Did you decide to travel to Lisbon? Great decision! I decided to visit Lisbon in February 2017 and had many questions in mind that needed to get an answer before my trip. After quite some research I made my self a rough plan – which I analyzed after my own trip to Lisbon in February. The result is this Lisbon Itinerary – how to get the most out of Lisbon in 3 days. But before I start to tell you the best things to do in Lisbon I want to tell you some words about my own trip and experiences. Since I named Lisbon one of my favorite places of 2017 you will want to know what I liked so much about it. Firstly, the city has a lot to offer: culture, stunning views, history, tasty food and all of that for an extremely affordable price, especially if you compare it to other Western European cities. But that’s something that everybody will tell you – moreover Lisbon has a special meaning to me because it is the place where my career as a photographer had its starting point. Whilst I explored some of the best places in Lisbon I captured all of my pictures with my smartphone and felt kind of limited. Eventually, I bought myself a proper photography gear and started to create images. But anyway, let’s come to my Lisbon Itinerary for 3 days. But first…
10 fun facts about Lisbon
- Lisbon is one of the cities with the mildest climates in Europe. Throughout the year you can experience around 3000 hours of sunshine.
- In the past, there were thousands of Ravens in and around Lisbon, which made them a symbol of Lisbon. Nowadays, they can rarely be found in the city.
- During the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 – 85% of Lisbon’s buildings were destroyed, including some of the most famous libraries and palaces.
- Lisbon was originally built on seven hills, which makes it similar to other historical metropoles like Rome or Istanbul.
- Inspired by Rio de Janeiro Lisbon has its own “Cristo Rei” (Christ the King) which overlooks the city.
- The first of the famous trams in Lisbon started its operation in 1873. They are still in use these days.
- In Lisbon, you can find several world-famous graffiti, that was painted by well-known artists from all over the world. You can even do organized graffiti-tours.
- Built over 2700 years ago Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe.
- With 17 kilometers the Vasco da Gama bridge is the longest in Europe.
- The “HIPPOtrip” is a bus tour that will take you through Lisbon on land and water – without changing the bus at any time.
Transportation in Lisbon
Whenever I arrive in a new city I’m happy if I informed myself beforehand and know exactly how I can get to my accommodation. Well, that was not the case for me (we took a cab) – but it hopefully is for you after my tips.
From and to the airport
Luckily Lisbon has an airport with great and especially cheap connections. While I was looking for flights I found various great deals – no matter if they were regular prices or special offers. If you follow the standard tips to find cheap flights I’m sure you will find yourself a good deal. If you don’t know these tricks you can check out my guide. Once you arrived at the airport in Lisbon you will have plenty of options to get to the city center or your accommodation:
- Shuttle Service (3,15 €/way)
- Metro (1,45 €/way)
- Local buses (1,85 €/way)
- Taxi (15 €/way)
- Uber (13 €/way)
- Private Transfer (23 €/way)
Every way of transportation has its advantages and drawbacks. If you stay close to the city center you will be perfectly fine with the metro or the bus. If you plan to take them regularly I’d suggest buying day passes, as they are extremely cheap. The metro is perfect to reach the airport, whereas the bus lines are connected better with all the main tourist attractions such as Alfama or Belem. If your accommodation is located more outside of the city center it can be a good idea to consider a taxi or Uber. There are desks inside the airport to arrange a cab for an agreed price without any surprises for you.
Getting around in Lisbon
Whereas I’d choose the metro to get to the city center from the airport I’d probably recommend the buses for sightseeing in Lisbon. To see all the cool places in Lisbon without walking too much there are even better options though: You can buy day passes for 6 €/day or especially if you plan to visit some of the main sights, the Lisbon-Card, which also includes public transportation. In my opinion, these are great deals that can save you some serious money. You can find even more information right here.
Day 1 – Heart of Lisbon
For the first day of our Lisbon Itinerary, I’d recommend visiting some of the main attractions: Start off in the center of the city with a walk on the Rua Augusta. At the end of this lovely street, you will find a triumphal arch, which also marks the start of the commerce square. The square is located directly next to the Tagus river and has some interesting sights to offer nearby. From there you can afterward take the famous Tram number 28 up to one of the must-do places in Lisbon: São Jorge Castle. The tram line 28 will also take you through the Alfama district, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful in whole Lisbon. The entrance to the castle is 8,50 € (you will get 20% off with the Lisbon pass) and absolutely worth it. From the castle, you will have a fantastic view over the whole city, including the 25th April Bridge and Lisbon’s own Christ. After this, you can walk down the hill through the Alfama district, which you already saw from the tram. There are dozens of charming restaurants and cafes – so probably a perfect time to get some food. Nearby the castle you will also find the famous Cathedral of Lisbon, which is the oldest in the whole city. Once you arrived back in the city center there are some new and exciting options for you: You could either check out the “Pink Street Lisbon“, which is a perfect location to take Instagram pictures or head to one of the many other viewpoints (Miradouros) that are located on different hills throughout the city.
Day 2 – Day trips from Lisbon
To get the maximum out of Lisbon in 3 days I suggest using your second day for one of the day trips from Lisbon, as it is your only day without arriving or leaving the city. I prepared three different possibilities for you, which are also somehow possible to combine, depending on your personal preferences while traveling.
First of all – I did not go to any of these places because I was prepared really bad for my own trip to Lisbon. This shouldn’t happen to you. After I made some research I found out that it is easily possible to combine two out of these three places in one day, however, it is possible that you will have to hurry a bit. So it depends on your taste of traveling.
A day trip from Lisbon to Sintra is one of the most recommended things to do in Lisbon – and there are reasons for that: The picturesque town was built on the hills of the Serra de Sintra nearby Lisbon and is not only full of history, but also an amazing opportunity to take great pictures. Within the town, there are more than ten national monuments that range from exquisite palaces to ancient ruins. To reach this incredible place you can, once again, take the public transportation: From the train stations Rossio and Oriente you have direct connections to Sintra. You can find the current timetable here. To avoid the masses of tourists it is recommended to start your trip from Lisbon to Sintra as early as possible – or pre-book one of the many organized tours, which will allow you to see most of the most interesting attractions in one day, as you can skip the regular lines with your guides.
Cascais, which is located 30 kilometers west of Lisbon, offers you an interesting historic center and, together with the beautiful beaches in Algarve, some of the most exciting beach places to stay in Portugal. Therefore, it is also a perfect location to try surfing or just have a relaxing day at the beach. To reach Cascais by train (again!) you can head to the “Cais do Sodre” station from where you have an easy and direct connection from Lisbon to Cascais. The costs of one way are 2,20 € and you can find the timetable here.
The Lisbon Oceanarium is probably the least exciting option for me. It is one of the largest aquariums in Europe and place of many interesting animals. The entrance is quite pricey with 16,20 €. The big advantage of the Oceanarium: It takes less time and you could fill up your day with other activities in Lisbon. If you love animals this is probably a good choice for you that could even be combined with Lisbon’s zoo.
Summing up I would definitely suggest visiting Sintra, especially because the architecture is unique and something you can’t find somewhere else. If you’d like to see as much as possible of Lisbon in 3 days you can combine your trip day trip from Lisbon to Sintra with a side trip to Cascais. As it is not recommended to go there by car (the roads are not made for that many tourists) you could book a professionally guided tour that covers Sintra and Cascais in one day.
Day 3 – Belem & co
The Belem area should definitely be a part of every Lisbon Itinerary – and it is also included in my list. It is highly recommended to go there early in the morning if you’d like to see it with fewer tourists. And if your third day falls on a Monday – change the schedule, because all the main attractions of Belem are closed on Mondays. To reach Belem from Lisbon’s center you can either take tram 15 or 127 from the Figueira or Commerce square. Once you pass the station Jeronimos Monastery you have to leave the tram and have arrived in Belem (which is the Portuguese word for Bethlehem). There you can explore the area, including impressive architecture like the Monastery of Jeronimos (Entrance Fee: 6 €), the Belem Tower (4 €) and the Monument to the Discoveries, which was built to commemorate 500 years of Portuguese discoveries in 1960. Once you are there you also must try the famous Pastei de Nata, which has its origin in Belem and are absolutely tasty.
