Lisbon is one of the most vibrant and uprising cities in Western Europe. It had been on my bucket list for many years and I finally visited it. The first time I went, I was amazed with the contrast in culture and architecture between Portugal and its neighbor country, Spain. I fell in love with Lisbon so much that I manage to go back!
Lisbon is famous for its colorful narrow streets, delicious gastronomy, Pastel de nata and friendly people. Lisbon is a city where you need to let go and get lost. It is good to have an itinerary of things to want to visit, thus we made this guide, but keep your mind open for the adventure of your life.
In this guide we are sharing our favorite things to do in Lisbon in three days. Our first day in Lisbon we visited the downtown area around the Santa Just Lift and the Rua Augusta Arch, while the second day we headed to the more western edge of the city and along the Tagus River. In your road trip across Portugal you must include Lisbon and at least spend two full days to get a better sense of this gorgeous city.
We specifically walked to the Belém parish, home to many of Lisbon’s iconic landmarks such as the Belén Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. The third day we did a quick day trip to Sintra, to visit it’s famous palaces. No visit in Portugal is complete without visiting Portugal’s second largest and charming city of Porto. While there you should definitely take a wine tour in Porto.
Best time to visit Lisbon
Lisbon is a year-round destination as it is always sunny but I strongly recommend to visit Lisbon during the Spring and the Fall between the months of early March to May and from September to October.. There are less people and the weather is better. If possible try to avoid visiting Lisbon during the Summer from late June through August as it is the busiest season and the hottest time of the year in Lisbon.
The best things to do in Lisbon Walking Map:
The complete three day itinerary to visit Sintra and Lisbon:
In this Lisbon 3 day itinerary we want to share with you a complete list of the best things to do in Lisbon. The good thing about traveling in Portugal is that even though it is not a hidden gem anymore it is still cheap compared to other Western European destinations.
Lisbon is full of attractions and a lot of things to do so if you are planning to visit Lisbon, I recommend to stay for at least 3 days so you can see the main highlights of the city.
It is so important to eat healthy and have a delicious breakfast before starting your adventure around Lisbon. Check out this guide with a complete list of the best places to have breakfast in Lisbon.
Day 1: Exploring downtown Lisbon and its main attractions
Our first day we will spend most of it around Lisbon’s downtown. There is going to be a lot of walking but it is worth every step. We are going to start our journey exploring Lisbon in the Alfama neighborhood as it is the oldest part of Lisbon.
São Jorge Castle
The medieval São Jorge Castle is one of the most famous landmarks and a must see in Lisbon. It is located above the streets of the old Alfama District with an amazing overlook of the historic center of Lisbon.
Tickets are 8.50€ adults, 5€ students under 25, and free/children under 10.
- November to February: 9AM to 6PM
- March to October: 9AM to 9PM
The views out over Lisbon from the castle’s miradouro, viewpoint, are incredible but unfortunately there are not many things to see in the castle. The only things to do at the Castle are to walk along the fortress walls and enjoy the views from the Miradouros, which you can see from other places in the city.
Roman Theatre of Olisipo
Walking down the hill from São Jorge Castle we walked straight past the archeological ruins of a Roman theatre. Their used to be a road where the archeological site is, but now the road is gone. It is worth walking by, but not worth going out of you way to see.
Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major
At the bottom of the hill is the Cathedral of St. Mary Major. This 12th century church has survived many earthquakes throughout its history. The grand architecture is quite humbling.
Cais das Colunas
Only a few blocks away is the Cais das Colunas, a flight of marble steps, that descend into the Tagus River. There are two columns in the water, as it used to serve as an official arrival point to the city by boat, but now it solely serves as a beautiful view of the river.
Praça do Comércio
Right behind the Cais das Colunas is Commerce Square. At the center of the square is a statue of King José I, king during the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, in which the square and city were destroyed.
From the square is a great view of the 25th of April bridge, and is the grand entrance to the old city of Lisbon.
