4 Day Lisbon Itinerary
We stumbled upon Portugal when planning our trip to Spain. The airline deal had a stopover in Portugal and we said why not? So we ended up booking a 4-day stopover in Lisbon before transferring over to Spain, and boy are we glad we did.
For one, the FOOD. Oh my god, the food! I had heard about how great restaurants were in Portugal but I was skeptical about how true this could be. Well, as it turns out the food truly was just that good!
Check out my foodie guide for more details.
Other than the cuisine, the Portugueses’ welcoming nature really captivated us. I truly believe the people make the place and can shape your experience and perspective of any country. The people of Portugal want you to love their country and they express that in how kind they are. Although we do not speak Portuguese, we always felt understood and taken care of and that’s not always the case in foreign countries.
The sights are stunning and the food is divine, but I can confidently say when I think back on our trip to Portugal what stands out to me the most is how included we felt.
Portugal itinerary at a glance:
- Breakfast: Pão da Ribeira Padaria Artesanal
- Torre de Belém
- Jerónimos Monastery
- Lunch: Floresta das Escadinhas
- Santa Justa Lift (€5 pp)
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia
- Castelo de S. Jorge (€10 pp + pro tip: do this at sunset for the best views)
- Dinner: A Muralha Tasca Típica Lisboa
- Private Driver to (€210 for 6 people):
- Dinner: Parreirinha de Alfama (make reservations if you want to watch the live fado performance)
- Breakfast: Fauna & Flora
- Arco da Rua Augusta
- Praça do Comércio
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Beach afternoon in Cascais
- Dinner: Taberna Sal Grosso
- Breakfast: Casa São Miguel (LOVED the pasteis de nata here)
- Explore the historic Alfama neighborhood.
- Flight to Madrid, Spain
Day 1 –
We arrived at 5:30am in the Lisbon airport after a nonstop flight from Miami. We got a taxi right outside the airport to take us straight to our Airbnb in the Alfama district (keep in mind many of the smaller street are not accessible by car so we were dropped off a few yards away as far as our driver was able to go). We dropped off our luggage in our very spacious and centrally located Airbnb (linked here: Lisbon Airbnb). Our hosts were amazing, they allowed us to check in at 6am and sent us a list of restaurants/activities for the area which we enjoyed!
From here we walked to breakfast at “Pão da Ribeira Padaria Artesanal.” This is a local bakery that makes their own fresh breads and pastries every morning. We had pasteis de nata (a Portuguese staple), croissants, croquetas, and they were all delicious. The fresh squeezed orange juice was also a big hit!
At this point we had figured out that walking up and down stairs, cobblestone, and inclined streets was not going to cut it for long distances so we decided to take advantage of the public transportation. We bought a 24 hour pass at the Cais de Sodre train station that included access to the trains, buses, and trolleys (which Lisbon is known for!) all for €6 per person. Note: You need a mask for any public transportation when traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From here we took the train over to Belém (25-minute ride from Cais do Sodre station). We rented electric scooters to travel within Belém, from the Torre de Belém to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Jerónimos Monastery.
After a morning of sightseeing, we headed back into Lisbon on the train and went to lunch at
Floresta das Escadinhas for authentic Portuguese fish (they’re known for their sardines) and meat made on a charcoal grill. We tried the famous Portuguese “Vinho Verde” here for the first time also. Despite the color green in its name, it is actually white wine and very yummy.
Next, we went over to the Santa Justa Lift where we paid €5 to use the 1902 lift that connects the lower streets of the Baixa neighborhood with the higher Largo do Carmo neighborhood. At the top, there’s a famous cod croquette shop with great views. I do not enjoy cod but everyone else loved them and they’re definitely worth a try in Portugal.
The sunset is around 9 pm in Portugal in May so we all went back to our Airbnb for a little rest and recharge to go watch the sunset from Castelo de S. Jorge. On the way up to the castle we stopped for drinks and a view at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. At just €10 per person for entry, the castle is an incredible place to explore. This fortification was built in the 1st century and has served as a royal palace, military barracks, and national archives. Don’t forget to take the little trams (trolleys). Other than being cute and historical, they will help you avoid major hikes up the Alfama neighborhood. These trams have been in operation in Lisbon since 1873.
Finally, the highlight of our day…dinner (jk, but not really?). We stumbled upon a little restaurant a few feet from our Airbnb and decided to give it a try.
A Muralha Tasca Típica Lisboa was delicious! We had more Vinho Verde, churrasco, fish, and the talk of the trip, the “Baba de Camelo.” I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but that’s until you try it! We were so obsessed that we had it every night we were in Lisbon and became best friends with the owner.
