I recently embarked on a lovely trip with the girls and spent three days in Lisbon. Exploring Lisbon for the first time and the various famous landmarks as well as visiting the beautiful place of Sintra. Here is a look into how we spent our time in both picture and video form. Yes, that’s right I am including a travel vlog in this post!
Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small amount of commission should you click the link and make a purchase. These links will be marked with an *.
This post is a fairly long one with lots of photos from the trip. At the end of the post, you can find the Lisbon travel vlog, if you prefer to skip to that.
Lisbon in the capital city of Portugal, known as the city of seven hills. That’s right you will be trekking up and down various hills when exploring this wonderful city. There are several neighbourhoods within Lisbon, all offering something different. Baixa is the main centre of Lisbon with Alfama being the oldest neighbourhood. Bairro Alto is where you will find more of the nightlife, with Chiado being more of the shopping area. Then you have Belém with the famous Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) along the water edge, and Mouraria the most traditional of the neighbourhoods. You also have the newer developed area of Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) and Alcântara, the dock area known for the nightclubs set in the old dock warehouses.
So there is a little about Lisbon’s neighbourhoods, and now here is how I spent three days In Lisbon exploring as many as I could.
Three Days in Lisbon:
Our outbound journey took us into the early hours of the morning, with the inbound journey landing back in Manchester Airport in the early hours. This meant we essentially had two full days and one part (nearly full day) to explore the wonderful city and surrounding areas.
The day (night) we arrived was the big Santo António festival. The patron saint of the city (one of) and as such big festivities take place; with street parties and performances. Usually, the festivities start from the start of June right through to the end of the month; with Santo António reaching the highpoint on June 12th. So, a word of warning if you are travelling into the city from the airport that evening; a lot of roads will be closed and it is difficult to get close to the centre via car. We found out the hard way! This festival is also be known as the sardine festival. You will find people wearing sardine shaped hats, eating sardines; you name it, sardine central! What a start to our three days in Lisbon.
Where we stayed:
Our hotel, VIP Executive Eden Aparthotel*, is in the Baixa area of Lisbon; on Praça dos Restauradores. This made it pretty central and a great base for exploring. Once a cinema, it has since been converted into a large aparthotel, with a rooftop pool and bar. This was one of the main reasons for booking so that we could view the city from above whilst also relaxing by the pool.
As there were three of us, we had a triple room, which was actually one bedroomed apartment, with a small kitchenette area. A great base, especially for a longer visit to the city. The room and parts of the hotel look like they need a bit of updating, however, this didn’t bother us, as we were out and about for most of the time anyway. I didn’t take photos of the room, but look how beautiful the view is from the rooftop pool!
Unfortunately, the front of the hotel was covered in scaffolding. There were also a few cranes nearby, with one coming over the pool area on occasions. Hopefully, the neighbouring building work will be completed soon.
Day 1 – Exploring Lisbon & Boat Party
Since we only had a short time in the city, we wanted to hit the ground running and explore as much of Lisbon* as we could. Heading south down Praça dos Restauradores we were aiming to hit the shoreline; taking in the sights as we passed.
Elevador Santa Justa:
Along this route, we came across Elevador Santa Justa, the famous lift that takes you from the lower streets of Baixa to Largo do Carmo. This is apparently still part of the public transport as well as a huge tourist attraction. Upon the viewing platform, you can see a fabulous view of the rooftops of Lisbon. The lift has an Effiel Tower look to it, and that is because it was designed by the student of the architect who designed it.
The queue for this was massive, so we kept on walking down towards the shoreline.
The Rua Augusta Arch & Praça do Comércio:
Following the pretty street of shops and cafes, we saw the Rua Augusta Arch looming in front of us. A beautiful stone archway with adorning statues in and around the top. This arch is high with beautiful yellow walls on either side. Walking through the arch leads onto Praça do Comércio, a large plaza area. It is actually Lisbon’s biggest plaza and is on the edge of the Tagus estuary. A large monument in the centre, with a vast array of cafes and restaurants along the edges.
This plaza is also a bit of a transport hub, with trams going in both directions. The famous tram 28 and tram 15 passes through here. There is also access to the ferry port from here. Down by the river estuary, you can find buskers, artists and even a small ‘beach’.
