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A Layover in Lisbon: The Best Things to Do in One Day

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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  • Post category:Europe / Guides

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Lisbon is such a big hub in Europe, and many find themselves with layovers here. We suggest grabbing a longer layover, so that you can truly enjoy a good day out in this beautiful city. Here were are going to let you know all of the amazing ways to spend a layover in Lisbon, and everything to know while traveling.


How Long Should a Layover Be in Lisbon to Be Able to Leave the Airport?

Honestly, anything over 5 hours is pretty sufficient to be able to leave the airport and come back. You will need to anticipate the time it takes to get out of the airport and giving yourself enough time before your next flight.


Customs is pretty hit or miss in Lisbon. I've been there times when I'm through in a minute, and others where it takes an entire hour to get out of the airport. Depending on how long it takes you to get out, will also determine the amount of things you'll be able to in the city before having to return.


You will need an hour or a little less before your next flight, and we suggest an hour 1/2 if it's outside the EU, so make sure to factor that beforehand and set yourself an exact time you'd like to be back by.

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What Do I Do With My Luggage on a Layover in Lisbon?

One thing that deters people from taking advantage of their layover in Lisbon is the fact that they have their carry on with them. 


Luckily, there is a place that you can store your luggage if you don't feel like carrying it around with you. Another good thing is that checked luggage always goes straight through to the destination, so it's one less thing to worry about.

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How Far is Lisbon From the Airport?

The great thing about having a layover in Lisbon is that the city really is so close! It only takes 10-15 minutes to get to the center, and there are plenty of ways to get there and back to the airport.

Lisbon airport to the city

It is just 10-15 minutes to the city from the airport, depending on the area.


Getting to the City From the Airport

There is a metro that you can take, taxis, and Ubers. To be safe with time we usually use Uber as it is the quickest, and usually only costs around 7-8 euros. If you plan on taking an Uber you will have to go to the departures parking lot of Terminal 1.


Make sure you are already there before ordering one, as drivers tend to hang out there and have a time limit. I've had a few times when it said the driver was 5 minutes away but they were actually already in the lot.  Once the driver even sped off to just avoid his ticket for being in the lot too long.

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Best Things to Do on a Layover in Lisbon

Now is the fun part! Having a layover in Lisbon can be overwhelming, as there are so many great places to check out! First we will tell you some of the best areas to explore in the city, and then give a few itineraries depending on how long your layover in Lisbon is.

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Belem

Belem is definitely the best area to visit on a layover in Lisbon for the first time tourist. This hot spot is home to some of the most stunning landmarks in the city, and is located on the water.

Belem Tower in Lisbon
world map in Lisbon
Belem, layover in Lisbon

Belem is a great area to spend your layover in Lisbon.


Even if you have just two or three hours in the city, you can enjoy all of the highlights of Belem. Some of the best things to visit are the Padrao dos descrubimientos (monument of the discoveries), Belem Tower, and the Monasaterio dos Jeronimos.. And the most important- try the famous 'pastel de nata' at Pasteis de Belem.


Cais do Sodre

Once Lisbon's most sketchy neighborhood, Cais do Sodre is now one of the trendiest. This area is full of trendy bars and restaurants, and is also home to the famous pink street. Cais do sodre is right on the water, and also is well connected to some of the other popular neighborhoods in Lisbon.


Pink Street in Lisbon

Head over to Elevador da Bica for a ride on the typical 19th yellow 19th century trams. Or you can check out the nearby Contemporary Art Museum, or the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos.  


Bairro Alto

This is one of our favorite neighborhoods to just chill out and enjoy the beauty of the city. Bairro Alto is full of steep streets that lead you to some of the city's most magnificent viewpoints! The most famous is Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, but there are tons of others in the area,

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Bairro Alto is also connected to the two funicular systems in the city, so there are plenty of yellow trams going up and down the streets. Take a ride or just admire them and take some photos. Either way, just ;let yourself get lost in the streets here, and make sure to keep your camera handy!

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara has some of the best views of Lisbon.


Alfama

Speaking of great views, Alfama is also home to some pretty epic viewpoints. Sight see at St. George's castle, enjoy the panorama at Miradouro de Santa Luzia, or have a glass of green wine on the terrace above Miradouro das Portas do Sol. 


