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If you’re spending 3 days in Lisbon, get excited because this cultural, vibrant city makes for a fantastic introduction to Portugal. In this guide, I’ll share my tried and tested Lisbon itinerary based on my experiences in 2022.
Having lived in Porto for three months, I didn’t know what to expect from the capital. People constantly compare these two cities and I was already steeled for a sprawling, impersonal city that didn’t feel as cosy or ‘Portuguese’ as Porto.
In some ways, I was right. But what I’d failed to predict was Lisbon’s charming, beautiful and colourful nature, and just how much there is to do and see.
With endless scenic viewpoints, Lisbon bathed in golden light is a sight you won’t forget in a hurry.
Visiting alone? Read my solo Lisbon travel guide
With millennia of history, Lisbon is awash with cultural treasures. Could you make it through all the museums and bookshops in a lifetime? Maybe not.
These days, the city’s rich history is in stark contrast with its edgy side. From fine art galleries to open-air street art galleries and bars from fado to LGBT+, Portugal’s capital is a melting pot of traditional and modern.
3 DAY LISBON ESSENTIALS
Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld
Getting there: flight (Skyscanner), train (Omio), bus (Flixbus)
Getting around: walk / Metro / bus / taxi
Guidebook: Lonely Planet Lisbon
Visiting Porto? Read my 3 day Porto itinerary and my top 80 things to do in Porto
In a rush? Pin for this Lisbon itinerary for 3 days on Pinterest.
How many days do you need in Lisbon?
In my opinion, you need three days in Lisbon at a minimum. You’ll be busy but not rushed off your feet.
Two days is not enough in Lisbon if you want to include Belém. There’s a lot to see in this area so it’s worth spending the best part of a day there.
3 days in Lisbon is enough for the main neighbourhoods and Belém but, in my opinion, not long enough to include a day trip to Sintra. Add a fourth day for that.
How to get to Lisbon
By flight: the main airport (Humberto Delgado) is well connected with other European and world cities. I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates.
To reach the city centre, catch pink Vm line to Alameda then the green Vd line to the city centre in around 30 minutes. Regular buses also run between the airport and city centre.
By train: most trains arrive into Santa Apolónia. Use Omio to book your train journey in Portugal. To reach the city centre, head downstairs and board the blue Metro line destined for Reboleira.
By bus: Flixbus is the best way to get around Europe on a budget. I caught it from Porto and arrived within 3 hours. Book your Flixbus journey into Estação do Oriente. From here, board the red Metro line to São Sebastião and change to the Blue line for Baixa-Chiado.
How to get around during 3 days in Lisbon
Walk: This is the best way to get acquainted with Portugal’s captivating capital. It’s possible to travel around most places on foot and there’s usually a lift to transport you up the particularly steep hills.
Metro: there’s an efficient underground network. Buy a Viva Viagem card for 50 cents at any Metro station or store with the Viagem sign. Journies cost €1.50 or you can buy a day pass for €6.40.
Bus: the city is also well serviced by bus. Pay €1.80 in cash or load journies onto your Viva Viagem card for €1.50.
Tram: Although you can use these to get from A to B, they’re more commonly ridden as a tourist attraction, especially famous Tram 28.
To access all these modes of transport with one card that you don’t need to top up, consider…
The Lisboa card – is it worth it?
If you plan to visit Lisbon for 3 days, you’re likely to visit several museums and attractions per day. You’ll also probably want to get around as quickly as possible.
For that reason, you may benefit from a Lisbon Card which includes free entry to 37 museums and attractions such as Jerónimos Monastery. It also includes unlimited public transport including the Santa Justa Lift to the Metro, overground trains and historic trams (which otherwise have to be paid for separately).
Buy your Lisboa card here (and check exactly what’s included).
