Visit Lisbon: a guide for 3 days
Are you looking for information to visit Lisbon for 3 days? Which neighbourhood of Lisbon to visit? Where to go out in Lisbon? In this article, we tell you all about our trip to make your stay in Lisbon easier.
It seemed essential for us to stay there for at least 3 days because the city is big and rich. A city with very different facets, both eccentric and energetic, urban and modern, calm and authentic and vintage, elegant and design, nature and culture.
Have you ever dreamed of visiting Lisbon for 3 days? Do you know the must-see places in Lisbon, the areas to visit during your trip? How to get to the historical centre from the airport? Do you know the most famous metro line in the capital?
Where is Lisbon?
Preparing your visit to Lisbon
Climbing up one of the miradouros
The Carmelite Convent (Convento do Carmo located in Baixa-Chiado)
Praça Dom Pedro IV
Praça do Comércio
What to visit in the Alfama district?
The famous Tram 28
Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
The 'Feira da Ladra' flea market in Alfama
Saint George's Castle
The "Miradouro Da Nossa" viewpoint
Visiting the surroundings of Lisbon
Visit the cities around Lisbon
1. Where is Lisbon?
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is located at the mouth of the Tagus River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean 15 km away.
Lisbon is the most western city in Europe.
Lisbon has several districts, the most famous of which are :
The Baixa, a central and lively district, with in particular the Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV), and the Trade Square
Chiado and Bairro Alto, which have a more alternative, even bohemian side. There is the elevador Santa Justa and some nice bars.
The Alfama, the historic heart of Lisbon, full of charm. Our favourite district.
Bélem, west of the city centre and a bit out of the way, but a must when visiting Lisbon, as it has two treasures: the Hieronymites Monastery and the Bélem Tower.
2. Preparing your visit to Lisbon
Lisbon is both a beautiful and a wise city, so it is ideal for families, couples but also with friends.
Anyway, if you decide to go to discover it, 3 days is not bad at all to get to know it, that is to say, 2 full days and 3 nights minimum. In this article, I will try to give you a summary to discover this city easily.
As usual, here is a Google Map that allows you to have an overview of the main tourist sites of Lisbon and to see where the 3 must-see areas of the city are: Bairro Alto, Baixa Chiado and Alfama.
Guide to Lisbon from the airport
There is only one airport, and the good news is that you can get the metro directly from the airport. To get to Lisbon downtown by metro, you'll have to change at Alameda station and then stop at Rossio station (it will drop you off at the entrance to the Baixa Chiado District).
To get to Lisbon from the airport by Metro, there is a change at Alameda Station (16 min) then changes line and stop at Rossio Station (6 min).
3. Climbing up one of the miradouros
Miradouro Santa Luzia
It's a good idea to start your visit to Lisbon here. A miradouro could be translated as "viewpoint", and there are several scattered around the city. How to visit Lisbon in 3 days? There's nothing better than to start by seeing the neighbourhoods, boulevards and alleys you want to visit from a high vantage point! Lisbon was not built on a flat area, and the relief requires some climbing on one of its 7 hills. But the effort is worth it: you will be rewarded with a wonderful panoramic view, especially at sunset! And because Lisbon knows how to do things well, it has set up belvederes or café terraces to enjoy the 360° view even more. And for that, you will be spoilt for choice.
And now, as a discerning reader, in the midst of planning your 3 days in Lisbon, you think: which miradouro should I choose? They are all charming and offer a different view of the city. But there's no need to do them all! Here are our three favourites:
It is located in the Alfama District near the main street Limoeiro. The viewpoint is served by tram 28, stop "Miradouro De Santa Luzia". The view towards the Tagus, the Pantheon, churches and the roofs of the Alfama houses is superb. And to make matters worse: the miradouro itself is pretty. It is small, but green and with beautiful azulejos (tiles).
A few metres away, you can reach another miradouro with an identical view: the Largo Das Portas Do Sol, which is more lively and shaped like an esplanade. You won't be far from Saint George's Castle either (a 5-minute walk away, and it's a bit of a climb).
