72 Hours in Lisbon: Things to See and Do

Sharing is caring

With vaccinations rolling out, travel is beginning to open up again, at least between certain countries. Despite my preference for slow travel, this time I only had 72 hours in Lisbon. Luckily, my dear friend Claudia graciously hosted me in Lisbon, driving me around and showing me the best spots. If you find yourself with three days in this vibrant city, here are some local-recommended things to do and see.

Lisbon Highlights

Day 1: Park of the Nation and Aquarium

After a long flight, visit the Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações) near the airport. Constructed in 1998 for the World Expo, it offers open space and a panoramic view of the bay area, allowing you to relax and unwind while experiencing modern-day Lisbon. While in the area, don’t miss the beautiful Oriente Train Station designed by Santiago Calatrava and take a tour inside Europe’s largest aquarium (ticket price is €19, student price €17).

Day 2: Belém and Central Lisbon

Start your day early with breakfast at Pastéis de Belém, home of the famous Portuguese egg tart. From there, explore iconic landmarks like the Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos (the statue of Vasco Da Gama), and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Don’t miss the chance to step inside the monastery’s church, where Gothic, Plateresque, Mudéjar, Italian, and Flemish architectural styles harmoniously blend in the Manueline style, representing Portugal’s late Gothic architecture. Art enthusiasts can also visit the Museum of Modern Art. Due to time constraints, I personally skipped the museum, as it would have taken the entire day to appreciate fully.

  • tram 28 Lisbon
  • Terreiro do Paco
  • Rossio square
  • Claudia and Ant with Dante the dog

For lunch, head to Time Out Market (Mercado da Ribeira) in Central Lisbon, where various restaurants offer a taste of traditional Portuguese cuisine. Try local delicacies like bifana, prego, and croquettes. Afterward, take a stroll through the city center to explore the shopping district of Príncipe Real, Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio Square, Terreiro do Paço, and Lisbon’s harbor square, Praça do Comércio. Alternatively, to save your feet, hop on tram 28 (the classic yellow tram!) to visit the aforementioned attractions in Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrela neighborhoods. Be cautious on the tram, as it can get crowded, and watch out for pickpockets!

Time Out Market
Time Out Market

End your day by chasing the sunset from Lisbon’s miradouros (viewpoints). Claudia took me to the local-favorite Miradouro Nossa Senhora do Monte, where we enjoyed a breathtaking view without the crowds. We also visited Miradouro Portas do Sol and were fortunate to witness a full moon. By the way, we explored the city with DanteDog, so you can tell that Lisbon is a pet-friendly city.

Day 3: Sintra and Cascais

Take a train to Sintra and visit the colorful Palacio da Pena. This former monastery turned palace was once the summer residence of Queen Maria II and King Consort Ferdinand. I recommend taking a bus or tuk-tuk to reach the palace since there is plenty of walking involved within the palace and its vast gardens. A return bus ticket costs €10, while a tuk-tuk ride is €15, and admission to the palace and garden costs €14.

For a late lunch, visit Tascantiga, where they serve affordable traditional Portuguese food with generous portions. We enjoyed dishes such as caldo verde soup, a mixed cheese and meat platter, and beef stew with mustard.

In the evening, we drove along the coast and explored Cascais to savor the refreshing sea breeze after a long day of walking. Alternatively, you can take the train to Cascais and enjoy one of its beautiful beaches.

Now you have a pretty good idea of what the city has to offer and have visited its most important places. Do you have any other suggestions for places to visit in Lisbon? Feel free to drop them in the comments below! 🙂

Lisbon FAQs

When’s the best time to visit Lisbon?

Honestly, Lisbon is a delight all year round, but if you want to avoid the crowds and still enjoy good weather, I’d recommend spring (April to June) or fall (September to October).

Is it expensive to visit Lisbon?

Compared to many other European cities, Lisbon is quite affordable. You can enjoy delicious food, find comfortable accommodations, and visit most attractions without breaking the bank. Of course, it all depends on your personal budget and travel style.

Do I need to know Portuguese to get around?

Well I stayed with a local friend when I visited, but based on my experience, you should be able to get around with speaking English. Most people in the city centre speak English, and I even saw road signs written in both Portuguese and English. Lisbon is pretty tourists friendly, I would say. It’s always appreciated if you learn a few basic phrases though.

What local food or specialities should I try in Lisbon?

Oh, you’re in for a treat! Definitely try the pastéis de nata (a delicious custard tart), bacalhau (a cod dish), and a bifana (pork sandwich). I tried all of them and they were amazing. And if you’re a seafood lover, you’ll be in heaven!

How can I get around the city?

My friend brought me around so I was lucky, but Lisbon has a great public transportation system, including buses, trams, and metro. The Tram 28 is a classic! Also, walking around is a great way to discover the city’s charming neighborhoods. Just be ready for some hills, wear sneakers!

What are some must-see spots in Lisbon?

There’s so much to see! Don’t miss the historic Alfama district, the beautiful Belém Tower, and the stunning views from the São Jorge Castle. And for a day trip, Sintra is a must!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *