The best itinerary for 3 days in Lisbon (+ a map with all must-see attractions, where to eat the best Pastel de nata and how to skip the lines at Jerónimos Monastery).
Located on the northern banks of the Tagus River, Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal is one of the oldest cities in Europe. With its stunning architecture, rich history and fantastic food scene, the city ranks among the most affordable European destinations. Lisbon also has nearly 300 days of sunshine, which makes it one of the sunniest cities on the old continent.
The city traces its origins back to 1200 BC when it was founded by the Phoenicians. Between the 15th century and the 17th century, during the Age of Discovery, Portugal became a global superpower, establishing new maritime routes and colonies. Lisbon, its capital, turned into one of the most important ports in the world.
Today, Lisbon is famous for its colourful tiled buildings, scenic viewpoints and mix of different architectural styles, including Romanesque, Moorish, Gothic and Baroque. The city is also a food lover’s paradise, with a variety of mouthwatering dishes like pastéis de nata (custard tarts) and fresh seafood.
Best 3-day Lisbon Itinerary
If this is your first time in Portugal, there is no better city to start with than Lisbon. Its chill atmosphere, fantastic food and numerous historic attractions make it the perfect introduction to the country. Moreover, Sintra with its beautiful fairy-tale palaces, is just 1 hour away by train.
My itinerary for 3 days in Lisbon is the ideal starting point to plan your dream vacation to Portugal. This travel guide is packed with top attractions (such as Jerónimos Monastery and Santa Justa Lift) and great restaurants, where you can savour delicious Portuguese specialties. You’ll also find tips on how to visit Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon and how to skip the lines at the most popular attractions.
3 Days in Lisbon Itinerary (for first-timers 2024)
- Day 1: Santa Justa Lift, São Jorge Castle, National Pantheon, Lisbon Cathedral, Rua Augusta Arch, Church of Saint Roch
- Day 2: Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Church of Santa Maria de Belém, Ajuda National Palace
- Day 3: day trip to Sintra and Pena Palace
In my view, spending between 4 and 3 days in Lisbon is just the right duration to explore the city thoroughly. You’ll need 1 full day (or even 2) to see the city’s centre, Baixa, a second one for the attractions, located in the Belém district and one more day for Sintra. However, if you have less time, I provided sample itineraries and tips on how to see Lisbon in 1 or 2 days right after the 3-day itinerary.
Tips on your 3-day Lisbon itinerary
Accommodation – have a hotel reservation already? Double-check your hotel’s location to ensure it’s in a favourable area (see my guide on where to stay in Lisbon).
My favourite place to stay in Lisbon: Hotel Hotel
Why: great location for sightseeing and restaurants, a 5min walk to a metro station
What I like: outdoor swimming pool with a garden, exceptional breakfast
Restaurants – I recommend making a reservation for all the restaurants you plan to visit. It is hard to secure a table at popular places, even if you arrive before the opening times and often there is already a line. Also, standard practice is for the waiter to bring you olives and bread with the menu. This is referred to as a couvert, and it will be included in the total bill.
How to skip the lines – I strongly recommend buying skip-the-line tickets in advance for Jerónimos Monastery and São Jorge Castle. Even during the off-peak season, the queues at Jerónimos Monastery can be horrendous, with over 100 people waiting before the opening hours.
Map – find here a map of this 3-day itinerary for Lisbon (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites).
3 Days in Lisbon itinerary – Day 1
Breakfast at Fábrica da Nata
08:10 AM – 08:40 AM
Lisbon is famous for its Pastel de nata, an egg custard tart pastry. Therefore, the best way to start your first day in the capital of Portugal is by tasting this delicious treat. To do that, make your way to Fábrica da Nata, one of the best places in the city, where you can try this Portuguese pastry, fresh out of the oven. Don’t forget to sprinkle some cinnamon on top for additional flavour.
Santa Justa Lift
08:40 AM – 08:50 AM
Santa Justa Lift, an impressive wrought-iron elevator, is one of the city’s most iconic sites. This 19th-century lift was designed in Neo-Gothic style by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel. The lift connects the lower Baixa district to the higher Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
Santa Justa Lift runs every day from 7 AM to 11 PM and it costs about €5 for a return trip. In case you have a 24-hour public transport card you can use it to access the lift for free as Santa Justa Lift is part of the Lisbon public transport network. There is a viewing platform on the top, from where you can enjoy awesome views of the city.
However, I recommend skipping the elevator ride, as due to the lift’s popularity, there are always extremely long queues. Moreover, the ride is about 10 seconds, making it not worthwhile for the price. Plus, Lisbon is very hilly, so there are plenty of viewpoints offering incredible views of the city.
