Being the capital of the most western country of continental Europe, Lisbon has recently been on many travellers’ lips, rising from a hidden gem to one of the top city travel destinations across Europe in a flash. Having said so, I gotta admit that I was also completely smitten by this beautiful city and have decided to share all my highlights with you in this 3-day itinerary.
One promise beforehand: You will have a fantastic stay if you decide to go (which you absolutely should!).
Tight on cash and looking for a really good reason to go? Flights to Lisbon within Europe tend to become cheaper by the minute!
If you’re not tied to a specific time and able to avoid public and school holidays, I advise you to monitor prices for a bit before booking your flights. It’s an easy journey from Frankfurt (below 200 €), Frankfurt Hahn (below 100 €) or Munich (about 150 €) in Germany, or even better from Amsterdam (various options below 100 €) in the Netherlands.
So here goes my three-day itinerary where I aim to help you with planning your city trip and telling you about the must-do’s but also point out additional goodies as we go. If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments below!
I will start the itinerary with full days. If you happen to arrive with a half day left, feel free to adjust your schedule accordingly.
Day 1 – Tick Off Tram Alfama, Baixa And No. E28 From The List
Get your supply of city maps and infos at the tourist information at Praça do Comércio and use this world famous square as starting point for your Lisbon exploration tour. Today it’s all about the touristy sights and sounds!
Your day will be spend on the unique and antique Tram no. E28 all around Lisbon’s most famous neighbourhoods like Baixa, Alfama, Graça and Bairro Alto. A single ticket will cost you 2.85 € to be paid when you get on the tram or at the machine in advance.
However, I reckon you’d be better off buying an unlimited 24-hour public transport ticket for the tram, metro and bus. The ticket cost a bit over 6 € and can be bought at any metro station.
But back to tram no. E28. Hop on at the Praça do Martim Moniz which is just north from Baixa. Even though you could make it a round trip, hop off somewhere close to Castelo de Sao Jorge and go explore the castle and the surrounding garden, it’s beautiful. You’ll also be able to enjoy the panoramic views over Baixa which are absolutely fantastic.
Now that you’re already in the Alfama district, you might as well go ahead and check out the rest. It’s pretty easy actually: Just start walking and follow the tram rails downhill, stop at the viewpoint Miradouro de Santa Luzia and enjoy the view towards the river Tagus and the city.
Then go explore Lisbon’s main church Catedral Sé Patriarcal which is also the oldest one in the city (12th century) and well known among church lovers and sightseers. Also worth your visit: the magnificent Baroque styled Igreja Santo Antonio named after the patron saint of Portugal.
When you’re done soaking up Alfama’s rich history, walk along the maze of ancient buildings and tiny streets and listen to the melancholic sound of Fado – Portugal’s very own and unique music style.
But don’t let it weigh down your heart too much, move on to the heart of Lisbon: Baixa which was completely rebuilt after a heavy earthquake in 1755.
From the Praça do Comércio, walk on the gorgeous cobblestone street Rua Augusta through the Arco da Rua Augusta. Since 2013, you are even able to enjoy a fantastic 360° view over the whole city – entrance to the triumphal arch is about 2.5 €.
Afterwards, keep going until you reach the Elevator of Saint Justa, one of the most unique sights of the city. It’s a lift built in the 19th century which is nowadays wholly a tourist attraction due to the flat roofed viewing platform at the top. If you happen to stop by in the early evening, you’ll get to see most of the Baixa district, the Castel and the Catedral Sé Patriarcal illuminated by the slowly setting sun, later on in the dark, it will give you excellent views over Lisbon by night. It’s quite romantic actually.
What To Do At Night
Now guys, I reckon it’s time for freshening up before hitting somewhere to eat for dinner. I can totally recommend The Food Temple, a vegan and very unique restaurant in the hilly streets around Castelo de São Jorge. Make sure you reserve yourself a table in advance as it tends to get crowded, especially on weekends.
Afterwards go check out Rossio Square, officially named Praça Dom Pedro IV which serves as the main transportation hub for busses, trams and metros. It connects to Sintra, for example – a place I will come to a bit further down. As Baixa contains a huge variety of restaurants and bars, you should definitely taste the famous Ginjinha which is a Portuguese liqueur of sour cherries and oh so yummy!
Now, head on over to the famous Lisbon neighbourhood that turns the night into day: Bairro Alto (I call it the ultimate nightlife district). Walk the streets packed with cheerful party people, have a cocktail or two before hitting the clubs at “Pink Street”.
It sure is an experience you are not likely to forget anytime soon.
Day 2 – Belém District, Time Out Market And Rooftop Bars Are On Your List
On the banks of the Tagus River lies the well-known Belém district. Are you a sweet person when it comes to breakfast like I am? Then I recommend you take the tram E15 to the Belém district and buy your breakfast at Pastéis de Belèm.
In addition to the super yummy custard tarts you will find there, treat yourselves to a fresh coffee and enjoy your brekkie across the road right by the river, at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Belém Tower, built to defend the port of Lisbon in the 16th century.
