How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon

How to spend 48 hours in Lisbon

Lisbon makes the hot list for trendy city break destinations, no doubt about it. Portugal’s capital city captures travellers’ hearts with its sunny waterfront, tiled buildings, yellow trams, and can’t-stop-eating custard tarts. Not a city person? It’s got beaches up for grabs too. 

Portugal is teasingly close. In under a three-hour flight, you could be tucking into tapas and raising a Super Bock beer to spending your Saturday and Sunday away in the sun. 48 hours in Lisbon? This is how you do it… 

Day 1

Early bird catches Tram 28 

You’ve got to get up early to beat the crowds for this one but, trust us, it’s worth it. This iconic yellow tram route has been trailing its passengers around since the 1930s, so it’s an iconic pick for your Lisbon itinerary. Grab your first pastel de nata custard tart (don’t worry, it’s not your last), a coffee to go and head straight for the prime stop at Praca de Figueira. Hop on and hold on, some of the streets are fairly steep. Keep your eyes peeled for the city’s classic street art, tiled buildings and the Se Cathedral and Estrela Basilica all in one neat loop, and in less than an hour. 

Get your bearings from the Santa Justa Lift 

Look familiar? This gothic wrought iron lift from Rua de Santa Justa in the Baixa district has a little je ne sais quoi about it. Yep, it’s giving Eiffel Tower vibes. The architect, Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard was a student of Gustav Eiffel – makes sense now. The tower was completed in 1902 for locals to ascend from Baixa’s lower streets to the heights of the Carmo Convent. Follow suit and you’ll be rewarded with access to its panoramic viewing platform, perfect for accessing the Carmo rooftop. Drink in the city’s surroundings and a cocktail, of course. 

Taste treats from Time Out Market 

It’s probably about time for some lunch now. The Time Out Market at Cais do Sodre is a guaranteed spot for some good scran. It’s the first of its kind – a market where everything has been tasted and tested by an independent panel of Time Out journalists and critics. You’ve got banging burgers, sushi, pizzas, sandwiches, and seafood all under one roof. 

Go off script around Bairro Alto 

Not everything has to be penned into your itinerary. It’s nice to leave a gap for something spontaneous along the way, so take this time to just follow whichever street you fancy. The Bairro Alto area’s a good place to start. It’s got everything from Lisbon’s iconic street art to high street shops and sweeping views from the must-visit Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara. This spot gazes out to the grand Castelo de Sao Jorge, which also sports another very nice vista over the city.  

The party starts in Park bar 

This legendary rooftop spot might be hard to find, but everyone’s there at night. So, it’s got to be worth the hype, right? You’ll find it slap bang in the middle of Lisbon’s Bairro Alto area. You’ll need to catch a lift to the top of a multi-storey car park to sip a cocktail here. Parksits on the sixth floor and styles out DJ sets and sunset scenes to close your first day in the best way. 

Up for some more fun? Stick around this neighbourhood to explore its side streets spilling with local bars or make a point of partying on Pink Street. Don’t look for the name, look for its pink-painted pavement – we know, it’s very us. 

Day 2 

We’ve got a few options for day two, depending on what you’re in the mood for. A bit tired from yesterday? Hit the beach. Still up for more sightseeing? A day trip to Belem is a good bet. Do both if you’re really pumped to pack it all in – they’re conveniently on the same trainline, so it’s possible. See what takes your fancy… 

Beach it up 

Portugal’s got some stellar surf spots that’re easy to get to. Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre station sends trains all the way along the coast to Cascais – a popular beachy town with tons of shopping and cute cafes. If you’re a veggie or a vegan traveller, or you’re just down for a new way to lunch, hit up House of Wonders. This café turn bar in the evenings has a visual menu. They know we all love to see what our food looks like, so they display sample dishes of their ever-changing, seasonal veggie menu for all to see – just pick your fave. 

Whilst Cascais’ waters are pretty calm, they’re perfect for a gentle swim and paddleboarding. Or, get a taxi to Praia do Guincho – an epic surf spot with plenty of schools and beach bars. It’s only a 35-minute drive from Lisbon. An even easier break outside the city is Carcavelos, which is only halfway down the train line. 

Take a trip to Belem 

For a change of scene, Belem isn’t too far from Lisbon and makes for a great day trip. You’ve got options to get there, too – bus it, tram 15 it, train it, or the city also loves an E-bike if that’s your style. It was from here that explorers, such as Vasco da Gama, set off for their adventures, and brought back treasures that helped build the buildings lining its waterfront. UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jeronimos Monastery paints many of Lisbon’s postcards. Check out the Belem Tower or go visit Belem’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) 

But, perhaps the most important thing to know is it’s the home of the pastel de nata – Portuguese custard tarts. Pastel is the singular tart, pasteis is plural – so, really, you only need to learn to ask for the second one. A visit to Belem isn’t complete without tasting these babies at the legendary, Pasteis de Belem. Known to bake the best of the bunch, this bakery serves their pasteis topped with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar. Grab a table or a spot under the shade of a tree in the nearby park. 

Live it up at LX Factory 

The trains are just great here. Get off at Alcanatra-Mar and you can catch a cocktail and some dinner at LX Factory. Taking over an old, industrial textile complex, LX Factory is now home to some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, shops and bars. If you’re here on a Sunday, head here earlier to catch the weekly market. 

When you’re ready to head for home, make things easy and take a tuktuk. You can catch that nightly breeze and tick off another city staple before you say ‘tchau’ (bye) to a top two days. 


Love the sound of Lisbon 

Pick your First Choice city break now or take a look at what else Portugal has to offer. 

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Author: Lily Owen 
Last updated: 05/07/2023