How many days in Lisbon will be enough to see everything worth seeing?
If you’re thinking about visiting Lisbon, then this guide will help you with figuring out itineraries and offering you the best tips for getting around Lisbon.
As a Portuguese native, I will give you insight into lesser-known spots and tell you what’s worth visiting and what tourist traps to avoid. On top of that, I’ll give you a few suggestions on what you can do in Lisbon that you won’t be able to do anywhere else.
Read also: What is Lisbon Famous For?
How many days in Lisbon?
How long should you spend in Lisbon? Most visitors agree 3 days would be the perfect amount of time to explore major landmarks, such as the Jeronimos Monastery or Belém Tower, sample the local gastronomy, and learn about Portuguese history and culture.
Planning your trip to Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, a coastal city located right in the middle of the country. It’s known for its colorful buildings and the traditional Fado music. In the “city of the seven hills“, you’ll find many landmarks linked to the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
The best time to visit Lisbon would be either around March/May or September/October, as the weather is still warm but accommodation is cheaper and there are fewer crowds than during the summer months. Another plus is that the amenable temperatures will allow you to roam the city without breaking much of a sweat.
Lisbon in 1 day
Is your time in Lisbon limited to 24 hours? Perhaps you’re on a layover to another destination, or you just happen to find yourself there unexpectedly… Well, don’t worry and keep on reading to find out which attractions you really can’t skip.
Start your morning off right by heading to the Belém region and have your self a sweet pastel de nata for breakfast, complete with a nice expresso coffee. Of course, you should visit none other than Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém for that! Conveniently, it’s located quite close to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Torre de Belém, two of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks.
From this area, you’ll catch a glimpse of the 25 de Abril Bridge, which connects Lisbon to Almada. It is often compared to San Francisco’s Golden Gate as they’re both suspension bridges of the same red color. It was built by the American Bridge Company which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate.
Not too far is Lisbon’s downtown, a dignified district, filled with shopping streets, charming cafés, and talented buskers. Enjoy some typically Portuguese dishes at the restaurants in Rossio Square, known for its wavy-patterned cobblestone pavements and two baroque fountains on each side of the square.
In the afternoon, you might want to visit Terreiro do Paço (the palace square, in English), remodeled after the 1755’s earthquake that destroyed the great part of the city. It’s home to many restaurants and cafés, amongst which Martinho de Arcada (established 1782), the oldest in the city.
This is my favorite spot to watch the sunset in Lisbon and I always make a point to visit every time I’m in town.
Lisbon in 2 days
If your vacation allows for a second day in Lisbon, then get excited, as there’s still plenty to be seen and done!
The Alfama district is perfect for a morning walk. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Alfama is known for its pastel buildings and fantastic viewpoints, overlooking the rooftops of Lisbon. If I had to describe it with a word, it would be authenticity – from the food, to the architecture and the people, it is truly quintessential Portuguese.
A unique attraction in Lisbon is the Santa Justa Elevator, built in 1902, which connects the lower streets of downtown to Carmo Square. Quite close is Chiado, an important cultural and commercial district, known for its luxury shopping, historic landmarks, and its numerous theatres and museums.
You have to check out the Time Out Market, a lively place, filled with several different food stalls, serving traditional and international delicacies. It’s a great place to have a simple sit-down meal or just snack around, sampling some of the regional specialties.
Lisbon in 3 days
If you’re able to stick around a day longer, then you definitely should take a trip to the nearby town of Sintra – considered the most beautiful in the country by many. Just a 30 minute drive away (you can also take a train), Sintra is an enchanted place, with its misty forests and bright palaces, a spot straight out of a fairytale.
Amongst its attractions, the most famous are undoubtedly Pena Palace, a Romanticist castle standing on top of a hill, and Quinta da Regaleira, an extensive property with a palace and a chapel, featuring also lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. One of the most notable elements of Regaleira is the Initiation Well, an underground tower of sorts.
Another of Sintra’s greatest landmarks is the medieval Castle of Moors. Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, finally taken by Christian troops after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. You might also consider paying a visit to the nearby Monserrate Palace, a palatial villa where the Portuguese court often spent their summers.
If you make it back to the city in time, a wonderful idea for the end of your trip would be to catch a Fado show – Portugal’s own genre of music. The aforementioned neighborhood of Alfama is one of the best spots in town for a show, where dinner is usually included.
Lisbon in 4-5 days
In case you’re staying in Lisbon for a longer period, I’d invite you to explore beyond the city limits. Maybe venture out to Cascais, a popular summer destination for its seaside resorts, or instead go a little bit further up North to Ericeira, a home away from home for many surfers who come from all around the world
Here are a few other options for great day trips:
Getting around Lisbon
Lisbon’s metro runs from 6:30am until 1am and it has 4 lines: blue, yellow, green, and red.
The green and blue lines are mostly used to reach the city’s main attractions, as both pass through Downtown/Chiado. The green line leads to Cais do Sodré and Rossio, and the blue line, to Terreiro do Paço and Marquês de Pombal.
An individual metro ticket, purchased at a station, costs 1,50€. With a Viva Viagem/7 Colinas card loaded with zapping, it costs 1,33€. Trips are free if you purchase the Lisbon Card. Beware of pickpockets!
Buses run throughout the city. They are slower than the metro but often offer more comfortable travel — and with a view. You will notice that in the stops there are timetables for buses that pass through there. Be aware that on weekends the bus frequency decreases, and that late at night the lines give way to the night transport service.
An individual bus ticket, purchased on board with the driver, costs 2€. With a Viva Viagem/7 Colinas card loaded with zapping, it costs 1,35€. Also free with the Lisbon Card.
There are two suburban railway lines that lead to points of interest outside Lisbon’s central area. The Sintra Line connects the Rossio train station to Sintra. And the Cascais line connects the railway station from Cais do Sodré to Belém, Estoril and Cascais.
The round-trip ticket costs €4.50 on either of the two lines. The price must be charged on a Viva Viagem card or 7 Colinas card. With the Lisbon Card, both courses are free.
Travel tips for Lisbon
Learn some Portuguese: Although Porto natives are no strangers to the English language and will gladly help a confused tourist even if they can’t communicate perfectly, locals will appreciate it even if you just say “bom dia” (hello; good morning) and “obrigado/a” (thank you.
Wear comfortable shoes: Not just because you’ll be doing a lot of walking but also because the mosaic pavements can be prone to slips.
Take a tram: Surely you’ve seen the picture of a yellow tram making its way up one of Lisbon’s cobblestone streets. Board one and enjoy some sighseeing on board this unique transport.
Other Lisbon FAQ
Is 1 day enough in Lisbon? One day is enough to visit most of the famous landmarks and enjoy some traditional Portuguese food, but that will mean a very fast-paced itinerary, and Lisbon is meant to be enjoyed with time.
Are 3 days in Lisbon enough? Personally, 3 days are just the right timeframe to explore Lisbon, especially for a first-timer.
Are 5 days in Lisbon too long? It’s not too long if you’re willing to venture beyond the city limits, to the neighboring beach towns or historical locations – it really comes down to how much you wish to see.
Read also: How many days in Porto?