A few areas in Lisbon to earmark include…
- Baixa – the city centre is crowded but filled with key monuments
- Chiado – this shopping, entertainment and cafe hub connects the centre with…
- Bairro Alto – this cool bohemian hood is a favourite for restaurants and nightlife
- Alfama – this historic fishing village is known for fado, backstreets and ocean views
- Principe Real – for upscale shopping, parks and 19th-century mansions, this area is worth a wander
- Cais do Sodré – downhill from Bairro Alto is the tourist-friendly waterfront
- Belém – a short journey away is this historic area known for Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower and Pastéis de Belém (the birthplace of egg custard tarts).
- Anjos & Arroios – these aren’t famous or touristic areas but for my summer 2022 trip, I found cheap accommodation between the two stations and enjoyed the relaxed vibe and cheap eateries. Anjos has a cool, hipster vibe these days.
Places to visit in Lisbon in 3 days – an overview
Day 1 – Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto & Cais do Sodré.
Day 2 – National Pantheon, Alfama, São Jorge Castle and viewpoints (east).
Day 3 – Belém & LX Factory (west).
Day 1 Lisbon itinerary – Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto & Cais do Sodré
We’ll begin 3 days in Lisbon by exploring the core. I’m going to take you around the centre, packing in the main sights around Baixa (the city centre) and Bairro Alto before finishing by the riverfront.
Day 1 Lisbon itinerary overview:
- Chiado – Rua Garett, shopping, Livraria Bertrand (bookstore), Chiado Museum
- Baixa – Church of St Dominic, A Ginjinha, Santa Justa Lift, Carmo Convent, Rossio Square
- Gloria funicular to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
- Principe Real and Embaixada shopping centre
- Bairro Alto – street art and cafes
- Bica & Bica Elevador
- Cais do Sodré – Praça do Comércio and dinner at Time Out Market
- Evening – bars and fado music in Bairro Alto.
Morning – Baixa/Chiado
It depends on your preference and the time of year you visit but I have to confess I didn’t love Baixa or Chiado. They’re busy, crowded and expensive. Still, it’s worth whizzing around them to see the key sights.
The main street running through Chiado is Rua Garrett, the premier shopping street known for its boutiques and grand, historical cafes. During the winter, it hosts impressive light displays for example these glimmering jellyfish decorations.
Notable cafes in Chiado:
- Alcôa is a famous bakery open since 1957, following the recipes of Cistercian monks. Order the pudim de são bernardo (egg yolk and brown sugar), cornucopia (cones filled with egg cream) or the Covenant Delight (egg, sugar, almonds and walnut).
- A Brasileira is one of Portugal’s oldest cafes, frequented by artists and intellectuals during the 19th century. It’s undeniably grand and gorgeous and also undeniably a rip-off. I paid €4 for a pastel de nata and a bica (a type of espresso coffee invented in the cafe). Ouch. Still, compared to Porto cafe, Majestic, it’s a bargain.
- Manteigaria – although it’s popular with foreigners, this wonderful cafe is anything but a tourist trap. Order a €1.10 pastel de nata made fresh onsite. Some of the best in Portugal.
Chiado Museum of National Museum of Contemporary Art
You may wish to check out this contemporary art gallery in Chiado. With Portuguese art and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, it covers the transition from Romanticism to Modernism. Check out the permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as the garden, terrace and cafe.
Address: Rua Serpa Pinto, 4-6, 1200-444 Lisboa.
Opening times: 10am-6pm (Closed Mondays).
Price: €4.50 or free with a Lisboa card.
Livraria Bertrand – world’s oldest bookstore
This modest bookstore is deemed the oldest in the world. Livraria Bertrand doesn’t look much from the outside but inside, it’s spacious with a hidden cafe at the back.
Address: Rua Garrett 73-75, 1200-203 Lisboa.
Other notable sights for your Lisbon itinerary as you wander from Chiado’s Camões Square to Baixa’s Praça do Rossio (Rossio Square) include…
Church of Saint Dominic
Poke your head inside this attractive church (free entry) in the city centre. Nearby the Church of St Dominic is a location just as revered by locals…
Cherry liquor at A Ginjinha
Don’t leave Lisbon with at least one shot of sweet, sticky cherry liquor, ginja. Despite the undeniable cough syrup vibes, its sweet yet strong flavour will suit anyone who likes port wine.
