Lisbon, Portugal had long been on my bucket list, and has easily become one of my favorite European travel destinations. Sun-drenched orange rooftops, fresh seafood paired with local wines, and graffiti-lined alleyways winding around the hills: There is so much to love about Portugal’s charming capital city.
In March, I finally got the chance to visit Lisbon with my boyfriend and his sister. We had already planned to visit Paris for a family trip, and wanted to add a second destination in Europe to the trip. Portugal became a top contender with its sunny climate and great value for money compared to other European countries.
After hearing so many good things about Portugal‘s capital, I had high expectations for this up-and-coming travel destination. Our four-day visit totally exceeded my expectations and left me wishing we had more time to spend in Lisbon. I adored this quirky yet charming city, and hope that this Lisbon travel guide and long weekend itinerary will make you fall in love with Lisbon too!
How to Get to Lisbon:
We flew into Lisbon’s main airport on TAP Portugal from New York. Our direct flight was a quick 6.5 hours. From the Lisbon airport, it was a relatively short 30 minute drive to our Airbnb. We took an Uber for 12.50 euros which was fairly reasonable split between the three of us. If you’re traveling on your own, it may be more economical to take public transportation.
What to Pack for Lisbon:
Lisbon is HILLY and the narrow, cobblestone sidewalks can get surprisingly slippery (not a great combo!), so good walking shoes are a must. I packed a pair of trusty Converse sneakers and black ankle boots with a low block heel. I also wore sandals one day of the trip and honestly wished I had worn sneakers.
In terms of clothing, during our visit in March I mostly wore short sleeve sundresses and a light jacket. For daytime, I recommend packing some colorful sundresses and a denim or leather jacket to wear for chillier mornings and evenings. Also pack pants and a sweater for when it cools down at night, and a fun hat for photos!
Where to Stay in Lisbon:
Our Airbnb in Lisbon was easily the cutest AirBnB I’ve ever stayed in. Located in the central Santa Catarina neighborhood near Bairro Alto, it was steps away from hip coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s also located right along the iconic Tram 28 route. A spacious two-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and washer/dryer, it easily fit the three of us. You can find the link to the listing here, and $40 off your first AirBnB booking here.
Images Courtesy of AirBnB
If you’re more of a hotel person, Lisbon has some amazing hotel options as well. Here are a few to consider:
You can use this link to get $25 off your hotel booking on Booking.com!
Image Courtesy of Casa Balthazar
4-Day Lisbon Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon
After grabbing an Uber from the airport to our AirBnB around mid-day, our first stop was Hello, Kristof for some much needed coffee after our red eye flight. Luckily this spot was right around the corner from our apartment.
A short walk (and massive hill) later, we made our way to the iconic Ascensor da Bica, a nineteenth-century funicular that runs up and down one of Lisbon’s steepest hills. Next, we wandered around Bairro Alto, admiring the colorful tile walls and getting in our leg workout for the day—bairro alto literally means “high neighborhood” and they are not kidding!
After a bit of shopping in the Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods, we eventually made our way to Praça do Comércio, a large square located right on the Tagus River. By then we were ready for a snack, so stopped at one of the many outdoor dining spots lining the square for some wine and a bite to eat. Basking in the sun with a glass of Portuguese wine in hand, it was hard to believe I was in freezing cold NYC just a few hours earlier.
After winding our way through the old district of Alfama, we arrived at Miradouro das Portas do Sol in time to watch the sun go down. We had to wait a little while to get a table with a view, but it was well worth it to split a bottle of wine while watching the sky change colors.
We didn’t have a dinner reservation planned, so after wandering around near our apartment for a while, we found a restaurant called Noobai for dinner. As it was a Friday night, it seemed that many restaurants were already booked up, so I would recommend making reservations in advance.
Day 2: Belem, LX Factory, Castelo de Sao Jorge
We started off the day with brunch at Dear Breakfast, which conveniently was located a few blocks from our AirBnB (yet another point for our AirBnB!). Brunch for the three of us cost only 33 euros. Compared to NYC standards, we were impressed at how affordable Lisbon was.