Santa Justa Lift
It is located in the heart of the city in the Chiado district. The elevador de Santa Justa itself is a visual attraction: a kind of art deco lift! You're bound to pass it on your visit to Lisbon. Once up there, you'll discover a beautiful 360° view. This miradouro is very well known, central and appreciated, so it deserves its place in this article. However, the wait to enter the elevador can be long, and it is not free (a little over 5 euros). If you like to walk, we suggest you go to the Convento do Carmo instead. An impressive building, partly in ruins. Nearby, you'll find a view that's almost identical to that of the Miradouro do elevador de Santa just.
4. The Carmelite Convent (Convento do Carmo located in Baixa-Chiado)
To get there you can take the lift of Santa Justa, you have a beautiful panorama from this steel tower which will also allow you to avoid climbing a hill to get to the Carme convent.
5. Praça Dom Pedro IV
Six centuries old, the place is also called "Rossio Square". Here boulevards, buses, and busy Lisboners converge. Praça Dom Pedro IV is located in the heart of the city in the lively Baixa Chiado District. The square is huge, pedestrianized in the middle and surrounded by boulevards. You can immediately see that the cobblestones form waves on the ground, which is really nice. All around, you can admire important buildings such as the National Theatre. In the centre of the square, you can see huge statues and fountains.
Take the opportunity to visit one of the oldest cafés in Lisbon: the Nicola café, dating from the 18th century and renovated in 1930. Quite touristy, it still has a beautiful art deco façade and interior.
From the square you are also not far from the miradouro of São Pedro de Alcântara, the famous elevador de Santa Justa and the Convento Do Carmo. You are also 10 minutes away from another famous square: Praça do Comércio.
6. Praça do Comércio
This is another huge square that you can't miss when visiting Lisbon. Lively day and night, it is probably the prettiest "big square" in the city. Also known as Terreiro do Paço, it is located in the Baixa Pombalina district and overlooks the Tagus.
Before discovering this square, we recommend that you walk along the lively and pedestrianised Rua Augusta. You will then pass under the impressive arch of Rua Augusta to reach the square. Praça do Comércio is entirely pedestrianised and lined with beautiful yellow buildings. A large statue of King Joseph I stands in the middle.
From the Plaza del Comercio, you can easily reach the famous Alfama district, which we'll tell you about below. Take Rua Augusta until you cross Rua da Conceição, which you take to the right until the end. Cross Via da Madalena and you're in the Alfama.
7. What to visit in the Alfama district?
What to visit in Lisbon? The Alfama must be part of your 3-day itinerary in Lisbon. Well, actually, if you only had one thing to visit in Lisbon, it would be the Alfama. A real favourite. Perpetual happiness only grows with every corner.
Narrow and pedestrian labyrinthine streets, drying laundry, bright colours of old houses, a warm neighbourhood, exhilarating smells of food, hidden and romantic churches, staircases leading to nowhere and everywhere at the same time, delightful viewpoints, inventive and neat street art, traditional azulejos, notes of fado coming out of a window.
The pleasure of this district is to get lost in it! So I won't give you an itinerary: follow your instincts and dare to venture into the alleys that attract you the most. This is the best way to visit the Alfama. But where to start? Come on, I'll give you two possibilities:
Start in the centre of Alfama: take tram 28 to the Santa Lucia miradouros, for example, and wander through the streets.
Start at the edge of the Alfama. The Alfama District extends from the heights of Saint George's Castle and follows the slope down to the Tagus. So you can start at the castle and go down to the river or start at the bottom (Alfândega for example) and go up to the castle.
8. The famous Tram 28
The tramway, a bit like San Francisco, is a real emblem of Lisbon. If you're wondering what to do in Lisbon, you really must try this means of transport used by tourists and locals alike. It's practical, it's ecological, it's local, and it's beautiful.
Yellow in colour, dating from 1901, it has kept all its period charm. And if you had to choose only one route, it would be the legendary line 28. The route is probably the most pleasant and enchanting: you will cross the historic districts of Alfama, Graça, Baixa and Estrela.
9. Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, you will find a really beautiful monastery! The view from the roof is worth it.
10. The 'Feira da Ladra' flea market in Alfama
Just behind it, in Campo de Santa Clara, you have the Feira da Ladra flea market every Tuesday and Saturday, a market where everything can be bought.
In this market, you will find everything, except spice merchants, and alcohol from the region. So, as I said, it is located at the foot of the Monastery of São Vincente de Fora.
11. Saint George's Castle
At the end of the line, you can either take the tram or walk back down to Baixa/Chiado. By the way, you can take the opportunity to visit Saint George's Castle. It's really worth it, it's a must-see.
The transition is made with the miradouros: Saint George's Castle is located on top of one of the seven hills and literally overlooks Lisbon. The view is indeed divine. Imposing, flanked by thick walls, it is a good big medieval castle. Listed as a UNESCO heritage site, the monument is perfectly preserved with its towers, dungeons, wide walls and ramparts.
As soon as you enter, you will be irresistibly attracted by the fabulous view of the gardens. You can then visit the castle itself and delve into the historical past of a building erected by the Moors in the 11th century. There are ancient ruins and a museum dedicated to the site. Don't miss a walk around the gardens and on the ramparts to make the rounds!
The price of the ticket was quite expensive and the museum did not transcend us. That said, it is a pleasant place, green and the view of Lisbon is superb. The whole castle is impressive and well preserved.
12. The "Miradouro Da Nossa" viewpoint
Consider going to the most beautiful viewpoint in Lisbon.
13. Visiting the surroundings of Lisbon
The Belém Tower
You can walk to the Tower of Belém along the Tagus River, which is a very pleasant walk. In Belém, you can also visit the cathedral of Saint Mary, the Monument to the Explorers, the National Carriage Museum and the 25th of April Bridge.
Built-in the 16th century, it was used to protect Lisbon from invasion by sea. There is a museum, a former prison, several floors and the possibility to go up on a terrace surrounded by battlements and overlooking the Tagus.
Jerónimos Monastery (in front of the Belém Tower)
The Jerónimos Monastery is a must see, and you'll see why. This jewel is located in the same area as the Belém Tower, so we recommend that you combine the two visits.
The Hieronymite Monastery dates from the 16th century. It was inhabited by the monks of the Order of St. Jerome, whose mission was to perform a mass for the sailors, but also to listen to their confessions before a departure full of uncertainties toward the open sea.
In total, it takes about 1.5 hours to visit the entire Jeronimos Monastery. In general, expect the site to be very busy. The best time to visit this Hieronymite Monastery is very early in the morning or late in the day (last admission at 5 p.m. in winter and 6 p.m. in summer).
Take the opportunity to see the large statue of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, almost opposite the monastery, towards the Tagus. It is a monument to the Portuguese navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries.
While you're in the area, here's a tip for foodies: there's one of the most famous pastry shops in Lisbon: Pasteis de Belém. A really tasty kind of flan. And the best ones would be at 84 Belém Street. It's a few dozen meters on the right as you leave the monastery: cross the Dos Jeronimos street, lots of people, but the service is fast.
The Cristo Rei (across the Tagus)
A nice walk to do if you want to see the Cristo Rei: Take the boat to Cais do Sobré (right next to the Praça do Comércio - downtown), then the 101 bus up to the sanctuary. A breathtaking view of the capital awaits you.
The main museums in Lisbon to visit:
The National Azulejo Museum
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Berardo Collection Museum
The Carmo Archaeological Museum
The National Museum of Ancient Art
Discover a quirky, bobo and trendy place: the LX factory
It's a former industrial complex that has been renovated into a popular and fun place, but also a trendy one. A bit of underground! In any case, this project is a great way of rehabilitating an industrial wasteland. The results: original designer shops and restaurants with innovative recipes, magnificent street art, an industrial-style decor, a photogenic bookshop and friendly bars. We particularly appreciated the panoramic view of the Tagus from the terraces of the Rio Maravilha restaurant on the 4th floor, but also the beautiful bookshop "Ler Devagar".
