Views – Miradouros

Miradouro means “Golden View” in Portuguese.

Take in the free views at the Miradouro da Santa Luzia at Largo de Santa Luzia. GPS Coordinates 38.71192,-9.13026.

Also, take time to enjoy the free Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Largo Portas do Sol. GPS Coordinates 38.711899,-9.129996

Have a look inside the Lisbon Cathedral. it is also known as Sé Cathedral.

Sé Cathedral

The fortress-like cathedral was built on the site of a mosque in 1147.

Saint Anthony was baptized in this church, and the Sé Cathedral also includes relics of the saint.

You will also see windows that show various archaeological digs under the church which reveal Roman, Moorish, and Visigoth artifacts.  

For more information read my, Lisbon Cathedral | All you need to know before you go

Continue downhill until you reach flat land.

Lunch at Ramiro’s (or elsewhere)

If you like fresh seafood, then lunch at Cervejaria Ramiro | Brewery Ramiro | Brewery Lisbon (cervejariaramiro.com) is something you should do during your 24 hours in Lisbon.

You can probably get in for lunch without having to stand in line.

Expect to spend about 50 euros per person.

Hours: Noon – 12:30 am

Ramiros is at Avenida Almirante Reis 1. It is a few blocks south of the Intendente metro station on the green line.

For more information on seafood in Lisbon, see my article, Finding the best seafood in Lisbon

If Ramiro’s has a line and you prefer not to wait, and you still want a seafood feast, A Marisqueira do Lis, another great seafood restaurant is almost in front of the Intendente metro station.

After your meal, it is time to head to the Belém neighborhood, where you can find three of the must-see items in Lisbon, as well as a fantastic sunset.

Maybe you don’t like seafood. Maybe you are a vegetarian.

How to fit vegan restaurants into a day of site-seeing in Lisbon

For meat-lovers, there are quite a few Brazilian steakhouses in Lisbon.

Portugal had several African colonies, and this could be a great opportunity to try African cuisine.  See Best places to try ethnic food in Lisbon

There is a large Tibetan population in Lisbon, and there are some fantastic Tibetan and Indian restaurants.

There are also seven Michelin star restaurants in the city limits.  See Introducing Lisbon’s Michelin Star Restaurants, 2022 edition

Jerónimos Monastery / Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon

 

Jerónimos Monastery

You can get back on the metro at Intendente station and take the green line to Cais do Sodré metro station.

There, get the train toward Cascais and get off at Belém. (15 minutes)

Or, from Praca da Figueira (east side of Rossio Metro station), you can take the E15 tram or the 128 bus.

Make dinner reservations

(Note: If I am a seafood lover, and I am thinking ahead, I will quickly wander from Praça da Figueira over to O Arco Restaurante at nearby Rua dos Sapateiros 161.

Or call 351 213 463 280.

They are open every day from noon – 3 pm and 7 pm – 11 pm.

I would ask for a 9:30 or 9:45 reservation, and then take a cab or Uber after the 9 pm sunset in Belém). Their octopus is the best I’ve ever had.

No, I am not affiliated with any of these restaurants. They are my three favorite restaurants in Lisbon.

When you get off the bus, you will be standing in front of the massive Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

The monastery was built in 1501 on the site where Vasco da Gama prayed prior to going to sea.

The explorer is now buried inside the monastery.

Even if you don’t think visiting a monastery sounds interesting, you should take the time to see this UNESCO World Heritage site.

The architecture and marblework are mind-blowing.  Is the Jerónimos Monastery worth visiting? 

Admission is 10 euros.

For 12 euros, you can buy a combination ticket to go inside the Belém Tower as well.

But, I would say don’t bother going in.

I think you will be pressed for time, there will be another line, and most reviews say that it isn’t worth the time spent in line.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos / Monument to the Discoveries

Across the street from the monastery, you will find the Monument to the Discoveries. 

This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. 

It was completed in 1958. 

The monument resembles the bow of a Portuguese sailing caravel. 

Moving towards the front of the boat are an assortment of Portuguese national heroes.

They include Henry the Navigator at the front of the line, Portuguese kings, explorers, cartographers, poets, mathematicians, and artists.

There are 33 figures on the monument.

In front of the monument, you’ll find the beautiful and very large Compass Rose mosaic which was a gift from the government of South Africa.

The monument has a museum and viewing deck which close at 7 PM. 

Admission is six euros for the museum and viewing platform. With only 24 hours, I might skip going in.  For more information, Lisbon’s Monument to the Discoveries | Everything you need to know

If you continue walking to the west along the river’s edge, away from the bridge, you will come across one more UNESCO world heritage site.

Torre de Belém / Belém Tower

This fortress has been standing guard over the Lisbon harbor since 1519. 

When Portuguese expeditions went out, this tower was the last thing they saw of Lisbon.

It also welcomed them home.

The official name of the fortress is the Torre de São Vicente. 

