Day 1 – Lisbon
Good morning from the charming streets of Lisbon. Start your day early, as the streets will get too busy by 8:30 AM when most tours start. All the things to do in Lisbon on the first day can be easily seen on foot.
1. Santa Justa Lift
The Santa Justa Lift is the 45-meter high famous elevator of Lisbon built to connect two neighborhoods. When it opened in 1902 it saved Lisbon’s residents a tough climb uphill.
Nowadays, the elevator and observation deck on top are one of the must-sees in Lisbon which opens at 7 AM.
Fun fact: The design was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
2. Wander through Lisbon’s Main Square
Praca do Comercio is Lisbon’s main square and formerly used to unload goods directly from the river. Opposite the river is the “Door to Lisbon” – Arco da Rua Augusta, the huge arch leads to the shopping boulevard and absolute center of Lisbon. It is a 5-minute walk from the Santa Justa elevator.
3. Pink Street
Make your way to Lisbon’s former Red Light District that now is one of the nightlife areas of the city. New cafes, bars, and a pink street were introduced in 2011 to give this area a new life. It has become one of the more popular things to do in Lisbon so an early visit for an empty pink street would be required.
4. Tram 28 to Alfama – must-do in Lisbon!
Walk back to this nearby tram stop for a ride on the classic tram 28 route. These yellow trams, dating back from 1930, rolling up the hilly streets is what Lisbon’s charm so much. A single ticket to the tram costs 3 EUR. (~ 3.5 USD)
5. Alfama – Best of Lisbon
A small labyrinth of cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and some of the best architecture in the city. To most people, this is the most beautiful part of the city, where the old trams are rolling through the narrow streets.
Around 5 PM, stroll through Alfama’s colorful and hilly streets for some soft sun tones shining through the streets. Visit Sé Catedral as it is the oldest, impressive, and most important church of Lisbon. Your list of things to do in Lisbon isn’t complete without Alfama on it.
6. Sunset at a viewpoint
Lisbon, and especially Alfama has many ‘Miradours’ (viewpoints). Two locations close to each other are Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. At the garden of Santa Luzia, note the beautiful blue tiles on the wall.
Day 2 – Sintra
A short train ride west from Lisbon is the UNESCO Cultural Landscape Sintra; a forested hill area accompanied with palaces in pastel colors, Moorish-style architecture, and detailed tile work.
7. Visit Sintra – Favorite thing to do on a Lisbon city trip
The villas and palaces at Sintra open their doors at 9:30 AM, and, especially in summer, Pena Palace gets crowded fast. Get on the train to Sintra at Rossio station in the morning, ideally at 7:40 AM, so you will be at the doors of Pena Palace when it opens.
Plan to spend the afternoon visiting Pena Palace on the hilltop, Monserrate Palace, Quinta da Regaleira with the mind-blowing inverted towers, and the medieval Moorish castle and their lush gardens and parks. Learn how to visit Sintra, the entrance prices, and the best places to see.
8. Castelo de S. Jorge – Best Sunset of Lisbon
In the afternoon, make your way back to Lisbon for a memorable sunset at one of the city’s landmarks. Castelo de S. Jorge in the Alfama district is a castle on the city’s highest hill offering a 360-degree view.
It is a 20-minute walk from Rossio station, but on your way there, we highly recommend a relaxing and delicious coffee stop at Copenhagen Coffee Lab & Bakery.
Day 3 – Cascais and Belem
Spend the last day of your city trip with the following things to do in Lisbon.
Walk the narrow cobblestone streets during the peaceful early morning when the weather is still refreshing and the streets are still empty. Cascais is a collection of picturesque little houses decorated with flowers.
10. Cascais Beach
Cascais has a huge advantage over Lisbon: soft-sand beaches! Relax for a few hours at one of the many beaches in Cascais and cool down in the sea. The water on the Atlantic coast is cold, so don’t expect a relaxing swim in the water.
Tip: Get a gelato ice cream at the popular Gelados Santini when walking back to the train station.
11. Belem Tower
On your way back from charming Cascais, get out at Belem station to visit the Belem Tower. The Belem tower is a former defense mechanism and later a prison surrounded by water dating back to 1519.
You can visit the tower on the inside and from the terrace on top. However, a limited number of visitors is allowed, which means that you most likely have to queue. Get your tickets online.
12. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The Jerónimos Monastery is an architectural masterpiece that was once a place for sailors to pray before they set out on the seas. Followed by a visit to the world-famous Pasteis de Belem shop to taste custard tarts, of which only a few people know the original recipe.
13. LX Factory
LX Factory is a trendy market hidden under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. This creative industrial mini-town on an old factory site is a great place to get food, drinks, or get a book at the coolest bookstore in Lisbon. From Belem, hop onto tram 15 towards Calvário to get to LX Factory.
14. Time Out Market
Ready for dinner? The Time Out Market offers a great selection of food and drinks that will be prepared inside the market.
Just before sunset, walk out of the market towards the pier for the last sunset of your Lisbon city trip. People are enjoying their drinks and having fun together at the riverside.
Where to Stay
Lisbon’s best neighborhoods to stay in are the charming old town: Barrio Alto and Alfama, or in the center at Baixa and Chiado. Lisbon is also a haven for backpackers, and there are plenty of great hostels to choose from. Please note: the old town is hilly but also quieter throughout the entire day.
How Much Does Lisbon Cost?
Lisbon is generally considered an affordable destination in Europe. Accommodations range from budget-friendly hostels to beautiful guesthouses and luxurious stays. Costs often depend on your choices for food, transport, and activities.
How to Visit Lisbon
Lisbon has direct flights and Flix bus connections from all over Europe. The subway connects the airport to the city center with a short 25-minute subway ride.
By foot – Although Lisbon is hilly, this is the only way to see the streets that charm this city. Taking public transport uphill and walking downhill is a good approach.
Public transport – The bus, metro, and train are all over the city – Get a reusable paper VivaViagem card at a station, top-up your card for every trip, and use it throughout the entire city.
Taxi – Taxis are a fine choice in Lisbon – services like Taxify and Uber are very convenient as well; however, public transport is cheaper if you are with three people or less.
Scooter – Download one of the electric scooter apps like Lime, Tier, or Wind, and cover distance quickly and easily! Please note that you have to be 18 or older.
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
The best time to visit Lisbon is between March and May or September and mid-November when temperatures are cooler and less crowded. This makes it much easier to do all the things to do in Lisbon.
During the high season months, July and August, accommodation prices are much higher, and the streets are busier.