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Traveler's Guide To Spending One Day in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and a city filled with a diverse culture that lends to its growing tourism industry.
Known for its beautiful beaches and colorful buildings, the coastal city offers some of the best views in the world.
Things to see and do in Lisbon
Tourists flock to the city to take part in its many recreational activities like sailing, kayaking, and delicious food and beverage tastings. For a taste of Lisbon’s history, visitors can peruse the Fado Museum. There, they can learn about the history of fado music and even take a guitar class where an instructor will teach them the basics of the unique fado sound.
The trams in Lisbon are a common way for locals to move around the Portuguese capital while avoiding its steep hills. Tourists can hop on the iconic Tram 28E that takes riders to various tourist attractions, from the Museum of Decorative Arts to the Assembly of the Republic.
Lisbon is home to a number of local restaurants and cafes like the Michelin-star eatery, Feitoria, or A Valenciana, a fan favorite that serves Portuguese Piri-Piri chicken. Don’t forget to finish your meal on a sweet note with a pastéis de belém, a Portuguese custard tart.
Also, its vibrant nightlife includes several bars and nightclubs that serve ginjinha, a popular liqueur typically served with a piece of fruit.
As the largest city in Portugal, Lisbon may seem challenging to fully cover with limited time. But if you’re short on time, you can still maximize your visit to the coastal city with a smart Lisbon itinerary. The city offers several guided tours to travelers who want to quickly explore the city, from walking tours to boat tours. Let’s take a look at six things to see and do with one day in Lisbon:
1. Jerónimos Monastery
The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most visited destinations in Lisbon. Construction on the sacred building dates as far back as 1501, making it a treasured historic landmark.
The monastery was once home to the Hieronymite monks, who dedicated themselves to fervent prayer and worship on behalf of the country. Now, visitors can explore its interior, including its beautifully carved columns and a monumental statue of Henry the Navigator.
Inside its cloister is the tomb of the famous writer Fernando Pessoa. And the church of Santa Maria sits directly above it.
Tourists can learn more about the monastery by viewing one of its decorated walls that celebrate its history. And within close proximity to the site is Belem Tower, an enormous fort that once protected the city from enemy raids.
2. Rossio Square
Rossio Square is a lively city square where many people visit to shop, dine, or relax. Located in the city’s center, the site is always teeming with busy locals and tourists.
There are a number of historical buildings and monuments at the site. In its center is a nearly 90-foot monument that pays homage to the country’s late king, Pedro IV. Also in the square is the Rossio train station, which is the best way to navigate the city in a short amount of time.
There are also plenty of places to dine in Rossio Square. One of the more popular eateries is Cafe Nicola, which serves authentic Portuguese meals and desserts. It’s also the restaurant where famed poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage would frequently meet with friends. In addition, musicians often stop by the restaurant to serenade diners with traditional Fado music, making it the perfect place to get an authentic glimpse into Lisbon’s history.
3. Miradouro de Santa Luzia
The perfect place for romance, Miradouro de Santa Luzia is a romantic terrace that’s located right beside the church of Santa Luzia. Visitors can take in the spectacular views of Alfama city, including its many historical buildings that overlook a clear, blue ocean.
Many guests like to read a book on one of its benches or watch the boats and cruises float along the water. There’s also an on-site cafe that serves delicious local foods and beverages to hungry customers. But one of the site’s main attractions is its beautiful, decorative tiles that paint a picture of old Lisbon.
4. Pena Palace
Built in 1854, Pena Palace is a famous castle on a hill in Sintra. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is the best place to sit in the lap of luxury.
Tourists marvel at its different architectural elements, including Neo-Manueline, Neo-Moorish, and Indo-Gothic influences. The castle’s interior is just as beautiful, with its intricately painted walls and stunning vintage decor.
The royal palace is also home to Pena Park, a natural oasis for outdoor lovers. It’s a great place to experience the sights and sounds of nature, from its sparkling lakes to its secret walkways. The park is filled with lush greenery that include a number of plant and flower species. It also houses an array of exotic trees per the order of King Ferdinand. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy capturing African Succulents and Japanese Cryptomeria in photos.
5. Alfama District
The Alfama District is another popular tourist destination filled with beautiful homes that line its cobblestone streets. The district is also where tourists can find a number of historical buildings, including Sé Cathedral with its ancient, Gothic architectural design.
At the highest point of Alfama is Castelo de Sao Jorge, a castle where many early Portuguese kings ruled. There, visitors can enjoy views of the entire city.
You might hear some traditional Alfaman music during your visit as well. Fado music has a distinct sound that many tourists enjoy. As early sailors went out to sea, the wives they left behind would sing melancholic songs as they awaited their return. Today, the locals sing Fado music to celebrate part of the city’s rich history.
6. Cabo da Roca
Take a day trip to Sintra to visit Cabo da Roca, a beautiful cape on the west coast of the country. There, tourists can take in breathtaking views of the waters and the Sintra mountain range. Until the 14th century, the destination was once believed to be where the world ends. Today, it’s the site where tourists go to become one with nature.
Part of the magic of Cabo da Roca is that there isn’t too much to see and do. The cape is home to a lighthouse, coffee shop, and gift store. The simplicity of the site is what draws tourists to it during the summer months, the best time to visit. Many tourists enjoy hiking the trail around Sintra Natural Park to take in the sunset.