If you only try it once, make sure it’s at A Ginjinha. Five generations of the same family have been producing the beverage since 1840 when it was invented at this very cafe. I paid €1.80 for a shot with fruit.
Santa Justa Lift
One of the most impressive features of Baixa is Santa Justa Lift with a viewing platform on top. Not only does it offer spectacular views but it also connects to Carmo Covent which requires a steep uphill walk to reach otherwise.
Take a ride for €5 between 7.30am and 11pm in summer / 9pm in winter.
Street art fans, don’t miss the pelican mural by Bordalo II at the base of the lift.
The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmo Covent) is a set of ruins that barely survived Portugal’s deadly magnitude 9 earthquake in 1755. While the city around it has been rebuilt, the convent is preserved without its roof.
In my opinion, the striking arches against a brilliant blue sky are more intriguing than any restored, polished building.
The Carmo Archaeological Museum (closed Sundays) costs €5 to enter from 9am-5pm.
Food options in Baixa/Chiado
When you get hungry, break up your Lisbon itinerary by stopping to eat at…
- O Trevo (budget) – back towards Chiado is a no-frills joint put on the map by travel and food god, Anthony Bourdain. They specalise in hearty bifanas slathered in mustard. Including a beer, I paid €3 for lunch.
- As Bifanas do Afonso (budget) – serving potentially even better bifanas, this cheap and cheerful cafe in Baixa is great for a hearty lunch.
- Fabrica da Nata – visit for a fantastic pastel de nata that can rival Mantegaria. Note, this cafe is often VERY busy.
- Confeitaria Nacional (bakery) – speaking of busy cafes, this popular spot open since 1829 is in its sixth generation under the Castanheiro family. Try the savoury quiches and typical Lisbon desserts such as pastel de nata and almond tart (best washed down with sweet wine).
Afternoon – Glória Funicular
From Rossio Square, continue your Lisbon itinerary by hopping on Glória Funicular or walking up the hill to escape busy Baixa. This tram splattered in graffiti operates as a lift for tired tourists. You’ll see several like this during your 3 days in Lisbon. Tickets cost €3.70.
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Whether you walk up the hill or ride Glória Funicular, you’ll be presented with spectacular views from the top of the tracks. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara is a popular sunset viewpoint but you can visit any time of day.
Spend a while soaking up the views and visiting Convento de São Pedro de Alcântara before taking a five-minute walk to a Lisbon hidden gem…
Embaixada (Principe Real area)
This vintage shopping centre set inside a historic building was of the coolest and most unexpected places I discovered while spending 3 days in Lisbon. Embaixada has Moorish vibes from the outside, reminding me both of India and Brighton Pavillion, while the inside resembles a Moroccan riad.
If that weren’t enough, there’s a gin bar inside!
Climb to the various floors, admiring artwork and browsing clothes, jewellery and home items in the independent shops. The goods they sell were above my budget but undeniably lovely.
It’s right beside the Botanical Garden (€3) which is worth a visit if you have time.
Nearby cafe recommendation – Bettina & Niccolo Corallo is a family-run cafe offering free speciality chocolates with each coffee. Try the pistachio and white chocolate and the dark chocolate, caramel and fleur de se (sea salt) chocolate.
Afternoon – Bairro Alto
The next place we’ll visit is Bairro Alto, one of my favourite areas. The neighbourhood starts a five-minute walk from Principe Real where you’ll have been previously if you’re following this 3 day Lisbon itinerary exactly.
Although the best thing to do is wander the charming cobbled streets at your leisure, a few specific things to do in Bairro Alto include:
- Admiring the baroque interior of Igreja de São Roque (Church of Sao Roque)
- Eating some of the best pastel de natas in Lisbon at Pastelaria Aloma
- Admiring art and listening to jazz at Zé dos Bois gallery
- Soaking up yet more city views at Mirador de Santa Catarina
- Bar-hopping (but we’ll come back to this later).
