What to See in Lisbon in 3 Days (Sintra included!)

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Often a little underestimated, Lisbon is, with Barcelona, ​​among my favorite cities in Europe: it is a multicultural and passionate city, which will captivate you with its bohemian and slightly decadent atmosphere, but at the same time modern and lively.

From the Roman imperialists to the Berber pirates to the ferocious knights of the Reconquista, as you stroll the streets of Lisbon, you will get a taste of history in the buildings and winding alleys. Lisbon is the oldest city in theEurope western and was a thriving city even before the Roman Empire.



One of the most striking features of Lisbon is its intense Mediterranean light, which is the origin of its name: “the city of light”.

  • Day 1:
    • 1.1 Rossio Square
    • 1.2 Convent of Carmo
    • 1.3 Trade Square
    • 1.4 Alfama
    • 1.5 Sao Jorge Castle
    • 1.6 Sunset panorama
    • 1.7 Fado show
  • Day 2:
    • 2.1 Monastero de Los Jeronimos
    • 2.2 Monument to the Discoveries
    • 2.3 Belem Tower
    • 2.4 Alcantara seafront
    • 2.4 Barrio alto
  • Day 3:
    • 3.1 Sintra
    • 3.2 Cabo da Roca
    • 3.3 Cascais
  • What to see in Lisbon in 4 or 5 days
    • 1 Oceanarium
    • 2 Sunset cruise
    • 3 Christ the King
    • 4 Ribeira Market
    • 5 Lisbon beaches
    • 6 Flea Market
  • Getting around in Lisbon
  • Accomodation

Lisbon is, after Barcelona, Venice and Amsterdam, one of the most visited cities in Europe. This means that in the summer months (June, July and August) or during the holidays (Easter for example) it can be very crowded. If you can, avoid these months to have a more "authentic" experience.



Alternatively buy Skip the Line tickets online or buy the Lisboa Card which is really affordable!

  • Related articles: What to see in Portugal on the road

1 day

Assuming that you have chosen, like me, a hotel in the center of Lisbon, the best thing is undoubtedly the best dedicate the first day to the heart of the city, the second to the other parts (West Lisbon) and the third day to an “out of town” trip.

FREE Lisbon TOUR

Civitatis offers guided tours of Lisbon for FREE, but places are limited and therefore it is advisable to book as soon as possible.

⇒ You can find out more about all the TOURS by clicking here.

Rossio Square

A convenient place to start your visit, no matter where you are, is the majestic Rossio Square: Rossio Square is in fact an ideal place to find your way around and get used to the slightly decadent look of Lisbon.

In short, this square is the place to start a visit to Lisbon "on the right foot": from here you can choose whether to take your first Lisbon funicular or simply reach the splendid garden of São Pedro de Alcantara.

This residential square and its gardens will reward you with a great view of the city and give you an idea of ​​what this city (one of my favorites) has in store for you.


Convent of Carmo

Moving not far from Rossio Square you will find one of the first "return to the past" in Lisbon: the elevator Santa Justa. Built in 1902, this ancient elevator looks like a device from a bygone era.


When you get to the top of the elevator, you will find yourself close to the beautiful open-air ruins of the convent of Carmo. Enter it because its real beauty is not perceived from the outside.

Now a museum, the only feature this former church lacks is a roof, and it's a rather strange experience. The museum includes artifacts that speak of the history and importance of the convent.

Commerce Square

Once known as Terreiro do Paço (Yard Palace), due to its proximity to the Royal Palace, Commerce Square it's a beautiful square surrounded by yellow buildings, the square radiates vibes like no other place in Lisbon and could easily be the heart of it.

It was renamed with its present name following the reconstruction after the earthquake that had destroyed it in 1755. In the center stands the statue of a huge statue of King José I: the breeze of the nearby Tagus River and the cheerful wooden trams make it one of the most lively meeting points for locals and tourists in the city, but the prices of the nice cafes are high.

