The Best Independent Guide to Lisbon

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1 Week in Lisbon, a Suggested 7 Day Itinerary and Tour

Lisbon is a historic and vibrant city that contains a diverse selection of fascinating sights and engaging activities, all of which combine to create a wonderful holiday destination. Traditionally most tourists visit Lisbon as just a short city break of two or three days, but there are sufficient attractions and day trips to easily extend this to one week. This guide will provide a suggested 1-week itinerary for Lisbon, and provide links to further in-depth information.

Inside Tip: This is an long article of 2,500 words, and will provide suggestions for shorter or longer holiday and recommended day trips.

lisbon 1 week

Lisbon is a great place for taking things slowly......

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Quick Overview for 1 week in Lisbon

Here is our suggested itinerary for a 1 week holiday to Lisbon. This recommended tour is suitable for the majority of visitors and all of the day trips can be reached using public transport.


1 Week Tour

Day 1 – Alfama and Baixa districts

Day 2 – Belem district (3/4 day) and Estrela

Day 3 – Parque das Nações and north-central Lisbon

Day 4 – Day trip to Sintra

Day 5 – Day trip to Cascais

Day 6 – Day on the Beaches (or Sintra day 2)

Day 7 – Day trip to Mafra Friday or Saturday – Big night out in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre




The following section explains in detail our suggested 1 week tour of Lisbon.

1 Week Tour of Lisbon - Day 1 Alfama and Baixa

The Alfama and Baixa districts are next to each other but are different in every conceivable way, and make for a great introduction to the capital for new tourists. Baixa was completely rebuilt after the devastating 1755 earthquake and is grand, with magnificent plazas and wide shop-lined avenues. Alfama was historically the deprived district of Lisbon, where sailors and dockworkers lived in squalor amongst the maze of narrow streets that wind up from the docks to the castle. There is a lot to see in both districts and during the day there will be a lot of hills to walk up.

Rossio square in the Baixa district

Rossio square in the Baixa district



Rossio square in the Baixa district

The Alfama district

Money saving Tip: For this day if you purchase the 24-hour public transport ticket it includes the Elevador de Santa Justa lift, unlimited use of the number 28 tram and the Glória Funicular. This ticket can only be purchased from a metro station and cost €6.15.

Day 2 – Belem (and Estrela) districts

Belem is Lisbon’s most picturesque district which lies to the west of the city, and the numerous attractions can easily fill a day’s sightseeing. Within the Belem district are many of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments and historic buildings, and these are spread throughout the parks and plazas that line the banks of the Tejo Estuary. Belem is a wonderful district of Lisbon and for an extensive guide to the Belem district please click here.

Torre de Belem

The Torre de Belem as viewed from the Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Highlights of the Belem district:

• The charming Torre de Belem, which once guarded Lisbon against sea bound attack

• The extravagant Jeronimos Monastery, which is one of Portugal’s largest religious complexes

• The Padrão dos Descobrimentos which commentates the early explorers and has a great viewing platform

• The pleasant stroll along the estuary between the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the Torre de Belem

• Eat a Pasteis de Belem, a delicious custard tart from the traditional home of the cake

• The Berardo art museum, Lisbon’s best free museum

• The fascinating collection of royal horse-drawn carriages in the Museu Nacional dos Coches

Jeronimos Monastery

The Jeronimos Monastery

Belem is rightly one of the most popular districts of Lisbon, but it can get very crowded with tourists, especially at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. If it gets all too crowded or overwhelming, consider visiting the peaceful district of Estrella. Estrella is the setting for the impressive Basilica, and the parks are popular with Portuguese families who come here to relax here on hot days. Close by is the impressive Portuguese assembly building in the Sao Bento district.

Insider Tip: The tram to Belem is notorious for pickpockets and can get uncomfortable crowded for the 20-minute journey. An alternative method to travel Belem is by the number 728 bus, which has is frequent departures and is €1 cheaper than the tram.



Day 3 - Parque das Nações and North Central Lisbon (Parque Eduardo to Avenida da Liberdade)

There are two distinct sections to this day; the Parque das Nações and the pleasant downhill walk from the Calouste Gulbenkian museum to the Avenida da Liberdade.

