The capital and largest city of Portugal is a beautiful charming city with several characteristic Bairros de Lisboa (neighborhoods) with historical culture and unique architectural landmarks. It’s one of the oldest cities in Western Europe and in the world. Lisbon is situated at the mouth of the Tagus River and is Europe’s only capital city along the Atlantic coast. English is widely spoken so language shouldn’t be an issue if you travel to Lisbon.
In this Lisbon travel blog and guide I will share our 3-day itinerary – including free walking routes along the best places to visit and the Lisbon highlights – and some useful Lisbon travel tips about the public transport, things to do in Lisbon, where to eat and the best place to stay for your ultimate Lisbon experience.
What is the best time to visit Lisbon?
This lovely city has a Mediterranean climate with one of the warmest winters and mildest nighttime temperatures among European cities. That makes Lisbon a perfect destination to visit all year round. The best time to visit Lisbon depends on your needs.
For surfers it’s best to go in wintertime (great waves), budget travelers probably like January and February (cheapest months). Beach lovers and worshipers of sun and warm weather should travel to Lisbon during July to September; these are the hottest months, but because of summer holidays also the most expensive ones.
Overall it’s best to visit Lisbon from March to June or after the summer holidays in September and October. During those months the weather is pleasant (18-25°C), Lisbon hotels are cheaper and there are fewer tourists. I traveled to Lisbon in April 2019, unfortunately we had some rain and it was quiet cold for the time of the year (had to wear my winter jacket).
How many days you need to explore Lisbon?
On a 3-day Lisbon itinerary you’re able to visit all of the main Lisbon tourist attractions and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of the city! A three days Lisbon trip will also allow you to explore the main historic neighborhoods such as Alfama, Baixa, Rossio, Chiado, Bairro Alto and Belém. If you have some extra days I would suggest to travel to Lisbon for 4 days or 5 days. This gives you the possibility to either enjoy more time in your favorite Lisbon areas or go on a day trip to for example the picturesque Unesco-listed Sintra and the former fishing village Cascais, which is now a famous Portugal tourist destination for its beaches, marina and lively harbor.
If you like to add some relax-time at the beaches along the Atlantic coast you can easily spend a week in and around Lisbon. There is no need to book a day-trip to Sintra or excursions to Cascais or Cristo do Rei since you can easily visit all these Lisbon highlights and things to do in Lisbon by public transport. Another travel tip is to continue your trip from Lisbon to Porto and a road trip to the Algarve.
Where to stay in Lisbon?
There are many great Lisbon hotels and the best place to stay in Lisbon depends on your budget, needs and requirements. Since I prefer smaller centrally located boutique hotels instead of huge hotels away from the heart of Lisbon I chose to stay at the charming 4-star LX Boutique hotel, perfectly located in the heart of ‘historical Lisbon’ Cais do Sodré.
It’s the only hotel in downtown Lisbon that offers views over the Tagus River, Ponte 25 de Abril and Cristo do Rei. It’s also near Pink Street, around the corner of Mercado de Ribeira and only a short walking distance to Bairro Alto, Chiado and Baixa.
To reach other popular attractions, you can easily use the public transport (Lisbon travel tip: buy a Viva Viagem card to pay for your journeys). The metro station (green line) is only a 3-minute walk from the hotel, next to the ferry station to visit Cristo do Rei and the train station to go to Belém. It’s a perfect location to go anywhere in the city.
There are also some of the best Lisbon restaurants in this area and for our Sushi lovers I would like to mention that this hotel has its own trendy sushi restaurant called ‘Confraria LX’.
What is a Viva Viagem card and where can you buy it?
A Viva Viagem card is a great Lisbon travel tip and a fast and easy way to pay for the use of public transport in Lisbon. You can use it to travel on tram, metro, funicular, ferry, bus and the suburban train. For the bus, tram and funicular you can choose to use your Viva Viagem card or to buy a ticket from the driver, but these fares are more expensive. You can buy the card in for example metro and ferry stations at ticket machines or ticket offices and will cost you 0,50 euro. After that you can choose between a single ticket (1,50 euro), a 1-day ticket valid for 24-hours (between 7 and 10 euro depending on the region) or zapping (you can choose your amount). It is the best way to get to all the places to visit in Lisbon.
For my 3-day Lisbon trip I chose the zapping-option and loaded 10 euro to start with (you can easily buy new credit for the same card). You can use the card by swiping it across the card readers to open the gates. I bought mine at the airport because I chose to take the Metro from Lisbon airport to the city center. The red metro line connects the airport to the other three metro lines (yellow, green and blue) and will bring you to Lisbon city center within 30 minutes. Trust me you want to buy this card when you travel to Lisbon.
3-day Lisbon Itinerary + free walking routes
- Day 1: Cais do Sodré – Baixa – Rossio – Chiado – Avenida da Liberdade – Bairro Alto
- Day 2: Almada (Cristo Rei + Ponte 25 de Abril) – Belém – Alcântara – Cais do Sodré
- Day 3: Alfama and tram 28 (possibility to extend with Parque das Nações, Estrela or Príncipe Real)
When I was preparing my 3-day trip to Lisbon, I couldn’t find much useful free walking routes. Probably because it isn’t really necessary, but if you travel to Lisbon for only 3 days and love to have a plan to not miss out on all the things to do and places to see check out the links that will give you access to free walking routes I created for you in Google maps. Im sure it is a great addition to all the Lisbon tips out there already.
Day 1 in Lisbon
Covering: Cais do Sodré – Baixa – Rossio – Chiado – Avenida da Liberdade – Bairro Alto
On this first day in Lisbon we explored Central Lisbon on foot and walked from our hotel in Cais do Sodré to Baixa, passing through Chiado and Avenida da Liberdade to end in Bairro Alto and back to LX Boutique Hotel in Cais do Sodré.
The centrally located neighborhood Cais do Sodré is a good place to start your first day in Lisbon. We started at Praça Duque De Terceira, a nice square facing the Rio Tagus (Tagus River) and our hotel. This square is also the starting point of Ribeira das Naus, a nicely renovated riverfront promenade (walking area) that connects Cais do Sodré to the nearby Terreiro do Paço in Baixa. Walk along the river, enjoy the musicians, have a drink and admire the views!
The promenade ends at Terreiro do Paço, also known as Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). It is positioned on the banks of the Tagus River with large yellow symmetrical buildings occupied by the government and a huge open space with a statue of King Dom José I in the center of the square. No wonder it is one of the highlights of Lisbon and one of the most important squares and a popular meeting spot. From this point you can easily walk to Praça Dom Pedro IV (Rossio Square).
Walk through the beautiful Arco da Rua Augusta (triumph arch) to Rua Augusta; a nice pedestrian street that connects these two popular squares. Rua Augusta is the main commercial street in Baixa where you will find several cafés and shops such as H&M, Mango and Zara. In a Lisbon travel guide I found out it’s also a good place to buy some souvenirs and they were right. If you like you can also take a lift to the top of the arch, followed by a staircase to get a panoramic view of Baixa and Terreiro do Paço.
At the end of Rua Augusta, you’ll reach Rossio Square; a lively iconic square with two beautiful baroque fountains in literally the center of Lisbon (Rossio neighborhood) where people sit and relax or enjoy the many cozy outdoor terraces of the restaurants and cafés. This is a Lisbon must see! Right next to this square you will find Praça da Figueira, another nice square that is home to Lisbon’s oldest patisserie (Confeitaria Nacional), hotels and cafés.
For lunch, I recommend Veganapati around the corner of the square; a lovely spot for vegans, but non-vegans will love this healthy and nicely decorated urban lunch-spot too. A great Lisbon restaurant to try out for you. Their cuisine is based on fresh natural food; low in calories with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat non-dairy products and avoidance of added artificial salts, colors and flavors.
After lunch, continue your walk to Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift), also known as Elevador do Carmo. An apprentice of Gustav Eiffel built the 45-meter high lift in 1902 to connect lower Bairro Alto to the upper Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square). This also explains the structure’s similarities to Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
We didn’t take the lift (very crowded and a huge line) but walked through Chiado to the upper Carmo Square instead. In the middle of the shopping-area and cafés of Chiado neighborhood you will find a nice outdoor sculpture of one of Portugal's most famous writers, Escultura de Fernando Pessoa. The statue is located outside 'A Brasileira café’. Lots of tourists take place on the empty chair next to him for a photo together with the writer and pretend listening to one of his famous poems. One of the popular things to do in Lisbon.
