In April, I visited Portugal for the first time with a friend where we stayed in colorful Lisbon for a week. We spent a total of 2.5 days in Lisbon itself and three days exploring the surrounding area. In this blog, I will take you through three perfect days in Lisbon.
Before I take you through our trip to Lisbon, I’d like to share a tip in advance that saved me a huge amount of money:
Best tip ever: Lisboa Card
Normally I am not a fan of the tourist cards offered in cities, but when I saw what you have access to, we had to get it. After all, it is hugely inexpensive and ticks off many of the city’s well-known and popular attractions. Plus, you don’t have to stand in endless lines for anything. We ended up choosing the 24-hour card for €21 per person, but it is also possible to purchase a 48 and 72-hour card. In this blog, I share more about where we all used the Lisboa Card.
Lisbon Day 1: Center and Alfama
On our first morning in Lisbon, we gathered in the city center because we had booked a Free Walking Tour. I love Free Walking tours because you learn so much about the history, stories and legends of a city such as the Rooster of Barcelos, for example.
Free Walking Tour Lissabon
Our very sweet tour guide Inés took us through the Bairro Alto, Chiado, Baixa and Alfama in three hours. During the tour we visited the Santa Justa elevator, the Carmo Monastery, the Arco da Rua Augusta, got a free Pastel de Nata and in Alfama we took our first shot of the well-known cherry liqueur, among other things.
Wandering through the Alfama neighborhood
After ending the tour in Alfama, we first did a whole photo shoot with our pineapple and then wandered further through the winding streets of Alfama.
Nestled atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, Alfama is the city’s oldest and most historic district. Its narrow streets and traditional buildings create a charming atmosphere, and its many staircases and vantage points offer breathtaking views of the city.
Lunch at Hotspot Basílio
We had a lunch break in between at Basílio, a fun hotspot with vegan options for those who love it. I had pancakes 😉
Attractions in the center
After we had lunch, we went to pick up our Lisboa Card from the tourist office at Cais de Sodre. We used it right away for a number of downtown attractions such as:
Lisboa Story center
The Lisboa Story Center is a museum that tells the story of Lisbon through the ages. From its humble beginnings as a small fishing village to its current status as a world-class city, the Story Center traces the city’s development through a series of interactive exhibits. Visitors can learn about Lisbon’s rich history, see how the city has changed over time and glimpse into the future. Tickets are normally €6.50, but free with the Lisboa Card.
Atop Arco da Rua Augusta
Arco da Rua Augusta is one of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments. Built in 1873 to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after the 1755 earthquake, it symbolizes resilience and hope. The massive arch spans the width of Rua Augusta, Lisbon’s main street, and is decorated with statues and reliefs that tell the story of Portugal’s history. Visitors can climb to the top of the arch for a panoramic view of the city below. Tickets are normally €3 but free with the Lisboa Card.
Streetcar 28 is one of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks. The streetcar has been in operation since 1901 but is a popular tourist attraction today, and it continues to play an important role in the city’s public transportation system. The 28 streetcar runs through some of Lisbon’s most historic neighborhoods, and the route includes many of the city’s main attractions. But wow what a long queue there is. I think we waited a total of 2 hours here at the bus stop. So pay close attention, if you board at a later stop the line is a lot shorter.
Dining at the Time Out Market
We ended the evening at this fun indoor foodhall. While I normally absolutely love foodhalls, I personally found this one quite massive and noisy. Still a nice ending to our first day!
Lisbon day 2: Belém and LX Factory
On our second day, we left in the morning from Cais do Sodre for the Belém district, western Lisbon.
Tower of Belém
The Tower of Belem is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lisbon, Portugal. Built in the 16th century, the tower stands on the banks of the Tagus River and is a symbol of the city’s maritime history. Visitors to the Tower of Belem can climb to the top for breathtaking views of the city and the river beyond. We were able to get in for free with our Lisboa Card, but tickets can be found for €9.
Mosteiro de Jeronimos
The second sight we had planned was this beautiful monastery. Unfortunately, there was an event in town that day so many sights were closed until noon including Mosteiro de Jeronimos. Once it opened, the line was so long that we decided to go ahead anyway. Too bad because tickets were €10 but we had free admission with our card. Another reason to return to Lisbon one day.
Palacio Nacional da Ajuda
Since the line for the monastery was way too crowded, we decided to go to the palace. Actually it was not on our schedule but since we had free entrance with our Lisboa Card we decided to go anyway. This was a very good choice because wow what a beautiful palace it is and wow how quiet it was. It is a bit of a walk or public transport but it is absolutely worth it. And not expensive at all, tickets are available for only €5 per person.
After spending a fair amount of time at the palace, we took the bus to LX Factory, something we had high hopes for after hearing all the great stories. Fortunately, it exceeded our expectations, as this area is incredibly fun and cozy.
When we were there, there was a tremendously fun LX market, which, by the way, takes place every Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and is highly recommended. Fun vintage clothing, unique jewelry, small business owners and creatives selling the cutest things.
Besides the market, here you have the coziest restaurants, unique works of art, studios of young artists and fun events. If we had had more time we would have gladly returned here.
Dining at Mex Factory
The restaurant we finally chose to dine at was Mex Factory, a Mexican joint with amazing margaritas. I discovered a new love here. The salt and pepper rim around a glass of margarita. Really fantastic.
Day 3 Day trip from Lisbon
It is often recommended to do one or more day trip(s) when visiting Lisbon. The two day trips that are especially recommended are Sintra and Cascais. Since we spent a full week in Lisbon ourselves, we did three day trips to the tale Sintra, the beautiful medieval Óbidos and the beach at Cascais. In my opinion, such a day trip is also really a must if you want to have a complete city trip. Below I briefly describe the day trips, but in short: do you have 1 day? Sintra, do you have two days? Sintra and Óbidos. Is it horribly hot and you want to lie on the beach? Caiscais.
Option 1: The palaces of Sintra
By far the day trip most often chosen is Sintra. Sintra is known for its fairytale castles and colorful gardens, so there is plenty to do for the day. Because it is so hugely popular, it is also very crowded and there are definitely some things to consider. I got to the bottom of everything and wrote a blog about how to best visit Sintra.
Option 2: Medieval Óbidos
A day trip that is a lot less popular but oh so special is Óbidos. Surrounded by medieval walls, this village is like a fairy tale. You easily visit it within an hour by bus and it is a lot quieter than the oh so touristy Sintra. Check out the beautiful streets of Óbidos in my blog.
Option 3: The beach of Caiscais
Let’s face it, Caiscais does not compare to the splendor of Sintra and Óbidos. The only reason I could think of to prefer Caiscais over the other two is because you like to add a beach day to your city trip. So we thought, and we had no regrets. Within 45 minutes by train from Cais de Sodre you are in Caiscais.
Fantastic end to your trip in Lisbon: dine at Ponte final
We had the most fun last night at Ponte Final, a restaurant located in Almada across the Tagus River. Read all about Ponte Final in my blog and why it is highly recommended.
@fabienvlems 📍Ponto Final in #Lisbon #hotspot ♬ MEAN! – Madeline The Person
All in all, we had a fantastic week in Lisbon that I would recommend to anyone.
Have you ever been to Lisbon?
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