Parque das Nações Lisbon

Expo Park is the modern side to Lisbon

The Parque das Nações is the striking modern side to historic Lisbon, which was originally constructed for Expo 98 and has since been transformed into the business and corporate centre of Portugal. The district is situated on the eastern side of Lisbon, on the banks of the Tejo estuary and is filled with ultra-modern buildings, bold architecture and water gardens and exhibits that originate from the expo.

Contained within the park is Lisbon Oceanarium, which boasts a varied selection of marine life (sharks, penguins, sea otters), beautifully constructed viewing windows, and is considered one of Lisbon’s best tourist attractions. Also in the Parque das Nações is Lisbon’s tallest building (the Vasco da Gama tower), Europe’s former longest bridge, Lisboa casino, cable cars and a great shopping centre. The Parque das Nações has a wide selection of restaurants and the whole district is great place for children and families. For a full guide to the Parque das Nações please see this guide.

lisbon Oceanarium Parque das Nações

The Oceanarium is mesmerising

The second suggested activity for the day, is the enjoyable walk from the Calouste Gulbenkian museum to the Praça dos Restauradores. This route passes through the Parque Eduardo, the Praça do Marquês de Pombal square, the tree-lined avenue of the Avenida da Liberdade before ending at the Praça dos Restauradores. This is a pleasant walk as it passes through Lisbon’s finest parks and grandest plazas, and the final section is downhill with multiple excellent views over centre Lisbon.

Praça do Marquês de Pombal lisbon

The Praça do Marquês de Pombal square, unbelievable with no traffic!

Along the walk is some of Lisbon’s best shopping, including the boutique and designer stores of the Avenida da Liberdade and the exclusive El Corte Inglés department store. At the start of the trip is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and this is regarded as Lisbon’s finest museum and is a worthy detour. The walk route begins at the to the Praça de Espanha metro station (blue line), and finishes at the Restauradores metro station (blue line) and is approximately 3km with the majority downhill.



Day 4 Sintra Day Trip

Sintra is an incredibly scenic town that is situated Serra de Sintra, and within the pine covered hills are extravagant palaces, magnificent mansions and ancient castle ruins. In addition to the historic monuments, there are challenging hiking trails, demanding cycling routes and some of the best rock climbing of central Portugal. Sintra is the best day trip from Lisbon and should be included on any extended visit itinerary or tour of the region.

Pena Palace in Sintra

The Pena Palace in Sintra

Most visitors spend a single day in Sintra, but there are sufficient sights to easily fill two days of sightseeing. The following plan is our suggested route for two days in Sintra, with the second day replacing one of the other days (possibly the day on the beach or day trip to Mafra)

* This should be done on day two if the visit to Sintra is split across two days.

Moors castle sintra

The views from the Moors castle high above Sintra

Sintra is a very popular tourist destination so plan a visit to start early in the day and never try to fit more than three national monuments in one day of sightseeing. Sintra is connected to Lisbon by direct train and there are tourist and public buses to all of the main historic attractions, which avoid the need to climb the steep hills. For a full guide to Sintra please see

Day 5 Cascais day trip

Cascais is a pretty town that has a charming 19th historic centre century town and pretty fishing harbour. Cascais is often considered as a resort town or holiday destination, as it is close to many fine beaches, but there many fascinating sights and interesting historic buildings for a day trip.

musuem in Cascais

A museum in Cascais

Cascais was a favourite summer retreat for the Portuguese nobility and elite of Europe during the late 19th century, and the town contains many grand residences that date from that era. This air of exclusivity and prosperity continues to today and the town is considered one of the most desirable suburbs of Lisbon.

A day trip to Cascais would appeal to a wide range of tourists as there is so much to do, from exploring one of the many free museum or stately houses, though to lounging on the fine beaches or cycling along the coastal cycle paths.

Just to the east of Cascais is the resort town of Estoril which is famous for its grand casino and there is an enjoyable coastal promenade which connects both towns. Lisbon is connected to Cascais by a direct train, and for a full guide to Cascais please see the website

Day 6 – A day on the Beach

It comes as a surprise to many visitors new to Lisbon that the region contains so many beautiful beaches, many of which are only a short journey by public transport. After the last few days of hectic sightseeing, a relaxing day on the beach may be just what is needed.

beaches of Estoril

To the south of Lisbon are the pristine beaches of Costa da Caparica coastline, which extends for over 25km along the western side of the Setubal Peninsula and are pounded by huge Atlantic waves, ideal for surfing. The largest town of Costa da Caparica is at the northern edge of the coastline and has direct buses to Lisbon.

