48 Hours in Lisbon

As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is the perfect place to unwind for 48 hours before heading onward to one of the more usual beach resort destinations. After a few years of being ignored by tourists, Lisbon has come back in favor as a lively and picturesque city full of interesting history, traditional food and fantastic live music. We show you how easy it is to fill 48 hours in Lisbon.

Day One:

Morning

Spend the morning meandering among the shops and cafes the Baxia area of the city. If you are looking for something special the boutique shops of the Avenida da Liberdade are filled with designer goods. When you have shopped your fill, take a ride on the old iron elevator, the Elevador Santa Justa. A marvel of a past era this lift still carries visitors up the side of the hill to another higher districts of the city. From the elevator, you can walk along to see ruins from the major earthquake that struck the city in 1755. Wander back down the hill and settle on a terrace on Rossio Square, the traditional heart of Lisbon to enjoy lunch at one of the local cafes.

Afternoon

In the afternoon explore the older side of the city, Alfama. A maze of cobbled streets and stairways, the Alfama district of the city leads up from the river to the ancient castle overlooking the city. You can walk up to the castle stopping to see beautiful traditional houses covered in ceramic tiles, browse the boutique shops and perhaps quench your thirst in one of the many trendy bars of the area. If your legs are not up to the steep walk, jump on the number 28 Tram to Largo da Graca or hail one of the many electric tuk-tuks in operation ferrying tourists up to the castle.

The castle of Lisbon, Castelo São Jorge is well worth a visit, if not for the amazing history, most definitely for the views of the city from the castle walls.  Dating back to 1147 the history of this part of the world is a fascinating entwinement of cultures and religions. This castle was the location of the Christian Crusaders battle with the North African Moors in 1147. Over the centuries it has passed between religions and rulers and boasts a unique blend of architecture and design from many cultural influences. From the castle it is a short walk to the open-air markets, where you can lose yourself for an hour or two browsing among the many stalls selling traditional items along with tourist treasures.

Evening

After all that walking, it will be time to recharge. Head back down the hill into the flat area of the Baixa district to one of the excellent open-air bars for pre-dinner drinks. If you are looking for an authentic place to eat, pick one of the noisy and sociable Tascas. These are inexpensive traditional restaurants popular with locals. Here you can try unique Portuguese meals such as Bacalhau (salted codfish), which is said to have over 365 different methods of preparation.

For the remainder of the night, relax in the bars and late-night eateries behind Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (north of Baixa), watching the crowds go by while enjoying a glass of locally produced wine. If you want to experience the local Fado music, simply follow its haunting sounds to one of the small bars and restaurants with live music.

Day Two:

Morning

For the second day in the city, head in the opposite direction along the river to Belem. Belem is a picturesque district to the west of Lisbon, which lines the banks of the River Tejo. A must to visit is the Belem Tower, Torre de Belém which juts out into the river. This ancient tower is a Gothic designed structure that stands at the mouth of the Tejo river guarding the entrance. You can walk out to the tower along a raised walkway and climb to the top to enjoy the views out to the ocean.

Afternoon

For lunch head to the industrial chic area of the LX Factory further along the waterfront.  An old manufacturing hub that has been transformed into a vibrant complex of shopping and eating featuring small start-ups, boutiques, cozy cafes and one of the most unique book stores in the world. The bookshop, Ler, is situated in an old printing factory where books are packed from floor to ceiling around the large ancient printing machine in the centre with steel staircases connecting the bookshelves across the open space.

Evening

For the evening head back to the river to the Cais do Sodre ferry terminal.  Here you can catch a ferry across the river to Cacilhas for your evening meal. A short walk along the river you from Cacilhas port is Atire-Te ao Rio, a charming old waterfront restaurant with the perfect views of the sunset over the 25 de Abril Bridge. A fabulous way to enjoy the evening meal with a spectacular ocean view.

If you are still up for some late night entertainment head back across the river to the warehouses at the Santo Amaro Docks that have been converted into stylish bars and chic restaurants.  Music and partying goes on all night, most nights of the week and a lively crowd is guaranteed.

After 48 hours in Lisbon you will be vowing to come back to enjoy this special city again soon.