4 Days in Lisbon, Portugal – A Complete Itinerary

January 15, 2024


When visiting Portugal, Lisbon should be at the top of your list of places to see. With a rich history, plus stunning architecture and tilework, charming alleyways, and gorgeous viewpoints around the city, it's an aesthetically lovely place. Its delicious gastronomy and welcoming atmosphere further enhance the city's appeal and made it a fantastic place to spend a few days. In this article, I'll walk you through our Lisbon itinerary and give plenty of food and drink recommendations to inspire you.

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A Little Bit about Lisbon

Lisbon, or Lisboa in Portuguese, is not only the capital city, but is also the largest city in Portugal with a population of roughly 548,000. It's one of the oldest cities in the world and is the second-oldest capital city in Europe (after Athens). 

1755 Earthquake

Although Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe, an earthquake on November 1, 1755 (the Great Lisbon Earthquake), in conjunction with subsequent fires and a tsunami, destroyed much of Lisbon and surrounding areas. After the debris was cleared, the king and prime minister decided to raze the Baixa district. In its place, they built numerous squares, large avenues, and widened streets.

Today, you can still get a feel for what pre-1755 Lisbon was like if you wander through Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It was largely undamaged by the earthquake. As a result, the medieval, winding layout for its streets along with many narrow pedestrian alleys remain intact.

Get Ready to Climb Hills

Built on seven hills (though I swear it will feel like more), Lisbon is quite hilly and you'll need some strong legs to explore this lovely city.

Pedestrian street at night in Lisbon Portugal

When you realize the street you need is just across this valley...

One positive about having lots of hills in a city is the opportunity for some impressive views. Around Lisbon, you'll find many miradouros, or viewpoints, which overlook the valleys and the Tagus River on which the city is located.

When to Visit Lisbon

Since Lisbon has 300 days of sunny weather, you can really visit anytime you like. Summers, however, are not only extremely hot but also more crowded, so this is probably the season to avoid. Spring (March - May) or autumn (Sept - Oct) are the best times of year to visit Lisbon. Though winter would probably also be nice, especially if you're coming from elsewhere in Europe for a city break.

We visited in late-September and early October with a couple of days in Lisbon at the beginning and at the end of our 2-week trip to Portugal. The days were sunny and temperatures were in the mid to upper-80s°F (29-31°C) during the day. At night, temperatures dipped to low 70s°F (21-23°C). 

Paired with the low humidity, these temperatures felt great to me coming from Hong Kong where it's very much still hot and muggy at that time of year.

Getting to Lisbon

Traveling to Lisbon is quite convenient whether you're coming from other locations in Europe or from further abroad. 

Flying to Lisbon

If you're visiting Portugal from abroad, you'll most likely fly into Lisbon. We flew from Hong Kong to Lisbon on Emirates, with a layover in Dubai.

The Lisbon International Airport (Humberto Delgado Airport) is only ~9-km from the center of Lisbon so it's quick and easy to get to the city. There are several ways to reach the city by public transportation. But it's also not that expensive to take a taxi.

Taxi from Airport to Lisbon

We took a metered taxi (be sure to line up in the official queue) to our hotel (~€25) in the city center. Since our hotel was in a restricted neighborhood, only cars that have the correct local permits could drive there. As a result, many Uber drivers could not drive all the way to our hotel so taking a taxi was the best option.

Train to Lisbon

If you're coming from other cities in Portugal, you might arrive in Lisbon by train. The Santa Apolónia Station is the one from which we left to go to Porto and I think it's the best one in which to arrive.

A taxi to Santa Apolónia Station from our hotel in the Santa Catarina neighborhood cost €13. If you're staying in the Alfama neighborhood, you could even walk to the station.

High-speed train in Portugal

Driving to Lisbon

Getting to Lisbon by car is actually quite easy, as we learned when trying to return our rental car on the way back from our Portugal road trip. In the northern part of the city, the streets are fairly wide and it's pretty easy to navigate.

However, parking is expensive and I would not recommend trying to drive in the historic districts of Lisbon, which are often restricted to local-only permits. Getting around Lisbon by public transportation and walking is easy, so I recommend ditching the car while in Lisbon.