Continue your walk to Convento do Carmo (Carmo monastery), which is close to the top of Santa Justa Lift. The monastery is a testimony to the deadliest earthquake in Lisbon's history in 1755. This gothic style church is amazingly picturesque and should not be missed if you are interested in art, history and archaeology. Explore the area around and walk to the Santa Justa Lift to enjoy some nice views of Lisbon with in the back the iconic castle in Alfama.
After visiting the highlights of Chiado follow your way to Praça dos Restauradores, the most northern point of Baixa, to enjoy the square and the surrounding buildings like the Eden Theatre.
This square is dedicated to the restoration of the independence of Portugal from Spain in 1640 and also the beginning of Avenida da Liberdade. It’s the longest street in Lisbon (1,5 km) known as one of the most expensive shopping streets in Europe with various designer shops, expensive restaurants and trendy bars. If you like high-end shopping this is one of the places to visit in Lisbon. Since I don’t have a budget for exclusive shopping I found the walk along Avenida da Liberdade quiet boring.
The street ends at Parque Eduardo VII (Eduardo VII Park), the largest park in central Lisbon with a designed garden and impressive views over Praça Marquês do Pombal, Avenida Liberdade and Tagus River. Walk to the top of the hill, one of the great things to do in Lisbon. It takes some effort, but the view that the park offers on top of the hill definitely makes it worthwhile to go up.
I have two alternative Lisbon travel tips for you if you want to visit Eduardo Park:
1. There are several metro stations close to the park in case you want to skip the long walk along Avenida da Liberdade: Metro station Marquês de Pombal (downhill), Parque (halfway) or São Sebastião (uphill).
2. If you don’t feel like walking but you would like to add Avenida da Liberdade to end in the park, then I highly recommend taking a so-called Shared Electric Scooter. You will find one at every corner and it’s a fun and fast (25km/h) way to explore Lisbon. There are around 8 different e-scooter companies and they all require you to download an app. You pay 1 euro to start and 0,15 euro per minute of use, which is an average of 10 euro per hour.
Option 2 is an amazing thing to do in Lisbon! Pick an electric Scooter from Praça dos Restauradores and follow Avenida da Liberdade until you reach the park. You can even take the scooter to the top of the park. Enjoy the view and ride back to Praça dos Restauradores to have a drink in the Hard Rock Café and take Ascensor da Glória (Glória Funicular) up-hill to Bairro Alto to end the first day of your Lisbon itinerary.
Elevador da Glória is a funicular railway line with iconic yellow trams full of graffiti that connects downtown Baixa with the upper Bairro Alto neighborhood. It’s also possible to walk the steep way up but taking this short tram-ride is a fun experience. Something you can’t miss when you visit Lisbon.
Don’t forget to take a closer look at the beautiful graffiti street-art on your way up. The funicular stops at São Pedro de Alcântara in Bairro Alto.
Bairro Alto district is known for its nightlife and therefore a great place to end your first day exploring Lisbon. Enjoy the sunset at one of the ‘miradouro’, for example the Miradouro de Santa Catarina or visit Jardim São Pedro de Alcântara, a beautiful garden.
Have dinner in one of the high quality Lisbon restaurants in the area and go for a drink in one of the many Bairro Alto bars. Because of the perfect location of our hotel (LX Boutique Hotel) it was an easy walk back (downhill) and if you don’t feel like walking just take a metro or tram.
Day 2 in Lisbon
Covering: Almada (Cristo Rei + Ponte 25 de Abril) – Belém – Alcântara – Cais do Sodré
On day 2 we decided to have a closer look at the 110-meter high statue of Cristo Rei (Christ Statue), one of Lisbon's most iconic things to do located in the neighborhood of Almada. With his arms outstretched Cristo Rei dominates the skyline of Lisbon and the banks of the Tagus River. The statue is inspired by the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
If you want to avoid crowds it’s best to visit in the morning, but for photos it’s better to visit in the afternoon. I visited in the morning before the crowds and managed to take some nice photos without people and a blue sky.
