If you are lucky enough to spend 5 days in Lisbon you have the chance to get to know the city in depth. And do it calmly, having plenty of time to see and enjoy its monuments and with the possibility of making excursions to the most interesting places in the surroundings.
You can see all the points of interest in the city center, in the neighborhood of Belém and the northern part. Then you can take the opportunity to visit Sintra and Cascais, two towns near Lisbon with a lot to see and know. I share with you this itinerary designed to make the most of a 5-day trip to Lisbon.
Day 1: Historical center: Alfama, Baixa and Chiado districts
I always recommend to start visiting Lisbon by its historic center. It is home to many of the main monuments as well as the true essence of the capital of Portugal. The center consists of the neighborhoods of Alfama, Baixa and Chiado, plus the upper quarter, which are contiguous and can be traveled without problems in a day seeing them at leisure.
There is a lot to see and do in Alfama. Its steep streets can be traveled by streetcar and represent the essence of the city. The monuments that we can see in Alfama are: St. George's Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, the viewpoints of Portas do Sol and Santa Lucia and National Pantheon.
The most "typical" way to tour Alfama is aboard the streetcar 28, which more than a means of transport has become a tourist attraction.I recommend you also take some time to wander around and discover its corners, its architecture and its gastronomy.
Baixa and Chiado
Under the hill of Alfama you will find these central neighborhoods. They are home to some emblematic streets and the most important squares of the city, Pedro IV Square and Commerce Square. In addition to the Santa Justa elevator that we will have to take to visit the convent do Carmo.
This area is ideal for strolling while admiring its charm, to enjoy its gastronomy in its many restaurants or to shop in the stores of Rua Augusta.
All these neighborhoods can be visited in the first 24 hours without rushing. But you will have to get up early to make the most of your time.
Day 2: Get to know the Belém neighborhood in depth
On the second day of this itinerary we will only get to know one neighborhood. But it is more than enough considering the amount of monuments that are in it. It is the neighborhood of Belem. An area that was once a separate village of Lisbon but that the capital eventually absorbed.
As a result of the time of the discoverers that marked the history of Portugal, many of the buildings that are now emblems of Lisbon and some of the most important in the Country were built in Belém. The main ones are:
I would dare to say that the Jerónimos Monastery is the most important historical place in Lisbon. However, it is the most visited in the capital and is recognized as a World Heritage Site. It achieves all this thanks to an artistic and architectural ensemble headed by its cloister and its church.
Taste the Pasteles de Belém
Among all the things to do in the Belém neighborhood, the most essential is to taste its traditional cakes. They can be tasted all over Lisbon but in Belém is the original factory where they were made by the monks of the order of the Jerónimos in its beginnings, being this the best place to try these sweets.
The most iconic point of Lisbon is this small fort on the Tagus that stands out for its particular architecture rarely seen in similar constructions. The Bélem Tower is located just minutes from the Jeronimos Monastery and can be visited inside and access to its terrace overlooking the Tagus River.
Monument to the Discoveries
Almost all, if not all, of Belém's monuments were built thanks to the profits brought by the conquistadors who departed from the waters of Lisbon for new destinations. As a tribute to all of them and the discoveries they made, a huge monument of more than 50 meters high was built on the banks of the river and known as the Monument to the Discoveries. It is one of the most photographed points of the city.
Day 3: Park of Nations, Park of Eduardo VII and Liberdade Avenue and Tagus river cruise
After seeing the main sights of Lisbon on the third day it's time to rest and take it easy. But that does not mean that there are no more places to visit. In a more relaxed day we can take the opportunity to visit two of the most important and beautiful parks as well as one of the main avenues of Lisbon.
Park of the Nations
Located in the northern part of the city, the Park of Nations wasbuilt to host the universal exhibition that Lisbon hosted in 1998. It is a place with a very modern architecture that is worth contemplating. The oceanarium, the largest aquarium in Europe, and the cable car are the two most recommended activities in the Park of Nations.
Edward VII Park
It is a central city park very popular with locals and tourists thanks to its views of the center and its famous botanical garden. Its gardens are located on a slope and depart from the Marques de Pombal Square connecting with Avenida Liberdade. Its name is not due to any Portuguese king, but to the visit of the British monarch Edward VII in 1902.
