You just get a flight ticket to Lisbon✈️ but you are stuck in a deep hole about how to make your plan efficiently to explore the city considering the distance among so many places to go and your taste?
Then follow this suggestion that our NomadHer Margarida Rodrigues prepares for you! She will organize your days in Lisbon in this article. You can feel like you are traveling with her while reading this!😊
Lisbon is generally described as the city of the seven hills (I´m guessing you’ll discover why) and has a lot to see. From historical and traditional places and buildings to modern areas, gardens, the riverside, culture, good food🍝, good music📯, and nightlife🎶, you will surely find magic in this city.😄 Moreover, you can easily find yourself at the beach just to relax or to catch some waves.
Concerning security, ✨I never had any bad experience in the city. However, it may happen anywhere, and you should take the basic security measures: not walking alone at night in unpopulated or dark parts areas (avoid Cais do Sodré and Ribeira das Naus if too late at night), paying attention to your belongings in public transports, keeping your documents in a safe place, saving the contact of local authorities. If you go to a bar or disco at night, avoid big gatherings as well once sometimes, usually by the end of the night, there are some quarrels.
If you are short on time, you will be able to see the essentials in three full days, for which I built an itinerary so that you can make the most out of your stay! However, if possible, I would recommend you extend the stay, so I will also leave some extra tips beyond the three days itinerary.
The itinerary is divided into three main areas of the city, but first, I recommend you start your trip by doing a free walking tour😄 In case you are not familiar with the concept, this kind of tour exists in a really large number of cities all over Europe and is a great way to know more about the city than you would do on your own, pass through the main points of the city and 😎 identify the ones you wish to visit at your own pace later! I use this strategy in every city I visit. Just type 🙋♀️ “free walking tour Lisbon” on google and find the one (or multiple) that fits you better. Although they are called free, generally everyone gives a tip to the guide by the end.
✳️Day 1 in Lisbon :
Start in Terreiro do Paço (also known as Praça do Comércio). Looking towards the river, you see two columns side by side: this is called Cais das Colunas, or Column Pier, the place where many years ago boats transporting important people arrived⛴️ On the other side of the river, there is a city called Almada (my actual birthplace). If you turn, in the center of the square you have a statue of D. José I, who was the king 👑when the place was rebuilt after the big earthquake of 1755.
Behind the statue, you see the Arco da Rua Augusta (Arch of Augusta Street). You can go up to see the view: cross the arch and you should see the entrance on the right. Follow Augusta Street and 🏰enjoy the historical buildings, ☕cafes, 🍝restaurants, and stores. There are always men inviting you to have lunch/dinner at their restaurant. Avoid the restaurants on this street because they are generally too touristy, so not so good food and too expensive for the quality.
When you see Kiko Milano store, turn left to Santa Justa Street. You will see the 😀Santa Justa Elevator, a landmark of the city center(Photo above📸). Walk towards it and take your time to appreciate it (you can go up if you wish, but this itinerary will also take you to the upper level later). In front of the elevator, walk to your right following Áurea Street.
You will get to Rossio Square, also known as D. Pedro IV Square because of the statue of the king. Notice the nice 🍿Nacional Theatre (D. Maria II), with Greek inspiration. On the left of the square, there is this: the funny store that everyone likes to take a look😄 : O Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha Portuguesa. Pass on the left of the theatre and notice the beautiful façade of Rossio Station, an old train station still in activity🚋. You may take a look inside if you wish.
Proceed to Restauradores Square, another important square in the city center. Notice the building of ☕Hard Rock Caffe, which was converted from an ancient theatre and cinema. If you follow the same direction you will go up Liberty Avenue, well known for its luxurious stores✨, such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Michael Kors, Versace, Dior, and Bulgari.
If you are not interested in shopping, I would recommend you turn left and go up Glória Elevator. It is a bit steep, but not impossible to go by foot using the stairs. However, you may take the elevator as well. You will arrive at São Pedro de Alcântara Garden/Viewpoint. Enjoy the view and take a rest😉. Notice one of the hills of Lisbon in front of you (with the Castle of São Jorge on top). The neighborhood on your back is Bairro Alto, known for all the bars and nightlife🍻
If you’re not out of breath yet, 🚶♀️go up the D. Pedro V Street. You will find a very nice neighborhood, Príncipe Real, with a cute garden🌿. Get inside Embaixada, an unconventional shopping center(Photo above) inside an ancient palace. Notice the nice architecture inside. The shops are mainly from Portuguese brands/designers, and you may find unusual pieces✨ There are some nice concept stores next to it as well.
