3 days in Lisbon – How to Spend the Perfect Long Weekend

Planning a trip to Lisbon, Portugal? Here is an itinerary for a 3 days trip to Lisbon with things to do and see in the Portuguese capial.

Ahh Lisbon! Overlooked for years, the Portuguese capital is now topping the list of places to visit. Last year, I visited Lisbon for the second time, first time being 10 years ago. I loved it so much that I wanted to take my parents there so I organised this 3 day trip to Lisbon. I was a little apprehensive since Lisbon is now in the top ranks of the European cities to visit, I was worried that the atmosphere would change. However, the city has managed to keep its authenticity and charm.

Lisbon is a historic town, actually one of the oldest cities in Europe, with an alluring charm. Multucultural and incredibly laid-back, the city is overflowing with characteristics that add up to its charm: colourful trams, tuk-tuks, narrow cobblestone streets and buildings decorated with azulejos.

Check out my travel tips for where to go and things to do on a 3 days trip to Lisbon.

3 Days in Lisbon – Must Do Things

Day 1 – Explore the city centre (Baixa, Rossio & Bairro Alto)

If you are in an early flight to Lisbon like us, you will have plenty of time in the afternoon for some exploration. After checking in, we set off to Baixa, the heart of Lisbon. This district is where you will find the shopping streets, the beautiful squares like Praça do Comércio, Praça dos Restauradores and the famous Santa Justa Lift.

Praça do Comércio particularly is a must. Impressive yellow buildings surrouds the huge square on the banks of the Tagus. Entry is by an arch similar to Paris’ Arch of Triumph.

Admire Lisbon’s street art scene

I love seeing street art and couldn’t resist looking for them. But I didn’t have to look for long because street art is everywhere in Lisbon. You just have to look around in the streets to see amazing works. Explore the alleys of Bairro Alto, Chiado, LX Factory or Alfama to see the magnificent frescoes on the old buildings. For more, check out my other articles about street art.

Eat delicious food

Like many Southern European countries, food takes importance in people’s daily life. With that said, even when staying only 3 days in Lisbon, you should try to enjoy the countries specialties. Portuguese diet includes lots of fish like sardines and cod (bacalhau). Avoid the tourist restaurants near Praça do Comércio for side streets like Rua dos Bacalhoeiros.

Day 2 – Discover the old Lisbon (Alfama & trams)

The following day, after a copious breakfast my father and I set off to discover the picturesque Alfama. This district with steep and narrow streets on every first timer’s to Lisbon itinerary.

Board the legendary tram 28

When you look at pictures of Lisbon, chances are that you will come across a picture of a tram. That is because the little yellow tram is loved by both locals and especially tourists.  Start your second day by taking the tram 28 to discover the beautiful sights of Lisbon. The whole 45 minutes tour is guaranteed to be an interesting ride. I have to say that it was so crowded that I wished I was smaller (I am 5 ft 2!)

Wander in the cobblestones streets of Alfama

After getting off the tram, we explored the Castelo de Sao Jorge and the surrounding area. The thing I loved the most in Alfama was exploring the little narrow streets and going up and downs the alleyways. Every street corners had a unique vibe to them: the little quirky cafe, the fado cafe, street art etc…

Enjoy sunset viewing from a “miradouro”

Since Lisbon is set on hills, the city has several viewpoints where you can enjoy the views of the town. Some of the best “miradouros” are Santa Lucia which offers a nice ocean view and  Sophia de Mello and Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte offering both incredible views of the city, Sao Jorge castle and 25 de Abril bridge.

Day 3 – Explore Belém

Belém is known for its monuments, including the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. Located at the end of the estuary of the Tagus, its quays where the navigators departed for their explorations in the 15th to the 17th century.

Jeronimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery

Belém is a beautiful district with lots of nice looking buildings. One of them is the Jeronimos Monastery. It took more than 100 years to build the monastery and by looking at the intricate architecture, it is no wonder the monument is one of the most visited in Lisbon. After visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site and taking a rest in the nearby garden, you can head over to the other designated UNESCO site, the Belém Tower.

Tower of Belém

If you have to see any monuments during your 3 day trip to Lisbon, then, Belém Tower should be on your list. It is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the monument symbol of the Age of Discoveries along with the Monument of Discoveries. This tower used to be the departing point for ships during the expedition period. Now it is one of the best most visited attraction in the area. It offers a nice viewing point too with views over the ocean and the city. 

Taste the famous Pasteis de Nata

Pasteis de Nata are Portugal most famous patisserie. They originated from Belém so it would be a shame to leave the town without trying them at 
Pastéis de Belém. These delicious egg custard tarts are everywhere so you should to try as many other pastelarias as possible (well as much as you can eat on a 3-day trip!) like Manteigaria, local cafes and your hotel restaurant. Taste each one and decide for yourself which is the best.