Where to Stay in Lisbon

Lisbon has many charming neighborhoods so it can be difficult to decide in which one to stay! If you stay in any of the central neighborhoods, such as Bairro Alto, Baixa, Chiado, you'll be within easy walking distance of many sights and great restaurants and bars. Alfama is a bit quieter and also a good option. 

Lisbon Hotel Recommendation

During both of our visits to Lisbon, we stayed in the Casa do Pátio by Shiadu in the Santa Catarina neighborhood. This boutique guesthouse set around a charming courtyard is a perfect oasis in central Lisbon. Each room is unique and decorated with vintage touches, making the space feel warm and cozy. 

Casa do Patio bedroom 1
Casa do Patio room 2

Every morning, a fresh breakfast is served and you can enjoy it outside in the courtyard. The selection of pastries varies each morning, but I loved trying the codfish cakes and the curry pastry. 

Breakfast at Casa do Patio

Start Searching for a Place to Stay in Lisbon

Trying to find the perfect hotel in Lisbon or to get idea of what to budget for accommodations? Use the map below to start your search. Filter by your individual preferences and input your travel dates to see what places are available and what their nightly rates are. 

Getting Around Lisbon

In a city like Lisbon, which has so many charming back alleys and pedestrian stairways connecting the main streets, walking is the best way to see the city and fully appreciate its character. However, Lisbon also has an extensive public transportation network so it isn't necessary to walk everywhere if that's not something you enjoy.

Exploring Lisbon by Foot

As long as I'm physically able, the way that I explore a new city is by walking as much as my feet and legs will allow. If you're the same way, then here are a couple tips for walking in Lisbon. 

  • Lisbon is HILLY! This cannot be said enough. If you plug in walking directions, be sure to look at the elevation change before setting off. Sometimes Google has you walking straight up a hill and down versus going around it.
  • Comfortable sneakers are the key! Lisbon has a lot of beautiful cobblestoned sidewalks. Lovely, right? Indeed, but those things are also slippery depending on your footwear so wearing sneakers with good traction is best.

Lisbon Public Transportation 

Lisbon's public transportation system is a great option to avoid walking everywhere. From what I've read, it's affordable and convenient, though honestly, I rarely used it.

If you're looking to avoid some walking but still see the sights, I recommend the trams, buses, and funiculars. Plan your trip and find info on the Lisbon trams and buses here. One drawback to the trams, especially the iconic Tram 28, is that they are popular with tourists so they fill up and you may not be able to board at some stops.

Tram 28 in Lisbon

For travel over longer distances or between neighborhoods, the Lisbon Metro is your best bet. For travel out to the suburbs (or towns like Sintra or Cascais), the Suburban Train (CP) is the one you'll want.

Public Transportation Cards

If you plan to take public transportation frequently in Lisbon, I recommend purchasing either the Lisbon Card or the Via Viagem.

The Lisbon Card is a tourist card (24-, 48-, and 72-hour) that covers public transportation as well entrance to many museums and tourist attractions around Lisbon for the allotted time period.  

The Via Viagem is solely a public transportation card which you can purchase at metro stations. There are several options for this card, including a single ticket or 1-day ticket. This article by Lisbon Guru explains the card in more detail.

Other Ways to Get Around Lisbon

If you want to just relax while seeing the sights and are willing to spend a bit more, consider a tuk tuk tour with a local guide. Or, perhaps purchase a hop-on, hop-off bus pass. Although the bus is a more affordable option, the tuk tuk can make its way up smaller streets and is a more personalized tour.

Complete Day-by-Day Lisbon Itinerary

On our Portugal trip, we spent a couple of days in Lisbon when we first arrived to start the trip. Then, traveled around the country and returned to Lisbon for another couple of days to end our trip. 

Although we explored a fair bit in Lisbon, we also had a much more relaxed pace at the end of our trip and didn't do as much pre-planning for it. This Lisbon itinerary combines both of our visits with lots of photos and highlights from our trip, including lots of bar and restaurant recommendations. I hope it will give you ideas if you're planning a trip to Lisbon, plus help you to avoid some of our mistakes.

Restaurant Tip: If you have restaurants at which you want to be sure to eat, MAKE RESERVATIONS. Even in the "shoulder season," Lisbon restaurants seemed to fill up and the top places book up months in advance. If you're willing to eat at non-peak hours (i.e., dinner at 9:30-10:00pm), you might be able to walk in to places, others not so much. 

Day 1 - Exploring Central Lisbon

The first day of this Lisbon itinerary is devoted to exploring the city center, primarily on foot. I love to get a feel for a city by wandering, with only a vague idea of where I'm going, then stopping at various sights along the way.

Self-Guided Walking Tour 

This self-guided walking tour around central Lisbon, based on the route we took on our first day, is an excellent introduction to this beautiful city. We had a leisurely morning, so by the time we got started, this walking tour took us most of the day.

Lisbon Walking Tour Map

CLICK TO OPEN IN GOOGLE MAPS

Pastel de Nata at Manteigaria

Even if you've already had breakfast at your hotel, make room to sample a pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart) at Manteigaria. In my (and many others') opinion, Manteigaria has the best pastéis de nata (plural of pastel de nata) in Lisbon.

Though you'll often find a queue out the door, it moves fairly quickly.

Pastel de Nata at Manteigaria

Order your pastries to-go and enjoy them across the street in the Praça Luís de Camões. The iconic Tram 28 comes right by this square so you can get some great photos if you're patient.

Tram in Lisbon

Pro Tip: If you're coming from the Cais de Sodre, to get to Manteigaria, you'll have to climb a steep hill. To avoid the climb, take the Ascensor da Bica, aka Elevador de Bica - a tram which serves as a funicular to transport people up from Rua de S. Paulo to Largo Calhariz. At the top, the view of the tram with the sea in the background is a popular spot for photos. 

Elevador da Bica Lisbon
Elevador da Bica tram
Carmo Convent

After you've finished your pastries, head to the Carmo Convent (Museu Arqueológico do Carmo). The ruins of this impressive medieval Gothic church are a reminder of the devasting 1755 earthquake. At the time of the earthquake, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Convento da Ordem do Carmo), was the largest church in Lisbon. Today, its roofless nave is a poignant reminder of the earthquake.     

Carmo Convent Lisbon

When we visited, they were filming a movie in front of the Convent so we did not have a chance to go inside. We did admire it from the outside though. Normally, you can visit the ruins and the archaeological museum.

Head around the right side of the Carmo Convent to get to the Santa Justa Lift viewpoint.

Santa Justa Lift Viewpoint

The Santa Justa Lift (Elevador de Santa Justa) is a 19th-century neo-Gothic wrought-iron vertical elevator designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard. Initially used to transport goods, the lift now mainly transports tourists from the lower streets of Baixa district up to Carmo Square (Largo do Carmo)

Elevador de Santa Justa

Since it saves you a 45-m climb, this lift is quite popular and usually has a long queue. We found it easy to walk the way we did to get to the top and appreciate the viewpoint without having to wait or pay the fee for the elevator.

Looking for Sardines?

After admiring the view, make your way down from the Santa Justa Lift overlook by backtracking a bit past the Carmo Convent. Then, head downhill on Calçada do Carmo. 

Sardine shop in Lisbon Portugal

As you approach the large square, you'll see an eye-catching. colorful shop - Mundo Fantástico Da Sardinha Portuguesa (The Fantastic World Of Portuguese Sardines). In this shop, you can buy a variety of sardines, including cans with your birth year.

Praça Dom Pedro IV

Across the street from the sardine shop is the beautiful Praça Dom Pedro IV - a lively central square with gorgeous cobblestones. I loved the wavy effect paired with the beautiful architecture surrounding the square. From here, you'll also have a great view of the rear of the Carmo Convent on the hillside.

Praça Dom Pedro IV
Exploring Baixa

Next, make your way through the Baixa district and enjoy the cobblestoned, pedestrian streets lined with various shops. Along the way, you'll spot many places to stop for a pastry or Pastel de Bacalhau (codfish cake). 

Lisbon Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Mary Major, often called the Lisbon Cathedral or Sé de Lisboa, is the oldest church is Lisbon. Built in the 12th century, it has survived several earthquakes and has been renovated and restored many times.

Becky at Lisbon Cathedral

We visited on a Sunday and weren't able to go inside, but admired it from outside. 

Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon

Since we couldn't visit the cathedral, we went into the Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon (Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa) instead. Dedicated to Saint Anthony, this 18th-century Roman Catholic Church was built upon the site where the saint was born in 1195. 

Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa
Climbing to Saint George Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)

The next destination on the walking tour involves a bit of a workout. The Saint George Castle, or Castelo de São Jorge, is a short (650 m / 0.4 mi), but steep climb (55 m / 180 ft) including some stairs. If this does not sound like a good time, then check out these other ways to get to Castelo de São Jorge.

In my opinion, the climb wasn't too difficult and was fairly scenic as you make your way through some of the pedestrian alleyways. 

Pedestrian street in Lisbon
Visiting Castelo de São Jorge

The Castelo de São Jorge is a historic castle which has been updated and modified over many centuries. The hill on which the castle stands has long played an important defensive role for the city, with the oldest fortifications dating back to the 2nd century BC. 

Castelo de São Jorge entrance
Castelo de São Jorge park

Wandering around the castle ruins and admiring the views of the city was a highlight of our visit to Lisbon. It didn't hurt that we had a beautiful day weather-wise. 

View of Lisbon Castelo de São Jorge landscape

The Castelo de São Jorge was the first attraction for which we actually paid that day (€15 pp). In my opinion, the entrance fee was worth it as the site was quite extensive and the views were beautiful.   

Becky and Jeremy at Saint George Castle viewpoint
Exploring Alfama

After soaking in the views, we decided to explore the Alfama neighborhood on the way to lunch. Spread out on the hillside from the Castelo de São Jorge down to the Tagus River, Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon.

Since it was not destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, Alfama's medieval winding streets remain intact so you can really get lost as you wander through them. On the walking tour map, I'm including the route that Google tells you to go to get to Alfama Cellar. However, I recommend venturing off that path and discovering some of the smaller alleys along the way.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia

As you make your way down through Alfama, I recommend stopping at this viewpoint (miradouro). Its garden and scenic pergola, in addition to the beautiful view, make it a great spot for photos.

Lunch at Alfama Cellar

By this point in the day, you're probably feeling quite hungry. Alfama Cellar is a cozy spot nestled in the narrow streets of Alfama. They serve classic Portuguese dishes with a contemporary flair.

Charcuterie at Alfama Cellar
Codfish Cellar at Alfama Cellar

I highly recommend the Codfish Cellar - a codfish stew which is hearty and delicious. Plus, just tell them what you like and they'll help you choose a wine from their collection sourced from small Portuguese vineyards.

Walking Tour Continues

After a leisurely lunch with some delicious wine, continue your walk down through Alfama's tiny alleys to Old Alfama Square. 

Old Alfama Square

On a normal day, the Old Alfama Square is probably somewhat unremarkable. However, on the Sunday we visited, local dance and music groups were performing in the square and it seemed like quite the event.

Square of Commerce (Praça do Comércio)

Make your way back along R. Cais de Santarém towards Praça do Comércio (Square of Commerce). Situated along the banks of the Tagus River, it's one of Portugal's largest plazas. Historically the gateway to Lisbon, it is where people arriving by boat used to disembark.  

Yellow building at Praça do Comércio

The square is also known in Portuguese as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard) as it was once the site of the Royal Palace of Ribeira which was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. In 1908, the last King of Portugal, Dom Carlos I, and his heirs were assassinated as their carriage passed through the square. Quite the morbid bit of history. 

Today, the square's impressive arch - Arco da Rua Augusta - welcomes visitors to the main Baixa shopping street (Rua Augusta) that stretches towards Rossio.

