Suzanne has already shared so many amazing blog posts about Lisbon and today she’s got a perfect weekend itinerary for Lisbon. If you’re a first-time visitor to Lisbon and you’re in the city for just 2 or 3 days then this is the itinerary for you!
Updated 14 March, 2022 by Mike Seguin of lisbontravelideas.com
Colourful, laid-back and incredibly cool, Lisbon ranks as one Europe’s top cities to visit, and Lisbon is the perfect city for a weekend break. Recently on The Travel Hack we’ve covered Lisbon’s sightseeing, the best Instagram spots in the city, what to eat where, and some easy-to-do day trips. For the last post in the series we’ve put all this together into a perfect 3-day Lisbon itinerary for a long weekend in the city.
Here it is, a weekend itinerary for Lisbon…
Day 1 in Lisbon – Trams, Castles and Alfama
If you’re on an early flight to Lisbon from the UK you’ll arrive around lunchtime. Drop your bags at your Chiado or Baixa hotel, grab your camera and head to a cafe for a Pastel de Nata and a coffee.
Next, take tram 28 for a 45-minute tour of the city to see some of Lisbon’s top sights. The first stop is near the Martim Moniz metro station (green line). From there, it goes uphill.
Get off at Portas do Sol viewpoint which is the nearest to São Jorge Castle.
If you feel pressed for time and don’t want to spend a long time in the queue for the tram, you can take bus 737 from Praça da Figueira to the castle doors.
You still need to ride Tram 28 while in Lisbon. The best times to avoid a long queue for Tram 28 are prior to 8 am and after 8 pm.
Another option, if the queue looks too long, is to take the bus to the castle and then later on, jump on the tram somewhere west of Chiado and ride it in the opposite direction.
After exploring the castle ruins burn off those Pastéis de Nata calories by walking to one of the best miradouros (viewpoints) in the city. Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte is one of Lisbon’s highest viewpoints and it’ll give you an incredible view of the city looking out to the River Tagus, the 25 de Abril Bridge and the castle.
This will give you an idea of the city’s layout. Walk back down through the Alfama neighbourhood, Lisbon’s oldest district, and get lost in the maze of narrow, cobblestone alleyways. Look out for cool street art, blue and white Azulejo tiles, and cute little bars and cafes.
Dinner: Eat in Alfama at one of the restaurants with a live Fado show before heading to Bairro Alto for the nightlife.
Day 2 in Lisbon – Belém and Baixa
Head out to beautiful Belém. There’s loads to see in Belém, a neighborhood with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you’ll spend most of the day here.
Start at the Jerónimos Monastery. Construction on the monastery started in 1501, after Vasco da Gama discovered a sea-route to India, making Portugal one of the richest nations in the world in the 16th century.
Today, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Portugal.
If you want to avoid the queues, book your tickets in advance online. When you’re done in the monastery, come out and turn left and keep walking until you come to Pastéis de Belém bakery. Buy some Pastéis de Nata for later. There are plenty of cafes and small restaurants near the bakery. Choose one for lunch.
Next stop is the ultra-modern Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) which is across the road from the bakery.
The red brick portion of the building was Lisbon’s first thermoelectric power plant. It still contains some of the original equipment.
There’s plenty of time to go inside if you like that kind of thing, or you could just enjoy the building itself and climb the outside staircase onto the curved roof for views of the river.
Another option for a museum in Belém is the Museu Nacional dos Coches, the National Coach Museum. One of Portugal’s most visited museums, they display horse – drawn carriages from the 16th to early 20th centuries. You can also see the first automobile that was used in Portugal.
When you’re done enjoying the museum, walk along the riverbank back towards the monastery and the Monument of Discoveries. The monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries and explorers like Henry the Navigator. Inside is a small museum and a viewing platform with fabulous views of the Ponte 25 de Abril, the suspension bridge which looks just like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Admission to the museum and viewing deck is €6.
Another 10 – minute walk will see you arrive at the Tower of Belém.
The tower once stood in the centre of the Tagus estuary to guard the city from attack but the waters shifted and now it sits on the banks of the river.
The pretty little tower, built between 1514 and 1519, has beautiful carvings and is now the symbol of Lisbon. For more detailed information on the many things to do in Belém, check out Lisbon’s Historic Belem Neighborhood – Everything you need to know
Now it’s time to eat those custard tarts before returning to Lisbon’s Baixa district and Rossio Square on tram 15E.
Baixa is made up of wide avenues, plazas and grand buildings which were built as part of the district’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. Start at beautiful Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV) where you’ll find some eye-boggling wavy lined mosaics.
Try a glass of Ginjinha, the cherry liqueur from the traditional Ginjinha bar and check out ornate Rossio Station before heading towards the river down Rua Aurea.
You won’t miss the towering neo-gothic Santa Justa Elevator on your right which you should ride to the top of the steepest hill in Lisbon – your travel card is valid for this.
Leaving the elevator you’ll find the ruins of Carmo Convent. The church’s walls are still standing, but it is now an open-air church. All that’s left of the roof are the vaulted gothic arches. It is a beautiful monument to the destruction caused by the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most of the city.
In front of the convent, there’s a pretty little square there which is a good stopping place for a drink.
Walk down the hill and back on to Rua Aurea and keep going until you reach Praça do Comércio, the historic commercial centre and Lisbon’s grandest plaza.
You should get some sunset views from the top of the Augusta Arch – €2.50.