Still, if the viewpoint of Santa Justa Lift is on your list, head to Carmo Convent. From there, follow the narrow street to the right, which runs beside the church. This route will lead you to the famous viewpoint without waiting in line for hours.
São Jorge Castle
09:10 AM – 10:30 AM
São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) is a historic fortress that sits atop the highest city’s hill. The castle’s history dates back to the 5th century when the Visigoths constructed a small fortress on the site. Over the centuries, it underwent various transformations, including Moorish and Christian influences.
During the 11th century, the Moors modified and enlarged the castle. In 1147, Afonso I of Portugal captured the fortress from the Moors and later transformed it into a royal palace.
Nowadays, all that is left are sturdy medieval walls, towers and gardens with beautiful peacocks. There are no interior rooms or furnishings, so have this in mind before visiting. However, São Jorge Castle is most famous for its exceptional views of Lisbon, including the Tagus River. You can also climb the castle walls and towers to enjoy breathtaking panoramic vistas.
Booking in advance is recommended (lines are usually very long)
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line São Jorge Castle (free cancellation up to 24 hours)
The ticket also includes access to the museum and 15-minute guided tours of the Archaeological Site and the Camera Obscura. The latter, an optical system of lenses and mirrors, offers a real-time, 360º panoramic view of the city, including its most famous historical sites.
10:50 AM – 11:50 AM
The National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional) is another place where you can see breathtaking panoramic views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. The building’s architecture is a prime example of Baroque and Neoclassical styles, featuring an impressive dome. Its interior, decorated with coloured marble, is inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The construction of the building started in 1682 and it took almost 300 years to be completed.
Originally built as the Church of Santa Engrácia, it was later repurposed as a pantheon to honour prominent Portuguese personalities, including politicians, writers and artists. Among the most renowned figures is Amália Rodrigues, a celebrated fado singer.
However, the highlight of the National Pantheon is its large terrace, which offers a 360º panoramic view of Lisbon and its charming red rooftops. You’ll need to climb around 180 steps to reach the rooftop terrace, but the effort is definitely worthwhile! Also, during the climb, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some great views of the church’s interior.
You can reserve your National Pantheon ticket in advance here.
Lunch at Augusto Lisboa
12:00 PM – 01:30 PM
For lunch make your way to Augusto Lisboa. It’s one of the best places (and my favourite one) for brunch in Lisbon! They offer amazing sourdough toasts, my personal favourite was the ham-topped one. However, keep in mind that is a very popular place with long lines, so expect a minimum 30-minute wait around noon.
Another lunch alternative is Dear Breakfast Lisbon. It’s located a little farther from the National Pantheon but conveniently close to the next attraction on this Lisbon itinerary. Dear Breakfast serve egg-focused dishes paired with delicious fresh juices and cocktails. I tried the Sausage Traybake, which was fantastic! Note that, as it’s a popular place there’s usually a queue outside, but it moves quickly.
01:45 PM – 02:30 PM
Lisbon Cathedral, also known as the Sé de Lisboa, is the oldest and most important church in the city. Its name Sé originates from the initials of Sedes Episcopalis, which, when translated, means bishop’s seat. The Lisbon Cathedral was originally built in 1150 on the site of a former mosque after Afonso Henriques captured back the city from the Moors.
Featuring thick walls, two bell towers and a stunning rose window, its architecture blends Romanesque and Gothic styles. Upon entering the church, you’ll see a QR Code, which you can scan for more information about the cathedral.
Don’t miss the treasury, which is located in the upper part of the church. It comprises four chambers filled with clothing, sculptures, jewellery and relics from the 14th-16th centuries.
If you’re visiting in the high season, I’d recommend booking a Lisbon Cathedral ticket in advance here.
Rua Augusta Arch
02:40 PM – 02:50 PM
Rua Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta) is a triumphal arch built after the devastating earthquake in 1755. It symbolizes the reconstruction and renewal of Lisbon after this devastating event. The arch stands at the northern end of Rua Augusta, one of the main pedestrian streets in the city. It serves as a monumental gateway to the Praça do Comércio, one of the city’s most famous squares.
It is possible to climb to the top of the Rua Augusta Arch, from where you can enjoy views of the Praça do Comércio and the Tagus River.
Chocolate and gelato time
03:10 PM – 04:00 PM
For me gelato is sacred, so everywhere I travel, I always look for places where I can enjoy some good gelato. The same applies to chocolate as well. And in this regard, Lisbon truly exceeded my expectations!
I tried several places, but the title of the best gelato in town goes straight to Sorbettino. Don’t be fooled by the name, they don’t offer only sorbet but have flavours with milk as well. The pistachio and the sea-salted caramel were excellent.
For the best chocolate cake in town, go to Landeau Chocolate. Their chocolate cake is both rich and surprisingly light. The bottom layer features a soft, textured cake, while the second layer consists of dark chocolate mousse, topped with cocoa powder.
