Lisbon is a city where you can leave the guidebook at home. It’s a city that you shouldn’t visit with a fixed itinerary. That’s not to say that there aren’t sites and monuments worth visiting in the Portuguese capital. They’re just simply not the reason why you should travel here. Lisbon has an undeniably unique atmosphere and in my opinion, the best way to spend your time in the city is to try and enjoy it in the same way at the 2.7 million people living here do. In order to do that, here are some suggestions for an alternative 2 days in Lisbon itinerary that enable you to experience the city without a set agenda but still allow you to explore some of the magnificent parts of the Portuguese capital.
2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Day 1
Let a local guide you around the city
It might sound obvious, but one of the best ways to begin to understand Lisbon is to let a local show you around the city. We were fortunate enough to have our generous Airbnb host give us an introduction to the Portuguese capital and explain some of the intricacies of the city from one of Lisbon’s many viewpoints. If you don’t know anyone living in Lisbon or you simply want to get a basic understanding of the history and culture of Lisbon then I strongly recommend taking a free walking tour with Lisbon Chill Out.
Lisbon Chill Out is an independent and locally run company meaning all their guides are long-term residents of Lisbon and can provide their own unique perspective of the city. There is no better way to start your 2 days in Lisbon itinerary then by taking their 10 AM walking tour to give you a fantastic introduction to the city.
Our guide was fantastic and made a huge effort to tailor the tour to the interests of the group rather than simply following a script. It was also clear that the company makes a big effort to ensure that their tours don’t have a negative impact on residents of the city and that they can be sustainably run. If you’re not an early bird then they also run afternoon tours at 3 PM in winter or 4:30 PM in summer.
Get lost in Alfama
Following the free walking tour, take some time to get lost in the district of Alfama which is extremely different from the rest of Lisbon. With strong Moorish influences, cobbled winding streets and older buildings, this area is the perfect place to get wander around without a purpose. Every winding street might lead you to a unique open space, a colourful building, some interesting street art or a cool bar or cafe.
Lisbon’s famous Tram 28 runs through the heart of Alfama so if you find yourself unable to handle the hilly streets after a while then let the tram guide you back to the central part of the city.
Gaze at awesome street art
Lisbon is a cool city. And like many other cool cities around the world, it has an impressive range of street art to gaze at all around the city. The street art in Lisbon varies from impressive large murals on city buildings, quirky hidden pieces to streets that are open-air galleries. Some of the best areas to find street art include the neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, Alfama, along Calçada da Glória and near Socorro.
If you’re interested in understanding more about the meaning and history of street art in Lisbon then it’s worth joining a tour with Lisbon Street Art Tours. They have tip based tours a couple of times a week as well as the ability to organise private tours if you have a larger group. The tour will also allow you to see a lot of smaller pieces that would be difficult to find if you were simply wandering around by yourself. This tour was definitely one of our favourite things to do in the city during our 2 days in Lisbon.
Their afternoon tours only run on Saturdays in the winter and are replaced by a morning tour on Sundays at 10 AM in summer. They also have a year-round morning tour on Wednesdays at 10 AM. If you’re 2 days in Lisbon don’t match up with their tour schedule then spend the afternoon wandering around the neighbourhoods instead – you’ll be sure to stumble across some pieces of artwork!
Party in Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is a neighbourhood you need to explore twice – once during the day and once at night. During the day, the area is relatively quiet and you can wander the streets, gazing at street art or maybe finding a small cafe to eat at. However, at night this area transforms into one of Lisbon’s main nightlife areas.
The small bars spill out into the streets ensuring the whole area has a fantastic atmosphere if you’re looking to party in the Portuguese capital. If you want to include enjoy some partying during your 2 days in Lisbon then Barrio Alto is undoubtedly the place to be!
2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Day 2
People watch at Feira da Ladra
Lisbon’s most famous flea market, Fiera da Ladra, runs every Tuesday and Saturday around Santa Engracia Church. While many travel guides recommend coming here to try and find a bargain I found most of what was being sold to either cater specifically to tourists or probably be more useful if you live in the city.
Therefore, I think the best way to experience the market during your 2 days in Lisbon is to get a cup of takeaway coffee from Copenhagen Coffee Lab and walk over to Jardim Botto Machado Park which provides a fantastic vantage point of the flea market. If the flea market isn’t running the day that you’re are here then it’s still worth coming here to appreciate the beauty and calmness of the area without the hordes of people!