Right next door is the Monumento aos Combatentes do Ultramar which was built in memory of the war veterans that were killed in the Overseas War from 1961 to 1974 – the name of each of these soldiers is engraved into the monument.
Walk along the riverbanks towards the Monument of Discoveries. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos with its unique exterior, a small built-in museum and a viewing platform is supposed to celebrates the Portuguese Age Of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries and demonstrates Portugal as an important power at the time.
There is a 3 € entrance fee for the platform. You will also be able to enjoy the magnificent view towards the Ponte 25 de Abril, the suspension bridge resembling the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge which goes across the Targus River on its narrowest spot.
Not so far away, another European Gothic styled UNESCO site is waiting for you: The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This monastery was once occupied by monks of the order of Saint Jerome and people like the conqueror Vasco da Gama as well as several Portuguese kings are entombed here.
Now, I’ve got another goodie for you: The Time Out Market, a gourmet food market which combines all the best food of the city under one roof. This huge hall is home to 24 restaurants, 8 bars, several shops and good music as well as some of the city’s best market vendors when it comes to fish, meat, fruit and flowers and can be found close to the river a bit west of the Praça do Comércio.
What To Do At Night
Alright guys. Have you heard of my fascination for rooftop bars? Well, I figured why not go rooftop hunting in Lisbon.
I can highly recommend the rooftop bar Park which is actually the transformed top floor of a car park in the Bairro Alto district with amazing views all over the city. Or go and check out either Hotel Mundial Rooftop Bar & Lounge or the Sky Bar of the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Hotel.
Another great option is TOPO rooftop bar and restaurant or the slightly expensive Terrace Bairro Alto. Whichever you choose splurge away on a yummy drink, light meals, great music and magnificent views. Enjoy!
Day 3 – Get Out And About To Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais
On your third day, you might feel like a change of scenery. Well, I have just the right plan for you. Rent a car or take a bus from Rossio Square and head up north to the charming fairytale town of Sintra. The Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais is classified a UNESCO cultural landscape heritage of mankind and will awe you with ist diversity of landscapes, plants and animals.
Also, the most western point of Europe is located in the area: Cabo da Roca. Oh, and let’s not forget its beautiful beaches, rich history and ancient castles which look like they could be a setting in a Disney movie.
What I think is a really cool way to go exploring in the area is a hop-on hop-off bus tour. For example, CityXplora offers two different routes, a long one (Red Route – 90 mins road time) and a shorter one (Blue Route – 45 mins overall on the road). You can get on at any bus stop you like and hop back on whenever you want between 9:30 am to 6 pm from July to September (9:30 am to 5 pm from October to June).
A 24-hour ticket for an adult is about 18 €. Check the detailed routes and bus stops here.
Alternatively, you can go exploring without a tour. Doing that, I advise you to not miss out on admiring the well Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio Nacional de Sintra and most definitely Palácio Nacional da Pena in the Sintra Mountains.
The latter is well-known for its yellow and red walls that can sometimes even be seen from Lisbon already. It’s part of the Pena park which spreads over 200 hectares of rocks, ferns, trees, plants and trails and is absolutely worth your time.
Opening hours need to be checked for all those sights, last admission to the Pena Park and Palace is around 6 pm at the moment and for prices, have a look at combined tickets otherwise it may get a bit expensive. For detailed prices and opening hours check here.
And one more thing for the rental car drivers among you: Watch out when driving up the serpentine roads as you wouldn’t want to end up crashing into a bus that’s coming speeding down those roads!
Where To Stay In Lisbon
Situated close to the city centre and easily reachable by metro, but also not more than a short walk from the airport, this lovely location is very modern inside with a beautiful old exterior. Wifi available throughout.
The biggest plus of this hotel is most definitely its location – it’s so close to Municipal Square, Feira das Almas, Rua Augusta and other main attractions of the city. Rooms are inexpensive but nevertheless clean and Wifi is available in all rooms and public areas.
Other Cool Spots To Explore Around Lisbon
Instead of day tripping to Sintra you could also go explore Cascais. It’s so beautiful and Portuguese people go there to get away from the hectic buzz of the city to breathe and relax. It’s a picturesque seaside town only 30 to 40 minutes from Lisbon by train which will fascinate you simply with its flair. Stroll along the boardwalk that connects Cascais with Estoril or go the other direction straight towards Hell’s Mouth.
About 1.5 km west of the town centre you will find Boca do Inferno. It’s a very unique (and free might I add) cliff formation where the waves have come crashing through for years and years and thereby, chiselled out a small cave. So sit down and enjoy the view!
You could also check out the Parque das Nações in the North-East of Lisbon to have a look around, visit the Lisbon Oceanarium and fly over the park in one of the cable cars.
More Info On Visiting Lisbon?
I agree, I’ve crammed in lots and lots of things to do and see in this buzzing city in only 3 short days. If you happen to be in the area longer and are still looking for ideas to fill your Portugal adventure, have a look at this awesome road trip itinerary for everything north of and including Lisbon.
Also, if you’re absolutely keen to travel to Portugal but you’re not sure if you can afford to visit at all, my budget guide to Portugal might come in handy for you.