3 Days In Lisbon And Around

Lisbon is one of those cities that have been mistreated by nature and humanity on various occasions throughout history. From earthquakes that left the city shattered, tsunamis that swept through it, and more recent fires that left the city center reduced to rubble. All this is observed and breathed in this magnificent city, in which through its streets you can observe that decadence that I am talking about.

It is precisely this decadence that makes Lisbon so authentic and unique. You will walk up the steep slopes of the Bairro Alto, you will see the clothes hanging on the balconies, the characteristic blue tiles throughout the city, and street musicians playing on every corner. Lisbon will not leave you the same.

The definitive guide to visiting Lisbon and its surroundings:

Official exchange rate 1EUR = Euros are used in Lisbon

Best time of year to visit Lisbon

Given that I have visited Lisbon on two occasions, I consider that in this regard I can give you good advice. I have been in the summer in the middle of the first half of August and at the end of November in my two visits to the capital Lusa.

  • Summer: The heat can be quite suffocating, especially in the Betlem area where there are no trees. Alfama and Bairro Alto can be quite uphill in this heat (pun intended). Prices tend to be higher and the streets of Lisbon will be overflowing with tourists.
  • Winter: Let’s consider the time that I was winter. The truth is that everything was very calm, perhaps too much for my liking. If you go accompanied it can be a good plan, but I do not recommend it if you go alone, since I found a very empty Lisbon.
  • Spring-autumn: Making a rule of three between winter and summer I assume that this should be a good time, it is not too hot and people are already encouraged to travel.

Among all the times of the year, I would particularly prefer summer and spring. I prefer the heat to the cold and the fuss over being alone. That will depend on each one and the type of trip you take. Also, in summer, if you go early, you can enjoy the beaches of Cascais or go south to the Algarve.

3-day itinerary for Lisbon and around

This is my second visit to the capital Lusa. The first time on a family trip and this time for a work trip. Who said that you cannot reconcile everything? This time I had to visit the Portuguese offices of the company where I work and I said, since they pay me the trip, why not take advantage of the fact that they pay me for flights and travel to stay in the city for the weekend?

I will center the route between Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra. The perfect plan for your 3-day getaway.

I arrived on Thursday night and went directly to the hostel I had booked to check-in and go out to dinner in Bairro Alto, my hostel was super central.

Day 1: Lisbon

As you may already know from other posts on my blog, I am a huge fan of free tours. I am a person who quickly tires of listening to a guide for a long time and that he has to take me and organize the trip in his own way. So the free tours have the advantage that they are short, cheap and if you don’t like it and you don’t feel comfortable, take it and go. Also, what better way to learn the four historical facts of the city you are visiting?

So I went to find a coffee and breakfast to wake up and I went to Plaza Luis de Camões, that’s where the free tours start. There are several hours, but since it is so difficult for me to sleep and even more so when I am away from home, the one at 10 am was even too late … The tour goes through Bairro Alto, Chiado and Baixa. For my personal taste, it stretches too long in those areas and leaves the Alfama totally forgotten, because in the afternoon they do another tour and try to get you to sign up, too much tour for me, so I didn’t go.

Chiado is the most bohemian neighborhood in Lisbon, in it you will find endless cafes and book stores and alternative fashion to all the franchises and chains. This iconic neighborhood became popular for being a destination for intellectuals and writers to carry out their gatherings. Among many others, Fernando Pessoa stands out, of which you can see his statue very close to Plaza Luis Camoes, as well as the Bertrand bookstore, which is currently the oldest operating bookstore in the world. This popular bookstore opened its doors in 1732 and has continued its activity since then. Chiado suffered a terrible fire in 1988 that devastated much of the neighborhood.

We continued our march and stopped to buy some delicious Betlem cakes, I’m not a big fan of cream, but you can’t leave without trying some. The next stop was Baixa, there we visited the Plaza del Comercio and the Rua Augusta Arch. A curious fact about this square is that if you notice it is inverted and the arch does not welcome the square but it welcomes the city, since this was one of the main maritime markets in the country and everything came to Lisbon through the sea. We continue the visit through the Santa Justa elevator, Plaza Dom Pedro, Plaza de Figueira and the church of San Domingo.