Despite this, it is worth checking out Martinho coffee from Arcada, a favorite of Portuguese writers such as Eça de Queiroz and Fernando Pessoa.


Before entering the square, take a moment to appreciate theArch of Rua Augusta (one of the best photos of the square is the one from behind the arch, with the statue in the middle).

Alfama

From Praça do Comércio, perhaps after a coffee or a snack, head east to the characteristic and very famous Alfama district.

This neighborhood was Lisbon before Lisbon became what it is today. It has a strong Moorish influence (the Moors ruled here for centuries before the Catholics arrived), and its name Alfama actually derives from the Arabic word "al-hamma", which means baths or fountains: with its narrow, winding streets and vintage architecture, Alfama exudes an old world vibe.


This is also the perfect place to board one of the iconic trams, such as the number 28. On board, you can see how narrow Alfama's streets are as the tram makes its way through the winding uphill alleys.

Il tram 28 it is by far one of the most famous attractions in the city: the queues to get on are very long (sometimes you have to wait for 2 or 3 to pass before you can get on), but the ride is beautiful and therefore worth the wait.

In this district there are a number of religious and historical monuments, but the most important is the Lisbon Cathedral.

Alfama is a great place to stroll, discover corners along the street and photograph clothes hanging to dry on the windows, as they used to be.

São Jorge Castelo

I wasn't super impressed with the São Jorge Castle, but I must admit that the views of the Alfama are truly exceptional, so it is worth a visit.

It was not built by the Portuguese but by the Muslim Berber forces who ruled the city in the 10th century and in any case it did not work much as a defense as the Crusaders recovered it in 1147.

Once inside, the visit to the castle will begin with a stroll through the gardens and incredible viewpoints.

This castle is one of the main attractions in all of Lisbon, which means that I recommend that you get there within an hour of opening time (or just when it opens, if possible).

If you arrive later, you risk finding the queue to buy tickets. If you want to avoid the queues I recommend you buy tickets online.

Panorama at sunset

Lisbon is a hilly city and therefore if there are many hills it means that there are many viewpoints.

Head north of the castle once you have finished your visit to discover exceptional views.

Two points of view to look for are Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen Viewpoint e Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte which are both great choices if you want to end the day watching the sunset over Lisbon.

Fado dinner and show

To cap off your first day in Lisbon, there is nothing better than spending the evening at one fado show. Chiado is home to several fado bars where music is performed live. you can see or book the fado show here.

2 day

Unlike other neighborhoods in Lisbon, Bethlehem it has so much to do that it takes a full day to visit.

To start your day, board the number 15 tram from Baixa and see the city as you make your way to Belém.

Belém is famous for the Pastel de Belém, so don't forget to try it as a snack, breakfast or dessert after lunch!

Los Jeronimos Monastery

Get off the tram and arrive at the Monastero de los Jeronimos, recognized by UNESCO for its important heritage. Make it your first visit of the day as being full of people you may find a long queue to purchase tickets.

Even for the monastery, however, you can buy tickets online so as to avoid the queues.

Visiting the monastery, you will be enchanted by the detailed Gothic architecture and its internal cloisters.

Directly outside the monastery is a large, well-kept park with hedges trimmed around a large fountain.

Monument to the Discoveries

Through the large well-kept park that is located in front of the monastery, you will arrive at the splendid memorial dedicated to the Portuguese explorers: the Monument to the Discoveries (I note the Monument to the Discoveries).

Designed like the prow of a ship with a number of famous faces on board, the stone tower overlooks a square with detailed mosaic patterns around a compass. To get the best view of the mosaic you will need to climb to the top which also has beautiful views of the river.

Belem Tower

Once you're ready to return to the city, make your way to the riverside and Belém Tower, built as a defensive structure on the river.

