If you find yourself short on time in Western Europe’s oldest city, get your walking shoes on and follow along. I’ll show you some of Lisbon’s most famous sites in a jam-packed, two-day itinerary. From a circus-themed store, featuring psychedelic sardines, to a street painted pink to honour its red-light district days gone by, you won’t be disappointed.
Started the day from my adorable Airbnb apartment in the Bairro Alto neighborhood. Everything about the apartment made me want to pack it up in my suitcase and bring it home with me, including the spiral staircase! Lisbon is a historical city full of cobblestone walkways and a lot of hills. The Gloria elevator isn’t just for tourists, it’s actually part of Lisbon’s public transit system. How cool would it be to travel in a historic tram every morning on your way into work?!
Lisbon’s got a serious love affair with canned fish, and it’s no secret. CAN the CAN is a gourmet restaurant in the Praca de Comercio, dedicated to canned foods. There’s even a chandelier made entirely of...you guessed it - empty sardine cans! CAN you count how many? (See what I did there - ha!)
The iconic Santa Justa Lift connects the Baixa and Carmo areas of the city. There was a loooong line up of tourists so I decided to walk my way up the hill instead. Best way to get your 10,000 steps/day in and not feel guilty about eating Lisbon’s famous custard tart, or 2...or 4...who’s counting anyway?
No one celebrates the humble sardine like the Portuguese and Mundo Fantástico Da Sardinha Portuguesa is “The Greatest Sardine Show on Earth”. The entire circus-themed store is filled floor to ceiling with aisles and aisles of lit-up sardine cans. Reminded me of stacked chips on a casino table...perhaps they should open up a sardine store in Vegas?
Rua Nova Do Carvalho, aka Pink Street (doesn’t it sound better in Portuguese?), is in the Cais do Sodre neighborhood overlooking views of the Tagus River. After the gentrification of what used to be known as the city’s red-light district, trendy pubs and clubs with live Fado (traditional folk music) have taken over the rose hued street and it’s now the place to be after dark. Like most other hip places in Europe, the party doesn’t start ‘til midnight.
Soak up some history at the Archaeological Museum and Ruins of Carmo Convent. Doors open precisely at 10:00am and I recommend getting in the line up early if you want pictures without any people in them.
A lot of my pre-travel research on Lisbon referred to the historic Tram 28 so I definitely had to hop on for a ride. The classic 1930s tram is a great way to discover Alfama, Lisbon’s most charming and oldest neighborhood.
You’ll find a lot of Miradouros (lookouts) all around Lisbon and each one offers a unique vantage point.
The medieval Sao Jorge Castle offers expansive views over Lisbon and the Tagus River. It’s a bit of an uphill hike, but well worth the visit. What a cool experience to walk in the footsteps of royal families that lived there many centuries ago.
Last, but certainly not least, was the National Azulejo Museum with some serious tile eye candy. In case you hadn’t already heard, Portugal is pretty famous for its tile work and my Airbnb host recommended MNAz as a must-see whilst in Lisbon. After having been, I can definitely see why. The museum itself is housed in a former convent and has some remarkable tile collections on exhibit.
Are you planning a trip to Lisbon? I’d love to hear about it, leave a comment below!