Dec 2017 Self Guided Walking Tour Itineraries for 3 Days in Lisbon
If you’re visiting Portugal’s capital, we think 3 days in Lisbon should be your minimum to really enjoy the city. We recently had the opportunity to stay and explore for a full month, and we narrowed down the best sights to a 3 day itinerary through three different self-guided walking tours.
Though very hilly, Lisbon is very walkable, and we hope you’ll use this guide to have 3 perfect days in Lisbon. But don’t worry if you only have one or two days in Lisbon. You can still fit everything from the three itineraries into two days, provided you’re in good shape and don’t care to spend time at museums or attractions with long lines. If you’re limited to one day in Lisbon, then we’d recommend prioritizing the first two itineraries (the green and blue points on the map).
Here’s a quick look at what’s included in this post:
– Essential tips for transportation and walking in Lisbon
– 3 self-guided itineraries for walking through Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods and main points of interest, plus 4 bonus attractions if you have more time
– Lisbon walking tour map (get the more detailed, interactive version by e-mail)
– Recommendations for the best area to stay in Lisbon for sightseeing
Video: Glimpses of Lisbon in 38 Seconds
We put together this short video to give you a quick taste of Lisbon, Portugal. We took a lot more photos than video, so this really just scratches the surface!
Prefer a guided walking tour of Lisbon?
We can personally recommend the following local-led tours:
– Get Lost Go Local: laid-back private walking tours with Nuno that focus on local spots tourists don’t typically see (alternatively, you can find him through Airbnb Experiences for small group tours)
– Culinary Backstreets: foodie tours that focus on neighborhood history and authentic culture (use discount code INTLTRVL for 5% off)
What you need to know about transportation and walking in Lisbon
Before we dive into our 3 day itinerary, there are a few things you should know to have the best experience.
Lisbon is a very walkable city, but it’s also very hilly. We exercise daily so the steep inclines and endless stairs in this City of Seven Hills weren’t a problem, but we know they’re a challenge for some. Folks with mobility issues will sometimes be able to find public elevators or funiculars (fees may apply) to help overcome the changes in elevation when getting from one place to another.
It’s also important to have shoes with some degree of traction on the soles because many of the sidewalks are made from smooth limestone rocks that can get slippery. If you’re headed downhill, be extra careful on the white rocks!
If you’re doing our 3 days in Lisbon itinerary to a T, then you’ll need to take public transit at least twice – to and from Belem on the third day. If you plan to do additional sightseeing, like the optional ride on the historic tram 28 on day one and visiting some of our bonus points of interest, then you might want to consider a public transit pass instead of paying per journey.
Lisbon’s public transportation includes underground and above ground metros, buses, historic trams, new electric trams, funiculars, ferries, and regional trains. You can purchase a rechargeable Via Viagem transit card which works on all of these transit options – but note that you can only have one “type” of ticket on your card at a time. Pre-paying on the Via Viagem card will give you a discount on the fare you would pay onboard (and getting tickets on board isn’t always an option). Click here to learn more about the options.
If you’re planning to take public transportation as well as visit some museums or other paid attractions, then you can save time and money with the Lisbon card. This pass gives you unlimited rides on public transportation and free entry to 20+ museums for a period of 24-, 48-, or 72 hours, plus discounts at various vendors.
Where to stay in Lisbon
The explosion of tourism in Lisbon has had an unfortunate effect on housing in the city. New hotels and vacation rental companies have bought out historic properties and driven up housing prices, pushing out many locals who can no longer to afford to live in their old neighborhoods. Please be conscientious as you choose your accommodations and support small, locally owned businesses whenever possible.
In our opinion, the best areas to stay are within 1.5 miles of Praça do Comércio where you can walk to just about everything. The closer in you are, the fewer hills you’ll probably have to climb. Of course, public transit is also an option if you stay further out.
We found a locally-owned Airbnb apartment near the Intendente metro station. It was a nice, downhill walk to the town center through a multi-cultural neighborhood.
