Planning your 3 days in Lisbon, Portugal Itinerary? Here you will find the perfect guide with where to stay and what to do in Lisbon!
Portugal was a country that I knew very little about. Until I started seeing gorgeous photos of the country on Instagram.
To be perfectly honest, it was the blue tile photos that had me hooked. Of course – blue is my favorite color. And I have noticed my immediate magnetic pull towards anything in that color family.
So needless to say, once I started seeing photos of those beautiful azulejos – I immediately put this country at the top of my bucket list.
Flash forward to April 2022 and we were finally able to have another trans-Atlantic adventure. After over two years of smaller domestic adventures (and most to places I had already been to) – I was ready for some completely new sights.
And let me tell you – those new sights did not disappoint! And those posts on Instagram that I fell in love with years ago were not at all exaggerated or over edited! The tiles really are BRIGHT BLUE!
Are you sold yet? Although I imagine if you are reading this post – you are well on your way to Portugal (or at least it is at the top of your list too!).
So let’s get to this ideal 3 days in Lisbon, Portugal itinerary – shall we?!
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Lisbon, Portugal Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit
- How to Get There and Get Around in Lisbon
- Where to Stay in Lisbon
- Where to Eat in Lisbon
- What to Do in 3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal
- What to Wear
- Our Full Itinerary in a Nutshell
Best Time to Visit
The dates of our visit were April 18-28th. And while rain was in the forecast for every day we were there, we really only had two huge downpours and a couple of hours with sprinkles. The highs for temps for our dates were in the 50’s (fahrenheit) and the lows were in the 40’s.
We were told that is not typical for April and that the week before the weather was sunny and in the 70’s…
All that to say – I would 100% go back to Portugal with the temperatures we had. On top of the cooler temps making exploring by foot in this crazy HILLY city much more comfortable, the crowds were just plain non-existent for us.
Obviously shoulder season in almost all destinations is the time to go to avoid high prices and crowds. But the added bonus of very comfortable walking temperatures had me loving the timing of our visit.
My research helped me discover that February to end of April is the best time to visit this lovely country for all of the above reasons.
Being as I also live in a very temperate climate in San Diego, California, I can personally tell you that the hottest months in my city are September and October.
So be aware that that fact is very likely the same for Portugal as we seem to have very similar climates ;).
How to Get There and Get Around in Lisbon
If you have read any of my previous travel posts (especially my London or France posts), you know we are quite partial to flying either the San Diego to London nonstop or San Diego to Munich nonstop flights that are available to us.
From those two cities, we can always easily navigate to any other city in Europe we are interested in seeing. We do this to avoid too many risks of delayed or cancelled flights which then put any connection at risk.
And for the obvious reason of getting the adventures started as soon as possible!
It also makes for a very easy time zone adjustment when you minimize your number of flights and arrival times.
We arrived into Lisbon around 6pm on day two. Checked in to our hotel, grabbed a quick dinner, and then went right to bed. By the next morning, our jetlag was gone and we were ready to start our exploring ;).
All this to say – flying in to the Lisbon Airport from London was super easy.
Oh- and being as I said there were literally ZERO crowds everywhere – we also had no wait at customs!!
Because our hotel was so perfectly located, the rest of our modes of transportation really were by foot. We rode one tram as it is what you are supposed to do while in Lisbon and used taxis and Uber to/from the airport and train stations that we used for a day trip and when we left Lisbon for Porto.
As I mentioned earlier though, Lisbon is VERY VERY hilly. Seven hills to be exact. So just be prepared for a great workout every day!!
Where to Stay in Lisbon
I could honestly write an entire blog post on how incredible this boutique hotel is. The owners, Miles and Gail, have truly focused on every single tiny detail!
From the flowers on the breakfast tables to the Dyson blow dryer and Smeg refrigerator to the heated bathroom floors in the rooms. None of it went unnoticed by me or my usually not so detail oriented husband!
And Gail’s design choices for her newly opened boutique hotel are honestly some of the best I have ever seen! The hotel used to be a private residence that Gail and her husband decided to transform into an perfectly located boutique hotel.
Definitely gets a “best place to stay in Lisbon” review from my husband and I ;).
Oh – and did I mention it has a pool? So if you do end up in Lisbon in their hotter months, this is one of the few hotels in the area with a pool to escape the heat in!
