3 days in Lisbon is best spent not collecting one major sight after another. Instead, we found exploring local neighbourhoods is what makes Lisbon such a compelling and beguiling city.


Lisbon doesn’t have the big sights of other European capitals. It’s monasteries, convents and churches are impressive and its art galleries illuminating. But this city is so much more than the sum of its parts.

What beguiles most are the windy lanes climbing up and down narrow streets. The tiny bars serving scrumptious wine and tapas. And the sound of live music spilling through open doorways and cracked windows. Exploring the local neighbourhoods and their people is the real reason to visit Lisbon.

This 3 days in Lisbon itinerary aims to bring you the best of the city of 7 hills; the perfect amount of time to spend here. However, if you can squeeze in one more day, add a day trip from Lisbon to the fairy-tale palaces of Sintra and your journey will be complete.


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3 DAYS IN LISBON ITINERARY OVERVIEW

DAY 1 AM / Exploring Castelo’s magnificent castle & churches

DAY 1 PM / Pottering the streets of Alfama before sampling the magic of fado

DAY 2 AM / Peering at Jerónimo’s Monastery & Museu Coleção Berardo

DAY 2 PM / Strolling Belém’s seafront & LX Factory’s quirky art and stores

DAY 3 AM / Riding rickety Tram 28 to the narrow lanes of Santa Catarina & Bairro Alto

DAY 3 PM / Perusing the squares of Baixa & Chiado’s Convento do Carmo


WHY GO TO LISBON?

Drinking in tiny bars, eating tasty tapas and sampling famous pastries

Riding rickety trams and creaking funiculars through narrow lanes

Being bewitched by the wistful warbling of fado

Exploring the many magnificent monasteries, convents and churches

Discovering everything from street art to modern masterpieces

3 days in Lisbon itinerary: A city much greater than the sum of its parts

DAY 1 AM / EXPLORING CASTELO’S MAGNIFICENT CASTLE & CHURCHES

Start your 3 days in Lisbon at São Jorge Castle. It was once a Moorish castle, but little remains and most has been rebuilt over the years. The small museum needs a bit of work but the views over the city from the rambling walls are excellent.

Grab a quality coffee at Copenhagen Coffee Lab and Bakery, before entering the Church of São Vicente de Fora. The church itself is decent but next door is the much more impressive monastery and cloisters. Blue tiles, protected by vaulted ceilings, shimmer on the white walls and the atmospheric side chapels have tombs adorned with skulls with a cloaked statue standing guard.

Next head to Graca’s Campo de Santa Clara, where at the weekend, a massive flea market covers the streets. It sells everything you will never need: old rotary phones, broken mannequins and pictures of someone else’s grandma. Grab lunch at one of the tables overlooking the market (or on a weekday one tucked into the side streets).


Castelo de São Jorge / 9:00 – 18:00 Nov – Feb; 9:00 – 21:00 Mar – Oct | Price: €10 per person | LocationR. de Santa Cruz do Castelo

Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora / Tue – Sun 10.00 – 17:00 Nov – Mar; 10:00 – 18:00 Apr – Oct | Price: €5 per person | LocationLargo de São Vicente

DAY 1 PM / POTTERING THE STREETS OF ALFAMA BEFORE SAMPLING THE MAGIC OF FADO

In the afternoon, enter the striking baroque National Palace. Originally built as a church it now houses monuments to the great and the good of Portuguese history. The entrance ticket allows access to the roof (offering excellent views of the city) and to the upper terraces, from which the magnificent marble hall and domed ceiling are best viewed.

Next stroll the tightly packed twisty streets of Alfama. Head passed cute stores and tiny bars to Miradouro das Portas do Sol observation deck for more views. A little further along, check out the rather dilapidated remains of a Roman Theatre, before dropping down the hill to the castellated fortress that is Lisbon Cathedral. Finally, leave Alfama for Praça Comércio. The arcades and statues of this grand square are the iconic image of Lisbon.

In the evening head to Bairro Alto. Grab a drink on the steps at Meson Andaluz. Choose from the daily changing menu of local dishes at tiny but charming Taberna da Rua das Flores. And then set out to discover the music that often spills into these tiny streets.

Tasca Do Chico offers an intimate great value fado experience. One block north, cool jazz drifts out of Páginas Tanta. At Portas Largas a mixed young crowd can be found enjoying live pop music. If you can’t decide, just go to all three. There’s no entrance charge and the drinks are cheap.


