3 Days in Lisbon: The Perfect Lisbon Itinerary

Discover Lisbon's charming blend of historic grandeur and modern vibrancy, from iconic trams to hidden fado bars. Follow this 3-day Lisbon itinerary for best results!

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

I'll never forget the moment my wife Sarah and I stumbled upon that hidden fado bar on our first night in Lisbon. We were wandering through the narrow, winding streets of Alfama, slightly lost but enchanted by the warm glow of streetlights on centuries-old buildings. Suddenly, we heard the haunting strains of a Portuguese guitar drifting from an unmarked doorway. Intrigued, we stepped inside and found ourselves in a tiny, candlelit room where a fadista was pouring her heart out in song. It was in that moment that we fell head over heels for Lisbon.

That magical experience set the tone for our entire trip, and it's exactly the kind of serendipitous encounter I hope you'll have when you visit this captivating city. Lisbon is a place that rewards both careful planning and spontaneous exploration. It's a city where grand palaces and ancient castles coexist with cutting-edge art galleries and trendy rooftop bars. Where you can start your day with a pastéis de nata (custard tart) that's been perfected over centuries, and end it with an innovative tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

In this guide, I'll share with you our carefully crafted 3-day Lisbon itinerary, designed to give you a perfect blend of must-see sights and off-the-beaten-path experiences. We'll cover everything from the best times to visit and what to pack, to where to stay and how to get around. I'll also sprinkle in some local tips and tricks we picked up along the way. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a beautiful city to explore, Lisbon has something for everyone. So, let's dive in and start planning your perfect three days in Lisbon!

Pre-Trip Planning: Setting the Stage for Your Lisbon Adventure

Before we jump into the day-by-day itinerary, let's cover some essential pre-trip planning to ensure your 3 days in Lisbon are as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

When to Visit: Timing Your Lisbon Trip

Lisbon is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. We visited in late May and found it to be perfect - warm enough for comfortable sightseeing but not too crowded. Here's a quick breakdown:

  • Spring (March to May): Mild temperatures and fewer crowds make this an ideal time. The city bursts into color with blooming jacaranda trees.
  • Summer (June to August): Peak tourist season with hot temperatures. Great for beach trips, but expect more crowds and higher prices.
  • Fall (September to November): Another sweet spot with pleasant weather and thinning crowds. Perfect for outdoor exploration.
  • Winter (December to February): Mild by European standards, but can be rainy. Fewer tourists and lower prices, plus beautiful Christmas decorations.

Check out more details on the best times to visit Lisbon

What to Pack: Essentials for Your Lisbon Trip

Packing for Lisbon requires a bit of strategy, especially if you're planning to tackle its famous hills. Here's what we found essential:

  1. Comfortable walking shoes: Trust me, your feet will thank you after a day of climbing Lisbon's steep streets and exploring its cobblestone alleys.
  2. Light layers: Lisbon's weather can be changeable, especially in spring and fall. A light jacket or sweater is handy for cooler evenings.
  3. Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are must-haves, especially in summer.
  4. Day bag: A small backpack or crossbody bag is perfect for carrying water, snacks, and any souvenirs you pick up along the way.
  5. Power adapter: Portugal uses Type C and F plugs, so bring an adapter if you're coming from outside Europe.
  6. Reusable water bottle: Lisbon's tap water is safe to drink, and you'll find public fountains throughout the city.

For a more detailed packing list, check out this guide

Where to Stay: Choosing Your Lisbon Home Base

Choosing the right neighborhood can make or break your Lisbon experience. Here are our top picks:

  1. Baixa: The heart of Lisbon, perfect for first-time visitors. It's central, flat (a rarity in Lisbon!), and close to many attractions.
  2. Chiado: A chic area with great shopping, cafes, and easy access to public transport.
  3. Alfama: The oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, full of charm and home to some of the best fado bars.
  4. Bairro Alto: The place to be for nightlife, but be prepared for some street noise if you stay here.

We stayed in an Airbnb in Chiado and loved it. The location was perfect for exploring different parts of the city, and we were surrounded by great restaurants and shops.

Find more neighborhood recommendations here

Getting Around: Navigating Lisbon Like a Pro

Lisbon has an excellent public transportation system that's both efficient and budget-friendly. Here's what you need to know:

  • Lisboa Card: This is a must-have for tourists. It offers unlimited use of public transport and free entry to many attractions. We got the 72-hour card and it more than paid for itself.
  • Metro: Clean, safe, and easy to use. It doesn't cover all areas of the city, but it's great for longer distances.
  • Trams: Lisbon's iconic yellow trams are a attraction in themselves. Tram 28 is the most famous, offering a scenic route through historic neighborhoods.
  • Buses: Fill in the gaps where the metro doesn't reach. Google Maps is really helpful for figuring out routes.
  • Walking: Despite the hills, Lisbon is a very walkable city. Many of the most interesting areas are best explored on foot.

Check out more details on Lisbon's transportation options

Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive into our 3-day Lisbon itinerary. Get ready for a perfect blend of history, culture, and culinary delights!

Day 1: Historic Heart and Culinary Delights

Morning: Explore Alfama and São Jorge Castle

Charming narrow street in Alfama, Lisbon, with traditional colorful houses and laundry hanging from windows
Got lost in Alfama's maze-like streets and stumbled upon this picturesque scene. The heart of old Lisbon!

Rise and shine, it's time to start your Lisbon adventure! We're kicking off our 3 days in Lisbon with a deep dive into the city's historic heart. Grab a quick breakfast at your hotel or, better yet, do as the locals do and start your day with a pastel de nata and a bica (strong espresso) at a local pastelaria.

Our first stop is the enchanting Alfama district, Lisbon's oldest neighborhood. With its maze-like streets, whitewashed houses, and stunning viewpoints, Alfama is like stepping back in time.

Wander Through Alfama's Charming Streets

Alfama is best explored without a strict plan. Let yourself get lost in its narrow alleys and steep staircases. You'll stumble upon hidden courtyards, tiny plazas, and charming little shops selling traditional crafts. Keep an eye out for the beautiful azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles) that adorn many buildings.

As you wander, make your way up to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, one of Lisbon's most beautiful viewpoints. From here, you'll get a stunning panorama of Alfama's terracotta rooftops and the Tagus River beyond.

  • Location: Alfama district, central Lisbon
  • Hours: Always open
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Alfama offers an authentic glimpse into old Lisbon, with a unique atmosphere you won't find anywhere else in the city.

Insider Tip: While in Alfama, look out for small restaurants advertising "menu do dia" (menu of the day). These often offer great value traditional Portuguese meals.

Conquer São Jorge Castle

View of São Jorge Castle's ancient stone walls and towers overlooking Lisbon's cityscape
Exploring São Jorge Castle was like stepping back in time. The views of Lisbon from up here are unbeatable!

From Alfama, make your way up to São Jorge Castle, perched on the highest hill in Lisbon. This Moorish castle offers not only a fascinating glimpse into Lisbon's history but also some of the best views in the city.

Explore the castle grounds, climb the towers, and imagine what life was like here centuries ago. Don't miss the Camera Obscura, a periscope that offers a 360-degree real-time view of the city.

Why Visit: São Jorge Castle offers unparalleled views of Lisbon and a fascinating journey through the city's history.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat, especially in summer.

Afternoon: Baixa and Chiado Neighborhoods

Bustling Rua Augusta in Baixa, Lisbon, with its iconic arch and street performers
Baixa's grand boulevards are a stark contrast to Alfama's narrow alleys. Love the mix of shopping and history here!

After lunch, it's time to explore the more modern face of Lisbon in the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods. These areas offer a stark contrast to the medieval charm of Alfama, with their grand squares, elegant shops, and bustling cafes.

Stroll Through Baixa's Grand Squares

Start in Baixa, Lisbon's downtown area. This neighborhood was completely rebuilt after the devastating 1755 earthquake, resulting in a grid-like street pattern that's unusual for European cities. Don't miss the impressive Praça do Comércio, a vast square opening onto the Tagus River.

As you walk up Rua Augusta, Baixa's main pedestrian street, you'll pass by numerous shops, cafes, and street performers. At the top, you'll reach another of Lisbon's iconic squares, Rossio, with its distinctive wave-pattern cobblestones.

