After spending one day visiting the main attractions located farther away from Lisbon city center, you should dedicate the second day to exploring the important landmarks situated in the central neighborhoods of the city. Where should you start? That depends on the location of your accommodation or where you will find a good parking place for your car.
As we were accommodated near Lisbon, we traveled to the city by car, parked in the parking lot of the Port of Lisbon and paid for an entire day just 8€. From there we could walk to all the places we planned to visit, as they were all relatively close. Just keep in mind when planning a trip to Lisbon that the city is built on seven hills, so be prepared to climb a lot during your visit.
The first monument we visited was the National Pantheon, the most imposing building of Lisbon’s city center, which took approximately 200 years to be built and where many important Portuguese are buried.
Miradouro De Nossa Senhora Do Monte
After contemplating a bit the Pantheon, we continued to the Miradouro de Nossa Senhora Do Monte, the highest point of Lisbon. The extra effort made to reach this point was more than rewarded by the dazzling views of the city. From here you can see almost all the monuments of Lisbon, from São Jorge Castle to 25 of April Bridge and you can even spot the tower of Jeronimos Monastery.
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle built on one of the hilltops of Lisbon and one of the best-known landmarks of the city. Although this attraction is on every recommended itinerary, we choose to see it only from the exterior, as we didn’t think the €8,5 entrance fee is really worth it. The castle was mostly destroyed over the years and the main reason it is visited nowadays is for the views it offers. But we considered that the views from Miradouro De Nossa Senhora Do Monte or Santa Justa viewing platform are at least equally amazing, so we skipped the castle.
Elevador de Santa Justa
The Santa Justa Lift dates from the 19th century and was built to transport passengers from the lower part of Lisbon up the hill to Largo do Carmo. On the top, there is a viewing platform, which provides yet another wonderful panorama of the city.
To get to the platform there are two options: either wait with hundreds of other tourists in a long line to ride the elevator and pay €5 for it (including entrance to viewing platform), or you can skip the queue by taking the lift from Armazéns do Chiado Mall, which is nearby Santa Justa and buy an entrance ticket for the platform at the top (ticket price €1,5).
Once the biggest Roman Catholic church of Lisbon, the Carmo Convent was destroyed by the devastating 1755 earthquake and nowadays the roofless nave and some arches are all it remained from it. The ruins of the convent, a reminder of the worst day in Lisbon’s history, are now used as an archeological museum.
Ascensor da Bica, Gloria and Lavra
Due to the steep terrain of Lisbon, one of the main transportation modes in the city is the funicular. There are three well known funiculars that connect Lisbon’s downtown with the streets built on the hills: Gloria Funicular, Bica Funicular and Lavra Funicular. These along with all other funiculars from the city have become National Monuments.
Lavra Funicular is the oldest one and operates since 1884, while Gloria Funicular is the most popular with tourists. However, we went to see Bica Funicular, which is said to have the city’s most picturesque route.
If you are not yet tired, after wandering the entire day, you should consider spending your evening in Bairro Alto, a bohemian neighborhood well-known for its lively nightlife. The area is extremely quiet during the day, but it radically transforms after the sun sets. We visited it in the afternoon, when the restaurants and terraces were just beginning to open, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to experience its famous evening atmosphere.
Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio is one of the historical spots of Lisbon. The square was built on the site of the Royal Ribeira Palace, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. During the Golden Age of Portugal, it was the gateway to the city and the spot of commercial trades. It is also famous for being the scene of assassination of the second last king of Portugal, King Carlos I.
Nowadays, the square is home to the Tourist Information Center, a couple of museums and many cafés and restaurants, including the oldest café in Lisbon, Martinho da Arcada. The area is full of tourists enjoying the wonderful views of the river Tagus and street artists exposing their talents.
If walking an entire day is not appealing to you, I recommend you hop on Tram 28. The wooden tram, a symbol of Lisbon, will take you through the most historic and important streets of the city, as well as to many popular attractions. Beside the scenic route, the ride with this traditional tram is an experience per se and it is considered one of the must dos when in Lisbon.
Alfama and Se Cathedral
Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest and most iconic neighborhood, the place where Fado music was born. This was the last area we visited in Lisbon and I found it to be extremely charming. I loved strolling its alleys, discovering little squares with terraces and fado shows and admiring the pastel colored buildings.
While in the area, be sure to visit also Se Cathedral, Lisbon’s oldest building, which was constructed by Portugal’s first king on the site of an old mosque, as a symbol of the Christian reconquest of the territory.
The day we spent in the city center of Lisbon is what I would call “a perfect travel day”, as we were able to walk endlessly, get lost on the narrow cobblestone streets, admire the buildings’ tiled façades, feel the relaxed atmosphere of the town and from time to time stop to marvel at the wonderful monuments of the Portuguese capital city.