It’s not necessary to book a Lisbon excursion to Cristo Rei since it’s very easy to go there on your own. First take the Cacilhas ferry from Cais do Sodré (only a 3-minute walk from LX Boutique Hotel). It’s a 10-minute ferry ride to the other side of the river. On arrival to Cacilhas, take bus 101 and get out at the last stop where you will reach the statue in less than 200 meters.
If you don’t have a Viva Viagem card yet you can buy it at the station to pay for your ferry ride. In the bus you either pay with your green Viva Viagem card with zapping credit or ask the driver for a return ticket and pay in cash (more expensive).
It is free to enter the grounds of the Cristo Rei complex and so is the chapel at the entrance. If you want to take the lift to the 80-meter high platform on top of the Christ monument, expect to pay about 8 euros, but you can also enjoy the stunning views of Lisbon, Tagus River and Ponte 25 de Abril without going up.
The view of Ponte 25 de Abril (25 April Bridge) is very impressive. The same architect who drew the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has designed 25 April Bridge, definitely a place to visit in Lisbon. You can see the similarities, but although you would say it’s red, the color is actually ‘International Orange’. It would have been a great thing to do in Lisbon but unfortunately it’s not possible to cross the bridge on foot. You have to go back the same way: bus and ferry.
Back in Cais Do Sodré you continue your Lisbon itinerary by taking the Electric Tram Bus (E15) to Bélem at the tram station right next to the Ferry station. Belém is one of the noble areas of Lisbon. No Lisbon trip is complete without exploring the jewels of Belém, a charming suburb located at the riverside, with many historic monuments and museums.
I recommend riding the tram until the very last stop near Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) and start your Belém sightseeing part from there. Most of the tourists walk the other way around. You can easily spend half a day in Belém it is an amazing thing to do when you visit Lisbon. If you plan to enter most monuments and museums you will probably need more than half a day as there are long queues to visit Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower for example.
Belém Tower is a small - UNESCO World Heritage - fort that was constructed to guard Lisbon from seafaring attackers. The tower’s unique design includes a modern and heavily armed bastion, extended over the river. In Lisbon’s Belem district, close to the tower, you can also find a remarkable war memorial known as Monumento aos Combatentes do Ultramar (Monument to the overseas combatants). It’s dedicated to soldiers of the Portuguese army who died during the Overseas War of 1961 to 1974.
The monument consists of three parts: the eternal flame, the V-shaped monument itself and the memorial wall with all the names of the fallen soldiers. The memorial is open all day and there is no entrance fee.
On your way to the monastery I highly recommend visiting the modern Centro Cultural de Belém (Belém Cultural Centre). In this Centre, also referred to as CCB, you can find collections of modern and contemporary art, a number of eateries and small shops. If you want to escape the crowds this Cultural Center is the perfect place for you to have a little rest on one of their beanbags on the grass of the roof terrace or to have lunch, a great Lisbon travel tip believe me!
We ended up in the surprising ‘Este Oeste’ restaurant. They offer a delightful mix of Italian and Japanese cuisine in a beautiful designed area with modern furniture. The staff offered us several free small dishes to taste. All dishes were delicious and I found the mix between Italian and Japanese very surprising. Therefore I recommend Este Oeste as the perfect lunch-spot in Belém. They also have a nice outside terrace overlooking the river. A lovely Lisbon restaurant and a must try on this itinerary.
CCB strongly contrasts with the opposite located UNESCO-listed Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery), one of the most prominent buildings in Belém and a symbol of Portugal's power and wealth during the Age of Discovery.
Did you know that the original recipe of the famous Portuguese pastries pastel da nata (custard tart) was invented by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery to sell them at a shop next to a sugar cane factory? The secret recipe is at least 180 years old and known by only a few. Today Pastéis de Belém is widely recognized as the patisserie to sample the authentic custard tart in Lisbon and sells thousands of pastéis de nata every day.
