48 Hours in Lisbon

48 Hours In Lisbon: The Ultimate Guide

Sitting pretty on its seven hills, Portugal’s evocative maritime capital and its infectious Iberian charm will have you hooked in just a couple of days… 48 hours in Lisbon is the perfect time to get a feel for the city.

Think: exploring historic streets, lively markets and winding, cobblestone alleyways during the day, then hitting rooftop bars, fado houses and snazzy wine bars after dark.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Lisbon

Day One:

Take a Stroll Around Rossio Square

Once you’re comfortably ensconced in your digs at the sleek My Story Hotel Rossio, head out and make a beeline for nearby Rossio Square, the handsome heart of Lisbon. Soak up the ambience with a few laps then break out the selfie stick and get snap-happy with the baroque fountains, wavy paving and surrounding neo-classical buildings.

Once your SD card’s full, grab an outdoor table at the quaint, art-deco Cafe Nicola (on the western side). From here, watch daily life play out before you.

Drink in the Views From São Jorge Castle

Looming large over the city from almost any angle, the 6th-century São Jorge Castle is the de facto emblem of Lisbon. Want to give the museum a swerve? The views from the historic citadel – complete with its Moorish castle – make it a must-see. Along with panoramic vistas over the city’s pastel-hued buildings, expect to see the Tagus Estuary and the iconic Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge in all their glory. Sensational.

Go Bar-Hopping in Bairro Alto

Though pretty sleepy during the daytime, the beguilingly attractive neighbourhood of Bairro Alto is where Lisbon comes to party once the sun starts dipping. Follow the crowds to Rua da Atalaia and Rua do Diário de Noticias. You’ll have everything from chic wine bars and cool jazz joints to hole-in-the-wall dive bars and reggae dens competing for your attention. Pace yourself – things rage on ‘till the early hours around here…

Day Two:

Enjoy a Morning Walk to Belém

Clear your head by taking a languidly long stroll. Saunter along the Targus to the small, historic and rather beautiful suburb of Belém. Absorb the striking, gothic-style architecture that characterises many of the buildings while you saunter around the area’s historical maritime monuments and renowned art exhibitions.

Pick up a delicious custard tart or two at the famed Pastéis de Belém patisserie. Dig in before jumping on tram 15 or 127 back to the city centre (Figueira Square). 

  48 Hours in Lisbon

Tuck Into Local Eats at the Time Out Market 

This top food hall is located opposite Cais do Sodre train station. The vibrant 19th-century Mercado da Ribeira is packed to the gills with super-fresh fish, fruit, veg and flowers. Once you’ve got your bearings, hit the buzzing street-food paradise that is the Time Out indoor food court and go large at one of the many burger, sushi and pizza joints. Get your teeth into the local favourite, leitão (suckling pig) if you’re keen to blend in.

48 Hours in Lisbon
Image: Time Out Lisboa

Feel the Blues in Alfama

Just south-east of the city centre, the slightly ramshackle neighbourhood of Alfama is the spiritual home of fado, a melancholy form of Portuguese folk music performed by heavy-hearted singers dressed in black.

Settle in at one of the district’s authentic, pared-down bars in the evening. Pretty soon you – like everyone else – will be singing along to melancholy songs. Usually, about drowned lovers while the maestros knock out mournful minor chords on their 12-string guitars. Caldo verde soup optional.

48 Hours in Lisbon

Bo Heamyan

Bo Heamyan is a British travel writer, reporter and author. When not plotting adventurous overseas japes or motoring away on off-grid road trips, Bo enjoys re-reading Walden, worshipping Nietzsche and highlighting the dangers of conformity to his six-year-old daughter.

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