Arco da Rua Augusta
Enjoy Water Views on Av. Ribeira das Naus 

Finish the walking tour with a stroll along the Av. Ribeira das Naus for beautiful views of the Tagus River and admire the complex sand sculptures. This area would be a great place to relax or to come for sunset.  

Tagus River views Lisbon

After our walking tour, we went back to our hotel to relax for a bit and get ready for dinner. You might consider grabbing a drink or a coffee at this point, depending on how jet lag is treating you.

Dinner at Cervejaria Ramiro

If you're in the mood for amazing seafood, you have to visit Cervejaria Ramiro. We managed to get a reservation and had a delicious meal. The spicy prawns and the stuffed crab were the best. The crab was a lot of work, but is great for getting out any lingering aggression you might feel from your travel day!

Prawns at Cervejaria Ramiro
Crab at Cervejaria Ramiro

Cocktails at Monkey Mash

To end the night, head for a nightcap at Monkey Mash - a "modern tropical bar" near the Praça da Alegria. The focus on fresh, fruity, and tropical drinks designed to make you feel like you're vacationing on a beach somewhere instead of in Lisbon.

Day 2 - Belém and Central Lisbon

On your second day, head out early to Belém, a district in western Lisbon which is home to many notable monuments.

Before you Visit Belém - Book Tickets in Advance

Unless you're going in the dead of winter (who knows, maybe even then?), booking tickets in advance for the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery is a must. 

When we arrived at the Belém Tower, tickets for the day were already sold out for both the tower and the monastery. If you have the Lisbon Card, I believe you can still get into both attractions without a separate ticket. However, you'll still have to wait in a very long line before you can get in.

For an overview of the Belém neighborhood, you might want to consider this guided walking tour.

Getting to Belém

When we visited, we took the CP suburban train from Cais do Sodre station to Belém station. It cost €11 for 2 people roundtrip and we had to wait in line for ~10-min for a ticket. The train was crowded, but it was a fairly short trip.

Train to Belem in Lisbon

However, I don't think we took the best way. The Belém station is quite a sunny walk away from the attractions. I'd recommend taking the bus (201), a tram (15E), or even an Uber (~€7 one-way) instead.

Belém Monuments

Monument of the Discoveries

After a sunny walk, we first came to the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). This monument celebrates the Portuguese "Age of Discovery" during the 15th and 16th centuries when ships departed the banks of the Tagus river to explore and trade with India and the Orient.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos with small car

I will never get over how tiny these cars are!

Although we did not, you can visit the monument and go to the top for the views.

Belém Tower (Torre de Belém)

Officially the Tower of St. Vincent, or Torre de São Vicente, this 16th-century fortification served as a ceremonial gateway for Portuguese explorers during the Age of Discovery. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a very popular attraction.

Tower of Belem

If you'd like to climb the Belém Tower, I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time. However, you'll still have to wait in a long queue, probably in the sun, before you can go in. Since we did not pre-purchase tickets, we admired it from outside and took photos with the hordes of other tourists.

Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)

The Jerónimos Monastery, or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, is a 16th-century architectural masterpiece in which the Hieronymus monks resided until the 19th century. The complex retains its 16th-century cloister, the former monks' Refectory and the former Library.

Maritime Museum and Jerónimos Monastery

The monastery is a National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Again, you should pre-purchase your ticket if you'd like to visit the interior. Expect a long queue even if you do purchase a ticket ahead of time.

Jerónimos Monastery

By this time in our trip, we'd visited many monasteries throughout Portugal with no lines, so I wasn't keen on spending hours queueing. We admired the exterior architecture and continued on our way. 

Pastéis de Belém

Determined to make it inside at least one place in Belém, we stopped at Pastéis de Belém - home to the original pastel de nata (or so they claim).

It's no surprise that we had to wait in line to get our pastries. Luckily, the line for take-away moved quickly. However, you could only order pastéis de nata in that specific line. If you wanted anything else, there was a separate line you'd have to join.

Pastel de nata from Pastéis de Belém

After getting our pastries, we enjoyed them across the street in the Vasco da Gama Garden. Then, we decided to leave the crowds of Belém behind and return to central Lisbon.