Church of Saint Roch
04:00 PM – 04:20 PM
Built in the 16th century, the Church of Saint Roch (Igreja de São Roque) is one of the oldest Jesuit churches in the world. And it is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Lisbon!
Although its façade is relatively modest, the real treasure of São Roque lies within its doors. The interior features a number of Baroque chapels, lavishly decorated with gold, ivory, marble, stunning frescoes and sculptures. The Chapel of St. John the Baptist, in particular, is a masterpiece of Baroque art and is considered one of the most expensive chapels in the world.
Admission to the church is free, but there is a small entrance fee for the church museum.
Enjoy a traditional fado show
A perfect way to start your first evening in Lisbon would be by watching a Fado live show. It is a traditional Portuguese music genre, known for its soulful and melancholic melodies. Fado songs often tell stories of love, longing, and saudade, a deep emotional state. They are typically accompanied by Portuguese guitar, classical guitar, and a heartfelt vocal performance. It’s a unique cultural experience that will touch your heart.
Dinner at Grapes & Bites
Finish your first day in Lisbon with a dinner at Grapes & Bites. It’s a fantastic wine bar with live music, cosy but not pretentious at the same time. The food is fresh and delicious, I particularly enjoyed the cheese and charcuterie platter, roasted chorizo and codfish fritters.
More ideas for 3 days in Lisbon – Day 1
Take a walking tour
The best way to get a taste of the city is by joining this History, Stories and Lifestyle Walking Tour. The tour takes through the city’s most charming neighbourhoods, including Bairro Alto and Alfama district, famous for its fado houses. You’ll also visit the beautiful Church of Saint Roch, enjoy the scenic views from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and take a ride on an iconic Lisbon tram.
Another option to explore the city is by taking this Sightseeing Tour by Tuk Tuk. It’s a really fun way to see the city’s highlights and enjoy some great views.
Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora is one of Lisbon’s hidden gems, where you can admire the beautiful blue tiles (azulejos). King Afonso I of Portugal founded the monastery in the 12th century, dedicating it to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of Lisbon.
The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora is mostly famous for its stunning azulejos, which decorate the cloisters. The blue-white tiles depict scenes from the life of Saint Vincent, the Siege of Lisbon in 1147 and the fables of La Fontaine.
Some of the monastery’s highlights include:
- the 18th-century sacristy, richly decorated with coloured inlaid marble with floral motifs
- the Royal Pantheon of the Bragança, one of Portugal’s most influential royal dynasties
- the rooftop terrace with a 360º panoramic view over the city and the river Tagus
The Carmo Convent was originally founded in the 14th century by the Portuguese knight Nuno Álvares Pereira. With its stunning Gothic architecture, it was one of the greatest medieval buildings of its time. Unfortunately in 1755, a massive earthquake devastated Lisbon, followed by a tsunami and fires. The earthquake severely damaged the convent, and much of its roof and upper structure collapsed.
Today, you can still see the skeletal structure of the church and the convent, with its elegant Gothic arches, columns, and remnants of the altar. There is a small archaeological museum, which houses a remarkable collection of artifacts, offering insights into Portugal’s history and art.
However, the star of the convent is its resident cat, who is very friendly and loves attention. In fact, the cute feline is more photographed than the convent itself.
National Tile Museum
National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) is dedicated to the art of azulejos (the famous traditional Portuguese ceramic tiles). It is housed in a former convent, Madre de Deus Convent, which is a work of art in itself. You can still visit the convent’s church, famous for its stunning gilded woodwork and blue-and-white azulejos.
The museum features an extensive collection of azulejos from the 15th century to the 20th century. In the beginning, azulejo tiles displayed basic blue and white geometric designs. As time passed, they transformed, incorporating motifs with flowers, and birds, and introducing a wider range of colours.
The highlight is a 23m (75ft)-long panel illustrating Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake. It is made from 1300 tiles, depicting the city’s skyline at that time.
You can book your National Tile Museum ticket here.
Enjoy the city views
There are numerous viewpoints (miradouro in Portuguese) all over the Alfama district, from where you can enjoy beautiful views of the city’s skyline. The most popular ones:
- Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara – a beautiful terraced garden, overlooking the lower town of Baixa, the historic Alfama district, and the iconic São Jorge Castle
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia – a viewpoint, known for its colourful azulejos panels and bright pink bougainvillaea flowers
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol – a large terrace, offering panoramic views of Alfama, the Tagus River, and the city’s iconic red-tiled rooftops
Take a ride on Ascensor da Glória
The Ascensor da Glória (Glória Funicular) is one of the three funiculars in Lisbon. It was inaugurated in 1885, making it one of the oldest funiculars in the city. The funicular connects Praça dos Restauradores at the bottom of the hill to the Bairro Alto neighbourhood at the top. It runs every 12 minutes between 7 AM (weekdays) and 9 AM (weekends) till midnight. You can purchase tickets directly from the driver while onboard (the ride is free if you have a 24-hour public transportation card).
Another famous funicular is Ascensor da Bica, which connects Rua de São Paulo with Calçada do Combro.
3 Days in Lisbon itinerary – Day 2
On this second day of this 3-day Lisbon itinerary, you’ll explore the Belém district. The easiest way to get here from the city centre is by taking:
- a local train (Cascais Line) from Cais do Sodré to Algés (for the Belém Tower) or to Belém (for Jerónimos Monastery)
- tram E15 from Cais Sodré to Lg. Princesa (for the Belém Tower) or to Mosteiro Jerónimos (for Jerónimos Monastery)
I’d recommend starting with the Belém Tower (only the exterior) and then continuing to breakfast and Jerónimos Monastery. I don’t recommend visiting the tower itself, as the interior is rather plain and there are always long queues. This can take up a lot of your time, leaving you with less time to see the more impressive Jerónimos Monastery. However, if a visit to the tower is on your list, do it after the Jerónimos Monastery, as the lines there are usually even longer.
08:30 AM – 08:40 AM
Located in the Belém district of Lisbon, Belém Tower is one of the city’s most iconic sites. King Manuel I commissioned the construction of the tower in 1514. It is a great example of Manueline architecture. This is a special Portuguese style known for its detailed decorations, maritime themes, and features from the Renaissance and Gothic styles.
Belém Tower was built to defend the city and mark the entrance to the city’s harbour. It played a major role during Portugal’s Age of Discovery, serving as a departure point for explorers and their ships. In the following centuries, the tower was transformed into a prison and later into a lighthouse.
You can visit the tower, but due to its size, only a limited number of people are allowed inside at the same time, resulting in long lines. Moreover, the interior is unfurnished and somewhat plain. That’s why I recommend seeing only the exterior of the tower (which is a must-see). However, if you’re planning to visit the tower, I’d suggest booking your skip-the-line Torre de Belém ticket here to save time.
Breakfast at Manteigaria
09:00 AM – 09:20 AM
Another day in Lisbon means another chance to enjoy a Pastel de Nata! This time, head to Manteigaria (my personal favourite). The custard of the tard was much more delicious than the ones at Fábrica da Nata.
Since we’re in the neighbourhood, I have to mention the Pastéis de Belém bakery, the only place where you try the original Pastel de Nata. They prepare their pastries following an ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. However, in my view, the lengthy queue isn’t worth it. Yet, if you happen to arrive when it’s less crowded, you might want to give it a try and judge for yourself.
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Jerónimos Monastery is the most famous and impressive monument in all of Lisbon. Commissioned by King Manuel I, the construction of the monastery began in 1501. It continued for several decades, funded in part by profits from trade routes to Africa, Asia, and South America during the Age of Discovery. Jerónimos Monastery was built to honour the successful return of explorer Vasco da Gama from his journey to India.
With its intricately carved columns and detailed stonework, the monastery is a stunning example of Manueline architecture. It is a must-see during your 3 days in Lisbon, but there are some important things to consider before visiting:
- go as early as possible as lines start to form even before the opening hours. Despite my visit in May and arriving 15 minutes ahead with a pre-booked ticket, the queue outside was still pretty long and I ended up queuing for an hour and a half
- there are two lines – one for buying a ticket and another one for entering the monastery. I highly recommend buying a ticket online, which will allow you to skip the first line
- while the monastery officially opens at 9:30 AM, they let only tour groups until 10:30 AM, resulting in huge lines. Therefore, consider arriving very early or visiting in the late afternoon just before closing to avoid the crowds
Booking in advance is recommended (tickets are often sold out)
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Jerónimos Monastery
Church of Santa Maria de Belém
11:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Although a part of the Jerónimos Monastery, the Church of Santa Maria de Belém has a separate entrance (with its own line). The 16th-century church is famous for its richly carved stone decorations and stunning vaulted ceilings, a magnificent example of Manueline architecture.
One of the church’s most notable features is the tomb of Vasco da Gama, who discovered a sea route to India. You’ll also find the tombs of King Manuel I and Luís de Camões, a Portuguese poet and writer.
The Church of Santa Maria de Belém, unlike the monastery, is free to visit. As you leave the monastery, you’ll pass by the church’s entrance, offering a glimpse inside (though entry is not permitted). To access the church, you’ll have to join a separate queue (after you exit the monastery) for an additional 2 hours. I recommend admiring the church’s stunning exterior without going inside. Note that the church opens an hour later than the monastery (in case you’re planning a visit).
