18 best things to do in Lisbon in 3 days – Itinerary

Lisbon is Portugal’s capital, biggest city, and main cultural and economic center. To understand Portugal and Portuguese culture, one has to visit Lisbon for at least a few days. We suggest spending at least three days in Lisbon and have created this Lisbon 3-day itinerary to guide you. We will also advise when is the best time to travel to Lisbon and where to stay in Lisbon.

The Portuguese capital has always been an extraordinary city to live in and visit, but lately, it’s thriving. Lisbon is a very lively city, where something is always happening during the day and night.

Best things to do in Lisbon in 3 Days

We have organized this itinerary by day, and each day is dedicated to a different area of Lisbon. You’ll always return to Downtown Lisbon (Baixa), the true city center!

Day 1 – Lisbon Itinerary

The first day of this 3-day in Lisbon itinerary, takes you to the city’s heart – the historical center. There’s so much to see and do here that you may need to cut off a few things or return the next day.

Downtown Lisbon (Baixa Pombalina)

The heart of Lisbon is downtown, the Portuguese usually call “Baixa Pombalina.” This area is very easy to recognize in Lisbon as it’s the only part of town organized with long straight parallel streets forming a grid pattern.

Baixa is made of wide avenues, magnificent neoclassical buildings, and plazas. You should note that this part of the city was completely destroyed by the catastrophe of 1755, when an earthquake, a tsunami, and then multiple fires hit the Portuguese capital.

Some of the highlights of downtown include Augusta Street, its amazing arch, Comercio Plaza, and Rossio. These days this area of Lisbon is very lively, with both Portuguese and tourists roaming around and enjoying the city.

With multiple lodging options, cafes, restaurants, and shops, Downtown Lisbon is one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon. This is the number one place to stay in Lisbon if it is your first time or if you have limited time, three or fewer days in Lisbon.

 Lisbon Itinerary
Comercio Plaza with the Rua Augusta Arch in the backdrop

Alfama and Mouraria

Alfama and Mouraria are two neighborhoods located east of downtown Lisbon. They are also easily distinguished from the rest of the city as they are the oldest neighborhoods of Lisbon and feature architecture of the Muslim era. In fact, what really makes Alfama and Mouraria unique in Lisbon is the typical small Muslim streets so intricate that one can get lost in just a few turns.

Both districts are full of restaurants and some bars. It’s an enjoyable place to roam around and discover new corners and streets. However, we strongly suggest you take a guided tour of these districts – you’ll be taken to the best spots and learn a lot about their history.

You should note that these districts comprise several Lisbon hills, meaning this is steep terrain. On the other hand, we’ve got to spend the calories of all those custard tarts…

What to do in Lisbon
Alfama neighborhood

Tram Number 28

Trams in Lisbon are a very useful way of getting around the center, and one of the most popular activities for tourists, particularly Tram No 28. Why? You’ll feel like you were transported to a different era, with a wooden car, horns constantly ringing to pedestrians, and the obvious charm of the neighborhoods it crosses.

These quaint yellow trams Number 28 go through the very narrow streets of Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela. You can both sightsee and go commute between landmarks. It’s a unique experience and a real two-in-one.

Lisbon trams are an institution, a popular tourist attraction, and a useful means of transportation for locals and travelers. However, you should know that they get very crowded during the high season. But visiting Lisbon in March (or any other winter month) should allow for a much better experience.

What to do in Lisbon in 3 days
Tram No 28

São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)

São Jorge Castle is another of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon and a mandatory destination on any trip to Lisbon. It’s located in the Alfama district on the top of the highest hill in Lisbon, providing some of the best views in Lisbon.

Lisbon is a very ancient city (one of the oldest in Europe), and a castle has existed here for at least 2000 years. The first fortresses date from the 1st century BC, having been rebuilt several times by various peoples and given different names.