With limited time in Lisbon, we thought one of the best ways of fitting in the many sites was via a tuk-tuk tour*. You can book these in advance, or find loads dotted all around Lisbon offering tours. We jumped on a tuk-tuk at the bottom of Praça do Comércio, and for €60 had an hour tour around the older part of Lisbon in the Alfama area. Ideally to get our bearings a walking tour would have been best, but we couldn’t resist having a go in one of the tuk-tuks!
Just to note: when on these tours, you sometimes have to make quick exits and entrances into the tuk-tuks; as they are not always allowed to park near the sites. The driver will then do a few laps around the area until you are ready to jump back aboard, so make sure you take note of the tuk-tuk and driver. We made several stops around the Alfama neighbourhood during the tour.
Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral):
Our first stop was at the Lisbon Cathedral*. This place was brimming with people, both tourists and locals. As it was the day after Santo António, it is a national holiday for the people of Lisbon, so the streets were full of people.
The cathedral or Sé de Lisboa is Lisbon’s most important and iconic religious building. You can enter for free, however, if you want to look around the cloisters there is a small fee of €2.50. Here you can see the partial excavation of foundations of the mosque that the cathedral was built upon. If you do decide to enter, make sure you are respectful for those visiting the cathedral for other reasons than the tourist attraction.
Sé de Lisboa is located on the main road between Baixa to Alfama. It is worth noting that it is on the route of the famous yellow tram 28.
Miradouro das Portas do Sol Viewpoint:
The next stop of the tuk-tuk tour brings you to one of the most famous viewpoints of Lisbon. It is often the place in which you see the photographs of the terracotta roof tiled buildings. The Miradouro das Portas do Sol*. Close to the cathedral, Lisbon castle and on the tram 28 route.
This area is brimming with life, with various artists, buskers, you name it spending time here. It is also one of the busiest viewpoints of Lisbon, so always busy with tourists. There is a cafe/kiosk where you can sit and relax with a coffee, as well as view the São Vicente statue, who happens to be the patron saint of Lisbon.
Whilst we were at this viewing platform we were able to see a music video being made. It wasn’t until we got home, that I was able to find out who the singer was, and it turns out he is a French singer named Tydiaz filming the video for ‘Vale’. You can see the video here.
You may remember in my Madrid blog post, that we were part of a Spanish TV programme in our hotel. I am still to find this footage, so if anyone does please let me know!
Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte:
Moving on from one viewpoint to another, you have a treat with another breathtaking viewpoint. This time it was the Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte*. You get another different view of Lisbon with the castle and central Lisbon in view. There are also love locks here, and apparently, this is where young Portuguese couples would meet up without the prying eyes of their parents and neighbours. The viewpoint is the highest viewpoint of Lisbon. Again the number 28 tram stops nearby.
There are a few small kiosks in this area, so you can grab a handmade lemonade (with or without the addition of alcohol) to relax with and take in the view. Many tuk-tuks are parked up here too; so this viewpoint is becoming more popular.
The André Saraiva Mural:
Next up on our tuk-tuk tour was The André Saraiva Mural in São Vicente de Fora. A very long mural of hand-painted tiles and mosaic-like art. It is very impressive to look at and adds a bit of brightness to the already colourful streets of Lisbon. We didn’t stop here, but the tuk-tuk did take us all the way around to look at it.
The tuk-tuk made it’s back down to where we started and thus concluding our tour of the Alfama area in Lisbon. It was a great way to sightsee, and I would have loved to have done some of the other tours available. Maybe on my next visit! What better way to start off our three days in Lisbon?
Can the Can Lisboa:
Following our tour, it was time for food. We chose to stay within the Praça do Comércio, opting to eat at Can the Can Lisboa. This was lovely, as we sat in the sun overlooking the square and taking in the atmosphere. A prosecco sangria and Ceasar salad with rustic potatoes was the meal of choice. It was truly delicious! The sangria gave me an idea of how to change up my White Sangria Recipe too!
We explored a little bit more of the nearby streets, of which the names elude me. Lisbon really is a beautiful city, no matter where you are. I know that we walked up to near the top of the Elevador Santo Justa, and had a little peek into the TOPO rooftop bar; which has a little faux grass platform with sun loungers to relax on.
As we had a busy morning/afternoon we decided to head back to the hotel and relax on the rooftop before getting ready and heading out to the pre-booked Lisbon Boat Party.