Click here for up to $40 off on your first Airbnb rental! (referral link)
Other neighborhoods like Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Rossio are very nice but may be a bit more spendy. We know several people who enjoy staying in the Belem area, though it requires more time on the metro or tram to visit most attractions.
Day One: Lisboa Centro Historico Walk
The first day’s itinerary covers much of Lisbon’s historic center. This walking tour can be made in a loop, starting at any point, and is just as effectively done in reverse.
Alternatively, you can ride the popular Tram 28 from its initial stop on Praça Martim Moniz (praça, meaning plaza or main square), which passes through Alfama (and most of day 2’s itinerary) before heading west. The trams get very crowded in the tourist district and even the waiting line at the first stop can get quite long by mid morning. It’s highly recommended to go first thing in the morning and grab a seat at the initial stop. You can ride Tram 28 as far as Campo de Ourique, but the market opens later in the day, so I would recommend getting off at the Assembly of the Republic if you want to check out Flor da Selva’s coffee roastery (an option stop, depicted in yellow). Otherwise, get off at Praça Luís de Camões.
Note: It’s cheaper to pre-pay (charge your transit card in advance) at a metro station than to pay the full fare onboard the tram.
1. Rossio Station
We marveled at this Moorish style building for several days before realizing it’s actually a train station in the center of town! Rossio station and the nearby metro stop with the same name, are a central hub for transportation in and around Lisbon.
From here, you can either enter the train station and take the escalators up to reach the street, Calçada do Carmo, and follow that to Convento do Carmo. Or you can stay more or less at sea level and find your way to Rua do Carmo, continuing until you see the Elevador de Santa Justa in one of the side alleys. You’ll know it when you see it!
2. Elevador de Santa Justa
This cast iron vertical lift was built in the early 1900’s and is now a National Monument. You can ride the Elevador de Santa Justa twice with a 5 euro ticket (free with the Lisbon Card). Rua do Carmo is also a nice street to explore for shopping.
If you prefer not to take the elevator, you can hike up nearby streets to reach the old convent. Then from the convent, you can get a peek at the top of the elaborate elevator through the Bellalisa Elevator Restaurant’s rooftop deck.
3. Convento do Carmo
At the top of the elevador, you’ll be right next to Convento do Carmo, or the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is one of the few historic buildings still standing after the great earthquake of 1755. This is one of the best examples in the city of just how devastating the earthquake was to the city. You can even see how the arched doorway around the side was split and repaired.
From the convent and elevator, feel free to explore the grid of streets that make up Lisbon’s tourist center as much or as little as you like. There are plenty of shops and restaurants catering to tourists. This area gets quite crowded so we tended to avoid it. Just eventually make your way to Rua Augusta so you don’t miss the next stop.
4. Arco da Rua Augusta
This impressive archway was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the great earthquake of 1755. It’s very iconic of the city center and leads you to the next big point of interest. For a view of the river and the plaza, you can take a lift up to the clock and climb stairs to the top (2.50 euros, free with Lisbon Card).
5. Praça do Comércio
This wide open commercial plaza sits across from the Tagus River and is lined with shops as well as the Tourist Information Center. Cross the street for a closer view of the waterfront and ferry station.
6. A Vida Portuguesa Gift Shop
This carefully curated made-in-Portugal shop showcases high quality products created in Portugal. Forget the cheap trinkets shops that can be found on every corner of Lisbon. This store has three locations throughout town, and it’s the only souvenir shop you’ll need. From stationary to handcrafts to foodstuffs, the best of the best is here. Even if you’re not shopping, take a peek inside to admire Portuguese artistry.
7. Manteigaria and Praça Luís de Camões
It’s time to sample some of Portugal’s best pastries: the famous pasteis da nata. These delicious egg custard pastries can be found all across town, but our Lisbon food tour guide said that after much research, Manteigaria was her favorite. There’s no seating at this location, so order your pasteis to go, and enjoy them fresh and warm while people-watching on the plaza.
