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How to Spend 2 Days in Lisbon, Portugal (In the Winter)

February 13, 2024

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Lisbon is the perfect city for a European escape. It’s easy to fall in love as you wander through the narrow streets, gaze down at the Tagus River from one of the city’s many hills, or indulge in a pastel de nata. If you have a short amount of time in Portugal’s capital city, this guide will help decide what to do, eat and see for two days in Lisbon.

Fun Facts About Lisbon:

  • The city was founded in 1256, making it the second oldest capital city in Europe, after Athens.
  • The 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon will probably remind you of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
  • Lisbon is a city of seven hills, just like Rome (and Cincinnati, Ohio)

Keep reading to get the perfect Lisbon 2 day itinerary if you’re short on time! This is based on my experience visiting Libson in November 2023.

How to Get To Lisbon

Lisbon is a major city with many flights available from the United States and the rest of Europe. In fact, you can often find great flight deals from the US to Lisbon.

When you arrive at the Humberto Delgado Airport, it’s easy and affordable to take the Metro into the city center. The entrance to the Metro is very close and convenient to the airport. Uber is also an option.

Getting Around Lisbon

As you travel around the city, there are several options for public transportation. You can take the metro, trams, ferries, commuter trains, buses and more. Depending on how much you’ll be traveling, you may choose to buy a 24-hour pass, single ride tickets or a pre-loadable “zapping” ticket. The “zapping” ticket is the best deal, as it provides a cheaper fare but has a small upfront cost for the card.

You can also use a contactless card to tap and pay as you enter the metro (but this cannot be used on most buses and trams).

Uber is also readily available and affordable while you’re traveling around Lisbon. With easy public transportation and lots of places you can walk to, I found Lisbon to be easy to navigate.

Lydia sitting on the castle walls at Castelo de S. Jorge
Castelo de S. Jorge
Lydia watching the sunset from a boat. There is a bridge in the distance.
Sunset Sail

When To Visit Lisbon

Lisbon has mild, warm weather, making it a great destination to visit year round. Summer is the most popular time to visit and you can expect warm temperatures and little to no rain.

July is the hottest month of the year with average temperatures of 74ºF (24ºC). It’s a great time to visit nearby beaches and spend time outside.

Spring and fall are nice times of year because the temperatures will be more mild and you’ll likely experience less crowds than the summer.

The winter season brings rain, and November is the wettest month of the year. January is the coldest month and the daily high averaging around 57.7ºF (14.3ºC).

I visited Lisbon in November and although it was a bit rainy, I still thought it was a nice time of year to visit. The weather was not cold, it didn’t rain very much and I was still able to do everything I wanted. I even got to visit a Christmas Market.

In my opinion, you can’t really go wrong with a visit at any time of year.

Lisbon Two Day Itinerary - Day One

Indulge in a Pastel de Nata

Start your day by trying out the most famous pastry in Lisbon, the pastel de nata. The pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg custard tart that is typically dusted in cinnamon and powdered sugar. They are delitightly sweet, but not overpowering. And they’re addicting, it’s hard to eat just one!

A plate of 6 pastel de natas and two espresso drinks at a barHolding up a pastel de nata inside of Manteigaria

There is a lot of debate over the best pastel de nata in Lisbon. Ideally, you should visit a few places and try for yourself! However, one bakery that is often said to provide the best pastel de nata in Lisbon is Manteigaria.

Manteigaria has several locations around the city, but their original location is in the Chiada neighborhood. They serve only pastel de nata and coffee, and you can see the pastry chefs at work making the treats. The Chiada location is an intimate space where you can watch them being made while enjoying your treat and an espresso at the counter.

If you’d like to try the original pastel de nata, you’ll want to head to the Belém Neighborhood and visit Pastéis de Belém. The treat was first created by monks at a nearby Monastery in the early 19th century, and they were sold at the shop that is now Pastéis de Belém. In addition to pastel de nata, you can order a variety of other pastries here as well.

Take in the Views from Tram 28

Tram 28 is an iconic bit of Lisbon infrastructure. The yellow tram follows a route through beautiful neighborhoods and makes its way up and down steep and narrow hills. The first electric tramways were added to the city in 1901, making the network over 100 years old.

A view from the tram, which is very close to buildings with yellow walls
Riding the Tram
Looking at tracks of the tram in the Alfama neighborhood
Tracks in Alfama

While it’s a means of transportation and part of the Metro, you’ll mostly find tourists riding on Tram 28. If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit early in the morning. The operations typically begin around 6AM. At midday, expect a long line if you get on at the first stop.

The ride takes about 50 minutes and will bring you through the Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela neighborhoods. You’ll travel through sharp curves and some narrow areas. The train’s unique design lets it navigate the tight streets. At some points, the tram is so close to the buildings that you could reach out and touch a passing business.

If you’re looking for an easy way to see the city without having to walk, a ride on Tram 28 is a great way to explore.

Take a Free Walking Tour

I think a free walking tour is a fantastic way to get to know any European city! I’ve always had a great experience with Sandemans New Europe, a company that operates in 40 cities across Europe and the rest of the world.

In Lisbon, Sandeman’s offers a general tour of the city, a tour of the Belém neighborhood and a tour of the Alfama neighborhood. The Lisbon tour includes a lot of history of the city. You’ll learn about the Great Earthquake of 1755, the Portuguese Inquisition and much more.

Free walking tours are tip-based, so make sure to bring some cash.

Explore Belém

Belém is a laid back neighborhood that is home to both historic sights and great restaurants. If you enjoy history, visit the Belém Tower or the National Coach Museum. If you enjoy art and technology, visit the MAAT Museum. MAAT is built in a unique architectural style and is right on the banks of the river.

The Belém Tower seen from the water
Belém Tower
Looking at the MAAT Museum from the water, which is shaped like a giant shark mouth
MAAT Museum

And if you’re hungry, there are some great restaurants to enjoy too. Don’t miss Pastéis de Belém, which is home to the original pastel de nata. The sunset sail leaves from Belém, so it’s worth exploring a bit before your boat leaves.

Enjoy a Sunset Sail

A sunset sail on the Tagus River is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective. I went with Lisbon Sail and learned a lot about the city while enjoying the views.

Looking at the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge during sunset.
Sunset under the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge

We began at the 'Bom Sucesso' Marina, went under the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge and got to admire the historic Lisbon city center from the water.

It was a little bit windy in November, but they provided blankets (and welcome drinks!). This is a fun experience that makes a great addition to any Lisbon itinerary.

Sample Different Foods at Time Out Market Lisboa

I love visiting food halls, and the Time Out Market in Lisbon does a great job offering a multitude of options.

Holding up a port wine inside of Time Out Market LisboaThe interior of Time Out Market
Time Out Market Lisboa

Time Out is a magazine that covers the “best of’s” in cities all over the world. Lisbon was the first place where they opened a food market, and it was a huge success. It first opened in 2014.

There are over 50 businesses inside Time Out Market Lisboa. Most of them involve ordering at the counter and bringing it back to an open seat. However, a few restaurants also have limited seating where you can sit at their counter to enjoy the food.

As a vegetarian, I enjoyed Croqueteria (the city’s only croquet store) and Portuguese food at Miguel Casto e Silva (I had sauteed veggies with a poached egg, while my husband tried the codfish). In addition to some traditional Portuguese stalls, the market has everything from pizza to Asian dumplings to burgers.

There are also some great options for drinks and I loved the Port Wine from Taylor’s.

The market also offers cooking classes and has a range of concerts and events. While it was crowded, I think it’s a place that is very worth visiting on your first trip to Lisbon.

Go Out on the Pink Street

If you’re interested in nightlife, head to the bars on Pink Street! The Pink Street, or Rua Nova do Carvalho, is literally painted pink. It was formerly Lisbon’s Red-Light District, but was painted pink in order to revitalize the area in 2011-2013. Today, it’s a hip and popular area for bars, dancing and a fun night out.

A few of the most popular bars on the street are Pensão Amor, Sol e Pesca and 4 Caravelas.

Lisbon Two Day Itinerary - Day Two

Take in a View of the City

As Lisbon is the city of 7 hills, there are some fantastic viewpoints where you can admire the city from above.

Looking down at the city of Lisbon and the Tagus River
The view from Miradouro de Santa Luzia

I recommend starting your day in the Alfama neighborhood, which is one of the oldest areas in Lisbon. Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia are two viewpoints very close to each other. They both offer a beautiful view looking down at the Tagus River and the city.

I especially loved Miradouro de Santa Luzia, as it’s in a little church courtyard with colorful tiles, trees and vines.

Visit Castelo de S. Jorge

Walk up the winding streets from the viewpoints to reach Castelo de S. Jorge, or Saint George’s Castle, a historic and popular destination in Lisbon. The oldest part of this site dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was later used as residences for various kings for hundreds of years. It eventually fell into disrepair and was further damaged by earthquakes over the years. However, the castle went through an extensive renovation in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Looking through the castle walls at the city of LisbonWalking along the top of the fortress walls at Castelo de S. Jorge

A visit to Castelo de S. Jorge includes a couple of different museum areas and incredible views from the walls of the fortress. It’s a large area to explore. The best part, in my opinion, is climbing up the castle walls. You can walk in the steps of history as you explore various areas of the fortress and enjoy views of the city in multiple directions along the way.

One especially unique part of the castle is Camera Obscura. They have a Periscope on top of a tower, and you can partake in a guided tour (they are done in different languages depending on the time). They use the Periscope to show you all over the city in real-time, making you feel like a spy. It’s an interesting experience!

In addition to the museum areas and the various areas to explore the castle walls, there is an area where they are carrying out archaeological excavations. Plus, there are peacocks roaming the grounds!

If you like history at all, the Lisbon castle is certainly worth visiting and is one of the best things to do in Lisbon!

Ride the Santa Justa Lift (or don’t)

The Santa Justa Lift is an iconic place to visit in Lisbon. It’s an historic, industrial tower and elevator that connects the Baixa neighborhood to the Bairro Alto district. The elevator first opened in 1902 and is part of the public transportation system of Lisbon.

Looking up at the Santa Justa Lift from the street
Santa Justa Lift
Looking down at the city from the top of the Santa Justa Lift
Views from the top of the Santa Justa Lift

The tower is sandwiched between two buildings and it’s a unique piece of architecture. However, the lines to ride the elevator can get quite long. And you can reach the same sight by walking up for free, although it will involve a lot of steps.

Personally, I recommend going to see the lift but not necessarily riding it. If the line is long, I’d skip the ride. The interior of the elevator is made of wood but there aren’t really views from the inside. The views from the observation deck are nice, but not as nice as what you can see from Castelo de S. Jorge or elsewhere in the city.

However, at least catching a glimpse of the tower is a must during your first visit to Lisbon.

Explore Barrio Alto

Spend the evening eating and exploring the Barrio Alto district of Lisbon. The neighborhood is full of street art, great restaurants and plenty of bars.

If you’re a foodie, take a food tour where you’ll get to sample Portuguese cuisine paired with wine.

Or if you’re interested in art, you can take a street art tour to learn about murals and urban art in the area.

If you’re exploring on your own, a few places to consider include the Leve Leve for tapas, Tasca do Chico for live Fado singers, Loucos e Sonhadores for a relaxed, quirky bar and Lost In for rooftop views and Mediterranean-Asian fusion.

More Things To Do in Lisbon

If you have more time, here are a few more of the best things to do in Lisbon!

  • Take a day trip to Sintral, where you can visit Quinta da Regaleira, the National Palace of Pena and the Sintra National Palace
  • Visit Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, a beautiful monastery
  • Visit Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, a private museum with art and antiques
  • Browse the colorful cans of sardines at Conserveira de Lisboa

Where to Stay in Lisbon

When it comes to which neighborhood to stay in Lisbon, I recommend staying within walking distance of Baxia, Barrio Alto or the Alfama neighborhoods. Baxia and Barrio Alta will both keep you within walking distance of many restaurants and activities, while the Alfama neighborhood will be a bit quieter and nice for a more relaxing getaway.

The My Story Hotel Rossio is an excellent location right on the Praça Dom Pedro IV central plaza. It’s within walking distance of the Santa Justa Lift, the Bairro Alto neighborhood and other sights around the city. The rooms are a bit small, but perfect for a quick city trip for a couple. I had a great stay here.

A room with Roman ruins inside of the Aurea Museum Hotel
Aurea Museum Hotel

For a more unique hotel in Lisbon, the Aurea Museum Hotel is a great option. There are actually Roman ruins inside of the hotel and they are well-preserved in a museum setting. In addition to the amazing exhibit, the hotel is quite nice. The rooms are spacious and have large maps above the beds. The Aurea Museum Hotel is located close to the Tagus River in the Alfama neighborhood. I also enjoyed eating at Pizzeria Romana BIO, which is right next door.

More Ideas of Where to Stay in Lisbon: Budget: Industrial Lisbon Apartment, Lisbon Lounge Hostel Mid-range: Lisbon Wine Hotel, Alecrim ao Chiado Luxury: Memmo Alfama Hotel Lisboa, Sublime Lisboa

Final Thoughts

I hope this first-timer’s guide to Lisbon helps you plan a memorable trip to Portugal! Whether you enjoy history, food or just exploring new places, Lisbon is a city worthy of your bucket list. From seafood to world class wine to stunning architecture, this Lisbon weekend itinerary is perfect for a quick visit.

For More Europeon Travel Guides, check out these articles:

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