If you have enough time and want to taste the most authentic custard tart, you need to stop at Pastéis de Belém, located only a few meters from the Jerónimos Monastery. A tasty Lisbon travel tip. Because all tourists go there, it’s always very crowded. Since I’m not a fan of huge lines I skipped that part and bought some in a different place and it tasted good as well. You should definitely try these Portuguese pastries on your Lisbon trip.
From the monastery and patisserie you’re able to walk through the beautiful Praça do Império Garden to Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument); this huge monument was built in 1940 for the Portuguese World Expo and features more than 30 statues of historical figures who played a big role in Portugal’s Age of Discoveries including Henry the Navigator.
It was given permanent status in 1960 to commemorate the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, responsible for turning Portugal into the leading maritime nation in Europe in the fifteenth century. If you like you can use the lift to the top of this monument for a panoramic view across the Tagus River and Belém.
From there I recommend to take an Electric Scooter along the edge of Tagus River to get to the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT). The design of MAAT is great to see and a nice photography spot with views of the bridge and the river. You can easily walk to the rooftop and inside you can enjoy contemporary art exhibitions. MAAT is also a nice spot to watch the sunset when you travel to Lisbon.
After MAAT I would suggest visiting Village Underground and LX Factory. Apparently this place can’t be found in a Lisbon travel guide yet as the majority of the tourists did not yet discover it. There weren’t many people at the time we arrived. You can go there by tram or by foot (a 20-minute walk from MAAT).
Always dreamed of having a drink in a retro double-decker bus beneath the 25 April Bridge? Then definitely include Village Underground to one of your stops. It’s a co-working space and cultural hot spot, built around 14 shipping containers and two buses. The perfect place to visit in Lisbon for digital nomads and travelers. You will be amazed! I really liked the easygoing atmosphere.
LX Factory is another creative co-working hot spot. It’s an old industrial area with vintage stores, cool restaurants and a rooftop bar with amazing views on Tagus River, Cristo Rei and 25 April Bridge. On the rooftop you will find a great statue of a mosaic girl imitating the Christ statue. It’s a great spot for a sundowner and to enjoy the early or late evening.
If you are up for another long walk along Lisbon’s Tagus River, try walking back from LX Factory to Cais do Sodré (40 minutes). Because we were quiet late and it was already dark we took the tram, but it is a lovely thing to in Lisbon as it is a nice walk back along the river.
Cais do Sodré is one of the best places for nightlife and has a lot of good Lisbon restaurants. If you want to go (back) to Bairro Alto, the place where you ended on day 1, you can choose to go with Ascensor da Bica. It’s a funicular railway line that brings you to the top of the hill with beautiful views of the streets of Bairro Alto and the Tagus River. We choose to stay in Cais do Sodré to have dinner.
I have two restaurant recommendations for you in this area: SOI (for the people who love Asian food) and ESPADA (a secret seafood hotspot). Both great Lisbon travel tips for foodies. If you want to be sure of a spot I advise you to book a table ahead. Of course, there is something for everyone at the Time Out Market: a traditional food market and food court with plenty of traditional Portuguese food and more! Worth going when visiting Lisbon.
After dinner you might want to explore the nightlife in for example Pink Street. It’s the coolest barhopping spot near the river (and a former red-light district). It’s also around the corner of LX Boutique Hotel, so if you choose to stay there it will take you only 3 minutes to reach your perfect king-sized bed. To me it was the perfect place to stay for my Lisbon trip.
Some guests criticise the loud neighborhood, but I didn’t notice any noise pollution and slept like a baby. It might be unpleasant when your window is just above the busy street, so therefore I would advise you to ask for a room at the front side or a room facing the River. Our room was very quiet and loved to sit at the window watching the city life with Cristo Rei and the Bridge in the background.
Day 3 in Lisbon
Covering: Alfama neighborhood and tram 28
Alfama is the most famous historic and oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, located between São Jorge Castelo (St. Jorge’s Castle) and Tagus River. It’s a really charming neighborhood with small coble stone streets, cozy bars and graffiti. It’s also the place where Fado was created, a Portuguese traditional music genre.
