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Cosy bars, majestic castles and timeless architecture make Lisbon a cool and entrancing city. Our 3-day Lisbon itinerary puts it all together, so you have time to savour it all.


By: Paul Healy |
Published: 16 Apr 2024

Lisbon is cool.

As a city unrestrained by convention, Lisbon is bursting with personality. Beside majestic architecture housing Portugal’s famous blue tiles, flea markets hum to the murmur of curious browsers.

Re-purposed industrial areas give it an edge for artistic expression, while timeless monasteries captivate with beguiling designs.   

Windy lanes climbing up and down narrow streets hide tiny bars serving simple tapas and local wines. Live music spills from open windows; the wistful warbling of fado fills squares with an inexplicable yearning.

We’ve visited Lisbon several times, and this itinerary captures everything we love about this alluring city. From the best local areas to the top tourist spots; exquisite galleries to the coolest street art; glorious castles to quirky shops.

And of course, pastel de nata.

IN THIS GUIDE

3-DAY LISBON ITINERARY

DAY 1

São Jorge Castle, São Vicente de Fora, Graca’s Campo de Santa Clara, National Palace, Cathedral

DAY 2

Antiga Confeitara de Belém, Jerónimo’s Monastery, Museu Coleção Berardo, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, LX Factory, Santa Catarina

DAY 3

Tram 28, Praça Luis de Camōes, Praça de Principe Real, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcãntara, Elevador da Gloria, Igreja de São Domingos, Convento do Carmo

LISBON MAP | ABOUT THIS ITINERARY

We’ve put this itinerary together after several visits to Lisbon. It has been designed to minimise the travel time between sights and you can follow most of this itinerary on foot. The map below is organised by each of the 3 days.

DAY 1 – ALFAMA & OLD LISBON

Alfama, perched up on the hill, is a maze of alleyways winding between grand historic buildings. There are sweeping views over the city and the sea, similar to some of the vistas in Porto.

We always have a great time simply ambling around the area but here is a recommended route.

SÃO JORGE CASTLE

Start your 3 days in Lisbon at São Jorge Castle, high on the hill in Alfama. It was once a Moorish castle, but little remains from that period and most of it has been rebuilt over the years.

The small museum could do with some improvements, but the views over the city from the rambling walls are excellent.

Castelo de São Jorge / Skip-the-Line Tickets

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SÃO JORGE CASTLE

CHURCH OF SÃO VICENTE DE FORA

Grab a quality coffee at Copenhagen Coffee Lab and Bakery, before entering the Church of São Vicente de Fora.

The church itself is decent and worth a look, but the monastery and cloisters next door are incredibly impressive. Blue tiles, protected by vaulted ceilings, shimmer on the white walls.

The atmospheric side chapels have tombs adorned with skulls with a cloaked statue standing guard.

Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora / Check current opening times.

Lisbon things to do, Church of São Vicente de ForaLisbon things to do, Church of São Vicente de Fora
SÃO VICENTE DE FORA

GRACA’S CAMPO DE SANTA CLARA

After the church, head over to Graca’s Campo de Santa Clara, where a massive flea market, Feira da Ladra, covers the streets (Tuesday and Saturday).

It sells everything you will never need: old rotary phones, broken mannequins and pre-loved vinyl. The market is great for people watching and you may even pick up a bargain.

LUNCH

There are plenty of atmospheric places to grab lunch near the market, we loved Tabernita for the traditional Portuguese dishes.

NATIONAL PANTHEON

In the afternoon, enter the striking Panteão Nacional. Originally built as a church it now houses monuments to the great and the good of Portuguese history including a shrine to Vasco da Gama who brought massive wealth to Lisbon.

The entrance ticket allows access to the roof with excellent views of the city. From the upper terraces take in a birdseye view of the marble hall.

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NATIONAL PANTHEON

LISBON CATHEDRAL

Next, stroll the tightly packed twisty streets of Alfama.

Head past the cute stores and tiny bars to Miradouro das Portas do Sol observation deck for more views. Drop down the hill to the castellated fortress that is Lisbon Cathedral.

The Romanesque Lisbon Cathedral dates back to the 12th century. With an imposing facade and two bell towers on either side, it rises like a medieval fortress from the old town. 

The view from the loft was the highlight for us.

lisbon cathedral interiorlisbon cathedral interior
LISBON CATHEDRAL

PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO

Finally, leave Alfama and stroll down towards Praça do Comércio. The harbour-facing plaza is one of the largest in Portugal and the most beautiful in Europe. It was completely remodelled after the earthquake and today it’s the seat of the Portuguese state departments.