Feel trendy at LX Factory
Located next to the foot of the 25 de Abril Bridge, LX Factory is a former industrial area that has been transformed into a trendy hub full of hipsters enjoying street art, quirky shops and cool places to eat and drink. The area is a more a gentrified version of Berlin’s RAW and can be compared to London’s Box Park located in Shoreditch.
One of the coolest places at LX Factory worth checking out is Ler Devagar bookshop which has thousands of books stacked against the walls up to the ceiling as well as having a cafe and hosting various cultural events throughout the year.
Stroll through Graça
Probably my favourite area of Lisbon, the area of Graça feels as if it’s a small village. Located at the top of one of Lisbon’s many hills, there are several fantastic viewpoints and places to watch the sunset. Some of the most popular viewpoints are the Lady of the Hill and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen viewpoints. There is a less popular spot at Parque Horticola which offers similar views without the hordes of people!
If staying in the centre of Lisbon, you can take the famous Tram 28 to Graça. However, I strongly urge you to take the time to follow the tracks and walk in at least one direction. You will pass many of Lisbon’s famous landmarks as well as have the ability to explore many cool narrow streets and shops!
While is Graça, make sure to stop at Centro Ideal de Graca which is one of the best places to eat Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts). They have a huge selection of pastries to try as well some tables where you can sit down and enjoy the deliciousness with a cup of coffee or tea!
Find a cosy wine bar
Portuguese wine might not have the same reputation as its neighbours in Spain and France, however, the Portuguese certainly know how to make a delicious drop of vino! Whilst there are some places that organise tastings, I think the best way to end your 2 days in Lisbon itinerary is to enjoy a glass by popping into one of the many cosy wine bars that exist in Lisbon.
Our favourite wine bar during our time in Lisbon was Graça do Vinho located not far from the Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen viewpoint. It’s a great spot if you need to rest while walking up the hill and want to enjoy a glass of delicious wine accompanied by a light meal or some nibbles.
Where to Eat in Lisbon
In the same way that Portuguese wine is underappreciated worldwide, Portuguese cuisine also doesn’t receive a lot of credit overseas. Portuguese cuisine is built around using fresh ingredients and arguably it doesn’t get any fresher than a lot of the fish and seafood that gets pulled straight out of the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the best things to do during your 2 days in Lisbon is to enjoy a leisurely seafood dinner at one of the many great local restaurants. Lisbon is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Portugal to sample the cuisine – these are some of our favourite places to eat in the city:
O Satélite – a no-frills local establishment in Graca that serves delicious fresh fish and meat using traditional recipes. A great place to eat if you want to go truly local!
Cruzes Credo – located not far from Lisbon Cathedral, this restaurant serves a range of traditional Portuguese and international dishes. A great affordable and tasty option despite being in a touristy area.
Restaurante Ti’Ascenção – also located in Graca, this restaurant serves fine dining quality food in a casual setting at very affordable prices. Tables are limited so I suggest reserving a spot if going during a busy period.
Where To Stay In Lisbon
We stayed in the village of Graca which is a fantastic option if you want to stay away from the centre of Lisbon and experience a local neighbourhood. There are many great affordable restaurants and cafes in Graca and you are only a short fifteen-minute walk from the centre of town.
Bairro Alto is a good option if you want to experience more of Lisbon’s nightlife, however, it can be noisy in the evenings. Alternatively, you can also stay in the historic centre of Baixa and Chiado, however, this area can be quite busy and is also more expensive than Lisbon’s outer suburbs.
If you’re on a budget in Lisbon, we recommend either finding an Airbnb room to stay in. Alternatively, check out one of the many highly rated hostels available. In fact, hostels in Lisbon are consistently mentioned in many roundups of the best hostels around the world!
If you don’t want to stay in a hostel or Airbnb, then click here to find the best deal on a hotel room in Lisbon.
How To Get Around In Lisbon
The best way to get around Lisbon is to use the well connected public transport system. I recommend buying a transport card from a kiosk around the city for 50 cents and topping it up with funds throughout your stay. You can also download Citymapper onto your smartphone if you want to know exactly which bus, tram or train to take to get from point A to B.
Are you planning to spend 2 days in Lisbon? Have you visited before? Let us know in the comments below!