Lisbon is often overlooked as a city break destination in Europe. Most British tourists opt for the Algarve for their holiday or Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona for a short city break. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and has a lot to offer visitors, whether you’re only staying for 3 / 4 nights or you’re just popping in for a day trip from one of the nearby resorts. It’s quickly becoming a must-see destination for anyone touring Europe and a trip here can be super affordable.
After spending plenty of time exploring the city, we’ve put together a sample Lisbon 3 day itinerary for those looking to make the most of the top sights, plus plenty of alternative attractions in between.
An action packed 3 days in Lisbon – make the most out of your trip
Day 1 – Morning:
- Bike tour – Our Lisbon 3 day itinerary starts with a sightseeing bike tour, exploring the districts of Bairro Alto, Chiado and Alfama, marvelling at the city’s architecture. It’s a great way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time and an excellent introduction to the city. We recommend The Bikes Company – they have a great selection of bike tours, from a few hours to a full day and you can rent bikes if you wish to explore the city yourself without a guided tour. Not keen on riding a bike? A guided walking is a great alternative. We recommend Hi Lisbon Walking Tours. They’re free and operate only on tips.
- Have a relaxing brunch at the trendy ‘Nicolau’ cafe and wind down after an exhilarating morning bike ride. This trendy restaurant is perfect for lunch, breakfast or brunch, serving up healthy and hearty dishes and some excellent smoothies!
- Visit a museum – Lisbon boasts a collection of quirky and traditional museums. Take your pick and spend a couple of hours browsing to your leisure. We recommend Carmo Archaeological Museum or the National Museum of Ancient Art. Colecao Berardo is the place to go if you prefer modern art.
- Timeout Market Lisboa – Check out Time Out food market for dinner and sample a variety of local and international cuisine. Our top food recommendations are Bacalhau (salted cod), Prego (steak rolls) and Feijoada (pork and bean stew). You also can’t go wrong with any of the desserts.
- Bairro Alto – Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s main nightlife area, filled with narrow streets of trendy bars and a social atmosphere of both locals and tourists. In the summer months, it’s common to enjoy a drink outside and soak up the music and a small beer will cost you a mere 1.50 euros!
Day 2 – Morning:
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia – Take a tram to the Alfama district for a chance to see some of the most breath-taking views of your trip. Terraces of terracotta rooved homes look out to the River Tejo in this must-see location. Spend your morning wandering the old, cobbled streets of Alfama, stopping by a corner cafe for a coffee and browsing the small boutique shops. It’s one of our favourite areas of the city!
- Oceanarium/Zoo – Start your afternoon at the top rated Oceanarium or Lisbon Zoo, depending on the weather and your preference. If you’re a football fan, pay a visit to Benfica football stadium nearby for some excellent photo opportunities and a tour around the on-site shop and museum
- Baixa – After refreshing at the hotel, head to the Baixa area and eat at a local Tascas restaurant. These local eateries offer great atmosphere, are quite inexpensive and offer many traditional Portuguese dishes to try, such as Caldo Verde (a delicious soup) and Bolinhos de Bacalhau (a salted cod fish dish). After dinner, enjoy local beer, wine and Sangria in the nearby bars and watch the lively city go by
- Carmo Ruins ‘Under the Stars’ show – This light show spectacle is well worth seeing one evening during your trip! Set under the stars in an open air building that had its roof destroyed by an earthquake, this enchanting musical performance tells you the history of Lisbon, with thrilling music and lighting special effects.
Day 3 – Morning:
- Belem – Belem is a must-see on our Lisbon 3 day itinerary and the area of Lisbon which has the most monuments and famous attractions. Take a tram to the district and be impressed by the many monuments, churches and pretty gardens. The top things to check out here are the historic Jeronimos Monastery, iconic Belem Tower and either the Maritime Museum or Museu Coleção Berardo if you like art. As there’s so much to see in this area, you may wish to have lunch out and spend some of your afternoon here. Of course, you can’t forget to try the famous ‘Pasteis de Belem’ at Pastelaria de Belem. The Portuguese custard tart was invented here!
- Cascais – From Belem, you can catch the Metro to the small town of Cascais, located further along the coastline to the west of the river. This beautiful little town is full of old buildings, with a picturesque church welcoming you to the main square and a long beach where you can relax in the sun. Explore Cascais town on foot, wander the boutique shops and then head to the beach before returning to Lisbon. For more day trip ideas, not too far from Lisbon, check out our guide here.
- Theatre/Sunset Cocktails – being your last night is the perfect opportunity to make it a memorable one. Take a trip to a local Opera (Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos) or Theatre (Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II) to see some of the best shows the country has to offer. Alternatively, wind down with sunset drinks overlooking the city in the rooftop bar ‘Park’, located in the Bairro Alto district – how trendy!
Of course, there’s so much to do in Lisbon, it’s impossible to see everything in 3 days. We hope you’ve found our 3 day itinerary ideal for a city break and making the most out of your trip.
Top Tips for visiting Lisbon
- Traffic can be busy in the city so take advantage of the easily accessible tram network. It’s also very straightforward to tour the city on foot or via the Metro network.
- Take time to explore each of the main Lisbon districts – they each offer something completely new.
- Lisbon does two things very well – coffee and bakery goods. It’s easy to get absorbed into the atmosphere and visit as many places as you can during your trip, which can be exhausting. Take time out each day to relax at a café or your hotel and replenish your energy.
- Buy a travel card and top it up with 15 euros or so at a Metro station. You can use it on the buses, trams and metro and you save money by paying with the card.
- Stay somewhere central in downtown (Chiado/Baixa). From here, you can explore many of the top sights on foot. All types of accommodation is available, from luxury to budget.
- Lisbon has hills seemingly everywhere! Pack good footwear and prepare for lots of walking up and down! Tuk Tuk’s are a good way to travel short distances if you want to rest your legs.
That concludes our action-packed Lisbon 3 day itinerary! 3 days is a very common length of time to visit the Portuguese capital but you’ll likely want to stay for much longer and fall in love with the city, just like we have! If you’re staying for longer or fancy visiting somewhere else near Lisbon, check out our full list of attractions and day trip ideas here.