The fact that the tower is surrounded by the river offers a truly picturesque setting. With a ticket, you can cross the walkway, enter the tower and appreciate the structure and its design up close. From several upper balconies it is possible to admire views of the riverfront.

Alcantara seafront

Returning to the center of Lisbon, it is worth stopping at the foot of the bridge 25 April, one of the main landmarks of the city. This immense bridge connects Lisbon with the other bank of the Tagus River and deserves to be seen up close.

It is also close to one of Lisbon's newest additions, the LxFactory. Once an industrial area, the complex has been revitalized into a giant art space and is now home to cafes, bars and restaurants.

It's a great place to grab a drink and an aperitif, or to finish your second day in Lisbon. Alternatively, if you like nightlife, go all the way to Barrio Alto, the liveliest area of ​​Lisbon!

Barrio alto

As a matter of fact: one of the best things to do in Lisbon is to enjoy its fabulous nightlife. Barrio Alto is the liveliest neighborhood in central Lisbon, well known for its quirky bars and pubs.

Students get drinks (try Ginjinha, a typical liqueur or the Morangoska) and pour out onto the cobbled streets to be together. The prices are competitive: a drink is around 4-5 euros!

In Barrio alto there is also the A Tasca do Chico which is a simple place, but where you can also listen to fado! Check on the website for the days on which the show is held and try to arrive early to find a place.

OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT

If you want to taste one of the best bacalhau in Lisbon, you should go for dinner at the restaurant Varina da Mandragoa (Rua das Madres 34), an old tavern, one of the favorite places of José Saramago, the only Portuguese to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

3 day

For the third day the best advice I can give is to visit Sintra and Cascais (the train for both is included in the Lisbon Card ).

Sintra is located just 30 km northwest of Lisbon, while Cascais is located about 34 km west of the Portuguese capital.

You can visit them either independently or with a one day organized tour, which even if it costs a little more, is much more comfortable.

From Sintra station, take bus no. 403 which goes to Cascais and which also stops at Cabo da Roca.

Sintra

They are essentially 3 main attractions must see on a day trip to Sintra. Just arrive in Sintra by 9 and you will be able to do everything without any rush.

Sintra is very touristy: if you go in one day in high season, many of them will follow this same itinerary.

Starting from the train station, you can take bus 434 to start this loop route which leaves and returns to the station.

Your first stop will be the National Palace of Sintra.

Although structures existed in this place dating back to the Moorish period, the palace you see today is mostly from the early XNUMXth century, when Portuguese kings began spending more time in Sintra as a holiday destination.

From the outside, the most notable feature of the National Palace of Sintra are the two huge fireplaces that give it an unusual shape. When you enter, you realize that they are there for practical reasons and they sit above the huge kitchen.

Inside, the rooms are decorated with furniture and artwork. The tile decorations are particularly interesting and noteworthy. One of the most famous parts is called the Swan Room due to the swans painted on the ceiling.

You can buy here ⇒ Skip-the-line ticket for the National Palace of Sintra

Get back on the bus and head to the Moorish castle which was built on top of a mountain in the 10th century.

The Moorish castle is in ruins and there aren't many royal buildings to see. What makes a visit to the castle so special is the ability to climb and walk along the defensive walls. From here you can admire incredible views of the region, including a corner of Palazzo Pena.

You can buy ⇒ here the ticket Skip the line to the Moorish castle

From the Moorish castle, you can either take the bus again to get to Pena Palace or just walk down the street for 10 minutes.

This is certainly the best known and most iconic palace in Sintra, on top of a hill with its yellow and red towers and turrets and dome. Once you go through the entrance gate, you go up the hill to the castle (or you can pay a few euros to take a transfer bus).

One wing of the palace is an old monastery built in 1511. Its transformation into a modern and luxurious structure began in 1838 under the direction of King Ferdinand II. The second wing was added later to make the palace even larger and more opulent.

In the garden you will find tropical plants and centuries-old trees, they are a beauty!

