3 Days In Lisbon Itinerary: What To See On Your First Visit

What to visit during your first 3 days in Lisbon? I have the perfect itinerary for you when you’re visiting Lisbon for the first time.

What to visit during your first 3 days in Lisbon? I’ve been to almost all European countries and capitals, and I have the perfect itinerary for what to see in Lisbon when you’re visiting for the first time.

Note that the best time to visit Portugal isn’t in the summer when all the crowds come in. I visited Algarve in February and then made it to Lisbon in March. The crowdness levels were perfect.

Why you should visit Lisbon, Portugal?

Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I visited Lisbon for a couple of days after spending one month in Algarve as a digital nomad.

If you have more time in Portugal, I strongly recommend visiting Algarve; it’s simply stunning. Check out these best things to do in Algarve.

Lisbon is a city of historical landmarks, from the ancient ruins of the São Jorge Castle to the artistic tiles at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. Its districts, like Alfama and Bairro Alto, offer a vivid tapestry of life, with narrow streets leading to stunning viewpoints, Fado houses, or buzzing nightspots.

Lisbon is also a paradise for food lovers.

The Time Out Market and various local eateries provide you with an opportunity to taste authentic Portuguese cuisine, including treats like pastéis de nata. I added some of the coolest markets to visit in Lisbon at the end under “Practical tips,” at the end of this blog.

Whether you’re a fan of seafood or looking for vegetarian options, the city has something to offer everyone. Don’t forget the wine; the local vinho verde is a must-try.

Beyond its food and historical sites, Lisbon has a vibrant cultural scene.

The city has a broad spectrum of artistic endeavours, from attending a soul-stirring Fado performance to exploring modern art installations at LX Factory.

Its closeness to beautiful beaches and scenic spots like Sintra makes it a well-rounded destination that offers both urban experiences and natural beauty.

To top it all, the locals are warm and welcoming, and there’s a sense of safety and inclusivity that makes every visitor feel at home.

Must do in Lisbon – 10 top things to do in Lisbon

  • Explore Belém. This area is full of historical landmarks like the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém. Don’t forget to try the famous Portuguese custard tart, Pastéis de Belém, at its birthplace.
  • Take Tram 28. It’s like a mini tour of the city, taking you through various neighbourhoods and offering breathtaking views. It’s old-fashioned charm at its best.
  • Visit Alfama. Walk around the Alfama district to experience Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood. The cobblestone streets and Fado music wafting from local bars create a magical atmosphere.
  • São Jorge Castle. For panoramic views of the city, head up to this Moorish castle. It’s a bit of a climb but absolutely worth it for the Instagram-worthy shots and historical appeal.
  • Time Out Market. Foodies will love this spot. Located in the Cais do Sodré district, it’s a haven for sampling local and international cuisines all under one roof.
  • Shop in Baixa. If shopping is on your agenda, head to the Baixa district. The streets are lined with shops selling everything from luxury items to unique souvenirs.
  • Sail on the Tagus River. Take a boat ride during sunset for spectacular views of Lisbon from the water. It’s both romantic and awe-inspiring.
  • LX Factory. This is a creative hub located in a reconverted industrial complex. Here, you’ll find everything from art installations to quirky shops and restaurants.
  • Discover the Street Art. Lisbon is a canvas for vibrant street art. Keep an eye out as you wander the streets; you never know when you’ll stumble upon a masterpiece.
  • Nightlife in Bairro Alto. As the sun sets, head to Bairro Alto for its lively nightlife. Whether you’re into cool bars or want to listen to live music, this area has something for everyone.
3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

If Lisbon or continental Portugal is not enough for you, you can always book a direct flight to Madeira, one of Portugal’s paradise islands.

However, I strongly advise that you take your time to explore Portugal, and why now even go on a road trip in Portugal to explore the essential spots?

But let’s start with Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

3 days in Lisbon itinerary

Day 1: Historic Day in Belém

9:00 am: Breakfast at your accommodation

I’d recommend either getting a hotel with breakfast or looking for a cafe nearby. Most breakfast cafes are closer to the centre, but there are little gems scattered all over Lisbon. 

