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Lisbon in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

If we have three days to visit Lisbon, it will give us time to see its main monuments and also to make an excursion to its surroundings.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

8 min read

Lisbon in 3 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

View of Lisbon | ©Louis Paulin

If you are planning a 3-day trip to Lisbon you should know what is the most recommended to see in Lisbon in that time. Fortunately, in 72 hours we have plenty of time to know the essentials of the Portuguese capital and also make an excursion to one of the most important sites around the city.

To enjoy your trip I leave you this three-day itinerary designed to make the most of the Portuguese city. First you will get to know the historic center of Lisbon and all its monuments, on the second day we will leave the city to visit the village of Sintra and reserve the last day to get to know the famous neighborhood of Belém.

Day 1: Historic Center: Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto neighborhoods

Alfama neighborhood| ©Louis Droege
Alfama neighborhood| ©Louis Droege

The first day of a three-day trip to Lisbon can be devoted to getting to know the historical center of the city. This part is made up of the Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto neighborhoods. These adjoining neighborhoods are home to many of the main tourist attractions of the city and can be covered in a day on foot. Below I share with you what are the must-see places to see in each of them:

Morning in Alfama neighborhood

The ideal place to start our visit to Lisbon is in the Alfama neighborhood. This neighborhood grows under the castle of St. George and in its steep streets you can breathe the authentic essence of Lisbon. Originally a fishermen's neighborhood, today it has become the most genuine area of the capital and the cradle of Fado, the most popular musical genre in Portugal.

This neighborhood has several points to visit. Starting with its viewpoints, the Portas do Sol or Santa Lucia, which offer beautiful and complete views of the city. St. George's Castle, the National Pantheon and the Lisbon Cathedral are other must-sees in this neighborhood.

Alfama is also a good place to soak up the culture of Lisbon. Thanks to its markets, its street musicians and places to listen to Portuguese Fado and its restaurants where you can taste the traditional gastronomy of the city.

Book a guided tour of Alfama

Walk through Baixa and Chiado

Pedro IV Square in Lisbon| ©Thomas
Pedro IV Square in Lisbon| ©Thomas

After spending the morning in the Alfama neighborhood it is time to visit the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods. From Alfama you can walk down and start to see these neighborhoods by Pedro IV square. Next to this beautiful square is the Baixa market where we can take the opportunity to eat and then go down the Rua Augusta to the Comercio square. This shopping street connects the two most important squares of Lisbon.

The Commerce Square is one of the neuralgic points of the city. It is accessed by crossing the Arco de Rua Augusta, which can be accessed to climb to its viewpoint. In the square we have the statue of José I and its pier from which we can enjoy the Tagus River.

Finish the day on a high note

Already in the afternoon we can stroll through the neighborhood of Chiado to retrace our steps down the street Rua do Ouro to the elevator of Santa Justa. This is an elevator that reaches a walkway 45 meters high that connects the neighborhoods of Baixa and Chiado. You can climb to its terrace that serves as a viewpoint before leaving the top and visit the convent do Carmo.

The church of the convent was left in ruins after the earthquake of 1755 and can now be visited offering a very special postcard. Rarely can you contemplate a Gothic church whose ceiling is the sky itself. The convent also houses the archaeological museum of Do Carmo.

The streets adjacent to the convent already belong to Lisbon's Barrio Alto. It is an avant-garde neighborhood full of life and activity and is the ideal area to dine and finish the day enjoying the nightlife of the city.

Day 2: Excursion to the village of Sintra

Sintra Village| ©Drew Bae
Sintra Village| ©Drew Bae

The second day of our stay in Lisbon can be used for a day trip out of the city. The destination is well worth devoting almost a whole day. It is the Villa de Sintral, a complex of palaces that has been declared a World Heritage Site since 1995.

In this link you have all the information you need to know to get from Lisbon to the village of Sintra there is much to see so it will take us almost a whole day to know it. The main monuments you should visit are:

Pena Palace

The Pena Palace is the best known and most visited monument in Sintra thanks to its architectural variety and striking colors. The building is relatively modern, having been built in the 19th century, and is considered one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. Eclecticism is one of the hallmarks of the Pena Palace for its mixture of styles such as Romanesque, Mudejar and even Gothic.

Although its main charm is in its exterior, the interior of the palace can be visited and is also spectacular. The surrounding royal gardens are also essential to see. The Pena Palace is one of the most visited monuments in all of Portugal so queues are very common.

