Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world with no shortage of amazing things to see. From the charming streets of the Alfama neighborhood to the picturesque Bélem Tower, there are plenty of attractions to fill a 4-day itinerary.
The city’s long and storied history is evident everywhere you look – including the magnificent Portuguese azulejo tiles and the impressive gothic Jerónimos Monastery.
Portugal is a fun place to eat and drink too. Some of my favorites include delectable egg tarts (pastel de nata), sweet cherry liqueur (ginjinha) and an impressive variety of affordable seafood.
Are you ready to pack your bags yet? Well be sure to pack your comfortable walking shoes because Lisbon is a very hilly city. Similar to Rome, Lisbon is often called the City of Seven Hills.
Thankfully, the impressive transportation system – from the historic #28 Tram Line to the Santa Justa Lift – makes it an easy city to navigate.
If this sounds good to you, then read on! This comprehensive Lisbon 4-day itinerary has got you covered.
Note: if you are planning a trip during the pandemic, be sure to review the latest rules on traveling in Lisbon during COVID. This will ensure that you understand the Lisbon travel restrictions.
Lisbon 4-Day Itinerary At-A-Glance
My husband Daniel and I spent two weeks in Lisbon during July 2021 and fell in love with it. Since most people can’t spend that long in Lisbon, I put together this Lisbon 4-day itinerary with all the best things to see in Lisbon.
This will help you pack as much goodness as possible into your visit – hopefully at a speed that won’t leave you exhausted.
Keep in mind that this is only meant to serve as a guide for you to build upon when planning your trip. If you’re not a museum person, then skip the National Tile Museum and go to the beach instead!
It’s up to you, depending on what interests you and your traveling style.
Note: you cannot visit Lisbon without also planning a trip to the magical city of Sintra. If you don’t have a trip to Sintra already planned, then skip the last day of this Lisbon 4-day itinerary and go to Sintra instead.
Lisbon Itinerary Overview:
- First Day: The #28 Tram, Castelo de São Jorge & Alfama Neighborhood
- Second Day : Baixa, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré Neighborhoods
- Third Day: Belém by Day and Bairro Alto by Night
- Fourth Day: National Tile Museum, Lisbon Aqueduct and the Praça do Comércio
Day 1 of the Lisbon 4-Day Itinerary
On the first day of your Lisbon 4-day itinerary, begin the morning by riding the historic #28 tram. This will give you a great introduction to the city.
The highlight of the first day is exploring the fortified Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon Castle). Perched on the city’s tallest hill, the castle is Lisbon’s most prominent landmark.
Afterwards, spend the evening wandering the winding streets of the Alfama neighborhood and listening to traditional fado music.
Ride the #28 Tram
Cost: €3 per trip/purchased from the driver (cheaper with a Viva Viagem Card)
Tour the city in style while riding a historic Remodelado tram. A quintessential Lisbon experience, the trams on this route date back to the 1930s. Today, the Lisbon 28 Tram serves as the primary mode of transportation for residents to some parts of the city.
The tram ride begins in the Graca neighborhood and circles through the winding streets of the Alfama. Here, the streets are so narrow that the tram barely fits through the tight twists and turns. In fact, the reason that these trams are still in use is because modern trolleys are too large to navigate the roads.
After passing by the Castelo de São Jorge, the #28 eventually ends in the Estrela neighborhood.
Note: the E28 tram can get really crowded during summer months. Consider getting on at less popular stops to ensure you get a seat. You can avoid the crowds by taking another one of the city’s tram lines such as the E24 or E12.
The cost to ride the tram (one way) is €3, but it is much cheaper and more convenient to use a Viva Viagem Card. See the Lisbon Transportation section below for more details.
Cemetery Prazeres (Cemitério dos Prazeres)
After riding the #28 tram to its western terminus, take a moment to explore the area before re-embarking. The Cemetery Prazeres (Cemitério dos Prazeres) is located just steps away from the tram stop and is worth a visit.
Lisbon’s largest cemetery, the Cemetery Prazeres features a variety of ornate and fanciful mausoleums. This includes the largest mausoleum in Europe – the Mausoleum of the Dukes of Palmela.
Another great reason to visit the cemetery is because of its location. From here, you have a great view of the 25 de Abril bridge – Lisbon’s iconic suspension bridge that connects the city to Almada on the left bank of the Tagus river.
The massive Basílica da Estrela is also located in the Estrela neighborhood if you wish to explore the area further.
Miradouro das Portas do Sol
After concluding your visit at the cemetery, hop back on the #28 tram back to the Alfama neighborhood and get off at the Portas do Sol stop. This is the closest tram stop to the Castelo de São Jorge.
This is a great place to stop for lunch as there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.
Be sure to stop by the Miradouro das Portas do Sol lookout point for fabulous views of the city before heading uphill towards the castle entrance.
Explore Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon Castle)
Cost: €10 adults
Be sure to save plenty of time to visit the Castelo de São Jorge because it is the highlight of the first day’s itinerary. Situated on top of a hill with impressive views of the city, the São Jorge Castle is built on fortifications that date back to 48 BC.
The castle is perhaps most famously known for its role in the siege of Lisbon which took place in 1147. A pivotal moment in the city’s history, the castle was sacked by crusaders who expelled the Moors and brought it under Christian rule.
Today you can wander along the castle walls and enjoy views from the tallest hill in the city. Be sure to keep an eye out for peacocks which like to wander the grounds.
For more information: Castelo de São Jorge web site.
Wander the Alfama Neighborhood
Winding cobblestone roads and endless narrow stairwells are just a few of the charming features that await you in the Alfama neighborhood.
The oldest part of the city, the Alfama is one of the few areas of Lisbon to survive the devastating Great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. As a result, the Alfama district retains much of the same charm as it did hundreds of years ago.
One of the best ways to explore the Alfama is to ramble at will and see where you end up. Just head southeast from the castle entrance and go downhill. There are charming plazas and cafes seemingly tucked into every nook and cranny.
For a great view of the city, be sure to check out the Miradouro de Santo Estêvão.
The Museum of Fado is also located in the Alfama if you’d like to learn more about this style of traditional Portuguese music.
Listen to Fado Music in the Alfama
Speaking of fado, there is no better way to learn about this haunting music than by listening to it. Fado is a traditional Portuguese music style that is filled with saudade – a word without an equivalent in English. The general translation, however, means profound longing for something that one loves or has lost.
The music is often mournful in nature and is infused with melancholy. It is also incredibly beautiful.
The Alfama neighborhood is filled with small restaurants and cafes that feature fado musicians in the evenings. While restaurants featuring fado music are relatively easy to find just by walking down the street, here are a couple of my favorites:
- São Miguel Grandes Cantorias
- Casa de Fado Porta d’Alfama
Day 2 of the Lisbon 4-Day Itinerary
Begin the second day of your Lisbon 4-day itinerary at the famous Praça Dom Pedro IV in the center of town. From here, you can take the ornate Santa Justa Lift to the Largo do Carmo and explore the fascinating ruins of the Carmo Convent.
While in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, be sure to admire the view from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and enjoy a traditional Portuguese custard tart.
Finally, take the funicular to the Cais do Sodré Neighborhood where you can eat dinner at Time Out Market and party on Pink Street.
Praça Dom Pedro IV (or The Rossio)
The Praça Dom Pedro IV (King Pedro IV Square) is the majestic focal point of Lisbon’s Baixa (downtown) neighborhood. More commonly referred to as The Rossio, the square gets its official name from a towering statue of King Pedro IV and features picturesque Portuguese mosaics as well as imported bronze fountains.
The Rossio is an excellent example of the Pombaline architectural style which dominates the downtown area. In 1755, a massive earthquake hit the city. This was followed directly afterwards by a deadly firestorm and then a tsunami. It was a devastating series of events that destroyed the downtown area and left an indelible mark on the country’s psyche
Afterwards, city architects rebuilt the entire downtown in an elegant grid pattern – replacing the tangle of streets that existed prior to the earthquake.
Today, the square is an important transportation hub – served by the Baixa Train Station and the Rossio metro stop.
