Lisbon is a wonderful Portuguese city on the very Western coast of Europe. Lisbon is full of incredible beaches, cliff-side strolls, castles you can tour, and a few unusual things to do as well. In this blog, we put together a 3 day itinerary for you to explore the incredible city of Lisbon. We will talk about what to do, where to stay, and so much more. Let’s get to it!
Whether you are a Portu-gal or a Portu-guy, you are sure to have the time of your life in Lisbon. If you don’t like stupid jokes like that, might be best to find another article. Our goal in writing this is to give you the perfect 3 day guide to Lisbon, but also to try and have a sense of humor about it!
The way we organized this guide is the exact way we experienced our 3 days in Lisbon. Why? Because we did all of our research ahead of time, and in our research determined that this was the best 3 day itinerary a person could devise. Then we experienced this itinerary, and we had an AMAZING time! If you follow our 3 day guide, you will too!
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Day 1 in Lisbon
Here’s the first thing you’ll notice when you get to Lisbon: The city is built on an enormous hill. If you are driving in to town, like we did, you’ll also notice the narrow winding roads that all of Europe is known for!
We rented a car to drive through Lisbon, and we mistakenly got a manual car instead of an automatic. We know how to drive manual, but not very well… Lisbon has a lot of hills and a lot of stops and a lot of stops on hills. Now, we got through it, so it wasn’t too hard, but best to know what you’re getting into! If you aren’t confident in your manual driving skills, make it easier and get an automatic car.
Sao Jorge Castle
On Day 1 of your trip, you’ll want to get your bearings straight, and we have just the way to do it. Sao Jorge Castle is Lisbon’s central castle, and has an incredible overlook of the entire city.
From above, Lisbon is a sea of orange roofs. That sea of orange roofs leads down to a sea of… water. The Atlantic Ocean. From the Sao Jorge Castle you will be able to see it all.
You can point out your hotel or Airbnb. You can look at the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge and say ‘hey that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge!‘, which you and every single other tourist will do. To be fair they do look exactly alike:
In addition to the unbelievable view of the city spread before you, Sao Jorge Castle is also fascinating to tour. How far does history go back in Sao Jorge? Back when years needed a ‘B.C.’ after them. Yeah, this is old. This hilltop has been occupied by the rulers of what is now Lisbon for over 2,000 years!
Back when Sao Jorge Castle was built, people were still pooping in buckets, and getting the flu meant a lot more than a few days in bed binge-watching Netflix shows. Take some time to walk-through the castle appreciating all of the history, all of the battles fought there.
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Sao Jorge was home to history-altering battles between neighboring armies over who would control Lisbon. Now it is home to battles between vacationing parents and their bored kids who didn’t get an ice cream cone. Historic.
Explore Lisbon – Food!
After you have finished exploring the castle, and getting a minimum of 10 pictures to flaunt on Instagram, it is probably time to get some food. Our recommendation? Head down near the waterfront. The Lisbon coast has some fantastic dining.
We found that our favorite thing to do was to not have a plan of when and where to eat. We perused the city, and when we got hungry we found a place to eat. The best thing we did was to ask locals for their recommendations of the best food in each area, and they did not once disappoint.
As far as we could tell, none of the restaurants needed reservations in order to dine at. We were able to find delicious and beautiful places to eat with great food and great views each day in Lisbon. We are confident that you will to!
Waking up on Day 2 you’ll be thinking ‘wow, Day 1 at Sao Jorge Castle was pretty unbeatable, I’d better just sleep in because it is all downhill from here’. Guess again, my friend. You couldn’t be more wrong.
While it may be ‘downhill’ in the fact that the rest of Lisbon is literally down a hill from Sao Jorge, your trip is about to hit the jets. Day 2 is meant for exploring the city, getting into each nook and cranny that makes Lisbon one of the most unique and beautiful places in Europe.