We started the day at the famous Miradouro Graffiti Fado, just outside Alfama. The most famous Fado graffiti tribute in Lisbon is Fado Vadio, a wall located in the Escadinhas de São Cristóvão. From this point you can easily continue to St. Jorge’s Castle. There are two options to get to the castle: walk the steep way up or take the free elevator. From Baixa the elevator is called Elevador Castelo.
At the top, you need to cross the street and take a second elevator. It goes upwards to the Zambeze Restaurant. This rooftop restaurant with a nice terrace offers spectacular views of Lisbon city.
If you like graffiti art I have another Lisbon travel tip for you. There’s an alternative way to get to the top and Zambeze restaurant. Walk to the Graffiti Carpark, next to Fado Vadio. Inside the carpark there are lots of graffiti paintings on every floor and if you take the lift or stairs to the top of the carpark, you also reach The Zambeze Restaurant.
From the restaurant it’s a 10-minute walk (climb) to the castle. Just follow the signs. You end up at Arco do Castelo, just near the St. Jorge’s Castle. The castle is a national monument and one of the most popular Lisbon tourist attractions. Not only because of its history but also for one of the best views of Lisbon. The castle is located on the highest hill in Lisbon. That’s the reason why the castle can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Even at night it’s part of Lisbon’s skyline.
The ruins of the castle are very impressive. The castle was destroyed during the earthquake of 1755; most of it has been renovated again and now it is one of the best places to visit in Lisbon. It still retains eleven towers. If you like archeology and nice views, it’s well worth the entrance fee of 10 euros. I would not really recommend it for disabled people, because of the climbs and stairs towards the towers (for the best views of Lisbon). The average visit of the castle takes 2 to 3 hours.
The castle area also hosts a lot of peacocks on the ground or in the trees. They are quite impressive to watch.
Searching for a lunch-spot in Alfama? Walk along the surrounding area of the castle and you will come across several small restaurants to have lunch. I highly recommend Augusto Lisboa, where we enjoyed a delicious fresh fruit juice with sweet and savory dishes. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very nice and the people are very friendly. They serve breakfast, lunch, brunch with good coffee but also different local beers. I loved their Avocado/eggs toast and their homemade banana bread! A Lisbon travel tip for hipsters for sure.
Spend some time exploring Alfama by wandering through the small cobblestone streets to enjoy the nice atmosphere. In my opinion the Alfama district is the most romantic and photogenic neighborhood of Lisbon with lovely viewpoints like Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Surely one of my favorite things to do in Lisbon. Also don’t forget to visit Sé Catedral de Lisboa; one of Lisbon’s oldest structures built in 1150.
If you haven’t been on the scenic tram 28 yet, this is your chance! Tram 28 will take you on a ride covering some of the most scenic corners of the city, a must do in Lisbon. It rides through the neighborhoods of Alfama, Graça, Estrela and Bairro Alto. In Alfama you can hop on tram 28 nearby Miradouro de Santa Luzia, one of the most beautiful panoramic viewpoints in Lisbon.
Keep in mind that queues for tram 28 can be long. Alternatively you can choose to use the shorter ride on tram 12 (or 12E). ‘E’ stands for Electric.
After a long day of strolling down the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon, you can treat yourself with a dinner in one of the Fado restaurants in Alfama or at your favorite Lisbon district. Or if you have enough time left, extend Alfama area with Parque das Nações, Estrela or Príncipe Real to end your Lisbon itinerary for day 3.
Start planning your Lisbon trip!
Now you know aal the cool things to do in Lisbon. I found my Lisbon trip to be very charming, a great city with friendly people and I felt safe all the time. The only issue tourists may experience is pickpocketing, but if you use common sense at all times you shouldn’t experience any safety issues. I think Lisbon is one of my favorite European capital cities so far and I would love to go back in the future.
If you’re still searching for a good place to stay in Lisbon, LX Boutique Hotel might be your winner! Go check out their rates! The location is perfect, rooms are beautifully designed, clean and spacious and the breakfast buffet was good with enough choice, including mini ‘pastel da nata’ (yum).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Lisbon travel blog and that it has been useful to you. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more information about anything. Enjoy your trip to Lisbon and don’t forget to check out my free walking tours around the best spots and highlights of the city.