Rest of the day
Once you’re back in the city center you can stroll to the Santa Justa Lift, which is a historical elevator that connects two streets that have a different altitude level. From its top (45 meters) you have an astonishing view of Lisbon’s city center. The price is 5 € and you have to expect a line usually. Nevertheless, the view is worth it. From there you can continue to the Carmo Convent, a former Roman-Catholic convent. Most parts of the historic building were destroyed in the huge earthquake in 1755, which is still visible nowadays. Inside you can also visit an archaeological museum full of pieces of Portuguese history. In general, this area was one of the most interesting places in Lisbon for me, so it is also not a bad idea to just walk around some of the streets nearby and you may see some of the famous graffiti in Lisbon.
Food in Lisbon
What to eat?
Now after you know what to do in Lisbon in 3 days you will also get some information about the food you can expect. I already mentioned some famous dishes and areas above, however, I will tell you some more about it now. Here are some things you need to try when you stay in Lisbon:
- Pastéis de Nata (Egg tart pastry)
- Bacalhau (Cod)
- Chourico (Sausage)
- Ginjinha (Liqueur)
- Bifana (Pork)
- Chicken Piri Piri
Where to eat?
When I had to decide where to eat in Lisbon it was always a hard choice, due to the fact that there are amazing restaurants around every corner. A place I really liked was the TimeOut Market, which is located nearby the city center. This market is basically a huge hall with some markets and restaurants in a “fast-food” (with great quality!) style where you can order almost all the famous dishes from Portugal. So if you want to tick off some points from your list at the same place for a good price you will be at the perfect place here.
Other recommendations are the small but cozy restaurant “Estamine Art Food Trink”, which offers traditional Portuguese food, and is ranked at #1 on TripAdvisor or the fancy “Pharmacia”, which is designed like a hospital – something you don’t see every day. For more inspiration about where to eat in Lisbon, you can check out this list consisting of 38 restaurants.
Other activities in Lisbon
You don’t have enough Inspiration yet? Lisbon is full of possibilities that you can add to your 3 days in Lisbon Itinerary:
- Watch a soccer match
- Street Art Tour
- Sunset sailing tour
- Helicopter flight over the city
- Kayaking in Arrabida
- and many more
Accommodation in Lisbon
Luckily the prices for accommodation in Lisbon are similar to the ones for food and transportation: pretty affordable. Whether you want to stay in a simple Apartment or a fancy hotel, you will definitely find something for your needs. Of course, the main months of tourism in Summer are more expensive than other times, like when I went to Lisbon in February, however, here are some places to look for a place to stay.
Always one of my favorite choices, as it combines great apartments and affordable prices, especially in countries like Portugal. You can find great places to stay in Lisbon nearby the city center or, even cheaper, a little bit further away from the center. I personally stayed in an Airbnb 20 minutes (by walking) away from the commerce square, which was absolutely fine. You can use my Airbnb referral code if you plan to book an Airbnb in Lisbon (no extra costs for you).
I didn’t stay in a hotel myself whilst my 3 days in Lisbon, yet, there are plenty of great options to chose from. You can use the big comparing sites to find a proper hotel for you. While I was looking for an accommodation I was considering the Jupiter Lisboa Hotel, which has a central location, a lot of comfort (Spa) and even an airport shuttle service.
For the traveler who wants to find the cheapest roost available: Couchsurfing is also available in Lisbon and sometimes you can get amazing stays in an apartment/house with a motivated, local host who will be more than happy to show you around the city from another perspective.
Insider tips for Lisbon
To complete my Itinerary for Lisbon in 3 days 5 insider tips that will help you to enjoy your trip to Lisbon even more:
- Tipping is not mandatory in Portugal. Feel free to tip for great service.
- Keep your eyes open for “Miradouro” signs: They will lead you to amazing viewpoints.
- To start off your day perfectly: Get a coffee and some pastries. Super tasty and cheap.
- Be aware of pocket thieves, especially in the old trams.
- If a restaurant promotes its food in front of the restaurant: Skip it, chances are high it is a tourist trap.
Have you ever been to Lisbon? Or you miss something in this Itinerary for 3 days in Lisbon? Let me know in the comments below. I am happy to add your suggestions and love to hear feedback or your own stories/recommendations.