See a list of cafes for breakfast under the “Practical Tips” section at the end. 

10:00 am: Belém Tower

Cost: €6 per person (book here). It’s free to walk around it. 

How to Get There: Take tram 15 from Praça da Figueira towards Algés. Alight at Belém.

Belém Tower, or Torre de Belém, is one of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks, situated on the banks of the Tagus River. Built in the early 16th century as both a defensive fortification and a ceremonial gateway, the tower is a prime example of the Manueline architectural style, incorporating Moorish and Venetian elements. 

It has played various roles throughout history, from a military stronghold to a customs post, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower offers panoramic views from its upper terraces, making it a popular spot for both history enthusiasts and those simply looking to capture stunning photographs of Lisbon and the river.

12:00 pm: Jerónimos Monastery

Cost: €10 per person (book here)

How to Get There: It’s a 10-minute walk from the Belém Tower.

Jerónimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a stunning example of Manueline architecture located in the Belém district of Lisbon. 

Built in the 16th century, it was originally intended to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s successful voyage to India and served as a spiritual and physical place of rest for sailors embarking on treacherous voyages. 

The monastery is famous for its ornate interior and intricate exterior carvings, featuring maritime motifs and biblical figures. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s not just an architectural marvel but also a place of significant historical and cultural importance to Portugal. 

2:00 pm: Lunch at Pastéis de Belém

Cost: Around €15 per person

How to Get There: Another quick 10-minute walk from Jerónimos Monastery.

Having lunch at Pastéis de Belém is like stepping into a slice of Lisbon’s culinary history. 

Located in the historic Belém district, this iconic bakery has been serving its world-famous pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, since 1837. The atmosphere is a delightful blend of tradition and buzz as locals and tourists alike fill the expansive blue-and-white tiled space. 

While the pastries are the main attraction, the menu also offers a variety of savoury items and coffees. Don’t leave without trying their signature tart, crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, often enjoyed warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

3:30 pm: Monument to the Discoveries

Cost: Free to view, €6 to ascend

How to Get There: A mere 5-minute walk from your lunch spot.

The Monument to the Discoveries, known as “Padrão dos Descobrimentos” in Portuguese, is an imposing structure located on the banks of the Tagus River in Lisbon’s Belém district. 

Erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, the monument celebrates Portugal’s Age of Exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries. 

Designed in the shape of a ship’s prow, the monument features 33 statues of significant figures from Portugal’s history of exploration, including notable navigators, cartographers, and monarchs. The monument offers a rooftop viewpoint that provides panoramic vistas of the river and surrounding areas, making it a popular stop for those interested in both history and sightseeing.

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

5:00 pm: Lisbon walking tour (history and lifestyle)

Cost: €25 (Book here)

Explore Lisbon’s beauty on a walking tour led by a local guide. Start in the historic Bairro Alto, a neighbourhood revitalised after the 1755 earthquake. Take in scenic views at São Pedro de Alcântara Garden, then visit San Roque Church to admire its Baroque interior.

Next, walk to Carmo Convent, a key spot in the 1974 Carnation Revolution that ended dictatorship. Move on to the Santa Justa Elevator for panoramic city views. Ride a tram to Portas do Sol, where you’ll see important sites like the National Pantheon and Alfama district, known for its fado music and festivals.

Wrap up the tour at Lisbon Cathedral, a building that combines various architectural styles, originally built in 1150.

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

8:00 pm: Return to Central Lisbon and Dinner

Cost: Around €20 per person

How to Get There: Go to Praça da Figueira.

Explore Praça Dom Pedro IV and its surroundings. Walk towards Arco da Rua Augusta and admire the waterfront at sunset. 

Day 2: Alfama and Downtown Lisbon

9:00 am: Breakfast 

See a list of cafes for breakfast under the “Practical Tips” section at the end. 