Lunch at Timeout Market

Whether you're looking for a quick bite to eat or a full meal, the TimeOut Market is a great place to stop. This gourmet food hall in the Cais do Sodré neighborhood is home to 26 restaurants, 8 bars, as well as shops selling meats, produce, and flowers. 

Timeout Market Lisbon

Since Belém was so crowded, we opted to head back to the TimeOut Market for our lunch and afternoon coffee. We enjoyed a few petiscos (Portuguese tapas), like these ham and cheese sandwiches as well as Portuguese beef croquettes and codfish cakes. 

Food at Timeout Market

Craft Beer at Musa da Bica

After lunch, we stopped for a craft beer at Musa da Bica. It's a great spot to sit and drink a beer while people-watching. Musa has a few different taprooms around the city and each seems to have a chill, relaxing vibe. 

Beer from MUSA

Shopping for Tiles

If you love the hand-painted tiles (azulejos) in Portugal as much as I do, you may want to take some home with you. They make great souvenirs and various shops in Lisbon sell them.

Blue tiles in Lisbon

We found some beautiful tiles in these stores in Bairro Alto:

Watch the Sunset at Monte Belvedere Boutique Hotel

The Monte Belvedere Boutique Hotel is a bit of a hidden gem as far as Lisbon sunset spots go. It's part of the same boutique hotel group (SHIADU) as the place where we stayed.

If you're looking for a trendy spot with fancy drinks, this isn't it. But if you want an awesome view of the sunset with a glass of wine or bottle of beer, this is the place for you.

Sunset at Monte Belvedere Boutique Hotel Lisbon

Dinner at Clube de Jornalistas

Located in a historic 18th-century mansion, the Clube de Journalistas is a fantastic spot for a romantic meal in Lisbon. The large outdoor courtyard where we ate provided a cozy atmosphere to complement the delicious meal.

Although the dishes may not be traditional Portuguese dishes, they were all delicious! Highly recommend the Pumpkin Soup, White fish ceviche, and Black pork neck with shrimp and white beans in coconut milk. 

Pumpkin soup at Clube de Jornalistas
Pork main Clube de Jornalistas

Pro Tip: Given its popularity, this is a restaurant at which I recommend making a reservation. However, we showed up a little after 9:00 PM without a booking and they gave us a table, so you could get lucky.

Cocktails at Matiz Pombalina Cocktail Bar

Just down the street (R. das Trinas) from the Clube de Jornalistas, we found a cozy neighborhood bar - Matiz Pombalina Cocktail Bar - that seemed to be a hidden gem. It's a great spot for a nightcap after your meal.

Cocktails at Matiz Pombalina Cocktail Bar

Day 3 - Day Trip to Sintra

Gear up for another day of crowds on day three of this Lisbon itinerary. As a day trip to Sintra is on every itinerary that you'll find for Lisbon, that means Sintra is crowded. As a result, I recommend visiting on a weekday and booking your tickets in advance for whichever sites you plan to visit. 

Luckily, we visited Sintra during our first time in Lisbon and Belém on our second time so it spaced out the super-touristy places. Visiting them one after the other, you might be very tired of people by the end.

Getting to Sintra from Lisbon

The easiest way to get from Lisbon to Sintra is on the CP suburban train which leaves from Rossio Station every 15-20 minutes. The ride takes about 40 minutes and costs only €2.30 one-way. 

Pro Tip: Get to Rossio Station early to buy your ticket as there will probably be long lines. I recommend waiting in the ticket counter line instead of at the electronic machines, especially if you're buying multiple tickets. At the machines, you can only purchase one ticket at a time and each ticket requires a different credit card. This takes forever and the lines move more slowly than the ticket counter.

Sintra Attractions

Sintra has many beautiful palaces to visit, so it's difficult to choose which ones to see on a day trip from Lisbon. If you wanted to see more than a couple, I recommend staying in Sintra overnight. 

We chose to visit the Quinta da Regaleira and the National Palace of Pena. Most visitors see the National Palace of Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). I would have liked to see the Moorish Castle, but there wasn't enough time in one day.