The vibe of Alfama will make you want to stay for hours. but the location is perfect for seeing some of the other great neighborhoods nearby.

layover in Lisbon
green wine Santa Luzia in Lisbon

Having a glass of green wine at the rooftop next to Santa Luzia is a must.


Graca

Right behind Alfama, you'll find yet another neighborhood with stunning viewpoints scattered around. Miradoura de Graca and Miradouro da senhora do Monte are two of our favorites.


Baixa & Rossio

This is one of the most popular tourist areas of the city, and makes for the perfect spot to explore on your first layover in Lisbon. Baixa is home to the famous Praça do Comércio, the biggest and most vibrant square in Lisbon. Visit the Rossio train station, one of the most stunning terminals you will find, or take a ride up the Santa Justa Lift, a historic elevator that goes up to Carmo Square.

Praca do Comercio in Lisbon

Praca do Comercio is the most popular square in Lisbon.


Calvario

This area is great for a short layover in Lisbon, as it's good for a few hours, and not really well connected with many other areas to explore.


Calvario is home to the LX Factory, which has a colorful market area with hip bars, vibrant street art, and the most Instagrammable bookstore you'll ever see. Have a layover in Lisbon on a Sunday? Then you'll definitely want to head to the LxMarket for its vintage items.

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Different Ideas For a Layover in Lisbon

The most important thing to keep in mind for a layover in Lisbon is to see exactly what interests you. Choose your priority and then work your schedule around it. Here are some of our personal recommendations to optimize your time in the city,


5-7 Hour Layover in Lisbon

Here you will really only have a few hours to explore. We personally think with a layover this short you are best off heading to either Belem or the LX Factory. If you want to see more of the center you can start by heading to Baixa and hitting some of major landmarks in that area.

best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon

Getting pastel de nata is a must for a visit to Lisbon, and can be brought onto the plane without any issues.


7-12 Hour Layover in Lisbon

Having a 7-12 hour layover you definitely will have a little bit more time to relax and not rush around. With a layover of this length we think sticking to the central neighborhoods is best. This way you can see a great mix of history, views, and culinary experiences.


Layover in Lisbon
Monument of the discoveries in Lisbon

Monument of the Discoveries is a popular monument found right by the tower of Belem.

There are also tons of transportation options, so you can really have a lot of flexibility for starting your day and finishing it in different areas. We personally think that starting on one end and working your way through is the best. Just map out your favorite stops and factor them in the maximize your time.

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12-24 Hour Layover in Lisbon

With a half or full day in Lisbon you will be able to see so much! We definitely suggest getting a place to stay so that you can leave your belongings and really enjoy the city.


Our top suggestion is to spend half the day in Belem and the other half in the neighborhoods in the center. You can start walking from Cais so Sodre through Bairro Alto, and then to Baixa & Rosso. Continue to Alfama, and finish in Graca for a beautiful sunset at one of the viewpoints.

Museo de Lisboa Santo Antonio

This museum is a great place to stop while walking through the city center.


If you have a long layover in Lisbon you can also take advantage of one of the amazing day trips. Our two favorites are Cascais and Sintra.


Going Back to the Airport

Flying out of Lisbon is actually pretty seamless. We leave extra time just in case, but truthfully the process is super fast. There are plenty of options to get to the airport such as taxis, Ubers, buses, and metros throughout the city, so just check Google Maps and you'll be able to find the fastest option.


Being that you are already checked in and your luggage doesn't need to be rechecked, you just need to go through security. The airport in Lisbon actually prides themselves on getting everyone through with less than a 5 minute wait! 

lisbon airport

Despite customs sometimes being long on the way out, returning to the airport is a much faster process.


Once you get to your gate that is when they will check your documents such as Covid test, and the passenger locator form. After passing through you will then just sit in the small waiting area and be good to go for your flight.

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You are now ready for an awesome layover in Lisbon! Remember that layovers are only an inconvenience if you choose a short one. So when you're looking through flights grab that longer layover and discover all that Portugal's capital has to offer!


Have other layovers in the future? There are plenty of other popular layover destinations that you can make the most of. Some that we've done and wrote about are Zurich, Milan, and Madrid.


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