Santa Justa Lift (Elevador de Santa Justa)
Cost: €5.30 return trip (cheaper with a Viva Viagem Card)
From the Rossio, it is an easy walk to the Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift) on the northwestern edge of the Baixa. The elevator connects the downtown area with the charming Largo do Carmo square at the top of the hill.
This eye-catching 19th Century elevator is elegantly constructed of wrought-iron and adorned with sumptuous neo-gothic arches. A viewing platform at the top provides amazing views of the city (the platform is included in the return ticket, or costs €1.50 when visited on its own).
Since the Santa Justa Lift is technically part of the city’s transportation system, it is covered under the Viva Viagem pass. See the Lisbon Transportation section below for more details.
Note: the lift was closed during my visit in July 2021 due to the Coronavirus, but it was still lovely to see from the outside!
Carmo Convent (Carmo Archaeological Museum)
The next stop on the itinerary is the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Convento da Ordem do Carmo).
Located just off the Largo do Carmo square, the convent was mostly destroyed during the Great Lisbon earthquake. Today, you can tour what is left of the church. The structure also houses an archeological museum and includes objects such as an Egyptian sarcophagus and mummy.
The real highlight, however, is viewing the ruins of the cathedral. It is like being both indoors and outdoors at the same time since the main nave no longer has a roof. Even with no roof it is absolutely spectacular.
After your visit, I recommend eating lunch in or near the Largo do Carmo. There are several nice cafes to choose from which have lovely views of the square and the Convent. Or, if you prefer, there are plenty of food options in the nearby Bairro Alto neighborhood.
More information: Carmo Archaeological Museum
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
After lunch, walk for about 10 minutes northwest of the Largo do Carmo until you find a lovely park and lookout point overlooking the city.
Since Lisbon is built on seven hills, there are many fabulous viewpoints of the city. Of these, the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara is one of the largest and most impressive ones. The park features incredible views of the downtown area as well as the Castelo de São Jorge on the other side of the city.
There are also plenty of benches here as well as shade trees if you want to relax for a while and take in the view.
Enjoy a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart) at Manteigaria
Cost: Entrance is free; each pastel de data costs approx. €1
Pastel de nata is a traditional Portuguese egg custard tart and one of those things you must absolutely try when visiting Lisbon. The small pie is made with a puff pastry shell and gooey custard filling of cream, egg yolks, sugar, flour, and lemon zest.
And what better way to try this sugary sweet than at an actual pastel de nata factory? At Manteigaria, you can watch these yummy treats being made while you wait in line to order one (or more) for yourself.
Address: Rua do Loreto 2, 1200-108 Lisboa, Portugal
Take the Bica Funicular
Cost: €3.80 for a return trip (cheaper with a Viva Viagem card)
After polishing off an egg tart (or two!) continue downhill towards the Cais do Sodré neighborhood. While you *could* simply walk downhill, why bother when you can take the funicular?
The Ascensor da Bica (Bica Funicular) connects the Calçada do Combro/Rua do Loreto street at the top of the hill with Rua de São Paulo at the bottom on Line 53E. While not a long ride, it is a fun way to travel downhill (or uphill) and give your feet a break.
Since the Bica Funicular is technically part of the city’s transportation system, it is covered under the Viva Viagem pass. See the Lisbon Transportation section below for more details.
Note: the Bica Funicular was temporarily closed during our visit to Lisbon in July 2021
Visit the Mercado da Ribeira / Time Out Market
Cost: Entrance is free
The Mercado da Ribeira is an enormous food hall that is essentially two markets in one.
Traditional food vendors selling fresh produce, fish and more fill the bottom floor of the market. It is a great place to visit and get a first-hand look at the local vegetables and ingredients that are on offer. This floor is open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The upper floor, however, is where it’s *really* at. Known as the Time Out Market, the top floor is a large food hall that features 24 restaurants and 8 bars. This trendy spot boasts eateries run by well-known chefs and popular restaurateurs. And since it is a food hall, it is easy to sample various dishes and drinks from multiple stalls.