Quinta da Regaleira

Built in the late 1800s, the Quinta da Regaleira is a beautiful estate and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Regaleira Palace was designed by Italian architect Luigi Manini to reflect the cultural, philosophical, and scientific interests of its owner António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Portugal

Although the palace is lovely, the gardens, tunnels, and initiation wells on the estate are really what drew my interest.

Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira

The estate also has a small Roman Catholic Chapel that resembles the main palace in architectural style.

Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira

Pro Tip: Booking your tickets in advance for Quinta da Regaleira is worth it. The tickets are valid for up to 120 days after purchase, so you don't have to book a time slot or date in advance, you just have to know you'll go during your trip. 

Lunch in Sintra town

Since Quinta da Regaleira is close to Sintra town, we walked back to it to get something for lunch. We were too close to our time slot for the National Palace of Pena to have a decent lunch, so we settled for an uninspiring sandwich. 

National Palace of Pena

The main reason most people visit Sintra is to see the National Palace of Pena. This colorful palace has been splashed across everyone's Instagram feeds for years and it's easy to see why. 

National Palace of Pena front

Formerly a monastery stood on this site, but in the 18th century, it was heavily damaged first by lightning, then the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. After the earthquake, only the chapel remained. In 1838, King consort Ferdinand II acquired the old monastery and rebuilt it with the help of German amateur architect, Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege.

National Palace of Pena back

Today, the Pena Palace is a Romantic-style building with touches of Medieval and Islamic elements. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Arches at National Palace of Pena

The National Palace of Pena Park includes vast gardens which are definitely worth a stroll. Since we had a mid-afternoon tour time, we saw the gardens afterwards and had them practically to ourselves. In the lower end of the park, we found duck houses in the ponds that showed that even the ducks live royally at the Pena Palace.

Pond at National Palace of Pena
Jeep Ride back to Sintra Train Station

After leisurely strolling around the Pena Palace gardens, we went to catch the bus, only to find out we'd missed the last one. Not our finest moment.

Jeep in Sintra

Luckily, as we were trying to figure out what to do, a tour guide in a jeep pulled up and offered us a ride back to the train station for €5 per person - a pretty reasonable offer since we were stranded! Three other girls were stuck as well so all of us piled into her jeep and she drove us back down the mountain. It was a fun ride and I was actually kind of glad we'd missed the bus!

Dinner at Páteo - Bairro do Avillez

Bairro do Avillez is a large gastronomic complex created by chef José Avillez in which you can find several distinct restaurants. We chose to eat at Páteo, which specializes in fish and seafood.

Our meal began with a delectable lobster bisque and a couple of tasty ceviche dishes. The mains we enjoyed were the Brás-style Cod with "exploding olives" and the Shrimp Açorda - a traditional Portuguese dish with shrimp, bread, garlic, cilantro, malagueta chilli, and egg yolk. 

Mains at Pateo Bairro do Avillez

Brás-style Cod with "exploding olives" (left) and Shrimp Açorda (right)

I'd never tried açorda before, but found it delicious. Our server warned us several times that the dish was "wet." I suppose the texture may not be for everyone and they've received negative feedback? I don't know, but it tasted like a thick and flavorful porridge to me so I'm not sure what's not to like!

It's worth mentioning that we were with friends when we dined at Páteo and shared all this food among four people, not just two.  

Day 4 - Further Exploration of Central Lisbon

Although this is a 4-day itinerary, if you only have 3 days to spend in Lisbon, it would be easy enough to cut out the final day. Our final day in Lisbon was fairly laid-back and focused on soaking in the vibes of the city. 

Lisbon Botanical Garden

Since I love being outside and we had perfect weather while in Lisbon, visiting the Lisbon Botanical Garden was a fantastic way to spend the morning.

Lisbon Botanical Garden

This lush oasis in the Príncipe Real neighborhood had an amazing variety of trees and flowers from around the world. The entrance ticket to the garden was 5€.

Flowers at Lisbon Botanical Garden

While you're there, you could also purchase a combo ticket (8€) and visit National Museum of Science & Natural History, which is right next to the garden. 

