The perfect 3 days Lisbon itinerary
Can you spend 3 days in Lisbon and expect to see most of the top sights and sounds? This is a question I’m often asked. And as much as I do personally feel you need more time; you certainly can get a good overview if you are limited to visiting Lisbon for 3 days only!
We adore Lisbon! So much so that we decided to pack our bags and trudge halfway around the world to settle in this gorgeous city. We have been extremely lucky to call Lisbon our home for the last 3 years and continue for it to be for years to come!
So, I’ve taken the time to sit down and compile what I believe would be the ideal 3 days in Lisbon itinerary, covering everything from where to stay, when to visit, how to get around as well as what to see in Lisbon in 3 days.
This question often pops up on blogs and other online forums. It’s a tricky one considering Lisbon’s glorious weather, almost all year round. But there are still periods throughout the year that is considered better than others.
The quick answer to this question is to visit either during late spring / early summer, during the months of May and June, or during the late summer / early autumn, during the months of late September through to October.
Personally, I would avoid the months of July and August when the city becomes a hotbed for tourists, sights are overcrowded and the weather can get particularly hot and overbearing.
If you don’t mind a little cold weather, then the months of November and December are not bad either. Especially in December when the city comes alive with festive charm for the holidays. Given Lisbon’s fairly temperate weather, it’s much more pleasant during the winter months compared to other European neighbours. As such, consider spending Christmas in Lisbon, pure magic!
How to get to Lisbon:
Getting to Lisbon should be fairly straightforward with air travel being the predominant way to get to Lisbon. The international airport, which is located only a short half an hour out of the city centre by metro, receives both European and International flights from a host of different locations.
Portugal’s national carrier TAP Air Portugal also operates several direct flights into and out of Lisbon, including to the US, Canada and other destinations too.
Getting Around Lisbon:
Lisbon is by no means a large city and thankfully most of the major sites that you’d want to see and explore, whilst visiting Lisbon for 3 days, are all located fairly centrally.
For the most part, you can get around quite easily by walking, but the city does also have a good and inexpensive metro system if required.
Due to the city being so super compact, you can also make use of cab-hailing services such as Uber, Bolt or even Kapten. These trips often work out surprisingly cheap and may even cost less than catching the metro if you’re travelling in a group of 3 or 4 travellers.
For a complete and comprehensive guide on the city’s public transport options that you can make use of during your 3 day Lisbon itinerary, then check out our post on how to get around Lisbon for more details.
Where to stay: Lisbon in 3 days
If you’re wondering where to stay and base yourself during your stay of 3 days in Lisbon, Portugal, then we’ve got you covered!
Whenever friends or family ask where they should stay in Lisbon, I always advise them to base themselves in downtown Lisbon, close to all the major sites and attractions.
Areas I would be glad to recommend include Chiado, Baixa, Avenida Liberdade and even Principe Real. All of these are pretty central and easy to travel to and from by metro, cab or on foot.
Important: It is very important to take note that parts of Lisbon are very steep and cobbled too. Make sure that you have a good pair of walking shoes with decent grip. You’ll thank me after a long day of sightseeing and walking!
I’ve also put together a much more comprehensive guide on exactly where to stay in Lisbon that detail these areas and more, so go check that out!
Day 1: 3 Day Itinerary Lisbon: Exploring downtown & central Lisbon
The first day of your Lisbon 3 days itinerary will pack a punch, exploring the very best of downtown and central Lisbon that’ll no doubt leave you spellbound and falling head over heels in love with splendid Lisboa!
Stop 1: Parque Eduardo VII
Starting you off on your three days in Lisbon, set out to viewing deck at the top of Parque Eduardo VII. From here you’ll get to appreciate not only the perfectly manicured and symmetrical hedges leading all the way down the park but also get to look out over the city down through Avenida Liberdade, to the waterfront and even the São Jorge castle too!
As you head down the park on foot towards the Marques Pombal roundabout, be sure to check out the Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, an impressive yellow building perched on the left-hand side of the park (if heading towards the roundabout).
Stop 2: Avenida Liberdade
Next, from Parque Eduardo, continue straight ahead, passing by the Marques de Pombal roundabout and along the lush green and ever so swanky avenue known as Avenida Liberdade.
