Get ready for unforgettable experiences when sightseeing through Lisbon in 3 days.
This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the Portuguese capital. Jaw-dropping landmarks, bright trams, and centennial cafés are only the beginning. Make sure to bring comfortable footwear; there will be a lot of walking (and hills) too. Check out these recommendations for sightseeing through Lisbon in 3 days.
Local tip: Buy a Viva card from the machines inside the metro. Top it up by purchasing single trips or using zapping, a method of buying in bulk starting at €3. These convenient cards work in the metro, on the buses, and on the trams.
Morning/afternoon, Day 1: Praça do Comércio and Rossio
Start your incredible trip in Praça do Comércio. This is known as the “doorway to Lisbon,” after all. Historically, it is where ships docked and commercial trade happened. Known as Lisbon’s largest square, it is surrounded by bright yellow buildings, government offices, restaurants, and museums. Snap photos, and then, sit at a terrace with a coffee before moving on. This sunny spot faces the iconic Tagus River to one side. After your coffee, walk through the Rua Augusta Arch and continue into the heart of the city.
Praça do Comércio is the biggest square but Praça da Figueira near Rossio may be the busiest. Peruse the cafés, pop into Confeitaria Nacional (perhaps Lisbon’s oldest pastry shop), and go window shopping. Taste ginjinha in the neighborhood where it was first sold. And, since you are exploring Lisbon in 3 days, there is time to go back for more later on.
Afternoon/evening, Day 1: Alfama, Castelo de São Jorge, fado restaurant
Dive into history with a visit to Alfama, the city’s oldest quarter. It is characterized by a labyrinth of medieval, cobblestone alleys lined by time-worn buildings. You may feel like you’ve been transported back through time.
It’s as good a time as any to tackle the hills. Climb the stone stairs (or take the tram) to the Castelo de São Jorge at the top of Alfama. The castle served as a military fortress and as the Royal Palace for a short time. Once you pass the stone entrance, you will enjoy some of the best views in Lisbon. There is also an archeological museum and a café where you can stop for a water. The doors to the castle’s entrance close at 6 p.m.
Since you need to experience the best of Lisbon in 3 days, look for a fado restaurant on the walk downhill. Garlic, bacalhau (salt cod), and/or pork may lead your nose to a nearby choice. You can also check these recommendations (many are in Alfama). Sipping on wine while listening to the haunting melodies of fado after a hearty meal is a truly Portuguese way to end your first day in Lisbon.
Morning/afternoon, Day 2: Belém
Wake up early and start your second day in the Belém district, the birthplace of pastéis de nata. The Pastéis de Belém pastry shop is a minute walk from the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is responsible for developing Lisbon’s favorite secret recipe for custard tarts. No one will blame you, however, if you already tried pastéis de nata somewhere else first. You’re trying to see as much as you can of Lisbon in 3 days.
Belém is a great place for history-lovers. After sinking your teeth into custard tarts, visit the Belém Tower, a 16th-century riverside military fort. Then walk the short 5-minutes along the river to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 20th-century monument built to commemorate nationally-important periods and figures through the country’s history.
Afternoon/evening, Day 2: Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real
After a day of history and architecture, make your way to Bairro Alto. As evening approaches, this eclectic neighborhood turns into “the” place to be. You will find a wide range of restaurants and bars, some offering live music. Notice the bars transition from party to chic as you continue to Príncipe Real.
Morning/afternoon, Day 3: Sintra
Your Lisbon vacation is almost over, but there is still time for a truly magical experience. A train at Rossio Station will take you to the fairytale town of Sintra in 40 minutes. Set amidst a small mountain range and surrounded by dense forest, some people consider it one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. Portugal’s royalty once vacationed in Sintra, and it is now a treasure trove of magnificent palaces and exotic gardens. Three main locations to visit are the mystical Quinta da Regaleira, the colorful Pena Palace, and the ancient Castelo dos Mouros. Of course, there are more palaces to explore (possible for a second trip?).
Local tip: In Sintra, stop for something sweet at Casa Piriquita, a pastry shop that was founded in 1862. It is best known for its travesseiros (rectangular pastries filled with egg cream and almonds) and queijadas (small cakes made with cheese).
Afternoon/evening, Day 3: A rooftop terrace
A day in Sintra is likely to leave you tired – relax at a cool rooftop terrace and watch the city lights brighten the night sky. Bid goodbye to this lovely destination (and perhaps start planning your next visit) with a glass of wine and an unforgettable view.