Bica & Bica Elevador
Bairro Alto and Bica merge together with Pastelaria Aloma at their intersection. The most distinguishable feature of Bica is Bica Elevador, a yellow tram that makes the journey up and down the hill that leads to Cais do Sodré neighbourhood.
If you’re coming from Bairro Alto, your route is downhill so you probably won’t want to catch the tram. Still, it makes for a great photo op, plus there are some cool cafes and restaurants along the tracks. Barbica serve tasty breakfast, tapas and main dishes, although prices are quite high.
Cais do Sodré
Finish the first day of your Lisbon itinerary in Cais do Sodré. With over-touristy locations like Pink Street (which isn’t half as nice as it looks on Instagram), this area doesn’t have the charm of Bairro Alto but you should still visit to stroll impressive Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) and Rua Augusta Arch.
Finish your sightseeing at…
Time Out Market Lisboa (dinner suggestion)
Time Out Market is a must while spending 3 days in Lisbon. Prices are inflated but it doesn’t have a tourist trap feel: it’s a vibey, atmospheric marketplace with exceptional food and drink.
- Octopus and sweet potato stew at Cozinha da Felicidade (€12).
- Croquettes (€1.60 apiece) at Croqueteria – the alheira (sausage) one was particularly tasty.
- Decadent eclairs at L’Éclair. While I cringed spending €4.90, I can’t deny it was deliciously delicate.
Evening – dinner in Bairro Alto
In case you didn’t eat at Time Out Market, here are a few fantastic dinner suggestions either in Bairro Alto or nearby.
- TREAT: Versículo d’O Faia – this cosy restaurant serves delicious Portuguese dishes. Order the octopus! Mains cost €14-18
- MIDRANGE: Artis – main dishes for €10 and tapas dishes from €5-10, plus a decent selection of cocktails
- MIDRANGE: Estrela da Bica – a cosy restaurant with outdoor seating beside the tram tracks. The tuna tataki with beets and hollandaise will give you Michelin star feels for €10!
- MIDRANGE: Fumeiro de Santa Catarina – tapas for €5-10 per plate. Fish, meat and veggie options with gourmet details
- BUDGET: Restaurante Casa da Índia – no-frills, just quality Portuguese food (best for meat and fish). Mains cost €8-15
- BUDGET: O Gaiteiro – this restaurant at the bottom of Bica Elevador serves authentic Portuguese fish and meat dishes for under €10. The camarão e bacalhau arroz (prawn and cod rice) was delicious.
Like Portuguese food? Read my ultimate Porto food guide.
Bairro Alto nightlife
You won’t regret adding a fado show to your Lisbon itinerary. Typical Portuguese music wafts out of the Bairro Alto bars every night of the week. The melancholy songs about fate capture the Portuguese spirit with lyrics covering the life of the poor, matters of the heart, and the sea.
Catch a show at famous Tasca do Chico. Dinner reservations are often required so, if you can’t get in, try Tasca da tia Macheta where you only need buy a drink.
If you’d like to book in advance and have dinner included, try this fado & dinner package.
Bars in Bairro Alto:
- Jam Club – despite the wide selection of drinks and small plates, the highlight of this lively bar is surely the owner, João, who ensures every traveller is enjoying themselves and makes friends to party with!
- Side Bar – this tiny LBGT+ bar is bright and colourful with neon lights, disco balls and a well-stocked bar.
- The Old Pharmacy – head here for more tapas (you can’t move for cured meats in Bairro Alto and I’m here for it) and Portuguese wines including port and my favourite, vinho verde (fresh wine).
Day 2 – Alfama & East Lisbon
In today’s Lisbon itinerary, we’ll cover my joint-favourite neighbourhood (the other being Bairro Alto). Alfama is undeniably charming with hilly streets full of surprises. From art to authentic local restaurants and museums, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
- Ride Tram 28 from west to east
- National Pantheon tower climb
- Alfama – backstreets, Fado Museum, Se Cathedral, Casa dos Bicos, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Igreja Santa Luzia
- São Jorge Castle
- Sunset – Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Secret Garden LX bar.
