The list of landmarks that adorn Lisbon may not be as long as some other European cities, but the Portuguese capital has a beauty and charm that keeps visitors coming back.
This city has a rich and fascinating history, stunning viewpoints, exciting nightlife, an excellent gastronomic offer, and, above all, a specific atmosphere that captivates many tourists.
Lisbon is known as a city of hospitable people where you will feel welcome.
Lisbon is also a city with a beautiful climate, the second warmest European capital after Athens.
Determining exactly how much time you need in Lisbon takes work.
As for all other destinations, the number of days necessary for Lisbon depends on what you expect from this city and how you plan to get to know it.
If you’re the type of traveler who expects to see the highlights of your trip, you won’t need more than two days in Lisbon, and that’s without too much of a rush.
But if you have mastered the art of slow tourism and know how to enjoy small pleasures while getting to know new cities, you won’t get bored of Lisbon even after a week.
How Many Days in Lisbon is Enough?
Three days are enough to visit Lisbon’s famous places leisurely and still have time to relax, enjoy food and drink and occasionally go out to fado music.
But, if you have less time for Lisbon, you can visit the main sights in two days.
Lisbon has long been a somewhat underrated destination, but tourists have discovered it in recent years.
But not only has Lisbon become popular among travelers, but also many other cities in Portugal, such as Porto, Tomar, Algarve, Sintra, and Coimbra.
If you’ve planned to visit several towns in Portugal on your trip, you may want to stay in Lisbon for just a day or two to give yourself plenty of time to explore other towns.
In that case, you won’t be able to see all the gems of the Portuguese capital, but you can still enjoy this trip.
However, in that case, you will have to shorten the list of sights you want to visit or speed up the pace to the maximum and use the help of public transport.
The good news is that public transport in Lisbon is well organized and significantly cheaper than in most European capitals.
You can use the metro, trams, buses, commuter trains, funiculars, and ferries to move around the city.
The metro has four lines: red, blue, yellow, and green, and it operates daily from 6.30 AM to 1 AM.
Riding the tram in Lisbon is both romantic and practical. The yellow trams, often seen on postcards from Lisbon, run on six tram lines, mainly in the hilly parts of the city where the metro does not go.
The most famous is the vintage tram 28, which passes through many historical parts of the city.
The only downside to taking the tram through Lisbon is that some lines are sometimes crowded, and this is one of the places where pickpockets lurk. So, be careful and don’t lose sight of your bags and wallets.
If you’re really short on time, getting around Lisbon by taxi or Uber might be the most practical. Uber is cheaper than taxis, and both options are significantly more affordable than in most European cities.
Another option for transportation around the city that many tourists choose is the electric tuk-tuk.
First, this is a fun way to navigate Lisbon’s hilly and steep streets, but it is also a pleasant, affordable, and environmentally friendly way of transport.
Another thing to consider if you’re only staying in Lisbon for a day or two is the timing of your visit.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, check the opening hours of the places you plan to visit in advance.
For example, many shops in Lisbon are closed on Sundays, and many attractions and museums are closed on Mondays.
How Many Days to Spend in Lisbon if You Have More Time?
If you are lucky enough to stay in Lisbon for more than three days, get ready to wander through picturesque streets, discover hidden corners, see colorful facades and decorated pavements, and enjoy the excellent gastronomic offer.
If you are one of those people for whom traveling is not only about visiting museums, monuments, and tourist attractions but also absorbing the atmosphere of the city you are in and immersing yourself in the local lifestyle, you will fall in love with Lisbon.
Feel free to stay for five, seven, or even more days, and don’t be afraid of getting bored of the Portuguese capital.
If you have decided to stay longer in Lisbon, you will have time for a few excursions. You can, for example, go to Sintra, Cascais, or Cabo da Roca.
More time means less rush, and therefore less need for public transport.
With so much beauty in the hidden details, Lisbon is a city that cries out to be explored on foot and without a pre-made plan. So just let go and wander.
However, if you get tired of walking through this city’s hilly streets, you can try some of the fun modes of transportation, such as bicycles or electric scooters.
You can rent both at many points in the city and have fun discovering Lisbon on these wheels.
If a scooter sounds too unusual for you and a bike too strenuous for hilly Lisbon, you can also rent an electric bike.
Lisbon is also an excellent city for shopping and dining. First, Lisbon is significantly cheaper than most major European cities, so you can enjoy yourself while still staying within your budget.
In addition, the offer is wealthy so everyone can find something to their taste.
Be sure to try fish dishes and seafood specialties, but don’t forget the pasteis de nata delicacy, for which Lisbon and the whole of Portugal are famous.
In this city, you will find a variety of cheeses and wines and don’t forget to try Sagres beer, which you can find in almost every bar and restaurant in Lisbon.
What Month is the Best for Visiting Lisbon?
There is no wrong time to travel to Lisbon.
The climate in Lisbon is mild oceanic, so the summers are pleasantly warm, and the winters are mild.
Temperatures almost never drop below freezing, and the coldest month is January when the average is around 12°C (54°F). Conversely, it is warmest in August, with a daily average of 24°C (75°F).