Arco da Rua Augusta
Opposite the river and across the square is the Rua Augusta Arch. Walking under this beautifully decorated arch, you enter the door into old Lisbon downtown.
You can go up to the top of the Augusta Arch for a panoramic view of the city. From this viewpoint you can see an amazing panoramic view of downtown Lisbon including São Jorge Castle, Carmo Convent and the Comércio Square.
It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM and the entrance fee is 3 Euros per person.
Heading through the arch, you walk down the grand Rua Augusta, through Pombaline Lower Town. This elegant district was primarily constructed after the 1755 earthquake. The walking street is lined with many shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy the afternoon.
Design and Fashion Museum
As we were walking down Rua Augusta when we saw an interesting looking building. It turns out it was the Museu do Design e da Moda. This free museum displays modern industrial design and clothing. This quick museum is worth walking though while downtown.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
After walking up Rua Augusta, we headed a few blocks west to Chiado Square and the surrounding neighborhood. This area features a mixture of modern and old stores, including many of the international high end brands. If you are not looking to shop or eat, there is not too much to see.
Café A Brasileira
The highlight of Chiado is the Café A Brasileira. The café has an architectural combination of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. It once served as a center for intellectuals, artists and writers, including including Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.
While the food is not the best, where else will you be able to enjoy a coffee with a statue of Fernando Pessoa?!
Elevador da Bica
We continued walking west, past Largo de Camões square and on to the Ascensor da Bica. The city of Lisbon is known for their yellow trams.
Elevador da Bica is one of three funicular railways within the city, which now serve mostly as a tourist attraction. Here is where the iconic photo with the tram is taken as it only travels up and down one street. The little tram costs 3.60€ for a two way ticket up and down the hill. Another popular lift is the Elevador da Gloria, which has worked since 1885.
If you want to be alone in the tram wake up early and avoid the crowds.
Igreja de Santa Catarina
Further west is the Santa Catarina Church. We just happened to have walked past the church on our way to São Bento Palace, while it did not look like much from the outside, the inside is ornately decorated with many sculptures, paintings and stonework. It is one of the more impressive artistic works we saw in Lisbon.
São Bento Palace
São Bento Palace serves as the home to the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament. This huge palace makes for a great photo, and is not too busy with tourists.
Behind the assembly building is a mansion, which serves as the Prime Minister house. It is not worth walking up the hill to it.
Águas Livres Aqueduct
The Águas Livres Aqueduct is a beautiful 18th-century delivery system of clean drinking water to the city of Listbon. The Mãe d’Água reservoir, the largest in the aqueduct system now serves as a water museum. While the museum does not have much to offer, it is worth checking out if you have some free time.
The water museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Entry tickets is 5€. What makes the price of admissions worth it is the very nice panoramic view of the city from top of the aqueduct.
Marquis of Pombal Square & Eduardo VII Park
Sunset was arriving fast as we quickly walked the kilometer to Marquis of Pombal Square & Eduardo VII Park.
Marquis of Pombal Square is a roundabout and meeting point of several of the major roads in the city. In the center is a large column dedicated to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal.
For sunset we almost had to run to the top of the hill in Eduardo VII Park. It was absolutely worth it to see the maze design and view of the city as the sun went down. Just the picture from that moment says it all.
This park is famous for having such a great panoramic view of Lisbon and the beautiful green labyrinthine gardens with the river Tejo as a backdrop.
In the 19th century the square was paved with the typical Portuguese cobblestone that created an interesting wave dizzying effect on the floor. There are two main things you should look out while you are at Rossio: the public mirror and the Ginjinha. This last one is the most famous portugueses liqueur.
Praca da figueira
This large square is located at the top end of Rue Augusta. The massive square is in someway the center of downtown Lisbon. You will most likely walk past this a few times during your visit.
Santa Justa Lift
The Santa Justa lift is a national monument that takes the public up to a great viewpoint. Tickets are 5€ up and down, but it is not the only way to get to the view.
