3 Days in Lisbon: The Ultimate Itinerary

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Monument of the Discoveries

Monument of the Discoveries (Lisbon)

In just three days, Lisbon stole my heart with its sun-kissed streets and historic charm. From the grand squares like Praça do Comércio to the quaint streets of Alfama, Lisbon is a city where history is not just kept in museums but is lived daily, blending seamlessly with the buzz of modern life.

In my short time there, I explored as much as I could; I walked through the Alfama district, zoomed by cobbled streets in a tuk-tuk, walked up more steep hills than I ever have, tasted delicious pastéis de nata, and ended my days watching stunning sunsets over the Atlantic.

In “3 Days in Lisbon: The Ultimate Itinerary,” I’ll share my journey through this beautiful city, offering tips and insights for anyone looking to explore Lisbon’s wonders for themselves.

Day 1: Alfama and Belém

Morning

Explore the Praça do Comércio

Also known as Terreiro do Paço, Praça do Comércio is one of Lisbon’s most iconic and grandiose squares.

Wake up in the early morning, and walk to the square—you can sit down in one of the charming cafés and have a morning coffee with a stunning view or just take a stroll along the Tagus River to people-watch and enjoy the breeze. You can admire the impressive 18th-century architecture that surrounds the square, including the yellow Pombaline facades and the statue of King José I.

This should be the perfect way to start your Lisbon adventures!

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Alfama

Walk to Alfama

From Praça do Comércio, with the morning coolness, you can start your walk to Alfama—it’s a common route for visitors wanting to explore Lisbon on foot. The distance is not very far, but it can be as steep as much of Lisbon is. However, the walk is very scenic so it’s very much worth it!

Once you are in Alfama, you’re in one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods, which dates back to the 8th century during the Muslim conquest—and you can still feel that influence in the architecture and atmosphere of the area.

Alfama is also one of the only parts of Lisbon which maintain its original medieval form. While exploring, you will pass by a mix of modern and historic Lisbon, transitioning from the grand, open spaces of downtown into the intimate, labyrinth-like streets. If you have time, we suggest walking up to one of the Miradouros (viewpoints), to take in the breathtaking views of Lisbon. There’s the Miradouro da Graça (on the way you can also see the Church of São Vicente de Fora), or the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, or the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

Remember though, that if you are not used to walking up hilly areas, it’s a good idea to pace yourself and wear comfortable shoes!

Noon to Afternoon

Lunch in Alfama

Alfama is also the perfect place to have lunch, with numerous family-run taverns and small eateries offering traditional Portuguese dishes like bacalhau (codfish), sardines, and various petiscos (Portuguese tapas).

We ate at the Morgadinha de Alfama, which we chose simply because of the raving online reviews, and we were not disappointed. The food was delicious (I did try the codfish), and reasonably priced, and the place was so cozy and felt so authentic.

Fado singer

If you’re lucky enough, you will be greeted with someone singing Fado music somewhere and you get to enjoy a live performance, but just soaking in the timeless charm and ambiance of old Lisbon is enough.

Jerónimos Monastery

Visit Jerónimos Monastery

After lunch, your next destination is the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém district. The Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This architectural marvel is a prime example of the Manueline style, characterized by its ornate limestone work and maritime motifs, celebrating Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. It was built to commemorate Prince Henry the Navigator.

There is an entrance fee for the monastery, which covers the cloisters and adjoining areas, and it is around €10 for adults, but there are discounts available for students, seniors, and families. Entry to the church itself is free. You should allocate 1-2 hours to fully appreciate the monastery’s artistry and historical significance.

The easiest way to get to Belém from Alfama is by public transport:

  • By train: You could walk to Santa Apolónia or Cais do Sodré train station from Alfama and take a train to Belém. This route offers a scenic ride along the Tagus River and takes about 21 minutes.
  • By bus: You can walk back down to catch bus number 728 from the Praça do Comércio. This bus takes you directly to Belém, and the journey should take around 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Evening

In the evening, you can either have dinner in Belém or return to the city center. You can take public transportation back as well.

After a full day of exploring, dinner in Lisbon’s city center is a relaxing way to end your adventure. In the central areas like Baixa or Chiado you’ll find plenty of dining options that mix traditional Portuguese flavors with a cozy atmosphere. We strongly recommend reservations if you are planning on dining at any of the more famous restaurants since they’re always bustling with people; this is a lesson we learned on the first night!

Day 2: Tuk-Tuk Adventure & Discovering Lisbon’s Heart

Morning

If you can, we suggest booking a tuk-tuk tour. Tuk-tuk tours in Lisbon offer a flexible and personalized way to see the city, and they can get into narrower areas that aren’t easily accessible by card. The driver can pick you up at the hotel or another designated meeting point, and you can discuss your interests with them, who can suggest a customized route that matches your preferences.

Drivers often serve as guides, providing commentary and insights about the places you visit. They can share stories, historical facts, and local knowledge. They will wait for you while you explore and can drop you off wherever you want or agree to.

It’s recommended to book your tuk-tuk tour in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Expect the tour to last about 2-3 hours.

Lisbon

Afternoon

Depending on where you agreed to be dropped off, you can use the afternoon to have lunch and explore more of Lisbon’s central areas at your own pace. You can visit any shops or galleries that caught your eye during your tuk-tuk tour. If you’re sticking to the city center, you can hit up Baixa, Chiado, and Bairro Alto—these are all central neighborhoods that kind of blend into each other. Think of them as Lisbon’s downtown core.

Here’s what you can do during your second afternoon in central Lisbon:

In Baixa: Baixa is a shopper’s paradise, with both brand names and local stores lining the streets. The Armazéns do Chiado (Chiado Shops) is a beautiful place to wander, even if you’re not buying anything.