Book your visit to Pena Palace

Quinta da Regaleira

The Quinta da Regaleira is another spectacular palace in the Sintra complex. Historically linked to Masonic rites, it is a place full of symbolism and mysteries, so it is highly recommended to visit it with a guide to discover all its secrets.

The initiatory well in its gardens is one of its most impressive points. It is an inverted tower, hence the name of well, with a spiral staircase that runs along its 9 floors.

The National Palace of Sintra

Sintra National Palace| ©Diego Delso
Sintra National Palace| ©Diego Delso

In the center of Sintra and visible from almost the entire village is the National Palace. It is a peculiar building of Arab style crowned by two peculiar chimneys. In this case the main attraction is inside, as its rooms have mosaics formed by very well preserved tiles.

Monserrate Palace

The Monserrate Palace is less known than the other palaces, but it has also earned the reputation of being the hidden jewel of Sintra. The building has an architecture clearly influenced by the Arabian style and a spectacular garden with more than 3,000 species of exotic plants.

These are the essential monuments of Sintra but there are some more worth visiting if you have time, such as the Castelo dos Mouros, the Convento dos Capuchos or the Chalet and garden of the Countess.

Book an excursion to Sintra

Day 3: Belém neighborhood in depth

The Jerónimos Monastery| ©Minh TRAN
The Jerónimos Monastery| ©Minh TRAN

Technically, Belém is not a neighborhood of Lisbon. It was once a separate locality but the growth of the capital eventually absorbed this area, which is home to some of the best known monuments of the city and the whole country.

On the third and last day in Lisbon we will get to know this area in depth and visit the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower, two of the most important symbols of Lisbon, as well as other monuments and experiences of this historic area.

To get there the best option is to take streetcar number 15 from the center. It takes about 20 minutes. From the Commerce Square we have a stop and also near the same square are the docks from which we can take a boat to go sailing on the Tagus as an alternative.

Book a guided tour of Belem

Jerónimos Monastery

The first and fundamental point to visit in Belém is the impressive Jerónimos Monastery. And I say the first because it is the most visited monument in Lisbon and between the queues and everything there is to see the complex is easy to leave us much of the day. However, all the time we spend there is justified.

The monastery was declared a World Heritage Site thanks to its architectural and artistic value. Its cloister and church were fruits of the golden age of discoveries in Portugal, which is reflected in the magnificence of the place.

It is almost mandatory to get tickets in advance to see the Jerónimos monastery. The entrance fee is 10€ and it is open every day of the week except Mondays.

Taste the Belém Cakes

After the visit to the monastery it is time to taste one of the most recognized traditions of Belém. Its pastries. These pastries of puff pastry and cream were made by the Hieronymite monks and can be tasted all over Lisbon. Although the place par excellence is the original factory located right next to the monastery.

After eating and regaining strength it is almost obligatory to try these pastries with a coffee if we want to live the full Lisbon experience.

Monument to the Discoveries

This spectacular monument. 50 meters high was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator and as a tribute to all the adventurers and discoverers who marked the history of Portugal. It is located on the banks of the Tagus and we only have to cross the wide avenue in front of the monastery to get there.

Belém Tower

Belém Tower| ©Jan Krutisch
Belém Tower| ©Jan Krutisch

The Bélem Tower is one of the symbols of Lisbon. From the monument of the discoveries we only have to follow the Avenida Brasilia westward away from the monastery to get there. It takes 5 minutes to get to the gardens and we will find the tower overlooking the river.

In fact, this small fort juts into the Tagus and, in addition to its defensive role, served as a prison and lighthouse. Its architecture is quite peculiar for this type of construction and you can access the interior to visit the dungeons and its roof overlooking the river. It only costs 6€ to enter. It is not mandatory because the best is seen from the outside, but it is recommended if there is not much queue.

From the edge of the tower there are spectacular views of the river and the 25 April bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe.

Belém Museums

If after seeing these monuments we have time left over and we have been left wanting more Belém offers us the possibility of visiting its many museums. The options we have are: The museum of Carriages, the museum of contemporary art of Berardo, the museum of Electricity, the museum of popular art or the National Museum of Archaeology of Lisbon.

The latter is my recommendation, as it is located in the east wing of the Hieronymites monastery and houses the most important archaeological collection in Portugal. But as you can see the Belém neighborhood has options for all tastes.

The best way to conclude our trip to Lisbon is on the banks of the Tagus in the neighborhood of Belém and watching the sunset. With this postcard you will never forget your visit to Lisbon.