You can also walk up the hill on the other side and can get almost the same view. If you want to enter just the viewpoint from this side, it costs only 1.50€. The experience of riding a short elevator is not really worth it, but is a great way to avoid walking up hill! Also, we recommend going to the rooftop of the hotel Chiado as you can enjoy the same view.
➳ Tip: The view from the Rua Augusta Arch are better in our opinion, so instead of riding the elevator I recommend walk up to the viewpoint and use that money to visit the viewpoint from the Rua Augusta Arch.
Up the hill and behind the Santa Justa lift is the Carmo Convent and Carmo Archeological Museum. This historical convent got destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and now it lays in partial ruins and serves as an archeological museum. The vast gothic architecture is quite the marvel. The entrance fee is 4€ per person.
Teatro da Trindade
We then walked west to the Teatro da Trindade. The theatre along with many of the buildings in the surrounding square have beautifully decorated edifices. The inside of the theatre is also well decorated if you have the chance to go inside.
The best Miradouros in Lisbon
Just a few blocks north of the theatre is the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara that faces the east and north parts of Lisbon. This small park provides the best view point of the city. There is also a cafe, so you can enjoy a meal or drink while soaking in the sun over Lisbon.
Another viewpoints worth visiting are the Miradouro de Santa Catarina as it faces the south and east part of Lisbon and the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen that also has stunning views of the city and the Castelo. The Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol are the perfect viewpoints to watch sunset. These last two are next to each other.
Jardim Botanical de Lisboa
Continuing north along the road, we reached the botanical garden is worth visiting if you have some free time with nothing to do. It is a nice walk through many plant species, but we visited in the fall and there was not much in bloom. It felt like a public park, minus the grassy areas.
The botanical garden is free on Sunday until 2:00 PM.
Pink Street in Lisbon
This is one of my favorite streets in Lisbon because of its color. I chose to not edit this photo so you can see the reality of how I found this place, completely dirty. It broke my heart to see how dirty it was when all I have seen online was a beautiful well taken care street. It is a famous street with many bars surrounding it and that is why it gets super dirty.
Day 2: Things to do in outer Lisbon along the River Tagus
The Belém district is located in West Lisbon and it is a little bit out of the way from downtown but it is a neighborhood where you will find some of the most famous and beautiful landmarks of Lisbon. In this second day we have selected the best things to do in Lisbon around the Belém District.
Palace of Necessidades
The Palace of Necessidades is located in between downtown Lisbon and the Belém perish. It is a pretty cool pink palace, but that is it. It was not really worth the walk, but there are some benches and tables to enjoy a meal on a peaceful hill top, with no view.
25 de Abril Bridge
The 25 de Abril Bridge is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge and we totally agree. While it was not done by the same builders the San Fransisco bridge was part of the inspiration.
The bridge is the start to a beautiful bike and walking path down the Tagus River, towards the Belém perish.
Museum of Electricity
The Museum of Electricity is located only a short walk from the bridge, in the old Tejo Power Station. This new museum is a preserved and restored view at a traditional thermoelectric plant. It is much more interesting than in it sounds.
And it is free, so there is nothing to argue about! The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Afonso de Albuquerque Square Garden
The beautiful Praça Afonso de Albuquerque Garden is only a five minute walk from the Museum of Electricity. The square has many flowers within a well planned garden and pools. At its center is a large monument and statue of Afonso de Albuquerque.
Belém National Palace
Directly behind the Afonso de Albuquerque Square is the Belém National Palace. This historically rich palace now serves as the offices of the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic.
The complex also houses the Museum of the Presidency of the Republic, an interactive museum that explores the historical and contemporary role of the presidents.
The museum is open Tueday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Tickets are 2.50€ adults and 1.50€ students.
National Azulejo Museum
The National Azulejo Museum is dedicated to the art of tile work in Portugal. The fee to visit the museum is 5 Euro. The National Azulejo Museum is located in the former Convent of Madre Deus, which dates back to 1509. In the museum you will find out about the tradition of azulejo (tile) in Portugal as well as see many examples of it.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Just a block down the street from the Belem Tower is the Jerónimos Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only a remarkable example of architecture but also serves as integral part of Portuguese culture and identity.