Are you ready to take off on your day 2 adventure? This Lisbon travel blog is just getting started.
Pink Street is named pretty literally. It is a street. That street is pink. Call it Pink Street!
Sounds kinda funny, but in reality it is really cool! What really defines Pink Street is that the Lisbon nightlife on Pink Street is where the extreme party animals get their rocks off. This is basically where Amsterdam meets Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Be ready to enjoy yourself.
If you are going to Lisbon to party, you had better head to Pink Street at night. Pink Street is definitely on the list of unusual things to do in Lisbon, which is part of what makes it such a special place! If you are planning a family getaway, head to Pink Street for some pictures during the day, and stay outside a 2 block radius after the sun goes down.
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Comercio Plaza is a wonderful waterfront plaza. One thing the pictures may betray, it is ENORMOUS! You could fit a few football fields in the plaza and still have room for all of the restaurants and coffee shops that currently call this place home.
Full disclosure: the pictures below are all over Lisbon, not just Comércio Plaza and Pink Street. We had the time of our lives walking around the city, exploring everywhere we could get our hands on! Head out with an open mind and some laced-up walking shoes, and we know you will have the time of your lives too!!
Ponte 25 de Abril
The Ponte 25 de Abril sounds like a date, or a point, we couldn’t really figure out why it was named this. Update: an extremely easy Wikipedia search revealed that it was named to commemorate a revolution, the more you know!
Ponte 25 de Abril is the bridge that connects Lisbon with Almada, a neighboring city. However the bridge is more than that, it is an architectural masterpiece and a modern marvel. The size of the bridge alone will leave you in awe.
The bridge truly does look very similar to the Golden Gate in San Francisco, but this bridge is extremely impressive in its own right. Head along the waterfront beneath the bridge and experience the power of this half-monument half-highway for yourself!
Near the Ponte 25 de Abril is the Belem Tower, a monument which you really have to see to believe. This baby is over 500 years old and still proudly standing… in the water!
We took a stroll around the tower and got the view from a few different perspectives. There was quite a line to get in, and we felt that there couldn’t be enough inside that was worth waiting in line and skipping a wonderful Portuguese meal, so we skipped the inside tour and went to the waterfront for more food!
Well well well, here we are at day 3. You’ve made it so far on this journey, maybe you’re ready to go a little bit further. We hope you do, because day 3 is going to be absolutely epic. This was our favorite day of our Lisbon itinerary, and it wasn’t particularly close.
Rent a Scooter
The long, windy, hilly roads of Lisbon are not ideal for someone driving a manual who doesn’t know how to drive it. These roads were basically built for scooters though! Extremely maneuverable, simple-to-drive, scooters are SO much more fun than walking or driving!
Clothing We Love
You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!
We rented from Cooltra in the center of town, which we would highly recommend. The service and price were excellent, and the scooter worked perfectly! They also gave us helmets and taught us everything we’d need to know about driving and parking the scooter around Lisbon.
Another recommendation we have: once you’ve rented the scooter, head down to the waterfront and cruise along the coastal road. Use this road as much as possible. It is the widest road in Lisbon (did not fact check that) and is full of beautiful views.
Okay, yes scootering around town is a blast. And it is possible to see so much in a short time. However, we’ll admit we buried the lead. Here is the main reason to rent a scooter: Cabo da Roca and Praia de Ursa (Ursa Beach).
Cabo da Roca
Full disclosure: Cabo da Roca (and Praia de Ursa) are not in Lisbon proper. Also full disclosure: this was our favorite part of the trip. It is 100% worth checking out, trust us.
Here’s the rub, you are going to have to drive there, but that’s why you got the scooter! Below is a map from the center of Lisbon to Cabo da Roca. We recommend taking the coast road there, but Google says the direct route is faster. If you prefer the direct route then you do you!
