With a bustling city centre, Michelin star restaurants, a dreamy coastline, and eclectic style, the historic city of Lisbon is slowly transforming into a young, vibrant hub for food, fashion and nightlife.
Normally I like to spend as little time in capital cities as possible. I always find the charm lies in off the beaten path towns tucked away in hillsides, beaches or mountain ranges. However, Lisbon is one of the only cities I have visited that I found myself wanting to lay my roots and stay awhile. Walking at a slower pace to admire the architecture, listening to the sound of the trams clanking on old tracks, the smell of salt water lingering in the air as waves crash into the cobblestone barriers that separate the city square from the Atlantic. Spending 3 days in Lisbon was an experience I won’t soon forget.
Read on for my guide to How to Spend 2 to 3 days in Lisbon!
Getting to your Accommodation
When you arrive in Lisbon, hail a taxi or Uber to your accommodation. Make sure you ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter, as I made that mistake and it ended up costing me €35 euros to get to our Air bnb. To put it into perspective, it cost me €8 to Uber back to the airport!
Not sure where to stay? There were a ton of Air bnb’s to choose from, and I highly recommend staying in the Alfama District.
Time to Explore
After you settle in, spend the afternoon exploring Praça do Comércio, the famous square in Lisbon. When you’re hungry, head for dinner at one of the many delicious restaurants in town. Minibar is a cult fav, but make sure you make a reservation!
Day 1: Exploring the City Centre, Belém, Time out Market and Alfama
Explore City Centre
Wake up early the next day and continue exploring the city centre. Pop into the local shops selling canned fish and the latest fashions (at different stores…;-)). Have breakfast at Pois Café or any other cafés you stumble upon on your walk around town.
Take the famous 28 tram that transports you through the iconic areas of Lisbon. Just make sure to keep your belongings close! Pick pocketers tend to lurk on these trams to take advantage of distracted tourists).
Take the tram (€3, but can be insanely busy!), bus, tuk tuk (€15) or Uber (€10) to Belém, a really cool area in Lisbon. Explore the famous sights including Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, a UNESCO World Heritage site (€10 to enter) and Belém Tower. Don’t leave without trying Portugal’s famous pastel de nada at Pasties de Belem (their recipe dates back to 1837! The shop purchased the recipe from monks that needed a use for leftover egg yolks. They used the egg whites to launder and press garments!).
Other points of interest in Belém include: Belém Palace, Padrão dos Descobrimentos (or Monument to the Discoveries), and the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology). It was a beautiful day so we opted to just admire the scenery from outside.
Don’t forget to pick up a freshly made mojito outside of the Monument of Discoveries.
Time Out Market
On your way home, stop at Time Out Market, an incredible converted warehouse space filled with delicious food vendors (a few of which are owned and operated by Michelin star chefs!). My advice would be to do a few laps and check out all the menus before making your decision. Order a dish or two from a few vendors and share with your friends, sampling the best of the best from each stall.
Don’t leave without a passionfruit sorbet from Santini.
Later that evening, step out to explore the Alfama district and its charming streets. For a casual light dinner, head to Medrosa d’Alfama for bruschetta and sangria (one of the best sangria’s I’ve ever had, and I travelled all over Spain). If you’re looking for something a little fancier, visit Faz Figura for the white table cloth dining experience overlooking the ocean (our airbnb host told us it was her favourite restaurant in the area!)
Day 2: Day Trip to Sintra & LX Factory
Wake up nice and early and take a day trip to Sintra, a resort town set amongst the Sintra mountains. Take the train (about 1 hour, €4.40 round trip) from Lisbon. When you arrive, hire your own personal tuk tuk and direct them to the sights you want to see.
We made the mistake of getting there in the afternoon, and thought a hop on hop off bus would be the best bang for our buck. Dead wrong. We ended up wasting €20 each and hiring a tuk tuk anyways. I absolutely loved winding through the streets on the ascend to the castles, admiring the 900 different species of plants cascading over the road.
We didn’t go into any of the palaces, but the most popular of the bunch is definitely Pena Palace.
Let’s talk about Cabo da Roca, Europe’s most Western point
We all want to say we have been to Europe’s most Western point. It sounds rad. However, the bragging rights, in my opinion, are not worth the trip. It takes forever to get to and it’s nothing to write home about. We took an Uber out there from Sintra and our driver said hesitantly, “I’m just going to wait here in case you don’t spend as much time here as you think”. He had seen this movie before. 5 minutes later (bathroom break included) we were back in the Uber. I’d probably skip it next time if I were to do this again, but google it to see if it’s something you’d like to see!
On your way home from Sintra to Lisbon, stop at LX Factory. Old warehouses and garment buildings have been transformed into a hip stomping ground for foodies and party animals. With great restaurants, patios, an incredible bookstore and a warehouse concert venue, this area is definitely worth checking out!
We came here on our last night and went to Mez Cais LX for margarita’s and tacos. I wasn’t a huge fan of the food but drinks were amazing! A few other restaurants that are popular are Cantina, A Praca, The Burger Factory and The Therapist for healthy, vegan goodies.
Day 3: Brunch or Beach, Depending on Time
Have another full day? Spend it relaxing at Playa Grand, a beach about 45 minutes from Lisbon City Centre. If you just have the morning, spend it slowly at La Boulangerie or Tartine, two of the best brunch spots in the city.
Hope that gave you some ideas for how to spend 3 days in Lisbon! With so much to see in Portugal, It’s hard to allocate too much time to one city. Considering you will most likely be flying in and out of Lisbon, it’s a great place to explore for a few days!