Entry to the monastery is 10€, but there are also options for combined tickets with surrounding attractions. The main chapel is free to the public. The Monastery is closed on Mondays. If you want to go inside please plan to be in line for a long time. We recommend to go at least 30 to 40 minutes before it opens so you can be the first ones in line, unless you have the Lisboa Card, in which case you can skip the line.
➳ Tip: Sunday mornings are free to the public.
The hours are as follows:
- October to May: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
- May to September: 10AM to 6:30PM
It is not as grandiose as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, yet the artistic work is just as beautiful. Remember that this massive and carefully crafted architecture gem is 500 years old.
Praça do Imperio
In front of the Jerónimos Monastery is the Empire Square, with a massive fountain in the middle. We suggest taking some time in this square, as a commemoration to the great Portuguese Empire.
Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)
In front of the plaza, right on the Targus River where the old harbor where most Portuguese discoveries journeys started, is the Monument to the Discoveries. It is a monument to the age of discovery in Portuguese history. At the head of the statue is Henry the Navigator. This river is where many of the ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient.
At the base of the monument is a massive compass rose, gifted by the South African government. It is a map of the world situated inside the compass.
The Belém Tower is without a doubt one of the most famous landmarks as well as a must see in Lisbon. The Belém Tower was a defensive tower built on the banks of the Tagus River and serves as ceremonial gateway to the city of Lisbon. It appears the tower was built in the river itself, but it was actually built upon a small island in the river. It was built with the idea of being a lighthouse but due to its location it became a defensive fortress.
The Belém Tower was declared an UNESCO site in 1983. You can enter and climb the tower for 6€ to enjoy a beautiful view down the banks of the river. You can buy a combined ticket and visit the Jerónimos Monastery for 12€.
➳ Tip: Sunday mornings are free to the public.
The hour are as follows:
- October to April: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- May to September: 10:00 AM to 6:30PM
Museu do Combatente and Aos Combatentes do Ultramar
Next to the Belém Tower is the Museum of Combatants. The museum tells the story of Portuguese military personnel serving in the Overseas War, also known as the Portuguese Colonial War.
Outside of the museum is the Tomb for the Unknown Soldier and memorial to fallen soldiers.
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in my opinion is not worth visiting in the inside but definitely worth checking it out from the outside. Especially from the roof where people are able to walk. There are more than 15 thousand glazes tiles that reflect the sunlight and the river surface. It is blow minding. The best time to visit the roof at the MAAT is during sunset or sunrise.
Day 3: Lisbon to Sintra – Day Trip to Pena Palace and Cabo da Roca
Sintra will take you back to a fairy tale. It is the home of beautiful castles and palaces. Sintra is located 40 to 45 minute train ride from Lisbon and it is more than worth the trip.
We are still working on the Sintra Guide to stay tune for more info about this gorgeous place!
If we are missing anything from our Belém, Lisbon Travel Guide, please let us know in the comments!
Where to sleep in Lisbon:
The Keep – Sleep Boutique
The Keep is located on the edge of the old city of Lisbon, on the same hill of the Castle of San Jorge. Simple rooms are perfect for those traveling on a limited budget.
The great panoramic view of Lisbon from the patio is definitely worth it. It is the perfect combination of budget and quality, which we never saw before, at €25 a night for a private double room.
You have to climb two floors of stairs to get to the hotel, due to its location on the hill, so if stairs are a problem, this is not a place for you.
Hotel Duas Nacoes Lisbon
The Duas Nacoes hotel in Lisbon is a good option if you want to stay in a more central location. It is a 2 star hotel so it is not one of the best hotels in the city but the truth is that its price and location are excellent. It cost us 60 USD a night for a triple room. It does not include breakfast and is a bit old the hotel.
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