Lisbon Boat Party:
We thought we would try something a bit different; mixing a bit of sightseeing in with partying. This was the perfect way to do it! The Lisbon Boat Party* is every Thursday, and offers a sunset cruise up and down the river Tagus, taking in various sites, seeing the sun go down and a bit of partying. You have to buy your tickets beforehand, and they often sell out. Tickets cost about €24, which gets you access to the boat party, a welcome drink and one free drink.
We were able to see the 25 de Abril bridge up close. This is the famous suspension bridge of Lisbon, which resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. Cars and trains commute across here daily, as the bridge connects Lisbon to Almada. There is also some fab artwork on the bottom of the bridge to admire.
One of the other famous sites to see during this is the Belém tower, otherwise known as Torre de Belém. Not a close-up view of the tower, but still a beautiful one with the sun setting behind it. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was both a fortress and a port in the past. Now, you can look around the inside of this and is one of the tourist attractions in Lisbon. We only saw this from the boat party and didn’t really make our way to the Belém area in our three days in Lisbon.
Tram 15 takes you past this and to this part of Lisbon.
After the boat party, which lasts around four hours, we hopped on Tram 15 back to where we were staying. We decided to make day 2 the later night; as we wanted to be up early to carry on exploring. The end of day one of our three days in Lisbon.
Day 2 – Exploring Sintra
So, before heading out on our three days in Lisbon trip, I had researched where we could visit. I read lots of articles and blog posts recommending a trip to Sintra*. Heading to Rossio station (which is very close to our aparthotel) to get the 40 or so minute train to the town of Sintra. There are regular trains every 20 minutes to and from Sintra, and this a very popular way of exploring out of Lisbon. Be warned queues for train tickets can be ridiculously long, and the trains are often jam-packed.
TOP TIP: We noticed that one of the shops in the station was selling train tickets, so skipping the queues we bought ours here. You can also by tickets of the various palaces here too; however, they are limited.
Arriving in Sintra, there are various vendors selling tickets for buses. Unbeknownst to me, Sintra is a massive area, and getting to all the attractions on foot is near on impossible (especially if you are only in Sintra for a short time) so a bus ticket is needed.
Sintra Sightseeing Bus:
We opted for the red Sintra Sightseeing bus; which cost around €20 for the day. The red sightseeing bus has two lines, a red line and a blue line. The red line takes you all around Sintra, including to Cabo da Roca. This is the Western most point of mainland Europe. There is also a blue line which takes you a shorter distance from the train station towards Pena Palace.
We took the red line, remaining on the bus until Pena Palace, so we were able to see lots of the various sites on the route straight from the bus. Although we didn’t leave the bus at these sites, we felt that we got to see loads during a trip to Sintra.
The City Sightseeing buses were every half an hour each, and overlapped, so you had an approximately 15-minute wait for each bus. This only overlapped on that part of the route, so if you are on the red route, you may have a 30-minute wait. The bus is also only a mini-bus due to the size of the streets in Sintra, so in peak times you may have a long wait if the bus is full. There is no standing room on these, as far as I know.
Palacio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace):
One of the main reasons for visiting Sintra is to see the beautiful Palacio Nacional da Pena*, otherwise known as Pena Palace. My what a beautiful building it is! Red and yellow walls, with the famous Portuguese blue and white tiles, adorn the palace. You can explore the outside terraces of the palace, enjoying a drink and snack in the cafe or a meal in the joining restaurant. You can also explore inside; however you are unable to take photographs in here, and they are pretty strict with this. If you have a backpack on as well, this has to be taken off and carried or worn on your front.
You require tickets to enter the palace grounds, with the price of the palace differing from just visiting the garden area. It is best to buy the dual ticket so that you can visit the palace and gardens, and this costs about €14. This is a very popular tourist attraction so expect queues for tickets, as well as into the palace. Also, do note, there are quite steep hills up to the palace, which may be unsuitable for people with mobility difficulties. I think there is a shuttle bus, but this will only take you so far.
The palace itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was originally a monastery before being transformed into a palace. Today the palace is still used for state occasions, as well as the major tourist attraction.
Evening – Pink Street
After visiting the palace, we headed back for the train to Lisbon. Hungry from our sightseeing, we decided to try the Hard Rock Cafe Lisboa. The staff here were super friendly and chirpy. This was the same as most other hard rock cafes, and we took advantage of the happy hour cocktails to start our evening. This is also just a short walk away from our hotel.
