48 Hours in Lisbon

Palacio de Pena is a wildly colorful and richly patterned 19th century estate atop a steep hill offering sweeping 360 degree views of lush forest. © Dave E. Leiberman/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Dave E. Leiberman & Laini Miranda

Travel Features Syndicate,  goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is so much to do, see, and taste here, you should absolutely try to spend more than 48 hours in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital and one of the great European cities! That said, if you’re tight on time and just able to do a quick trip like we were, here are our recommendations for how to make the most of the destination!

Day 1

Morning: Head to Pasteis de Belem for breakfast. (open everyday 8am-11pm) Their “secret recipe” for their namesake pastries dates back to 1837 and it’s clear to see why they’ve been so famous for so long. There will probably be a line out the door, but it goes fast. And it’s absolutely worth it.

The namesake pastries served at the charming Pasteis de Belem is a secret recipe dating back to 1837 © Dave E. Leiberman/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Afternoon: Take a train, bus, or drive to the magical town of Sintra (http://www.sintra-portugal.com/guides/Lisbon-to-Sintra.html). Parking is tough on weekends, but driving yourself is doable on weekdays during non-peak months. Once in Sintra, take a tuk tuk or bus (tuk tuk is more scenic, quicker, and about 7 Euros; bus is hop-on, hop-off and circles between Sintra, Pena Palace and Moorish Castle, 5 Euros/person. You can also hike up if you’re okay with hills.)

Pena Palace, a magnificent example of Portuguese 19th century Romanticism. © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

An instagrammer’s dream, Palacio de Pena is a wildly colorful and richly patterned 19th century estate atop a steep hill offering sweeping 360 degree views of lush forest. It exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture with vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues. The interior has been restored to reflect the decor of 1910, when the Portuguese nobility fled the country to escape the revolution.

Outside the Palace you have several kilometers of park with lakes, greenhouses, and beautiful walking trails with ornate features and stunning views. Allow at least 2-3 hours to walk around the palace and park grounds, then go to Castillo de los Moros if you have time (we didn’t, but wished we had), or take a tuk tuk down to the village of Sintra and shop your way through the old narrow streets. The tuk tuk down the mountain was a fun adventure in itself that we’d highly recommend, even if you have a bus ticket. Just wear your seatbelt!

Entrance fee into the Pena Palace is €14.00/€12.50/€12.50/€49.00 (adult/child/senior/family); a cheaper ticket which provides access to the park and palace terraces (but not the state rooms) costs €7.50/€6.50/€6.50/€26.00 (adult/child/senior/family). This park/terrace ticket allows visitors to explore the exterior of the palace and is ideal for visitors who have little interest in the history or are limited for time. Further information regarding opening times and entrance fees can be consulted at the Parques de Sintra website: https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/plan-your-visit-en/opening-times-and-prices/

Return just in time for dinner in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto or Chiado neighborhoods. Bairro Alto felt a bit more touristy by day and younger/louder by night than its slightly classier next-door neighbor, the Chiado.

Visit a wine bar in the Chiado or the Bairro Alto for a more college-party-on-the-streets feel. Tasca Do Chico in Bairro Alto is a great little gem that has live fado music until 1am.

Enjoy dinner and nightlife in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto or Chiado neighborhoods. © Dave E. Leiberman/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Day 2:

Breakfast in Largo do Carmo or the nearby Faca & Garfo.

Walk around the old streets of Bairro Alto and Chiado.

Head to the Mercado de Ribeira’s TimeOut Market to sample dishes from some of the city’s best chefs under one roof. Try Sea Me for inventive seafood from one of Lisbon’s famed restaurants, Pap’Açorda upstairs for a great view and excellent chocolate mousse, or any of the 40+ vendors lining the perimeter of the sprawling 2-floor historic Market. 

After lunch, grab a private tuk tuk to see the highlights of the city, ending up in the Alfama. Be careful which tuk tuk you hail, as some local drivers will bargain with you and charge under $15 for a streamlined guided tour, while others want to charge over $100 for a full sight-seeing route. 

Evening in Lisbon © Dave E. Leiberman/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Stop off at one of many wine bars in this area and catch live fado, or try the local ginjinha liquor.

Walk to El Chapito to see some local artisan crafts and enjoy dinner in their upstairs dining room with an epic view of the city. Catch a live fado show at their downstairs bar, or wine by the glass at Tágide, just a bit further up the hill with similarly epic views, open till midnight. 


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