Some of Europe’s most incredible cities are best explored by water – and Lisbon, Portugal is no exception. If your cruise itinerary takes you around the Iberian Peninsula, you’re sure to be making a stop in this gorgeous and culturally rich city. Many cruise stopovers only allow for travellers to spend one day exploring on land before heading back aboard. This means you’ll probably have less than 24 hours to see everything Lisbon has to offer – a tall order indeed!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. We’ve mapped out the ultimate one-day itinerary so that you end the day feeling like you’ve experienced the ‘real’ Lisbon.
Looking for even more Portugal? Check out Lagos!
What to Do
Start your day in the historical heart of Portugal, the Alfama Quarter. The oldest district in the city, this neighbourhood is a labyrinth of steep, narrow streets, red-roofed houses, and backstreet cafés. In contrast to the more gentrified, touristic areas of the city, the Alfama Quarter is still very much steeped in local custom. Here you’ll find women selling fresh fish from their doorways, restaurants playing the traditional Portuguese Fado music, and bright yellow trams navigating the winding network of cobbled streets.
Fun fact: the Alfama Quarter was one of the few neighbourhoods to survive the devastating Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
Miradoura de Santa Luzia
As you walk (or wander) uphill through the sloped streets of Alfama, stop for a rest at any of the lofty terraces called miradouros. One of the best is Miradouro de Santa Luzia, built near the church of the same name. From this gorgeous lookout, with its graceful pillars and elaborate tile work, you take in sweeping views of the houses and churches of the Alfama Quarter, as well as the wide Tagus river to the south. The café right on the terrace is an excellent place to sip a coffee while you drink in the view.
Largo Santa Luzia, Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Castelo de Sao Jorge
Leaving the miradouro, walk north along the Rua Sao Torré. You’ll pass the Museu de Artes Decorativas Portuguesas (Portugese Museum of Decorative Arts), a 17th century aristocratic home decorated with stunning tile work that’s worth a look if you have time! A little further along and up the winding Calçada do Menino de Deus, you’ll arrive at Castelo de Sao Jorge. This impressive fortified citadel was built by the Moors in the 11th century, and today is one of Lisbon’s most recognisable landmarks. Here you can stroll the ramparts and gardens, take in commanding views of the whole city, peruse the permanent exhibition of artefacts stretching back as far the the 7th century BC, and visit active archaeological sites.
Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, Lisbon 1100-129, Portugal
Tel: +351 218 800 620
Hours: Open daily 9:00am-9:00pm
Prices: €8.50 for adults, €5.00 for seniors 65+
Just a three minutes’ walk down the hill from the castle, 28 Café is charmingly fitted out like the interior of one of Alfama’s iconic trams. Here you can enjoy a light lunch (try the quiche!) before getting on your way again.
Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo N.0 45 a 47A, Lisbon, Portugal
Tel: +351 21 886 0119
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00am-7:00pm
Praça do Rossio & Praça do Comércio
Next, visit two of Lisbon’s most important central squares, located conveniently just ten minutes apart. Praça do Rossio (actually the popular nickname for Pedro IV Square) has been one of the city’s main squares since medieval times. This central hub is dominated by two bronze fountains and an imposing statue of Dom Pedro IV himself, mounted on a towering pillar in the centre. Throughout history, Praça do Rossio has always been in the thick of the action – it’s seen celebrations, revolutions, bullfights, executions, and much more. Today, however, it’s one of the most popular meeting places for Lisbon natives and tourists alike.
Praça Dom Pedro IV 44, 1100-201 Lisboa, Portugal
Walk straight down Rua Áurea and you’ll arrive at another grand and historic square: the Praça do Comércio. Located right on the edge of the Tagus River (enjoy the view!), this square was once home to the 16th century Riberia Palace, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. Today, the palace has been replaced by a stunning triumphal arch and an array of palatial government buildings. If you have a little extra time on your hands, walk through the arch to the Rua Augusta, a fully pedestrianised street lined with interesting shops.
Praça do Comércio, Lisboa, Portugal
Now, hop on the #714 and make your way west across town to the parish of Belém, about a 25-minute journey. Though it may seem out of your way, you’ll soon realise a visit to Lisbon isn’t complete without taking in the Jerónimos Monastery. Dating back to the 1500s, this late Gothic-style UNESCO-designated structure is a breathtakingly ornate trip back in time. Take in the soaring towers, graceful and delicate arches, geometric courtyards and gardens, soaring chapels, and much more.
Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours: Tues-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm
Tickets: Individual ticket (monastery only) €10.00. Combined ticket (with Tower of Belém €12.00
Torre de Belém
Just a short distance from the monastery (10 minutes by bus #729), the Torre de Belém has been standing guard over the mouth of the Tagus River and the ceremonial entrance to Lisbon since the 16th century. Built in much the same style as the monastery you just visited, this beautiful limestone tower, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now one of Lisbon’s most popular tourist sites. There can be long queues for the climb up to the top of the tower, so get your tickets ahead of time to get into the fast-track queue!
Avenida Brasilia – Belem, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal
Tel: +351 21 362 0034
Hours: Tues-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm
Prices: Combined ticket (Monastery and Tower) €12.00, individual ticket (Tower only) €6.00
Dinner at the Market
Looking to squeeze in a few more sights over dinner? Head back east across town to Time Out Market Lisbon, a historic sprawling market hall that has been transformed into a trendy foodie paradise. In the cavernous glass-roofed main hall, a number of small restaurants are serving up excellent local food and drink. From Portuguese egg tarts to sirloin steak, and from local cheese and sausage to a wild cherry ginger liqueur called ginjinha (we could go on and on), you’ll be spoiled for choice. Once you’ve gotten your food, take a seat at one of the long, communal wooden tables and chat with your fellow diners.
Av. 24 de Julho 49, Portugal
Tel: +351 21 346 1199
Hours: 10:00am-12:00am (2:00 on Thurs, Fri, Sat)
How to Get to Lisbon
Your cruise ship is likely to dock at one of Lisbon’s two main ports – Alcântara Terminal or Apolónia Terminal – both on the north bank of the Tagus River. Once you’ve arrived at the dock, don’t waste any time getting started! Look into Lisbon cruise port transfers before you arrive and you’ll be whisked away into the city proper, so you can start sightseeing without a moment’s delay.
About Shuttle Direct:
No matter where you’re going or how long you’re staying, Shuttle Direct can make your travel just a little bit easier. As the top provider of airport transfers across Europe and North Africa, we’re happy to bring you to and from the airport, your hotel, or any other local destination. Don’t book your next trip without us!