Portugal

4 DAYS IN LISBON: A 4-DAY LISBON ITINERARY FOR FIRST-TIMERS

A yellow tram makes its way up the hill, Lisbon
An iconic yellow tram in Lisbon

Spend four days in Lisbon and I can (almost) guarantee you’ll fall in love with this colourful capital.

There’s just something about the flavourful food, yellow buildings and trams, fado music, and stunning views that will make you want to return as soon as you leave.

This 4-day Lisbon itinerary will show you the best things to see, do and eat, and where to find the best views in the city. Lisbon is the perfect jumping off point for further exploration around Portugal, or would make an equally charming long weekend city break. Go on, dive in!

Read More: Portugal Road Trip: Itinerary, Planning Tips & Costs

GETTING AROUND LISBON

Despite being ‘The City of Seven Hills’ Lisbon is easily walkable, and it’s well worth the calf burn for the many photo opportunities you’ll stumble across. Make sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes. If walking isn’t your thing, the city is well-connected by the old yellow trams the city is known for.

4-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Where To Go & What To See

4-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 1

Morning: Castelo de Sao Jorge

It’s your first day in Lisbon, so don’t sleep in!

Instead, make your way up the first of many hills to Castelo de Sao Jorge, a historic castle with panoramic views of the city. The castle opens at 9am and its best to get there early so you won’t have to queue. Take your time wandering the ruins and snapping photos of the terracotta roofs below, and make sure to keep an eye out for the colourful peacocks.

For background on the castle and Lisbon’s history make sure to check out the small but interesting archaeological exhibit. Tickets to the castle are €8.50.

The Portuguese flag flies from a turret of Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon
Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

Afternoon: National Pantheon & Alfama District

Next up on your 4-day Lisbon itinerary wander down to the Church of Santa Engracia (the National Pantheon). First established in the 16th century the church has a fascinating history, and the interior is stunning. Head up to the top floors for views of the city (finding the best viewpoints will be a theme of your trip to Lisbon; the city is filled with them). Entry to the church is €3.

Afterwards make sure to wander around the enchanting Alfama District. With a maze of cobbled streets and colourful houses, Alfama is one of Lisbon’s most picturesque neighbourhoods.

Laundry hangs from a pink-coloured building in Lisbon
Colourful bunting flies in front of red, pink and yellow buildings, Lisbon
Colourful streets of Lisbon

Evening: Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

If you’re suffering from post-36-hour-flight jet lag (no? Just me?), by this point an afternoon nap might be in order. Don’t stay inside for too long however. Lisbon is waiting!

If you haven’t climbed enough hills today, don’t worry, the climb up to Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara is a steep one. Make sure to stop on the way to snap some photos of the yellow trams making their way up the hill (and to catch your breath). When you get to the top relax, sip a mojito, and enjoy the stunning views of the city out towards Castelo de Sao Jorge.

4-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 2

Morning: Ride the Number 28 Tram

One thing you have to do in Lisbon is ride the iconic number 28 tram.

Undeniably touristy yet a big part of Lisbon’s culture and charm, the trams are pre-war relics that still manage to rattle their way up Lisbon’s hills. The tram rides begin in Martim Moniz and the lines are always long, so make sure to get there early. From Martim Moniz you’ll pass through the neighbourhoods of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela before disembarking in Campo Ourique, or turning around and coming back the other way.

A single ticket on board the tram is €3, though a better option is to purchase a 24-hour public transport ticket for €6.40. This gives you access to all trams, buses, elevators and funiculars in Lisbon.

Lunch: Mercado da Ribeira

After a morning adventuring you’ll probably be getting hungry, so make your way to Mercado da Ribeira (the TimeOut Market) for a tasty lunch.

Take time to wander around and look at the fresh flowers and produce, but spend most of your time in the food court. With numerous options, reasonable prices and Portuguese gelato for dessert, the market was a fun place to eat.

Wide shot of people dining at communal table in TimeOut Market, Lisbon
The TimeOut Market, Lisbon

Evening: Watch a Fado Performance

Another of the top things to do in Lisbon is to experience a traditional Fado show. But friend, while I can attest that you should go to one, I don’t really have good advice beyond the following:

  • Do: research where to go. There are a lot of choices and you want your Fado experience to be a good one.
  • Don’t: turn up at the place you researched, and then get talked into going to the one across the road (because the one you wanted to go to wasn’t open yet, and the waiter was cute).
  • Do: enjoy your Fado show with good food and sangria.
  • Don’t: have dinner beforehand, and then have to pay for a second dinner as payment for the Fado performance. (Fado shows are often ‘free’, and the meal is your payment’).

I don’t remember the name of the place we went and there are no photos because A) the mood lighting meant the interior was quite dark, and B) quite a lot of sangria was consumed.

4-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 3

Breakfast: Pasteis de Belem

Touristy but charming, Belem should definitely be on your Lisbon bucket list. Time your visit with breakfast and head to Pasteis de Belem for the best pastel de nata in Portugal.

Pasteis de Belem was established in 1837 when the chefs began making the tarts from an ancient secret recipe, and trust me when I say nowhere else does them quite as well. The shop opens at 8am and it’s worth getting there early so you can grab a table and enjoy your pastries. Get the box of six, and thank me later.

