Posted - 7th May 2017
If you’ve read our other blogs, you’ll know that Rome was our favourite city to visit. However, Lisbon is a very close second. Lisbon looks like colourful and a bit more run down Rome, but it is still as charming. We went in the end of March, and were hoping for some really good and sunny weather, but unfortunately we weren’t so lucky, but this didn’t stop us from exploring.
Tip: Bear in mind that Lisbon is built on 7 hills, so lots of walking up and down hill, make sure you’re up for the challenge.
This is a guide and quick itinerary to a 3-day weekend away in Lisbon.
Day 1 – Miradouro das Portas do Sol | Sé de Lisboa | Praça do Comércio | Baixa Pombalina | Elevador de Santa Justa | Convento do Carmo | R. da Bica de Duarte Belo | Miradouro de Santa Catarina | Time Out Market | Mosteiro dos Jerónimos | Torre de Belém
As you can see from all the places mentioned above, we packed in a lot of things to do on the first day, as we wanted to go to Sintra one of the days and we knew we had some bad weather ahead of us in the next days. We started bright and early on Friday morning. As our beautiful Air BnB was in the Alfama district (the old quarter of Lisbon), the first thing we did is walk up the nice windy, cobble stoned roads and arrived at the view point Miradouro das Portas do Sol, where you see the most beautiful, colourful view of east side of Lisbon.
We then made our way towards the city centre of Lisbon, passing by the Sé de Lisboa. This little cathedral really reminded us of the Notre-Dame in Paris, just a mini version of it, and completely free to visit. While walking down these roads, together with the famous and iconic yellow trams, we kept finding small corners, with the most beautiful architecture looking over the colourful city.
We finally reached the Praça do Comércio. The sun was high in the sky and the square was right on the water bank. It was really warm and the yellow building around the Praça do Comércio really lit up the square.
This is the heart of Lisbon, with lots of tourist sitting and walking around, entering the Baixa Pombalina through the gates. You can go up the gates, to get a nice view of the city centre, but we felt that there are many other spots where the views were much prettier. We walked the streets of Baixa Pombalina, where there were many little terraces and shops, with lots of souvenirs.
We walked towards the Elevador de Santa Justa. This lift is a very old structure, that you can take to reach the Convento do Carmo from the Baixa district for just €2.80 per ticket, and in addition you can get beautiful views. The only issue is that the queue gets very long, so if you have the patience to wait, then it’s a must, however, since we are so impatient, we decided to walk up to the Convento do Carmo by foot, and actually got to stand on the Elevador de Santa Justa completely for free and with the same views.
Tip: There is no need to pay to go up the tower you can get the same view from the top.
We then visited the Convento do Carmo, which is an archaeological museum that is in the ruins of, what used to be a church, but got destroyed in an earthquake. In the museum, which you can enter for 3,00 € per person, you can even find a mummy of a little boy and little girl, as well as many other things. These ruins stand beautifully in the Lisbon sun.
We then walked around the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon, stopping off at Praça Luís de Camões for an ice cream and enjoying the sun. By chance, we stumbled upon one of the most iconic streets in Lisbon, R. da Bica de Duarte Belo, where the yellow trams stop and start. It is a very steep street so you get a gorgeous view and it is great fun to walk down. Near to this street, there is another stunning view point called Miradouro de Santa Catarina, which gives a nice view of western Lisbon.
We walked towards the Time Out Market for a bite to eat. Once we were all full up, we decided to take the train to Belém from Cais do Sodré.
Tip: Getting around Lisbon by trains, metro and trams is super easy and cheap.
Once we arrived in Belém, we went to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, which is a beautiful and huge monastery. You can enter the cathedral for free, however if you like to see the courtyard of the monastery, you can either pay €10 per person, or you can buy tickets for the monastery and Torre de Belém for €12. If you would also like to see the museum that is in the monastery, you can purchase a ticket together for €16.
Tip: Purchase the tickets at the museum entrance instead of the monastery entrance for a shorter queue.
We then walked around the Belém area, passing by Padrão dos Descobrimentos (which you can go inside and go to the top) and walking on the pier and marina. From here, you could see the Ponte 25 de Abril, which really reminds me of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. When we finally made it to the Torre de Belém, it started raining sadly and it was getting close to closing time (5pm). We quickly went into the tower and went to the top of the tower to get a nice view. To be completely honest, we were a bit disappointed with the tower, but it’s a must see if you are there.
After a long day of walking around, we started making our way back to our Air BnB, but first stopping off for some Pastéis de Belém and Port, the most delicious we’ve ever had.
Day 2 – Rossio | Sintra | A Ginjinha | Castelo de S. Jorge
After a long rest and night in the Air BnB, we started our day bright and early to go to Sintra. We took the train from Rossio, the most beautifully designed train station we have seen just off the Rossio Square. The train is only 40 min long and it gets you straight into Sintra City Centre.
For more information on getting around Sintra and our experience visiting Sintra, visit our blog A weekend in: Sintra.
Once we were back in Lisbon after a very long day of walking miles and miles in Sintra, we realised that we still had some energy in us, and realised that the Castelo de S. Jorge was open until 9pm as it was summer time already, we decided to visit the castle at night, so we get the view of the city at night. To brave this challenge ahead of us, we decided to each have a shot of the famous Ginjinha, and got a shot from the smallest shop called A Ginjinha. I do not think many people knew that the castle would still be open, so it felt like we were the only two people there and got to explore and experience every single little corner of the castle. The views were stunning and breath-taking. Entry fee for the castle is 8.50€ per person.
Tip: Make sure you research the opening times of the castle when you are there, as seeing everything at night is great.
After another long day of walking around, hiking and climbing the castle towers, we made our way back to our Air BnB for a good and long sleep. We knew we we had a rainy day ahead of us…
Day 3 – The Yellow Trams | Oceanário de Lisboa | Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama
We woke up very late on day 3 as it was raining and we were exhausted from the past two days, therefore we had a nice lay in. Once we have done that, we decided to finally ride the popular Yellow Trams, Nr 28. This tram departs from Praça do Martim Moniz and terminates at Campo de Ourique. A single tickets for this tram costs €2.85 per person. This is a great way to see all of Lisbon, and the ride takes about 40 minutes and you get to experience this fun mode of transport.
Tip 1: Make sure you keep your valuables close to you, there is quite a lot of pick pocketing happening as it is a very small tram.
Tip 2: The queues for this tram can get very long, so be ready to wait, or go on the tram from the terminal stop and ride the tram back to Praça do Martim Moniz, to avoid queues.
As the weather was not good, we were able to see the city from the tram and could escape the rain. To keep dry, and as we didn’t have much time before our flight, we decided to go to Oceanário de Lisboa. This is the biggest Oceanarium in Europe, with the coolest and biggest aquarium in the middle of the building, with lots of sharks, stingrays and many other fish. The entrance fee is €16,20 per person, and if you can order the tickets online, this could save a lot of the queuing. We thought this was quite expensive for what it was, but it was a great experience. The great thing is that you also get to see penguins and otters, and frogs and snakes and spiders and many more…
Since we were already in the area, had a little time before our flight and some money to spend, we decided to do some last minute shopping in Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama. This is a very grand and big shopping centre, with some great shops. And finally, after a great few days in Lisbon, we had to sadly make our way to the airport to fly home..
We hope this helps you plan your trip and the tips help during your stay.
Xoxo Ani and Sam