Related read: where to watch sunset in Porto, Portugal
Best day of the week for these activities? Avoid Mondays because the National Pantheon is closed. The best day to visit is a Tuesday because you can visit the Thieves Market (it also runs on Saturdays but weekends are typically more crowded).
Catch Tram 28 from west to east
Depending on the season, you might be best off avoiding famous tram 28 altogether. In the summer, the main stops close to Alfama have queues around the corner and it’s impossible to get a seat, plus pickpockets are rife.
I was underwhelmed with this attraction. It’s just like riding any other public transport vehicle!
However, if you’re keen to include it in your Lisbon itinerary, I’d advise catching it from the west end of town, arriving into Alfama simply to disembark. Travelling to board a mode of public transport seems counter-productive so it depends how much time you have.
I caught Tram 28 from Basilica de Estrela (a 20-minute walk from Bairro Alto) on a Monday morning in December and had no problems getting a seat. In peak periods, be extra safe and catch it from the first stop, Campo Ourique. The earlier you go, the better.
The tram ride is €3 or free with a Lisboa card.
On your way west to catch the tram, you could stop for breakfast at Flaura & Fauna, Dear Breakfast or Batz.
Stay on tram 28 until Calhariz (Bica) and walk to the Pantheon.
National Pantheon tower climb
The National Pantheon is one of Lisbon’s most famous attractions, boasting unrivalled views from the top.
Inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it’s an example of early Baroque architecture although it lacks the blue tiles (azulejos) usually seen on these types of buildings in Portugal. Inside, there are tombs to numerous important Portuguese figures including Amália Rodrigues, a renowned fado singer.
Despite construction beginning in 1682, the tower was not finished until 1966, making it the longest building to be completed in the country. It’s said that a Jewish man, wrongly accused and executed for a robbery on the same spot, prophesied that it would never be finished. For three centuries, he was right!
Address: Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-471 Lisboa.
Opening times: 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm, Tues-Sun.
Don’t miss the rainbow ceramic murals by André Saraiva running along Campo de Santa Clara near the National Pantheon.
Feira de Ladra (Thieves Market) – Tues & Sat mornings
If your 3 days in Lisbon fall over a Tuesday or Saturday, you’re in luck. Not far from the National Pantheon is this most atmospheric market.
Feira da Ladra is somewhere between an antique market and a car boot sale, selling CDs, furniture, tiles, ceramic crockery, coasters… The list goes on! Arrive early and rummage through the junk to find handmade souvenirs and gifts.
Address: Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-471 Lisboa.
São Vicente de Fora
En route to Alfama, you may wish to stop at São Vicente de Fora, a monastery dating back to 1582 holding the world’s largest collection of baroque azulejos. These depict the fables of La Fontaine (16th-century stories by Jean de La Fontaine) as well as the history of Portugal.
It costs just €5 to visit this beautiful monastery complete with a sunny courtyard blessed with overhanding flowers. It’s open from 10am-6pm, Tues-Sun (closed Mon).
Despite the hills, wandering around Alfama was a highlight of my three days in Lisbon. This charming district popular with tourists lacks the hectic, chain-focus of the city centre. The rabbit warren of alleyways feels distinct from Bairro Alto which is built on a simple grid.
I imagine two people could wander around Alfama from the same starting point and have entirely different days. With small stores, museums, churches, works of urban art, local restaurants and bars, the surprises keep coming.
A few worthwhile places in Alfama:
The Fado Museum: At ground level lies this fantastic pastel-pink building dedicated to the national music of Portugal. Museu de Fado hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions encompassing the energy of saudade (loosely translated as nostalgia) alongside a cafe and shop. Entry costs €5; closed Sundays.
Lisbon Cathedral: The Cathedral of Saint Mary Majo was built in the 1100s and has been rebuilt several times due to earthquakes, resulting in a mix of architectural styles. Entrance including the museum costs €4. The street outside is a great place to snap photos of Instagrammable Tram 28 passing.