While summers are mostly dry, and spring rains fall from time to time, autumn and winter are often rainy.
Nevertheless, you can enjoy Lisbon even then. The city shines with a special glow after the rain, perhaps precisely because of its colorful ceramic tiles facades and black and white pavements with beautiful geometric patterns.
However, if you want to explore Lisbon on foot, watch the weather forecast and choose days without much rainfall.
Statistically, November rains the most in Lisbon, while June, July, and August are the least rainy months.
During the summer, Lisbon is a top-rated destination among tourists, so the crowds and prices are the highest.
Prepare to queue for the most prominent attractions and most famous sights, or book your tickets online to save time.
Also, if you decide on your summer trip to Lisbon at the last minute, be prepared to pay a high price for the flight.
You can also expect finding suitable accommodation to be more difficult because the best accommodation is already fully booked at this time of year.
If you want to travel to Lisbon when the weather is warm but still avoid the crowds and save some money, choose late spring or early fall.
Winter is the least popular period for a trip to Lisbon, so accommodation and flight prices are very favorable, especially in January and February. If you don’t mind a little cold, this can be an excellent time to travel to Portugal’s capital.
If you’re not one of those people who can’t imagine Christmas without snow, consider going to Lisbon during the Christmas holidays.
Although there is no snow, Lisbon has plenty of holiday magic this time of year.
You can find several Christmas markets throughout the city to enjoy delicious specialties, have fun, and buy original and affordable Christmas gifts.
Terreiro do Paço square has the tallest Christmas tree in Europe, and the whole city sparkles with festive lights.
However, Christmas time is an exception to the rule that there are no crowds in Lisbon during the winter.
Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, and during Christmas and Easter, the prices of flights and accommodation are high, and the crowds are big.
In Lisbon, you can enjoy numerous festivals throughout the year.
Some of them are the Santa Casa Alfama Festival which takes place in September and is dedicated to fado music, Leffest which takes place in November and is one of the most important Portuguese film festivals; Peixe em Lisboa, a gastronomic festival devoted to seafood which takes place in April, a series of concerts, plays, and street parties that are traditionally organized during June, and much more.
What to See and Do in Lisbon?
Lisbon is not one of those cities, like Paris, London, Berlin, Athens, or Rome, where a long list of must-see sights awaits you.
Although it certainly has historically and culturally significant places you shouldn’t miss, Lisbon is more of a city of hidden gems, which asks you to explore and get to know it through your own experience.
It’s the best way to really experience the Portuguese capital in its full glory.
However, if you don’t have enough time to wander and explore or prefer to come to a new city prepared and equipped with prior knowledge, below this text, you will find a list of some of the most famous attractions in Lisbon.
Torre de Belém
The Torre de Belém, or Belém Tower, is perhaps the most recognizable building in Lisbon.
This tower has an immense historical significance because, from Belém, the area of the city where the building is located, during the Age of Discovery, the most glorious period in Portuguese history, ships set sail to go on expeditions and discover the New World.
The tower itself was the last thing that would remain in sight for sailors when they set out on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
This 16th-century tower, which survived the great Lisbon earthquake in the 18th century, was built in the Manueline style and consisted of four floors and a terrace at the top.
This beautiful white limestone tower was initially used for the city’s defense and later used as a prison and a lighthouse for a while.
Although you can often hear that this tower was built on the Tagus River’s banks, this is actually not true.
The tower was built on a small river island, but after a devastating earthquake, the river changed its course, so now Belém Tower is located along the coast.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
In the immediate vicinity of the Belém Tower is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, which, as its name suggests, is a monument to discoveries from the 15th and 16th centuries. You can walk from the tower to the monument in just ten minutes.
In the monument, the lower part of which has the shape of a ship, 33 figures representing the most important figures from the Age of Discovery are carved.
Among them are Henry the Navigator, Vasco de Gama, Dom Peter, Duke of Coimbra, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Álvares Cabral, and many others.
Take advantage of climbing to the top of this majestic monument, which offers an impressive view of a large part of the city.
In front of the monument is a pavement made of black, white, gray, and pink limestone, representing a giant compass and a map of the world where the Portuguese explorers’ routes were drawn.
The square and pavement are gifts from the Republic of South Africa to Lisbon.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The third important landmark in this part of Lisbon is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or Jerónimos Monastery.
Less than a ten-minute walk from the Monument to the Discoveries, it is also very important to Portuguese history.
The monastery was built in honor of Vasco de Gama’s success, on the site of a chapel where the famous navigator prayed before embarking on the voyage for which history remembered him.
This monastery is an architectural pearl, and it was built, like the Belem tower, in the Manueline style.
This architectural style represents a mixture of various styles, with a strong Gothic influence, and was named after King Manuel I.
In this monastery are the graves of Vasco de Gama and several other celebrities and rulers of this era.
Regardless of whether you like this monastery’s ornate construction style, you won’t remain indifferent to the luxury that testifies to the wealth and power that Portugal possessed in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In addition, traces of the cultures that explorers encountered during their expeditions are present in every stone embedded in this fascinating monastery.
