As the capital of the westernmost country on the European continent, Lisbon has swiftly risen from a hidden gem to one of Europe’s most beloved cities. Intrigued by its beauty, I decided to share the highlights of my 3-day journey with you. And guess what? Flights from Europe to Lisbon are getting more affordable!
Day 1 – Trams, Bairro Alto, and the E28 Route
Start your Lisbon adventure at the iconic Commerce Square, collecting city maps and information from the tourist office. Today is all about landmarks and sounds!
Embark on the famous E28 tram, winding through Lisbon’s most renowned neighborhoods like Bairro Alto, Alfama, Graça, and Baixa. A single journey costs 2.85 euros, payable on the tram or in advance at machines.
For convenience, I recommend purchasing a 24-hour unlimited public transportation ticket for a little over 6 euros, valid on trams, metro, and buses. Begin your journey at Martim Moniz Square just north of Commerce Square, close to Bairro Alto. Consider disembarking near São Jorge Castle to explore its breathtaking surroundings and panoramic views of Baixa.
As you wander through Alfama’s maze-like streets, you’ll reach the São Vicente de Fora Monastery and the Baroque-style Santo António Church. Immerse yourself in Alfama’s rich history, then stroll towards the Saint Lucia viewpoint for picturesque views of the Tagus River and the city.
Explore Lisbon’s oldest cathedral, Sé Patriarcal, dating back to the 12th century, and the Baroque-style Church of Saint Anthony, dedicated to the city’s patron saint.
Once you’ve soaked up Alfama’s history, continue through its labyrinth of narrow streets, embracing the melancholic tunes of Fado music. Head to the heart of Lisbon, Bairro Alto, reconstructed entirely after the 1755 earthquake. Walk through the charming Arco da Rua Augusta for a bird’s-eye view of the city (entrance around 2.5 euros).
Next, proceed to the Santa Justa Lift, a 19th-century structure offering spectacular views from its rooftop observation platform. If you time it right, the sunset over Bairro Alto, the castle, and the Patriarchal Cathedral is simply romantic.
Freshen up and head to dinner at “The Food Temple,” a vegetarian restaurant nestled in the steep streets around São Jorge Castle. Reserve a table in advance, especially on weekends.
Afterwards, visit Rossio Square, officially known as Pedro IV Square, a major transportation hub for buses, trams, and the metro. Dive into the vibrant Bairro Alto district and taste the famous Ginjinha, a cherry liqueur—a must-try!
Conclude the night by exploring the renowned nightlife district, Bairro Alto (I call it the ultimate nightlife zone). Stroll through the lively streets, have a couple of cocktails at the clubs along “Pink Street,” and create memories you won’t easily forget.
Day 2 – Belém, Time Out Market, and Rooftop Bars
Start your day in Belém, renowned for its delicious pastries. If you have a sweet tooth like me, hop on the E15 tram to Belém and grab breakfast at the historic Pastéis de Belém bakery.
Don’t miss the Belém Tower, a 16th-century fortress built to defend Lisbon’s harbor, and the Monument to the Discoveries, commemorating Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
Adjacent is the Monument to the Combatants, honoring those who fell in overseas wars from 1961 to 1974. Each soldier’s name is etched into the monument.
Head towards the riverbank to find the enchanting Jerónimos Monastery, once home to Hieronymite monks and the resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama and some Portuguese kings.
Now, for another gem: the Time Out Market, a gastronomic haven gathering the city’s best under one roof. With 24 restaurants, 8 bars, and various market stalls, it caters to seafood lovers, vegetarians, and those craving traditional Portuguese dishes like Açorda.
For the night, let’s talk about my obsession with rooftop bars. Why not explore them in Lisbon?
I highly recommend Park Rooftop Bar, situated atop a parking lot in Bairro Alto, offering stunning city views. Alternatively, check out Mundial Hotel’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge or Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Hotel’s Sky Bar.
Another excellent choice is TOPO Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, or the slightly more upscale Bairro Alto Rooftop Terrace. Whichever you choose, savor delicious drinks, snacks, soothing music, and magnificent views. Enjoy the evening!
Day 3 – Explore Sintra and Cascais Natural Park
On the third day, consider a change of scenery. Rent a car or take a bus from Rossio Square heading north to the captivating fairy-tale town of Sintra. Within Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, diverse landscapes, flora, and fauna await, leaving a lasting impression.
Perhaps rent a campervan from The Getaway Van friendly team for a unique road trip experience in Portugal!
In this region lies Europe’s westernmost point, Cape Roca. Add in beautiful beaches, rich history, and ancient castles that seem straight out of a Disney movie.
Consider exploring with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. CityXplora offers two routes, one longer (Red Route – 90 minutes) and one shorter (Blue Route – 45 minutes). Buses run daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm (October to June until 5 pm). A 24-hour adult ticket is around 18 euros. Check detailed routes and stops here.
If you prefer not to join a tour, don’t miss Regaleira Estate, Sintra National Palace, and the unmissable Pena National Palace. Pena, with its yellow and red walls, is sometimes visible from Lisbon and stands as a symbol of Portugal’s importance during the Age of Discovery.
These attractions have varying opening hours, so check in advance. Currently, Pena Park and Palace close around 6 pm. Consider a combination ticket for more budget-friendly access.
For those driving, a word of caution: navigate winding roads carefully—you don’t want to meet a speeding bus around the bend!
Embark on this 3-day adventure, and let Lisbon’s charm captivate you. Safe travels!