Casa dos Bicos: this curious building known as the ‘House of Spikes’ is indeed covered in over 1,000 large granite spikes. Once a 16th-century palace, it was one of the few buildings to survive the great 1755 earthquake. Its newer, edgy exterior is influenced by Italian Renaissance and Portuguese Manueline styles.
Inside, the Saramago Foundation is dedicated to Nobel Prize-winner, José Saramago, a renowned Portuguese novelist. Entry costs €3; closed Sundays.
Lunch at Ginja de Alfama
The loveliest local restaurant I found during 3 days in Lisbon was Ginja de Alfama, a small family eatery with outside seating below rainbow umbrellas.
Prices are reasonable: I paid €10 for caldo verde (green soup); a cheese, meat and olive platter; a glass of vinho verde and a shot of ginja cherry liquor in a chocolate cup.
Yes, I had shots by myself for lunch – and what?
Miradouros in Alfama
By walking uphill in Alfama, you’ll reach a series of spectacular viewpoints (called miradouros). These are:
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia – this small viewpoint with blue azulejos is pretty but I prefer the one next door…
- Igreja de Santa Luzia – the highlight of visiting this small church is the garden with beautiful flowers, azulejos and a low wall from which you can admire spectacular views.
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol – this large terrace area offers views of Alfama, the river and the Pantheon. For a nearby bar with food and drinks, visit Portas Do Sol Terrace.
- For lesser-visited miradouros, you need to read my Lisbon hidden gem guide.
Castelo de São Jorge (Saint Jorge Castle)
With the first fortifications built on this site in the 1st century, this is one of the oldest inhabited points of Lisbon. Relics from the Castle’s history encompassing Moorish rule, battle, earthquakes and complete restoration can be explored at the museum.
Discover the interior of the ruined castle then walk the city walls, drinking in some of the best views the city has to offer.
Entry price: €10 for adults; €5 for students and under 25s; €8.50 for over 65s; free for under 12s.
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa.
Opening times: 9am-7pm, daily.
You can also visit the above viewpoints for sunset but, for a convenient Lisbon itinerary, I’d suggest seeing them before São Jorge Castle (as they’re on en route in Alfama) then, after the castle, continue further up to:
- Miradouro da Graça – this wasn’t my favourite viewpoint as it’s quite small so gets crowded. However, I did enjoy the street art along Caracol da Graça (the steps leading up to it).
- Miradouro da Senhora do Monte – a 10-minute walk away is my favourite city viewpoint. There’s a large viewing platform with live musicians playing for sunset.
Don’t miss the Secret Garden LX bar!
Secret Garden LX is a hidden gem worth finding. From my position at Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, I spotted a rainbow building below and wondered if it was a local’s home. I soon saw an Instagram tag on the wall and realised it was a bar.
The next step was finding the entrance. You have to push a metal door at the viewpoint that feels like you’re breaking and entering. Luckily, it leads to a colourful terrace bar with murals, music and spectacular views. Grab a beer and stay for sunset.
Day 3 Lisbon itinerary – Belém & LX Factory
To conclude this Lisbon 3 day itinerary, we’re heading to an area you shouldn’t miss: Belém.
On the banks of the Tagus River, this historical district can easily be reached by car, taxi, train, bus, bicycle or scooter. Although you could technically walk the whole way along the waterfront, this would take 1.5 hours from Cais do Sodré.
Lisbon itinerary day 3 overview:
- Travel to Belém
- Jerónimos Monastery
- Lunch at Pastéis de Belém
- Museu Coleção (modern art museum)
- Monument to the Discoveries
- Sunset at Belém Tower
- LX Factory and Ler Devagar (beautiful library).
Which day of the week to visit Belem? I’d suggest avoiding Mondays because Jerónimos Monastery is closed. As weekends are busy, the best days to visit are Tuesday-Friday.