Panteão Nacional / Tue-Sun 10.00 – 17:00 Nov – Mar; 10:00 – 18:00 Apr-Oct | Price: €4 per person | LocationCampo de Santa Clara 

Lisbon Cathedral / 7:00 – 19:00 main church; 10:00 – 17:00 apse & treasury (closed Sundays). Cloisters were being renovated at the time of writing | Price: Church free but apse and treasury €1.50 per person | LocationLargo da Sé

DAY 2 AM / PEERING AT JERÓNIMO’S MONASTERY & MODERN ART AT MUSEU COLEÇÃO BERARDO

Take tram 15 to Belém and begin the second day of your 3 days in Lisbon itinerary with coffee and pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart) at Antiga Confeitara de Belém. Yes it has become a large tourist institution, but the pastel de nata is still the best in Lisbon.

After breakfast head to Jerónimo’s church and monastery. The remarkable vaulted ceiling of the church is held aloft by intricately carved stone pillars, illuminated by beams of light cascading through colourful stain glass windows. Below is the tomb of Vasco de Gama. The first person to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, he opened the sea lanes to India and allowed Portugal to build an empire. The church is free but make sure you pay to go in the monastery. The cloisters are magnificent and the view of the church from the upper choir is not to be missed.

End the morning at Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon’s best modern art offering. The permanent collection is well labelled and offers a history lesson in the development of modern art. The temporary exhibitions have an excellent reputation – one of our top moments in Lisbon.


Jerónimo’s Monastery / 10.00 – 17:00 Oct-May; 10:00 – 18:00 May-Sep | Price: €10 per person. Tickets are purchased from machines at the entrance to the archaeological museum next door | LocationPraça do Império

Museu Coleção Berardo / 10.00 – 19:00 | Price: €5 per person covering both permanent and temporary exhibitions (free on Saturday) | LocationPraça do Império

DAY 2 PM / STROLLING BELÉM’S SEAFRONT & LX FACTORY’S QUIRKY ART AND STORES

Cross the street and peer up at the tower of Belém. Skip the queue up and stroll along the seafront to find a spot for lunch. After recharging, pass by Padrão dos Descobrimentos and get back on tram 15.

Head toward the city but before you get there, jump off at LX factory. LX factory is an old textile factory that has been converted into a modern and creative space. Excellent street art adorns the walls, cute shops sell quirky goods, galleries warm the soul and silky smooth coffee warms the body.

Hopping back on tram 15, spend the evening in the quaint neighbourhood of Santa Catarina which sits atop a hill. A drink at Noobai Café offers views over the water. Pharmacy combines tasty sharing plates with a cool atmosphere. It’s a steep walk up the hill or better, a fun ride on the Elevador da Bica.


LX Factory / Hours vary for each store, check their website | Location: R. Rodrigues de Faria 103 

DAY 3 AM / RIDING RICKETY TRAM 28 TO THE NARROW LANES OF SANTA CATARINA & BARRIO ALTO

The last day of your 3 day Lisbon itinerary explores the central neighbourhoods. Get an early start (to avoid the queues) and head to Largo Martim Moniz to board Tram 28. There are a number of trams that run around Lisbon, but this is the most spectacular as it twists and turns and grumbles and growls along the hilliest narrowest lanes. The tram loops around Alfama, across the centre of town and back up into Chiado.

Jump off at São Bento and enjoy the best coffee in the city at the Mill, before pottering around the undulating streets of Santa Catarina. Next head east to the shops around Praça Luis de Camōes and then north into the tightly packed narrow lanes of Bairro Alto.

Check out the various new concept stores around Praça de Principe Real before taking lunch at A Cevicheria. Sit at the counter, under a giant octopus, and admire the chef preparing the most beautiful dishes of fresh fish in this excellent restaurant.

DAY 3 PM / PERUSING THE SQUARES OF BAIXA & CHIADO’S CONVENTO DO CARMO

After lunch check out the view at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcãntara, probably the finest in the city. If your legs are weary take a ride down on the Elevador da Gloria, but it’s better to walk and gaze at the street art decorating all the walls.

You now find yourself in Rossi and Baixa. Newer areas built after the earthquake of 1755. Explore the squares and statues making sure you call in at Igreja de São Domingos. This atmospheric church suffered damage during the earthquake and then was burnt down in 1959. The roof was destroyed and has been rebuilt but the walls bear the scars of both events.

Skip the long queues and only average views of Elevador de Santa Justa and take the free supermarket lift up to Rua Garrett. Potter the shops before visiting Convento do Carmo. This convent was never finished and the towering arches reach elegantly up into blue skies. The chapel at the back contains a strange mix of fascinating artefacts: tombs of the famous, a 2nd-century Egyptian sarcophagus and most interestingly, two mummies of Peruvian children.

For the final evening of your 3 days in Lisbon itinerary, grab dinner at Artis Bar in Bairro Alto. It has a great local wine bar atmosphere and tasty dishes at decent prices. It’s also perfectly positioned for people spilling into the streets as music wafts in the air.