Lunch at Tapisco

After visiting the Botanical Garden, we walked a few blocks away to eat lunch at Tapisco, a trendy restaurant serving a mix of delicious Spanish tapas and Portuguese petiscos.

La Bomba de Lisboa at Tapisco
Salted Cod a Bras at Tapisco

Our whole meal was delicious but the stand-out was La Bomba de Lisboa, or meat croquettes wrapped in potatoes with a delicious sauce. We also enjoyed the Tuna tartare and Salted Cod “à Brás”.

Pro Tip: One of the more difficult places at which to secure a reservation, we had to save Tapisco for our last day in Portugal.  You should book at least a month in advance, even for lunch. As far as I can tell, they don't take walk-ins as we saw them turn may people away at the door.

Shopping at EmbaiXada

After lunch, we visited EmbaiXada - another gem in the  Príncipe Real neighborhood. Located in the Ribeiro da Cunha Palace, a 19th-century Neo-Arab palace , this unique shopping gallery is home to a mix of fashionable shops and cafes.

EmbaiXada shopping center

Even if you don't plan to shop, it's worth stopping to admire the building's architecture, intricate moldings, and frescoes. 

Courtyard in EmbaiXada
Shop in EmbaiXada
Frescoes in EmbaiXada

Viewpoint - Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

We spent the afternoon wandering around the city and enjoying the beautiful afternoon. Along the way, we stopped at several of the city's viewpoints, such as the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It was the weekend and the parks were lively as locals enjoyed their lazy afternoon.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
Becky at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

During this time, you may wish to visit some of the many museums in Lisbon instead. If you bought the Lisbon Card, you'll have "free" access to many of the city's museums. Check out this list of museums and monuments on the Lisbon Tourism site for ideas.

Search for Street Art or Take a Street Art Tour

One of the things that I loved about Lisbon was its vibrant street art scene. You won't really need a special place in your itinerary find murals - you'll pass them all the time! But if you're an art lover looking to find off-the-beaten path street art, you might want to consider a Lisbon street art tour.

Face mural in Lisbon
Pelican street art Lisbon

We did not get a chance to take a tour, but it's on my list for a future trip to Lisbon!

The Old Pharmacy

Located in an old Chemist shop, The Old Pharmacy stocks a great variety of Portuguese wines. Though we only had drinks here, their cheese and charcuterie boards looked amazing as they delivered them to the tables around us. 

Wine at Old Pharmacy

Dinner at A Obra

Located on Lisbon's "Green Street" (Rua da Silva), A Obra boasts creative dishes and natural wines in a cozy space. We enjoyed the Gnocchi and butternut squash as well as the octopus rice. It seems like they're always coming up with new dishes so I recommend stopping by to see what's on when you're in Lisbon.

Starter at A Obra
Octopus rice at A Obra

Pro Tip: Be sure to make a reservation, especially if you want one of the outside tables. We got lucky to get a space, but it was inside. Also, A Obra is a CASH-ONLY restaurant. Conveniently, there's an ATM a couple shops away in case you're short.

Rua da Silva or Rua Verde (Green Street)

Even if you don't eat at A Obra, stop by the charming Rua da Silva. Sometimes referred to as Rua Verde or Green Street, it got its nickname due to all of the plants hanging from balconies and set up along the street.

A Obra exterior on Green Street in Lisbon

Cocktails at COPA Lisboa

In the same neighborhood, head over to COPA Lisboa for an after-dinner drink. This cocktail bar is focused on showcasing the diversity of Cachaça - a Brazilian sugarcane spirit - through an ever-changing menu of delicious cocktails.

Cocktails at COPA Lisboa

Final Thoughts

And just like that, four days in Lisbon is over already! With its beautiful architectural sights to see, plus museums, parks, and so many great restaurants, it's easy to fill a 4-day itinerary in Lisbon. The only difficult part is fitting everything in! I hope that our itinerary gave you some great ideas for planning your trip to Lisbon.

*Next stop, Porto! Check out the post - 2 Days in Porto – A Complete Itinerary.*

Happy travels!


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