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When I booked a weekend visit in Lisbon, I didn’t know what to expect. It was one of my first times traveling alone to a country where the official language wasn’t English. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to navigate the public transportation with confidence. Or order food. However, 2 days in Lisbon turned out to be a remarkable trip.
If you’re headed to Lisbon, then you’re in massive luck! Portugal is one of my favorite countries in the world, especially for solo travelers. Traveling alone in Portugal should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Lisbon, which is Portugal’s capital, is affordable and colorful. Plus, it’s relatively close to the United States and Canada, haha. I see a lot of cheap flights from the New York metro area to Lisbon.
Anyway, seriously, Lisbon’s great. I had lots of fun gorging on pastries and seafood, while savoring Old World views soaked in the April sun.
I love Lisbon a lot.
So, first things first.
I’ll address what’s probably your biggest concern: is it possible to see Lisbon in two days?
Two Days in Lisbon is a Good Amount of Time
Yes, you’re definitely able to see Lisbon in two days! Don’t even worry about it.
Luckily, Lisbon’s a very walkable capital city. Everything you want to see within the city itself, excluding Sintra, is in a manageable distance.
Plus, unlike London or Paris, you won’t feel insanely overwhelmed by spending only 2 days in Lisbon. It’s a relaxed destination. Small enough to handle.
In addition, Lisbon doesn’t have any huge museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the British Museum, so you’ve so much more free time to simply stroll through the streets and soak up the atmosphere of Lisbon’s varied neighborhoods.
Have a blast!
Lisbon in 2 Days: The Full Itinerary
Let’s actually break down our itinerary into manageable chunks now.
So, for your first day in Lisbon, dedicate your time to learning about the city’s diverse and tasty neighborhoods.
For your second day, take advantage of a day trip to Sintra. The castles are worth the effort!
A quick disclaimer. I purposely left this itinerary a little looser so you can see whatever sights interest you most in each area. Personally, I could spend hours taking photos in the Alfama district, but I know everyone has different priorities.
Day 1: Let’s Explore Lisbon
Go on a Free Walking Tour of the City
After you arrive, orient yourself with Lisbon on a free walking tour.
Haha, you’re probably not surprised at my first suggestion if you’re an avid reader of my blog. As you know, I always recommend taking a walking tour on my first day in any major city in any major city. Always.
And Lisbon, like most other European cities, has plenty of free walking tours available for travelers.
These free tours are done on a “tip only” basis, meaning you pay whatever amount you think the tour was worth. The cost is entirely within your control.
Not to mention, the guides are usually hilarious, open, and knowledgeable. The 2-3 hours are well worth spending on a free walking tour.
As I’ve said, I LOVE free walking tours for my first trip to any new city.
First of all, I learn interesting and obscure facts about the city’s history, as well as receive cool suggestions from the tour guides.
Not to mention, the casual dynamic on free walking tours makes it so simple for you to make friends with other travelers. 9 times out of 10, I leave the tour with a new pal or two.
In Lisbon, you can reserve a spot on SANDEMANs New Lisbon Tours and discover all you need to know about this vibrant city.
Get Lost in Lisbon’s Alfama Neighborhood
Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, as well as my favorite place to “get lost” and fall back in time. This part of the city is so atmospheric, making it perfect for practicing one’s photography.
For example, Miradouro das Portas do Sol is the best place to go to snag a view of Lisbon’s Alfama.
I also absolutely loved the churches in this area. On my own visit, Lisbon Cathedral was gorgeously decorated for Easter with white and pink flowers strewn everywhere.
If you decide to come back to Alfama at night, make sure to experience the soulful and sad Fado music. Or swing by the Fado museum to learn all about this tradition! One of the most important things to know before visiting Portugal is that you’re not in Spain. Therefore, music traditions will be different.
Climb the Walls at Castelo de Sao Jorge
After Alfama, it’s time to experience a real castle right within the city of Lisbon: Castelo de Sao Jorge!
Castelo de Sao Jorge is open 7 days a week for visitors in Lisbon. With all its incredible views, the castle hill has been occupied by humans since the 8th century BC. Insane, isn’t it? The castle itself was built in the mid-11th century, during Lisbon’s Moorish period.
So, if you’re a history buff, you definitely don’t want to skip Castelo de Sao Jorge!
Take the Tram to the Belém District
Another one of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Lisbon is the Belém District, originally home to the city’s shipyards. The Age of Exploration and Belém go hand in hand!
First, go to the Belém Tower, which was built in the 16th century to protect Portugal’s coast from foreign attacks. The Belém Tower is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And don’t skip nearby Jerónimos Monastery. This monastery is the burial site of Vasco da Gama, Manuel I of Portugal, and more notable figures in Portuguese history. Keep in mind the monastery might be closed on major holidays like Easter. Always check ahead of time.
Finally, you don’t want to miss out on sampling the famous Pastéis de Belém. Not gonna lie, I went here twice and ate way too many pastries, effectively destroying any chance of burning calories on my Portuguese vacation.
After eating pastries, get a little exercise by taking a scenic walk along the Tagus River.
Grab a Coffee & Refresh at Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio is a mighty open-air plaza, which was built in 1775 after a violent earthquake destroyed Lisbon’s Baixa District.
Praça do Comércio’s impressive Arco da Rua Augusta marks the entrance of Rua Augusta, one of Lisbon’s biggest shopping streets.
