Here’s a Lisbon 3-day Itinerary to Thrill Your Socks Off
This Lisbon 3-day itinerary will show you why Portugal is more than just the ‘country next to Spain’. It is also that, but you know what we mean.
So, you’ve munched on a pastel de nata and seen the cathedral. Ready to go home? Didn’t think so. There’s so much more in terms of pastry and ecclesiastical edifices to be discovered. Not just that; there’s also cork souvenirs, a couple of rival football teams and a bunch of children’s activities (but don’t let that put you off visiting). The historic centre is just that: a historic centre. But, it’s a particularly quaint and crumbling one, with little hidden restaurants hiding in the crevasses of hills traversed by old-world funiculars.
With its myriad cultural hotspots, fancy neighbourhoods and shopping avenues – as well as being a stone’s throw (not literally) from the fairytale-esque Sintra – it wasn’t too hard to come up with this Lisbon 3-day itinerary.
Begin day one by exploring the old-town district of Alfama. A baptism of fire in your exploration of Lisbon, you’ll browse the idiosyncratic boutiques and sip homemade brews (coffee, that is: it’s not yet beer o’clock). Then, as if out of nowhere, you’ll bump into the Sé de Lisboa, which is a
fancy Portuguese way of saying Lisbon Cathedral. If you squint your eyes, its façade looks like a face, with the imposing rose window the nose and the bell towers the eyes. On second thought, maybe grab that beer.
Your legs are kaput after trekking up and down the historic lanes. Hop on an old-world tram and watch the iconic red roofs of Lisbon pass you by. Still in Alfama, stop for lunch at a café, such as Audrey’s or Ginja de Alfama, which serve simple traditional delicacies. Grab something sweet at Alfama Doce and spend the rest of the afternoon stuffing your face with pastéis de nata, which are pretty tasty despite the awkward English translation of egg tarts, which they are most certainly not. They’re like custard-filled pastries, and they taste of sweet, sweet Portugal.
Head back to your Plum Guide apartment for a little nap, and rest those weary egg-tart-filled legs. Alfama, Bairro Alto and Chiado are among the best neighbourhoods for sightseeing and shopping, so all make for great places to stay. Then, gather you’re squabbling family (is that just ours?) and wander through the historic centre. For something pretty exclusive, try the restaurants of Belcanto or Alma.
Legs and joints aching from the previous day’s sightseeing? Are the kids buzzing about with more energy than the sun? Get a cab to the Parque das Nações neighbourhood, a little outside the city centre. Here, you’ll get a view of the Tagus River. Fancy that view from higher up? Climb aboard the cable car and snap some photos of the red 25 de Abril Bridge.
Drop in for lunch at one of the seafood and meat specialists along the trendy part of the Parque das Nações and browse the stores of the glassy Centro Vasco da Gama mall. Drop in to see the sharks in the Lisbon Oceanarium and see your kids pretending learning in the science museum.
You can either stay in Parque das Nações and pick a fancy restaurant there or head back to the Alfama district on your way back to a more central apartment. After dinner, stroll down the shopping streets that culminate in the Praça do Comércio, and wolf down an ice cream in view of the water.
We’re going to, let’s be Frank, Sintra. Well, you are. If you want. I mean, you could stay and check out such cultural attractions in central Lisbon as the Lisbon Botanical Gardens, the Miradouro de Santa Catarina and the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos. Plenty more where they came from, too. It’s just that Sintra offers something completely different. Sand, sea and castles. Either get the train direct to Sintra from Lisbon’s Rossio Station or grab a cab for the half-hour drive west.
Get the castle you always dreamed of (not to keep) with a trip to the National Palace of Pena and wander around the Convent of the Capuchos. Or screw all of that, and just head on down to the Praia da Adraga, the Praia da Ursa or the Praia do Guincho beaches.
Stay the night in the Sintra area and have a
weekly-argument romantic and loving stroll along the cliffs at night (taking care not to fall off). Treat yourself – yes, you deserve it after all this stressful holidaying – to some fine dining at A Raposa, Seteais and the Gourmet Restaurant. That last one has a more imaginative menu than name. Sit on a terrace with wine or coffee on a summer night and take in the fresh air away from city life to cap off your Lisbon 3-day itinerary.