You can buy ⇒ here the ticket skip the line for Palazzo Pena

Pena Palace is a perfect representation of the romantic movement that went through Sintra in the 19th century and stands as the ultimate symbol of this style.

You can fully visit Sintra on your own, if you want, but it is one of those destinations where going on a tour makes sense so you can do together with Sintra also Cabo da roca and Cascais or other attractions.

- Sintra full day tour from Lisbon with Pena Palace, which also includes Cabo da Roca, Cascais and more. ⇒ BOOK HERE

- Full-day small group tour of Sintra and Cascais from Lisbon, which naturally includes Sintra and some stops along the Estoril coast. ⇒ BOOK HERE

- You can find other tours in Sintra HERE.

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is a cliff of 150 meters, 18 km west of Sintra.

It is the westernmost point of continental Europe. Offers great ocean views. Despite the many tourists, especially on weekends and when bus tours arrive, there is space for everyone.

There are trails along the cliff top for exploring the area. The lighthouse dates back to 1772.

The sunsets are truly exceptional!

Cascais

A former fishing village today Cascais is a tourist destination with several beaches, a marina, a harbor promenade, historic buildings and a shoreline connecting Cascais to Guincho Beach, ideal for walking, running and cycling (and a favorite destination for surfers).

If you have followed my tour, you will arrive in Cascais just right for dinner time. Stop like me in one of the many fish restaurants and if you haven't done so yet, taste the bacalhau washed down with green wine!

What to see in Lisbon in 4 or 5 days

I wrote what to see in Lisbon in 3 days with what I think is the best itinerary.

But if you stay in Lisbon a few more days there are lots of other things to do that are definitely worth it.

Aquarium

Surely among the things to see in Lisbon with children we cannot fail to mention the Oceanarium.

An aquarium, with 5 million liters of sea water and different ecosystems: theAquarium it stands on the blue water of the Tagus like a gigantic structure that welcomes more than 1 million visitors every year.

From predatory sharks to cute penguins, from anemones to sea corals, this place will surprise you.

Online ticket ⇒ Biglietto d'ingresso Oceanário de Lisboa

Another one what to do with children in Lisbon and the Museum of Knowledge.

Sunset boat ride

The Tagus River, or Rio Tejo, is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula and a cruise is the best way to see Lisbon from a different perspective.

There are many tour options offered, fromromantic sunset experience (with the sun plunging into the ocean) to tours with champagne included!

King Christ

Cristo Rei (Christ the King) is a Catholic monument and shrine located in the city of Almada, across the Tejo River, overlooking Lisbon.

Climbing Cristo Rei, inspired by Rio's famous Christ the Redeemer statue, offers one of the best views of Lisbon and is off the beaten path.

Inspired by Rio's famous Christ the Redeemer statue, the 110-meter (approximately 360 feet 11 inches) tall Cristo Rei was erected in 1959.

The views from the statue are stunning, with Lisbon stretching out in front of you. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Pena Palace in Sintra, about 20 kilometers away.

Ribeira Market

Il Ribeira Market is the most famous food market in Lisbon and is located in a building from the late 1800s, right in front of the Cais do Sodré green line metro stop.

The mercado was initially a simple market for the sale of flowers, fruit and vegetables, but was abandoned with the opening in 2000 of the MARL market.

Later the city of Lisbon held a competition for its rehabilitation and today the Mercado is among the attractions of Lisbon, frequented by both locals and tourists.

The atmosphere is very modern, with balconies and high stools, and long common tables, and it is difficult to find a seat, as it is very crowded, but it is a place where you can eat well and at a good price.

On the ground floor there are stalls, wine bars, shops and 30 restaurants offering all kinds of food, from organic foods to burgers, from traditional dishes such as bacalhau meatballs to contemporary cuisine ... but what they all have in common is the
promotion of Portuguese products and gastronomy.

Then there's the upstairs section where more modern stalls are found, with often extravagant dishes and cutting-edge restaurants.