Note: since we visited during the pandemic on a weekend, we were required to show proof of vaccination before entry under the Lisbon COVID travel rules at the time.
Party on Pink Street (Rua Cor-de-Rosa)
After grabbing a meal at the Time Out Market, head on over to colorful Pink Street (Rua Cor-de-Rosa). Officially known as the Rua Nova do Carvalho, Pink Street used to have an infamous past. Years ago, the street was known as Lisbon’s Red Light District.
These days, the area is less seedy and touts some of the best bars in Lisbon. The street’s pink color and colorful hanging umbrellas make it a fun place to take pictures too.
So celebrate the end of a fabulous day in Lisbon with a celebratory drink on Pink Street!
Day 3 of the Lisbon 4-Day Itinerary
The third day of the Lisbon 4-day itinerary is all about the Belém neighborhood. This historic district is filled with museums and important landmarks such as the Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries and Jerónimos Monastery.
After spending the day in Belém, head back to the Bairro Alto neighborhood for dinner and to sample the nightlife.
Belém Tower is a striking 16th century fortification located on the banks of the Tagus River. The tower was constructed to defend the city against invaders and was the launching point for many explorers during the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
Now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the tower is a popular tourist attraction due to its distinctive look and scenic location on the river. The building is a good example of the late gothic Manueline style which includes maritime elements and symbols of discoveries by Portuguese explorers.
You can reach the Belém neighborhood by taking the #15 tram. More information: Torre de Belem web site
Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)
After exploring the Belém Tower, head east along the riverfront until you reach the next major landmark – the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). This monument will be impossible to miss because it stands over 171 feet tall (52 meters).
The monument features 33 historical figures clustered around a ship to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
And the best part of the monument is that you can take an elevator all the way to the top for stunning views!
Constructed during the Salazar regime, the Monument to the Discovers presents a romanticized view of exploration which overlooks its negative impacts. For another perspective, head inside and take a look at the exhibition “Visions of Empire“.
This installation examines the role of photography in Portuguese colonialism and how it contributed to a vision of the “other” that can be exploited. The installation ends on December 20, 2021.
Pro tip: consider renting an electric scooter at Belém Tower and riding it to the Monument. It’s a bit of a long walk and scooters are plentiful in the area.
Cost: €10 (entrance to the Church of Santa Maria de Belém is free)
Another example of the Manueline style, the Jerónimos Monastery is a masterpiece of 16th-century architecture. Featuring an ornate gothic façade, the complex stretches the length of several city blocks. It is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
To access the monastery, simply walk north from the Monument to the Discoveries across the manicured Praça do Império (Empire Square) gardens.
If you haven’t purchased tickets for the monastery yet, head to the entrance of the National Architectural Museum which is in the middle of the monastery complex. Here you will find ticket machines for the monastery (and the Architecture Museum too if that interests you).
Then you can proceed to the entrance – which is on the eastern end of the building complex by the entrance to the Church of Santa Maria de Belém. The Church is worth a visit in its own right and admission is free.
More information: Jeronimos Monastery web site
Cost: Approx €1 per shot
If you haven’t had a chance to try ginjinha yet, now is the perfect time. Ginjinjha is a sweet cherry liqueur that is typically served in a shot glass either with or without cherries on the bottom. The drink traces its origins to Lisbon and is popular with locals and visitors alike.
There are ginjinha bars all over Lisbon, from traditional drinking establishments to makeshift tables staffed by entrepreneurial Portuguese women. A shot typically costs about €1.
For an even sweeter treat, you can also try drinking ginjinha out of a chocolate cup (and then eating the cup afterwards). Yum!
Explore Bairro Alto at Night
To wrap up this epic day of sightseeing, head back to the Bairro Alto for dinner and some nightlife. While it is a rather sleepy neighborhood by day, at night this bohemian district welcomes a lively bar crowd.
There are restaurants and cafes for every budget in the Bairro Alto. For an upscale dining experience, consider the Michelin-starred 100 Maneiras Restaurant helmed by well-known Lisbon chef Ljubomir Stanisic.
For a quirky snack, head over to the Pop Cereal Cafe. Here, you can choose from hundreds of cereals and combine them together into a cereal masterpiece.