  • Location: Baixa district, central Lisbon
  • Hours: Always open
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Baixa offers a glimpse into Lisbon's 18th-century urban planning and bustling modern life.

Insider Tip: For a unique view of Baixa, head to the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta. The ticket office can be hard to find - it's tucked away in a corner of the arch.

Ride the Santa Justa Lift

Tourists queuing to ride the historic Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon, with its intricate ironwork visible
The Santa Justa Lift isn't just a way to avoid Lisbon's hills - it's a beautiful piece of engineering history!

One of Lisbon's most unique attractions is the Santa Justa Lift, an iron elevator that connects Baixa with the higher Chiado neighborhood. Built in 1902 by a student of Gustave Eiffel, it's a beautiful example of turn-of-the-century engineering.

  • Location: R. do Ouro, 1150-060 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Hours: 7am - 10:45pm (summer), 7am - 9pm (winter)
  • Admission: €5.15 for a round trip, or free with the Lisboa Card

Why Visit: The Santa Justa Lift offers both a unique ride and spectacular views of Lisbon from its viewing platform.

Insider Tip: The lines can be long, especially in peak season. Consider walking up to Chiado and just taking the lift down, or visit early in the morning.

Explore Trendy Chiado

Exterior of the famous Café A Brasileira in Chiado, Lisbon, with its Art Nouveau façade and outdoor seating
Had to stop for a coffee at the iconic Café A Brasileira. This place has been a hangout for Lisbon's intellectuals for over a century!

End your afternoon in Chiado, one of Lisbon's most elegant neighborhoods. Known for its luxury shops, historic cafes, and theaters, Chiado is where Lisbon's cultural elite have gathered for centuries.

Don't miss the chance to have a coffee at Café A Brasileira, one of Lisbon's oldest and most famous cafes. It was a favorite haunt of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, and you can snap a photo with his statue outside.

  • Location: Chiado district, central Lisbon
  • Hours: Always open, though individual shops and cafes have their own hours
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Chiado offers a perfect blend of history and modernity, with some of Lisbon's best shopping and dining.

Insider Tip: Book lovers shouldn't miss Livraria Bertrand, the oldest operating bookstore in the world, founded in 1732.

Evening: Food Tour in Bairro Alto

Group of tourists enjoying a variety of Portuguese tapas dishes during a food tour in Bairro Alto, Lisbon
Bairro Alto food tour was a highlight! Tried so many delicious Portuguese dishes I'd never heard of before.

As the sun sets, it's time to treat your taste buds to some of Lisbon's culinary delights. We're heading to Bairro Alto, a neighborhood that transforms from a quiet residential area by day to Lisbon's liveliest nightlife district after dark.

Join a Food Tour

One of the best ways to experience Lisbon's food scene is through a guided food tour. We joined a small group tour that took us to several local spots in Bairro Alto, allowing us to taste a variety of Portuguese dishes and wines.

You'll likely try classics like bacalhau (salted cod), chouriço (Portuguese sausage), and of course, more pastéis de nata. Don't forget to sample some Portuguese wines - the country produces some excellent vintages that are less well-known internationally than they deserve to be.

  • Location: Bairro Alto district, central Lisbon
  • Hours: Most food tours start around 7pm and last 3-4 hours
  • Price: Varies, but expect to pay around €70-90 per person

Why Visit: A food tour offers a delicious introduction to Portuguese cuisine and a chance to discover local spots you might not find on your own.

Insider Tip: Come hungry! The portions are usually generous, and you'll want to save room to try everything.

End the Night with Fado

Fado singer performing in a traditional, intimate venue in Lisbon, with listeners attentively watching
Experiencing live fado in Lisbon was unforgettable. The raw emotion in the singer's voice gave me chills!

No visit to Lisbon is complete without experiencing fado, the soulful traditional music that's deeply ingrained in Portuguese culture. After your food tour, head to one of Bairro Alto's intimate fado houses to end your night on a high note.

Fado performances are usually interspersed with dinner service, so even if you're still full from the food tour, you can nurse a glass of port wine while enjoying the music. Remember to stay quiet during performances - fado demands respectful silence from its audience.

