3 Days in Lisbon

3 Days in Lisbon

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

While ideally, you would have an unlimited amount of time to tour the coastal city of Lisbon, Portugal, sometimes there just aren’t enough days in the year. Make the most of your trip to the city of seven hills by maximizing what you see each day. From the fantastic food to the towering castles, the possibilities are endless when discovering the capital perched on the lovely Iberian Peninsula. 


Praça do Comércio at night | Photo by Frederic Prochasson

Day 1

Start your adventure at Praça do Comércio, the most iconic square in the city. It’s a great location to start exploring, with access to Cais das Colunas and the Lisbon Story Centre. On the north side of the square stands the Rua Augusta Arch. Climb to the top for fantastic views of the area. Walk down Rua Augusta for cafes, shops and street performers. While this is a great place to take a stroll, avoid the restaurants here as they are mostly tourist traps. More authentic food can be found elsewhere in the city. 

For fantastic food, head to Time Out Market. With a whopping 24 restaurants, eight bars, 12 shops and a high-end music venue, you’ll find some of the best food in Lisbon here. You’ll also find market vendors selling meat, fish, fruit and flowers, among other things. 

Next head to Chiado, a traditional shopping area and theatre district. Continue shopping on Rua do Carmo and make your way to the baixa (downtown) where you’ll see stunning Art Deco and Modernist style architecture. 

If you have extra time, head to the beach. In just 30 minutes by train, you will arrive at Praia de Carcavelos. This sandy beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun or splash in the sea. This is a great way to relax after exploring the city. 


Torre de Belém | Photo by Sean Pavone

Day 2 

For more shopping at the finest international designer shops, head to Avenida da Liberdade. You’ll also find several examples of 19th-century Portuguese architecture and two central plazas with water fountains. Stop at a kiosk bar that features street food, music and other entertainment. The perfect mix between a gazebo and a food stall, these kiosks are the perfect place for a break. 

If you’re looking for some food that isn’t Portuguese, Martim Moniz and Intendente is the spot for you. This is the international area for food and shops. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Vietnamese and Nepalese restaurants and shops are just waiting for you to find your new favorite food. 

After you’ve enjoyed some international cuisine, go to São Jorge Castle. The castle is a symbol of the city and built by the Visigoths during the fifth century. Here you’ll find 11 towers to explore, as well as a museum, bar and restaurant. 

Next up is another famous monument in Lisbon, the Torre de Belém. This fort was built to protect the Tejo Estuary since the 16th century. It features Arabic style watchtowers, battlements with the “Cross of Christ” and a carving of a rhinoceros.  

From there head to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This monastery is built in the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture, and together with the Tower of Belém, is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction on the monastery began in 1501 and wasn’t completed for 100 years. 

For a fantastic dessert break, visit Pastéis de Belém. Here you will get the best pasteis de nata in the city. These are custard tarts which are traditionally sprinkled with cinnamon. A must-try when visiting! 


Pena Palace in Sintra | Photo by Taiga

Day 3 

Take a day trip to the magical town of Sintra on your third day. It’s located only 40 minutes outside of the city by train. From the Rossio Station in Lisbon’s Baixa, take the train to Sintra Station. There are no reserved seats on this train and four trains run per hour. Once there, hop on bus 434 to get to Pena National Palace and the Moorish Castle, which are both located up a steep hill. Bus tickets can be purchased on board. 

Portuguese royalty once called Sintra home, and it is now one of the most picturesque spots in the country. Start at Pena Palace, a brightly colored, Romantic, Moorish and Manueline-style structure that is nothing short of astounding. Make sure you tour the inside to see the lavishly decorated rooms, including both a king and queen’s room. 

Next up is the Castle of the Moors. Though the castle is in ruins, it was restored in the 19th century and makes a beautifully romantic location to visit. It was originally established in the 9th century when the North African Moors were guarding the town. The Christian conquest of Portugal in 1147 was the last time it was fully operating.

You’re not done with castles yet! Finally, visit Quinta da Regaleira via bus 435. This 20th century residence features five floors with a Gothic facade, gargoyles and all! Outside you’ll find enchanting gardens with a strangely beautiful initiation well, lakes, grottoes and fountains. There is also a Roman Catholic chapel next to the residence. 


Bifana - Thinly sliced pork on a bun | Photo by rfranca

Food to try

Bifana – thinly sliced pork on a bun. The pork has a unique taste as it is cooked in white wine and seasoned with garlic and spices.

Caldo verde – soup that looks like a green broth and is normally made with potatoes, collard greens, olive oil, salt, garlic and onion.

Azeitão -  cheese originating from the town of Azeitão. Try it with bread as an appetizer or snack. Add jam to make it dessert. 

Vinho verde- a sparkling, light and fresh new wine, often translated to “green wine.” It is low in alcohol content and is like a spritzer. 

Getting around

While in Lisbon, pick up a Lisboa card. This travel card allows you to take unlimited public transportation and get into various landmarks and monuments. You can get it for 24, 48 or 72 hours and it is activated the first time you use it. 

From its numerous castles to amazing food, the excessive shopping options and magical squares, get lost exploring Lisbon. Stop in a café and people watch while contemplating over your next destination. Whatever you decide to do in Lisbon, don’t be afraid to explore and even venture outside the city!

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