The Best of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal is known to have one of the best vibes of any city in Europe. It is easy to get around on foot or by tram, even though Lisbon is built on seven hills. So, while the walking can get tough uphill, the views are amazing.
Lisbon is a travel destination perfect for a short stay vacation and spending 3 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 are planning to see more of Portugal, we can recommend Porto and Tavira.
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
2. 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.
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.
5. Augusta Pedestrian Street
As you approach the Arco da Rua August to the River Tagus promenade, you will find the entrance to the Arco da Rua August 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.
6. Arco da Rua August
This arch was built to commemorate the destruction of Lisbon’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake with a statue of King Jose I on horseback.
7. Praca do Comercio
The Praca do Comercio is a national monument of Portugal, built on the site of the Royal Ribeira Palace, destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.
Praca do Comercio makes a perfect place to enjoy dinner and a sunset.
8. River Tagus Promenade
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 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
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 order 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, and so conversations started as to where our group was from, and more wine flowed.
The ladies helped the owner with our dessert order, with the owner now offering 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 with friendships made, and the owner only charged us €10 each. Amazing.
Unfortunately, Maura experienced her first-ever hang over and didn’t emerge until 2 pm the following day. But it was a great first day in Lisbon.
9. Castello de Sao Jorge
With the sun shining and a city still to explore, we walked up to Castello de Sao Jorge. On the way up steps and along narrow streets, we passed by lots of street art.
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
11. 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 and has survived many earthquakes, so the cathedral is now a mix of different architectural styles.
12. 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
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)
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 and 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.
Visiting the 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, so cute.
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?
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
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.
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 High Cross (Alta Cruz), which reminded us of the Cristo Rio de Janerio statue.
Along the waterfront is The Monument of Discovery was in scaffolding (Google pic without scaffold) depicting the seafaring adventures of this explorative nation.
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.
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 Walkli.com 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.