Another nearby attraction worth checking out is Jeronimos Monastery. Although we didn’t have enough time to go inside, the architecture from the outside was beautiful, and I can only imagine how stunning it must be inside. And of course, you can’t leave Lisbon without stopping at Pastéis de Belém, the original pastéis de nata shop. Their freshly baked pastéis de nata were incredible, I wish I had bought more!
When you finish in Belém, grab a Lime scooter or Uber to the nearby LX Factory located in the Alcântara neighborhood. An abandoned garment factory turned hipster shopping district, LX Factory is filled with quirky shops, restaurants, and cool street art.
While at LX Factory, be sure to check out the bookstore Livraria Der Levagar, Landeau Chocolate for some of the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had, Cantinho LX for lunch, and Rio Marvalaiso for views of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Cristo Rei statue on the other side of the river.
After a leisurely afternoon at LX Factory, we headed to Castelo de Sao Jorge. Pro tip: Tickets are normally 10 euros, but if you’re under 25 they’re only 5 euros! Perched on one of the highest hills in Lisbon, Castelo de Sao Jorge is a great spot to take in 360 degree views of the city. After wandering around the castle, we pulled up a spot on the castle wall to watch the sunset.
For dinner, we made our way to A Cevicheria, a Peruvian fusion restaurant by Chef Kiko Martins. A Cevicheria is one of the hottest spots in town and doesn’t take reservations, so I recommend arriving early (ideally before 7pm) to avoid a long wait. We waited about 45 minutes, but luckily had delicious pisco sours and great conversation to pass the time. Our dinner was fantastic and well worth the wait!
Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra
On our third day in Lisbon, we decided to take a day trip to Sintra, located about 45 minutes away by train. Visiting Sintra was one of my favorite parts of our trip to Portugal, and I would highly recommend visiting Sintra for at least a day if you’re in Lisbon. Check back for my Sintra Travel Guide coming out soon!
Before hopping on the train to Sintra at Rossio train station, we stopped by the nearby Fábrica da Nata for some coffee, and of course, Pastéis de Nata. Maybe not the most nutritious breakfast, but they sure are tasty!
After getting back from Sintra, we headed to Mini Bar Teatro by Chef José Avillez (a Michelin-starred chef) for our 7pm reservation. This meal experience was the highlight of our Lisbon trip. Chef José Avillez has restaurants all over the country, and Mini Bar Teatro was a great introduction to his cuisine. I loved the concept of Mini Bar—courses were split into “First Act,” “Second Act,” etc., desserts were the “Final Act” and dessert wines “Supporting Actors.”
We ordered the caipirinha mini cocktails “to bite,” roasted chicken with avocado cream and piri piri, tempura avocado, Portuguese charcuterie, tuna tartare, pan seared scallops, and beef tataki. Everything was fantastic!
Day 4: Time Out Market; Depart Lisbon
On our last day in Lisbon, I spent a slow morning wandering around Bairro Alto and Chiado. For breakfast, we grabbed coffee and cake at Comoba. I tried out beetroot and charcoal lattes for the first time, and although they were pretty, I don’t think I’ve acquired the taste yet!
For lunch we stopped at Time Out Market, a food hall with 35 stalls located in the historic Mercado da Ribeira. I got the swordfish risotto from Marlene Vieira, and stocked up on pastéis de nata at Mangeiraria.
After lunch, we made our way to Santa Apolonia station to catch the train to Porto. Stay tuned for my Porto Travel Guide coming soon!
With its beautiful miradouro views, colorful tile work, cool street art, sunny climate, and freshly baked pastéis de nata, Lisboa quickly captured my heart. I hope that my Lisbon travel guide and itinerary will inspire you to visit this lovable Portuguese city!
Thank you for reading! Be sure to comment below if you end up visiting Lisbon, I would love to hear about your experience.
Through Kelsey’s Lens
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