Alfama is a part of Lisbon, the oldest and, for many, the most beautiful.
Before Lisbon developed, Alfama was the only part of the city in the old times.
The name of this part of Lisbon comes from the word “al-hamma,” which means fountains in Arabic.
If you have enough time, you can spend a whole day exploring this part of Lisbon because you will discover something worthy of your attention in every alley you wander into.
This part of Lisbon is also known for its tiled facades, one of Lisbon’s trademarks.
You must visit Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon Cathedral, and National Azulejo Museum in this part of the city.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
At the highest point of Alfama is the Castelo de Sao Jorge or St George’s Castle.
This castle is one of the most visited attractions in Lisbon, so we suggest you see it early in the morning, as soon as it opens, to avoid the crowds.
You can embark on this adventure by taking the famous yellow tram 28, which goes to the Portas do Sol viewpoint, after which you will have to continue on foot for a few more minutes uphill to reach the castle.
If you like fortresses, this walk will be worth it, and from here, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the magical Lisbon.
By the way, Castelo de Sao Jorge changed its appearance over the centuries, and a few decades ago, it was completely restored.
The oldest church in Lisbon is Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa, and the Portuguese often call it simply Sé.
This cathedral was built in the 12th century on the site of the former main mosque.
Although because of the two towers that rise on top, it looks more like a fortress than a cathedral from the outside, the interior is impressive.
In the vault of the cathedral, which is open to visitors every day except Sundays, a real cultural and historical treasure makes it worth visiting this church.
National Azulejo Museum
One of Lisbon’s most authentic and exciting attractions is the National Azulejo Museum.
Tourists come to this museum to see decorative tiles, the oldest of which is from the fifteenth century, and learn how the art of tilework developed in Portugal.
Squares of the Baixa district
The Baixa district was built after the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon in 1755.
In this district today, many squares are loved by locals and tourists alike, so set aside a few hours to walk here and see the architecture, monuments, and promenades.
Visit the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) and its triumphal arch dating from the end of the nineteenth century. This square also has an equestrian statue of the former Portuguese king Joseph I.
Don’t miss Praça do Rossio (Rossio Square), one of the liveliest places in Lisbon. Along with many fountains and monuments, it is also home to one of the oldest cafes in the city, Café Nicola, with its colorful art deco facade.
Dedicated to Portugal’s newly won independence from Spain in the seventeenth century, Praça dos Restauradores, or Restauradores Square, has a huge obelisk bearing two figures symbolizing Liberty and Victory.
This square adjoins Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s most famous shopping street, reserved mainly for those with deep pockets.
The fourth famous square of this part of the city is Praça da Figueira, surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and shops.
On this square, there is also the “Confeitaria Nacional” pastry shop, almost 200 years old, one of the most beautiful in Europe. Do not miss trying a piece of cake here.
Viewpoints of Lisbon
Lisbon has many fantastic viewpoints, so visit some if you have time.
One of the main attractions in Lisbon is the Santa Justa Elevator, from the top of which there is a view of the river, the city center, and the surrounding area.
This lift is very popular with tourists, so there is often a long queue at the entrance, but it is worth the wait if you have enough time.
You can reach the viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcantara with the Gloria funicular that departs from Restauradores Square.
Some Additional Tips for Visiting Lisbon
Whether you’re in a rush and need to visit Lisbon in three days (or even less) or have time to explore this colorful, vibrant city at your own pace, a little preparation will help you enjoy and make the most of your time.
In the continuation of the text are some tips that may be helpful when traveling to the Portuguese capital.
Like many European cities, Lisbon also offers a tourist card.
If you plan to visit many sights and tourist attractions, this card could be an excellent way to save money.
Three cards on offer are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.
The Lisbon Card allows you to enter about thirty attractions for free and offers unlimited free use of public transport.
This card is also helpful if you are planning trips because, with it, you can travel to Cascais and Sintra for free.
With the Lisbon Card, you will also get a discount in some restaurants and shops.
Another advantage of this card is that you can skip the line if you use it in some places, so you won’t have to wait long to enter Torre de Belém, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Museu de Arqueologia in Belém.
Payment in Lisbon
In Portugal, the euro is used, and it is recommended that you always have a small amount of cash because you cannot pay with a credit card in some places.
Although you can use cards without problems in many places, you will need cash in small local shops and cafes and when buying from street vendors.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you, though, as there are plenty of pickpockets in Lisbon.
Instead, try always to have enough cash with you so that you don’t have to look for an ATM whenever you want to buy something small.
Lisbon is an excellent destination for foodies.
In addition to an excellent range of restaurants and several food festivals, there is also the Mercado da Ribeira, a famous food market.
Here you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables every day, but also enjoy the offer of numerous restaurants that have their stalls here.
Although the prices are slightly higher than in restaurants, the service is fantastic and fast, so you won’t have to wait long for your meal or dessert.
It’s a great way to try many local specialties without visiting restaurants that are out of the way or require reservations.
This food market is also a local favorite, with a lively atmosphere and a perfect mood.
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