I feel like Lisbon mania has been catching since everyone I know has either just been to or is about to go to Lisbon. And that’ill make even more sense when you read this Lisbon 3 day itinerary and learn about all the amazingly awesome top things to do in Lisbon.
But like any city:
Not EVERY site is super awesome and worthy of your limited time. Yeah, there are some total duds in Lisbon that you should avoid like the Black Death.
Okay, they’re not that bad but a total time suck when your time could be spent elsewhere.
And when you’re short on time (like io you only have 2 days in Lisbon):
Tough decisions need to be made and some Lisbon things to see need get voted off the island.
But you’re busy and don’t need me to pointlessly drone on and use fifty different adjectives to describe how amazing Lisbon is.
Trust me, you’ll be able to see that for yourself during your Lisbon trip.
Instead, let’s swan dive into the sea of useful information that makes up this 3 day Lisbon itinerary. We’ll not only explore some of the top things to do in Lisbon, but we’ll learn about some of the more unusual things to do in Lisbon too.
By the end of this Lisbon 3 day itinerary, you’ll have a list of top things to do in Lisbon, know about some of the best restaurants in Lisbon, and even have a guide to some of the best places to stay in Lisbon.
Sounds pretty fab right?
Of course, it does! So, if you’re not sure what to do in Lisbon, add all these things to your Portugal itinerary and I promise that you’ll create the trip of a lifetime.
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Lisbon Itinerary Day 1: Belem Lisbon Things to do
The district of Belem was the very first thing I saw when I arrived in Lisbon. And I am so glad it was because this western district in Lisbon just oozes charm, history, culture, and beauty, with some fabulous seaside views and sunsets.
To get here:
Take the green line of the metro to the train or tram E15 at Cais do Sodré. And in a few minutes, boom, you’re there. Super easy. But if you’re at all unsure, just use this handy Lisbon metro guide.
And if you want to avoid the metro altogether, you can also take buses 27, 28, 29, 43 and 49 but I loathe buses and never take them so clearly, I skipped that public transportation option.
Once in Belem:
We’ve got to eat, am I right? Because food is the answer to all life’s problems. At least it is for this girl. So walk past the president’s snazzy pink house and start your Lisbon itinerary at the eatery with the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
Here their egg tarts are called pastéis de Belém and not pasteles de Nata since they’ve trademarked this name since they have their own super secret recipe that they’ve been using since the 1800’s.
So clearly, the food here is bangin’.
Once you’ve had all the egg tarts you can stomach, it’s an easy walk to one of the most iconic attractions in Belem, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery).
Built in 1501:
This monastery was created to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s safe return from India, a project that grew along with the wealth and power of Portugal.
While you’re here, Instagram whore it up. I mean:
Take in the intricate carvings and exquisite marble that adorn the enormous cloisters and awe-inspiring chapel of this architectural masterpiece.
So while you can skip the museum, (I thought it was lame) definitely grab a ticket and head inside because some transformative Instagram photos await you, I mean watershed cultural realizations. Yeah, something fancy like that.
And if you visit on Sunday morning, there’s no entrance fee! Hooray!
***You may be tempted to visit one of the top attractions in Lisbon, Torre de Belém (Belém Tower), just up the coast from our next stop. This tower was built to protect the city from raiding barbarians, pirates and basically anyone else hell-bent on destroying Lisbon. Apart from enjoying the beauty of the tower’s exterior, there is nothing to see. Do NOT go inside! It is a huge tourist trap unless you like to pay to get stuck in a narrow staircase with hordes of tourists. If you’re looking for a great view in Belem, Padrão dos Descobrimentos is much better.***
Head back outside and explore the Jardim Botânico Tropical (it’s literally right behind the monastery). This historic sanctuary of botanical bliss has been dazzling visitors since ye olde 1912.
And you can understand why since this is one of the largest gardens around Lisbon, a true haven of nature among the 18th-century Palácio dos Condes da Calheta. Yeah, this garden contains a ridiculous number of flower species (like 600 to be precise).