This wide avenue is one of the main arteries of Lisbon and connects the squares of the restaurateurs with the Marques de Pombal. Full of stores and beautiful buildings, it is crossed by a boulevard with numerous trees, fountains and statues. A very pleasant and recommended walk to enjoy a part of Lisbon.
Take a cruise on the Tagus
You can also take advantage of this quiet day to take one of the best cruises to get to know Lisbon. You have a wide variety of boat trips, from those that take you by sailboat, also in traditional boat, catamaran or even yacht. Here is a selection of the best ones:
- Traditional boat trip in Lisbon
- Yacht trip in Lisbon
- Private sailboat tour in Lisbon
- Private catamaran tour in Lisbon
- Dolphin Sightseeing Tour in Lisbon
Day 4: Excursion to Sintra
Located about 30 kilometers from Lisbon in the middle of a protected natural park, this village is known for its palaces and gardens. It has been part of Lisbon's World Heritage Site since 1995 and Sintra can be visited from Lisbon by car, bus, train or organized tour. These include transportation to and from the center of Lisbon. Highlights to see in the Sintra resort are:
The Pena Palace
The Da Pena Palace is the first thing you should visit in Sintra. It is its main attraction and one of the most famous tourist attractions in Portugal. It is striking for its colors and its mix of architectural styles. The interior of the palace and the surrounding gardens are also an essential part of the visit. To visit it I leave you this link with all the information about one of the best excursions you can do from Lisbon: visit Sintra.
Quinta da Regaleira
Famous for its initiation well, the Quinta da Regaleira palace hides many secrets related to Freemasonry. Apart from this, its gardens and the palace itself are worth taking the time to get to know it. It is a place worth visiting with a guide.
The National Palace of Sintra
Its two impressive chimneys attract the attention of all visitors to Sintra. They stand out from the rest of the town of Sintra attracting the attention of visitors as it is located in the center of the village and is visible from almost anywhere. The National Palace has the additional recognition of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palace of Monserrate brings together styles as different as Gothic and Arabic architecture. This particular mixture together with its impressive botanical garden make it a must-see in Sintra.
Other points of interest in Sintra
If after visiting these four places you feel like getting to know Sintra, something quite likely, you still have many options. The other palaces and points of the village that are worth visiting are the Castelo dos Mouros, the Convento dos Capuchos or the Chalet and garden of the Countess.
Day 5: Excursion to Cascais and Quartier Alto
On the last day of this 5-day Lisbon itinerary we can make an excursion to the beautiful village of Cascais and end the trip enjoying the atmosphere of the Barrio Alto. Both places are conducive to a more relaxed day focused on enjoying the culture and gastronomy without the need to visit as many monuments as in the previous days.
This beautiful coastal town is located just 30 kilometers from Lisbon. You will see that its streets and houses have a very stately and opulent air and that is because it was once the favorite destination of the Portuguese aristocracy. Something that is faithfully reflected in their villas and palaces.
Today it is a very pleasant town to visit for its varied atmosphere. There is a strong fishing tradition and fishermen offer their catches in the town square while clothing markets are held or there are live fado shows. You can also visit some of the main sights of Cascais, such as the Citadel or the Museum of the Counts of Castro Guimarães.
Although in summer Cascais is more crowded, it is a good destination to spend a day thanks to its beaches. And it is still recommended throughout the year to escape the tourist bustle of Lisbon in its terraces, cafes and restaurants.
Cascais can be visited and enjoyed in a morning and the last hours in Lisbon can be spent in the Alto neighborhood. This central neighborhood is Lisbon's nightlife district par excellence. It coexists an avant-garde and modern atmosphere with the tradition of fado and old squares and buildings.
This plurality is where its charm lies and there is no better way to say goodbye to Lisbon than doing it in its streets. We can dine in one of its restaurants while enjoying a Fado show and then enjoy the nightlife in its many pubs.
If we opt for a more touristy approach in the Alto neighborhood we have the viewpoint of San Pedro de Alcantara, from which you get stunning views of Alfama, the Glória elevator to climb its steep streets or the viewpoint of Santa Catalina and its statue of the mythological sea giant Adamastor.