10:00 am: São Jorge Castle

Cost: €10 per person (book ticket here)

How to Get There: Take tram 28 from Martim Moniz to Miradouro Santa Luzia.

If you book your tickets online here, you can skip the queue to buy the tickets and enter the castle. This will save you so much time and allow you to spend a leisurely morning or afternoon at Sao Jorge Castle with pre-booked tickets. 

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

You will meet up with a guide right outside the castle for a quick 15-minute intro before getting your access passes. 

Take your time exploring—marvel at the old architecture, check out the 11th-century artefacts on display, and enjoy panoramic views of Lisbon and the Tagus River from one of the city’s highest points. Lisbon has many cute spots, and the castle has some of the best views. 

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

12:30 pm: Explore Alfama

Cost: Free (€20 with a guide)

How to Get There: Walk down from the castle.

If you want more insight into your visit, consider booking a walking tour of Alfama

As you’re walking in Alfama, you will uncover Lisbon’s rich blend of history, art, and culture through key neighbourhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto. 

Also, you’ll get to discover the tastiest spots for Portuguese custard tarts. 

If you explore with the tour, you can then use the included Vox City app to further explore Lisbon’s gems with audio-guided tours, even after your walking tour ends. From historic sites in Alfama to downtown’s trendy locales, this tour offers a comprehensive look at Lisbon’s many faces.

2:00 pm: Lunch in Baixa

Cost: Around €15 per person

How to Get There: Walk for about 20 minutes or take tram 28 back to Martim Moniz and then walk.

3:30 pm: Elevador de Santa Justa

Cost: Elevator € 5.30 (return) + Viewpoint € 1.50 

How to Get There: A 10-minute walk from where you had lunch.

The Elevador de Santa Justa, built in 1902, is an intriguing mix of engineering and art, and it’s often mistakenly attributed to Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower. 

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

However, the actual designer was Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, an engineer born in Porto to French parents. While some claim he was an apprentice of Eiffel, there’s limited evidence to support this connection. Regardless, the elevator is one of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks.

Constructed mainly of iron and adorned with intricate Neo-Gothic embellishments, the Elevador de Santa Justa also serves a functional purpose.

It was built to connect the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Carmo Square, thereby aiding the residents who previously had to navigate the steep hill between these two districts.

The elevator quickly gained popularity, not just for its utility but also for its aesthetic appeal and its panoramic views of the city, including sights like the Castle of São Jorge and the Tagus River.

Today, the Elevador de Santa Justa elevator is still operational and is a major tourist attraction. 

6:00 pm: Dinner at Time Out Market

  • Cost: Around €20 per person
  • How to Get There: Take metro from Baixa-Chiado to Cais do Sodré.

Time Out Market in Lisbon is a bustling food and cultural market located in the Cais do Sodré district. Housed in a grand 19th-century building, the market features a curated mix of eateries, shops, and cultural spaces. 

From traditional Portuguese cuisine to modern fusion dishes, it offers a wide array of culinary delights that cater to diverse tastes.

It’s not just a place to grab a meal; it’s an experience that encapsulates the spirit and flavours of Lisbon.

7:00 pm: Live Fado Show 

  • Cost:  €20, with a drink included. Book here.

Attending a live Fado show in Lisbon is an immersive experience that plunges you into the emotional landscape of Portuguese culture. 

Typically held in intimate, candle-lit venues called “Fado houses,” often located in the historic Alfama district, the atmosphere is thick with anticipation as the audience quiets down for the performance. 

A singer, accompanied by musicians playing the Portuguese guitar, captivates the room with soul-stirring melodies that speak of love, loss, and saudade—a unique Portuguese term for a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing. 

The whole experience becomes not just a night of music but a profound journey through the Portuguese soul, leaving you with a lasting impression of Lisbon’s rich cultural tapestry.

Day 3: Culture and Nightlife

9:00 am: Breakfast 

See a list of cafes for breakfast under the “Practical Tips” section at the end. 

10:00 am:  Museu Nacional do Azulejo

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon is a unique museum dedicated to the art of Portuguese ceramic tiles, known as “azulejos.” 

Housed in a former convent, the museum showcases the evolution of tile art from the 15th century to the present day. The collection includes everything from intricate geometric patterns to elaborate narrative panels depicting historical and religious scenes. 

One of the museum’s highlights is a 75-foot-long, blue-and-white ceramic panorama of Lisbon before the devastating earthquake of 1755. 

This specialised museum offers a deep dive into an art form that is quintessentially Portuguese, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s cultural heritage.

Have lunch at the museum’s cafe, which offers excellent lunch options. 

13:00 pm: Miradouro da Nossa Senhora da Porciúncula

  • Cost: Free

Miradouro da Nossa Senhora da Porciúncula is a lesser-known but charming viewpoint located in Lisbon’s Amoreiras district.

Offering sweeping views of the city and the Tagus River, it provides a peaceful escape from the urban hustle.

Surrounded by gardens and the impressive Águas Livres Aqueduct, it’s an ideal spot for both photography and contemplation. Its relative seclusion makes it a perfect place for those looking to enjoy Lisbon’s scenic beauty without the crowds.

2:00 pm: Oceanário de Lisboa

How to Get There: Take bus 728 from Estação Sta. Apolónia (Mercadorias) to Oceanário Lisboa. 

The Oceanário de Lisboa is one of Europe’s largest indoor aquariums, situated in the Parque das Nações district of Lisbon. 

Designed by architect Peter Chermayeff, the aquarium is a striking modern structure that mimics an aircraft carrier. 

It hosts a vast array of marine species, from colourful tropical fish to larger mammals like sharks and rays, all arranged in different habitats that mimic the Earth’s various oceans. 

The central tank is a standout feature, holding 5 million litres of seawater and offering a 360-degree view of an artificial ocean ecosystem.

Educational and interactive exhibits make it a family-friendly attraction, aiming to promote ocean conservation and education.

6:30 pm: Tagus River Sunset Cruise

Set sail on an unforgettable evening cruise on the Tagus River and soak up Lisbon’s beauty in the warm glow of the setting sun. 

There’s no other way to experience Lisbon than by seeing both sides of the city from a new perspective. This sunset boat tour offers the perfect ambient music, and guests are also offered a welcome drink. 

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

I liked the modern boat, which allows you to enjoy the open air or take cover under a retractable roof or optional sun awning. 

With 360-degree windows, you’ll have an unobstructed view of Lisbon’s skyline from any seat, making it the perfect opportunity to experience the city’s illuminated architecture as you feel the evening breeze.

The tour takes one hour and a half. 

8:30 pm: Dinner and night out in Bairro Alto

  • Cost: Varies greatly; budget around €30 for food and drinks
  • How to Get There: 20 minutes by foot. Alternatively. You can take the metro from Terreiro do Paço to Bairro Alto.

Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s go-to district for dinner and nightlife, offering a vibrant blend of culinary delights and buzzing social scenes.

By day, the area may seem like a quiet, historic neighbourhood, but it truly comes alive as the sun sets. 

The narrow, cobblestone streets are lined with a myriad of restaurants serving everything from traditional Portuguese dishes to international cuisines, providing options that cater to every palate.

After dinner, the vibe shifts into an energetic nightlife atmosphere, with bars, clubs, and Fado houses opening their doors for patrons looking to experience Lisbon’s nocturnal magic. 

Whether you’re seeking a cosy wine bar, live music, or a night of dancing, Bairro Alto offers a diverse array of options for a memorable evening.

3 days in Lisbon: What To See On Your First Visit

Lisbon travel tips

Public transport

Lisbon’s public transportation is pretty reliable. Consider buying a Navegante card (formerly Viva Viagem card) for unlimited travel on buses, trams, and metro services.

Note that you can either top up your card and pay as you go for your trips, or you choose to get a day or multi-day card.

You can’t switch between the two payment methods. If you already have a pay-as-you-go card and want a new day card (let’s say you want a 24-hour transport card), you’ll need to purchase a new transport card from the machine (located in metro stations) and choose that option from the beginning. 

