Our Portugal road trip begins in the
capital. This Lisbon 3 day itinerary will take you through the neighbourhoods of
Baixa, Alfama, Príncipe Real, and Belém. Each of them has its character, and
it’s worth taking at least three days to explore them all. In this Lisbon itinerary, we’ve included the main tourist attractions, the best viewpoints, plus restaurant suggestions so you can avoid the tourist traps, and enjoy the city like a true local.
From the moment you arrive in Lisbon, you’ll be amazed by its hilly viewpoints, historic yellow trams, and the colourful tile façades.
For a while, Lisbon remained Europe’s hidden secret, but this city is getting more attention than ever. Those who are lucky enough to visit it, are often torn between leaving and staying, as they’ve grown to love the Portuguese lifestyle.
Follow us, as we explore Lisbon’s Downtown and the lively neighbourhood of Príncipe Real.
I arrived in sunny Lisbon in early Summer. For my 3-day stay, I booked a room at Memmo Príncipe Real, a convenient spot which allowed me to walk anywhere in the city.
After grabbing a quick bite at the hotel bar, I was ready to go out and explore Lisbon.
I started my tour at the Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântara, one of the many viewpoints attached to Lisbon’s hills. From here, I could spy on other little neighbourhoods, and catch a glimpse of the castle of São Jorge across the other side of town.
Next, to the viewpoint, I spotted my first yellow tram, although this one was more like a funicular, as it only went up and down a hill, connecting Bairro Alto to Restauradores.
I continued walking in search of Convento do Carmo, a gothic church left to ruins after the devasting 1755 earthquake. Still, it is one of the most remarkable buildings in downtown Lisbon. This roofless church also houses an archaeological museum featuring a collection of tombs, ceramics, and mosaics.
Across the convent, there is an entrance to the Elevador de Santa Justa, a 19th-century lift that used to transport locals from the Baixa District to this hill. But this was never an ordinary lift, as you’ll see by the wrought-iron structure and its neo-gothic arches. So it’s no wonder, it became a tourist attraction.
Since I was heading down the hill, I decided to skip the lift and kept walking towards the Rossio square. Lisbon is full of squares with imposing statues, but this one is particularly special because of the neoclassical theatre and the stunning train station that surrounds it.
And while you’ll be tempted to look up and admire these buildings, you should also take a minute to capture the black and white cobblestones underneath your feet. Its wavy pattern is a reference to the country's nautical past.
After a few minutes, I took off to visit Casa do Alentejo, a hidden gem in Lisbon that I would have never discovered without the Algarve Lifestyle team. While it looked like an ordinary building at first, I was astonished when I went inside and saw the Moorish-style decoration. It reminded me of a Moroccan riad, with its arches and geometric tiles.
I took a few pictures and then headed for lunch at Bastardo. On the way there, I stopped for my first ginjinha at Ginjinha Sem Rival. This bar is open every day from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., so it’s never too early to grab a cup of this delicious sour-cherry liqueur.
At Bastardo, I ordered the octopus, which came with a side of sweet potatoes and black garlic, but, to be honest, all the dishes looked appetizing. So when it was time for dessert, I couldn’t help ordering the chocolate chiffon cake.
After lunch, I walked onto Rua Augusta, a lively street surrounded by international shops and outdoor cafés. I could see the arch ahead of me, and that’s where I was going.
I climbed up Arco da Rua Augusta and was once again rewarded with a panoramic view of the city, although this time I was a little bit closer to the Tagus river.
Underneath me, I could see Praça do Comércio, and the statue of King José I standing right in the middle of it. Before the 1755 earthquake, this large square was home to the royal palace, which is why locals also call it Terreiro do Paço.
I joined the crowd by the river and watched the sunset go down before heading back to Príncipe Real.
On the way, I stopped by Vida Portuguesa to buy a traditional souvenir. This shop is full of typical Portuguese products like hand soaps, ceramics, and canned food, all wrapped in retro-looking packages.
Having wandered around the city for a few hours, I wanted to relax somewhere. Luckily, the hotel was just across the street from the Príncipe Real garden, so I headed to one of the kiosks and ordered a coffee and a pastel de nata there.
