Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, a country many travelers overlook, instead choosing Portugal’s more popular neighbors, Spain or France, for their vacations. While great options, I am here to convince you that Portugal should be your first on your list!
If you’re a sucker for a great food and music scene, impeccable local wines, and buildings adorned with painted tiles often telling stories of the rich history of the city, then look no further than Lisbon.
You could easily spend a week exploring all corners of Lisbon. However, if you want to set aside some time for other areas the country has to offer (which I suggest you do), I have outlined below a perfect 3-day itinerary in Lisbon.
In this post, I am going to share the perfect 3-day Lisbon Itinerary, including where to eat and stay in Lisbon!
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When to Visit Lisbon
We have visited Lisbon both in the middle of summer and the beginning of November, and I will say we have never had a bad time.
During the summer you will be able to better utilize the beaches and other warm weather activities. That being said, the city will be much busier during the summer as well, as it is the high season in Lisbon, so be prepared.
The perfect time to visit Lisbon is during the shoulder-season months, either April through June or September through November.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
There are four main areas/neighborhoods I would suggest to stay on your 3-day trip to Lisbon: Barrio Alto, Chiado, Baxia, or Alfama.
As described to us by a local, Barrio Alto has more of a nightlife scene with restaurants, bars and clubs open until later into the night. Conversely, the Alfama neighborhood is typically a bit quieter and more traditional, though is home to an avenue of restaurants that are most known for one of the deepest traditions in Lisbon: Fado music. Chiado is the theatre center of Lisbon with the National Theatre close by, and multiple churches. Baxia is the historic heart of Lisbon and today’s commercial center known for it’s plentiful shopping streets.
We’ve stayed in the Barrio Alto, Baxia, and Alfama neighborhoods and have loved all for different reasons. Baxia was extremely convenient to all the things we wanted to see (and at the bottom of the hill – PLUS), but if I had to choose one I would choose to stay in Alfama for its charm and authenticity. Barrio Alto is a good place to stay if you will be frequenting the trendy restaurants and bars, but beware of the steep hills in this neighborhood.
Below are my top suggestions of where to stay by neighborhood.
Alfama Chic Rua dos Remédios – Alfama
Someone once told us that Alfama is where all the grandmas live, and if that means quiet streets at night, authentic, home-cooked meals at restaurants, and charm at every corner, then sign me up!
I would stay in Alfama time and time again when returning to Lisbon and this apartment is just the spot I would book.
Local Airbnb with Portuguese Charm – Barrio Alto
In Barrio Alto, there are numerous quaint Airbnbs and Vrbos to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice here. I have found that the apartments are much more reasonably priced than the hotels in this area.
Hotel do Chiado – Chiado
I mean, the view from the rooftop patio at the Hotel do Chiado should be on the list of the best miraduoros in Lisbon. Can you imagine winding down your day of exploring with a glass of wine and this view?
Lisboa Prata Boutique Hotel – Baxia
This boutique hotel is where we stayed for a night before heading out to the Lisbon airport. It is very reasonably priced, small, but comfortable. I absolutely loved opening the windows and watching the tram go by, as well as the authentic azulejo tiles found in the rooms.
Although the streets are busier in this neighborhood with tram traffic, restaurants, and people, once you close your window, you can barely hear a thing. I would highly suggest this hotel to anyone looking for a cheap and central location in Lisbon.
EPIC SANA Marques Hotel – Santa Cruz
While not my first suggestion, if you are ok staying a little further out of the city center, the Santa Cruz neighborhood is perfect for its hilltop views over Lisbon and proximity to the Castelo de S. Jorge.
I mean, this pool alone is a major plus!
3-Day Lisbon Itinerary
Below I have laid out a suggested itinerary to maximize your time in Lisbon by visiting spots that are the most convenient to visit together. However, I am always keeping in mind the sights you should visit first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds, versus what can be visited mid-day without much hassle.
My goal is to always avoid the crowds, if possible, to have the most relaxed experience and best photography options. As always, if you have questions about this itinerary, drop them in the comments below.
3-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 1
Sunrise at Miradoura de Santa Luzia
One of my favorite views in all of Lisbon, Miraduora de Santa Luzia, is best visited at sunrise. The sun rises over the water turning the morning sky from red to orange before your eyes. This is one of the most peaceful places to start your day in Lisbon!