Go down D. Pedro V Street once again, until you find Luís de Camões Square. He was one of the most famous Portuguese poets of all time and wrote 📘“Os Lusíadas”, the epic book about the Portuguese discoveries of the XV century. Buy some pastéis de nata at Manteigaria, one of my favourites in town. Follow Loreto Street towards Santa Catarina Viewpoint. On your way, you will find another of those yellow elevators, the Bica Elevator, on your left.☺️ Afterward, turn left to Marechal Saldanha Street, to get to the viewpoint. The statue in the center is Adamastor, the mythological creature who, according to “Os Lusíadas” book, tormented the Portuguese sailors. Enjoy the view!
Go back, pass through Luís de Camões Square, and go down Garrett Street. You will see a legendary cafe called Brasileira on the left☕, as well as a statue of a man sitting at a table. He was Fernando Pessoa, another of the greatest Portuguese poets😃. A bit down, turn left to Calçada do Sacramento Street. On the top of the street, here you are in Carmo Square. This is a historical place: the most important part of the 25th of April Revolution occurred here🧐. In 1974, the military forced the dictatorial government to surrender in this square. It was a peaceful revolution, no one died, and the military put carnations (the flowers) on the guns. Therefore, this day is also known as the Carnation Revolution.
Here you can also find the ruins of the Carmo Convent (which you can visit), as well as the top of Santa Justa Elevator. Next to the elevator, there is this cool bar/restaurant🍹, Topo Chiado, which I really enjoy. Regarding food around here, I can also recommend Casa dos Ovos Moles em Lisboa,🥐 which has very good traditional pastries from different regions of the country, Di Marzano, with brunch🥗 and also really good Italian dishes🍕 and atmosphere, and Boa-Bao is a very trendy place with really nice Asian cuisine🍣
By now, I would recommend taking the elevator down or going back to Garrett, turning right to Rua Nova do Almada, and turning right to Largo de São Julião. A few steps further, you are in Município Square, where the town hall is located. Go back to Terreiro do Paço, go towards the river, and turn right. Follow the riverfront and take a rest in Ribeira das Naus(Photos above📸). This is a nice place to have a drink in the kiosk while enjoying the view🍺.
Five minutes away from the kiosk, after passing the Cais do Sodré station, there is Mercado da Ribeira or Time Out Market. Here you have considerable food options,🍝 and the atmosphere is really nice as well👭. After the market, following 24 July Avenue, there is a neighborhood called Santos. It is also very famous for its multiple bars and nightlife💃. so it’s another night option if you’re interested.
✳️Day 2 in Lisbon :
This area corresponds to the old neighborhoods of the city,😄 where Fado was born — we will be walking across the typical Alfama and Graça. Start in the Sé Cathedral ⛪(you can get there by tram 28E from Chiado, for example, but also walk depending on the starting point). You can visit the interior. Follow Augusto Rosa Steet and go up to Santa Luzia Viewpoint🌅. Check the amazing views! Continue going up until you find Portas do Sol Viewpoint, for another fantastic view! A few steps away, following São Tomé Street, you will find an homage to Amália
Rodrigues are on the floor on your left. She was the greatest Fado singer of all time. Then go visit the São Jorge Castle🏰 After the visit, continue the viewpoints path and visit Graça Viewpoint and Senhora do Monte Viewpoint🌅 Close by there is a cute cafe that I really like: Maria Limão☕. You can after visiting the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora🏰 and the National Pantheon. Nearby there is this place called Feira da Ladra (Ladra Market)👜, where there are people selling all kinds of things, usually on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9h to 18h. For traditional food in the area, I can recommend Pitéu da Graça and Mesa de Frades🥘. The latest is actually a well-known Fado House🍷 (a restaurant where there are Fado singers, usually at dinner time)👩🎤
✳️Day 3 in Lisbon :
From Cais do Sodré, catch the train to Belém (direction Cascais). Here you can visit all the gardens🪴 (try to find the Pavilhão Sala Thai), the Império Square, the incredible Jerónimos Monastery🏰, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Tower of Belém🗼 and the surrounding gardens🌿
You can get inside all of them. This area is all related to the Portuguese discoveries of the XV/ XVI century😆. 🏰The monastery and the tower have a unique architectural style, called Manuelino, once they were ordered by King Manuel I during the discoveries (and using the money obtained from that, of course).
