When you only have 3 days in Lisbon, you’ll want to see as much as you can without burning yourself out.
Below is a three-day itinerary that should give you as much of a cross-section of the city as possible, while allowing you to enjoy the experience.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and its largest city, home to over half a million people.
You’ll find colorful neighborhoods full of street art and lined with azulejos, Michelin starred restaurants, trams that trundle up and down cobble-stoned streets, seven hills with views to-die-for.
It’s a relaxed and generally safe city, and what is basically a small town with a cosmopolitan vibe.
Despite its history of wars, invasions, rebellions, crusades, earthquakes, and tsunamis, it stands proudly today as a warm and lively redeveloped city, one ready to welcome tourists.
Then pop on some comfortable walking shoes because this city was is easy to explore on foot.
This morning you’ll want to follow our Barrio Alto and Chiado walking tour route, which also comes in a GPS-led audio tour format.
The Bairro Alto is an unofficial district of Lisbon made up of a series of quaint streets on a steep hill.
Words like bohemian and colorful are often used to describe it.
Today the streets tend to be quiet during the day and come alive at night with restaurants, bars, late-night-shops, and Fado houses bringing a festive spirit to her streets.
Chiado is first and foremost a shopping district.
And like it’s next-door neighbor, Barrio-Alto, Chiado also has a lively nightlife, including high-end theatre and opera.
Sites to visit include
There are a number of restaurants near the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara worth visiting.
As expected, considering Lisbon’s proximity to the ocean, there are many seafood options as well as offerings of traditional Portuguese foods.
Only a minute’s walk away from the end of the route is Mercado Simply Portuguese. See them for generous portions and well-reviewed foods.
Or give Lumi Rooftop Restaurant & Bar a visit, both for their tasty Portuguese & Mediterranian offerings and for their terrace with an incredible view.
Or visit La Paparrucha, a well-reviewed steakhouse with both ambiance and a view.
For your afternoon tour, you’ll want to visit our post on the Baixa neighborhood, where you can find a helpful self-guided tour.
This neighborhood lies within the heart of Lisbon.
If you are taking our GPS-led audio tour of Bairro Alto/Chiado and Baixa, the route in the self-guided tour linked above is in the reverse order.
It’s made up of a series of squares and classical avenues, home to a number of restaurants, cafes, tourist-friendly shops, art galleries, museums, and pedestrianized streets.
After lunch, hop on the Gloria Funicular and ride down to the first stop.
Sites to visit include:
As you’ve by now put in a full day of walking, this the perfect time to relax with a bit of food and perhaps some entertainment.
A 2-minute walk from the Cais Das Colunas is Martinho da Arcada. Here you’ll find a wonderfully atmospheric restaurant with local cuisines and wines.
A little further on is da Prata 52 which serves authentic traditional cuisine with a progressive edge.
Or, if you’d like to experience Fado with your food, try Parreirinha de Alfama, about a 15-minute walk from Cais das Colunas.
Here you’ll find traditional Portuguese home-style food, while musicians and some of the best fadistas in the city perform as you eat.
There aren’t many Fado shows in the Baixa area, but if you wander back to Barrio Alto you’ll find a number of options geared towards tourists. (The best quality ones are in Alfama).
There is also an endless number of bars, from artsy-styled people-watching ones to ones with walls of bric-a-brac, to jazz clubs, to traditional English style pubs, to locations that mostly locals enjoy.
Campo Ourique, one of Lisbon’s most expensive neighborhoods while Estrela is a leafy and less hilly part of the city.
Take Tram 28 (or Tram 25 if 28 is too crowded) from your stop all the way to the end Campo Ourique (Prazeres), right outside of Cemiterio dos Prazeres.
This is the final resting place for many famous Portuguese. In the morning it tends to be quiet.
Here you can wander amongst massive cedar trees, past cats sleeping in the sun, amongst the mausoleums and statues, all of it atop a hill overlooking the city.
There are cafes and restaurants nearby if you want to stop in for a quick breakfast.
Once you’re done, hop back on Tram 28 or 25, heading back towards the direction you started.
You’ll want to get off at Estrella (Basilica and Jardim Estrela), just four stops back down the line.
The ornate Basílica da Estrela (also known as The Royal Basilica and Convent of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) was built by Queen Maria 1.
She’d sworn to build the most impressive church in Lisbon if she bore a healthy male heir.
It was completed in 1790 in the baroque style, with different colors of marble and stone decorating the floors and walls inside, and a towering belled dome on the outside.
For €4 one can climb many steps to the roof terrace for a stunning view of the city and the castle.
Across from the cathedral is Jardim da Estrela, an English-style garden full of songbirds, exotic plants, and trees.
The urban park in the middle of a residential neighborhood, was first planted in 1842.
There’s always something to be found in bloom as you wind your way along the paths, past a pond, a kids play area, a cafe, and if you’re lucky some local geese.
It’s the perfect place to relax away from tourist crowds.
If you’re ready to stop for lunch there are a few options in the neighborhood.
Minha Anita is a close walk from the park. Here you’ll find homemade and inexpensive foods, made by family members, in a spot frequented by locals.
Also nearby is A Loja do Sr. Rocha. What used to be a grocery store has evolved into a well-reviewed cafe/mini-market.
