The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
Three days is the perfect length of time to fully discover Lisbon.
Within these three days, you'll be able to explore all the main tourist attractions, experience the vibrant nightlife, sample some delicious foods and create wonderful memories of this amazing city.
This article provides a suggested three-day tour of Lisbon, which could be used for a city break or as part of an extended tour of Portugal.
Note: This guide focuses only on the city of Lisbon and does not include the surrounding regions. There are many enjoyable day trips and beautiful beaches which could easily extend your stay within the Lisbon area to a week or even longer.
Related articles: 1 week in Lisbon – Introduction to Lisbon – Lisbon's beaches
The following itinerary has been specifically designed for visitors who are new to Lisbon. It provides a fantastic introduction to the city over your three-day stay and includes all of the main tourist areas.
• Day 1 Morning – The Baixa district
• Day 1 Afternoon – The Alfama district
• Day 2 Majority of the day – The Belem district
• Day 2 Afternoon – Lx Factory and the Alcantara district, or a ride on the 28 tram
• Day 3 Morning – The Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real districts and the Avenida da Liberdade
• Day 3 Afternoon – The Parque das Nações district
• Friday or Saturday night - Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre districts
An interactive map for your three days in Lisbon is shown below. Day one is highlighted in green, day two in yellow and day three in blue. (Note: zoom out to see all of the points)
Sights of day one: 1) Praça do Comércio 2) Rua Augusta 3) Elevador de Santa Justa 4) Rossio 5) Praça dos Restauradores 6) Igreja de Santo António 7) Se Cathedral 8) Castelo de Sao Jorge 9) Portas do Sol viewpoint 10) National Pantheon
Sights of day two: 11) Mosteiro dos Jerónimos 12) Padrão dos Descobrimentos 13) Torre de Belém 14) Pastéis de Belém 15) LxFactory
Sights of day three: 16) Praça Luís de Camões 17) Convento do Carmo 18) Igreja de São Roque 19) Jardim do Príncipe Real 20) Avenida da Liberdade 21) Praça Marquês de Pombal 22) Parque das Nações 23) Oceanário de Lisboa 24) Torre Vasco da Gama
Nightlife areas 25) Pink Street (Cais do Sodre district) 26) Bairro Alto
Insight: Many short trips to Lisbon include a day trip to Sintra, which could replace the suggestions for day 3. This article solely focuses on Lisbon, but for a full guide to Sintra, please click here.
Note: A car is not required for this itinerary, as Lisbon has excellent public transport and inexpensive taxis.
The following section looks at each day of the trip in more detail and provides links to further in-depth guides.
The Baixa district is the grand centre of Lisbon, comprising of magnificent plazas and bustling shopping avenues.
The district was completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, and its reconstruction created the world's first grid layout. Today, Baixa is a vibrant and fascinating place, making it a joy to visit and an ideal starting point for your tour of Lisbon.
Insight: Baixa is the main tourist area of Lisbon, and you will probably be based close to it; if not, catch the metro to the Rossio or Terreiro do Paço metro stations.
Overlooking the Tejo Estuary on the southern side of Baixa is the grand Praça do Comércio plaza, which was the original trading centre of Lisbon. Leading from Praça do Comércio is the Rua Augusta, a delightful shopping street with open-air cafes and an eclectic mix of independent shops and restaurants.
Insight: Don't miss the amazing viewpoint at the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta.
Along the Rua Augusta is the Elevador de Santa Justa, a neo-Gothic styled lift that transports visitors up one of the steepest hills of Lisbon. At the north side of the Rua Augusta you will find Rossio plaza, which is fondly regarded by Lisbon's residents as the heart of their city.
Beyond Rossio is the Praça dos Restauradores plaza, with its distinctive pink Foz palace and obelisk monument. After a morning's sightseeing, treat yourself to a glass of Ginjinha - a sweet cherry liqueur - from the A Ginjinha bar, the traditional home of the drink.
Related articles: Baixa district guide - Praça do Comércio
The magnificent Praça do Comércio plaza
The Rua Augusta looking down to the Arco da Rua Augusta
Rossio plaza, as seen from the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa
In the afternoon, it is suggested that you explore the hills and characterful streets of the Alfama district.
Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon and offers a complete contrast to Baixa's grandeur and uniformity. It is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and alleyways, which follow the ancient medieval layout of the city. Historically, Alfama was Lisbon's poorest district, but today it has a trendy, artisan vibe, while retaining a pride in its rich heritage.
Found within Alfama are many of Lisbon's oldest buildings, including the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the Se Cathedral and the Igreja de Santo António - a church dedicated to the patron saint of Lisbon. Cutting through the centre of Alfama is the number 28 tram route with its cheery yellow trams.
There are many steep hills in Alfama, so a tour of the district can be physically demanding. However, the reward for reaching the top of these hills is some wonderful viewpoints, such as the Miradouro da Graça, the Portas do Sol or the view from the castle walls.
Alfama is the traditional home of Fado, a melancholic style of music that was historically sung by sailors' wives awaiting the return of their loved ones. Many of the small restaurants in the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts have live Fado performances during the evenings for you to enjoy.
Related article: Guide to Alfama – Tram 28 guide
The number 28 tram passes the Se Cathedral
The Miradouro da Graça viewpoint overlooking Lisbon castle and the Baixa district
The battlements of the Castelo de Sao Jorge provide wonderful views over the Tejo Estuary
During the peak season, there is very high demand for hotels and accommodation in Lisbon. It is highly recommended that you book your accommodation as early as possible to secure the lowest prices.
The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in Lisbon. By altering the date to suit your trip, the map will display current availability and prices:
Belem is a picturesque district to the west of Lisbon that lines the banks of the Tejo Estuary.
Historically, the shipyards of Lisbon were situated in Belem, and it was here that Vasco da Gama spent his last night before his epic voyage to India. Later, the vast riches earned from the 17th-century spice trade funded the construction of the impressive Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
Today Belem celebrates its seafaring history, and is a delightful area of parks, tree-lined plazas and scenic riverside walks.
Insight: The E15 tram connects central Lisbon (the Baixa district) to Belem.
Along the pretty waterfront of Belem is the imposing Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument, as well as the Torre de Belem fort, which once guarded the city against attacks by sea.
The main tourist sights of Belem can be seen within a half-day of sightseeing. However, visitors often stay longer to take a stroll along the scenic riverside or visit one of its fascinating museums, such as the Museu Nacional dos Coches, MAAT or the Coleção Berardo art gallery.
Related articles: A guide to Belem - The Torre de Belem
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos the largest and most stunning religious building in Lisbon
The Torre de Belem fort
The Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument, with stone carvings of the key figures in Portugal's 17th century Age of Discovery
For the latter part of the day, it is suggested to visit the Lx Factory, the artisan centre of Lisbon. Found within this converted factory building is a range of unique shops, restaurants, quirky stalls and artists' studios, along with intriguing displays of urban art.
Insight: Lx factory is on the E15 tram route and is conveniently located to visit after Belem.
An alternative in the afternoon is to ride the number 28 tram on its scenic route from the Estrela district in the west to Alfama and Baixa in the east. The 28 tram passes through many of the historic quarters of Lisbon and is a wonderful way to view the city.
Related articles: Tram 28 tram
The Lxfactory stands in the shadow of the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
The 28 tram passing the Basílica da Estrela
There are two main nightlife areas to enjoy in Lisbon: Bairro Alto and Pink Street (in Cais do Sodre).
Bairro Alto is a warren of narrow streets and the home to a variety of Fado music restaurants and a wide variety of bars. On weekends, the socialising spills out onto the streets, with the whole district becoming one giant party.
The bars in Bairro Alto close around 2am, but the fun continues downhill in the Cais do Sodre district. Cais do Sodre was originally a red-light district, but today is the late-night heart of Lisbon, with many of the clubs situated along Pink Street.
On the morning of the third day, enjoy a stroll through some of Lisbon's most interesting neighbourhoods; Bairro Alto, Príncipe Real and Avenida da Liberdade.
Bairro Alto is the nightlife hub of Lisbon, and you will likely already have seen parts of the district by night! However, by day you can take in the bustling Praça Luís de Camões plaza, the ruins of the Convento do Carmo and the exquisite interior of the Igreja de São Roque.
Príncipe Real is an affluent district, with grand 20th-century buildings and a distinctly Portuguese atmosphere. This is probably the most authentically Portuguese district you'll visit during your three days in Lisbon. At the centre of Príncipe Real is the Jardim do Príncipe Real, and on the eastern side you'll find the wonderful Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint.
The Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon's most exclusive shopping street, lined with designer shops and unique boutiques. This wide avenue is lined with trees and formal gardens and is a pleasant place for a stroll, even if you're not here for the shopping. At the top of the Avenida da Liberdade is the Praça Marquês de Pombal and the Parque Eduardo VII.
Related articles: Bairro Alto - Príncipe Real – Shopping in Lisbon guide
The Embaixada boutique shopping centre, in the Príncipe Real district, is housed in a former palace
Looking down to the Praça Marques Pombal from the Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII viewpoint
The Parque das Nações is the ultra-modern area of Lisbon that was constructed for the Expo 1998 world trade fair. The district is filled with striking modernist architecture, along with water-focused exhibits and gardens designed for the Expo.
Parque das Nações is a fantastic area of Lisbon to visit on a sunny day, offering scenic riverside walks, open spaces and a calming atmosphere.
The main tourist attraction is the magnificent Oceanário de Lisboa, one of Europe's finest aquariums. The area also boasts Lisbon's tallest building, Torre Vasco da Gama, as well as a cable car, casino, a modern shopping centre and a wide selection of restaurants.
Related articles: Parque das Nações guide
The Torre Vasco da Gama and waterfront of the Parque das Nações
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