Lisbon, Portugal was the last stop on our four country trip that also included South Africa, Morocco, and Spain. It was also the longest we spent in a single city since beginning our trip in Cape Town, South Africa. We were ready to wander the streets of Lisbon for three days.
Lisbon’s cobble stone streets, gorgeous architecture, street cars, street art, and delicious foods stole our hearts. We were amazed by what this city has to offer and were pleasantly surprised by what we were able to see during our short stay.
Not only does the city itself hold a lot of attractions for visitors, but no more than an hour train ride away are several day trip cities from Lisbon that will amaze you just as much as the capital itself.
All of this made for the perfect destination to end our four country trip.
3 Days In Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal Itinerary
- Flew from Barcelona, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal.
- Visited Castelo de S. Jorge and had dinner.
- Wandered around Alfama and the public squares.
- Visited Santa Justa Lift, Carmo Convent, and Lisbon Cathedral.
- Visited Jerónimos Monastery.
- Went across the Ponte 25 de Abril to visit the National Sanctuary of Christ the King.
Day Trips from Lisbon, Portugal
3 Days in Lisbon
What to Do in Lisbon for 3 Days
Castelo de S. Jorge
Santa Justa Lift
This was the first place we visited when arriving in Lisbon. We only really had time for one thing to do and then dinner before the sun set and it always seems that we seek out the attraction that provides the best view of the city first. São Jorge Castle did not disappoint.
It is a Moorish castle that dates back to Medieval times and is situated on a hilltop in Lisbon showing off incredible views of the city and surrounding Alfama area, the oldest area of the city. You can wander around the castle grounds, climb up towers, and walk along the castle’s walls.
Entry costs about 25 Euro per adult.
Opened in the early twentieth century, the Santa Justa elevator is a historic lift that connects the lower level of the streets to an upper level of buildings. It is located further up the main street of Lisbon that extends from the Praça do Comércio.
Using the lift comes at a small cost of about 5 euros or 6 euros for a full day metro pass that includes a lift pass. It was interesting to ascend the lift and the metal staircase to the top and to view the city of Lisbon from yet another viewpoint.
Opened in the twelfth century, this cathedral is iconic to the city as its oldest church. It is definitely a place you need to visit when in Lisbon and also very affordable at free entry. You cannot go wrong with visiting this gorgeous cathedral not far from the main street of Lisbon.
Construction began on this monastery in the early 16th century. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It really is a wonder to look at. The architecture on the outside is enough to make you amazed at what you are seeing. You can visit the inside of the church to see its beauty.
You can then continue on to the monastery and view all of the different quarters, corridors, squares, and so much more that this structure will throw your way. This was one of our favorite things we did when in Lisbon and would recommend it to anybody. We took a couple of hours to visit this entire monastery.
It is located near Belém Tower which can be paired for a full day itinerary. Unfortunately we ran out of time with a late start at the monastery and did not have enough time to visit the tower.
Praça do Comércio is the main square at the waterfront in Lisbon which holds different vendors, restaurants, cafes, and opens up into a popular street that stretches north which also holds much of the same. Separating the two is the Arco da Rua Augusta that was built after the eighteenth century earthquake that destroyed much of the city to commemorate the event.
Rossio Square ends the popular street from Praça do Comércio and opens up into a square filled with restaurants with the train station on one end and the initial stop of the 28 tram on the other. This is where a lot of festivities were held for the April 25th celebration when we were in Lisbon.
What We Missed
Tower of Belém
National Sanctuary of Christ the King
A tower near the Jerónimos Monastery. It was constructed in the early 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it played a role in the Age of Discovery when Portugal was involved in maritime exploration at the time.
It would have been great to enter this tower, but we ran out of time as the Jerónimos Monastery took a lengthy period of time to visit it all.
Constructed in the fifteenth century, this is a former Catholic convent that was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighteenth century. It is now a museum with remnants of artifacts and the structure that still stands. It would have been good to enter this place to wander around, but it was not in our budget and we had already seen a lot of it from outside and up top the Santa Justa elevator.
Across the Ponte 25 de Abril, the bridge commemorating the 25th of April revolution, lays the National Sanctuary of Christ the King. It is a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ evidently inspired by the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil.
We showed up after hours and could not enter unfortunately, but made a point of getting a cab to drive us across the bridge to see the area for ourselves. Really it is not worth it if you are not going during opening hours.
There are numerous museums that we missed out on, though museums are not really what we look for when visiting a city. If you are interested in adding one of these to your itinerary, check out: MNAA National Museum of Ancient Art holds art in an old palace, National Azulejo Museum which holds ceramic collections in a church, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum which holds an oil magnate’s art collection, and the National Coach Museum holds historical carriages.
Where to Eat in Lisbon
Fábrica da Nata – Pastéis de Nata
Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau
Eating Around Alfama and Praça do Comércio
If you are in Portugal, then you need to try the egg tarts. These pastries are enough to blow your mind. They are wonderfully made in this shop right before your eyes. They are flaky, custardy, and are slightly charred on the top to add to the flavor. There is no pastry better when you are in Portugal.
This shop is located right by the Lisbon train station basically next to the Hard Rock Cafe, further north from the Santa Justa elevator.
This is another pastry shop with a great setting. Definitely a place that you can order a coffee and some baked goods and just relax for a while in the morning or after a long walk.
This place is located right near São Jorge Castle.
This place serves one thing very well. Cheesy codfish cakes. They are wonderfully handcrafted before your eyes and fried to perfection. They are a must taste when you are in Lisbon.
The shop is conveniently located near the Santa Justa elevator.
We enjoyed this place to eat breakfast so much that we visited twice. It is a lovely little communal cafe vibe with healthy options for eating including eggs, bagels, and salads. Definitely a good place to go for a health conscious traveler.
It is conveniently located right by Lisbon Cathedral so you can start your day off right with a healthy breakfast and touring the cathedral before moving on to your next attraction.
If you are wandering around these two areas you are abound to find many different food spots. Though these are the more touristy areas, the food is still good but it comes at a price. We did sit down at our first restaurant in Alfama where we tried the infamous octopus there. Something that you have to try when in Portugal. We also treated ourselves to sangria among other popular foods and drinks.
Where to Shop in Lisbon
Praça do Comércio
If you are after some souvenirs to take home with you, then wandering the old city streets of Alfama will provide you with many opportunities to pop into souvenir shops to see what they have for sale.
This main square at the waterfront is also a great place to wander as it is lined with shops and restaurants and also opens up into the main street of Lisbon which houses much of the same. This is definitely a good starting point for any walking tour in Lisbon.
How to Get Around Lisbon
You will miss so much that Lisbon has to offer if you do not walk around the city as much as possible. Using the tram to get around is also acceptable and fairly inexpensive. We always recommend that you walk around as much as possible in different areas of the city to really soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the little gems that you find along the way.
This is also a great way to get around the city, especially in the hilly areas of Lisbon. These historical street cars are a joy to ride around in. Tram number 28 is the wooden car that takes you around the most popular destinations within the city and you will be waiting in a long lineup to get on. And yes, we did wait in that lineup to get on it.
It took about 30 minutes of waiting and about 3 euros each to get on. We rode out the entire journey on the tram. Purchase your tickets and board at the first stop at Ponto Inicial Trem 28 further north east of the Santa Justa elevator. There is some more great information about tram 28 here.
Uber was what we took when we had to get from one place to another in a hurry. We took a few Ubers during our time in the city, but mostly to get back home to our apartment at night or to get to the airport when we left.
We did have a problem with one Uber in Sintra when we booked one, he showed up and said that he could not take us so he had to cancel, and then said he could take us for double what Uber had said in cash. Of course we did not fall for this and we ended up taking a lovely vintage car ride down to the train station instead.
Unfortunately with this being one of our first experiences with Uber, our next time trying to book a ride on the app was difficult as nobody would accept our ride. Finally when we got a driver, he told us that we had a low rating and he only picked us up because he was in the area. Turns out that the cancelled ride worked against our rating and it would prove difficult to get rides until we got that rating up.
We took trains during our day trips to both Cascais and Sintra. They were affordable and we did not have to book them in advance. We simply just showed up and booked our tickets with ease. After our experiences in Spain, we could not have asked for a better experience taking trains in Portugal.
How to Get to Lisbon
Since it is the capital city of Portugal, there are many ways to arrive in Lisbon. We chose to fly from Barcelona, but we could have just as easily taken a bus or train. However, our time was limited already and did not want to limit it anymore by taking a method of transportation that would take more time out of our schedule.
We love to use Rome2Rio to find out the best way to get from one destination to another.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
As with most places on our four country trip, we decided to stay in an AirBnB. We had a lovely ground floor apartment to stay in the city and it was all to ourselves. We were located in the heart of the city nearby Alfama and the São Jorge Castle.
We would definitely recommend that you stay within walking distance of Praça do Comércio or Alfama as we did to enjoy the night environment of these areas and to be able to walk back to your accommodation afterwards with no problems.
If we returned, we would find a place closer to the city center and to Praça do Comércio, as our AirBnB was a little bit further away from these places. Check out these hostels for your stay in Lisbon.
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
We visited near the end of April and it was perfect! It was still a fairly low season for tourism and the weather was just getting better with more sun coming each and every day.
We were also able to celebrate April 25th with Lisbon as it is Freedom Day there. This marked the 1974 military coup in Lisbon that overthrew the Estado Novo regime. There was a lot to enjoy in the public squares including music and festivities.
Lisbon treated us well. After a hectic week in Spain where nothing seemed to be going our way, we finally had a good few days just relaxing in one place.
We would definitely return to this city if given the chance in the future. Though we accomplished so much here, there still seems like so much we missed and wish we would have seen.
We wish we could have enjoyed more of the nightlife and fado music. That is one part of the culture that we truly feel that we missed out on completely.
We would love to hear about your experience while in Lisbon or to answer any questions you may have about your future trip. Leave a comment below!
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