After a bit of peace and relaxation:
Walk over to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, along the harbor where most explorers started their voyages into the great unknown.
This monument stands in the Belém promenade and commemorates the sacrifices made by those brave explorers who elevated Portugal to the status of a world superpower in the 14th century.
Look closely and you can see men carved into the monument, men who seem to be standing on the bow of a ship that is getting ready to set sail.
Before you leave:
Look down at the gigantic world map on the floor and you can get a sense of just how much of the world was discovered by the Portuguese alone.
***Take a tour of Lisbon and learn about the history and culture of this magical city.***
Now I feel like it’s time for a lunch break. Don’t you?
Five minutes away is the expensive, but totally worth it, Feitoria Restaurant in the Belem Hotel and Spa (one of the best places to eat in Lisbon). I had their cheese plate and desserts but this restaurant is known for putting a modern, contemporary spin on iconic, Portuguese seafood dishes.
A must-try restaurant for any foodie on Portugal.
After a relaxing lunch, stroll over to the MAAT or Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. This museum has a futuristic feel that makes you want to break out your hoverboard and pretend like you’re the most recent addition to the Jetson family.
At one of the top museums in Lisbon:
You’ll see an assortment of contemporary art exhibits from relevant, Portuguese artists that have had a significant influence on the international, modern art scene.
When I was here, the art was a bit too modern for me and I honestly didn’t understand a lot of it. But that being said, the building is beautiful and well worth a visit in its own right.
It’s an easy hop, skip, and jump back to the train station where you can head back to Cais do Sodré. Depending on what you’re into you can walk to Lisbon’s famous Pink Street and experience some of the best nightlife that Lisbon has to offer (Pink Street is one of the best things to do in Lisbon at night)
If you’re a dessert monger like me who is also an aspiring Golden Girl, you can stop by Manteigaria and grab some of the best pastel de nata in Lisbon because really, can you ever eat enough egg tarts? I think not!
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Visit local hotspot O Trevo for some of the best Bifana in Lisbon (aka steak sandwich). This restaurant is a casual little hole in the wall with great prices for locals and tourists alike,
I’ve also heard the cod croquettes are good but since I’m a vegetarian, I stuck with the eggs and french fries.
Walk over to the Santa Justa Elevator. Built in 1902 from cast iron, this structure symbolizes the close relationship between Portugal and France (just consider this lift a mini Eiffel Tower of sorts).
At the top:
Catch an amazing, panoramic view of the magnificent sunset over Lisbon. And FYI, don’t wait in line.
Believe it or not:
There is an access bridge, behind the elevator, that you can use to avoid the line completely. Just buy a ticket for €1.50 so that you can climb to the top without waiting in line for more than two minutes.
Day 2 – Alfama Lisbon and Beyond (One of the best things to do in Lisbon)
***If you’re looking for a tasty but inexpensive breakfast, try Copenhagen Coffee Lab. Between the espresso and lovely breakfast options, like yogurt and granola or pastries, this is a great place to grab a quick breakfast.***
Let’s start day 2 with one of my favorite places in all of Lisbon, the Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)
Just take bus 718, 742, 794, or 759 and they will all drop you off right in front of the museum.
Not only is this institution a great introduction to the creation and cultural significance of Azuelejo (tile) manufacturing, but the building itself is a gorgeous space (tons of skylights, quaint doorways, and cascades of fuschia flowers) where you can relax and enjoy a well-deserved respite from the chaotic frenzy of Lisbon.
And while the museum can be easily explored in two and a half hours, the tile mosaics I saw were unlike any artwork I have ever seen.
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This museum has a full-scale church inside that is dripping with dazzling tile mosaics that represent more religious themes. Throw in some modern tile exhibits and a panoramic, tile map of Lisbon and I can almost guarantee that no matter who you are or what you like, something in this museum will astound you.
Once you’re museumed out:
Walk back the way we came and enjoy Alfama, the oldest and most historic district in all of Lisbon. A maze of cobblestone streets that are lined with vibrantly colored houses that display exquisite tile work, Alfama is truly a feast for the senses.