Other Lodging Options
Clearly I cannot recommend the above property enough, however I figured I would include a list of the other hotels I had researched as well who also have incredible locations for your planning!
Where to Eat in Lisbon
Because I am so not a foodie and am likely one of the pickiest eaters you know, I am just listing the list of restaurants our hotel (Palacio Principe Real) gave us as well as telling you where we actually ate while in Lisbon!
Palacio Principe Real Recommendations
- Tapisco: just up the hill from Palacio Principe Real (PPR) but was always super busy so we never actually got a chance to try this place.
- Cevicheria: the best ceviche in town. Just up the road from PPR and doesn’t accept reservations.
- BouBou’s: traditional Portuguese cuisine with a French/Asian twist 5 min walk from the PPR
- Montemar: fresh fish and sea food with an incredible view over the Tejo river.
- Sr Lisboa: cosy restaurant with very traditional but sophisticated dishes.
- Sr. Vinho: traditional Portuguese food and fado.
- Solar dos Presuntos: traditional restaurant and great Portuguese cuisine.
- Cavalarica Lisboa: a true fine dining experience in a sophisticated setting.
- Cervejaria Ramiro: very informal and simple venue for shellfish lovers (reservations only by email).
Where we ate our very first night in Portugal. As I mentioned above, I am super picky and we know that an Italian restaurant is always a good choice for me ;). We also ate here on our last night in the country ;).
Not going to lie – the ambience of a place is pretty dang important to me (I mean I do blog about how to decorate a home as much as I blog about traveling!). And this place 100% appealed to my visual senses!
Second dinner in town and after A LOT of walking those Lisbon hills! Delicious chips & guac, tacos, and margaritas were the perfect end to our first full day in the city.
Food halls/markets are honestly the best place for my husband and I when we travel. He is not at all picky about his food choices and is willing to try just about anything vs my very limited palate. So we usually do search out food halls when we travel.
And this one was perfect!! The location is right by the riverfront as well as a perfect place for people watching (a favorite thing of mine to do when we travel 😎).
While getting a pastel de nata (custard egg tart) is on every single what to do in Lisbon, Portugal list, eating at the diner behind this famous bakery is not as well known.
Our taxi driver told us about this little known secret that there is a door to the left of the bakery that leads you down a hallway into their small restaurant. He told us this is the way to avoid waiting in line for the baked delicacy and enjoy it in a pleasant cafe.
However – when we arrived around 5pm on a Wednesday in April, the line for the bakery counter had five people in it and the line for the eating establishment had about twenty soooooo – we obviously opted to just get the egg tart at the counter and keep walking ;).
What to Do in 3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal
Our first full day in Lisbon was technically our third vacation day as it takes two days to get to Lisbon from San Diego.
That said, we were ready and raring to go after we woke up on that third morning and had an incredible breakfast at our hotel mentioned above.
Ride Tram 28
Start at the less crowded Campo Ourique which is also where the Prazeres Cemetery is (and is totally worth at least wandering around for a few minutes of your day!).
It takes one full hour to ride Tram 28 from end to end but it was so fun seeing so many different neighborhoods in this beautiful Portuguese city (and while sitting in a comfortable historic tram!).
Upon my research, I found an entire blog post dedicated to riding tram 28 that is worthy of reading!
Visit Castle of Sao Jorge
Buy tickets in advance from the link above to get stunning city views, visit ancient castle ruins, and sign up for a tour if you are interested.
Check out the Monument to the Discoveries
This monument has a stunning view along the Tagus River as well as an observation deck on top. We didn’t see anyone going up (nor did we take the time to do so) but if you have lots of extra time – I imagine the views of the river are quite nice up there ;).
The monument itself celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
You will find it on your way to the Belem Tower which btw – we made the mistake of walking from the Castle of San Jorge to the Belem Tower. DO NOT DO THIS! It is not the most scenic of walks and honestly just took up way too much of our day! The distance is 5 miles with quite a bit of it in industrial parts or busy roads…
Visit the Belem Tower
We opted to not go in the tower as we honestly just needed to sit down for a while and rest our feet after all that walking to get here!
It didn’t really look like that many people were actually going in though and our research showed us that the views were not much different inside than they were outside.
However the history of the tower is detailed inside. It is a UNESCO historic site worthy of a visit as it is an identity symbol of Lisbon and Portugal.