In Chiado:

  • Visit the Livraria Bertrand – This historic bookstore is the oldest in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records!). Browse the shelves or just admire the beautiful interior.
  • Take a ride on the Elevador de Santa Justa – This quirky elevator takes you up a steep hill for fantastic views of the city (costs a fee to ride).
  • Have a coffee and a pastel de nata – Chiado is full of charming cafes, perfect for a coffee and a pastel de nata (Portugal’s famous egg tart pastry).

In Bairro Alto: While Bairro Alto usually comes alive at night, there are some cool independent shops open during the day, selling everything from clothes to vintage finds. You can also visit the São Roque Church, known for its opulent chapels and baroque architecture, or walk up to one of the Miradouros (viewpoints)—Miradouro de Santa Catarina is a great option during the day.

Evening

Because of all the exploring during the day, in the evening, we always opted to unwind with a casual dinner or drinks in the city. On the second evening, we booked a table at the Taberna Sal Grosso, and like all the food we ate in Lisbon, this was also delicious!

On the other hand, if you are someone looking for parties, we suggest Bairro Alto—at night this area is the city’s party district, packed with bars and restaurants.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

Day 3: Sintra and Cascais

Morning

Sintra

On your last day, you can head early to Sintra. It’s an easy train ride from Lisbon, taking about 40 minutes to an hour. Sintra is a charming little town nestled in the hills, famous for its beautiful palaces and estates.

The best way to experience Sintra might be simply to wander, soak up the atmosphere, and let the town’s charm work its magic on you. Colorful houses line the charming streets (yes, everything in Sintra is charming), and there are little shops selling souvenirs, quaint cafes, and beautiful gardens!

The star attraction in Sintra, I would say, is Quinta da Regaleira. This castle is straight out of a fantasy movie, with dark and mysterious Gothic architecture, hidden passageways, and even secret wells! You can climb down a spiral staircase that goes deep into a well (don’t worry, it’s safe!), explore hidden tunnels, and get lost in the amazing gardens. It’s like stepping into a real-life adventure!

[Editor: When in Sintra also consider a visit to the Moorish Fort on the hill, the Sintra National Palace, and the unusually colorful National Palace of Pena]

Afternoon

Praia da Conceição, Cascais

Travel to Cascais by taking a train from Sintra to Cascais, which may require a transfer at a station like Estoril. The total journey can take about 1 to 1.5 hours. The amount of time you spend in Cascais depends on how long you stayed in Sintra (or how early you started the day).

Cascais has a lovely historic center with cobbled streets, colorful houses, and a lively atmosphere, along with countless seaside eateries. You can spend some time exploring the town or simply head to Praia da Conceição, a beautiful beach perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sun and sea—we opted for (mainly) the latter!

Evening

Return to Lisbon

Return to Lisbon from Cascais by train, a direct journey that takes about 40 minutes to Cais do Sodré station. End your day with a light dinner or a drink in a cozy café or bar near your accommodation.

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Additional tips for Lisbon:

Accommodation – To maximize your three-day visit and see as much as possible, make sure to book accommodation that is within walking distance to major sights and public transport. This saves time and makes exploring easier. We suggest looking at Baixa and Chiado, Alfama, and or Bairro Alto and Principe Real. Finding affordable accommodation in Lisbon’s central neighborhoods is definitely possible; just make sure to thoroughly explore your options, read reviews, and book in advance!

Arrange your visa – If you need to, arrange your Portugal Visa well ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel during peak season! These can be lengthy and may disrupt your travel plans if not done in a timely manner. When applying for a Portugal visa, it is crucial to ensure that the photographs you submit strictly adhere to the visa photo guidelines established by the Portuguese government.

According to MyBiometricPhotos.com, when applying for a Portugal visa, it is crucial to ensure that the photographs you submit strictly adhere to the visa photo guidelines established by the Portuguese government.

Transportation – The public transportation system in Lisbon is generally very efficient and straightforward—just make sure you thoroughly check the timetables and routes. Consider purchasing a Lisbon Card or a Viva Viagem card for unlimited travel on public transportation, including buses, trams, and trains, which can save you time and money.

Comfortable Footwear – Lisbon’s cobblestone streets and hilly terrain can be challenging to navigate, so wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan on exploring on foot.

Sun Protection – Portugal is sunny for much of the year, so be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself, especially during outdoor activities like the tuk-tuk tour and beach visit.

Stay Hydrated – Carry water with you at all times, especially during the warmer months.

Fado Experience – See about the possibility of attending a Fado performance. Look for intimate venues in Alfama or Bairro Alto for an authentic experience.

Explore Beyond the Itinerary – While it’s great to have a plan, don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path and explore hidden gems and local favorites that may not be on your itinerary!

Where to stay in Lisbon

Hotel rating cost    
Sintra Boutique Hotel 9.1 $$ overnight in Sintra Book Now
Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa 8.6 $$$ check out the sky bar Book Now
Hotel Santa Justa 9.1 $$$$ best location ever Book Now
Vila Olarias 8.5 $$ subway access Book Now

Experience the rich tapestry of Lisbon in just three days, from exploring historic neighborhoods like Alfama and Belém to indulging in local cuisine and soaking up the sun-kissed atmosphere, with a tailored itinerary providing insights and recommendations for a memorable journey. #lisbon #sintra #portugal #travel #vacation #trip #holiday #itinerary

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Blina Azemi

by Blina Azemi

Blina is a dedicated author and researcher, specializing in topics regarding travel and studying abroad. With a passion for exploration and cultural exchanges, she aims to empower readers through her articles to embrace new travel experiences and broaden their horizons.

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