Watch as historic trams whizz up and down this hilly metropolis, and go back to a simpler time when Twilight was a time of day (not a book) and when the only cell phones available were Carrier Pigeons.
Do yourself a favor though:
Watch out for pickpockets who may take advantage of you while you’re taking 12,000 pictures, and not really paying attention to your valuables (For me valuables are like a disposable camera. Thieves get super disappointed when they try and steal from me).
Along the Way:
There are several Lisbon top things to do that you may want to visit when walking towards central Lisbon (and you’ll encounter these Lisbon fun things to do in this order).
Panteão Nacional – Like the Pantheon in Paris, this awe-inspiring building is the final resting place of many important figures in Portuguese history, like Vasco de Gama.
Sé Catedral – Lisbon Cathedral is one of the most important churches in the entire city. You can also catch the legendary Tram 28 from here (better to board the tram here than at other stops where you’ll have to wait over an hour to board the tram. Also watch out for pickpockets).
***Feeling a bit peckish? Visit Petisqueira Conqvistador for a quiet lunch filled with great service and delicious, typical Portuguese cuisine. A lovely spot to relax since this restaurant is located along a dead-end near Castelo de São Jorge.***
Castelo de São Jorge – I was a bit disappointed with this Lisbon attraction. Sure, standing at the summit of Lisbon’s tallest hill gives you an exquisite view of the city, but there are other parts of Alfama where you can get an amazing view for free. I just felt that the history and ruins of this charming castle were a bit lacking. I personally would not spend money to venture back inside (if you don’t want to walk uphill from Largo das Portas do Sol, you can either take bus 37 from Praça da Figueira or ride tram 28. If you decide to ride Tram 28, be sure to stop at Conserveira de Lisboa for some delicious food!)
***Looking for one of the best views in Lisbon? Then from Castelo de São Jorge, walk to Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte to get a fantastic panoramic view of the city.***
Now, I know it’s been a long day.
So if you’re exhausted, I totally get it. But personally, I would stop by Arco da Rua Augusta (Rua Augusta Arch) since it’s just a 15-minute walk from Castelo de São Jorge.
A bit reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris:
This arch was completed in 1875. The detailed sculptures here have come to symbolize the renewal of the city after 1755 when an enormous earthquake basically destroyed the entire city.
And while the architecture is lovely, the real beauty of this place is at the top, where you encounter sweeping views of downtown Lisbon, and the whole of the Alfama district.
It’s a short walk to the magnificent Praça do Comércio (Comércio Square), a historic square that is actually one of the largest in all of Europe.
between the river views, historic architecture, and an insanely large statue of King Jose I, this square is a fantastic place to relax and people watch like a boss.
***For dinner, visit Prata 52, a reasonably priced, Portuguese tapas restaurant that has a ton of great vegetarian options like vegetable tempura and roasted vegetables with hazelnuts. ***
Feeling frisky, I mean energetic?
Then stroll along Ribiera das Naus (one of the great Lisbon free things to do), a walkway along the river where locals and tourists bike, walk and jog while enjoying the natural beauty of the river
If you’re lucky, you might even be treated to some live music.
Day 3 – Downtown Lisbon
I promise this day is going to be a bit more relaxing. It all just depends on how much you love to aerobicize with Jane Fonda.
You can look down Avenida de Liberdade and see the majestic Tejo River. As you drink in the views around you, you might even feel a bit of deja vu.
Trust me, it’s normal.
Believe it or not, Avenida de Liberdade was modeled after the iconic, Champs Elysees and has become one of the fanciest avenues in all of Lisbon, absolutely dripping with opulence and wealth.
Stroll along the avenue.
Take in the charming trees, gardens, cobblestone walkways, and outdoor cafes that give this neighborhood a distinctive Parisian flair.
***Looking for a quiet breakfast at a fantastic espresso bar? Then try Fabrica Coffee Roasters near Monumento aos Restauradores. One of the best coffee shops in Lisbon, you can enjoy a lovely coffee and some fantastic pastries. A cozy place with fantastic indoor and outdoor seating.***
After you’ve savored your coffee:
It’s an easy walk to the Elevador de Gloria (Gloria Funicular), located on the west side of the Avenida da Liberdade, in Restauradores square, literally right around the corner from the tourist office in Palácio Foz.
