What you should do if you have 24 hours to kill in Lisbon.
1. Have breakfast at a terrace in Al Fama.
There’s nothing like the calm and colorful surroundings of Al Fama to start your day. Sit down at one of the café terraces you find in between the winding alleyways, by the Miraduoro Das Portas do Sol overlooking the ocean, or at the bottom of the hill closer to the water. Having a coffee while staring up at the old, charming facades will make you feel centered and get you in the mood to have a day as bright as the red rooftops around you.
2. Walk around and take a look at the artisan craft shops surrounding Castelo Sao Jorge.
Walk up from Al Fama towards Castelo de Sao Jorge where you will encounter even more facades with beautiful tiles and patterns of bright blue, green, yellow and red. The castle itself is usually swamped with tourists so a more relaxing activity is to simply walk in and out of the shops that sell souvenirs and gorgeous handmade ceramic crafts. These include square tiles with traditional Portuguese patterns, such as the ones you see on the buildings in Lisbon, and fish painted with colorful designs.
Then walk along Costa do Costelo towards Rua da Magdalena on which you will encounter some of Lisbon’s most beautiful street art, churches and viewpoints.
3. Have lunch at Mercado da Ribeira.
Following Rua da Magdalena, take a walk through the bustling Praca do Comércio, look up at the majestic Arco da Rua Augusta and make your way to Cais do Sodre train station. Across the street from the station is Lisbon’s iconic Mercado da Riberia, which used to be one of the most famous markets in Europe. Here you will find a recently renovated food hall where you can get a taste from some of the city’s most famous chefs and restaurants.
Mercado da Riberia a very cool and trendy food court type place where you can eat anything from traditional Portuguese dishes, fusion and ethnic cuisines, artisanal hamburgers and pizzas, and different wines from all over the country. Trendy and casual, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before continuing on your journey!
4. Head to Belem for Pastéis de Belém and walk along the water to the 25 da abril bridge.
Sure Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery are some of the most important, must-see sites in Lisbon, but for many people the biggest attraction in Belém is the historic bakery, Pastéis de Belém, where you can eat the best pastel de nata you will ever have. These yummy, sweet cakes actually originated from Belém and Jerónimos Monastery, as monasteries would use leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries sell them for revenue.
The cakes at Pastéis de Belém are absolutely to die for, as you’ll get them hot and creamy with sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top. There is always a line out the door at the bakery, but the counter service is quite fast and you can enjoy your pastries with coffee at the terrace out front.
After you’ve got your fill of sweet cakes and the architectural wonders around Belém, cross over to the ocean side and take a walk along the pier where you will get a nice, up close view of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Christ the King statue.
5. Get off at Alcantara-Mar to look at revolutionary graffiti art and hang out at LX Factory.
From Belém you can take the metro rail or the bus to Alcantara-Mar which is only a couple stops away. The Alcantara train station has amazing original street art downstairs and above ground there is a wall dedicated to revolutionary messages and commemoration of the 25th of April Revolution.
You can see all of this on the way to LX Factory, an industrial warehouse complex that was recently renovated and reopened as a super cool and hip collection of galleries, shops and café bars. The hipster aesthetic against a brick background makes it a great place to hang out with friends over the drinks on the weekend.
One of LX Factory’s most popular attractions is Ler Devagar, a magical space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, natural light and artistic fixtures, which has become known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Getting lost in a book and a cup of tea in this large but cozy bookshop can easily become one of the most pleasant moments you’ll have during your trip to Lisbon.
6. Head to Chiado to have the tasting menu at Minibar for a swanky evening meal.
For those looking to treat themselves to some sophisticated food and drinks in an elegant neighborhood, Chiado is the place to go. Here you will find 4 restaurants owned by renowned Portuguese chef José Avillez.
The most interesting one is Mini-Bar, an attractive gastro-bar with a stylish, dim ambience. Here you can order quality cocktails and libations of any sort and try Chef Avillez’s innovative gastronomic dishes that each come in small portions like tapas. There is a pre-set tasting menu with 5-6 courses, a mystery course menu, or you can do your own tasting menu with the dishes you want to try and as many courses as you like.
At Mini-Bar you’re in for a fun, lively time as each creative dish is a surprise and it’s easy to keep the drinks flowing in this swanky, sociable atmosphere.
7. Go out for drinks at Bairro Alto.
Everybody knows that in the evenings, Bairro Alto is the most poppin’ part of town where the streets are lined with hip bars on both sides. Join the friendly crowds of locals and ERASMUS students that go out here every night, and in Lisbon people hang out and drink in the streets outside the bars where one can socialize and mingle with everyone around.
It doesn’t hurt that the Miraduoro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is nearby so that whenever you want to take a break and escape the crowds you can sip on your drink while looking at one of the most gorgeous vistas of Lisbon.