The 100-foot tower and the monastery across the street are both examples of the very detailed Manueline architectural style, which showed off the wealth of the Kingdom of Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries.

At the time, Portugal was one of the world’s superpowers.

You can also go inside the Belém Tower if you choose to wait in the lines.

My suggestion would be to try to time your visit so that you are there for sunset, which in the summer is around 9 o’clock. 

Sunset is a few minutes earlier in August and September. 

For sunset pictures, stand east of the tower and get it in your shot.

Plan B – Start in Belém, end at the castle

You could do the course in reverse.

As soon as you settle into your hotel, grab the train to Belém from Cais do Sodré metro station.

Or go to Praça da Figueira and take tram 15E or the 128 bus to Belém.

Spend maybe three hours enjoying the monastery, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and the Belém Tower.

Come back to downtown Lisbon and get the metro green line to Intendente Station. Go to lunch at Ramiros, or anywhere else that catches your fancy.

Take bus 737 up to Castelo de São Jorge. Enjoy the sunset at the castle around 9 pm in the summer.

Walk downhill. Depending on what time it is – stop at the miradouros and the cathedral, or sample some of the local nightlife.

Other options for 24 hours in Lisbon

For many people, riding Tram 28 through Lisbon is a priority and must-do.

Tram 28 starts at Praça Martim Moniz (across the street from the green line Martim Moniz metro station).

For most of the day, there will be HUGE lines waiting to board the tram. Expect an hour or more wait.

But, the tram starts running at 5:40 am. If you ride prior to 8 am, lines will be much shorter.  Where does Tram 28 stop? All you need to know about Tram 28

You could ride to the end at Campo de Ourique, reboard, and come back to Martim Moniz.

Or, do the return trip and when the tram gets to the miradouros in Alfama, hop off, find a spot for breakfast, and then do the steep climb up to the castle. The castle does not open until 9 am.

Then proceed on to Belém later in the day and enjoy the sunset in Belém.

Depending on where you find yourself, or how you manage your time

The Baixa neighborhood, all around Rossio train station has a lot of history, sites to explore, views, and shopping opportunities.

Rua Augusta, south of Praça da Figueira is a nice spot for a meal, shopping, people watching, and enjoying street performers.

At the end of the street, you will see the massive Augusta Arch. The Arch has a viewing deck (Rua Augusta 2) for 8 euros. This would be a great spot for sunset.

Another great spot for sunset is very close by and free!

Go under the arch, cross the street, and go into the huge plaza – Praça do Comércio.

Prior to the earthquake, the royal palace was located off this square.

You will notice two columns standing in the water – Cais das Colunas.

There are also steps going down to the water. Three centuries ago, there was a pier here that was the royal gate to enter Lisbon.

Today, it is another great spot to sit and watch the sunset.

Elevador de Santa Justa

You might be interested in the Elevador de Santa Justa.

Rua do Ouro, 1150. 

The elevator opened in 1902.

This 45-meter wrought-iron elevator was designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard.

He was one of Gustav Eifel’s students.

The elevator moves tourists from Rua Augusta in The Baixa district to Largo do Carmo and the Convento de Carmo.

The historic elevator (round trip 5.5 euros) has long lines and a fantastic observation deck at the top.

This would also be a great spot for a sunset. 

Admission for the viewing platform is an additional 1.5 euros.  For more information on the Santa Justa Lift, see my article Elevador de Santa Justa | Everything you need to know

Convento do Carmo

The Convento do Carmo is one of my favorite sites in Lisbon. It was built in 1389 and destroyed in 1755.  Lisbon’s Convento do Carmo Ruins | Everything You Need to Know

The earthquake struck at noon on All Saints Day, and the church was full at the time.

Today, you see the ruins of the church, its vaulted arches – but there is no roof.

The Marquis de Pombal was in charge of rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake.

He decided to let the church walls stand, but not rebuild it – so that everyone would remember the disaster.

Shopping in the Baixa -Chiado district

Not everyone is into medieval art, architecture, and seafood.

If shopping is your thing, you find a lot of traditional Portuguese shops in the lower Baixa, and the upper Chiado neighborhoods.

Read my article to learn more about the traditional artisans and family-owned shops that make up the character of Lisbon. Lisbon’s historical family-owned stores and craftsmen sell the best souvenirs

Chiado also has a lot of options for fine dining and upscale shopping. Also, nearby Avenida da Liberdade has many upscale designers.

See my article on shopping in Lisbon, Where to shop in Lisbon? Lisbon’s best malls 

Conclusion:

You can see a lot of cool stuff in 24 hours in Lisbon. You can start out focusing on four sites, but inevitably, you will see and experience much more.

Just be sure to allow yourself two to four hours prior to your flight out! Plus the 25-minute metro ride from downtown to the airport!

If you can spare another 24 hours to stay in Lisbon, check out my How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon — a 48-hour itinerary

Thank you for reading my article.  Also, I am not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned on this page