My all time favorite destination, Lisbon completely stole my heart. I spent every minute there with a smile plastered to my face and can only hope one day I will get to go back. While my trip was full of fun, there were some things I wish I had previously know or had done differently, so here I am to help you not make those mistakes!
I truly believe you need a full 5 days here, but if in a time crunch, this is how I’d see Lisbon in just 3 days. (Note that this is assuming you get in the night before the first day and leave either late the last night or the morning following the 3rd day.)
Day 1: Alfama
We started off our journey in Lisbon by walking down to the Praça do Comércio, which was luckily right down the street from us. I’ll share a link to our Airbnb here because the location was not only to die for, but the views were beautiful and the apartment was SO well kept. It was perfect.
We then walked up Rua Augusta and did some shopping and got pastries and coffee. You’ll definitely need that coffee as you embark on your first day trekking up the hills of this city, be prepared and remember, sneakers are a must. We spent this day exploring the neighborhood of Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and the only one to fully survive the earthquake that destroyed much of the city in 1755. I can’t encourage you enough to just let yourself get lost in the streets. So much color, history, and beauty around every single turn.
Take the hike up to S. Jorge’s Castle, try to get their early as it is hot and the lines are long. The views from inside are amazing. As we hiked back down, we made our way to Audrey’s where I had been recommended to eat lunch. It did not disappoint!
Just to the right as you walk down after leaving the restaurant, is the Miradouro das Portas do Sol. The view from here was absolutely breathtaking and the gardens surrounding it are so pretty as well. If you’re looking to spend more time here, take the little staircase up to the bar (note it is cash only) to grab drinks and take in the view for a little longer.
After soaking in the views and a few brews, you can find your way back down the hills to the famous Pink Road. We explored this area, had dinner, headed back to our Airbnb, and then came back out that night to enjoy the nightlife.
Day 2: Braxia and Belem
For your second day, I would suggest walking through Braxia in the morning and spending the afternoon in Belem. Wander around Braxia, another beautiful area, and grab brunch somewhere cute! We sat outside and ate at Ocorvo, where the brunch for 2 was much more like a meal for 4.
With full bellies, you should then go to see Elavador de Santa Justa. We didn’t feel the need to wait or pay to go inside, as I have a much better place to get the same, if not a better, view, that will also be much less crowded.
Topo Chiado is a gorgeous outdoor bar located above the elevator, but be warned it is VERY difficult to find using google maps. We walked up past the elevator, took a left, then turned right at the Nestle store, took another right at the church and walked down past it. To the left you will see people laying out and the two levels of bars that make up Topo Chiado (I linked the location I believe it is, rather than what google maps takes you to). Expect extremely slow service, but catch your breathe, enjoy a drink, and take in the views.
That afternoon, hop on a quick bus or train ride over to Belem to visit the beautiful Belem Tower, a UNESCO world heritage site. We grabbed a drink and sat by the water eating pastries for a quick break.
Just a short walk over the bridge, Jeronimos Monastery, another UNESCO site, is a beautiful gothic monastery and church that are well worth visiting, especially if you’re into history. Back across the road, is the Monument of Discoveries and an amazing view of the Taigus River and the bridge. Then, head back to the city center for drinks on the beach of the river while watching the sunset.
Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra
Sintra is a magical gem of a town, filled with palaces, ancient ceremonial grounds, and adventures around every curve. This is a can’t miss day trip that can be easily made by a short train ride, or car trip. There are endless palaces and sites to see here, but I would suggest picking 3 to realistically get through in one day. You can see my post on what to see and do in Sintra here.
Tips and Tricks
What to eat: All the Pastel de natas possible– Seriously the tastiest pastry ever and I couldn’t get enough of them. Peri peri chicken- Yes, if you’ve been to London I’m sure you’ve tried Nandos, but this spicy chicken is originally from Portugal. You should for sure try to find a local place top try some out while here. Seafood-due to it’s location, Lisbon is extremely well known for it’s seafood (I am allergic and this actually made it very difficult to eat everywhere we went). Sheep cheese– get some charcuterie boards and wine before a meal and eat as much of the local shell cheese as possible!
Veal fondue at Eating Bear– We didn’t make it here, but I’ve been told it’s a divine meal!
Time Out Market– This is where we went our first night after getting in late and I’m so glad we did. So many amazing local options to try all in one spot!
Tagide– An incredible dinner with a view of the city looking out over the water. Perfect for watching the sunset while having a Michelin rated dinner. By far our most costly meal, but very delicious and the view during sunset was beyond worth it.
What to drink: Port Wine- a rich dark wine served with it as dessert. Vinho Verde- a super refreshing light wine that is young and slightly carbonated. Ginjunha- a local, strong cherry liqueur.
Where to drink and night life: Barrio Alto-everyone in Lisbon stays out drinking and listening to music till 3, but this neighborhood is where it really goes down. The streets are full of life with tons of drinks being poured and music being played every where you turn.
Transportation: Make sure to hop on a Tram at some point! Even if it isn’t the famous Tram 28, other’s are all the same and don’t have lines queued up for them. Taxis and Ubers are cheap and reliable for when your legs are exhausted as well. The trains are cheap and easy for day trips. The bus can also be used with the same card as the tram and train. 24 hour passes can be bought at all metro stations for very cheap! We rented a car as we were coming from another city and it honestly was not needed while we were there, except to use when getting to Sintra, which is accessible by train. Parking over night is hard to come by and costly.
Easy day trips for longer trips: Other than Sintra, which I personally think is a must, my second highest recommendation is making a beach trip while in Portugal. The beaches are stunning and after walking around the 7 hills of Lisbon you’ll be needing a rest day. We stopped in Faro on our way into Portugal, which can be accessed by plane ride or car, as well as several other beaches of the Algarve region. Many beaches can also be accessed by train however, and would be a perfect follow up day to Sintra. Cascais is just a 30 minute train ride from the Cais do Sodre station. (Sit on the left side for gorgeous coastal views) You can rent lounge chairs and buy drinks for an easy relaxation day here.