Today’s castle has a medieval character, but most of its walls and towers are very recent because it wasn’t preserved until the 20th century and was almost completely rebuilt. Despite this, it’s still fun to wander around the castle, walking on the walls and enjoying the tremendous views of the Tagus River.

The castle has some interesting guided tours, particularly of the archaeological ruins. There you can see evidence of the different periods of Lisbon, the pre-Moorish settlements, the remnants of the Moorish era, and the Christian/Portuguese Era.

3 days in Lisbon
São Jorge Castle

Lisbon Cathedral

Situated in Alfama in the heart of Lisbon, the Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Lisbon. Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese King, ordered its construction right after conquering Lisbon from the Moors. Nevertheless, most of what we see today is due to successive reconstructions, particularly after the All Saints Day earthquake, tsunami, and fires of 1755.

Due to the different stages of construction and reconstruction, the cathedral shows very different styles, particularly Romanesque on the outside (the huge rose window) and Gothic on the inside (the beautiful arches).

Lisbon Itinerary
Lisbon Cathedral

National Pantheon

The National Pantheon, also known as the Church of Santa Engrácia, was originally built in the 17th century as a church and, later in the 20th century, converted into the National Pantheon.

Well, actually, the works started in 1663 and were only finished in the 20th century… even for Portugal, that’s a bit too much! In Portugal, when we want to refer to something that is taking too long, we say it looks like the Santa Engrácia works.

This is where some of the most important Portuguese personalities are buried. Among them are writers Aquilino Ribeiro, Almeida Garret, and Sophia de Mello Breyner, presidents Manuel de Arriaga and Óscar Carmona, and even the singer Amália Rodrigues and footballer Eusébio.

There are also cenotaphs to Luís de Camões, Pedro Alvares Cabral, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Henry the Navigator, Afonso de Albuquerque, and Vasco da Gama, which means that their remains aren’t really there.

The National Pantheon is in a privileged spot with an ample river view. It’s possible to climb all the way to the top, making it a very pleasant place to enjoy the views. This building is also very imposing, visible from many angles, and an unavoidable reference in Lisbon’s skyline silhouette.

Top activities to do in Lisbon
National Pantheon

Feira da Ladra (if it’s Saturday or Tuesday)

Behind the National Pantheon in Campo de Santa Clara, there’s the Feira da Ladra, which is Lisbon’s flea market. You can find lots of cool stuff there, particularly some collectibles and antiques. It’s a really fun thing to do, and we find it very enjoyable to look around and find cool stuff and bargains.

Feira da Ladra is obviously free and occurs every Tuesday and Saturday between 9:00 and 18:00.

Lisbon in 3 days
Feira da Ladra in Lisbon

Carmo Convent and Church

Carmo Convent was built by the Portuguese hero Constable D. Nuno Álvares Pereira. He donated all his fortune and entered the convent. However, on the terrible All Saints Day of 1755, the church got destroyed and was never fully rebuilt. You can now visit the ruins of the church that was said to be one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture.

It’s located in the Chiado neighborhood, on a hill overlooking the Rossio square facing Lisbon Castle Hill. Those who like to visit ruins (I know we love to) will enjoy this attraction.

Lisbon 3 day Itinerary - what to do, where to stay
Inside Carmo Convent

Bairro Alto

Finally, we have Bairro Alto, the traditional bohemian quarter of Lisbon. This is an area to visit at night when it really comes to life. During the day, it’s very quiet, and you won’t imagine how different and live it’s at night.

In Bairro Alto, you’ll find plenty of places to eat, great bars, and the famous Fado houses. If you want to visit one, this is your opportunity. During any day of the week, but much more on weekends, you’ll find thousands of people in Bairro Alto, having dinner or enjoying a drink with friends.

Lisbon in 3 days
The nightlife in Bairro Alto – 3 days in Lisbon

Day 2 Belém – Lisbon 3-day Itinerary

On the second day of your three days in Lisbon, we suggest you go to Belém. This neighborhood is packed with some of Lisbon’s best things to do. These are the ones you can miss in a 3-day itinerary to Lisbon.

Fun fact: Belém in Portuguese means Bethlehem (yes, like the Palestinian City)

Jeronimos Monastery – “Mosteiro dos Jerónimos”

We advise you to start with Jeronimos Monastery. This World Heritage UNESCO site was built in the 15th century, and it’s one of the best examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. One could even argue that Jeronimos Monastery is the most beautiful building in Portugal.

During the 19th century, the church became the sepulcher for some of the most famous heroes and poets like Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. More than a Pantheon, a church, or a Monastery, Jeronimos became a part of Portugal and Portuguese culture.

For all this, it is clearly one of the best things to do in Lisbon in 3 days.

What to do in Lisbon
Jeronimos Monastery is World Heritage UNESCO site | photo by Lusoimages via Depositphotos

Pastel de Belem (the original Portuguese egg tarts)

Going to Belem and not enjoying one Pastel de Belem is just weird! The Pastel de Belem was born in the Monastery, but it was almost lost when the religious orders ended. Luckily someone from the monastery opened a pastry shop right next to the monastery, and those pastries quickly became known as “Pastel de Belem.”

To have a pastel de Belem, you have to go to “Antiga Confeitaria de Belem,” next door to Jeronimos Monastery. Even if you feel that’s a bit crowded, they work really fast, and the rooms inside are huge. We also strongly suggest you have at least one warm from the oven – they are at their best like that. Then you can have a few others to go 🙂

The pastry is open every day between 08:00 and 23:00, so you won’t have problems fitting it into your Lisbon itinerary.

Lisbon 3 day Itinerary - what to do, where to stay
Pastel de Belem

Belem Tower

Very close to Jeronimos, we have the Belem Tower, strategically located on the Bank of Tagus River. This architecture Jewel was also built in the 15th century and the Manueline architecture style. Actually, when it was built, the river was much wider, and the tower was in the middle of the River and not on the bank.

The Belem Tower was built as a defensive tower to defend the city from River/sea attacks. It’s a symbol of both the Age of Discoveries and Portugal. On the other hand, it also clearly states the extravagance lived in Portugal during those times.

Belem Tower in Lisbon | photo by Lenorlux via Depositphotos

Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

The monument to the discoveries is a much younger attraction than the tower and the monastery. It was temporarily erected in the 20th century, inaugurated in 1940 in the Portuguese World Exhibition, and then definitely built-in in 1960 at the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

It’s located about 500 meters from the tower of Belem and very close to Jeronimos monastery in the breakwater of the Tagus River. It’s one of the favorite spots for travelers to take beautiful photos and is an Instagram-friendly location.

This was built to be a very symbolic landmark. It looks like a Portuguese caravel, it has Henry the Navigator commanding it and then 32 more Portuguese protagonists of the Portuguese Age of the Discoveries: navigators, warriors, cartographers, missionaries, colonizers, chroniclers, and artists.

3 days in Lisbon
Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon | photo by dpe123 via Depositphotos

Berardo Collection Museum (Museu Berardo)

The Berardo Collection Museum is also in this area, and it’s a great option for those who like museums, particularly modern and contemporary art. It’s said to be the most visited museum in Portugal.

The museum goes through the different movements of art in the 20th century. It features artworks from many well-known artists live, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Paula Rego, Max Ernst, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol, and many others.

National Coach Museum (Museu do Coche)

The National Coach Museum is also in the Belem district, which we really enjoyed visiting. It holds one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world and is one of the most visited museums in the city.

Some of its most impressive items include carriages from the 16th to the 19th centuries and give the perception of the evolution of carriages through the centuries. The most interesting exhibits are the coach used by King Felipe II of Portugal as he traveled from Spain to Portugal in 1619 and the lavishly decorated in gold Coach given by King John V in 1715 to Pope Clement XI.