The narrow streets directly North of Praça Luís de Camões are full of charming little restaurants of the Chiado neighborhood. Feel free to wander back and forth as you make your way uphill toward the viewpoint.
8. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Miradouros, or viewpoint overlooks, are one of Lisbon’s best features – and we’ll be seeing a lot more of them on our second walking tour for day two. This particular overlook has one of the best views of the old castle across the valley.
Below the miradouro is a funicular that we’ll follow from the top of the hill, Bairro Alto, to the neighborhoods down below.
9. Ascensor da Glória
This funicular/elevator is a short, out-and-back railway to move people up and down the hill. The price is just as steep as the hill you’ll climb, considering how short the journey is (but it’s free with an all-day transit pass or the Lisbon Card). We preferred to walk and take photos of the murals that line the path.
Once you reach the bottom, you’ll see the big Praça dos Restauradores out in front of you. Cross the square to reach another tasty treat…
10. Fábrica da Nata
At Fábrica da Nata, you’ll be able to sit and enjoy your creamy custard tarte with a coffee in a classic cafe atmosphere or outside on the terrace. This was another one of our favorites for that buttery, flaky crust and sweet filling. Be sure to check the workshop window to catch the pastries being made. At the time of this writing, pasteis are 1 euro each.
Bonus: Mercado da Baixa
One last place to check on your walking tour is the Praça da Figueira, which sometimes has a temporary craft and/or food market set up in the middle of the square.
Day Two: Miradouros and Alfama Walk
This walking tour itinerary would be best to do on a Tuesday or a Saturday when the giant Feira da Ladra market is open. Again, you can really start at any point and follow it in either direction.
For our detailed Lisbon walking tour map and information about each stop, get our free interactive map by e-mail:
1. Miradouros: Nossa Senhora do Monte & Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
2. Feira da Ladra Market
4. Miradouro de Santo Estêvão, Tiled Fountain and Houses
5. Muralha Moura and Tiled Courtyard
6. History of Lisbon Mural
7. Miradouro das Portas do Sol (2) and Santa Luzia
8. Lisbon Cathedral
9. Teatro Romano & Museum
10. Open Air Neighborhood Portrait Exhibit
11. Snacks at Casa Independente or Seafood at Cervejaria Ramiro
We have so much more to tell you about all these great places on the day 2 and day 3 itineraries. It’s all in our interactive map – sign up at the bottom of this post to get free access.
Day Three: Belém and LX Factory
If you’re staying in central Lisbon, you’ll want to take public transportation out to Belém (it’s also nice and flat along the river if you prefer to ride a bike). It was easiest for us to take the modern electric tram from Praça da Figueira (it’s initial stop) and ride it to the Largo da Princesa stop, just a couple blocks North of the Belém Tower. As a reminder: Tram fares are cheaper if you load your Via Viagem card from a metro stop rather than buy onboard the tram – or get unlimited free access with a Lisbon Card.
There’s a long walk from Belém to the LX Factory, but fewer places to visit and fewer changes in elevation than the other days. You can always hop on a bus or tram between the two ends of this itinerary, if you prefer. And if entrepreneurial-hipster-urban revival spaces aren’t really your thing, you can always skip the LX Factory.
Note that the LX Factory hosts the LX Market on Sunday afternoons, so when possible, we would suggest completing this walking tour on a Sunday for the best experience.
1. Torre de Belém
2. Monument to the Discoverers
3. Jerónimos Monastery & Church
4. Pasteis de Belém
6. Village Underground
Our Top Tips for Intentional Travel in Lisbon
- Try to make a local connection, whether it’s meeting a friend-of-a-friend you find through social media, staying with locals, or hiring a local guide (see below)
- Shop at locally owned, independent businesses rather than familiar chains like Starbucks or Walmart
- For more guidance, see: how to have authentic, meaningful travel experiences in touristy areas and our simple rules for intentional travel series.
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