Beaches of Lisbon and surroundings

Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal enjoys more than 900 kilometers of beaches and Lisbon is surrounded by one of the most beautiful coasts in the country: a visit to the Lisbon beaches, in addition to the aforementioned beaches of Cascais and Guincho, it is an excellent idea on hot summer days to cool off and also enjoy this side of the capital of Portugal.

Carcavelos, a long stretch of sand, is the closest beach to Lisbon and is located on the Estoril coast.
Especially during the summer months it is very crowded and attracts many surfers.

La Costa da Caparica it faces the 25th of April bridge, making it the locals' favorite spot for sunbathing on weekends. There are several family, surfing and nudist beaches and the further south you go on the coast, the more less crowded beaches you can find.

Among the beaches of Costa da Caparica, my favorites are Praia da Mata e Morena beach.

Getting to Costa da Caparica from Lisbon it's very easy just take the shuttle at a cost of 5 euros per round trip ⇒ You can BOOK HERE

I thought that the beaches with that deep blue sea were characteristic only of the Algarve region, instead they are also located closer to Lisbon, in the Serra da Arrábida National Park.

Getting to this corner of paradise is easy and only takes a bus ride from Lisbon station - bring something to explore the park on foot, or to have a picnic.

Flea Market

If you want to have a true local experience and are a passionate treasure hunter then you can't miss it Flea Market, a large midweek flea market, where you can find literally anything.

It is held every Tuesday and Saturday, from 9am to 00pm, but you have to try to get there early if you want a chance to find something useful.

You can go to the market by historic tram 28.

Getting around in Lisbon

Although Lisbon is quite large as a city, it is well served by public transport, be it trams, buses or funiculars - you can basically get anywhere.

To travel outside the center and the tourist areas of the thick, the subway is a great option. For trips "outside the city" such as Sintra or Cascais, there is the train.

Finally, being on an important river also means having a network of ferries available.

All transport is included with the card Long live Viagem.

Also for transport there LISBON CARD agrees: includes unlimited transport (including the train to Sintra and Cascais), the tram 28, the Carris elevator and free entry to a huge range of places of interest.

Consiglio: the best way to get to the airport from the city center is by AeroBus. Tickets cost less than 4 euros and can be purchased in advance here.

Alternatively, if you don't want to deal with the hassle of navigating public transport, you can book a private shuttle from the airport directly to your hotel.

Where to sleep in Lisbon

What is the best place where to stay in Lisbon if you visit it for the first time? Chiado, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Avenida da Liberdade and Alfama (for the more adventurous) are the best areas because these are the neighborhoods closest to the center, to places of interest or with easy transportation.

These are best hotels that I recommend (anyway take a look)

Santiago de Alfama - Boutique Hotel: Located in the heart of the Alfama district, this 5-star hotel is one of the best places to stay in the city. It is located in a historic building just minutes from the Castle of São Jorge and offers 13 rooms and 6 suites, elegant and bright, and some have incredible views.

Pousada de Lisboa – Small Luxury Hotels Of The World: in a privileged position 600 meters from Rossio Square, this classy hotel offers rooms with all comforts, a wellness center, a gym and a bar / restaurant where you can enjoy typical Portuguese specialties.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel & Spa: A boutique hotel, the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel & Spa is a leader among sustainable hotels: “Doing the right thing” is its motto. Also book for its modern design inspired by Feng-shui and the Spa.

Lisbon Market House: a charming bed & breakfast furnished in a simple but elegant way. Its location, just a few steps from Bairro Alto, makes it ideal as a base for visiting the city.

Neya Lisboa Eco Hotel: An ecological hotel in the heart of Lisbon. We like its commitment to sustainability and the fact that they provide bicycles for sightseeing.

Nomad 64: cozy hostel with a homely feel. Very modern and clean (shared) facilities in the central district of San Antonio.

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