  • Location: Various venues in Bairro Alto
  • Hours: Most fado shows start around 9pm or 10pm
  • Price: Varies, but expect to pay around €30-50 for a show with dinner

Why Visit: Fado offers a window into the Portuguese soul and is an unforgettable cultural experience.

Insider Tip: For a more authentic (and often cheaper) fado experience, look for small, no-frills venues rather than the more touristy establishments.

As you head back to your hotel, take a moment to reflect on your first day in Lisbon. From medieval streets to modern squares, from historical sites to culinary delights, you've already experienced so much of what makes this city special. But don't worry - there's plenty more to come in the next two days of your Lisbon adventure!

Day 2: Cultural Immersion and Waterfront Wonders

Good morning, Lisbon explorer! I hope you're ready for another exciting day in this beautiful city. Today, we're going to dive deeper into Lisbon's cultural heritage and then enjoy some of its modern attractions and stunning waterfront areas. This day of your 3-day Lisbon itinerary is all about contrasts - from ancient monasteries to contemporary art, from traditional pastries to innovative cuisine.

Morning: Belém District

We're starting our day in Belém, a historic district west of the city center. Belém played a crucial role in Portugal's Age of Discoveries, and it's home to some of Lisbon's most iconic monuments. Don't forget to grab breakfast before you head out - you'll need the energy for a morning of exploration!

Visit Jerónimos Monastery

Intricate stone carvings and arches of the cloisters in Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon
The level of detail in Jerónimos Monastery is mind-blowing. Hard to believe this was built over 500 years ago!

Our first stop is the breathtaking Jerónimos Monastery, a masterpiece of Manueline architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 16th century to commemorate Vasco da Gama's voyage to India, this monastery is a testament to Portugal's wealth and power during the Age of Discoveries.

As you explore the monastery, pay special attention to the intricate stonework, particularly in the cloisters. The maritime motifs - ropes, sea monsters, and coral - are a nod to Portugal's seafaring history. Don't miss the tomb of Vasco da Gama in the church.

  • Location: Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Hours: 10am - 6:30pm (May - September), 10am - 5:30pm (October - April), closed Mondays
  • Admission: €10 for adults, free for children under 12

Why Visit: Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most impressive examples of Manueline architecture in Portugal and offers a deep dive into the country's golden age.

Insider Tip: Lines can be long, especially in summer. Buy your tickets online in advance to save time, or consider getting a combined ticket with the nearby Belém Tower.

Indulge at Pastéis de Belém

Freshly baked pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) served at the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery in Lisbon
These pastéis de nata from Pastéis de Belém lived up to the hype! Crispy, creamy, and not too sweet - perfection!

Just a short walk from the monastery is the famous Pastéis de Belém bakery, home of the original pastéis de nata. While you can find these delicious custard tarts all over Lisbon, this is where the magic started back in 1837.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret, known only to a handful of master bakers. Join the queue (it moves quickly) and order a few tarts to enjoy in their beautiful azulejo-tiled dining rooms or in the nearby Jardim Vasco da Gama.

Why Visit: These are arguably the best pastéis de nata in Lisbon, and the historic setting adds to the experience.

Insider Tip: If the line is too long, you can find excellent pastéis de nata at many other bakeries in Lisbon. Manteigaria in Chiado is another favorite among locals.

Explore Belém Tower

Belém Tower standing majestically on the bank of the Tagus River in Lisbon, with blue sky background
Belém Tower is even more impressive in person. It's amazing to think this fortress has been guarding Lisbon since the 16th century!

Our final stop in Belém is the iconic Tower of Belém. This 16th-century fortress stands guard at the mouth of the Tagus River and is one of Lisbon's most recognizable landmarks.

Climb to the top for panoramic views of the river and the April 25th Bridge (which bears a striking resemblance to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge). The tower's intricate stonework is another excellent example of Manueline style.

  • Location: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Hours: 10am - 6:30pm (May - September), 10am - 5:30pm (October - April), closed Mondays
  • Admission: €6 for adults, free for children under 12

Why Visit: Belém Tower is not only a beautiful monument but also a symbol of Portugal's maritime glory.

Insider Tip: The tower can get crowded, and the stairs are narrow. Visit early in the day if possible, and be prepared for some tight spaces.