In addition to these 'permanent' shops, restaurants and cafés, the site have a busy schedule of 'ephemeral' cultural events or exhibitions around music, theatre, architecture and much more. A place in the past, full of new and positive ideas. We loved it! Maybe after the "classic" monuments to visit in the Belém area, it's a good idea to finish your evening in LX factory.
14. Visit the cities around Lisbon
Sintra (25 Minutes Away) — An Enchanting Place
To get there it's easy, from Rossio station take a ticket to Sintra (the terminus). The first departure from Lisbon at 6.30 a.m., the last departure from Sintra at 0.20 a.m. (check anyway), only 40 minutes travel time. And you have a train every 20 minutes.
It is a truly beautiful village with splendid palaces like the magnificent Pena Palace:
On arrival, you will find a bus near the station (on the left as you leave) which takes you around the main places to see.
Quinta da Regaleira (Sintra)
Important point. The train station is 1.5 km from the historic downtown. The Pena Palace, the Pena Park and the Castle of the Moors are further away, on top of a hill, so don't waste time, take bus 434 which will take you from the station -> to the historic downtown -> and then to the Pena Palace. It can be very hot, so follow this advice. On foot, it takes about 1 hour to get there.
In the city centre, this is where you will eat, then you can visit the National Palace, the town hall and the many traditional shops.
The 434 runs at least every 35 minutes, and in summer every 20 minutes. However, check the sign at the stop for the next departure. The 434 bus route is called the "Circuito da Pena": the castle of the Moors, Pena Park, Pena National Palace and the city centre.
In town, consider trying Queijadas (a cake made with fresh cheese, cinnamon, egg, and wheat flour) and Travesseiros (a pastry filled with egg and almond cream, a real treat!) at Piriquita, located in front of the National Palace, in the very nice shopping streets - das Padarias Streets.
Castle of the Moors
To finish the day in beauty by the beach, I advise you to go down to Cascais which is 20 minutes by car from this small village with its magnificent palaces.
If you wish to go to the coast, more precisely to Cascais after the visit to the palaces, use the bus line 503 or 403 (the stop is at the station) which goes to Cascais via the Cabo da Roca "Cabo da Roca Express" from Sintra. Please note that some morning buses do not stop at Cabo da Roca.
See Cascais and enjoy its beaches
There are many things to do, such as free museums, large and beautiful stately homes, breathtaking parks and beaches (Praia da Rainha and Praia da Ribeira, perfect for lazing around).
To get there I advise you to take the train at the Cais do Sobré station, it will take you 30 minutes, the station is located in the downtown, so you will not have any trouble reaching the heart of the city (you can also use the green line of the metro).
The nice thing is that the train runs along the coast, so you have a nice view of the coastline.
You have trains every twenty minutes. The last trains from Cascais and Lisbon leave at 00:30 and 01:00, so check anyway.
Then walk to the Boca do Inferno, it's beautiful and wild.
Take a walk to the lighthouse of Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point of Europe)
Óbidos is clearly one of the places to visit around Lisbon. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal. The historic centre is pedestrianized: it promises a very pleasant stroll through the picturesque, flower-filled streets, with small sunny terraces. The medieval charm acts like a spell, especially thanks to the white houses with brown tiles. All this gives a magnificent harmony to the picture. The village is surrounded by well-preserved walls, which add to the charm of Obidos. You can go up to the walls and walk around them.
You can feel the authenticity of this village, where you will rarely be alone. The main street is very popular. It will lead you to a small square in front of the church of Santa Maria. Don't hesitate to leave the main street to venture into the surrounding alleys and enjoy the peace and quiet.
You cannot miss the castle (Castelo de Óbidos), another jewel of the city and very well preserved. It is one of the "7 wonders" of Portugal.
To get to Óbidos from Lisbon, the easiest way is not by train, but by bus.