Lunch at Miolo
12:00 PM – 01:30 PM
For lunch, make your way to Miolo, an excellent brunch place. Their menu features unique sandwiches made with quality local ingredients. I especially liked the Famous Pork Cheek (pork stewed in Port Wine with caramelized onion and crispy bacon) and Breakfast Bun (scrambled eggs with avocado and crispy bacon).
Ajuda National Palace
02:00 PM – 03:30 PM
Ajuda National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Ajuda) is one of Lisbon’s hidden gems. Most of the people who visit Belem focus on the famous monastery and the tower, often overlooking this magnificent royal palace. During my visit, there were hardly any other people, and it was a true pleasure to have the palace entirely to myself.
The palace served as the official residence of the Portuguese royal family from the time of King Louis I in 1861 until 1910, when Portugal transitioned into a republic. Ajuda National Palace is built in Neoclassical style, featuring lavishly decorated rooms and grand halls. You can explore the State Apartments, including the stunning Throne Room (featuring a painted ceiling), the Audience Room, and the Banquet Room.
You can book your Ajuda National Palace ticket here.
You’ll find the Royal Treasury Museum in the palace’s western wing. It houses an exquisite collection of royal jewellery, including crowns, tiaras, and royal regalia. You have to pay additionally to visit the Royal Treasury Museum, but it’s absolutely worthwhile. Be sure to check out the museum shop of the treasury, where you can find high-quality items and gifts.
Dinner at Cervejaria Liberdade
Finish this long day with an Octopus À Lagareiro Style at Cervejaria Liberdade. This elegant restaurant offers an excellent selection of fish, seafood and some Portuguese classics. Don’t forget to order a dessert, particularly the cocoa mousse, which was the best I’ve ever tasted.
More ideas for 3 days in Lisbon – Day 2
Take a river cruise
Take this river cruise with drinks and enjoy a 2-hour boat tour along the River Tagus. You’ll explore Lisbon’s historic waterfront, sail under the 25th of April Bridge, and pass by the famous Belém Tower and Monument to the Discoveries. The cruise is available during the day, at sunset, or at night (for a truly magical experience go for the sunset option).
You can also opt for this Helicopter Ride, Boat Trip, & Walking Tour, which allows you to discover the beauty of the city by land, river and air. The tour includes also a ride on Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams.
Monument of the Discoveries
A short walk from Belém Tower, you’ll find the remarkable Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). It was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, a key figure in Portugal’s Age of Exploration.
The Monument of the Discoveries has a distinctive design that resembles the prow of a ship. It stands at an impressive height of 52 meters (171 feet). The monument features historical figures who played an important role in Portugal’s Age of Discoveries, including Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and many others.
For a fee, you can take an elevator to the top of the monument, from where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Tagus River. On the square in front of the monument, you’ll find a marble map of the globe, displaying significant dates and routes.
3 Days in Lisbon itinerary – Day 3
On the 3rd day in Lisbon, take a day trip to Sintra, home to the famous Pena Palace. Apart from the stunning palace, there are three other main attractions to visit – the Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira and Sintra National Palace.
You have two options – to take an individual day trip or book a guided tour. I’d recommend taking a guided tour because you’ll be able to see much more and save time in transportation. If you opt for an individual trip, my advice is to limit your Sintra itinerary to just 2-3 sites. Also, for an individual trip plan approximately 2 hours for transportation each way.
How to get to Pena Palace
- the easiest way is to take this Sintra and Cascais Day Trip (more than 7400+ excellent reviews). The tour includes not only the Pena Palace and Sintra Historical Centre, but also the stunning coastlines of Cabo da Roca and Cascais
- take a train from Rossio train station to Sintra (40min journey). From there take bus 434 (departs every 15min), which stops right at Pena Palace. Catch the earliest train you can, as often there are long lines for bus 434 later in the day
How to visit the palaces of Sintra
- only Pena Palace – get off at the palace bus stop and then take the bus back to the train station
- Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors – get off at the castle stop, see the castle and then walk up to the palace. Bus 434 follows a one-way route, departing from Sintra train station, stopping at the Castle of the Moors and then Pena Palace, before returning directly to the train station. You can’t take it from Pena Palace to the castle on your way down
- Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors and Quinta da Regaleira – start with Pena Palace, as it is located on the top of the hill and make your way down the hill from there. Keep in mind that the walk back to the train station from Pena Palace takes about an hour. This gives you the opportunity to stop at the Castle of the Moors and Quinta da Regaleira on your way down. I don’t recommend starting with Quinta da Regaleira and then taking the bus to Pena Palace, as the bus is usually full and you won’t be able to get on
National Palace of Pena
The National Palace of Pena is one of the most spectacular palaces in Europe. With its colourful exterior, featuring shades of red, yellow, and blue, it is one of the finest examples of 19th-century Romanticism.