Afternoon: LX Factory and Time Out Market

Colorful street art and quirky shops in the trendy LX Factory area of Lisbon
LX Factory is such a cool spot! Loved browsing the unique shops and admiring the street art. Lisbon's creative side on full display.

After a morning steeped in history, let's fast-forward to modern Lisbon. We're heading to two spots that showcase the city's creative and culinary scenes.

Explore LX Factory

LX Factory is a hip creative hub housed in a former industrial complex. This once-abandoned area has been transformed into a vibrant community of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. It's a great place to grab lunch, do some shopping, or just soak in the creative atmosphere.

Wander through the various shops, galleries, and workspaces. Don't miss Ler Devagar, a stunning bookstore housed in an old printing factory. For lunch, you have plenty of options - from gourmet burgers to traditional Portuguese dishes with a modern twist.

  • Location: R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300-501 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Hours: Most shops and restaurants open around 11am and close late
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: LX Factory offers a glimpse into Lisbon's thriving creative scene and is a great place to pick up unique souvenirs.

Insider Tip: If you're visiting on a Sunday, check out the LX Market, a weekly flea market with vintage goods, handmade crafts, and more.

Sample Local Flavors at Time Out Market

Busy food stalls and diners enjoying meals in the vibrant Time Out Market in Lisbon
Time Out Market is foodie heaven! So many delicious options under one roof. Tried some amazing seafood here.

From LX Factory, head to the Time Out Market in Cais do Sodré. This gourmet food hall brings together some of Lisbon's best chefs and food vendors under one roof. It's the perfect place to sample a variety of Portuguese dishes without having to restaurant-hop.

The market features over 40 kiosks, offering everything from traditional Portuguese cuisine to international flavors. You'll find seafood, steaks, sushi, and of course, more pastéis de nata. There's also a bar area where you can sample Portuguese wines and craft beers.

Why Visit: Time Out Market offers a one-stop tour of Lisbon's culinary scene, perfect for foodies who want to try a bit of everything.

Insider Tip: The market can get very busy, especially during peak meal times. Visit in the late afternoon for a quieter experience.

Evening: Sunset Cruise on the Tagus River

Golden sunset over Lisbon's skyline viewed from a boat on the Tagus River, with the 25 de Abril Bridge visible
This sunset cruise on the Tagus was the perfect way to end the day. Lisbon's beauty from the water is something else!

As the day winds down, it's time to see Lisbon from a different perspective - from the water. A sunset cruise on the Tagus River is a perfect way to cap off your second day in Lisbon.

Enjoy a River Cruise

There are several companies offering river cruises, ranging from large tour boats to smaller, more intimate sailboats. We opted for a smaller sailboat cruise, which offered a more personal experience.

As you sail along the Tagus, you'll get stunning views of Lisbon's waterfront, including the Monument to the Discoveries, Belém Tower, and the April 25th Bridge. The sight of the sun setting behind the city, casting a golden glow over the hills, is truly unforgettable.

  • Location: Most cruises depart from Cais do Sodré or Belém
  • Hours: Sunset cruises typically start 1-2 hours before sunset
  • Price: Around €30-40 per person for a 2-hour cruise

Why Visit: A river cruise offers unparalleled views of Lisbon and a chance to see the city's landmarks from a new angle.

Insider Tip: Bring a light jacket or sweater, as it can get chilly on the water, even in summer.

Dinner with a View

Elegant diners enjoying meals at SEEN Lisboa rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of Lisbon in the background
Dinner at SEEN Lisboa was a treat for both the taste buds and the eyes. The view of Lisbon at night is unforgettable!

After your cruise, head to one of Lisbon's rooftop restaurants for dinner with a view. One of our favorites is SEEN Lisboa, located on the rooftop of the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade hotel. The restaurant offers panoramic views of the city and a menu that blends Portuguese and international flavors.

  • Location: Av. da Liberdade 185, 1269-050 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Hours: 12:30pm - 1:30am daily
  • Price: Main courses range from €20-40

Why Visit: Dining at a rooftop restaurant allows you to extend your evening of Lisbon views while enjoying excellent cuisine.

Insider Tip: Make a reservation in advance, especially if you want a table with the best views.

As you reflect on your second day in Lisbon, you'll realize how much ground you've covered - from ancient monasteries to cutting-edge creative spaces, from traditional pastries to innovative cuisine. Tomorrow, we'll venture beyond Lisbon for a day trip, before returning for one last night in the city. Get some rest - another exciting day awaits!

Day 3: Day Trip and Night on the Town

Good morning, intrepid traveler! It's the final day of your 3-day Lisbon itinerary, and we're going to make it count. Today, we're venturing beyond the city limits to explore some of the beautiful surrounding areas. Then, we'll return to Lisbon for a fabulous final evening. Let's get started!

Day Trip Options

One of the great things about Lisbon is its proximity to several amazing destinations. Depending on your interests, you have a few excellent options for a day trip. Here are three of our favorites:

Option 1: Sintra

Vibrant yellow and red façade of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal, surrounded by lush greenery
Pena Palace in Sintra looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. The colors are even more vivid in person!

Sintra is a fairy-tale town nestled in the forested hills of the Serra de Sintra. It's known for its romantic 19th-century architecture, stunning palaces, and lush gardens. Here's what you can do in Sintra:

  1. Visit Pena Palace: This colorful palace looks like it's straight out of a Disney movie. Its vibrant facades and eclectic architecture make it a photographer's dream.
  2. Explore the Historic Center: Wander through the charming streets of Sintra's old town, stopping at local shops and cafes.
  3. Tour Quinta da Regaleira: This estate features elaborate gardens with underground tunnels, grottoes, and the famous Initiation Well.
  • Getting There: Trains run frequently from Lisbon's Rossio station to Sintra, taking about 40 minutes.
  • Time Needed: Full day (leave early, return in the evening)

Why Visit: Sintra offers a unique blend of natural beauty and fantastical architecture that you won't find anywhere else.

Insider Tip: Sintra can get very crowded, especially in summer. Start early and consider hiring a tuk-tuk to get between sights more quickly.

Option 2: Cascais

Sunbathers and swimmers enjoying the sandy beach in Cascais, Portugal, with clear blue water
Escaped the city for a day in Cascais. The beaches here are gorgeous and it's so easy to reach from Lisbon!

If you're in the mood for a beach day, head to the charming coastal town of Cascais. Once a fishing village, it's now a popular resort town with beautiful beaches, a historic center, and great seafood restaurants. Here's what to do in Cascais:

  1. Relax on the Beach: Praia da Conceição and Praia da Rainha are two beautiful beaches right in town.
  2. Visit Boca do Inferno: This dramatic cliff formation and sea arch is just a short walk from the town center.
  3. Explore the Marina: Stroll along the waterfront, admiring the yachts and perhaps stopping for a seafood lunch.
  • Getting There: Trains run from Lisbon's Cais do Sodré station to Cascais every 20 minutes, taking about 40 minutes.
  • Time Needed: Full day (leave mid-morning, return in the evening)

Why Visit: Cascais offers a perfect mix of beach relaxation and cultural exploration, all within easy reach of Lisbon.

Insider Tip: If you're feeling active, you can rent bikes in Cascais and cycle along the beautiful coastline towards Guincho Beach.

Option 3: Óbidos

Charming narrow street lined with whitewashed houses and colorful flowers in the medieval town of Óbidos, Portugal
Stepping into Óbidos felt like traveling back in time. This medieval town is so well-preserved and picturesque!

For a taste of medieval Portugal, visit the picturesque walled town of Óbidos. This well-preserved town looks like it's frozen in time, with whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and a castle you can walk along the walls of. Here's what to do in Óbidos:

  1. Walk the Castle Walls: Climb up for a scenic walk along the medieval walls surrounding the town.
  2. Explore the Streets: Wander through the charming alleys, popping into craft shops and art galleries.
  3. Try Ginjinha: This sweet cherry liqueur is a local specialty, often served in small chocolate cups.
  • Getting There: Buses run from Lisbon's Campo Grande station to Óbidos, taking about 1 hour.
  • Time Needed: Can be done as a half-day trip, leaving you time to explore more of Lisbon in the evening.

Why Visit: Óbidos offers a glimpse into Portugal's medieval past and is less crowded than some other day trip options.

Insider Tip: If you visit in July, you might catch the annual Medieval Festival, complete with costumed performers and traditional food and drink.