This is the place to find delicious cakes, croissants, and Pastel de Nata.
Also a short walk away is Bota Sal, known for its seafood, friendly atmosphere, and good service. Their white sangria receives raves.
Before you head out into Alfama, you’ll want to check out our post on the Alfama neighborhood.
We have a suggested route to walk to help you discover this area.
After lunch, hop onto Tram 28 and ride it to Graca/Miradoura Da Graca. This is one of the best places in which to view central Lisbon.
Then move on and see what other options Alfama has to offer.
Sites to visit include:
After another day of exploring is done, it’s time to taste the best of Alfama.
Restaurante Farol de Santa Luzia, across from Miradoura de Santa Luzia, gets high marks for their selection of meats and fishes, wine list (sold by the bottle), and their warm and engaging service.
Canto da Vila, close to Lisbon Cathedral, is a hidden gem.
Wonderful aromas pull you in where you’ll find Saltimbocca de Frango, beetroot risotto, passionfruit mousse, and much more. Don’t forget to ask them about their green wine.
Or give Casa da Tia Helena a try. This unassuming little place gets raves for their service and home-cooked Portuguese food.
It’s a lovely spot to sit outside while you enjoy grilled sardines and octopus salad and share a bottle of wine. Highly recommended.
On the whole, Alfama is much more laid back than other more touristy areas, especially close to the castle.
Here you’ll find several quality fado houses ( Sr. Fado de Alfama and A Baiuca), as well as spots offering jazz (Hot Clube de Portugal) and classical music.
There are wine bars, restaurants that serve as art galleries, a former bakery turned live music venue, and one of the most refined spirits bars in the city.
Today you’ll explore the Belem district, one of Lisbon’s most historic neighborhoods. You could easily spend an entire day here.
For more detail on these sites, visit our post on the Belem neighborhood.
Take Tram 15E from either Praca da Figueira, Comercio Square, or Cais do Sodra for around half an hour towards Alges, getting off outside the Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos.
Or you could take the Linha de Cascais from Cais do Sodra, where it starts, towards Alges (12 minutes). You’ll arrive at the Belem stop, on the east side of the park.
Head to your first stop, Garden of Alfonso de Albuquerque, gardens created in honor of the former Portuguese Vice-King of India.
Sites to visit include
A 6-minute walk from Belem Tower is O Recanto, a cozy place hidden just off of the main street.
Sibling owners serve simple, hearty, traditional dishes, such as Salmon steak, shrimp salad with pesto and avocado, and Bacalhau a lagareiro at inexpensive prices.
Restaurante Anfora is just down the street in the hotel Palacio do Goverdador, a little higher end in both menu and price in lovely surroundings.
You might give Descobre, known for its innovative cuisine, a try. Charming and knowledgeable staff will offer a wide choice of fish, purees, tapas, and wine.
From Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, you can return to Baixa by Tram, from Jeronimos Monastery to the Calvario stop on Tram 15E, about a 13-minute trip.
Or, if you’re up for something different and not quite ready to return, walk through the park, along Praca do Imperio, to Doca de Belem (Belem Dock), located next to the impressive Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument.
Here you’ll find a number of boat tour companies, ones that will take you out on the Tagus and along the shore of Lisbon.
Or, if you purchase a hop-on-hop-off boat ticket, you can get off at any stop along the way.
After you’re done, walk back to the Jeronimos Monastery tram stop and head toward Calvario.
Visit LX Factory
After a lazy lunch and ride on the river, a good place to stroll about in the LX Factory.
This complex houses an array of quaint restaurants and artsy retailers, more in the way of a Sunday market than a modern mall.
Located inside an abandoned industrial site, you’ll find an amazing book shop (formerly an old press shop), a tattoo shop, open-air cafes, galleries, live music, creative wall murals, and artisanal shops.
If you haven’t filled up on the delicious foods to be found at LX Factory, you’ll want to stop for dinner.
For dinner with a view of the Tagus, stop by the Brazillian themed Rio Maravilha, where sharing food amongst the others at your table is suggested.
H/T: Take a peek out on the terrace with its female version of Christ the Redeemer, facing the real one across the river. Reservations are suggested.
Within about a 3-minute walk is O Mercado, the place for lovers of grilled fresh fish and excellent desserts. Although perhaps lacking in charming decor, it’s a local favorite.
Or try Solar Dos Nunes, known for its caldo de cação (fish soup). Served on arrival is a starter of jamon, octopus, and goats cheese.
Informal and traditional, you’ll find the ambiance you’re looking for and helpful staff.
The area in which LX Factory is located is called Alcântara, the parts of which are quite fashionable and other’s still up and coming.
You’ll find clubs and cafes in former port warehouses as Alcântara is a waterfront district, on the docks, under a bridge.
As with other parts of the city, there is fado, but there is also a blues cafe serving Cajun food, dance clubs with theme nights, clubs playing African-house music, an open-air bar surrounded by shipping containers, and buses, and more.
At the end of your three days in Lisbon, you may find yourself thinking, as many do, that Lisbon is one of the best destinations in Europe.
You’ll have had a chance to visit not only her main tourist attractions, giving you a look into Lisbon’s fascinating and dramatic history, but you’ll have experienced her culture through food, music, and walks through her colorful neighborhoods.
OTHER LISBON NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDES