Best Things to See in Lisbon in Three Days

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Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is known to have one of the best vibes of any city in Europe. Even though Lisbon is built on seven hills, it is easy to get around on foot or by tram. So, while the walking can get tough uphill, the views are amazing.

A view over a city to a monastery
The views from the many viewpoints (miradours) are spectacular

Lisbon is a travel destination perfect for a short stay vacation, and spending three days in Lisbon is ideal for a first-time visit. With so many things to do in the city as well as day trips from Lisbon, staying longer is always ideal.

If you plan to see more of Portugal, we recommend Porto and Tavira.

How to Enjoy a Tavira Short Break

Three Days in Porto without Damaging the Budget

How to Get to Lisbon

International Flights to Lisbon

Flights arrive at Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) in the Portela area. The airport is about 7-9km from the financial centre of the city taking 15-30minutes depending on traffic and what transfer you choose.

Metro – direct from the airport to Lisbon centre

Bus – direct from the airport to Lisbon centre. Check route for stops close to your hotel or Airbnb

Taxi/Uber – ideal if you have large bags or if you book a mini-van taxi/uber

For more information, we suggest you check the Lisbon Airport Transport here.


Fast Train from Porto

We have to admit we do prefer train travel than a flight. There is less time wasted waiting and travelling between destinations.

The fast train from Porto (Alfa Pendular) takes 2.5 hours reaching speeds at 230km per hour arriving into Santa Apolonia train station. The train is comfortable and clean. It makes a great way to see the countryside, seeing the olive and citrus groves  along the way.


  • Book your train travel in advance and online to secure cheaper tickets
  • Get a Taxi or Uber to your hotel or Airbnb if you have bags


Where to Stay in Lisbon

Finding mid-range accommodation in Lisbon can be a challenge, even when visiting in the shoulder season due to the cost.

We chose an Airbnb one bedroom apartment on Rua Carmo so we were close to the main centre of the city.


Best Things to See in Lisbon in Three Days

With Miradouro’s (viewpoints) around the city, fabulous foods to try and bars to frequent means there is always plenty of things to do in Lisbon. With beaches nearby to soak up the sun and wonderful castles only an hour away by train, are some of the reasons why Lisbon is a must-see destination.

1. Guarda Museum – Free entry

A soldier standing guard outside a building
Guarding the Guarda Museum, Lisbon

2. Ride the Tram to Barrio Alto

A colorful tram on a steep track
Ride the Tram to Barrio Alto

3. Barrio Alto (Miradouro)

The Barrio Alto viewpoint has spectacular views from the city to the river. With a bar nearby and trees for shade, it was easy to see while people were chilling here with a drink and a fabulous view to enjoy.

Around this area, you will also find some stunning architecture and of course, a chance to admire the Bougainvillaea and Hibiscus flowers.

A view across a city to a hill with a fortress
Barrio Alto viewpoint (Miradouro), Lisbon
Bougainvillea on a fence in front of an impressive building
Architecture to be admired in Lisbon, Portugal

4. Miradouro de St. Justa

Miradouro de St. Justa is an elevated steel platform with great views accessible from up near our apartment on Rua Carmo. The alternative is to take the stairs or the lift from the Square below.

A tall viewing platform at the end of a busy city street
Miradouro de St. Justa
Looking across a valley within a city
View from the Miradouro de St. Justa

5. Augusta Pedestrian Street

A busy pedestrian street with a huge arch at the end
Augusta Pedestrian Street for cafes, restaurants and shopping

As you approach the Arco da Rua August to the River Tagus promenade, you will find the Arco da Rua August entrance on your left. Make sure to pay the €2.50 for the lift to the top of the statue. The views are amazing, and the place to watch the sunset.

Looking down into a large plaza
The view from the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta down to the Praça do Comércio

6. Arco da Rua Augusta

A large triumphal arch
Arco da Rua Augusta

This arch was built to commemorate the destruction of Lisbon’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake.

7. Praca do Comercio

A large open plaze with a huge arch in the background
The Praça do Comércio with the Arco da Rua Augusta

The Praca do Comercio is a waterside public plaza with a massive arch and statue of King Jose I. It is lined with outdoor cafes and shopping venues. The plaza was built on the site of the Royal Ribeira Palace, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.

Praca do Comercio makes a perfect place to enjoy dinner and a sunset.

8. River Tagus Promenade

River Tagus at sunset in Lisbon. The Sanctuary of Christ the King statue on the far bank

The vibrancy here at the River Tagus was awesome. Find a place to sit and enjoy the music while watching the sunset.