Safety

While Lisbon is generally a safe city, like any other tourist destination, pickpocketing can be an issue, especially in crowded areas or tourist spots. Always keep an eye on your belongings.

I walked in Lisbon even late at night, but it all felt safe, and most spots were full of tourists and locals. I don’t see any reason to be concerned about safety. 

The only thing I did not like was the fact that I was asked about drugs in the centre. There were many guys offering to sell all kinds of illegal drugs.

Yes, Portugal has a long history of drug use, but after the 2000 launch of the “drug strategy” to reduce use, it was actually effective, and people are more chill about it. But remember that these drugs are still illegal. 

What to bring and how to dress

The city is full of steep hills and cobblestone streets. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for long strolls. 

Lisbon can be hot and sunny, especially in the summer. Always carry water and sunscreen when exploring the city.

Tram 28

The classic Tram 28 ride is a must, but it gets crowded quickly, so try to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Tipping and eating out in Portugal

Tipping is not mandatory in Lisbon, but it’s appreciated. A tip of 10% is generally acceptable in restaurants. Avoid tourist trap restaurants, especially around major attractions. Instead, try to find out where the locals eat.

While many places accept cards, some smaller shops or traditional markets might only take cash, so keep some euros handy.

Breakfast cafes in Lisbon

Here are some cool cafes for breakfast in Lisbon:

  • Augusto Lisboa – Alfama
  • Seventh Brunch Chiado
  • Zenith Brunch & Cocktails – Lisboa
  • Pastelaria Alfama Doce
  • Quase Café
  • The Mill

Fado music

Alfama is the best area to enjoy traditional Fado music. Some Fado houses have a cover charge, so inquire beforehand.

This is an evening activity, and you should book a fado show in advance. 

Monday closures

As with most European countries, some museums and tourist spots are closed on Mondays, so plan your itinerary accordingly.

Nightlife in Lisbon

The Bairro Alto district is the place for nightlife, but be mindful that it’s a residential area. Keep the noise down when wandering the streets late at night.

Local markets in Lisbon

Don’t miss out on visiting local markets like the Feira da Ladra, a traditional flea market held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, for unique souvenirs.

Here are the top markets to visit in Lisbon:

  • Mercado da Ribeira (Time Out Market) – Located in the Cais do Sodré district, this is perhaps Lisbon’s most famous market, featuring an array of food stalls offering both traditional Portuguese and international cuisine.
  • Feira da Ladra – Situated in the Alfama district, this flea market is a go-to for antiques, vintage items, and unique souvenirs. It’s open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
  • Mercado de Campo de Ourique – Nestled in one of Lisbon’s residential neighborhoods, this market is a local favorite for fresh produce, meat, and fish, as well as ready-to-eat meals.
  • Mercado de Alvalade Norte – Located in the Alvalade district, this market is less touristy and offers a wide variety of fresh produce, meat, and fish.
  • Mercado 31 de Janeiro – Situated in the Saldanha district, this market is known for its quality seafood, meats, and a range of Portuguese cheeses.
  • Mercado de Arroios – This is one of Lisbon’s more diverse markets, offering a range of international foods from Asian to Middle Eastern.
  • Mercado da Vila Cascais – A short train ride from Lisbon, this market in Cascais offers a mix of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and is host to various events throughout the year.
  • Mercado de Benfica – Situated in the Benfica district, this local market is a good place for fresh fruits, vegetables, and also offers a variety of Portuguese snacks and pastries.
  • Anjos70 – This monthly market in the Anjos district focuses on vintage and handcrafted items, making it a great place for unique finds.
  • LX Factory Market – Located in the LX Factory complex, this is a cool and hipster place for lunch. Every Sunday, there’s a weekly market that features a range of handmade goods, vintage clothing, and unique art pieces. 

Day trips from Lisbon

If you have an extra day, consider a trip to nearby Sintra or Cascais for a change of scenery and a touch of Portuguese history and beach life.

Here are some organised day trips to consider:

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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