Lisbon is a city one falls in love with at first sight and once you leave it, you want to go back there right away. It’s the most beautiful European capital city, we’ve visited so far. Visiting and getting to know the city takes time, but in two days you can see the most interesting attractions. At the end of this article, you will also find a map with all places marked.
- 1 Day 1
- 1.1 Travelling by tram 28
- 1.2 Bica Funicular (Funicular da Bica/Ascensor da Bica)
- 1.3 Viewpoint of Santa Catarina (Miradouro de Santa Catarina)
- 1.4 Santa Justa Lift (Elevador Santa Justa)
- 1.5 São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)
- 1.6 Praça do Comércio
- 1.7 Sé – Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa)
- 1.8 Viewpoints of Santa Luzia (Miradouro de Santa Luzia) and Portas do Sol (Miradouro das Portas do Sol)
- 2 Day 2
- 3 Practical information
- 4 Maps
Travelling by tram 28
Yellow trams that ride around Lisbon are the city’s visiting card. The picture of tram 28 going down narrow streets appears in most of leaflets and postcards. Nowadays, taking this line is a tourist attraction; however the inhabitants of Lisbon also use it on daily basis. Line 28 goes from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique so I recommend you get on the first stop as early in the morning as you can. Trams 28 run since 7 a.m. till 11 p.m. We managed to get on the tram in Martin Monitz after 7 a.m. on Saturday and we travelled all the route alone! That was a great experience 🙂
Tram 28 goes through narrow streets of Alfama, one of the oldest districts of the city. Sometimes it passes so close to the buildings that if it wasn’t for the closed windows, we would be able to touch them with our hands. From time to time the tram must stop because someone parked the car on the tramway. Yes, the streets are so narrow that there is enough space only for one vehicle going in the same direction. The interior of the tram is also impressive. It maintained in the old style and still looks like in the thirties.
Attraction full of publicity?
You deserve few words of explanation because I don’t want you to be disappointed. Nowadays, beautiful yellow trams became an advertising space. There is not much left of lovely views of yellow vehicles going through old parts of Lisbon. Yes, there are some trams free of publicity, but there are not many of them. Most of the trams are covered with publicity of different types and they are not as beautiful as we expect them to be. However, travelling by tram 28 and seeing the city from the window of a vehicle from the thirties, is still an interesting attraction I recommend to everyone who is travelling to Lisbon.
Bica Funicular (Funicular da Bica/Ascensor da Bica)
Thanks to its location, Lisbon is often called a city of seven hills. Elevators were created to make moving around the city easier for its inhabitants. There are four lifts in Lisbon. Three of them are actually funicular railway lines because the just move up and down the hills. Only one of them (Santa Justa) is a real elevator. Since 2002 all three funiculars and Santa Justa lift are considered national monuments.
So after a ride in the tram, it’s a good idea to go to one of three funicular railway lines: Ascensor da Bica. It looks a bit as trams of line 28 but it goes only up and down a hill. Thanks to that, without walking you can quickly get to part of the city situated on the hill.
Viewpoint of Santa Catarina (Miradouro de Santa Catarina)
When you get to the top of the hill by Funicular da Bica, remember to go to the viewpoint of Santa Catarina. The are many viewpoint in Lisbon and from this one there is a lovely view on the Tagus River and 25 de Abril Bridge.
Santa Justa Lift (Elevador Santa Justa)
One of the most visited attractions of Lisbon. Be prepared for long queues, you may even wait for an hour or longer… The elevator was opened in 1902 and it’s the only vertical lift in Lisbon. The construction itself is impressing and if you go up, you will you will see another lovely view of the city. If you have a daily transport ticket, you can go up the elevator without extra charge. What is paid extra is the entrance to an observation desk located on top of the lift. Even if you decide not to go the very top, the view will still take your breath away. There is a perfect view on São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge). The elevator connects Rua do Ouro with Largo do Camo. On the top, next to the elevator, there is an interesting building Carmo Convent (Convento da Ordem do Carmo) which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755. The rests of the convent go great with the architecture of the city.