I asked the guide for a good local place to eat good, local food, so he gave me a couple of recommendations and I ended up at the dois arcos restaurant. Very rustic and homemade, traditional food without any pretensions.

After resting a bit in the shade and having digested, I set out on my way to the Alfama, undoubtedly the most interesting part of Lisbon, not only for its impressive views of the city but for the same decadence that we mentioned before of Lisbon. You will see the tramways as they climb its steep streets, I discovered countless corners and places that I would not have discovered with the tour. Right next to the Church of San Vicente de Fora you will find a flea market with all kinds of objects that although I may not need anything I always like to visit and it is that a while ago I collected license plates of cars from different countries and these were always good places to find them. Finally I finished the day in Miradouro de Graça watching the sunset.

You may be wondering why I did not go to visit the Castle of San Jorge € 10 and is that you cannot visit much more than the viewpoint so since I had already seen it on my previous visit I left it aside.

Day 2: Cascais and Lisbon

Cascais is a highly recommended visit if you go to Lisbon for the second time or you have three days and you are a person who likes to keep a good pace and finishes cities quickly. So for a change I got up early and calmly went to Caís do Sodre station, it depends on where you are, you will have to change. In my case, he caught me very close to where I was and I walked. The journey lasts about 40 minutes and the ticket costs € 5, you must take the Line of Cascais in orange, you cannot miss it.

You may wonder what there is in Cascais to go visit, the truth is that it is the same question I asked myself, but since I wanted to discover the area a little more, I inquired and discovered that it is a very charming coastal town and a rugged geography against the Atlantic that makes it unique. So take half a day to visit it. I was walking through its cobbled streets, the citadel, the marina and then I started a walk of approximately 40 minutes until I reached the Boca do Inferno. This is what they call this curious rock formation. The Atlantic hits with all its force and enters the land through a door between the rocks, hence it receives its name. The worse the weather, the better you can enjoy this phenomenon, be careful not to go down to the viewpoint on rainy days, the ocean may surprise you. The last visit in the city was the Paula Rego house museum, it was free and there was a photographic exhibition, no more.

Before going back to Lisbon, I looked for a place to eat, as everything seemed very touristy, I got carried away by google reviews and ended up in a fabulous Indian restaurant called Masala. Highly recommended!

Before arriving in Lisbon, I stopped at the iconic Belem tower. You can have a good time visiting the tower, the Monument to the Discoveries and the Monastery of the Geronimos. There are many people who stay in this area, although the conference hotels are very good, it is very far from the center of Lisbon. I continued my march towards the center of Lisbon where I was wandering around and having just discovered Bairro Alto and its recesses. The Convent of Carmo caught my attention, which had been destroyed in the fire and only conserved its outer skeleton.

Don’t miss the Mercado da Ribeira where the Lisbon Timeout Market is located, with more than 30 restaurants to choose from.

Day 3: Sintra

One of the most anticipated parts of the trip to Lisbon has arrived, Sintra. You have different ways of getting to the Sintra region.

The first and cheapest is to take the train at Rossio station, it costs € 4.5 round trip. In about 45 minutes you will be in Sintra ready to explore it all. Keep in mind that once there everything is relatively far to do it on foot so you will have to move with internal buses. There is a one-day pass that costs about € 7, it is worth paying it because the distances are long and you will be using it several times.

If you have traveled by car to Portugal or rented one in the same country, then prepare for the war of where to park your car. Sintra is very crowded with tourists from all over and many come by car, so parking can become a real odyssey. But sooner or later you will be able to park in one of its steep streets.

From here you have endless places to visit, in this case we are going to focus on Quinta da Regaleira, Castelo dos Mouros and Palacio Da Pena.