Personally, I loved coming to this huge square to chill out and stare at the water. I think I came here at least five times on my stay. For the best coffee places, restaurants, and more, I highly recommend purchasing a Lonely Planet Guidebook to Lisbon and read about all the latest hot spots.
Day 2: Lisbon’s Surrounding Areas
For your second day, take advantage of the wonderful trips in the vicinity of the Lisbon metro area. Lisbon has a great public transit system that you can use to accomplish just that.
There are also guided tours available if you want to totally optimize your time. Check times and prices, and do whatever best suits your trip.
Take a Day Trip to Sintra
Without a doubt, Sintra is the most popular day trip to take from Lisbon. And it’s so easy to understand why.
Sintra’s especially a town you want to visit if you love palaces.
On my own Sintra adventure, I visited the Quinta da Regaleira and while I loved the lavish mansion, I had an even better time experiencing its gorgeous gardens and passages. I adored the swirling staircase inside the stone well!
Another amazing castle is the Castelo dos Mouros or the Moors Castle. This military fortification was built in the 8th and 9th centuries, and provides sweeping views of the countryside surrounding Sintra. Just make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
Finally, last but not least, is colorful Palácio Nacional da Pena. This castle is the most popular of the three, and usually the most crowded. It stands on the top of a scenic hill in the Sintra Mountains.
My recommendation for your trip to Sintra, especially since you only have 2 days in Lisbon, is to choose one castle (bummer, I know) and then move onto the beach.
If you’re nervous about navigating Lisbon’s public transportation system, then I would book a Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Day Trip to soothe your nerves.
Hit the Beach in Cascais
Are you obsessed with the beach like I am? Then you should totally go to Cascais, which is not too far from Sintra and Lisbon.
Cascais is a popular coastal resort town known for its beautiful sandy beaches and action-packed marina. Pack a bathing suit if you’re so inclined and catch some rays.
Even if you don’t want to go swimming, Cascais is still a great town to explore and watch the surfers hit the waves.
Head to Rossio Square & Explore the Neighborhood
It’s time to return to Lisbon! Let’s go to some other neighborhoods.
First, explore Rossio Station, Lisbon’s monumental train station, after enjoying your day trips.
Afterwards, grab something to eat near Rossio Square, which was also built after the great earthquake. It’s interesting to see the comparisons here and Alfama. The differences are striking.
Near this area, is the Santa Justa Lift. There’s a viewing platform at the top of the lift where you can take even more great photos of the Portuguese capital city. It’s a little pricey, but worth it.
Enjoy Bairro Alto at Night
Finally, we’re going to experience Lisbon’s fantastic nightlife.
Bairro Alto is filled to the brim with bars. However, a lot of these establishments are super small, and instead of crowding inside, you drink in the streets in the open air. Bairro Alto is perfect for people watching.
Are you traveling alone and nervous about going out alone? Lisbon’s many hostels arrange pub crawls, which gives you the chance to enjoy Lisbon at night within the safety of a group.
Always keep a close eye on your drinks. And learn some Portuguese to converse with the bartenders. Even a few friendly phrases will help a lot!
Where to Stay in Lisbon
So where you stay with two days in Lisbon? Never fear! Lisbon has a ton of accommodation to choose from. Stay in a central location within your budget. The choice is yours.
However, I gotta say, Lisbon is also home to the best hostels in the universe.
Not even kidding.
On my travel adventure, I stayed at Home Lisbon Hostel and had the time of my life! Mama’s dinners are phenomenal and reasonably priced, and the staff’s guided tours are an incredible amount of fun too! Don’t miss it!
If you’re not a fan of hostels, then I would highly recommend Hotel MeraPrime Gold Lisboa, which is a stunning 3 star hotel right in the center of town! Hotel MeraPrime Gold Lisboa has single rooms, so it’s also financial feasible for solo travelers.
Lisbon Travel Tips for a Safe Journey
Last, but not least, here are three final suggestions for your 2 days in Lisbon.
Buy Travel Insurance
As always, you need to purchase travel insurance for any international trip, including Portugal.
Your country’s health insurance probably doesn’t cover you overseas. You don’t want to go to the hospital and be stuck with a ten thousand dollar bill. Talk about “yikes.”
For my trips, I use World Nomads, because they have the most affordable prices. I’ve never had an issue with them either.
Ignore the “Drug Dealers”
Okay, I’m not here to lecture about the morality of drugs, but as a traveler, keep in mind that Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001.
This relaxed policy has led to scammers pushing drug deals on tourists. An example would be following and nagging you to buy a bag of marijuana, which is actually oregano.
As a single woman, I actually had no issues with harassment of this sort, but a lot of male travelers in my hostel did have to forcefully tell these people to leave them alone.
At the end of the day, my advice would be to ignore them. Duck into a shop if you’re uncomfortable. Remember you’re under no obligation to be nice to someone who won’t stop pestering you.
Wear Plenty of Sunscreen
Oh man. I got the worst sunburn on my solo trip to Lisbon. I still wince whenever I think about it.
In spring and summer, Lisbon’s sun is incredibly strong and will scorch your skin if you go out without any lotion.
So, please, please, please, love your skin and load up on sunscreen – especially if you’re fair-skinned like yours truly. I looked like a red-faced raccoon for a big part of my trip and regret it so much.
What would you do with 2 days in Lisbon? Any ideas to add to this itinerary? What are your favorite things to see and do? Share all your thoughts in the comments.