Although when you think Portugal you may be thinking of the Algarve and the southern coast, the capital of Portugal has so much to offer. There’s so much culture, art, and food to indulge in that you could fill three whole days in Lisbon easily! So here is the Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary for Lisbon, featuring the best of the city.
Bairro Alto is the central district of Lisbon and also one of the prettiest districts. The buildings are all painted in delightful pastels and trams run up and down the streets. Just strolling through the neighborhood is a pleasure but I recommend going on Santa Justa Lift to see an even better view. If you want breakfast, Praca dos Restauradores is a good place to start. As the name implies, it is full of amazing restaurants!
Praça do Comercio
Located right by the Atlantic Ocean, Praca do Comercio is surrounded by little cafes and restaurants. Marking the entrance to the plaza is a gorgeous triumphal arch that you can climb up for nice views, and in the middle of the plaza stands a statue of King Jose I. By the ocean there are usually loads of tourists milling about in the waves and a couple of street performers too. It’s a great place to relax.
The oldest church in the city, whats worthy to note about this cathedral is the fact that, due to many earthquakes, it’s been rebuilt many different times. As a result, it is now a mix of many different architectural styles.
São Jorge Castle
This moorish castle was built at the top of a hill overlooking Lisbon, which makes it a great place to get your history fix and a phenomenal view!
Stroll through Alfama
Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, and in my opinion, the prettiest. It hosts what is apparently the narrowest street in all of Europe (I can believe it, it’s perhaps a foot wide), gorgeous winding alleyways, and lots of history. For the best view over Alfama, I’d suggest Portas do Sol, it’s where you’ll get that postcard-perfect snap.
While you’re in Alfama, be sure to sip some Ginja, a Portuguese cherry liquor. We sipped ours from chocolate shot glasses, and both the Ginja and the glasses were delicious!
Watch the sunset at Miradouro da Graca
Portas do Sol and the Sao Jorge Castle may have great views but I think the best view of all of Lisbon is at Miradouro da Graca. From here, you can see the red rooves of Alfama, the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, and the Sao Jorge Castle hill. It’s a fantastic place to watch the sunset from.
Start out the day in the Belem area of Lisbon. This area is significant because it’s where Portuguese explorers set off from on their worldwide expeditions back in the Age of Exploration. The Belem Tower is a fortified tower and a monument to the Age of Exploration, as well as a UNESCO Heritage Site!
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
This is another monument located very close to Belem Tower. It was created in 1940 for the Portuguese World Fair, and represents a romanticized version of the Age of Exploration. You can buy a ticket to climb to the top for views over the entire Belem area.
The Jeronimos Monastery is the former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome and is right next to the Padrao dos Descobrimentos. It has since been secularized and is a great example of the Manueline style of architecture. Don’t miss the gardens right in front of it, as that’s just as beautiful as the monastery itself.
For a more trendy side of Lisbon stop over at the LX Factory. This “factory” houses artsy shops and unique restaurants, as well as a very instagrammable library.
Cristo Do Rei Statue
Much like the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio, the Cristo Do Rei statue looms over Lisbon. In fact, this statue was inspired by Christ the Redeemer!
Walk the Boardwalk
If you head to the ocean right by the Praca do Comercio and walk toward the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge while sticking to the coast, you’ll happen upon a cute oceanside marketplace with tons of great food and vendors selling products. It’s a wonderful place to hang out on a sunny day.
Head over to the Pink Street (aka Rua Nova do Carvalho) during the day and you’ll find a simple and quiet instagram snap. Head over at night and the place is totally transformed. Hordes of tourists and locals flock their for the nightlife, so many in fact that the pink is completely covered. I recommend visiting during both times for the full experience!
Day Trip to Sintra
Sintra was a longtime royal sanctuary, as a result, there are a multitude of castles built there that make for good viewing. One of the main tourist attractions, Pena Palace, is a whimsical color-blocked palace distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elegant tilework. But there’s much more to see in Sintra, such as Quinta da Regaleira (which has an inverted tower inside), Castle of the Moors, Palace of Sintra, and Palace of Queluz.
Day Trip to Cascais
While I never went to Sintra, I did make it to Cascais, a delightful seaside town turned tourist attraction. It’s only 45 minutes away from Lisbon by train and is a worthwhile day trip. The houses are beautiful and so are the many many beaches. For more about Cascais, check out my other post, 20 Photos That Will Inspire You to Visit Cascais.
Take a Trolley
The trolley system in Lisbon is quite reminiscent of the trolleys in San Francisco. Taking one may not be the quickest way of getting around, but it sure is the most interesting!
Ride a Tuk-tuk
You’ll see loads of tuk-tuk operators around, just waiting for unsuspecting tourists to rip off. However, if you haggle with them, you can actually end up getting a great price for transportation! It’s also an experience on it’s own, and some tuk-tuks are quite fashionably decorated as well.
Lisbon is a very walkable city – most of the locations I’ve listed in this guide are within walking distance of each other, besides Belem, which you should take a tram to.
This four-star hotel is gorgeous, there’s no other way to put it. The design is spectacular, doors simply blend into the walls of the hallways, and mirrors line the rooms. This hotel also features a lovely pool along with locker rooms and an area beside to sunbathe, and a gym. What’s nice is that it’s located in the gorgeous Bairro Alto district and is conveniently situated next to a bunch of restaurants. In fact, the hotel lobby itself is connected to a restaurant that you can eat at.
For those of you on a budget, I highly recommend the Alfama Patio Hostel! Named for the super cute patio, it also has a really relaxing outdoor common area with tables, beanbag chairs, and hammocks; free wi-fi; and really cool looking beds. Not only that but if you stay at this hostel you will also have access to the two other hostels in Lisbon that are a part of this company! They host plenty of activities and tours at all three hostels and participating in these activities is a great way to make friends.
I know that was a lot of info, so here’s a map of the itinerary for you!
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Have you ever been to Lisbon? What did you do there? How many days did you stay? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!