It will make getting up early all the more worth it, I promise. A bonus of visiting at sunrise is beating the crowds that form here later in the day.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
This museum is one of my favorites in Lisbon. It is a museum dedicated to the history of tilework in Portugal.
Our favorite exhibit was a panoramic tile paining of Lisbon from the water. It was fun for us to point out different points of interest that we had visited during our trip!
Explore Alfama Neighborhood
The Alfama neighborhood, as mentioned above, is a quaint neighborhood with sweeping views of the Tagus river.
Not only is the neighborhood home to Miradoura da Santa Luzia, it is also home to the Portas do Sol, another of my favorite views of the city.
Alfama is also the unofficial home of Fado music, which is often played on and off over the course of about a 3-hour dinner. Just follow Rua de São Pedro and you are sure to hear the entrancing singing, especially near the weekend.
See below for some notable things to see in the Alfama neighborhood.
Get Lost in the Streets of Alfama
By far my favorite neighborhood to walk around is Alfama. The hills give you great views and also a good workout!
If you want to enjoy the quieter areas of Lisbon, then Alfama is just the place for you! I also think it is the best neighborhood to wander around and stop into quaint cafes or restuarants.
Convento da Graca & Miraduoro de Graca
The Convento da Graca, or Church of Our Lady of Grace, is one of the oldest convents in Lisbon. The church and convent sit atop one of Lisbon’s highest hills. Therefore, the miraduoro de Graca in front of the Covneto da Graca offers sweeping views over the city and the Tagus River.
There is no entrance fee, and the convent is quite small. You will only need about 30 minutes maximum here.
Mosteiro of São Vicente de Fora
In Alfama, you can find the Mosteiro of São Vicente de Fora. Not only does this monastery have iconic tilework, it also offers a sweeping view from the rooftop viewpoints.
I suggest visiting towards the end of the day, because the view over Lisbon from the Church Towers (included in your ticket) is about as good as any other miraduoro! Closing time is 6pm, but the last ticket sales are at 5pm. You can get your ticket from the admissions desk at the entrance for 5 EUR.
Sunset at Porta do Sol Miradouro
The Portas do Sol Miradouro is a terraced viewpoint in the heart of the Alfama neighborhood one of the many hills of Lisbon.
I would suggest getting here for sunset and grabbing a glass of vinho verde from Quiosque das Portas do Sol to enjoy your sunset here. It will be crowded here at sunset, but with enough patients you can grab some good photos and even a table with a view to relax before dinner.
Dinner at Boa-Bao
Boa-Bao is a pan-Asian restaurant in the Barrio Alto neighborhood of Lisbon. I loved the vibe and food so much that we came twice during our trip!
Some of our favorites that we tried were the bao buns, especially the seabass bao (I promise, it sounds weird but is fantastic), the appetizer platter with an array of tasty starters, and any noodle dish on the menu!
Boa-Bao does not take reservations at lunch or dinner because it is so popular. A line will start to form before the restaurant is even open. For dinner, we suggest arriving about 20-30 minutes ahead of opening if you want to get a table without a very long wait. Stopping by for an early lunch is also a great option too.
Location: Largo Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro 30, 1200-369 Lisboa
3-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 2
Breakfast at Fábrica da Nata
If you are researching Lisbon, odds are you have come across the lovely little custard pastry, the pastel de nata.
We have tried our fare share of these little cups of heaven. So what is the best pastel de nata in Lisbon you ask?
Let me spill the beans, the best pastel de nata we have ever had was at Fábrica da Nata.
For breakfast, the pastry shop also has a combo order where you get a ham and cheese croissant, one pastel de nata, and one latte for about 4 euros.
History says that the pastel de nata was first developed by someone at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Therefore, nearby in the Belém neighborhood is famous place called Pastéis de Belém that attracts many visitors a day.
I actually did not like the pastel de nata at all from here. I think the sheer number of visitors take away from the quality of the pastry and from the atmosphere. But that’s just my opinion.
Location: R. Augusta nº 275 A, 1100-052 Lisboa
Pro Tip: Be sure to add a little sprinkle of cinnamon on your pastel de nata and enjoy this gem more than once if you can.
Visit Palácio Nacional de Belém and Jeronimos Monastery
Belém is a small neighborhood about 5 miles west of the city center of Lisbon, along the water. Belém is the home to the Tower of Belem, the Belém Palace, and Jeronimos Monastery.
All of these stops seem to be frequent and easy stops for the daily cruise ships that arrive in Lisbon, so try to get there when they open if possible to admire the classic Portuguese architecture.
The easiest way to get out to Belém is via a 15-minute taxi, although it can be done via a short train/bus ride.
Lunch at Sud Lisboa
Not far from Belém, Sud Lisboa is a modern restaurant and event center with a front row seat of the Tagus River.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch on the patio with appetizers, an oxtail ragù, and a seafood pasta. All of which were extremely fresh and very good.
This restaurant was not a cheap option, but it is a total vibe. For a “treat yourself” meal on the water, it was totally worth it.
Location: Pavilhão Poente (ao lado do MAAT, Av. Brasília, 1300-598 Lisboa
Take a Sailboat out on the Water
One of our most memorable experiences in Lisbon is when we took a sailboat cruise on the Tagus River.
Typically the sailing tour will include wine, beer, and snacks. If you’re lucky you’ll get a little sailing instruction by the captain. I really suggest booking a sailing tour over one of the larger boats because you will get a much more intimate and local experience. These sailboats usually hold 10 people max.
To book a similar experience, check out these highly-rated sailing tours with a local guide (I know traveling can be unpredictable – so all experiences recommended can be cancelled 24-hours beforehand for a full refund):
If you make time for anything on your trip to Lisbon, let this be it!
Dinner at Prado
Prado is an experience, simple as that. The ambiance is casual, warm and lively at the same time. They boast a farm to table concept using only seasonal and local market ingredients.
The food is unlike anything we have experienced before. My husband usually balks at “fancy” dining saying the portion as small and its just about presentation. So he was definitely skeptical going into our meal at Prado. But let me tell you – he ended up leaving FULL and satisfied with every dish we ordered.
While the presentation was impeccable, the steak tartare served on a crispy kale chip also had unbelievable flavor. But our favorite dish was a carbona-like dish but the “noodles” were impossibly tender squid which lent an insane flavor profile to the dish. We are still raving about this dish.
You pretty much can’t get in without a reservations, so make one well in advance.
Location: Tv. Pedras Negras 2, 1100-404 Lisboa
3-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 3
Watch Sunrise at Santo Estevao Belverde
A much less known miraduoro, or viewpoint, in Lisbon is the Santo Estevao Belverde. You will likely be the only one here for sunrise, with only a handful of others is you chose to visit at sunset.
However, I really enjoyed this lesser known spot. You may even been accompanied by some street performers in the evenings which makes for a really cool atmosphere.
Catch the famous tram
Since you are already up early and beating crowds, I also would highly suggest catching the world famous 28E tram. These trams get extremely crowded later in the day, so if you’re like us and like to enjoy your space, I highly suggest taking this ride early in the morning.
The tram is 3 euros per person, so be sure to have some cash or change, and you can pay the driver directly as you board. The tram route will take you further into the Alfama neighborhood, or going the other way, all the way back to the city center into Barrio Alto.
Take a Traditional Portuguese Cooking Class
As you probably already know, my husband and I like to take cooking classes when in new countries. It’s one of our favorite ways to experience the cuisine of a country because you get to interact with locals often sharing stories of local culture. Selfishly, this is also a great way to get my husband to cook for me when we get back home!
When visiting Lisbon, we highly suggest the Cooking Lisbon Market Tour with Cooking Class, which starts with a tour of a local market to pick all the fresh ingredients for your meal. Next you will go back to Cooking Lisbon’s commercial kitchen to cook local dishes, while tasting some Portuguese wines and cheeses. Our favorite part was hearing about the history of the dishes from the chefs.
If you are interested in more cooking class options in Lisbon these come highly rated (I know traveling can be unpredictable – so all experiences recommended can be cancelled 24-hours beforehand for a full refund):
Explore Barrio Alto Neighborhood
Barrio Alto is one of the more popular neighborhoods of Lisbon, due to its abundance of hip dining and bar options (see below for some more Barrio Alto dining options).
While exploring Barrio Alto be sure to check out the Ascensor da Bica, or get lost and admire some of the many exhibitions of street art in the area.