For my first night in Lisbon, I wanted to see an authentic fado performance. Fado is a Portuguese music genre that evokes the feeling of saudade, a sense of nostalgia and yearning for something or someone. As suggested by the Algarve Lifestyle team, I booked a table at Tasca do Chico. This fado institution has been open since 1993, and it’s among the best places to listen to fado in Lisbon. I didn’t have to pay an entry fee, I just ordered a few small dishes and enjoyed the show for free.
Listening to fado is a must-do when you visit Portugal however it’s also easy to get ripped off with fado shows.
To see authentic fado in Lisbon, we suggest looking for tascas with Fado Vadio, fado sang by amateur singers. Usually, you don’t need to pay an entry fee, you can simply order a drink and a few small dishes, while you wait for the show.
We recommend booking a table at Tasca do Chico in Bairro Alto. Another option is to join a Real Fado show. This Lisbon-based project hosts fado performances in unique venues around Príncipe Real, including a cocktail bar, an underground cistern, and a shopping gallery. All shows start at 7 p.m.
Wherever you decide to go, remember to be quiet when the show is on!
It’s easy to get lost in Lisbon’s old town, Alfama. This traditional neighbourhood is a maze of narrow streets, lined with colourful buildings, historic churches and countless fado restaurants.
Alfama stretches from the banks of the Tagus to the castle of São Jorge, and its miradouros offer some of the best views in Lisbon.
If you’re wondering what to do in Alfama, we’re taking you through all the main sights and show you where to eat delicious Portuguese food.
For my second day in Lisbon, I headed to Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in the city. I walked behind the 28 tram, following its track until I reached the Sé de Lisboa.
At first sight, the cathedral looked like a castle with towers on each side. While the church dates back to the 1100s, it’s been modified several times over the years, resulting in a mix of architectural styles. After visiting the church, I kept walking up the hill towards Miradouro de Santa Luzia. All across the viewpoint, there were blue and white tiles, but it was the pink bougainvillaea tree that caught my eye. I stood under it for a while, admiring the views over Alfama and the Tagus river.
A bit further up, I found another viewpoint called Miradouro das Portas do Sol. This one offered even bigger views of the city, and I could see a few monuments amid the sea of terracotta roofs. From here, I took the stairs down to the heart of Alfama. Walking through its winding alleys, I saw old ladies spying from their windows, and passed through many restaurants offering fado shows.
When I reached the end of Rua dos Remédios, I turned right to go to Taberna do Sal Grosso, where I had my lunch reservation. The restaurant was tiny, and I would probably never have noticed it if it wasn’t for the blackboard sign outside. I wasn’t sure what to order at first, so I followed the staff’s recommendation and got the oxtail.
Just a few minutes from the restaurant, I spotted the dome of the national pantheon. This Lisbon monument is the resting place of historic Portuguese figures like the fado singer Amália Rodrigues.
The interior of the building is as impressive as the outside, with its marble floors and white statuary adorning the walls. The most striking feature of the pantheon, however, was the panoramic terrace on the top floor.
It was Saturday afternoon, so the flea market was on. Standing by the terrace, I could see little stalls below selling all sorts of items, from second-hand clothes to local souvenirs.
After visiting the Pantheon, I headed to the castle, where I was greeted by a group of friendly peacocks. They seemed to be as popular here, as the city views. Before becoming a national monument, the castle served many roles, from a royal palace to military barracks. Even before that, this hill was the site of fortifications belonging to the Romans and the Moors.
Once I finished my castle tour, I headed to Miradouro da Graça to see the sunset. From this viewpoint, I was able to capture the castle and the river in a single frame.
I didn’t have to walk too far for dinner, as I was heading around the corner to Taberna do Mar. The restaurant served mostly seafood, so I ordered the mackerel soup and the sardine nigiri accompanied by a bottle of local craft beer.
After all that walking, I was feeling a bit tired, so I decided to take a taxi back to the hotel.
Historic landmarks, iconic museums, and delicious pastries, you’ll find it all in Belém.
In the past, this was the departing point for Portuguese navigators like Vasco da Gama, who embarked from here to the unknown world. Today Belém is a mix of the old and the new. A place where historic sites meet innovative buildings like MAAT, Lisbon’s newest museum. As there are many things to see in Belém, we suggest taking at least a day to explore the neighbourhood.
I wanted to make the most of my trip to Belém, so I got up early and walked to the train station straight after breakfast. It took me a while to get down to Cais do Sodré, but once I hopped on the train, it was a straight line to Belem.
With so many monuments to visit, it was hard to choose where to start. Luckily, the Algarve Lifestyle team gave me an itinerary so I wouldn’t miss a thing.
First I visited Padrão dos Descobrimentos. This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery, hence its caravel shape. Each side features sculptures from notable Portuguese explorers, with Prince Henry the Navigator taking the lead. I took a quick look at the exhibitions presented inside, and then I climbed up to the terrace. Standing there, I could spot the other monuments in my itinerary, but also the stunning cobblestone pavement below me.
Next, I headed to Torre de Belém, one of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon. Built in the 16th century, this was once a fortress and a port. It was from here that Portuguese navigators set off to explore the world, bringing back exotic ingredients from places like China and India.
After visiting the tower, I was feeling a bit hungry, so I walked along the waterfront towards the Darwin's Café. While it belongs to the Champalimaud Foundation, a biomedical research centre, the café is open to everyone. As I stepped inside, I was immediately drawn by the decoration, with its orange lamps and butterfly paintings surrounding the room. For food, I decided to order the cod fillet and had the creme brûlée for dessert.
After lunch, I visited Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a World Heritage Site also built during the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The monastery holds the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões, Portugal’s most famous poet. It was Vasco da Gama that helped finance the monastery with the valuable goods he brought from his journey to India. The result is an extravagant building filled with beautiful stone carvings with nautical and religious themes. While the monastery is an impressive sight, the gardens in front of it are also worth the visit, with its large fountain, stone benches and well-kept trees.
I was looking forward to trying the famous custard tarts of Belém, so I headed to the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. Instead of waiting in line, I went inside and sat in a room surrounded by Portuguese tiles. In a few minutes, the waiter brought me a pastel de belém and a coffee. I had tried pastéis de nata before, but this one was different. It was creamier and served hot from the oven. Created by monks in the nearby monastery, these delicious pastries have been around since 1837. When the monastery closed, the monks shared their recipe with a family who opened this bakery. Today, both locals and tourists come to Belém for a taste of their pastéis.
The last stop of my tour was MAAT, Lisbon’s latest museum. It was one of the first buildings I spotted when I arrived in Belém, as its modern structure stands out from all the rest. Designed by the British architect Amanda Levete, the museum presents exhibitions that combine art and technology. The highlight of my visit, however, was walking up to the rooftop and enjoying the views over the Tagus and the 25 de Abril Bridge.
I took the train back to Cais do Sodré and had dinner at Sala de Corte. If you’re looking for the best steak in Lisbon, this is where you’ll find it. I started with the pica-pau, little loin strips paired with a mustard sauce, and then moved on to the Picanha, one of the many beef cuts available as a main.
After the meal, to bring this Lisbon 3 day itinerary to a close, I wanted to grab a cocktail, so I headed to Foxtrot for a drink. Set near Príncipe Real, this is one of the oldest bars in Lisbon. Inside it looks like an old English pub, with dimly-lit rooms and Art Deco elements. The house cocktails were all Lisbon references, from fado to the 28 tram. Inspired by my trip to Belém, I ordered the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos cocktail, a mix of gin, rum, amaretto, lemon juice and nutmeg.
The best place to try Lisbon’s custard tarts is in Belém. These delicious pastries are a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Most cafés around the city serve pastéis de nata, but Antiga Confeitaria de Belém makes the best ones. You can buy a package to go, or if there’s room, you can sit inside and enjoy your tart with a cup of coffee.
How to get to Belem:
There are several ways to reach Belém from the city centre:
Transport tickets: The easiest way to get around Lisbon is to get a Zapping card and charge it with some money. With this card, a train ticket will cost you around €1.90 and buses and trams around €1.35.
If you’re coming to Lisbon for the first time, we suggest staying close to the city centre. Our favourite neighbourhoods in the area are Baixa and Príncipe Real. Both of them are within walking distance of several tourist attractions.
As for hotels, we recommend staying at Memmo Príncipe Real or the Valverde Hotel. The first one is located in Príncipe Real and offers stunning views over the city. Valverde, on the other hand, is established in Avenida da Liberdade and includes a charming patio with a pool.