Preparing your trip

Getting there

Lisbon airport is very close to the city centre, therefore, travelling from the airport to the city is very simple. Aerobus offers two routes to the city centre for €5.40 return. You can also get taxis but for a cheaper option, I would recommend Uber!

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Getting around

In Lisbon, you can travel by metro, bus, tram,funicular, train, boat and taxi. However, the best way to explore Lisbon is by walking. If you are planning to use public transport then the reusable cards ViaViagema and 7 Colinas are your best bet. The 24H day pass costs €6.40.

Since I was visiting Lisbon with my parents, we took the Yellow Bus. It was very convenient and took us all the way to Belém. We’ve seen tourists using Tuk-tuks a lot but we found their prices a little exorbitant.

Apart from the tourist bus and the tram 28, we spent our 3 days in Lisbon walking. It was by far the best way to discover and admire the buildings covered in azulejos. It is important to note that you have to wear flat and non slippery shoes. The pavements are made of mosaics and are very slippery (with or without any drops of rain)

When to visit and how long to spend

Lisbon is small and is easily be explored within 3 days. So, it makes it a great choice for a weekend city break. Spring is usually a great time to travel because, the good weather makes sightseeing more enjoyable. Having said that, I think anytime from late March to October will be good too.

Staying there

Travelling with my parents, I wanted to make sure that we were in a central location where they could venture on their own. I wanted for them to discover the historic centre without the need for public transport or Uber.

Altis Grand Hotel was an ideal choice. Located on a quiet street just off Avenida da Liberdade, the recently renovated hotel offers great views over Lisbon and spa. There is a rooftop bar where you can watch the sunset and the city skyline. Rooms from £90 per night.

For more accommodation options in Lisbon, check out Booking.com

Useful resources for visiting Porugal

Have you ever been to Lisbon? Did I miss anything 3 days in Lisbon guide? Let me know in the comments below.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

20 thoughts on “3 days in Lisbon – How to Spend the Perfect Long Weekend

  1. I loved your guide! You’re spot on with the LX Factory and all of the fun stuff to do around Belem! The only other thing I would have added is the Time Out Lisbon market. Great post!

    1. Thanks, for the suggestions. I really wanted to go there since I love going to food markets. I will add your suggestion!

  2. I tried one of those Pasteis de Nata when I was in Lisbon last month – they are seriously delicious!! Didn´t have time to explore old Lisbon and Belem then unfortunately, but it sounds lovely. I like you pictures of street art and the optical illusions! But most of all I loved that this was a father-daughter trip! Love those! <3

  3. On my first trip to Lisbon YEARS ago, there pretty much wasn’t anything written about things to do in Lisbon, so I ended up having a rather lame trip. I wish I had this guide to help me along. I guess this is for next time then! 🙂

  4. Mayi, this is blooming gorgeous. I could have guessed that I’d love the tiles in Lisbon (I mean, I loooved the tiles in Porto) but all of that architecture is stunning.

    This also made me really want to eat a Pasteis de Nata!! That is a tasty looking gif!

    1. Thanks Josy! Eating the pasteis were the best part of my trip 🙂 One thing is sure, I came back from my trip with a few more kilos!

      1. Oh no! lol

        I normally find I can eat more on holiday without gaining weight, as we end up walking soooo much to explore new cities/areas!!

        Still, it’s okay to add some kilos when it’s in the name of pasteis!!

      2. I think it’s because I knew I would be walking a lot, so I went a little overboard with the eating 😉 Like you said it was worth it!

  5. Portugal’s been on my mind for a while now, and I definitely want to stop in Lisbon for a few days. I totally love the architecture and picturesque streets that you can get lost in! And Pasteis de Nata! My kind of pastry 🙂

  6. I’ve always thought the silhouette of the Belem Tower was so beautiful. I would love to visit in person and learn more about its history and preservation.

  7. That’s a great guide to Lisbon. I went over 10 years ago and forgot a lot and I didn’t have an egg tart, so basically it was a total bust and I need to go back! Love how trippy some of those floor tiles are, it’s such a colourful and artsy city!

  8. I’ll be in Portugal this summer, so this is a super helpful guide. I can’t believe I’ve never seen the Tower of Belem or those beautiful mosaics before!

  9. I’ve always wanted to visit Lisbon and hope to do so this year so will deffo be coming back to your awesome guide. Those Pasteis de Nata look super tasty and I love your shot of the classic yellow tram.

  10. What a beautiful city, I think I’d need more than 3 days to photograph those beautiful tiles and buildings!! What a detailed itinerary, definitely saving this for the future.

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