On our way to the Azores islands, we stopped in Lisbon for one day. We’ve got a quite short layover: around 13 hours between our flights. Counting the road to/from the airport. Definitely not enough for exploring all the places in Lisbon. But good for getting the idea of it and deciding to come back to Lisbon one day for a longer vacation.
No matter if you plan such a layover or you will spend in Lisbon more time. I will share with you some of our tips to make it your best day and enjoy your travel experience in Lisbon to the fullest. Hopefully, these tips will be useful for you even if you plan to have a longer city break in Lisbon.
1. Getting from Lisbon airport to the city center
From the airport, you can easily get to the city center of Lisbon by metro. For all transportation options, you have to buy a Viva Viagem card. It can be done in the metro in the ticket machine or there is also a cashier’s place. The card itself costs 50 cents and then you can charge money depending on your needs. You can also buy different 1-day tickets, but be careful with that. We purchased the cheapest one, for 6.4 euros. But it didn’t include all types of public transport and not at all the ferries (which we used twice at the end). Anyway, for one day in Lisbon, it was a good deal for us.
Lifehack of those 1-day tickets is, that even with the cheapest one you can get into the famous elevator Santa Justa Lift for free. It is an elevator in the middle of the square, which is inaugurated as one of Lisbon’s public transport systems. It can carry 20 people upwards, but can only take 15 people down. Without a 1-day ticket, the elevator costs 5.15 euros for the return ride.
The pink/red line of the metro is going from Lisbon airport. Depending on where you want to handle first, but we usually stopped at Alameda station. From there you could even walk to the center, it’s not far. Or you can change at Alameda station for the green line (I would call it more turquoise).
You can check out more about the transportation system in Lisbon here.
2. Eat some Pastéis de Nata while walking in Bairro Alto district
Pastéis de Nata is heaven for us. I’ve already mentioned them in my article about interesting things to do in the Azores. And we didn’t miss to eat these sweets even during our one day in Lisbon. It is an egg tart, so soft in the middle and crusty on the sides. Pastéis de Nata has an interesting origin. In past times monasteries used a big amount of egg-whites for starching clothes. Since they’ve got leftover egg yolks, they used it to make cakes and pastries. And they got an incredible result in Pastéis de Nata and some similar types of Portuguese sweets.
We tried our first Pastéis de Nata in Manteigaria, where one tart costs 1 euro, simple coffee – 0.7 euros. But, honestly, wherever we ate Pastéis de Nata, it was still incredibly tasty.
Bairro Alto is also a nice district to walk around (sometimes up and down). Just simply checking architecture, feeling the atmosphere.
3. Walk in the Almada district
Our main destination for the one day in Lisbon was to get to the Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei or the Christ Statue. Fo that, we had to get through the river of Tajo. The easiest way to make it is to get a ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas station. The cost of a one-way ticket is 1.3 euros, also charged on the Viva Viagem card. The timetable of ferries you can find here, but I would say it goes pretty often: every 5-15 minutes.
Our plan was to walk from the port to the Christ Statue. I can recommend this option but be prepared for a good going up and 40-50 minutes walk. One side. In the end, we managed just going up and decided to go down by public transport. There is a bus number 101, which goes approximately once per half an hour and takes you from port to the Christ statue. Another option is to walk to the tram station and get the tram.
It is a nice walk also because of the cute center of the Almada district with small restaurants, coffee places, and shops. We’ve got our lunch in a restaurant called Estaminé 1955. It’s a Portuguese version of burgers, with their typical ingredients and bread types. The taste was pretty good, the price was ok for burgers – 7-10 euros with fries. The only one thing made us sad about this place. In the beginning, the waiter was very friendly, he brought us “welcome appetizer”, some deep-fried pastry with fish inside. Yet, later we found out, that this “welcome appetizer” was included in our bill. No words were said about it before. So we were naive enough to believe that it was a good gesture from the restaurant. But for good burgers, I can recommend trying this place.
4. Check the Christ Statue of Lisbon
I think that visiting the Christ Statue (or in Portuguese Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei) should be on the list of everybody, who is planning to visit Lisbon even just for one day. It is a symbol of the city. And, same as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, it protects and blesses the city. Actually, there are replicas of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in 18 countries, including Slovakia.
First, when you arrive at the Christ Statue, there is a big park. You can walk around and breathe fresh air for a while. As the closer you get to the statue, as better you get the view on the whole Lisbon. There is a terrace where you can get astonishing pictures. But also you can go all the way up to 82m to the viewpoint on the Christ statue. To get there you have to pay 5/6 euros, depending on the season.
If you always wanted to see the famous bridge of San Francisco but you are lazy to travel that far (in case you are European, like us), don’t worry! Lisbon has its own version of this bridge which looks like a copy of it. You can find the best view of the bridge from the Statue mentioned.
5. Come back to the city center of Lisbon and enjoy it fully
After long hiking and walking to the Christ Statue, we got back to another part of the city center of Lisbon. We didn’t have specific directions, so we just lost ourselves in the Alfama district. You can check Lisbon Cathedral there, see the famous 28 tram, a representation of Lisbon. Walk on the main square Praça do Comércio. Check out a few Mercados (or markets). In case you are hungry, I recommend diving into the Time Out market. It is a huge pavilion with a lot of small restaurants and cafes, where you can try some Portuguese food. Finally, climb to Castelo de S. Jorge castle to have a beautiful sunrise and finish the day with that.
How would you spend your one day in Lisbon? Write down in the comments about what we’ve forgotten!