Close up on breakfast featuring hot chocolate, croissants and pastel de nata
Breakfast at Pasteis de Belem

Morning: Torre de Belem

After breakfast walk off that pastel de nata food baby and head to Torre de Belem, a fortified tower dating back to the early 16th century.

Torre de Belem looks like something out of Game of Thrones, and it’s worth braving the queue to explore. Meander your way up to the top floor and take your time snapping endless photos. Tickets to Torre de Belem are €6, or you can get a combined ticket with Jerónimos Monastery and the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia for €12.

Most visitors to Belem also make a stop at Jeronimos Monastery. Though the exterior was stunning we didn’t bother as the lines were massive, the sun was beating down, and Lisbon was calling.

A queue of tourists lines up outside Belem Tower, Lisbon
A turret of Belem tower juts out over the water
Torre de Belem

Afternoon: Get Lost in Lisbon’s Picturesque Streets

Make the most of your last afternoon in Lisbon by getting lost in Lisbon’s picturesque streets.

Pick a general area (some of my favourite neighbourhoods in Lisbon are Alfama and Bairro Alto) and let your feet follow where your camera lens takes you. There are so many pretty alleyways, hidden staircases, trams and vibrant pieces of street art to discover that Lisbon really is a photographer’s dream.

Make sure to wander over to the Church of São Vicente of Fora. I later found out that you can actually go up to the roof of the church; apparently it’s one of the best viewpoints in the area.

Yellow building with flower box, Lisbon
Black men play in a band in a park in Lisbon
A street performance in Lisbon

Evening: Cocktails at Topo

Toast the end of three days in Lisbon with a drink at Topo in Martim Moniz. A cool rooftop bar with delicious cocktails, Topo overlooks Castelo de Sao Jorge and has great views of Lisbon. Get there early for good seats; we arrived late and had a not-so-great view of the sun setting over the alleyway in the opposite direction.

4-Day Lisbon Itinerary: Day 4

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

I’m gonna start by saying Sintra is worth an overnight stay. There’s a lot to see and at the end of the day we hadn’t been to all the palaces and were exhausted. But, if you only have four days in Lisbon, Sintra as a day trip is definitely doable.

Make the most of your day in Sintra by catching an early train from Lisbon. To further save you time buy your tickets at the ticket office by the train station, rather than the individual sites. We bought combined tickets for Pena Palace + Gardens and the Moorish Castle for €20.90. There’s a small discount if you buy tickets for multiple sites.

Morning: Pena Palace & the Moorish Castle

From the ticket office catch the 434 bus to Pena Palace to begin exploring Sintra.

I can’t stress this enough; you MUST get there early! When we arrived there were hardly any queues and we were able to wander slowly through the palace snapping as many photos as we liked. An hour later there was a constant stream of people entering, with queues at a standstill.

While at Pena Palace don’t miss the lush gardens. We had a lot of the trail to ourselves and the hidden pools, fountains and statues are worth exploring.

After Pena Palace take the scenic route to Castelo dos Mouros. It’s only a 15 minute walk between the two and the views of the castle through the trees are a great taste of what’s to come. Castle of the Moors was first built in the 9th century and the ancient ruins offer breath-taking views of Sintra and the surrounding countryside.

Castle of the Moors with Sintra in background
The red clock tower and yellow walls of Pena Palace, Sintra
A girl in red crop top smiles at camera with yellow tower and dome in background, Sintra

Lunch: Bacalhau na Vila

Having conquered Pena Palace and Castelo dos Mouros you’ll no doubt be as hungry as we were.

A good option for lunch is Bacalhau na Vila, a restaurant specializing in bacalhau (cod fish). The restaurant offers tapas style plates, giving you the opportunity to try bacalhau in a variety of dishes. As someone who’s not a big fan of seafood, I actually really enjoyed it.

Afterwards we went to Piriquita II to try travesseiro or ‘pillow pastries’, a specialty of the region. When in Sintra, right?

Afternoon: Quinta da Regaleira

Next up make your way to Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see on your trip to Sintra. Tickets for this are separate from the other two sites and are €6.

We spent several hours wandering around the castle and chapel, although the highlight had to be the extensive grounds. Featuring lakes, wells, fountains, and caves, the park really is incredible and feels like something out of a fairytale.

A yellow tram makes its way up the hill, Lisbon
Snapping tram photos became one of my favourite things to do in Lisbon

There you have it, the ultimate 4-day Lisbon itinerary. You could definitely pack more into your days, so use this itinerary as a jumping off point and feel free to add things that interest you.

As this was the first stop on our six week trip (and we were suffering from crazy jetlag) we preferred to take it easier, and Lisbon is the kind of city that suits a slower travel pace. There’s so much to see, do and eat in this colourful city, and it quickly became one of my favourite places in Portugal.

LISBON QUICK TIPS

Stay: We stayed at Norte Guesthouse in a double room with shared bathroom for €44 per night. The rooms were very basic, but the price was reasonable and the location was perfect.

Eat: Lisbon is a great foodie destination and there are a lot of amazing restaurants and cafes in the city. For breakfast in a cafe with nice ambience, try Fabrica Lisboa. For traditional Portuguese cuisine, check O Trigueirinho or Bacalhau na Vila (Sintra), or grab a market feast at Mercado da Ribeira. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Pasteis de Belem, or try something other than pastel de nata (though they have that too) at Confeitaria Nacional.

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4-Day Lisbon Itinerary
4-Day Lisbon Itinerary

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