The Best Independent Guide to Lisbon
Lisbon is the ideal destination for an exciting and packed 1-week holiday. Contained within the Lisbon region are fascinating sights, stunning beaches and enjoyable day trips, all of which can easily fill your one-week holiday. Along with the daytime activities, Lisbon boasts vibrant nightlife, wonderful restaurants and a glorious climate.
Many tourists do not plan enough time to explore Lisbon and simply rush through, missing much of what this captivating city can offer. Do not make their mistakes, and devout at least a week to discover this outstanding city and the surrounding region. This guide will provide a suggested seven-day itinerary for Lisbon, along with links to further in-depth information.
Below is our suggested 1-week itinerary for your holiday to Lisbon:
• Day 1 – Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodre districts
• Day 2 – Belem, Alcântara and Estrela districts
• Day 3 – Parque das Nações, Avenida da Liberdade and Príncipe Real
• Day 4 – Day trip to Sintra
• Day 5 – Day trip to Cascais
• Day 6 – Day on the beaches or a day trip to Obidos
• Day 7 – Day trip to Setubal or Sesimbra
• Friday or Saturday – a big night out in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre
Note: Lisbon has good public transport and all of the day trips can be easily reached without the need for a rental car.
The map below details the 1 week tour, and each day is represented by a different numbered pin.
The following section explains in detail the individual days for the one-week holiday to Lisbon.
This busy first day visits the Alfama, Baixa, Cais do Sodre and Bairro Alto districts. Within these four districts are many of Lisbon’s iconic tourist attractions and provides the perfect introduction to the city.
The Baixa district comprises of magnificent plazas and grand avenues, and was completely rebuilt after the devastating 1755 earthquake. Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon and is a maze of narrow streets which climb the steep hill up to the castle.
Cais do Sodre lines the banks of the Tejo Estuary and has been recently transformed from a seedy red-light district into one of the trendiest sections of Lisbon. The Bairro Alto is the famed nightlife hub of Lisbon, but it also contains pretty plazas and wonderful viewpoints.
The second day visits three districts of Lisbon, but the majority of the day should be spent exploring Belem.
Belem is the picturesque district to the west of Lisbon, and is filled with parks and formal gardens that follow the banks of the Tejo Estuary. The district contains the extravagant Jeronimos Monastery, the charming Torre de Belem and Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and is reached by riding the E15 tram.
Estrela is a peaceful and calm district and is the perfect place to unwind after the constant throng of tourists in Belem. Lisbon has a flourishing artisan community and the LX factory in Alcântara is the best place to experience this scene.
There is very high demand for accommodation during the peak season, we advise to book your hotel rooms now before they sell out. To check current prices and availability enter your holiday dates in the search box below:
There are two distinct sections to this day; the Parque das Nações and the pleasant downhill walk through the Parque Eduardo and along the Avenida da Liberdade.
The Parque das Nações is the striking modern side to historic Lisbon, being originally constructed for Expo 1998 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-themed gardens.
The second suggested activity for the day, is the enjoyable walk from the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (GPS: 38.73749, -9.154579) to the Praça dos Restauradores (GPS: 38.71573, -9.14168). This 3.5km downhill route passes through the Parque Eduardo, Praça do Marquês de Pombal square, the tree-lined avenue of the Avenida da Liberdade before ending at the Praça dos Restauradores.
Sintra lies within the Serra de Sintra, and these pine-covered hills conceal extravagant palaces, magnificent mansions and ancient castle ruins. In addition to the historic monuments, there are challenging hiking trails, stunning scenery and some of the best rock climbing in Portugal. Sintra is the best day trip from Lisbon, and you should include in your 1-week holiday to Lisbon.
There is a direct train from Lisbon to Sintra, and a bus service (route 434) connects the station to the main tourist sights. Most visitors spend a single day in Sintra, but there are sufficient sights to fill two days of sightseeing:
Cascais is a delightful town that combines traditional Portuguese fishing heritage with 19th-century grand architecture. Originally Cascais was a minor fishing harbour but was transformed when king Luís I (1861-1889) decided it would become his royal courts summer retreat.
Today, Cascais is a sophisticated holiday destination, which offers tourists beautiful beaches, fascinating historical buildings and charming town centre. Cascais is connected to Lisbon by a regular and inexpensive train service. Highlights of a day trip to Cascais include:
• The Condes de Castro Guimarães villa and museum
• The pretty Praia da Rainha beach
• The Boca do Inferno cliff formation
• The Parque Marechal Carmona
• The Cidadela de Cascais
Related articles: Cascais guide - Lisbon to Cascais
It comes as a surprise to many visitors new to Lisbon that the region contains so many beautiful beaches, and many of these beaches are easily accessible by public transport.
To the west of Lisbon are the popular beaches of the Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais coastline, a series of sandy beaches and charming resort towns that are ideal for families and sun worshippers. 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 ideal for surfing.
The Praia de Carcavelos is our recommended choice for a day on the beach, it is a vast sandy beach, with clean sea waters and excellent tourist facilities, and is only a short train ride from central Lisbon.
Note: The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September, and in August the beaches will be packed.
Related articles: Lisbon beach guide - Carcavelos beach - Beaches west of Lisbon.
Obidos is the classic Portuguese walled town and is one of the most picturesque towns close to Lisbon. If you do not wish to visit the beach or the weather is not suitable, Obidos then makes for a fantastic alternative.
Related Articles: Obidos guide
For the final day it is suggested to visit Setubal or Sesimbra. Setubal is a busy port city with an impenetrable fort, a lively daily market, and characterful historic centre. Departing from Setubal’s harbour are ferries to the paradise beaches of the Troia Peninsula.
Sesimbra is a traditional beach resort which is a favourite with Portuguese holidaymakers. The town has a glorious sandy beach, is famed for its seafood restaurants and has a distinctly Portuguese atmosphere. Situated between Setubal and Sesimbra are the jagged hills of the Serra da Arrabida and the beautiful Portinho da Arrábida coastline.
Setubal is connected to Lisbon by train and bus services while there are regular buses to Sesimbra.
Related articles: Setubal Guide - Sesimbra guide
Lisbon has a 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 continues until the sun rises……