The large ornate square an excellent photo opportunity, but we’d suggest avoiding the restaurants around the square.

What to do in Lisbon PortugalWhat to do in Lisbon Portugal
PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO

FADO + EVENING

In the evening head to Bairro Alto.

Grab a drink on the steps at Meson Andaluz. Then, choose from the daily changing menu of local dishes at the tiny but charming Taberna da Rua das Flores.

Later in the evening, 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.

Fado in LisbonFado in Lisbon

DAY 2 – BELÉM & WEST LISBON

The seafront area of Belém lies to the west of Lisbon city centre. Come here for engrossing architecture, the epicentre of modern art in the city, and the best pastel de nata in Lisbon.

ANTIGA CONFEITARA DE BELÉM

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

JERÓNIMO’S CHURCH AND MONASTERY

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 stained glass windows.

The tomb of Vasco de Gama – the first person to sail around the Cape of Good Hope and therefore enable Portugal to build an empire – takes pride of place.

The church is free but we recommend paying to go into the monastery. The cloisters are magnificent and the view of the church from the upper choir is not to be missed.

MUSEU COLEÇÃO BERARDO

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, it was one of our favourite experiences in Lisbon on our last visit.

BELÉM TOWER & PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS

Cross the street and peer up at the tower of Belém.

The climb up to the top is not really worth the wait, so we’d suggest skipping in and strolling along the seafront to find a spot for lunch.

After recharging, pass by Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the photogenic monument to Portugal’s navigational prowess.  

LX FACTORY

Head toward the city on tram 15, but before you get there, jump off at LX Factory, an old textile factory that has been converted into a modern and creative space under the railway line.

There’s some excellent street art on old factory walls, indie shops, a very cool bookstore and some of the best coffee in town. It’s a great place to hang out and relax.

SANTA CATARINA

Hopping back on tram 15, spend the evening in the quaint neighbourhood of Santa Catarina which sits on top of a hill. A drink at Noobai Café offers views over the water. To get here it’s a steep walk up the hill or you could take the fun way and ride up on Elevador da Bica.

lx factor, lisbon itinerarylx factor, lisbon itinerary
LX FACTORY

DAY 3 – BAIRRO ALTO, BAIXA & CHIADO

The central area of Lisbon is an eclectic mix. Narrow alleyways crisscross grand shopping streets, dilapidated ruins sit next to striking hotels, and music wafts through open doors and windows. It’s a great part of the city.

TRAM 28

On the last day of this 3-day Lisbon itinerary, get an early start (to avoid the queues) and head to Praça Martim Moniz to board Tram 28. This tram twists and turns up the hilliest, narrowest and most scenic lanes in Lisbon. It loops around Alfama, across the centre of town and back up into Chiado.

PRAÇA DE PRINCIPE REAL

Jump off the tram in Chiadom explore the shops around Praça Luis de Camōes and then head north into the tightly packed narrow lanes of Bairro Alto.

Check out the various new concept stores around Praça de Principe Real before lunch at A Cevicheria. Sit at the counter under a giant octopus, and admire the chef preparing mouth-watering fish dishes.

MIRADOURO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÃNTARA

After lunch check out the view at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcãntara, which we think gives you the best view in the city. Then make your way down to Rossio and Baixa.

You can either take the Elevador da Gloria tram or walk down the path alongside the tram tracks to inspect some of the coolest street art in Lisbon.

IGREJA DE SÃO DOMINGOS

You now find yourself in Rossio and Baixa – newer Lisbon neighbourhoods, 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 was burnt down in 1959. The roof was destroyed and has been rebuilt but the walls bear the scars of both events.

CONVENTO DO CARMO

Skip the long queues and only average views of Elevador de Santa Justa and take the free supermarket lift to Rua Garrett. It’s less glamorous, but just as effective.

Stroll the shops before visiting Convento do Carmo. The convent was damaged in the earthquake, and now only towering arches reach into the sky.

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.

BAIRRO ALTO

For the final evening, 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.

WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON

Lisbon is a relatively compact city, but it’s still a good idea to stay as centrally as possible. We recommend staying in Baixa/Chiado, Bairro Alto or Alfama.

All these neighbourhoods ooze the charm that makes Lisbon the city that it is. They’re all centrally located allowing you to get an early start in the morning, and a late night in the evening.

