For a weekend trip, a whole week or a stop on your trip through Portugal: you should definitely take at least one day to get lost in vibrant Lisbon. See how you can easliy pass by a one day in Lisbon and get a feeling for Portugal’s capital by reading our ideas on a perfect day there. And I included some advice for everyone travelling in a van as well 😉
One day in Lisbon
After a nice breakfast (maybe low budget in the van) you can start your day by taking the tram line 28 which is known to be the tram for tourists, so better hop on before 11 or even earlier if it’s high season for camera clicking tourists. The tram costs less than 3€ per person and starts in Campo Ourique (Prazeres) and ends in Martim Moniz, but you can check all the stops right here, in both directions. It runs every 9 to 15 minutes, so if the first one is too crowded you can just wait for the next one. I suggest you hop on at the stop in front of the Basilica da Estrela which you can also visit. But first, take a morning stroll through the Jardim da Estrela opposite of the church (which also has public toilets for the true vanlifers) and breathe in some green air and calmness before you jump into wild Lisbon.
The ride itself is an adventure because it seems to be a miracle that you don’t hit any walls or cars in the small(est) alleys of the city. Tram 28 takes you to many of the sights of the city, but I would recommend anjoying the ride until the last stop first to get a first impression of Lisbon’s life. If you are in the city on a Tuesday or Saturday, get out of the tram in Alfama to visit the Flea Market at Mercado de Santa Clara (GPS 38.715532, -9.125618) and have a coffee in the sun in one of the cafés right next to it before you get lost in the beautiful small alleys of Alfama. This is the oldest part of Lisbon and to me it felt like the heart of the city, where it all started, where fhishermen biult there houses hundreds of years ago – without planning any streets or dead ends. Just take your time and follow your gut, go left, go right, turn around, breathe in the alleys and street art of Alfama, maybe stop for a drink or snack when passing by a café.
Refueled and ready for some tourist (and church) action you can visit Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora and make your way to the Igreja do Menino de Deus which is right next to the Castelo de Sao Jorge. I personally skipped the 8,50€ and found an alternative point (GPS 38.712665, -9.131606) which is almost as high as the Castelo but much less crowded and also for free 😉 It is a playground which is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm (winter time) or 7pm (summer time) and is a little oasis to flee from the tourists you have met already. It gives you a beautiful view over the city and the harbour.
From there you can go to another view point (GPS 38.712167, -9.135249) before you dive into the shopping streets of the city. Go inside the squared streets to find Rua Augusta and have a first glimpse at the arch at the end of the street and the Praca do Comércio. Just follow that road and you will end up at the square where you can stop for another coffee or meal (which will be a bit more expensive because you pay for this view). After that turn left at the arch into Rua do Arsenal, passing by the City Hall you should head upwards a bit. (By now you should have noticed that all people in Lisbon should have amazing butts because of all the stairs the would be using everyday going through the city.)
Sundown in Lisbon
The perfect ending for one day in Lisbon is the Park Rooftop Bar (GPS 38.711196, -9.147611) where you should be one or two hours before sunset. We arrived 30 minutes before and the place was already crowded… Take the stairs or the elevator to level 5 of the park house and enter into the little jungle upon the roof, take a Sagres or Superbock and slowly digest that beautiful day in Lisbon with the perfect view over its gorgeous red roofs, the bridges and the harbour.
If yo have more than one day in Lisbon, make sure to check out LX Factory (GPS 38.702502, -9.178714), an artist area to buy some local goods of eco friendly designers, before you leave the city again.
Parking your van in Lisbon
Parking at the riverfront near the district of Alcantara is for free in many places. Check the app park4night, there are more than 10 parking lots south of the city center. We can recommend a spot where we paid 5€ for 24 hours and felt very safe parking besides house boats which were guarded 24/7. You can find it with GPS 38.702675, -9.166732, but there are no public toilets or whatsoever nearby. So you should be ready for the real van life.