To the west of Lisbon are the popular beaches of the Estoril-Cascais coastline a series of sandy beaches and charming resort towns that are ideal for families and sun worshippers. The Estoril coastline is easily accessible from Lisbon as is served by the Cascais railway, which departs from Cais do Sorde train station. Our personal favourite beach, along with most of Lisbon who descends here during the summer months, is Praia de Carcavelos.

beaches of Estoril

The Praia de Carcavelos

For truly unspoilt beaches head to the Serra de Sintra National Park coastline (west of Sintra), a region of outstanding natural beauty but the remoteness requires a rental car. Praia de Guincho is an amazing surfing beach and considered one of the best beaches of Lisbon.

Guincho beach

The stunning Guincho beach is a surfers paradise

The beaches and resort towns of Lisbon are wonderful, and it is a shame that few foreign tourists consider them for a holiday or an alternative to the overly crowded Algarve. We adore the beaches of Lisbon, having spent a lot of time on them, and have written many articles, including:

An introduction to the beaches of the Lisbon region, please read this guide.

A guide to the Costa da Caprica, please see this webpage.

A guide to all of the beaches of the Cascais-Estoril coastline.

A guide to the popular Praia de Carcavelos please click here.

The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September, if visiting during the winter consider spending a second day Sintra or a visiting Evora.

Day 7 Mafra and National Palace

Mafra is a small town 25km northeast of Lisbon and is completely dominated by a single building, the magnificent Mafra Palace. This baroque palace has over 1,200 rooms and during its construction almost bankrupted the Portuguese nobility, in-part due to the staggering 45,000 workers who were on the site daily…. What was created was an immensely lavish palace, with beautiful church and vast monastery, surrounded by endless hunting grounds but unfortunately the palace was never liked Portuguese nobility!

Mafra Palace

The magnificent Mafra Palace must be included in a 1 week tour of Lisbon

Today many of the royal rooms and sections of the monastery are open to the public but the standout feature is the library, which is considered as one of the finest of Europe and is an important collection of early Portuguese literature. The palace is so huge you will walk kilometres just to view the important state rooms. There isn’t much else to see in Mafra but the palace is one of the most impressive buildings of Portugal and is worthy of the day trip. Mafra is connected to Lisbon by a direct bus service and for a guide to Mafra please click here.

Mafra Palace

The library in Mafra palace

Big Night Out (Friday or Saturday)

Lisbon has a banging and buzzing nightlife, which is diverse, liberal and most importantly fun. On Friday and Saturday nights the streets of the Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre districts come alive with the opening of underground bars, Fado music venues and artisan cafes. As the night progresses the good-natured socialising spills onto the streets before the clubs and late-night dance halls open at 2am and continue until the sun rises……

Typical Costs Per Day

The following lists the typical costs per day per adult and includes a light lunch

Day 1 – Alfama and Baixa districts – Lots of tourist attractions €30-40

Day 2 – Belem district – Lots of tourist attractions €30-40

Day 3 – Parque das Nações – More walking and fewer entrance fees €20-30

Day 4 – Day trip to Sintra – Travel, great tourist attractions and expensive tourist priced lunch €40-50

Day 5 – Day trip to Cascais – Pretty beach town to walk around €20-30

Day 6 – Day on the Beaches (or Sintra day 2) – The beaches are an inexpensive day €15-20 (or Sintra day 2 €35-45)

Day 7 – Day trip to Mafra – Travel and one major tourist attraction €20-30 Saturday

Big night out €30-50 (€3.00 beer, €6.00 cocktail, €3.50 glass wine and €10 taxi back to the hotel)

Money saving tip: The majority of the expenses are the entrance fees to the tourist attractions; each day could be easily accomplished for less than €10 if these monument/museums are not entered and just viewed from the outside and a supermarket/prepared lunch is eaten.


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The Best Guide to Lisbon