Day 2 –
Our amazing airbnb hosts set us up with a private driver for the 6 of us to go exploring outside of Lisbon for the day. Paulo our driver was excellent! He took us first to the National Palace of Queluz. It is often referred to as the Portuguese Versailles and you can really see the resemblance albeit much smaller when you visit. We arrived around 10am and we were the only ones there. It was nice to explore the grounds as a private little group.
Next, we drove up the mountains to Sintra. Before visiting I thought the main sight of Sintra was the Pena Palace, but there’s so much more to this town. We spent an hour just exploring the town center below the castle before driving up to the Pena Palace.
What can I say, it’s no surprise it served Walt Disney as inspiration for Disneyland’s Castle.
After all that castle exploring, it was lunch time! Our driver recommended one of his favorite local restaurants at the foot of the Sintra mountains.
Curral dos Caprinos was one of our favorite meals. We tried the roast young goat, stewed young goat, roasted duck, and lamb chops. ALL delicious.
More on this place in my Portugal foodie blog!
Next up, our driver took us to some places I never imagined seeing in Portugal. The city of Colares left us stunned. The water was too cold for me, if not I would have stayed here for hours. The cliffside views were giving me Santorini vibes, but better because there was no one but us and the locals in the small town. I dipped my toes in the Praia das Maçãs but this was all I was able to manage as I am used to warm Miami waters.
Then we traveled to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of the European continent and as a plus offers a stunning cliffside view of the Northern Atlantic Ocean.
Next up was a small beach town called Cascais. We loved it here, so much so that we returned just to hang out at this beach the next day. The bartender from the rooftop bar at Hotel Baía made a great cucumber gin & tonic!
We finally made it back to Lisbon for dinner. We had reservations for Parreirinha de Alfama to indulge in some traditional Fado entertainment with our dinner. Unfortunately my phone had run out of battery at this point so, I have no photos of the food or the performance. Definitely recommend a reservation here for an authentic Portuguese Fado experience. The food was good but we had better in Portugal. You definitely go here for the show.
Day 3 –
Take the tram to Fauna & Flora. You’re welcome.
Then head over to the Praça do Comércio and the Arco da Rua Augusta. This large plaza opens southwards onto the huge Tagus estuary and is where the royal palace once stood before it was destroyed in the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755. If you walk up through the Arco da Rua Augusta, you’ll end up in the Baixa neighborhood. This area is filled with shops, restaurants, and bars where you can get a lot of souvenir shopping done!
A little more walking (yes, uphill) will take you to the Lisbon Cathedral. Sadly, when we went it was closed inside for a mass and we could not see the inside but I am sure it is just as beautiful as the outside which gave me mini Notre Dame vibes.
We really wanted more drinks from the fabulous bartender at the Hotel Baía in Cascais so we decided to take the train out there for a little afternoon at the beach side town. We rented some bikes and drove them through the marina and historic town area. The town is just precious!
Again we have made it to my favorite part of the day: Dinner at Taberna Sal Grosso! So for background, we really wanted to eat here our first night in Portugal but were turned away because we didn’t have reservations. That night I put us on a waitlist for our last night in Portugal because I just needed to try it. Pro Tip: Book this place however far in advance as possible because it is worth it! We didn’t get called off the waitlist but we made friends with the owner sitting outside the restaurant 30 minutes before they opened for dinner at 8pm and he gave us a table. There are ONLY 6 tables so keep that in mind. The place is tiny, but mighty in taste! I’ll go more into each dish on a separate blog post about Portugal’s food but just MAKE THE RESERVATION!
Day 4 –
We had more Pasteis de Nata… don’t fall for the tourist trap and make a line outside Pastéis de Belém. In my experience, all the Pasteis de Nata were equally good throughout Portugal. The Casa São Miguel was just outside of our airbnb and their pasteis were heavenly!
We stayed in the historic Alfama neighborhood so it was easy for us to explore this area, but if you stay elsewhere it is definitely worth a visit. At night, the neighborhood lights up! There’s Fado music pouring out of all the small restaurants. The bars are filled with locals eager to share stories of their neighborhood with you. We really felt most connected to the people here likely because it lies on the outskirts of the bustling Bairro Alto and Baixa neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, this is all the time we had in Lisbon since we had a flight to catch to Spain.
While we’ve been back for weeks, we still talk about all the amazing food and experiences we had in Portugal. So, there’s no question we’ll be back soon enough!