my 3 day Lisbon itinerary and experience
Day 1: Arrival
Check-in to Airbnb in the Graca district of Lisbon. Graca is one of the oldest suburbs of Lisbon, located on top of the hill with great views of the city. Our Airbnb was just a few blocks and up the hill from São Vincente de Fora Monastery.
Explore the area and viewpoints of the red/orange rooftops (terracotta rooftops).
Visit the Terracotta Rooftop views, they are so amazing I wrote an entire blog post about them. Visit here to read the blog and view more pictures.
Take a walk through Feira da Ladra - The famous flea market called "Thieves Market" because of the pick pockets. We only briefly walked in and out of the market as it was closing for the day by the time we got to it. The market is open from 7am to 6pm.
Visit Praça do Comércio - This is a market square near the Tagus (Tejo) River. From here you will have views of the Tajo river, the Ponte 25 de Abril (the bridge that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) and the Cristo Rei (Jesus Statue similar like the one in Rio de Janeiro). My friend and I had an interesting experience walking to, around, and from this square back to our Airbnb, you can read about it here.
Day 2: Bakeries and must see attractions
Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) - “An iconic monument located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River in Lisbon. The structure is dedicated to the adventurers and explores who helped establish Portugal as a 14th century superpower. The original Padrao dos Descobrimentos was constructed from wood and was the central piece for the 1940 world fair.” The entrance fee and elevator ride to the top are very cheap (around 3-4 Euro per adult at the time we went) and the line moves fairly quick, so don’t skip out on this one, unless you’re afraid of heights! Take note this attraction is closed on Mondays.
Views from the top…
Torre de Belem (Belem Tower) - “A small fort that was constructed in the center of the Tejo Estuary to guard Lisbon from seafaring raiders. For such a trivial role the fort was lavished with beautiful and intricate details that include North African Moorish styled watchtowers, shield shaped battlements and the first European stone carving of a Rhinoceros.” We did not tour the inside, but the cost is also low, about 6 Euro.
Visit the Monastery of Jeronimos - To walk into the chapel is no charge, just a quickly moving line to wait in.
Taste Pastel De Nata - The most famous pastry shop for Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tart pastry) is also located in Belem, called Pasteis de Belem. But the lines are suppose to be really long, so we tried the pastry in other pastry shops, which there are many. Another dessert that I had was the chocolate salami (also called “chocolate log”). I always thought this was a Ukrainian/Russian dessert, but apparently it originates from Portugal.
Lisbon has no shortage of bakeries and pastry shops on every corner, so you won’t miss out if you skip out on going to Pasteis de Belem.
Speaking of Portuguese food, Bacalhau a Bras is one of their traditional dishes. It was my first meal in Portugal and I was not disappointed!
Explore the Alfama District - This is a popular and colorful district and is also the old part of Lisbon. If you explore this area by foot you’ll pass cute little shops, bakeries, cafes and restaurants. You can also take the famous tram line 28 just for fun or as a ride to Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George’s Castle).
Visit Castelo de Sao Jorge - Moorish Castle sitting top a hilltop overlooking the city of Lisbon and Tagus River. Viewpoint is free, but to tour the castle with a tour guide it cost us about 7 Euro. We caught the last tour of the day and had a good sunset view of the city. I really enjoyed the tour and learning about the history of Lisbon and the castle.
Day 3: Day trip to Sintra
We started our 3rd day early, took a taxi/Uber to the train station, and caught a train into Sintra from Lisbon. I found the taxi/Uber to be an easy and affordable way to get around Lisbon without a car rental. I will be writing a separate post detailing our day in Sintra.
After arriving in Sintra we got on a bus to Pena Palace. We realized that for a few extra Euros it would have been worth taking a tuk tuk up to Pena and back down. The cheapest way is buying an all-day hop-on hop-off bus ticket, which is what we did, but this is also the most time consuming.
From Pena we walked down to Moor’s Castle.
From Moor’s we got back on a bus to get back down the hill to the town. After grabbing something to eat we continued to Quinta Regaleira - also a palace with a garden, underground tunnels, and wells.
We ended the evening in Sintra eating tapas and listening to live guitar and singing.
We took the train back to Lisbon and took a taxi/Uber back to our Airbnb to avoid any late-night walks. Also, we were so exhausted from doing so much in one day! If I would do it again, I would spend two days in Sintra and spend the night there. There is a lot more to see and explore than we were able. But we had a flight to catch to Barcelona in the morning :)