What is so cool about Cabo da Roca? Well for starters, it is the westernmost part of Europe! There is an awesome monument at which the tourists congregate around, great for pictures and being able to say ‘hey, I went to the westernmost point of Europe! Here I can prove it check out this picture. Ohh hold on that one is my dog, oh that’s my dog too, here it is!‘
What else is awesome about Cabo da Roca? Well, do you enjoy rocky cliffs that lead to crystal blue waters? Do you enjoy imagining the voyages that began here, sailing west to America (or Asia)? Cabo da Roca was the last land those ships saw on the entire Atlantic Ocean before their destination! Do you like filling up your phone with Instagram-worthy photos? Come on, at least one of those had to get you excited about Cabo da Roca…
Praia de Ursa (Ursa Beach)
Located just 1 kilometer north of Cabo da Roca is Ursa Beach (Praia de Ursa in Portuguese). An extremely quick scooter, or even a beautiful walk if you prefer.
Now, let’s get one thing out of the way: Ursa Beach is a nude beach. This puts it up on the list of unusual things to do in Lisbon. Of course you don’t HAVE to get naked, but if you aren’t mature enough to see some chicken breasts and polish sausages, then maybe Ursa Beach isn’t for you.
One more thing: you will have to hike down a bit to get there. After all, Cabo da Roca is on a hillside cliff, and Ursa Beach is on the Atlantic shore. Of course you have to hike down a bit. It isn’t extremely challenging, but you might break a bit of a sweat. Which is great because you can run right into the Atlantic when you get to the bottom!
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We don’t say this lightly: Ursa Beach is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes on earth. Looking ahead of you you’ll see crystal blue water, the only thing between you and North America. Looking behind you you’ll see grassy hillsides dotted with lush green trees. From side to side, you’ll glimpse rocky cliffs jutting out of the water, wave after wave crashing in a magical explosion of visual power. Praia de Ursa will knock your socks off, and maybe your bathing suit too…
Where to Stay in Lisbon
Lisbon is a beautiful place to explore, but let’s not kid ourselves, you are going to need a place to stay! Thankfully, there are tons of excellent options for lodging all across town.
When we visited Lisbon, we opted for an Airbnb in town, and we would recommend you look into this as your first option. Airbnbs in Lisbon are typically extremely cute places with excellent locations, and you’ll usually be paying less than you would for a hotel in those locations.
However, if you’d like to grab a hotel, that is up to you! The hotels near the waterfront all looked incredible, and of course a hotel will be more of a turnkey solution versus an Airbnb.
Either way, we recommend being as close to the waterfront as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to be somewhere in between the Ponte 25 de Abril and Alfama. In our opinion, the best place to stay in Lisbon is near the Comercio Plaza.
Wherever you end up staying, remember that you are in Lisbon to explore! You don’t want to hang out in your hotel room all day, you can do that anywhere. Only here can you experience the incredible Lisbon beaches, castles, and adventure!
Bonus – Morena Beach (Praia de Morena)
Time for a Lisbon travel blog bonus! If you have gotten your fill of 3 days of adventure in Lisbon and are ready for a fourth day, then listen up!
If you have a free day, and want to just spend your vacation lying like a sandy log on a beach, we have the answer for you. Praia de Morena (Morena Beach) is located south of Lisbon, along a sandy section of the Atlantic shore.
We wanted to spend our last half-day in Lisbon lounging about, re-charging our batteries before the hustle and bustle awaiting us back home. Morena Beach was perfect for that. We sat by the beach, got lost in a good book, and enjoyed each other’s company for a few hours. It was the perfect cherry on top of our Lisbon excursion before piling back into the car.
And there you have it, my friends! You have just read the (not-to-toot-our-own-horn but totally-to-toot-our-own-horn) perfect 3 day guide to Lisbon, Portugal, and are ready to have an epic adventure of your own in this wonderful city! We hope you loved our Lisbon travel blog, and we would love to hear from you. If you have any questions at all, or have suggestions of your own, let us know in the comments or on the About Us page!
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