36 hours in Lisbon: How to plan an unforgettable and amazing whistle-stop weekend break

Sunny, sophisticated and blessed with sea breezes, Lisbon has risen to the top of the city-break bucket list in recent years. The ancient city built on seven hills has seen much rejuvenation of late, and its pleasant climate and penchant for the good life make it the ideal spot for a quick trip. Here’s how to make the best of your break.


0900: Breakfast

Start your day at the superb Mercado da Ribeira in fashionable Cais do Sodré. The 1882-built market hall was given a new lease of life in 2014, when publishing brand Time Out opened a gourmet food hall inside. Wander the rows of fresh produce, before heading upstairs for a strong morning bica (Portuguese coffee) and pastry.

1000: Tram 28, Castelo de São Jorge and Alfama

Take a 10-minute stroll to pick up the vintage yellow Tram 28 towards Lisbon Cathedral. The church’s splendid Gothic cloisters are worth a 20-minute detour before the climb up to the 11th-century Castelo de São Jorge. A defining symbol of Lisbon, this imposing fortress dominates the area. Yes, it’s a bit of a walk to the top, but when you’re there, you’ll have some of the best views in the city over the Alfama and River Tagus.

1300: Lunch

After spending some time getting lost in the maze of streets around the castle, head to Baixa for lunch at Pinóquio, in the heart of the historic district. Set on Praça dos Restauradores, this renowned restaurant and brewery is a real treat away from the tourist cafes and bars. Fresh clams, grilled squid and Portuguese grouper attract hordes of locals to its tables – always a good sign – while the house special, Pica-pau steak, is served chopped and rare, in a buttery wine and garlic sauce.

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