It is one of my favourite places to take a lazy stroll in Lisbon. Even though this stretch is incredibly posh and lined with designer shops and boutiques that I cannot afford, it doesn´t mean that you cannot walk down the avenue and stop off at one of the many quintessential Lisbon kiosks that line it for a drink or two.
Stop 3: Restauradores Square & Glória Funicular
As the tree-lined avenue ends you´ll emerge onto the Restauradores Square, flanked by the beautiful pink Palácio Foz. Right next door to the palace you will find the Glória Funicular (of Ascensor da Glória).
Go ahead and catch the funicular up the very steep hill, leading up to the top of where the neighbourhoods of Chiado and Principe Real merge.
Note: The funiculars and trams can get quite busy and squashed. It is a short ride up and well worth it, even if it is crammed with other eager tourists wanting in on the fun experience. Of course, this is the ideal environment for pickpockets to strike, so please, please, please take care of your personal belongings!
Stop 4: Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Emerging from the funicular at the top of the steep hill, you´ll turn left into what is one of my all-time favourite and most gorgeous views out over Lisbon. The garden and viewpoint, known as the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara are simply stunning and the ideal spot to snap a couple of iconic Lisbon photos.
There´s also a kiosk where you can lounge at and enjoy a drink as you admire the sweeping views out over the city.
From the Miradouro (viewpoint), we will start to descend down to trendy Chiado. But as a side note, if you are feeling adventurous and have time on your hands then head further up along the road (instead of downhill) and explore another chic neighbourhood of Principe Real. The main street is lined with funky designer stores, restaurants and bars and if you love gin, then be sure to head to the Embaixada Palace where you´ll find Gin Lovers, for the best gins in town.
Stop 5: São Roque Church
Heading down from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara you will pass along the São Roque church. Whilst the church doesn’t seem like much from the outside, the interiors will blow you away and are definitely worth popping your head into for a quick view.
The church interiors are innately decorated and boast several religious statues and alter that are all embellished in all manner of gold gilding. The sheer detail and craftsmanship are truly spectacular!
Stop 6: Praça Luís de Camões
Walking further downhill along Rua da Misercordía, you will eventually end up in a hip and buzzy square known as Praça Luís de Camões. Here you can admire the gorgeous Chiado architecture, watch the trams whiz by or head over the Manteigaria, that sells my favourite version of the famous Pastel de Nata (egg custard tartlets) which you have to try when visiting Lisbon!
Stop 7: Santa Justa Elevator
From here, start walking straight down Largo do Chiado street and continue walking straight ahead as it merges with Rua Garrett street. Walk all the way along until you see the Armazens do Chiado shopping centre. Turn left, walk down Rua do Carmo and at your next right, you will arrive at the impressive Santa Justa Elevator, unmistakably an icon of the city.
The elevator itself is not only pretty to look at, but you can also opt to take a ride all the way to the top of the viewing platform that offers yet more gorgeous views of Lisbon.
Now, this is quite popular so the queue may belong. If you are pressed for time and don’t mind not going up the lift but still want the views, then head up to the Largo do Carmo square where you will not only find the Convento do Carmo Church Ruins, but also the Topo Chiado rooftop bar & restaurant where you should stop for lunch with a view.
Lunch Stop: Topo Chiado
Stop 8: Rossio Square & Rossio Train Station
After a scrumptious meal, it’s time to head back to the charming streets of Lisbon and continue exploring. From Topo Chiado, head back down towards the Rossio Square and the Rossio Train Station.
The square with the black and white, wave-patterned tiles as well as the fountains flanking each side of the square, is ideal to continue snapping away at the Lisbon architecture and scenery.
Just around the corner, you will also find the impressive Manueline-style façade is a stunning building and definitely worth snapping too. Rossio Train station is also where you will head to if you are planning a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra!
Stop 9: Rua Augusta Street, Rua Augusta Arch & Praça do Comércio
Next up, head from Rossio Square along the popular Rua Augusta shopping street, lined with restaurants, shops and boutiques.
On a side note, do not eat at any of these restaurants lining the street, many are tourist traps pretending to offer authentic Portuguese cuisine. More often than not, that isn’t the case at all. Rather pass swiftly along.
Also, don’t be put off if you´re constantly being offered drugs by strange men walking up to you. Unfortunately, this is one of Lisbon´s most annoying features but is usually completely harmless. In most cases, these men aren’t even selling real drugs, rather selling some type of herb to a gullible passer-by.