First opened in 1885:
This national monument connects downtown Lisbon with Barrio Alto. And while I enjoyed my 3-minute ride up to Barrio Alto (once at the top head across the road to Rua de S. Pedro de Alcântara, and check out the Solar de Lisboa Port Wine Institute, where a vast range of port-wines may be tasted and purchased), the ride was a bit touristy, expensive, and overcrowded.
Once at the top though :
You can walk over to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and enjoy the view amidst a sea of charming fountains and majestic Greek busts. Feel free to sit back, enjoy some drinks, and get lost within the live music.
On the way back down:
To your left, you’ll see a ton of street art that is worth a look since this area is a designated street art gallery with several mesmerizing and poignant pieces of art.
***If you love street art and want to see more of Lisbon’s street art scene, then consider taking a fantastic Lisbon street art tour.***
Once you’ve adequately oohed and ahhed at all the street art here:
Meander on over to Rossio, a vibrant place that is teeming with everyday people who are shining shoes, walking to work, and playing instruments.
Besides people watching:
This cobblestone plaza has a lovely fountain and a rather large statue of someone I don’t know, Dom Pedro IV (Brazil’s first emperor).
You’ll also see the architectural beauty of Estação do Rossio, a historic train station from which you can catch a train to Sintra (for one of the best Lisbon day trips).
***One of the best day trips from Lisbon is to book a fun and easy day tour where you visit Cascais, Sintra, and Cabo da Roca.***
***For lunch, one of the best food markets in the city is in Praça da Figueira. Between the cheese, bread, empanadas, and other gourmet foods, a pair of elastic waist pants and a second stomach are absolutely essential. A fun place to stroll through the various food stalls and happily eat your feelings.***
We’ll explore one of the most beautiful churches in all of Lisbon, Igreja de Sao Roque. From the outside though, this church looks super lame.
But once inside, that’s when the magic happens!
Built in the16th-century, this church was the first Jesuit church in all of Portugal. Bedazzled in gold, marble, and azulejos, the true centerpiece of the church is the Capela de São João Baptist, a chapel, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, adorned in amethyst, alabaster, lapis lazuli, and Carrara marble (all you need to know is that it’s really pretty).
Talk about baller status.
After marveling at this church, you’ll have to somewhat gracefully pick your jaw up off the floor and move on with your life.
If you have time:
Visit Convento do Carmo, the ruins of a former church that was devoured by the earthquake of 1755. The somber ruins here reveal crumbling pillars and structural arches that are completely exposed to the sky above.
This former church houses the Museu Arqueológico, an archeological museum full of mummies, hand-painted tiles, and various other antiquities.
***If you want to grab a drink, the Convento d Carmo bar is a lovely place to relax amidst the echoes of live music throughout the garden patio and accompanying pool.***
Before you leave Lisbon:
You MUST go out one night (even if you’re traveling to Lisbon alone) and experience the soulful beauty of Fado, a Portuguese singing style that is emotional and broody by nature, kind of like any hormonal teenagers that you may know.
These emotions are intensified by the sounds of mandolins and guitars wailing in the background.
Yeah, I just went there.
But remember that while typically melancholy, this song style can occasionally be upbeat too.
So sing it with me, “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”
Swiftly moving on since when I sing, I sound like a dying cow.
For an authentic Fado experience, check out local clubs like A Nini, Adega Machado, Bela, Casa de Linhares, Club de Fado, and many more.
Generally speaking though:
These venues are cozy (real estate code for small) but popular, so book ahead if you wanna snag a seat.
Hip, hip hooray! You survived my Lisbon 3 day itinerary! Hopefully, you’ve discovered some of the best attractions in Lisbon and have even learned about some unique things to do in Lisbon too!.
I also hope that you feel capable of planning the perfect weekend itinerary in Lisbon.
So if you’re ready to begin one unforgettable trip to Lisbon, then pin this now and read it again later!