Quinta da Regaleira, entrance fee € 10. It is from my point of view the most impressive of the three that I visited. It literally seems to be taken from a medieval tale, you will start your visit touring its immense gardens, caves and hidden and dark passages that you must explore on your own and secret waterfalls until you reach the initiation well. This popular spiral shaped well that descends about 20 meters is popular apart from its structure for its Templar symbols. To end your visit, there is less than the Palacio da Regaleira within this same complex, declared a cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Castelo dos Mouros is the next stop. To get here if you want to exercise your legs you can take a path from Sintra called Rampa da Pena. Those who do not want to walk so much, can go by car or public transport and park at the door.

The Castelo has something that Quinta da Regaleira does not have, its breathtaking views. It is a walled fortress from the 11th century built by the Arabs (hence its name), currently you will only find its walls standing along the side of the mountain. It is worth skirting its walls in perfect condition and contemplating the views. Be careful because it is very windy, you will see the Portuguese flags waving strongly with the wind coming from the Atlantic, more than one of them was blown away by the wind. In my case, the mobile fell against a stone and I broke the screen.

Finally to close the day and the trip, the Palacio da Pena. Perhaps the most iconic of them all because of its colors and its dominant position atop the hill. I’m not a big fan of palaces and their museums inside, I have to admit it. In this case, what I liked the most was walking through its paths and surrounding parks and admiring the palace from a distance, since it is when all its architecture is best appreciated. This was the residence of the Portuguese monarchs until the end of the 19th century. Currently Portugal is a republic and obviously does not have a king, so its only use is purely for tourism.

Daily budget for backpacking Lisbon

In this case I propose a daily budget of € 60 in which I have gone to and from Lisbon airport in Uber for about € 12 / way, not bad compared to Spain. On the other hand, the budget for accommodation is quite tight and in high season I doubt you will find anything better. Perhaps where you could cut back is in the food item and that is that I made all the meals in restaurants and practically did not eat streetfood or cook in the hostel.

Daily budget for backpacking Lisbon

Being totally transparent you can spend with € 50 a day without any problem, and for € 40 if you always cook in the hostel, keep in mind that this would already be very, very tight. But everything that you do not spend on a site you can spend on your next destination or extend your trips. Withdraw cash for free with N26. If you don’t have an N26 register and earn 25€ of free credit.

Where to stay in Lisbon

Let’s start with the neighborhoods first, I recommend that you stay somewhere between Chiado, Bairro Alto and Baixa. This is where you will spend 90% of your time when you are in Lisbon, since Betlem is very far from the center and Alfama has a lot of life during the day, but at night it dies a lot. Most restaurants and places to go out are in Bairro Alto, be careful with the areas, since there is a lot of nightlife venues and more than one can be trying to fall asleep. I stayed 5 minutes from Bairro Alto in a hostel that was pretty good.

  • Back to Lisbon hostel: Just 5 minutes from Bairro Alto, it is a safe and very accessible area. Hostel with clean and well-preserved rooms, being old it was a bit cold, but I was very comfortable despite the fact that at that time of year there was little atmosphere. The showers had some humidity and the atmosphere was very stuffy.
  • Palacio do Governador: I also stayed in this great five-star hotel because it was next to the office and it was the most practical. The rooms are very large, it has a water and spa area and most of the guests are business people and conference attendees.

What to do in Lisbon if you have more time

I believe that with this route you already have a large part of the surroundings of Lisbon covered, however there are a couple more destinations that you could visit if you still have time to spare.

  • Ericeira: It is a beautiful town about 40 minutes by car from the center of Lisbon. From the feeling it gave me, the public transport infrastructure in more isolated towns is not the best in Portugal, so it is better to go by private car if you are traveling or exploring different options. Ericeira is a town with little white houses on the top of a cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great destination for surfers.
  • Estoril: It is a town just 30-40 minutes from Lisbon by train, you can take the same line from Cascais, since it is the previous town. Motor enthusiasts can visit the popular racing circuit. The rest simply dedicate themselves to enjoying the charm of the town and its beaches.

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