3 Days in Lisbon: The Organized Traveler’s Itinerary
Your trip to Lisbon is approaching fast and you still don’t have a complete plan? Just 3 days in this magical city means one thing for certain – you need to come prepared so that you can leave satisfied and full of travel stories to tell. Whenever we talk about Lisbon, we have to give a small warning: there is a high possibility you might fall in love with this amazing city! The amazing atmosphere is addicting and can be felt everywhere – from the unique Belem district to the traditional Alfama. Let us put some structure for your trip and brake down Lisbon in 3 days for you!
Day 1 – Baixa district, trying local food & drink, miradouro sunset and ending the night strong
The first day will be dedicated to the central area of Lisbon – where life never stops and neither do tourists. Prepare to do some walking up and down – an inevitable part of your trip to Lisbon.
A good starting point would be Praca do Comercio – one of the staples of the city and the biggest square. It used to serve as a market place for trade of imported goods. More than one idea for an expedition to a location unknown was formed here, by traders and investors. Nowadays, the beautiful statue of King Jose I on his horse and the triumphal arch are one of the symbols of the city. Going up on the famous Rua Augusta street, you can find stores and restaurants, including Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau where you can grab the traditional codfish cake with cheese called pastel de bacalhau.
In this central area also known as Baixa you can find a few more famous squares buzzing with life. The most noteworthy is Rossio also referred to as D. Pedro IV square. Here you can see the Column of Pedro IV with the D. Maria II National Theatre right behind it. The square is a popular meeting point among locals and if you are lucky (or not) you can see college freshman taking a bath in the fountain as an initiation ritual. To the right of the theatre you can find a place called A Ginjinha. Here you can buy the local drink with sour cherry inside, called ginjinha – it comes as a shot – a very tasty and sweet one. For lunch a good place with a local feel is Casa Das Bifanas in the Praça da Figueira square. As the name suggest, try the bifana – a favorite local sandwich.
Another tourist attractions nearby are the Elevador de Santa Justa – the unique lift that gets you to Convento do Carmo – the ruined convent with a lot of history behind it. The Rossio train station is also worth a look for it unique Pombaline architecture.
It is now time to move away from Baixa and go for a bit of a climb. Believe me it is worth it when you go to the Sao Jorge castle and the Alfama district. For the best views of Lisbon, the castle might be the place, but if you want to avoid the entrance fee we have another suggestion for you, coming a bit later in our itinerary. For the Alfama district, our suggestion is the following – go and get lost. Don’t forget to listen to Fado – the traditional Portuguese music, expressing the deep feelings of local people during the generations. One good place to do so is Tejo Bar.
And now time for a “must-do-tip”. There is no better place to watch the sunset than at Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. One of the highest viewpoints in the central area, it is located in Graca neighborhood. It is a bit of a climb, but believe us, it is worth it. Get a fresh drink at the bar and just enjoy the colors. In general there are a few viewpoints (in Portuguese – miradouro) around this area. You can check the best ones here. If you want to know more about the history of the city and get more knowledge about the monuments in the central area of Lisbon, take a look at our Walking Tour, which includes a trip to the aforementioned spots.
If you are in the mood for partying and dancing, popular places are the Bairro Alto neighborhood, Pink Street bars or the Santos chill places – at the latter, we once saw Michael Fassbender, so yes… it is a good place. But don’t get too comfortable – there is a lot exploring to be done tomorrow!
Day 2 – Belem, time for art, alternative places and that sweet, sweet life
One does not come to Lisbon without visiting Belem. Arguably the finest attractions of the city are there. Its history, river views, art spots and museums make it a place worth of thorough exploration. This area is connected with the Age of exploration and Portuguese discoveries so the monuments are something unique. Let’s start with the obvious one – Torre de Belem. Built with the purpose of defending the river and the city of Lisbon, the tower still stands strong and welcomes a lot of tourists each year. Entrance fee is 6 euro and we have to warn you – it can get quite crowded in the small staircase of the tower, so beware. Another one - the Monument of the Discoveries is a pantheon which is a tribute to all the Portuguese explorers of the sea. It contains statutes of Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Álvares Cabral and other important figures. The Monastery of Jeronimos and the church are also available for visitations today. Except the amazing architecture, in the church you can see the tomb of Vasco da Gama. For more information on Belem, check our other blog article here.
A real Lisbon staple is the so called Pasteis de Belem – a typical desert with custard and crunchy crust on the outside. Explaining the taste and ingredients won’t do it any justice so just go and try it. It is located in a store of the same name, next to the Monastery. Even though the place is huge, usually in the summer months it can be quite packed.
Two museums in the area that are definitely worth a visit are Museu Coleção Berardo and MAAT. In the first one you can enjoy the best of modern and contemporary art while the second is the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology – a unique place hosting contemporary artist and architects. A good idea would be to check their corresponding websites and choose the expositions that interest you the most. Both are sure to be unique experiences, so you can’t go wrong with either one.
For a perfect end of the day head to LX Factory. The alternative spot of Lisbon where you will be captivated by street art and amazing sculptures around every corner. This place breeds culture and one of the places that you can feel it the most is the Ler Devagar – an amazing library where you can also grab a coffee. However if you need anything strong (after yesterday night, we doubt it, but knowing the animal that you are) we suggest Underground village. This place is a bit hidden so less touristy than the ones in LX factory itself. Over there you can have a beer in the vintage buss for a low price, while having art all around you.
Day 3 – Travel through history, more miradouros and wine by the river
After we spent the first two days seeing the most popular spots in Lisbon, now is time to go for some places that are often overlooked but are actually amazing. Eduardo VII Park is the place where you can have your morning coffee while enjoying the modern view of the park and monument of Marques Pombal – one of the most effective leaders of 18th century Portugal. The miradouro at the top of the park is impressive because it gives you a look from a far of Downtown Lisbon and the river.
After you finish your breakfast it is time to get moving. You don’t want to waste your last day, right? So let’s go for a traditional Portuguese experience in the Museum of Fado or the Museum of Azulejo. Decide for yourself which one is more exciting to you. Did you like the music you heard in Alfama? Then go and learn more about it in the Museum of Fado. If you want to see incredible ceramic work and an assortment of colors go and check out the museum of the traditional Portuguese tiles called Azulejo. Both are unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the world except Portugal.
Both these places are located close to Santa Apolonia, from which you can catch a train for a short 10 minute ride to Oriente station. And just when you thought a random train station in Lisbon, can’t surprise you with anything special – that is where you are wrong! Oriente has a unique design so you will definitely leave with a few good photos.
From there you are in an area known as Oriente. A fact that you probably didn’t know about Lisbon before you came is that here is one of the longest bridges in Europe – Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is spectacular and even though you will not be able to cross it, you can still take some good photos. Let’s turn our attention to Parque das Nações. Here you can marvel the pretty gardens and unique fountains. The urban art and modern architecture are everywhere in this area. Stay close to the river and enjoy a glass of wine is the best piece of advice we can give you. If you are a fan of aquatic animals than head to the Oceanarium and enjoy the array of fish for a price of € 16.
Another idea for visitation in your 3rd day in Lisbon is Cristo Rei. For that however you will need to cross the river which can usually take some time. The statue of Jesus Christ the Savior is immense and is known for one of the best view of Lisbon you can get. Cristo Rei is included in our Hidden Spots Tour where we go with our van and spend our time exploring the less touristy spots of Lisbon. Find additional tips, for the city here.
Day 3 Alternative – Well…surfing
Have you heard of the phrase “You can’t go to Portugal without trying surfing”? Yes, we haven’t either, but it is true! Home of the best surf spots – the coasts of Portugal offer the favorite beach brakes for surfers all around Europe. It could be referred as a national sport – people are crazy about it. Only those who haven’t tried don’t know the trill when you get on the board.
And so it happens that you are close to one of the best coasts – that of Lisbon. So if you are looking for a new experience that will excite you and quite possibly, lead you on a new path of adventure – this is your chance. Highly addicting, surfing is not only our way of relaxation but also the thing that brought us together. So come and join us for a surf lesson on the coast of Costa da Caparica and have one additional travel story to tell from your incredible 3 days in Lisbon.
Our final advice for your trip to Lisbon is this: Get in the spirit of the city. It is one of the most unique and colorful European capitals, so it should be experienced in a different way. After the 3 days in Lisbon you will want only one thing for certain – to come back some day!