São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)
The castle was constructed by the Moors at the beginning of 12th century. During the siege of Lisbon in 1147, it was taken by Afonso I the Conqueror and later on, the Christian rulers reconstructed the castle. There is a great view of the castle from Santa Justa lift. Visiting the interior may take few hours. We didn’t manage to enter the castle and we regret that because it is a great view point as well.
Praça do Comércio
Finally we are getting to the oldest district of Lisbon, to Alfama. Praça do Comércio which means Commerce Square, is also known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard). That’s because it was a location of Royal Ribeira Palace. In 1755 the palace was destroyed in an earthquake (yes, the same one which destroyed Carmo Convent) and after that, the square was completely rebuilt. Now in the center of the square there is a statue of José I, the king of Portugal. From one side of the square, there is a view of Tagus River. When it’s sunny, you should go for a walk there. There is also a lovely view of the 25 de Abril Bridge. On the other side of the square, after passing under Rua Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta) there is Rua Augusta promenade.
Sé – Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa)
Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major from 1150, was constructed in Romanesque style and it commemorates the liberation of the city from the Moorish rules. The interior of the cathedral is very simple, without decorations but that’s why I liked it. The cathedral is located on the route of tram 28 and looks amazing at night too.
Viewpoints of Santa Luzia (Miradouro de Santa Luzia) and Portas do Sol (Miradouro das Portas do Sol)
There are two viewpoints near the cathedral. I especially recommend you the first one. We went there twice, once during the day and the second time at night. The views were just amazing. Look at it yourself on the photos.
It’s worth to spend one day on visiting Belém district. Why one day? The district is a bit far from the city center so it’s more economical to see the whole once you get there. What’s more, it’s full of interesting places.
How to get to Belém?
The best way is to take tram 15 from Praça da Figueira and get off at Belém stop. After that, you will have to walk a bit to see other attractions. The tram is crowded during the say, so if you can, get on the first stop which is Praça da Figueira.
Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)
The monument presents important figures of the Age of Discovery. There are sailors, missionaries, scientists, e.g. Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Bartolomeu Dias and Luís de Camões. You can sit down and rest near the monument and enjoy the view of the Tagus River, 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) and the Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário de Cristo Rei) on the other side of the river in Almada district.
Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)
For me it’s the most beautiful place in Lisbon. Manuel I, the Fortunate, ordered the construction of the tower at the beginning of the 16th century. Fernando de Aruda designed it. He tower was constructed during the Age of Discovery. It was part of the defence system at the mouth of the Tagus River and an orientation point for sailors coming back to their motherland. During Spanish occupation, political prisoners were kept inside the tower. What used to be a symbol of maritime power of Portugal, today is a tourist symbol of Lisbon and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)
As happened with Belém Tower, Manuel I, the Fortunate, started the construction of the monastery to thank for the successful expedition of Vasco da Gama to India. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century in Manueline style. The monastery belonged to the Order of Hieronymites until 1934. There are tombs of the king Manuel I and Fernando Pessoa inside.
LxFactory and Ler Devagar bookshop
When you are going back from Belém to the center of Lisbon, you can stop under the 25 de Abril Bridge and visit LxFactory. It’s a complex located in buildings of an old factory which now has a function of the most hipster place in Lisbon. There are cafés, bars, a hostel and one of the most interesting bookshops we have been to. Ler Devagar is located in a building of a former printing factory and it’s full of books in Portuguese and also in English. There is a café inside and the most impressive part of the bookshop are bicycles hanging under the ceiling.
– it’s a great idea to visit Lisbon on foot but a daily transport ticket will be useful anyway. For example to use it in public transport which is also the city’s tourist attraction
– if you have a daily transport ticket, you can use Santa Justa Lift, Ascensor da Bica (and other 2 funicular railway lines), metro, buses and trams (also line 28)
– museums and some other tourists attractions (e.g. Santa Justa Lift) are closed on Mondays
– Lisbon is not expensive. However if you want to plan your budget in advance and you want to know how much a weekend in the capital of Portugal costs, check our article about prices
Tram 28 route
Map of attractions
To make planning a visit in Lisbon easier for you, we prepared a map with marked attractions which we recommend. Places described in “Day 1” are marked blue, and those from “Day 2” are green.
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