Where to eat in Lisbon

We loved the small Praca (squares) around the city, which were full of people enjoying lunch or a drink. It’s what makes Lisbon a great place to visit.

When looking for places to eat, we tend to avoid the main tourist areas to find the smaller Praca. And this is why we can find lunch for €7.50 each, including a beer and coffee.


A Great Night Out at Super Mario

A rundown looking building housing a restaurant
Super Mario, Lisbon. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but a great night can be had inside

We were meeting Kasia and Radek from our time in Porto at a local restaurant called Super Mario on the recommendation of their walking tour guide. You order food and drinks, and then the owner tells you the price to pay!  We thought we would try it and see.

We all ordered local meals with wine and were enjoying the evening sitting between two groups, men on one side watching the local Lisbon football match and, on the other side, six lovely ladies celebrating a birthday.

Terry engaged with the ladies, explaining they should be sitting where our group was so that they could chat with the football fans. So, conversations started as to where our group was from, and more wine flowed.

The ladies helped the owner with our dessert order, and the owner offered us almond liquor. It was so good, especially with the squeeze of lemon.

Dessert devoured, the owner now appeared with a cherry liqueur just as potent.

Chatter was now happening, and the men at the table next to Maura were invited to join the ladies, but the football match was still more important.

It was a great night, and friendships were made, and the owner only charged us €10 each. Amazing.

A group of ladies in a restaurant
Maura, Kasia, and six lovely ladies at Super Mario, Lisbon

Unfortunately, Maura experienced her first-ever hangover and didn’t emerge until 2 pm the following day. But it was a great first day in Lisbon.

9. Castello de Sao Jorge

A large fortress on a hill
Castello de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

With the sun shining and a city still to explore, we walked up to Castello de Sao Jorge. We passed by lots of street art on the way up steps and along narrow streets.

We arrived at the castle, to find a local event just finishing with food, wine and Fado singing. Taking a break, we sat, watched and listened for a while.

10. Street Art in Lisbon

As you wander the streets of Lisbon, look up, down and to the sides and you will see lots of examples of wonderful street art.

An example of street art depicting a sailing ship with large bird wings
There is a lot of Street Art in Lisbon

11. Lisbon Cathedral

A large church with a yellow tram in front
Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon Cathedral

Next, we walked down to the Lisbon Cathedral, busy with many tourists as the local Tram 28 passed by this way.

Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest church in the city. Built in 1147, it has survived many earthquakes, so the cathedral is now a mix of different architectural styles.


12. Tram 28 in Lisbon

An old yellow tram with Number 28 showing
The famous tram 28 in Lisbon

Anywhere else in the world, Tram 28 would probably be “retired”, but unlike modern trams, Tram 28 is able to navigate the corners on hilly terrain.


13. Das Portas do Sol Miradouro

A large white monastery sitting on a hill above houses
Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora, Lisbon

Make sure you stop at a local cafe or bar to take in the fantastic views of the harbour, the National Pantheon and the Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora.

This monastery is well worth a visit as you can visit the resting place of the Braganza Monarchs of Portugal in the Royal Pantheon.


14. Rossio Square (Dom Pedro IV Square)

Looking down on a large plaza with a tall column in the centre
Dom Pedro IV Square, Lisbon

Here at Dom Pedro IV square, Maura was approached for the first time if she wanted marijuana. Due to last night’s drinking, she looked like she needed it!

15. Experience Fado

We met up with Kasia and Radek at Mario’s for an early dinner with much less alcohol. The night still early, we all wandered to another bar for a drink, where we listened to Fado and contemporary singing.

The night was a little cooler, and with a planned day to Sintra tomorrow morning, we said our goodbyes for the evening.

Sintra Day Trip from Lisbon

An early start today, to meet Rod and Kasia at the Rossio Train Station at 9 am to take the 40min train from Lisbon to Sintra, home of palaces and castles.

Arriving in Sintra and all of us feeling energetic, we walked up from the train station to the National Palace. The artwork along the way is impressive and, at times, interactive with us.

Today’s weather was meant to be 21 degrees Celsius, but somebody got that wrong.

It was a lot colder with a low cloud clinging to the hills.

Walking, walking, walking, up, up, to The Palace of Pena. And what’s this? A bonus of finding the house where Hans Christian Andersen stayed with his friends. If we had taken Bus 434 for €5 we would have missed this.