Pena Palace was originally a monastery dating back to the Middle Ages. In 1842, King Ferdinand II transformed it into the fairytale castle we see today. Over the following century, the palace served as a royal summer residence.
Inside, you’ll find richly decorated rooms that reflect the opulence of the era. Some highlights include the Great Hall (adorned with a golden bronze chandelier), the Arab Room (with its trompe-l’oeil on the ceiling), and the Indian Room.
Booking in advance is recommended (tickets are timed-entry and often sold out)
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Pena Palace
Castle of the Moors
Castle of the Moors is situated a 15-minute walk from Pena Palace. It offers stunning views of the surrounding Sintra hills, the Atlantic Ocean and the town itself. The castle has a rich history that dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries. It was constructed as a defensive fortress during the period of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula.
You can book your skip-the-line castle ticket here.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is a beautiful estate, known for its lush gardens and mystical symbolism. It was built in the early 20th century by the wealthy Brazilian merchant António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. The estate is mostly famous for its iconic initiation well with a spiral staircase that descends into the earth.
It is possible to tour the palace and its lush gardens, as well as to descend the famous initiation well.
Booking in advance is recommended (tickets are timed-entry and often sold out)
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Quinta da Regaleira
Sintra National Palace
Sintra National Palace is a 15min walk from Quinta da Regaleira. Built in during the 10th century as a Moorish castle, it is one of the oldest palaces in Portugal. It served as a royal residence for centuries, and it was a favourite of the Portuguese monarchs. One of the most distinctive features of the palace is its pair of colossal conical chimneys rising from the kitchen. These twin chimneys have become an iconic symbol of Sintra.
You can book your skip-the-line palace ticket here.
Dinner at Grau Douro Tapas & Wine Bar
Finish your last day of this 3-day Lisbon itinerary with a dinner at Grau Douro Tapas & Wine Bar. It’s a great wine bar for cheese and charcuterie boards and tapas. I enjoyed their Alheira and Chouriço balls, which were fantastic, as well as the mixed platter.
Another option for dinner is Fumeiro de Santa Catarina. Tucked away in a residential street, this small tapas bar serves dishes, which have at least one smoked element. The Gran Daddy Chips and the grilled octopus were delicious with a nice crisp outside.
More ideas for 3 days in Lisbon – Day 3
Food and Wine Walking Tour
Join this Food and Wine Walking Tour and discover the world of Portuguese cuisine, wines, and traditions. Explore Lisbon’s historic cafés and learn about the history of Ginjinha (cherry liqueur) and Port wine. You’ll also taste the iconic Bifana pork sandwich, Chouriço, São Jorge Cheese and Portuguese codfish cake. This food tour is not only the most popular but also the top-rated one in all of Lisbon!
Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the largest and most impressive public aquariums in Europe. It boasts a rich collection of marine life (over 8,000 sea creatures), including colourful tropical fish, sharks and penguins. Highlights of the aquarium are the massive saltwater tank, replicating the open ocean and the stunning underwater tunnel.
You can book your skip-the-line Oceanarium ticket here.
Take a Street Art Tour
Join this Street Art Tour to explore the colourful streets of Lisbon. Discover the world of street art and see the best political and social murals from popular street artists. You’ll also learn about the symbolism behind these creations and the artists themselves.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is a must for every art lover. The museum houses about 6,000 ancient artifacts and artworks. This includes European, Oriental, and Islamic art, as well as decorative arts, sculptures, and jewellery. The impressive collection was bequeathed to the city of Lisbon by the Calouste Gulbenkian, an Armenian oil magnate.
Must buy tickets in advance
There are three attractions for which buying skip-the-line tickets will save you hours of waiting – Jerónimos Monastery, São Jorge Castle and Pena Palace. Even in the low season, the lines at Jerónimos Monastery can become quite overwhelming, often with more than 100 visitors queuing up well before the opening hours.
Jerónimos Monastery – with 2.5 million visitors per year this is the city’s most popular attraction, so book your Jerónimos Monastery ticket here.
São Jorge Castle – more than 2 million visitors per year, long lines, book your skip-the-line castle ticket here.
National Palace of Pena – with almost 2 million visitors per year, this is the most famous palace near Lisbon, so book a skip-the-line ticket to Pena Palace here.
1-day Lisbon itinerary
If you have only one day in Lisbon, I’d suggest exploring its city centre, Baixa. You can follow the first day of this Lisbon itinerary. Don’t go to the Belém district as you’ll waste an hour in transportation each way. Furthermore, even if you purchase a ticket in advance, you may still have to wait for one to two hours at Jerónimos Monastery. In case, Jerónimos Monastery is on the top of your list, go as early as you can and spend the afternoon exploring Baixa.