After eating we headed back to the hotel, freshened up and had a cocktail on the hotel rooftop. Not the best cocktails, but the view was amazing. To say this is a rooftop bar, there isn’t any music playing outside, unless you bring your own; which is what fellow guests were doing. A good place to start your night.
Level 8 Rooftop Bar:
We decided to walk up a few of the many streets in Lisbon, heading to Level 8 rooftop bar. This bar is owned by Disaronno, situated on Rua Castilho. It can be a bit hard to find, and you feel like you are walking into an office block, but well worth it for the views. The temperature had dropped, and therefore the servers provide you with blankets to keep warm. This place is well worth a visit, the espresso martini is delicious!
We couldn’t visit Lisbon, without visiting the infamous pink street. Once the red light district of Lisbon, it is now a hub of bars and clubs to enjoy the party atmosphere of Lisbon. As the name suggests, the street is actually pink. This area gets full of people enjoying the night, with some of the bars being really overcrowded. It has a great atmosphere, and well worth a visit if you are in Lisbon. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see this area in the day time.
The end of day two of our three days in Lisbon.
Day 3 – Time Out Market & Home:
So, as our flight wasn’t until later, the final day of our three days in Lisbon, we continued to explore Lisbon. We didn’t have to catch the airport bus until about 6 p.m. so this gave us a great amount of time to explore a bit more of this vibrant city.
Mercado da Ribeira / Time Out Market:
We walked to the famous Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre and the home to the Time Out Market. What a buzz of a place this is! It was before 12 p.m. but already buzzing with lots of people enjoying the various food on offer.
The market is in two halves. One part the food hall of the Time Out market, and the other side is a more traditional market of fruit and veg, as well as meat and fish. There is also a large florist full of beautiful flowers here. Separating the two halves of the market is like a craft market, where you can pick up handmade goodies from your trip to Lisbon.
Time Out Market:
The Time Out Market has 35 kiosks where you can sample Portuguese delicacies, as well as other world foods. There are plenty of tables in the middle to sit, take in the atmosphere and enjoy your food and drinks. A few bars offer refreshing drinks, and there is even a cooking station; where you can learn to cook various Portuguese dishes.
I opted to try a few croquettes and as a meal deal this cost around €7.50 from Croqueteria. There are a few different fillings to choose from. I chose; Tradicional de Carnes (beef and pork), Alaheira de Caça e Grelos (game sausage and rapini) and Queijo de Cabra (Goats cheese with caramelised red onion). These were served with crispy potatoes, which are basically crisps, and a soft drink. Very tasty and moreish! I could have definitely eaten more of them.
Now, I couldn’t have visited Lisbon without sampling the yummy Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart), and what better place to sample than in the Time Out Market. Oh my were they worth the wait! These are absolutely delicious, a delicate balance of crispy pastry with sweet vanilla custard. Manteigaria have the main shop in Largo de Camões, in Chiado, and now have this stall in the Time Out market. All are made fresh on the premises, and you get them warm which makes them even more delicious!
Exploring Lisbon Markets:
Not only did we visit the Time Out Market, but we stumbled across another craft market in Praça do Comércio. This again was full of handmade products to take back with you, some bags and other marble plaques that resembled the tiles you see on the buildings around Lisbon. I wish we had more than hand luggage, as I would have been shopping way over my suitcase limit at this place.
For the final few hours we relaxed by the rooftop pool, and then headed for the famous spit-roast chicken and chips. Our place of choice was nearby to the hotel and called Bonjardim. Apparently, this is one of the best places to get the famous Piri-Piri chicken, and you will not be disappointed if you visit here. You can make the chicken as spicy as you like, as there is Piri-Piri oil on the table to drizzle over. My word is it spicy!
The server brings the chicken, chips and any other sides you may have ordered on sperate platters, and dishes a bit of each onto your plate. The price is also amazing, with the chicken and chips being around €7! The perfect way to finish three days in Lisbon!
So, there you have my three days in Lisbon travel diary.
Have you visited Lisbon before? What were/ would be your preferred places to visit /things to do? Let me know in the comments below!
If you liked this post, why not see my other travel posts in my travel section?
Three Days in Lisbon Travel Vlog:
Here is a travel vlog which I made to document my three days in Lisbon. Hope you enjoy! Don’t forget to subscribe, like and share if you enjoyed it and to see more of my travel and soon to be craft antics!
If you liked this post, why not pin Three Days in Lisbon on Pinterest and share the love?