King John V coach in National Coach Museum
Coach given by King John V in the National Coach Museum – one of the things to see in Lisbon in 3 days.

Day 3 – Lisbon in 3 days

On the last day in Lisbon, we are doing things a little differently; we will visit two different areas, one outside Lisbon. We suggest you cross the Tagus River and go to Cacilhas and the Christ the King in the morning and then to the Expo area in the Afternoon. Or if you feel that you can’t do everything on the second day two, you may want to skip one of these suggestions and return to Baixa.


Cacilhas is on the other side of the Tagus River, so you’ll have to cross the Tagus. You’ll just need to head to Cais do Sodre and catch a ferry. It’s a very easy and quick trip as there are plenty of ferries.

Cacilhas is very small, and it’s mostly famous for its many seafood restaurants. We suggest you go early and when you reach Cacilhas, walk the trail along the river. We find it an enjoyable walk, with few tourists and beautiful views of Lisbon. This trail will lead you to an elevator that takes you to old Almada, and from there, you can walk to the Christ the King statue. Or you can get a Bus or Taxi.

What to do in Lisbon in 3 days
Ferry to Cacilhas

Christ the King Statue – Cristo Redentor

The location and the size of this statue are what really make it so majestic. Christ the King is 28 meters high but placed on a huge pedestal of 82 meters. The Christ Redeemer obviously inspired it in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and isn’t as impressive as the original, but it’s still worth the visit.

You can climb to the pedestal with an astonishing panoramic view of Lisbon and the 25th of April Bridge. It’s probably the best lookout in Lisbon.

Before returning to Lisbon, don’t forget to head back to Cacilhas and have a wonderful seafood lunch/dinner. It’s really worth it and not very expensive. Or at least it’s cheaper than seafood anywhere else in Western Europe.

Cool things to do in Lisbon in 3 days
Christ the King Statue

Expo – Parque das Nações

The second part of this day is dedicated to visiting the Expo area, the newest part of Lisbon. This area is usually called the Expo (or Parque das Nações) because it was born with the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition.

This is a different side of Lisbon, a modern one, but it isn’t less interesting. The most famous attraction here is clearly the Oceanarium. Lisbon’s Oceanarium has about 8000 aquatic species, including penguins, sharks, otters, rays, and sea dragons, making it the biggest indoor aquarium in Europe.

But besides the Oceanarium, you can also visit Tower Vasco da Gama and walk the boardwalk all the way from the Marina to the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Taking the cable car and enjoying a new perspective while resting is also possible. This area is very popular among Lisboners to jog or run along the river.

Today, Parque das Nações is popular as it is the location of the famous Web Summit that usually occurs in November in Lisbon.

If you have more time or want to skip one of the days above, we suggest taking a day trip to Sintra. Sintra is an amazing destination on its own, but it can be easily visited from Lisbon by train or on a tour.

Where to stay in Lisbon for three days?

Lisbon is a big city, but if you stay there for only three days, you want to stay close to the action and avoid having to do long unnecessary commutes every day. Thus, we believe that downtown and the surrounding area are the best to stay in Lisbon for three days.

Chiado, Baixa, Alfama, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, Rossio are all good options. The closer to Baixa, the more expensive hostels tend to be. If you travel to Lisbon during the high season, you may have to book a little further away in Graça or Belem.

Check here our detailed article about where to stay in Lisbon! It has all the best areas and our hotel suggestions in each one.

When to go to Lisbon for three days?

As mentioned above, Lisbon is now a very popular destination. Tourists come to Lisbon all year round, but June to September are the most crowded months. It’s also when the weather tends to be warmer and drier. During winter, the city tends to be calmer, but it has plenty of tourism even then.

We believe the best time to visit Lisbon is in April, May, and October. During these months it’s still probable to find nice weather (though not beach weather), and you won’t have to deal with the huge crowds.

Lisbon 3-day Itinerary
View of Lisbon

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