The Best Guide to Lisbon

Why visit? > 3 Days > 1 Week > Sights & Activities > Day trips > Beaches > Alfama > Belem > Baixa > Expo Park > Site Map

Visiting Lisbon on a Cruise Ship and 1 Day Itinerary and Tour

Lisbon is a wonderful cruise ship destination and will be a highlight of any voyage. The city lines the banks of Tejo Estuary and is brimming with sights, history and culture, and there is simply too much to see in one short trip. The cruise ships offer convenient but overpriced coach tours, and it is often better to explore Lisbon independently. This guide will provide an introduction of Lisbon for cruise ship passengers and will detail suitable 1-day itineraries along with tourist advice.

cruise ship lisbon

The grand entrance to Lisbon, passing beneath the suspension bridge

Why Explore Lisbon Independently from the Cruise Ship Tours?

Taking an organised tour from the cruise ship is often the simplest option, but there are benefits of exploring Lisbon independently:

• Lisbon is easy to explore; the city is very safe and English is widely spoken by all.

• The main (Santa Apolónia) and new ferry terminals are on the edge of Alfama district and is within walking distance of many of the historic sights of the city.

• Lisbon is an inexpensive destination; taxis, public transport and food will be much cheaper than the overpriced cruise ship tours.

• Lisbon has a compact historic centre (the Baixa and Alfama districts) and can be easily explored on foot.

• Visiting independently can avoid the crowds of coach tourists, who just stick to the same routes.

• A taxi ride, tuk-tuk tour, or restaurant meal, befits the local economy, and not the multi-national cruise companies who earn huge commissions for their tours.

cruise ship lisbon

A cruise ship moored close to Alfama

Our Suggested 1 Day Tour Routes of Lisbon

The following are suggested 1-day itineraries for Lisbon and the surrounding region, which are ideal for independent cruise ship passengers. These tour routes are also suitable for passengers who have longer airport stop-overs.

Please note: these tours are provided for guidance only, and were correct at the time of writing. For the routes which travel a distance from the cruise ship terminal always allow sufficient time to travel back as Lisbon traffic can horrendous.

Disney Magic lisbon

The Disney Magic with the Praca Commercial and Alfama district in the background

Where will my cruise ship moor in Lisbon?

Presently there are two main cruise ship hubs; Alcântara and Santa Apolónia, with third new terminal being constructed. Each cruise hub has multiple docks. The Alcântara docks are:

• Terminal de Cruzeiros Alcântara (TPA)

• Cais da Rocha Conde de Obidos (TPR)

The Santa Apolónia docks are:

• Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolónia (TPSA),

• Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolónia Montante (TPSAM),

• Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolónia Jusante (TPSAJ)

• Cais do Jardim do Tabaco (JTab)

Alcântara is to the west of central Lisbon and is under the shadow of the Lisbon suspension bridge, the GPS coordinated are 38.70126, -9.16175. Santa Apolónia is on the edge of the Alfama district and is a better location for exploring Lisbon, its GPS coordinates are 38.712574, -9.122639.

The impressive new cruise terminal being constructed (due to be opened Autumn 2017) is next to the Santa Apolónia docks, but it is not clear if this will replace the other two or simple add more capacity. The GPS coordinates of the new terminal are 38.70940, -9.12644, and should be considered the same as being moored at Santa Apolónia.

How do I find out where I’m going to be moored in Lisbon?

This should be provided by your cruise company but LCT (Lisbon Cruise Terminals) provides details of upcoming arrivals on their website:

(link opens new tab)

Porto de Lisboa (Lisbon port authority) also provide a list of all ships expected within the docks: Details of all boats currently moored can be found here:

(link opens new tab)

Onward Travel From the Cruise Terminals

Santa Apolónia: This terminal is next to the Santa Apolónia metro station which is on the blue metro line. The location of the terminal is close to one of the most interesting districts of Lisbon (Alfama) and is best to just walk. If your wanting to explore Belem catch the number 728 bus heading to Restelo from the bus stop at Mercadorias (GPS 38.70958, -9.12903) or Alfândega (GPS: 38.71671, -9.11913)

Alcântara: Alcântara cruise terminal is further from the historic centre of Lisbon but is again very easy to reach via public transport. To head to Baixa/Alfama catch the 728 bus heading to Avenida dos Descobrimentos from the Alcântara Mar bus stop (GPS: 38.70283, -9.17327). For the Belem district cross the road and catch the 728 heading to Restelo. There is a minor train station at Alcantara-Mar but with only a couple of departures per hour, it is better to catch the bus. Alcântara is close to LxFactory, the artisan centre of Lisbon filled with independent galleries, local artists and trendy eateries, which have taken over a disused factory.

Other Activities to Consider while in Lisbon

Tuk-Tuk Tours

Over the last couple of years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of gimmicky tours, and the main culprit are the tuk-tuks. These three wheeled motorised contraptions can navigate through the narrow streets of Lisbon and weave through the heavy traffic. Tourist love them, locals despise them, due to the noise, pollution and erratic driving. Typical prices are E50 per hour for up to three passengers, larger Tuk-Tuks will charge more, along with longer routes. There are no set prices so be prepared to haggle a little, and a Tuk-Tuk from the cruise ship terminal will charge more. Also, expect to pay a decent tip at the end.

Tuk-Tuk tour lisbon

There's so many new gimmicky ways to explore Lisbon.....


Lisbon is famed for its yellow trams, and the number 28 is the best route, which passes through Alfama and Baixa. Unfortunately, they are always crowded and plagued by pickpockets, for a guide please click here. A better option for tourist limited by time is to join the tourist trams, which depart from Praça do Comércio. Hop on hop of tourist tram (€12 per person)

Another option is to combine the tram with boat ride (€30 per person)

tram  lisbon

Open Air Tour buses

There are three tour bus companies which have open air buses touring Lisbon. All three companies have similar routes and similar prices. The buses are the best way to see the most of Lisbon, but their commentaries are very basic. Praca da Figueira is the starting location to join the Carris (yellow bus) tours and the 24-hour ticket costs €16 per person

The following section explains, in detail the Full Tour of Lisbon

Lisbon 1 Day Itinerary - Morning

The first section of the Lisbon 1 day itinerary begins in the Baixa district and walks to the Alfama district. Baixa was completely re-built after the devastating 1755 earthquake and was the first example of a grid layout. Baixa has broad avenues connecting grand plazas.

Praca Comercio in Baixa

The magnificent Praça do Comércio in Baixa

Alfama is the oldest section of Lisbon, with narrow streets leading from the Rio Tejo up the hill to the castle. Alfama was traditional the poorest neighbourhood, home to sailors and dock workers and this poverty was the inspiration for Fado music, which is sung in many bars in the area. Sight of Baixa:

  • Rossio the central plaza of Lisbon.

  • Elevador de Santa Justa transports visitors up a steep hill and is a charming iron structure designed by Eiffel apprentice.

  • A glass of Ginjinha, a sweet alcoholic drink.

  • Praça do Comércio is the grandest of Lisbon's plazas, it was here that cargo from foreign colonies was traded.

view over Lisbon

The view over Lisbon from the castle

Sights of Alfama include:

  • Lisbon castle has an important history for early Portugal and the battlements offer panoramic views over central Lisbon.

  • The Se Cathedral is the mighty and imposing cathedral of Lisbon.

  • Igreja Santo Antonio was constructed on the birth place of saint Anthony.

  • The delightful tram 28 that travels through Baixa and Alfama and is a pleasant way to view the districts.

  • Saint Luzia View point has great views over Alfama and is a good place to drink a coffee.

Afternoon of Lisbon 1 Day Itinerary and Tour

The afternoon of the Lisbon 1 day itinerary is spent in the Belem district, which is situated to the west of Lisbon. Belem is a pretty district of open grand monuments and carefully maintain parks that sits along the banks of the Rio Tejo.

Lisbon suspension bridge

Lisbon suspension bridge close to Belem

The region is historically important to Portugal as it was from the ancient harbours of Belem that the 14th century voyages of discovery departed from. Later, during the 15th and 16th century the taxes from colonial trade funded the construction of many of the extravagant buildings found in the district, which include the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.

Belem lisbon

The Padrão dos Descobrimentos in Belem

Visitors travel to Belem using the number 15 tram which departs from Praça do Comércio. Sights of Belem

  • The Torre de Belem is a little fort which once guarded the entrance to the Rio Tejo.

  • The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a grand monastery that was funded by taxes levied on Portuguese trade.

  • The Padrão dos Descobrimentos was the centre piece for the 1940 world exposition.

  • The CCB house the best free museum in Lisbon, the Berardo Museum.

  • No visit to Belem is complete without eating a Pastel de Nata in the Casa Pasteis De Belem, the original home of the cake.

Belem lisbon

Belem lies on the banks of the River Tagus

This 1 day holiday tour of Lisbon covers many of the major tourist sights and areas of the capital but there is much more to see. Lisbon has great nightlife which can not be experienced by such a short visit. It is our suggestion that most visits are 3 days and this can be easily expended to 5 days with day trips to Sintra and Cascais.

uk - pt es it de fr

The Best Guide to Lisbon