Here you also have to try a Pastel de Belém! It is a pastel de nata🥟 as well, but the recipe is a secret from the “Pastéis de Belém” Caffe☕. The line to take out may look long, but usually, it moves fast. You can also go inside the cafe to have one, the place looks very nice. If you place yourself in Império Square⛲ looking at the Jerónimos Monastery🏰, you have a modern building on your left. It is Cultural Centre of Belém🏢 (Centro Cultural de Belém — CCB). Inside there are exhibitions😘 and an auditorium. In case you are an exhibition person, check which are on right now.
Go back to the train station and cross to the other side of the line. You will find a nice brick building, which used to be for electricity production and is now converted into the electricity museum. Next to it, there is MAAT👩🎨, which is the museum of art, architecture, and technology. It is quite recent so I have never visited any exhibition there, but the building itself is really cool and you can climb to the top. There is also the museum cafe☕. It is new, looks really cool, and has nice reviews, but I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. You also have some cafes next to it. I’ve only tried SUD, which has a cool atmosphere and rooftop but may be a bit expensive.
✳️Extra Tips or Day Trips:
The Parque Eduardo VII, the gardens of Gulbenkian, and the Campo Pequeno bullring are nice spots out of the typical tourist route. If you have spare time, you could go to Parque das Nações 🏢(metro red line to Airport, exit in Oriente). I really like this part of the city. It is really modern as it was all built from 1998 onwards because of EXPO 98, which took place here (like the one now in Dubai). Take a walk along the coastline until the Garden of Passeio dos Heróis do Mar🌷 It has a nice view over the bridge and even a small viewpoint to it (Miradouro da Ponte Vasco da Gama). You may take the cable car to see the views.
Here you can also visit the Oceanário de Lisboa 🐬(a fantastic aquarium with all kinds of fish and also sharks!). I love this place. Nearby, I recommend the Zero Zero Italian restaurant and Honest Greens🥗 for vegan/ healthy food.
A well-worth day trip from Lisboa is the village of Sintra. There you can visit the Sintra National Palace🏰, the Quinta da Regaleira, the garden and viewpoint of Seteais (it’s an old palace used as a hotel today, but it is possible to enter the garden), the Castle of the Moors, Pena Palace and the gardens and palace of Monserrate. Additionally, take a stroll around the village and try the regional pastries queijada and travesseiro of Sintra from Piriquita. You can get there by train from Rossio or Oriente Stations (the first is probably more convenient as it is in the city center).
As promised, I also have to talk about the beaches🌊around the city. Next to Lisboa you have all the lines of beaches that extend from Caxias to Cascais, all reachable by the train that goes between Cais do Sodré Station and Cascais. For a different experience, I can suggest Praia das Avencas (leave the train in Parede), once it has varied marine life on the rocks if the tide is low. The village of Cascais is also a cute place to visit beyond the beach itself. On the other side of the river, you also have Costa de Caparica (train from Entrecampos or Sete Rios direction Coina or Setúbal and leaving in Pragal, then bus to Costa de Caparica).
If you wish to surf/ have surf lessons, you can go to Carcavelos beach🌊 or basically any beach in Costa de Caparica. For a more exotic experience, you have the region of Arrábida. The beaches are absolutely beautiful, some even won international prizes! You have Portinho da Arrábida, Galápos, Galapinhos, to name a few. However, access from Lisbon is not easy if not by car. If you wish to visit without renting a car, I suggest booking a day trip from Lisbon with a travel agency (look in Get Your Guide, for example).
✳️List of Restaurants/Cafes in Lisbon:
- Pastéis de Nata : Manteigaria and Pastéis de Belém 🥞
- Traditional/regional pastries: Casa dos Ovos Moles em Lisboa and Alcoa 🥐
- Topo Chiado (bar, restaurant, caffe, brunch) 🍹🥗
- Padaria Portuguesa: This is located all over the city and has regular pastries and light meal menus 🥯
- Di Marzano (Italian and brunch) 🥗🥪
- Boa-Bao (Asian) 🍱
- Cotidiano, Nicolau Lisboa, Maria Limão, Fauna & Flora (brunch and healthy) 🥑
- Pitéu da Graça, Mesa de Frades, Taberna Anti-Dantas (traditional)
- Time Out Market (multiple options) 😄
- Os Tibetanos (Tibet food) 🫕
- SUD (varied food, Caffe, rooftop) ☕
- Guacamole (Mexican)
- Zero Zero (Italian)
- Honest Greens, The Green Affair, Naked (vegan/ healthy) 🥗