Evening: Dinner and Nightlife in Lisbon

No matter which day trip you choose, make sure to return to Lisbon in time for a special final evening in the city.

Dinner at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

Elegantly presented gourmet dish at Michelin-starred Alma restaurant in Lisbon
Dinner at Alma was a culinary journey through Portugal. Each dish was a work of art - both visually and in taste!

For your last dinner in Lisbon, why not treat yourself to a meal at one of the city's Michelin-starred restaurants? We had an unforgettable experience at Alma, chef Henrique Sá Pessoa's two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Chiado.

Alma offers innovative Portuguese cuisine with a focus on seafood and seasonal ingredients. The tasting menu is a culinary journey through Portugal's flavors, expertly paired with Portuguese wines.

Why Visit: A meal at Alma is not just dinner, it's a gastronomic experience that showcases the best of Portuguese cuisine.

Insider Tip: Make reservations well in advance, especially for weekend evenings. If Alma is fully booked, try Belcanto or Feitoria, two other excellent Michelin-starred options in Lisbon.

Rooftop Bar Hopping

Group of friends enjoying cocktails at Park Bar rooftop in Lisbon with city skyline in the background
Ended our Lisbon trip with some rooftop bar hopping. Park Bar's quirky parking garage setting and amazing views were a highlight!

End your Lisbon adventure with a tour of the city's best rooftop bars. Lisbon's hilly terrain means there are plenty of spots offering spectacular views over the city. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Sky Bar at Tivoli Avenida Liberdade: Chic bar with panoramic views and creative cocktails.
  2. PARK: A quirky bar on top of a parking garage, offering great views and a relaxed vibe.
  3. Topo Chiado: Trendy spot with views of the Santa Justa Lift and Carmo Convent ruins.

Start at one and see where the night takes you! It's a perfect way to say goodbye to Lisbon, taking in the twinkling lights of the city one last time.

Why Visit: Rooftop bars offer a chance to see Lisbon from above and experience the city's nightlife.

Insider Tip: Some rooftop bars have a dress code, especially in the evening. Smart casual is usually a safe bet.

As you sip your final cocktail and gaze out over the city, take a moment to reflect on your 3 days in Lisbon. From historic neighborhoods to modern art spaces, from traditional fado to innovative cuisine, you've experienced the many facets of this captivating city.

Lisbon is a place that gets under your skin, with its blend of old-world charm and contemporary cool, its hilltop views and riverside vistas, its melancholic fado and vibrant street life. Three days is enough to fall in love with Lisbon, but don't be surprised if you're already planning your return visit!

Remember, this 3-day Lisbon itinerary is just a starting point. Lisbon is a city that rewards exploration and serendipity, so don't be afraid to wander off the beaten path, peek down that intriguing alleyway, or step into that tiny bar where you hear the strains of a Portuguese guitar. Some of your best memories might come from the unplanned moments.

Alternative Itinerary for Time-Crunched Travelers

If you're short on time and want to make sure you hit the absolute must-see spots in Lisbon, here's a condensed itinerary that covers the essentials in just 2 days:

Day 1: Lisbon's Historic Core

  • Morning: Explore Alfama, visit São Jorge Castle
  • Afternoon: Tour Baixa and Chiado, ride the Santa Justa Lift
  • Evening: Fado show in Bairro Alto

Day 2: Belém and Modern Lisbon

  • Morning: Visit Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, try pastéis de nata
  • Afternoon: Explore LX Factory, sample food at Time Out Market
  • Evening: Sunset cruise on the Tagus River

This condensed itinerary ensures you see Lisbon's most iconic sights and experience its culture, even if you're pressed for time. Remember, you can always come back for more!

Lisbon Safety Guidelines

Lisbon is generally a safe city, but as with any urban destination, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and take basic precautions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind during your 3 days in Lisbon:

  1. Watch out for pickpockets: They're active in tourist areas and on public transportation, especially Tram 28. Keep your valuables secure and be extra vigilant in crowded places.
  2. Be cautious at night: While most areas are safe, some parts of Bairro Alto can get rowdy late at night. Stick to well-lit, populated areas if you're out late.
  3. Use official taxis or ride-sharing apps: If you need a taxi, use official ones or apps like Uber or Bolt. Avoid unmarked taxis.
  4. Stay alert on public transportation: Keep an eye on your belongings, especially during rush hour when trams and metros can get very crowded.
  5. Be wary of common scams: These include fake petitions, people offering you drugs (which is illegal), and overly friendly strangers who might be pickpockets.
  6. Use ATMs inside banks when possible: This reduces the risk of card skimming. Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
  7. Keep emergency numbers handy: The general emergency number in Portugal is 112.