At the end of this pedestrian street, you´ll find Lisbon´s most symbolic shot, the Rua Augusta Arch. Many don’t know this, making it far less crowded, but for a mere €3, you can actually go right to the top of the arch and enjoy yet more glorious views over the city and the river Tejo too.
Once you walk through the arch you´ll enter into the large square, Praça do Comércio, framed beautifully by striking yellow buildings on either side and right at the river´s edge.
During the summer festival months, the city often hosts a range of different events and concerts in the square, so be sure to check on Facebook events to see if anything´s happening during the duration of your stay.
Stop 10: Cais do Sodré & Time Out Food Market
As the first day of your 3 days in Lisbon draws to a close, walk along the riverfront from Praça do Comércio towards the area of Cais do Sodré.
Along the way, you will stumble across a few more kiosks where you can grab a drink and enjoy the late afternoon / early evening and toast to a day of successful sightseeing.
Lastly, stop off at the Time Out Food Market (also known as Mercado da Ribeira). This popular food market is a must for any Lisbon itinerary. This trendy food market has stall upon stall where you can delight in and savour the best of Portuguese cuisine. The perfect way to end off day one in sunny Lisboa.
Dinner: Time Out Food Market
Day 2: Lisbon 3 Day Itinerary: Alfama
On day 2 of your Lisbon 3 day itinerary, we´ll take a trip back in time as we discover Lisbon´s oldest neighbourhood of Alfama and its surrounds.
This centuries-old neighbourhood survived the 1755 earthquake that devastated and destroyed most of downtown Lisbon, meaning you’re truly stepping back in time as you explore the alleyways and cobbled streets of old-worldly Lisbon.
Stop 1: São Jorge Castle & surrounds
Alfama and the surrounds, including the area of Castelo, is one of the hilliest Lisbon neighbourhoods. As such, we’ll kick-off day 2 from the São Jorge Castle at the top of the hill and work our way down.
Now, I have to confess, the castle is certainly imposing when viewed from downtown Lisbon, but there isn’t much by way of an actual castle left. The site is more of a fortified ruin. But, the views from the castle grounds out over Lisbon is truly breath-taking to behold.
After you´re done exploring the castle grounds, the area is known as Castelo, you should do yourself a favour and meander through the streets surrounding the castle. Not only will you find quaint and colourful houses lining the narrow alleys and streets, but you may also bump into some of the castle´s resident peacocks wandering through these streets too!
Stop 2: Miradouro de Santa Luzia & Portas do Sol
Done exploring Castelo, then slowly make your way down the hill towards the Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint for a different perspective. Yes, Lisbon definitely has a wonderful selection of stunning views and viewpoints to admire, it´s truly unlike any other city we´ve visited before!
Next up, only a short walk up the road you´ll get to the second of our Alfama viewpoints that is also worth a visit, the Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Here you can admire the colourful views out over Alfama whilst stopping off at one of the kiosks for a drink or a bite to eat.
Stop 3: Fado Museum square
Of course, meandering through Alfama and the surrounding neighbourhoods, you will no doubt stumble upon many hidden treasures and gems, most notably the street art as well as the historic architecture and rustic streets.
Next up we would head to the square right opposite the Fado Museum. By this time you´ll probably be starving, so grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants on the square.
Lunch stop: Stop for lunch in Alfama
Stop 4: Fado Museum
After lunch, you may want to consider paying a visit to the Fado Museum where you can learn more about the history of traditional Portuguese folk music known as Fado.
Fado, with its haunting and melancholic sounds, is a truly magical experience to watch live in concert. The Fadistas (Fado singers), accompanied by guitar players, tell stories of Portuguese live and history through their song. It is an incredibly emotive experience and one that I can highly recommend you check when visiting Lisbon.
Stop 5: Continue exploring the streets of Alfama
Continue onwards on your Lisbon in 3 days itinerary by exploring more of Alfama´s streets by heading towards to the Sé Cathedral.
To get there you´ll make your way through quaint alleyways and side streets that ooze charm and personality by the bucket loads. You´ll definitely need some time as I´m almost certain you will be taking tons of photos of these gorgeous ancient streets.
Stop 6: Sé Cathedral
Last stop for the day is at the remarkable Sé Cathedral which dates back to 1147 when construction started. Not only did it survive the 1755 earthquake but has also undergone several renovations and modifications during its lifetime.
As a result, you should be able to spot several different architectural influences and styles throughout the church including Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque to name but a few.
Dinner: Why not book a dinner & Fado show. We can recommend the restaurant: Restaurante Fama d’Alfama located in Rua do Terreiro do Trigo, 80, Alfama, Lisboa. Be sure to contact them to see if they have a Fado show on during your stay.
Day 3: Lisbon Itinerary 3 Days: Visit Belem and Cascais
It’s day 3 and I’m sure by now you are completely smitten by sunny Lisboa! So, what’s left to explore? Well, today we suggest you head on over to the riverfront neighbourhood of Belém, which is a short train ride away from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station.
Stop 1: Torre de Belém
There are a couple of truly emblematic monuments that you will no doubt recognize from pictures seen online, and one such monument is the Torre de Belém (or Belém Tower).
The tower itself is quite pretty to look at and definitely a picturesque shot as it juts out into the river Tejo. But, take my word for it, don’t waste your time and queue to enter the tower as there isn’t really much inside to see. Rather take a quick snap and move along.
Stop 2: Padrão dos Descubrimentos
From here, you can start walking along towards yet another iconic monument, being the Padrão dos Descubrimentos (or the Discoveries Monument).
This monument pays tribute to Portugal’s incredible nautical heritage, during the age of discoveries and features prominent and historic Portuguese figures.
Stop 3: Jerónimos Monastery and Santa Maria Church
Next up, head across the road to the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery and Santa Maria Church (well technically you’ll be heading under, through the underground tunnel).
Yet another exquisite example of the Manueline architectural building style, this is one of my favourite buildings in Lisbon! You can opt to buy a ticket and tour the monastery itself which is very fascinating in itself, or you can head straight for the Santa Maria church which offers free entry and is a marvel to behold (you simply have to see this church!).
Stop 4: Pasteis de Belém
By now I’m sure you’ll be feeling a tad peckish and wanting a bite to eat. Before heading to lunch though, stop off at the famous Pasteis de Belém Bakery and sample the original Pastel de Nata tartlets, a true taste of Lisbon.
The Pasteis de Nata recipe was originally created by monks from a neighbouring monastery, but when the monastery closed down, the monks decided to sell the original recipe to the Pastes de Belém bakery that has been making these delicious delights ever since.
After scoffing down a pastel de nata, or ten, find a lunch spot in and around Belém before continuing onwards.
Lunch Stop: Grab lunch in Belém
Stop 5: National Coach Museum
Once lunch is done and dusted, make your way to the National Coach Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) which houses a stunning selection of royal and other coaches dating back as far as the 17th century. You’ll also get to enjoy an exhibition showcasing various instruments and ceremonial uniforms too.
Stop 6: MAAT
A more recent addition to Lisbon is the sleek and stylish riverfront Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which is our next stop in Belém. The building on its own is an absolute showstopper and definitely worth seeing, even if you’re not planning to go into the museum itself.
MAAT aims to create an open and creative dialogue through the various modernist exhibitions it hosts on a regular basis. One of my particular favourites and also an eye-opener was their exhibition on plastic pollution in our oceans, that was a stark reminder of the impact our consumption has on our beautiful oceans and marine life.
Stop 7: LX Factory
Last but not least is the final stop on my suggested Lisbon 3-days itinerary, being the cool and trendy LX Factory in the heart of Alcântara.
LX Factory is a lot of old warehouse buildings that have been converted into an uber-trendy selection of boutique stores, art galleries, bars and restaurants that’s definitely worth checking out.
There is a great selection of restaurants here and the vibe at night as just as good as during the day. So why not grab dinner here and end your stay in Lisbon off in style.
Dinner: Grab a bite to eat at LX Factory
Day 3 Alternative: Visit Belém & Cascais
If the thought of traipsing through museums and monuments doesn’t appeal to you, then why not consider a quick half-day through Belém to tick off all the major sights and then continue onwards on the same train line towards the seaside town of Cascais.
Cascais is one of the most popular day options trip from Lisbon and is under an hour by train from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station. This seaside haven is also often revered to as the Portuguese riviera as the coastline snakes all along from Lisbon to Cascais and dotted with glorious beach after beach. So why not bask in the sun, explore Cascais’s historic and very charming centre or savour some fresh seafood.
A perfect alternative to spending a full day in Belém.