If Lisbon isn’t enough for you (and it shouldn’t be) read this 10-day Portugal road trip for inspiration and advice.


Convento do Carmo / Mon – Sat; 10.00 – 18:00 Jun – Sep; 10:00 – 19:00 Jun – Sep | Price: €4 per person | LocationLargo do Carmo

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO HELP PLAN YOUR OWN 3 DAYS IN LISBON ITINERARY

We believe that a little pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for in a destination, will help make your travels far more successful. Here’s some further information we think you might need to plan your own 3 days in Lisbon itinerary.

GETTING TO LISBON

Most international flights land at Lisbon Portela Airport. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride to the centre of Lisbon (costing €15 via standard metered taxis) or a simple metro journey.

CHECK FLIGHTS

GETTING AROUND LISBON

Lisbon has a comprehensive public transport network. Trams, funiculars, buses and metros take you up and down the hills and around the city. The Viagem card cost 50 cents and can be charged with individual tickets or an all-day card (costing €6.40 per day for all forms of public transport across the city). Cards can be purchased and charged at metro stations or small stores displaying the Viagem sign. You can find the metro map here and the funicular map here.

But by far the best way to get about the city is to walk. The hills make it hard work at times, but the tight laneways and myriad of views are extremely rewarding, Our 3 days in Lisbon itinerary attempts to stroll the best parts of the city without doing too much walking on any one day. You can find all the places we visited on the map below, colour coded by day 1, day 2 and day 3.

BEST TIME TO GO TO LISBON

The best time to visit Lisbon is during the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to October. In summer it can be hot and busy with queues long. In winter it can be wet and windy, although it is rarely uncomfortably cold, and if you get blue skies, it can be a fine time to visit with fewer visitors and easy access to the sights

COSTS OF OUR 3 DAYS IN LISBON ITINERARY

The total cost of our 3 days in Lisbon Itinerary, for two people (excluding international flights), was €600. With Jan 2019 exchange rates of 0.9 British pound to the EUR and US dollar 1.15 to the EUR this equates to:

4 day Cappadocia Itinerary
US $690
4 day Cappadocia Itinerary
GBP £540
4 day Cappadocia Itinerary
EUR €600

Lisbon is not a particularly expensive destination and costs could be cut further by staying in cheaper accommodation or eating more cheaply in the evenings.

BOOKING TIPS FOR YOUR 3 DAYS IN LISBON ITINERARY

Stay in Santa Catarina or Chiado for a cool vibe amongst picturesque narrow laneways. A wide range of good cafes, bars, restaurants and evening activities are on your doorstep. And many of the best sights are either nearby or a quick tram or metro ride away.

Booking.com often has excellent deals on some of the best hotels in town but as ever when visiting a city for a few days we plump for Airbnb. You don’t need to be locked into hotel breakfast with so many great cafes to road test.

BOOK YOUR STAY

ATTRACTIONS IN LISBON

Most attractions in Lisbon don’t require pre-booking. But, if you’re visiting during peak times, you may want to book ahead to beat the queue. Here are a couple of suggestions for attractions to book in advance.

Lisbon Card / Access to 26 museums and tram passes with the Lisbon Card.

Museu Coleção Berardo / Skip the queue tickets


LISBON TRAM TIPS

Tram 28 starts from Praça Martim Moniz and can get very busy. To avoid the queues get there early in the morning. At the time of writing they were not filling the tram up at the first stop and only allowing access to seated areas (about 20 people per tram). So if the queue is long walk up to Rua Palma and get on the tram there. You will have to stand but it will save you time and give you better photos.

LISBON FADO TIPS

Many establishments offering fado require a minimum spend of €20 to €30 and the food they serve is poor at best. It is much better value (and a better atmosphere) to head to a small bar. We chose Tasca do Chico, bought some €3 beers and had a great evening.


GUIDEBOOKS & READING

We used the Lonely Planet’s pocket guidebook for Lisbon which contains helpful information about opening times, attractions and is generally good for restaurant recommendations. We also purchased The 500 Hidden Secrets of Lisbon which was an excellent reference for finding more unusual sights.

GET YOUR GUIDE

WHERE NEXT?

If you’re looking at spending a few days in Lisbon, you might want to consider a day trip to Sintra, the fairytale gem in the area. Here’s some more reading from this part of the world you might be interested in.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN CÂDIZ

2 DAYS IN CÓRDOBA

AN ISLAMIC CALIPHATE IN CÓRDOBA

Oregon Girl Around the World

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Lisbon may be lacking in great sights. But this city is so much more than its parts. Here is how to have an excellent 3 days in Lisbon.

Lisbon may be lacking in great sights. But this city is so much more than its parts. Here is how to have an excellent 3 days in Lisbon.

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