Remember, while it's important to be cautious, don't let safety concerns prevent you from enjoying your trip. Lisbon is a welcoming city, and most visitors experience no problems at all.

For more detailed safety information, check out this guide

Final Thoughts on Your 3 Days in Lisbon

As we wrap up this guide to spending 3 days in Lisbon, I hope you're feeling excited and prepared for your adventure in Portugal's captivating capital. From the winding streets of Alfama to the grand plazas of Baixa, from the historic treasures of Belém to the creative energy of LX Factory, Lisbon offers a unique blend of old and new that's sure to capture your heart.

Remember, this itinerary is just a suggestion. Feel free to adjust it based on your interests, energy levels, and any unexpected discoveries you make along the way. Maybe you'll fall in love with the view from a particular miradouro and want to linger longer. Perhaps you'll stumble upon a local festival or market that's not in any guidebook. Or maybe you'll find a cozy café where you just want to sit and watch the world go by for a while. These spontaneous moments often become the highlights of a trip.

Here are a few final tips to make the most of your 3 days in Lisbon:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes: Lisbon's hills and cobblestone streets can be challenging. Your feet will thank you for choosing comfort over style.
  2. Learn a few Portuguese phrases: While many people in Lisbon speak English, locals always appreciate it when visitors make an effort to speak their language. Even a simple "obrigado" (thank you) can go a long way.
  3. Try the local drinks: Besides wine, don't miss the chance to try ginjinha (cherry liqueur) and vinho verde (young "green" wine).
  4. Take advantage of viewpoints: Lisbon's many miradouros offer stunning vistas. Take the time to enjoy them, especially at sunset.
  5. Embrace the pace: Lisbon has a more relaxed rhythm than some other European capitals. Don't try to rush through your days. Take time to savor your meals, enjoy a coffee break, and soak in the atmosphere.
  6. Stay flexible: While it's good to have a plan, be open to changing it if you discover something interesting. Some of the best travel experiences are unplanned.
  7. Connect with locals: Whether it's chatting with your waiter or joining a local-led tour, getting to know Lisboetas can greatly enrich your experience of the city.

Lisbon is a city that reveals itself slowly, layer by layer. In 3 days, you'll get a wonderful introduction, but don't be surprised if you leave feeling like you've only scratched the surface. Many visitors find themselves planning their return trip before they've even left!

As you explore Lisbon's hills and valleys, its grand monuments and hidden corners, I hope you'll fall in love with this city just as Sarah and I did. From that first magical fado performance to our final rooftop cocktail, Lisbon captured our hearts with its beauty, its history, its flavors, and above all, its warm and welcoming spirit.

So pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and get ready for an unforgettable 3 days in Lisbon. Boa viagem! (Have a good trip!)

Useful Resources for Your Lisbon Trip

To help you plan and make the most of your 3 days in Lisbon, here are some additional resources you might find helpful:

  1. Visit Lisboa: The official tourism website for Lisbon, with up-to-date information on attractions, events, and practical tips.
  2. Lisbon Lux: A comprehensive city guide with detailed information on attractions, restaurants, and accommodations.
  3. Time Out Lisbon: Great for staying updated on current events, exhibitions, and new restaurant openings.
  4. Portugal Resident: An English-language news site that can keep you informed about local events and issues.
  5. Lisbon Digital Nomads Facebook Group: While geared towards digital nomads, this group can be a great resource for longer-term visitors or those looking to connect with expats and locals.

Remember to check these resources before and during your trip for the most current information. Lisbon is a dynamic city, and new attractions, restaurants, and events are always popping up.

With this guide and these resources in hand, you're well-equipped for an amazing 3 days in Lisbon. Enjoy every moment of your Portuguese adventure!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:16 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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