So you finally decided to make it to Lisbon. Great choice! Lisbon is the spicy capital of Portugal oozing with contagious energy and loads of character. It really reminded me of San Francisco with the hills, the colourful housing, and especially the iconic red bridge! #twinning. It’s such a lively city and there is a lot to see, so be prepared for some awesome sites. If you’re wondering what to do in Lisbon, this mini guide will surely help!
I find itineraries to be super helpful when planing my trip. I usually have a list of things to do but feel overwhelmed because I don’t even know where to start. So when someone plans it out for me and tells me how far each site is apart and which order to do them in, it saves me SO much stress and time planning. I thought I would share the love and hopefully this serves as a helpful resource to explore Lisbon!
With my recent trip to Portugal’s capital, I have put together a 3-day itinerary highlighting what to do in Lisbon (including day trips). Without further ado, welcome to Lisbon!
A few Interesting facts about Portugal you probably didn’t know:
- Did you know that Portugese is the 6th most spoken language in the world?! Who would have thought?
- There are 7 former Portugese colonies including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Macau, and Goa where Portugese culture, food, and language is still firmly rooted today.
- A sea quake in 1755 knocked out lower parts of the city, but the ones on the hills survived. Hence, the buildings on the hills are older.
- The old trams were given to Portugal by Germany as compensation for WWI.
- The Revolution of 1974 was a bloodless coup that took place on April 25th and restored democracy in Portugal. As a result, the famous red bridge is referred to as the 25th of April bridge.
Lisbon 3-Day Itinerary
♥Day 1: What to do in Lisbon♥
Start your morning off right by grabbing a famous Portugese custard tart (“pastel de nata“) and a coffee. (Unfortunately the tarts are not gluten-free so I wasn’t able to try one…but if you do, let me know how they are because they looked very yummy). These are the staple sweets in Portugal and you will see them just about everywhere!
After fueling up, head to the infamous Miradouro, meaning viewpoints. Any time you see a sign that says “Miradouro”, a good idea would be to follow it to see what wonderful views of the city it offers! There are so many great viewpoints in Lisbon, and the hard part is choosing which ones to see!
Lisbon is VERY HILLY and you will be walking uphill a LOT, so don’t try to be cute and wear heels, wedges, or uncomfortable sandals. I wore my sporty gym clothes the whole time in Lisbon and I would have died wearing anything else.
Top 3 most Instagram-worthy Miradouro in Lisbon:
1. Señhora do Monte
This was probably my favourite view over the city and castle. It’s one of the highest viewpoints and affords an awesome birds-eye view over the vibrant city of Lisbon. There was a live musician playing soothing music and a little cafe up there as well. I planned on going back here for the sunset, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate.
2. Miradouro Graça- (Graça means grace)
Less than 10 minute walk downhill from Señhora do Monte you’ll find an almost equally stunning view over the city at Miradouro Graça. It’s a bit lower than the last viewpoint, but it offers a more close-up view of the castle. There are slightly more tourists at this viewpoint as well but it’s still a must see! There is also a little cafe where I had some tea as I admired the view.
3. Santa Luzia
This offers a great view over the rooftops of Alfama and the water. There are lots of restaurants and cafes around, as well as live music. It’s probably the most “touristy” view, but it’s still nice to see! Its also at the bottom so it will be on your way to see Alfama!
Alfama is an electric neighbourhood near the water and is a must see when visiting Lisbon. There are gorgeous cobblestone streets, very colourful housing, stunning street art, narrow alleys, and just so much life! This is also where you will see lots of restaurants advertising “Fado” shows, the traditional Portugese dance.
Unfortunately I skipped this activity because honestly, it was too expensive for my budget. Most restaurants charge a cover fee of 10 to 15€, and then overpriced dinner as well. Expect to spend 30€ minimum. I don’t mind paying extra for something very unique, but it seemed to be less traditional and too touristy for me. But hey, that’s just my opinion. If it interests you, go for it!
The 28 tram seemed to be an icon in Lisbon and takes you through all the pretty neighbourhoods in the city. I saw the little yellow tram several times, but never got on. It’s a must do on most Lisbon guides, but it was SO crowded. It looked like a pick pocket haven so I passed and just admired it from afar. But if you find it empty, I would definitely hop on for the experience.
Next, take a quick stroll through Villa Berta, a former working class neighborhood. These buildings were originally built for working class people to all live in a common area. It’s a very picturesque neighbourhood and worth a walk through, if only to snap a photo or two.
Where to Eat?
Head over to Pharmacia, a popular restaurant decorated to look like, well, a pharmacy! I ended up eating there twice. It has a nice ambiance and serves more tapas-style dishes. It was nice to sample a few different dishes. The servers were super nice and the food was good. I wouldn’t say awesome, but really good. I paid about 18€ for 2 dishes and a glass of wine. It’s a popular place so a reservation is a must, especially during peek season. This restaurant is also right in front of a popular Miradouro called Santa Catarina. During sunset, this was the local spot to be with a beer in hand!
This is a must go to place while in Lisbon, so if you don’t go here on day one, make sure to make it there on day 2. TimeOut Market is not your typical food market. It’s a gourmet food market with some of the best chefs in Lisbon. It is HUGE and offers so many choices.
The design really reminded me of Octoberfest. Except everyone was drinking wine, instead of beer. It’s a really big social spot and gets really busy, so you may have to wait for a spot at one of the tables. But it’s SO worth it. TimeOut Market is amazing! Don’t miss it! Expect to pay around 10-12€ for a meal and a bottled water.
Castel de Sao Jorge
After a late lunch head over to the Castel de Sao Jorge for spectacular panoramic views of the city. You can also walk the castle walls, which is always fun. The walk up to the castle is very nice with street art everywhere and cute tiny little cafes and wine bars on the way. It’s overpriced if you ask me, at 8.50€ a ticket (isn’t Portugal supposed to be cheap?!). But I enjoyed it, and if you’re not on a super strict budget, I would definitely check it out.
If you went to TimeOut Market for lunch, then head to Pharmacia for dinner. Another option would be to head to Alfama, as there are endless restaurant choices in this area and just an overall lively atmosphere.
This is the hipster neighborhood and the most popular place to go out at night. The streets come alive after hours so if you like to party, head over to this neighborhood. It’s also a very pretty part of town and I enjoyed strolling through with camera in hand.
♥Day 2: What to do in Lisbon♥
Rua Augusta Tower
This tower will give you a great view over the famous Rua Augusta street. It’s 2.50€ to enter and an easy walk to the top.
Elevador de Santa Justa
A gothic type elevator that seems to be very popular. It costs 5€ to go to the top and might be a tourist trap as the lines were wrapping around the corner when I went. I didn’t go to the top, but took photos from the bottom instead. It looks like something out of Gotham City and it’s nice to see. I would skip going up however.
Probably the coolest site in Lisbon. An earthquake demolished the roof of this church back in 1755 and it has never been restored. It has now been converted to a convent. Price is 2.50€ to enter. Don’t miss this attraction, it’s pretty unique!
After lunch, take the bus to Belem, outside of the city. It’s a cute little town with a famous tower located on the shore. It’s a great spot for people watching or a picnic, and I witnessed so many people were laying in the surrounding green park. It takes about 30 minutes by bus and costs 2.85€. For some reason the bus ticket back was only 1.80€.
Enjoy one of the many quaint restaurants in Belem, or head back to Lisbon to the Alfama district.
♥Day 3: What to do in Lisbon♥
Day trip to Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira, and Cascais. For more details on day trips from Lisbon, be on the lookout for a separate blog post highlighting these amazing spots!
You can’t go to Lisbon and skip the easy day trip to Sintra. You cant. Just don’t do it. Home to the fairytale Peña Palace and the Moorish castle, it is an absolute MUST! The entrance fee is a bit steep at 14 euro, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Catch an early train to avoid crowds, and also because there is a LOT to see so you’ll need every last minute.
Direct Trains to Sintra leave every 30 minutes from Lisbon and take about 40 minutes. The cost is 3 euro one way. Apart from the iconic castles, the town of Sintra is worth a visit. It’s a beautiful and timeless little town set amongst the mountains and it’s sure to catch your eye.
Quinta da Regaleira
A mere 10-12 minute walk from Sintra is a heavenly place called Quinta da Regaleira. This was by far my favorite part of the day. Don’t leave without seeing the famous well on the property. It’s straight out of a storybook. I felt like I was in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom exploring all the endless surprises around every corner.
It costs 6€ to enter and was well worth it. Set aside ample time because this place is huge!
Another must see is Cascais, a quiet little seaside town that really reminded me of the south of France (sans the hefty prices). A highlight was Boca do Inferno, a 20 minute walk from the center. Boca do Inferno means “hell’s mouth” as there is a small opening (the mouth) in the rocks where forceful waves come crashing through. I sat up at the top and just admired the view for about 30 minutes.
A train back to Lisbon from Cascais costs 2.60€ and takes 40 minutes. The bus from Sintra to Cascais takes 40 minutes and costs 4.10€.
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♥(optional) Day 4♥
If you have a 4th day in Lisbon, I highly recommend breaking up your big day trip into 2 separate day trips. Spend day 3 in Sintra/Quinta da Regaleira and Day 4 in Cascais. I did this all in one day and it was almost too much. I was a little rushed and I wish I had more time in each place.
Side note for eating gluten-free (GF) in Lisbon: as a gluten-free traveler, it was extremely difficult to find actual gluten free restaurants in Portugal and I panicked a little bit. However, seafood was my best bet as this is a staple dish in Portugal being on the coast. I carried my Portugese Gluten Free restaurant card with me at all times, and most places were able to accommodate me in some way or another. So if you are a Celiac or gluten-intolerant, don’t bother finding GF restaurants, as they are virtually non-existent. You can eat safely in Portugal, it just takes a little more effort. Cheers!
Travel Insurance for Portugal
I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.
RECOMMENDED TRAVEL GEAR FOR TRAVEL TO PORTUGAL:
1.Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!
2. Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. I use this lens more than the original and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.
5. GoPro Hero 5 Black: My newest addition and the BEST GoPro on the market. This is an essential item when you’re traveling solo to get all your cool shots (and of course underwater pics).
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love 🙂
Have you been to Lisbon? What was your favorite part? Did I miss anything? Do tell!
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