BUDGET

CASA C’ALMA

Casa C’Alma is a beautifully decorated B&B with a small, friendly vibe and a big continental breakfast. It’s located in a lovely neighbourhood about 1 mile from the city centre with plenty of restaurant options nearby.


MID-MARKET

CASA BALTHAZAR

The modern, self-catering apartments of Casa Balthazar are bang in the centre of town, yet exude a relaxed chilled-out calm. The views are superb but upgrade to the Jacuzzi Terrace room for spacious luxury with landmark views.


UPMARKET

MEMMO ALFAMA

For an emphasis on design with all the latest gadgets, it’s hard to go past Memmo Alfama for your Lisbon stay. Although surrounded by some of the best attractions in Lisbon, it will be hard to leave the rooftop bar and pool with sweeping views over the Tagus River.


3 days Lisbon3 days Lisbon

HOW TO GET AROUND LISBON

Lisbon has a comprehensive public transport network including trams, funiculars, buses and a metro.

A Navegante Card is a quick and easy way to pay for all your travel. The card costs €0.50 and can be charged with individual tickets, a day pass (€6.40 / £5.95 / $7.90), or with a balance of up to €40 to use as pay-as-you go.

Cards can be purchased and charged at metro stations or small stores displaying the Navagante sign.

However, the best way to get around the city is to walk. This Lisbon itinerary puts all the sights and experiences in the right order, so you don’t have to spend too much time between places.

praca do comercio lisbonpraca do comercio lisbon

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. Over this period, the temperatures are generally comfortable and there are fewer visitors.

You might also snap up a bargain with accommodation places slightly cheaper over this period.

As with most European destinations, summer is the peak season when both the temperature and visitor numbers are high. In winter it can be wet and windy, although in Lisbon it’s rarely uncomfortably cold.

3 days in Lisbon3 days in Lisbon

WHAT TO BOOK BEFORE A TRIP TO LISBON

Most attractions in Lisbon don’t require pre-booking and we wouldn’t recommend getting too much in advance so you can leave your itinerary flexible.

If you’re visiting during peak times, you may want to book ahead to beat the queue especially São Jorge Castle and Saint Jerónimos Monastery.

SAVING

LISBON CARD

With access to 23 museums and free tram passes, the Lisbon Card is a very cost-effective way to see the main sights in the city. Cards can be purchased for 24, 28 or 72 hours.

lisbon tram 28lisbon tram 28

HOW MUCH TIME IN LISBON?

Most of the main sights in Lisbon could be seen in 2 days. It’s a relatively compact city with good local transport so getting between all the main attractions is efficient.  

We have provided a 3-day Lisbon itinerary because this allows you to see all the impressive historical sights and enjoy some local experiences. It also leaves a little time to wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere.  

Lisbon is one of our favourite cities in Europe. It’s charming and easy; beautiful and interesting. Yet the nightlife is pumping, the wine free-flowing and the locals friendly. So, you could easily spend up to 4 or 5 days visiting Lisbon, especially if you added a day trip to Sintra, which you could either do on your own or join a tour.  

TIPS FOR VISITING LISBON

Firstly, read our guide to the best things to do in Lisbon which covers all our top highlights in more detail.

TRAM 28 TIPS

Getting on board Tram 28 at Praça Martim Moniz can be painful as queues are often long. Get their early or walk to the next stop at Rue Palme and hop on there. Tram 28 is a wonderful Lisbon experience but a pick-pocketers delight, so keep an eye on your stuff.

STREET SELLING

The whispers of “Hashish? Cocaine?” on the streets of Santa Maria Maior is part of a well-known fake drug annoyance embraced by Lisbon. Simply say “no thanks” and move on, in most cases, you’re just rejecting flour or crushed up bay leaves.

AUTHENTIC FADO

Fado is a moving experience in Lisbon, but the best never gets advertised or promoted to tourists. If you hear it wafting from a packed bar, but there are no signs, this is the place to check out.

TOURIST RESTAURANTS

Lisbon has grasped the concept of the tourist restaurant. If you want a local dining experience, gravitate towards places without English menus, and avoid places with people hassling you out the front.

MIRADOUROS

Always take the opportunity to collect the views at a miradouro; they’re a great place to hang out and Lisbon’s array of roof tiles is stunning. Some of the best are:

  • Miradouro das Portas do Sol
  • Miradouro da Graça
  • Miradouro de Santa Catarina
  • Miradouro de Senhora do Monte
  • Miradouro de Monte Agudo
3 days Lisbon3 days Lisbon
3 days in Lisbon3 days in Lisbon

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