One day in Lisbon
- Breakfast at Fábrica da Nata
- Admire Santa Justa Lift
- Enjoy the views from São Jorge Castle
- Visit the National Pantheon
- Lunch at Augusto Lisboa
- Visit Lisbon Cathedral
- See Rua Augusta Arch
- Sorbettino and Landeau Chocolate
- Admire the stunning Church of Saint Roch
- Enjoy a traditional fado show
- Dinner at Grapes & Bites
2-day Lisbon itinerary
2 days in Lisbon will allow you to see the city’s highlights, just follow the first 2 days of this travel itinerary. Skip the third day, which is a day trip to Sintra (unless it’s a priority for you), as it will take up the entire day.
2 days in Lisbon
- Day 1: Santa Justa Lift, São Jorge Castle, National Pantheon, Lisbon Cathedral, Rua Augusta Arch, Church of Saint Roch
- Day 2: Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Church of Santa Maria de Belém, Ajuda National Palace
Best pass for your 3-day Lisbon itinerary
To get free entry to the city’s top attractions and unlimited access to the public transportation system, consider buying a Lisbon card. The card gives you:
- free entry to 39 museums and attractions (see the full list here)
- unlimited travel by public transport (bus, tram, metro, elevators and funiculars) and free travel on CP train lines to Sintra and Cascais
- deals and discounts on visits, tours and shopping
By using the Lisbon card (€46 for 3 days) you’ll save a minimum of €9 (if you strictly follow my proposed itinerary without visiting any additional attractions). And if you add more sights, you’ll save even more. However, the best part is that you can ride the lifts, including the famous Santa Justa Lift for free (and save about €5 per ride).
- National Pantheon – €7
- Jerónimos Monastery – €12
- Ajuda National Palace – €9
- Royal Treasure Museum – €10
- Return tickets on the Cascais Line (to Belém) – €3
- Return train ticket to Sintra – €5
- Santa Justa Lift and Ascensor da Glória or Bica – €5 + €4
Buying separate tickets (total) – €55
Lisbon card price – €46
Total savings – €9 per person
Please note that the Lisbon card allows you to bypass the ticket purchase line at Jerónimos Monastery, but you’ll still need to wait in the entrance line to access the monastery.
Where to stay in Lisbon
If you’re visiting Lisbon for the first time, I’d recommend you stay in Baixa. This neighbourhood sits right at the heart of the city within walking distance to the historic Alfama and the lively nightlife of the Bairro Alto district. You’ll be just a short stroll away from numerous popular attractions, including São Jorge Castle, Santa Justa Lift and Lisbon Cathedral.
You can conveniently reach the airport by taking either the green metro line (towards Alameda) or the blue one (towards São Sebastião). Then transfer to the red metro line heading to Aeroporto. Getting to Sintra and its famous Pena Palace is effortless – simply hop on a train departing from Rossio train station.
Figueira by The Beautique Hotels & SPA – Best mid-range
Situated next to Praça da Figueira, a historic square, this hotel is the ideal base to explore Lisbon. Rooms are spacious and have a unique style with earthy colours and fig tree touches. Don’t skip the hotel’s restaurant, Figu’s, which serves yummy Portuguese food and local wines.
Why book – central location, a short walk from a metro station and Rossio Train Station, great Spa with hamman
Altis Avenida Hotel – Best luxury
The hotel is housed in a beautiful old building, just a short stroll from the famous shopping streets – Rua Augusta and Liberdade Avenue. The rooftop bar, Rossio Gastrobar, is a great spot to relax after a long day of sightseeing. The excellent Spa centre features a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and oxygen therapy.
Why book – central location, next to 2 metro lines, rooftop terrace with panoramic views, heated indoor swimming pool
Grape Harbor Prata Apartments – Best apartment
Grape Harbor Prata Apartments are right in the middle of downtown Lisbon, perfect for exploring. The apartments are modern and spacious with a complete kitchenette setup. Plus, they serve up a delicious continental breakfast with fresh bread and warm pastel de nata every morning.
Why book – central location, 5min walk to 2 metro lines (Baixa-Chiado and Rossio stations), great breakfast
Getting around in Lisbon
Lisbon has an extensive public transportation system that includes trams, funiculars, buses, and a metro. The city’s public transportation is operated by three companies – Carris, Lisbon Metro and CP. Carris is in charge of the city’s buses, trams, and funiculars. The Lisbon Metro is responsible for the metro system. CP, which stands for Comboios de Portugal, is the national Portuguese rail company, which runs suburban trains to destinations like Sintra and Cascais.