Visit Jeronimos Monastery
Because we made the poor decision to walk from Castle of Sao Jorge, we arrived at the monastery too late to go inside anything but the church.
It is described as a masterpiece of Portuguese architecture and what we did see certainly had us agreeing with this!
Buy tickets online with the link above to avoid lines!
Eat a pastel de nata from Pasteis de Belem
Mentioned above as well under where to eat but this was our second egg tart that we tried in Lisbon
And it was 100% better than the first one we tried closer to the Castle de Sao Jorge earlier in the day…
Flytographer Photo Shoot
If you are an avid follower of my Instagram or this blog, you know that doing a photo shoot with Flytographer is one of my most favorite takeaways from my travels ;).
Ana Lucia was our photographer for our Lisbon photo shoot and as usual – we fell in love with her bubbly and cheerful personality! And obviously also the photos she took of us just made us love her even more!
Enjoy the views from the viewpoints
My personal favorite in Lisbon is the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara because of it’s panoramic view of downtown Lisbon and the St George Castle.
Sunsets here are quite stunning as well with the red tile rooftops glowing…
You can find a list of all the best viewpoints in Lisbon here.
Wander the streets of Alfama and Bairro Alto
Two of the oldest and most scenic neighborhoods to just get lost in in Lisbon are Alfama and Bairro Alto (the latter being where our hotel was located).
One of the biggest reasons why I love traveling in Europe so much is how easy it is to just wander and take photographs of all the old and unique streets and buildings in the continent.
We were easily able to spend an entire day just wandering, taking photos, eating egg tarts, and appreciating the visuals all around us.
Needless to say – our feet were starting to notice this wandering. Especially on the days that we got close to 40,000 steps!!
Visit the Lisbon Cathedral
Another favorite of ours is to stop into the massive and historical churches in all of Europe. My husband and I like to take a few moments to ourselves in each church we enter and pray and reflect on the blessings we have been given as well as for all of our loved ones.
These quiet and sacred places are always on our travel itineraries. Plus more often than not – they are free to enter (or with a suggested donation) and offer a time to rest your feet and take a breather on your adventures!
Especially in a city as hilly as Lisbon!!
Walk the Pink Street
It’s actual name is Rua Nova do Carvalho and it used to be the street with all the brothels and seedy bars i.e. Lisbon’s “Red Light District.”
Then in 2013, city leaders decided to paint the street pink and clean it up. It is now known as a great place to be for nightlife (just not the cheesy kind) in the city ;).
We just did the typical daytime Insta-worthy photo shoot on Pink street as we are not big nightlife lovers when we travel…
And also – just a heads up – the “pink” street has it’s fair share of black dirt on it making it not as bright as some people edit their pink street photos to look 🤪.
Day trip to Sintra
This day deserves an entire blog post all to itself.
But in a nutshell – seeing Pena Palace on Instagram is honestly what put the country on my bucket list.
Well that and the blue tiles in Porto…
And the palace totally lived up to the hype I had given it in my head for almost five years!
Be sure to read my post on how to spend a day in this small Portuguese city including where to buy train and palace tickets.
What to Wear
As I mentioned above – our visit was in the month of April and rain was forecasted for every single day of our vacation.
HOWEVER – it did not rain the majority of our days. We layered our clothing with a short sleeved shirt under a sweater and a light raincoat on top.
But the most important detail to know about visiting Portugal as I have mentioned before is that it is HILLY!! And the sidewalks are made of a material that gets extremely slippery when wet.
So do not wear any type of heeled shoe. In fact – make sure your shoes are very comfortable because your main mode of transportation will truly be walking in this city and the occasional tram ride.
Our Full Itinerary in a Nutshell
I hope you found this post helpful in planning your adventures for the ideal 3 days in Lisbon, Portugal!
Portugal has so much to offer the wanderluster and adventurer. We found the people to be some of the kindest we have come across in our travels. As well as being a country that is extremely kind to the wallet. I.E. – we found nothing to be overpriced and felt there was no place we were taken advantage of just for being a tourist ;).
And again – I finally got to see in person that colorful palace in Sintra and those blue tiles in Porto which I had been saving in Instagram folders and Pinterest boards for years!!
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Life is short, the world is wide.
I want to make some memories.
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Have a wonderful day my friend! I hope something makes you smile today ;).