Restaurant Populi on the square is a good spot for dinner or, if you have time to make reservations, the intimate O Arco a few blocks away at Rua dos Sapateiros 161 is a great spot for seafood. The father – son operation serves the most tender octopus you will ever have.
Another fantastic option for seafood is Cervejaria Ramiro on Avenida Almirante Reis. The giant prawns, stuffed crab, razor clams, and clams in white wine are all fantastic. Ramiro is steps from the Intendente metro station (Green line).
For something more casual, or if seafood is not your thing, walk fifteen minutes along the riverside to Time Out Market, Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisbon. The TimeOut Market definitely has diversity, with 24 restaurants and eight bars.
Day 3 in Lisbon – Explore outside the city
Head out of the city on a day trip. Check out our suggestions here for four easy day trips from Lisbon which are all do-able by public transport. Pena Palace, located in the town of Sintra would be my first choice.
Pena Palace is one of four castles found in the town, which should not be missed.
Logistically, it might be easier to accommodate your flight home if you make this trip to Sintra your Day 2 in Portugal.
One more possible museum
One of the best museums in Lisbon is the National Tile Museum. It is a little off the beaten path, on the eastern side of the city, so if you decide to include it in your three days, it would require you to forego something else – such as the MAAT, or the National Coach Museum in Belém, and it may require you to have a late dinner, like the locals do.
The museum is located in the old Convento da Madre de Deus (Convent of the Mother of God). Included in the huge tile collection that goes back to the 15th century, you can see panels that show Lisbon before the earthquake, as well as twentieth century tile panels. An added bonus is that you get to explore one of the most stunning churches in Lisbon.
If you choose the National Tile Museum (admission €5, closed Mondays), take a taxi or an Uber. There is no metro station in the area. Several buses go nearby, but you will probably be pressed for time.
Sunsets in Lisbon
Where will you be when the sun sets? If you are in the Belém neighborhood, you can take great pictures just east of the Belém Tower. If you are in Alfama, the castle – if it is still open at sunset depending on the season, or any of the miradouros just below. If you are in Baixa, you could try the stairs that go down into the river at Praça do Comércio, or the Rua Augusta Arch, as mentioned earlier.
Another nice spot is the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It doesn’t face west, but it has views of the castle. Go to Praça dos Restauradores on Avenida da Liberdade and take the Funicular da Glória up the steep hill to the miradouro. Then once the sun sets, go off to the bars and restaurants of Príncipe Real and Bairro Alto.
Best area to stay in Lisbon
Chiado, Baixa, Príncipe Real, Bairro Alto, Avenida da Liberdade, and Alfama are the main neighbourhoods, and all within walking distance of the main sights, restaurants and shopping.
I’d pick Chiado. It’s near some of the main sights and shopping but not too noisy. The restaurants and bars in Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodré and Príncipe Real are all a short walk from Chiado and it’s close to the blue and green metro lines, tram #28 and buses. Nearby Baixa is a good call too.
How to get to Lisbon from the airport
The airport is about 7 kilometres (4.35 miles) away from Lisbon city centre.
If you are traveling with very light luggage, the quickest and cheapest way to get from the airport is the underground. There is a metro station in the airport, and for €2.30 (the cost of a metro card plus one ride), you can pop up in Rossio Square, in the centre of Lisbon in under half an hour. Or, you could invest in a 24 hour transit pass before you leave the airport for €6.50
The airport is on the red metro line. At Alameda station, you will switch to the green line to arrive at Lisbon’s most central underground stations such as Rossio.
Aerobus might be an option again in the near future, but is not currently running.
A taxi will run €15 to go from the airport to the central part of Lisbon.
Uber also operates in Lisbon.
Getting around Lisbon
The best and cheapest way to get around Lisbon is by tram or metro.
Buy a Viva Viagem Card (the card costs 50 cents) and program it for unlimited use for 24 hours for €6 a day in metro stations or newspaper stands.
Most transport is discounted if you are using a Viva Viagem Card rather than paying cash to the driver.
Like all cities beware of pick-pockets but in Lisbon be extra aware on the trams, or while in the queue for the tram.
You can also use the Viva Viagem Card to get entry to the Santa Justa Elevator and all other yellow funiculars, trams, and elevators, even the ferry across the river.
You can also get a Lisbon Tourist Card (currently £17.44 for 24 hours) which includes unlimited city transport and access to 23 museums and historic buildings.
Check out the attractions you get access to as it’s not always great value to get a tourist card unless you’re going to a lot of attractions!
How to get to Belém
To get to Belém take the Tram 15 or 15E from Praça do Comércio (main square). It should be going in the direction of Algés and runs every 10-15 minutes.
Bus 728 will also take you to Belém or the train leaves from the station of Cais do Sodré which is about a 10-minute walk along the water-front from Praça do Comércio. The train takes around 10 minutes. Use your travel card.
So, now you have everything you need to know for a fabulous weekend trip to Lisbon. Better get those flights booked…
Is there anything else you think should be on the itinerary for a weekend in Lisbon?
This article was written by the brilliant blogger Suzanne Jones, aka The Travelbunny. Suzanne is a serial traveller constantly on the search for adventure, wildlife and the next culinary encounter. When she’s not travelling and blogging at The Travelbunny Suzanne loves trying to recreate favourite dishes from her travels, long coastal walks and photography. Suzanne lives on the south coast near Brighton and can’t bear to be too far away from the sea.