The fastest and cheapest way to get around the city is by using the metro. There are also three historic funiculars (Glória, Bica, and Lavra) to get to some of the city’s most steep hills.
For convenient access to all public transportation, buy a Viva Viagem card. The card is priced at €0.50 and can be purchased at any metro station. Then you have to pre-load your card with pay-as-you-go credit. This card is valid for all modes of public transportation, including the train to Sintra.
Another option to get around the city is by using the hop-on-hop-off bus, tram and boat. It gives you access to three different kinds of transportation, making it easy to explore the city’s highlights.
How to get to Lisbon
Lisbon has several major train stations, including Gare De Oriente, Entrecampos, Santa Apolónia and Sete-Rios. If you’re arriving from Porto, the train will stop either at Gare De Oriente or Santa Apolónia Station. From there you can take the red metro line (from Gare De Oriente) or the blue metro line (from Santa Apolónia) to your hotel.
Check timetables and book train tickets online at Comboios de Portugal official site.
Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) is located seven kilometres northeast of the city centre of Lisbon. To get from the airport to the city centre:
- take a private transfer directly to your hotel (more than 3,100+ excellent reviews)
- the red metro line (Aeroporto – Saldanha) takes you to downtown Lisbon in about 20 minutes. Note, that if you arrive at Terminal 2, you have to take the free shuttle to Terminal 1 and then the metro
Day trips from Lisbon
Fatima, Óbidos, Batalha and Nazaré
This Fatima, Obidos, Batalha and Nazaré Day Tour is the most popular day trip from Lisbon. The tour takes you on a journey through central Portugal’s highlights:
- Catholic shrine of Fátima – one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country. It holds deep religious significance due to the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in 1917
- Óbidos – a beautifully preserved medieval town with narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a well-preserved castle
- monastery of Batalha – this monastery is a masterpiece of Gothic and Manueline architecture, featuring stunning stained glass windows, intricate stone carvings, and grand chapels
- Nazaré – this seaside resort boasts some of the most breathtaking coastal views in Portugal
This Arrábida and Sesimbra Day Tour & Wine Tasting is a must for every wine lover. You’ll visit the castles of Setúbal and uncover the secrets of historic wine cellars. Then the adventure continues with a visit to a family estate for homemade wine tasting.
Finally, explore the wine culture with a guided tour of the José Maria da Fonseca winery, one of Portugal’s oldest family-owned wineries. You’ll get to taste two local wine varieties and explore the historic cellars in Azeitão.
Queluz National Palace
Queluz National Palace is located just a short train ride from Lisbon. The palace is a remarkable example of 18th-century Portuguese architecture, combining elements of Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical styles. It is known as the Portuguese Versailles due to its grandeur.
The palace was initially built as a hunting lodge for King Dom Pedro III in the 18th century. Later, his wife, Queen Maria I, transformed it into a royal residence. You can tour the opulent interior, decorated with intricate stucco work, gilded carvings, and beautiful frescoes.
You can book your skip-the-line palace ticket here.
How to get to Queluz National Palace
Take a train from Rossio train station to Queluz – Belas (a 20min journey). The palace is a 15min walk from the train station.
Best time to visit Lisbon
With almost 300 days of sunshine, Lisbon is an ideal year-round destination. However, the best time to travel to Lisbon is the shoulder season which falls between March and May, as well as September to October. During these times, you can comfortably explore the city on foot, as the temperatures are generally pleasant, and there are fewer tourists.
Avoid the peak season, which is from June to August, as the weather can become excessively hot, and the city tends to get crowded with tourists. Still, if you’re visiting in mid-June, don’t miss the Festas de Santo António, one of the most popular and traditional festivals in Lisbon.
Faqs about visiting Lisbon
To see most of Lisbon’s highlights you’ll need 2 full days. However, if you wish to visit Sintra and its famous Pena Palace, you’ll need an additional day.
I’d recommend spending 3 days in Lisbon. This is the perfect amount of time to explore the city and take a day trip to Sintra. While it’s possible to see the city’s highlights in 2 days, you’ll have to skip the day trip to Sintra.
3 full days is enough to see Lisbon’s top sights, explore the city’s culinary scene and take a day trip to Sintra. However, your itinerary will be packed, so consider extending your stay by 1 or 2 days for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Tram 28 is a historic tram with a picturesque route, but it’s not worth the hype. It is often overcrowded and it’s impossible to sit down. Due to its popularity among tourists, waiting times can be quite long (even more than an hour) and it is also a target for pickpocketing.
It’s common to leave a tip of 5-10% of the total bill. Be sure to check the bill, as some restaurants may include a service charge in the bill, so check before adding an additional tip.
Yes, you can drink tap water in Lisbon. The city’s tap water is considered safe and of good quality and it meets all EU standards.
Pin for later