One of my favorite views in Barrio Alto is from the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara where you get a sprawling view of Lisbon including the São Jorge castle.
Explore Carmo / Chiado Neighborhood
The Carmo and Chiado neighborhoods are the heart of Lisbon, located between Barrio Alto on the left and Alfama on the right. Here you will find the famous Santa Justa lift and the Arco da Rua Augusta.
Another fun spot to explore is the Convento do Carmo. This convent remains in ruins from the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon.
Get a Ginja Shot
You can’t come to Lisbon without getting a Ginja shot. Ginja is a sweet cherry liquor that originated in Lisbon. Most of the time the shot includes an alcohol-soaked cherry as well.
There are many store fronts and even street vendors selling Ginja shots. On our last visit to Lisbon, we stopped by Ginjinha Sem Rival for our shot. We really enjoyed the atmosphere here as it felt more authentic.
If you want to try that shot from the source, apparently the A Gininhja bar, was the inventor of the Ginja shot.
Dinner at Oyster & Margaritas
Queue up the best margarita I’ve had outside of Texas, let alone in freaking Europe! We stumbled upon this place after not getting a table at another restaurant nearby.
Sometimes things just work out for the best, because after eating here I would have rather come here first. The oysters were so fresh and there were so many to choose from. And please, you must order a margarita for me. They are divine.
Location: R. da Palmeira 28 C, 1200-313 Lisboa
Alternate Half Day Trip to Sintra
If you have an extra day, or want to substitute any of the activities above, I would suggest a trip to Sintra, Portugal. You will need at least a half-day to visit Sintra.
Sintra is a mountain town about 30-45 minutes from Lisbon. The vibrant Pena Palace is one of the main attractions which overlooks the city of Sintra. The palace is a main attraction for a reason, as you can see all the way to the Atlantic ocean from the palace.
If you have even a half day to spare in Lisbon, I would highly suggest that you consider a half day trip to Sintra. A half day is enough to see a couple of the major sights in Sintra, however to see everything you could spend 1-2 days there as well.
Make sure to check out my Sintra day trip post for all the details on what to see, how to get there, and an update on changing rules.
Alternative Dining Options to Consider
Dear Breakfast – $
You had me at “all-day brunch”! Eggs, coffee, and acai bowls galore. What else could one hope for? This trendy brunch restaurant even comes with a view at the Chiado location where you can watch the trams pass by the street.
With three different locations around Lisbon, this is an easy spot to incorporate into any itinerary.
Main location: R. Gaivotas 17, 1200-719 Lisboa, Portugal
Zenith – $
Another brunch all-day concept restaurant with locations in Barcelona, Madrid, and Porto. Each plate is colorful and mouth-watering.
Location: R. do Telhal 4A, 1150-346 Lisboa, Portugal
Lunch or Dinner
Taberna Sal Grosso – $
When we first arrived into Lisbon, we were slightly hungry and wandered upon this spot in Alfama looking for some tapas.
To my surprise, our last minute pick on a hungry stomach was actually delicious. They are a small 5-6 table restaurant with many Portuguese classics to chose from on the menu. I highly recommend visiting if you are staying in/near Alfama.
We were eating at three in the afternoon which is the only reason we walked up and got a table. For most occasions I would recommend making a reservation.
Location: Calçada do Forte 22, 1100-256 Lisboa, Portugal
A Cevecheria – $$
This little ceviche restaurant has been on my list for years. I was so glad to finally make it here on our latest trip to Lisbon.
They whip up multiple fresh ceviche dishes, and other fresh seafood quinoa dishes that we thoroughly enjoyed. Not only is the food superb, the large octopus hanging from the ceiling makes for some great pictures!
They do not take reservations for lunch or dinner. To avoid the crowds and get a table, we ended up making this a lunch spot, getting there about 10 minutes before they opened.
If you are set on having dinner here, show up early, and plan to wait it out.
Location: R. Dom Pedro V 129, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal
I hope that you have found this post helpful in planning your time in Lisbon. Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions about Lisbon or if you have any great experiences to share!
Looking for more Portugal inspiration? You may also enjoy these Portugal related posts:
- Day Trip to Sintra from Lisbon
- How to Visit Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal
- The Ultimate 3 Days in Porto Itinerary
- 7 Best Viewpoints in Porto, Portugal
- 8 Best Day Trips from Porto, Portugal