Getting to Belém
By train: from Cais do Sodré station, catch an overground train three stops (seven minutes) to Belém. While topping up my Viva Viagem card, I found these overground stations would only accept cash or Portuguese bank card.
By bicycle: Unlock a Gira bike using the mobile app and cycle along the waterfront to Belém. After signing up for the app, you need to select the daily pass (€2) which allows you to hire bikes for free for rides of less than 45 mins.
Note – although it’s only a holding charge, you need a €300 balance on your payment card in case of loss or damage to the bike.
Very important tip – make sure you’re following the cycle path on the waterfront rather than the one that starts beside the Time Out Market. I did this and cycled halfway to Belém before realising the train tracks were blocking me from it. I couldn’t get over without riding on the flyover highway or carrying my bike up and down the underpass steps, so I cycled back and caught the train instead. MAJOR fail!!
The first place I visited in Belém was undeniably the most impressive.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built on an old hermitage founded by Prince Henry the Navigator where explorer, Vasco da Gama, spent his last night before sailing for India. On his return in 1501, King Manuel commissioned Diogo de Boitaca to design a building to honour Da Gama (who remains buried onsite).
It was built in Manueline style and took nearly 200 years to finish. Later, it was inhabited by monks of the Order of St. Jerome, earning its name Jerónimos Monastery.
Entry is €10 for adults; €5 for students and over 65s; free for under 12s.
There are a couple of museums on the site of the monastery that you may wish to add to your 3 day Lisbon itinerary. These are:
- National Museum of Archaeology – €5 or buy a combined ticket with the monastery for €12
- Museu de Marinha (Marimtime Museum) – €5
- Planetarium Calouste Gulbenkian – see 9,000 stars and the Milky Way at this planetarium owned by the Maritime Museum.
Nearby street art – Racoon mural by Bordallo II on Rua Bartolomeu Dias 43.
Pastéis de Belém
In the summer months, you may want to visit this famous cafe first thing to beat the crowds. During my December visit, I easily got a table at lunchtime… Thankfully, because I’d have hated to miss this Lisbon eating institution!
Pastéis de Belém is known as the birthplace of pastéis de Belém, the sweet golden pastries filled with egg custard. After my foodie mission to find the best pastel de nata in Porto, I couldn’t wait to try the originals.
Wait, what’s the difference between pastéis de Belém and pastéis de nata? In a nutshell, only egg tarts made at this cafe can be called pastéis de Belém because they’ve patented their recipe. Everything else is a pastel de nata.
The cafe dates back to 1830 when convents and monasteries were shut down. The story goes that the expelled clergy started selling pastries (made according to their secret recipes) at the store beside Jerónimos Monastery. As travellers to Belem learnt about their goods, they grew in popularity, eventually evolving into the delicious natas we eat today.
What to order? Well, of course a pastel de Belém (or multiple pastéis de Belém to be safe). I’d HIGHLY recommend washing it down with the hot chocolate; it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. The snacks are also excellent: I tried a rissóis de bacalhau, a coxinha and a croquete de carne.
Museu Coleção Berardo
One of the best things I did during 3 days in Lisbon was visit Museu Coleção Berardo, a modern art gallery with pieces from movements including dada, abstract, pop art and surrealism. Entry is just €5.
Address: Praça do Império, 1449-003 Lisboa.
Opening times: 10am-7pm, Tues-Sun.
It’s located inside Centro Cultural de Belém, somewhere I recommend checking out. There are several galleries, craft stores and cafes.
It doesn’t take long to visit Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) so it’s worth adding to your Lisbon itinerary en route along the waterfront between Belém centre and Belém Tower.
This 52m tower was built to commemorate 500 years since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, who ‘discovered’ the Azores, Cape Verde and Madeira.
Note – if you’re cycling, there’s a Gira station right beside this monument.
The final place to visit in Belém is the most famous: the spectacular Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). Near the Monument of Discoveries, this was the point that Portuguese explorers would arrive and depart, although it was initially built for defence.
Built in Manueline style by Portuguese architect, Francisco de Arruda, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you queue up to climb the tower (€6) or simply view it from the outside, it’s most beautiful at sunset. I visited the other Belém attractions first and saved it ’til last.
It’s open from 10am-6.30pm in summer and until 5.30pm in winter, however the viewing area is always open.
Note – if you’re travelling by train, the closest station is Algés rather than Belém.
LX Factory & Ler Devagar bookstore
En route back from Belém, you may wish to stop at LX Factory. I boarded a Gira bike beside the Discoveries Monument and docked it across the road (a 10-minute walk) from LX Factory.
Located in the Alcântara area, this emporium of quirky shops, restaurants and bars is housed inside a historic warehouse once home to weaving and textile companies. Here you can shop – or browse – for crafts goods, organic body products and retro clothes. You can even get a tattoo there!
Don’t miss the LX Factory’s canned fish store. It resembles a library but with colourful cans of Portuguese fish instead of books!
Street art fans can check out another 3D mural by Bordallo-II. This one is of a giant bee and can be seen near the LX Factory entrance.
Ler Devagar bookstore – another reason to visit LX Factory is to visit one of the world’s most famous bookstores. Lev Devagar (meaning ‘read slowly’) has two floors characterised by the ‘flying bike’ sculpture hanging from the ceiling. They also host exhibitions and events, plus there’s an onsite coffee shop.
You could eat at LX Factory as there are plenty of options from Mexican to Italian. Prices are fairly high and I was in the mood for Portuguese food so headed back to Bairro Alto for the final night of my Lisbon itinerary. Jump back up to my dinner options above!
Where to stay during 3 days in Lisbon
Sadly, Lisbon is a city where locals have been pushed out to make room for Airbnbs. With lots of fantastic hotels and hostels, consider one instead.
Hostels: for a fun, social hostel in the heart of the action, stay at Yes! Lisbon from €13 a night. For a great place for solo travellers to meet others (and three free daily meals), stay at Goodmorning Solo Traveller Hostel. For a more relaxed option with a boutique feel, go for Living Lounge Hostel with dorms (€17 a night) and private rooms designed by local artists.
Browse all Lisbon hostels on Hostelworld.
Budget hotel – Rossio Garden Hotel – with comfy rooms just 5 minutes from Santa Justa Elevador, this budget hotel has everything you need. Book from €50 a night.
Midrange hotel – Lisbon Cheese & Wine Suites – I can’t think of a more tempting place to stay! With gorgeous double rooms in the heart of the city, the only thing you could need was cheese and wine on arrival, right? Book from €70 a night.
Splash out hotel – Lisbon Art Stay Apartments Baixa – stay near Alfama in luxurious, individually-designed boutique apartments with a roof terrace. Book from €100 a night.
Browse all Lisbon hotels on Booking.com.
To Sintra or not to Sintra?
In my opinion, you should do this only if you have a fourth day. With three days in Lisbon, I would stick to exploring the city. There’s so much to see and do!
I might add that, depending on the season, Sintra might not be worth a visit at all. I recently wenton a weekday in May and it was SO cramped and crowded. The interior can be skipped; you inch around in single file and it’s not THAT impressive.
However, it’s a beautiful place that’s still worth a visit on a weekday in off-season. You can visit independently by train, then catch a bus from the front of the station to famous Palacio Nacional da Pena. Alternatively, take a guided tour from Lisbon.
Best season to visit Lisbon
Bearing in mind it was busy during my mid-week trip in December, I think you’d be wise to visit off-peak.
March-May (avoiding Easter) and September-November are the best times to visit when the weather is mild and the streets aren’t quite too crowded.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoy your Lisbon weekend trip. It’s such a fantastic city with culture, history and art at every turn. Coupled with affordable prices and delicious local food and wines, I’m sure you’ll have blast.
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING PORTUGAL
Getting there by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For trains, I use Omio. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website. This is also a handy tool to compare trains and buses in one search.
For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys between European countries from €1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s some of the most affordable insurance out there but still covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!