The Best Independent Guide to Lisbon
Lisbon is a fantastic tourist destination. The sheer variety of sights, activities and day trips means that it is ideal for you, no matter your holiday style. A visit to the city itself is great for a short city break, while the fascinating surrounding region could easily fill a holiday of up to ten days. This guide will provide suggestions for different lengths of stay within Lisbon, and links to further in-depth itineraries.
We always recommend that it takes three days to fully explore Lisbon. This is sufficient to visit all of the characterful districts, provide a chance to experience the nightlife and join a host of unique activities.
• Day 1 would visit the Alfama and Baixa districts with highlights of the Lisbon castle, the Praça do Comércio, a ride on the 28 tram and the atmospheric streets of Alfama.
• Day 2 would explore the Belem district for the majority of the day, and include a visit to Lxfactory and Estrela district for the latter part of the day.
• Day 3 could explore the Príncipe Real district and the Avenida da Liberdade in the morning and then visit the ultra-modern Parque das Nações for the latter part.
• Friday/Saturday include a night out in the Bairro Alto district or for more manic night head to “Pink Street” in Cais do Sodre.
Frequently visitors wish to include a day trip to Sintra during their stay in Lisbon. To accommodate this day trip, the Lisbon sightseeing time could be reduced to 48 hours or the trip extend to four days. The town of Sintra is beautiful, being set within the pine-covered hills of the Serra da Sintra, and the location of the enchanting Pena Palace.
Note: Sintra gets very crowded during the peak season, and it is advisable to start any day trip early in the day.
Related articles: Lisbon in 48 hours – Lisbon in 3 days – Sintra introduction
Lisbon district guides: Alfama district – Belem district – Baixa district
Many of Lisbon’s highlights can be crammed into a very short visit (5-8 hours), ideal if you have a long connection between flights. The airport is only 7km from the city centre and is connected to the metro. For your short visit, catch the metro to the Rossio metro station (green line), which is the Baixa district. From here see the main plazas and then head to the castle, via the Alfama district.
Note: There is a left-luggage in terminal 1, so there is no need to lump heavy luggage around with you. Note 2: There are two terminals in Lisbon airport so always be aware of which one you are fling out from.
Related articles: Lisbon in 24 hours – Lisbon metro – Lisbon airport guide
If you intend a longer stay within Lisbon, you will not be disappointed. We could very easily fill a ten-day itinerary with varied sights and activities, and regional highlights include:
The beaches of the Cascais-Estoril coastline, popular with Lisbon’s residents and easily accessible by train.
The Costa da Caparica, a 15km stretch of sand to the south of Lisbon which is reached via bus.
Note: The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September
Evora a historic city, which is at the heart of the Alentejo region. Evora is a great destination, but there is a long (2h) train journey.
The Serra da Arrábida nature park, a mountainous region with stunning coastline, only 40 minutes’ drive from Lisbon.
Mafra, location of one of the grandest palaces in Portugal.
Ericeira, centre for surfing, with multiple amazing surfing beaches.
Related articles: Lisbon beaches – Cascais guide – Obidos guide – Setubal guide – Sesimbra guide
Many visitors new to Portugal think that the only good beaches in the country are in the Algarve. The Lisbon region has just as fine beaches and there is no need to head south for them. During the summer, much of the Algarve is filled with package tourists and school holiday families.
In our opinion, the Lisbon region has much more to offer than the Algarve region. The real highlights of the Algarve are the traditional fishing town of Tavira and the historic port of Lagos.
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: