Itinerary for visiting Lisbon in 3 days

Lisbon never ceases to attract tourists from all over the world. This city, spread over seven hills and bordered by the Tagus Estuary, has so much to offer, from its gastronomy to its mild climate and its architectural gems. Every year, its gentle way of life attracts large numbers of weekend visitors. A tour of Lisbon is the ideal way to discover some of Portugal's exceptional heritage. As a couple, with family or friends, the city is an essential stopover in the country. Take a stroll through the city's central districts, such as Baixa or the romantic Alfama district, visit Castelo São Jorge high above the city and take in the Santa Luzia belvedere. For a successful trip, you should take a cable car ride over the Tagus to enjoy a magnificent view of the Vasco de Gama bridge and sample the local culinary specialities. Lisbon's neighbouring towns, such as Sintra, are also full of charm and can be reached by public transport, even at night. We take you on a (re)discovery of all the best Lisbon has to offer with a stay between land and sea in Paille.

View of Lisbon and the Tagus River, Portugal.

- © INTERPIXELS / Shutterstock

Day 1: Discovering the city

What better way to discover Lisbon than to start by visiting its historic centre? As you climb, the landscape will lead you to a must-see monument, a miradouro offering one of the prettiest views of the 25th April Bridge or the Tagus on the horizon. You can go up or down, but always with the option of transport nearby. The city has plenty to offer!

Tour of the ultra-centre

We begin our tour in Lisbon's hypercentre, the Baixa district, located between the old bohemian Alfama quarter and Bairro Alto, the nightlife district that tends to be sleepy during the day. This is the place to go to soak up Lisbon's culture, as it is not only the historic heart of the city but also its commercial centre. The Rue Augusta will take you to the main Place du Commerce, passing by the Arc de Triomphe, so characteristic of Lisbon.

For the more inquisitive, head to the top of the building and take in the bird' s-eye view of the square leading down to the Tagus. Downstairs, to the east of the square, you'll find the Lisboa Story Center, a museum retracing the city's history.

Arc de Rua Agusta in Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Borges Samuel / 123RF

We continue our discovery of Portugal's capital by heading slightly upwards towards Chiado, the former intellectual quarter that has become a haven for artists and a temple to shopping. On the way, stop in front of the famous Elevador Santa Justa and climb aboard this neo-Gothic metal structure. Once at the top, you'll find one of the best views of the city, the Tagus and the ruins of the Carmelite convent just opposite. Take the opportunity to visit this former church, just a 3-minute walk from the Santa Justa lift.

Santa Justa elevator seen from the street, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © eskystudio / Shutterstock

The Carmes Archeological Museum is housed in the ruins of the old church, which survived the earthquake of 1755. It contains items of great historical, archaeological and artistic importance, with works dating from prehistory to the present day.

Practical information:

📍 Address: largo do Carmo, Lisbon

👛 Price: from €5

Duration: 45 minutes

Head for Lisbon's romantic quarter

Continue your exploration of the city by heading for Saint-Georges Castle or Castelo São Jorge, which dominates the city and more specifically the Alfama, the city's oldest district. Make your way down the narrow, colourful streets of this former ghetto frequented by the working classes, particularly the sailors and dockers of the time. It was in this emblematic district that fado was born, with women singing the despair of their husbands who had gone to sea. You have to push open the door of a tasca on a street corner to hear the sweet, haunting and melancholy melody.

At the end of the day, take the opportunity to stop off at one of the miradouros nearby. Head for the Santa Luzia viewpoint, a little further down the road, to watch the sun set over the roofs of Alfama.

View from the Santa Luzia viewpoint, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © ESB Professional / Shutterstock

The district is packed with historic monuments and museums. Sé Cathedral is a must-see, as is Saint Anthony's Church and the Convent da Graça. If you have time, take a trip to the Fado Museum, dedicated to urban music, for aninteractive experience and a taste of Lisbon's heritage.

Sé Cathedral and the iconic yellow streetcar, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Sean Pavone / 123RF

Lunch in a cult tavern: Parreirinha de Alfama

Take the time to stop off at this former coal factory, now a tavern and cult venue for traditional fado.

Day 2: on the banks of the Tagus

What would a trip to Lisbon be without mentioning the river that runs alongside Lisbon? Impossible to miss, the Tagus appears at the turn of a rising street or during a stroll along the city's quays. It's also an excellent way to get your bearings, because once you know where it is, it's impossible to get lost.

Heading west of the city

We start our second day with one of Lisbon's must-do excursions, a visit to Belém, a 40-minute tram ride from the centre. This district stretches along the shores of the Sea of Straw to the west of Lisbon. There's nothing like a morning stroll through the city to discover this land that was so coveted by the Portuguese. Here, everything reminds us of the time when the country had a monopoly on the world's seas. The Belém Tower is a perfect example. This small square tower that stands proudly on the banks of the Tagus is a thing of beauty.

Visit the emblem of the great discoveries: the Belém Tower

Spread over 4 floors, the interior can be visited fairly quickly. The most beautiful part of the building is its upper terrace overlooking the river.

A gourmet break

The Pastéis de Belém bakery owes its recipe to the monks of the Jeronimos Monastery, kept secret since 1837. These warm little custards are capable of creating an uncontrollable queue. We're still salivating!

See you on the other side

Why not cross over? On the other side of the river, a gigantic statue stands facing Lisbon, its arms outstretched. This is Christ the King, located near the 25th April Bridge and towering 110 metres above the Tagus. You can get there by bus, crossing the 25 April Bridge, or by ferry from the Cais do Sodré embarkation area.

Sanctuary of Christ the King, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Creative Cat Studio / Shutterstock

To discover Lisbon from a different angle, you can take a cruise on the Tagus at the end of the day to enjoy an aperitif while admiring the splendid monuments, the 25th April Bridge and the Cristo Rei from the water. A unique and original activity.

A sailboat on the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal.

- © dancar / Shutterstock

An evening in Portuguese Brooklyn

To round off the day, head for LX Factory, a 23,000 m² industrial complex that has been rehabilitated as a trendy district. It's an alternative place where you'll find exhibitions, designer boutiques and restaurants. A multitude of possibilities are open to you in this very fashionable living space in Lisbon. You can have a drink while watching the Tagus and Cristo Rei in the distance, have a brunch or simply wander around this original place.

Rue animée dans le quartier branché LX Factory, Alcantara, Lisbonne, Portugal.

- © Urfl / 123RF

Eating in a former printing works: Cantina Lx Factory

This former printing works has been converted into a restaurant where everything is cooked over a wood fire. The place is decorated exclusively with salvaged furniture, giving it the air of a small second-hand shop, and the intoxicating smell of the wood-fired oven warms the atmosphere. A cosy place to enjoy local specialities or just a drink.

Day 3: Inland walk, Sintra

Our stay in Lisbon is drawing to a close, but let's take advantage of this last day to visit the land of kings, Sintra. Overflowing palaces, old stone castles, steep cliffs, all overlooking the sea. It's a city suspended in time, a vestige of a time when Portuguese explorers ruled the seas.

Pena Palace

A must-see when visiting Sintra. This palace is one of a kind, with its zany architecture and vibrant colours. A mixture of several styles - Moorish, Manueline and Gothic - it blends together different eras, but the whole remains very harmonious. The interior is just as impressive, with a succession of rooms, each more extravagant than the last.

View of Pena Palace, Sintra, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Acnaleksy / 123RF

The Moorish castle

This castle faces the Palais de Pena on the adjacent hill. Isolated in the middle of the mountain range, it enjoys a privileged position from which to admire the coastline, the plain that stretches as far as the eye can see and an angle on the extravagant Pena Palace. It owes its exceptional location to its past as a fortification used to defend the territory and the sea coast. The ramparts offer exceptional views, and are the subject of some lovely photos.

Medieval Castle of the Moors, Sintra, Portugal.

- © Saiko / 123RF

Open from 9am to 6.30pm, the last entries are at 5.30pm. Note that the monument is very popular in the afternoon, as people have lunch in the town centre and then head for the hills. Despite the crowds, the visit is no less enjoyable.

Castle of the Moors, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © thoermer / 123RF

A seaside getaway

For the more courageous, it is possible to see one of Portugal's most beautiful coves. Ourse Beach, or Praia da Ursa in Portuguese, is a natural beach along the coast. And if it's wild, it's because the view has to be earned. You'll have to walk for an hour to reach it, but it doesn't hurt to do a bit of sport after a weekend sampling all the region's specialities!

La plage Praia da Ursa, Portugal.

- © LifeCollectionPhotography / Shutterstock
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