A pink house next to a road on a hill
Hans Christian Andersen home in Sintra
Four people posing in a rest stop
The four Amigos having fun in Sintra

Visiting the Palace of Pena, Sintra

A multi-colored palace
Palace of Pena, Sintra

Finally, we made it to The Palace of Pena and entered for a cost of €14 each, allowing access to the Palace and its interior rooms, the Terrace, plus the Park Gardens.

The Palace of Pena was originally a Hieronymite Monastery dating back to 1503. The monastery was later purchased by King Fernando II, who created the park, and with his two wives, added to the Palace in the 19th century.

The tiled exterior, painted surfaces, the many terraces, the chapel, and the interior rooms indicate the money spent by the royalty of the day.

Park Gardens of Pena Palace

Down through the Park Gardens to the lakes below (ponds to us Kiwis), we come across a little palace the perfect size for Kasia. It’s so cute.

a small lady near a small palace
Kasia approaching a her-sized palace

Terry with MapsMe guides us down, down, down along some bush pathways with tree ferns (we call them Pungas in New Zealand), Eucalyptus Gum trees and very large boulders. Are we in NZ or Aussie? No, this is Portugal!

Quinta da Regaleri, Sintra

We finally make it to Quinta da Regaleria, the home of the Monteith family. The entrance fee is €8 each to explore these amazing gardens, water features and houses.

Terry had read about the Initiation Well, so this became our primary focus on entering the gardens. Of course, on the way, we stopped to climb towers and take in the views, only to find a cave to explore, Grotto of the East.

Once we entered the Grotto, we found a lighted path to follow, finding ourselves at the base of the Initiation Well. The well is cut 27 metres into the earth and accessible by a spiral stairway. Just amazing.

Initiation Well in Quinta da Regaleria

Looking down into a well with a staircase
Looking down the staircase in the Initiation Well, Quinta da Regaleria

Waterfall Caves

Leaving the Initiation Well, we found a waterfall with an open cave behind. So, once again, we went cave hunting to find the entrance near the base of the pond.

Two ladies on stepping stones beyond a waterfall
Maura and Kasia on the stepping stones beyond the waterfall in Quinta da Regaleira

The next thing to do is to walk the stone steps across the pond.

Qunita da Regaleria Park is unique, with so much to see. The entrance ticket included entrance to the house, chapel, stables and workshops. The work of Luigi Mancini spent 14 years creating this wonderful place.

Time for Lunch

Hungry tummies, it’s now 3 pm, so we stop at a local restaurant on the way down to the old town centre of Sintra. The prices are reasonable and the food tasty, especially the Bacalhau (Portuguese dry and salted Cod) and Francesinha (Portuguese sandwich with bread, wet-cured ham covered with melted cheese) chosen by a couple of us. Yum.

Walking back down to Sintra train station, we could not believe the traffic jam of cars and large buses clogging the roads. We were pleased with ourselves for an early start to see Sintra, missing a load of tourists just arriving.

With the train not for another 40 minutes, time to have a coffee before returning to Lisbon at around 5.30 pm. We said our goodbyes to Kasia and Radek, who celebrated their 1st anniversary at the Praca de Comercio.


Exploring Belem, Lisbon

Take Tram15 from Rua Augusta to the riverside of Belem to view the famous Jeronimo Monastery and Belem Tower.

The 25 de Abril Bridge, built in 1966, reminded us of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Interesting, it is the same colour too.

Across from Belem is the Santuário de Cristo Rei (Sanctuary of Christ the King), which was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Along the waterfront is The Monument of Discovery, which depicts the seafaring adventures of this nation of explorers.

A large monastery with a fountain in the foreground
Jeronimo Monastery, Belem, Lisbon
A stone castle in water at sunset
Belem Tower, Lisbon
A large suspension bridge over a big river
25 de Abril Bridge, over the River Targus, Lisbon
A huge illuminated statue of Christ on a pedestal
Sanctuary of Christ the King, Lisbon

As the cruise ship left for the day, the activity on Belem waterfront was serene.

Along the waterfront is The Monument of Discovery, depicting the seafaring adventures of the Portuguese during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Compass Rose is a map showing the Portuguese routes and is best seen from the top of the Monument.

A large sculpture depicting voyagers
The Monument of Discovery, Belem

We caught a local train back to Praca de Comercio at €2 each, cheaper and quicker than the tram.

Best Things to See in Lisbon over three days has enthralled us with the food and people, its history and the city’s vibrancy. Lisbon is a must-see destination.

We have partnered with to provide walking paths to some of the places we have visited. Click here for a Lisbon walking path ➡ Libson Walking Guide.

Time to pack the bags as we head to Tavira tomorrow by train.