Day 4 of the Lisbon 4-Day Itinerary
The last day of the Lisbon 4-day itinerary begins at the National Tile Museum. Here you will learn about traditional Portuguese azulejo tiles which are used in buildings all over Lisbon.
Then head to Cervejaria Ramiro and feast on an assortment of fresh seafood from one of Lison’s most popular restaurants.
Afterwards, walk off your lunch with a stroll across the historic Águas Livres Aqueduct. The day ends at the magnificent Praça do Comércio to watch the sunset.
National Tile Museum
By this point in your visit, you’ve surely noticed the abundance of colorful tiles decorating many of Lisbon’s buildings. Known as azulejo, these traditional Portuguese tiles have decorated both the interior and exterior of Portuguese buildings for centuries.
To learn more about these beautiful glazed ceramic tiles, simply head to the National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo). Located in the Madre de Deus Convent, this museum provides a journey through the history of azulejo tiles from the 15th century to the present day.
More information: National Tile Museum web site
Lunch at Cervejaria Ramiro
If you’re hungry for seafood, Cervejaria Ramiro is the place to go. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, Ramiro is known for serving quality seafood at reasonable prices.
Apparently, Ramiro is also popular with local chefs as well – which I learned after watching an episode of No Reservations. In the show, Anthony Bourdain visits the restaurant with some Lisbon chefs who rave about it.
I suggest arriving at lunch time as the busy can get fairly busy in the evenings. If you do arrive at dinner time, consider making a reservation first.
Walk across the Águas Livres Aqueduct (Lisbon Aqueduct)
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, head to the Águas Livres Aqueduct. This aqueduct crosses Lisbon’s Alcântara Valley with a series of 35 graceful arches – and is usually ignored by tourists. I’m not sure why. You can walk across the whole thing and it has incredible views of the city.
Generally regarded as the last classical Roman-style aqueduct, this structure was constructed in the 16th century. Use of the aqueduct was discontinued in 1967 when new water sources were introduced.
The Águas Livres Aqueduct is part of the city’s Museu da Água (Water Museum) which has several installations across the city. To reach the aqueduct, take the 712 bus route (or take an Uber or taxi).
Praça do Comércio
To conclude your Lisbon itinerary, head to the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) on the mouth of the Tagus River. This grand square is one of the largest of its kind in Portugal and the location of many government buildings.
The square is part of the Pombaline Baixa downtown area that was rebuilt after the Great Lisbon earthquake. Prior to that time, the Paço da Ribeira (Royal Palace of Ribeira) was located on this spot.
Be sure to walk all the way to the river’s edge to the Cais das Colunas (Columns Wharf). This area has a great view of the 4 de Abril Bridge and is a lovely place to watch the sunset.
Extend Your Visit to Lisbon
Have more than 4 days to spend in Lisbon? Consider adding these locations to your itinerary:
- Go to the beach! There are lots of beaches in and around Lisbon where you can soak up some sun.
- Shop at the Mercado de Santa Clara (or Feira da Ladra). This is a fun flea market in the Alfama neighborhood that runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
- Take a ferry! The Almada neighborhood on the other side of the Tagus river has some charming villages to explore. It is also home to the towering Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário de Cristo Rei) statue.
- Visit the charming but slightly creepy Dolls Hospital in Baixa district.
- Tour the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major (Lisbon Cathedral).
Lisbon has a comprehensive transportation system that includes everything from buses and trams to elevators, funiculars, ferries and the metro. While you can sometimes buy a ticket from the driver, it’s cheaper and more convenient to buy a Viva Viagam Card instead.
The Viva Viagem card is great because it works on all of Lisbon’s transportation systems. The only downside is that you typically can only find them at the metro station stops.
Two payment methods are available when buying the card. One is an all-day pass, which gives you unlimited access for 24 hours. This is a good option if you plan to travel a lot in a single day.
The second option is a “zapping” method. This is a pay-as-you-go model where you can simply add more funds to your account when you run low. This is the option I used in Lisbon during my 2-week stay and it worked great.