72 hours in Lisbon

Portugal’s capital is a vibrant, charming city full of colour, energy and excitement. Whether you come here to shop, sightsee or to simply relax for a few days, you’ll be greeted by the warm spirit of Portuguese people and their culture.

Lisbon blends old and new in so many ways, with a charming mix of historic buildings alongside trendy retailers. The cobbled pavements lead you in and out of each neighbourhood which are characterised by intricate tiling on apartments and Juliet balconies. With so much to take in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a place you don’t know. So if you only have 72 hours in Lisbon, let us help you out. You’ll be surprised at what you can fit into three days…

Day One: Baixa and Chiado

For your first day in Lisbon, it’s worth getting some of the main attractions done while getting your bearings around the stylish inner city. You can start with a walk into Baixa and Chiado – the downtown shopping districts and tourist hub. Here you’ll find Rua Augusta that leads to Arco da Rua Augusta, the main street lined with shops, café’s and MUDE which is a fashion and design museum housed in a former bank. Once you’ve taken some photos, head onto Rossio Square. This is the heart of Lisbon complete with a 19th century bronzed fountain, large pedestrian area and the famous Café Nicola. From here you can walk to the Tagus River front where there are often buskers, bands and locals relaxing.

Back in the centre near Baixa-Chiado metro station, you’ll find the Santa Justa Lift which links the city levels. It was built in 1902 and still stands as one of the main tourist attractions in Lisbon. The National Theatre of São Carlos is in this vicinity too, an 18th century opera house with neoclassical design. For shopping, you’ll find all major high street names including Zara, H&M and Mango, plus the coveted beauty store Sephora. There are the usual fast food chains plus a host of ice cream parlours, bakeries, gift shops and jewellers. Vegetarians and vegans should try Ao 26 – a cosy and casual restaurant hidden along R. Vítor Cordon just a short walk from the station (booking recommended).

Day Two: Principe Real and Bairro Alto

Principe Real is Lisbon’s upmarket shopping and residential district. The main hub of activity is around Rato metro station, leading down into Bairro Alto, Baixa and Chiado via Rua da Escola Politécnica and Rua de Sáo Pedro de Alcántara. There are plenty of antique shops and art dealers along this stretch, and the stunning Botanical Gardens which surround the Natural History Museum. It’s a great place to take respite from shopping, or if you want to learn more about science and nature. There’s even a butterfly greenhouse! In this district you’ll also find the leafy Jardim do Príncipe Real – a local park with a café, drinks kiosk and shaded areas for reading and people watching. On the main street just opposite, there’s Embaixada Mall. This luxurious department store dedicated mostly to Portuguese designers is housed in a restored 18th century building full of Art Nouveau paintings. You’ll be greeted by a huge stairway that leads you to the various retailers’, and there’s a cocktail bar downstairs too.

As you head down into the bohemian district of Barrio Alto (adjacent to Chiado), you’ll pass the Church Of Sao Roque – a Roman Catholic Church built in the 16th century. Head down to the famous Elevador da Bica to see the iconic yellow funicular that connects Rua de São Paulo with Calçada do Combro. It was designed by Portuguese engineer Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard who also designed the Santa Justa Lift.

From this area you can easily hop on a tram up to Alfama, one of Lisbon’s traditional neighbourhoods located at the foot of São Jorge Castle. You’ll get impressive views from here of the whole neighbourhood and the Tagus River. By night, Barrio Alto comes alive with crowds heading to bars and restaurants in the area. It’s a great place for couples and groups looking to see Lisbon’s nightlife.

Day three: Belém and LX Factory

By now you should be used to Lisbon’s travel systems and winding streets. You’ll have explored most of the shopping, sightseeing and nightlife areas, and captured Lisbon from up high in Alfama. So why not venture out of town towards the Tagus River? Down here you’ll find one of the coolest places in Lisbon – LX Factory. This is an industrial business quarter of creative studios, offices and outlets. There are concept fashion stores, gift shops, book shops and a handful of restaurants – plus the world famous Landeau chocolate cake shop. On Sunday’s, there is a flea market here too. LX Factory is free to enter, but we are sure you’ll leave with something special.

From here, a 15-20 minute bus ride will take you into Belém. Not only is this southwestern district famous for Pasteis de Belém (popular café for original custard tarts), its home to Jerónimos Monastery. This imposing 16th century building is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites in Belém. Closer to the river are Belém Tower and Padrão dos Descobrimentos – landmarks that date back to the Age of Discoveries. For modern art, visit MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) which hosts talks and exhibitions. We recommend you hang around in Belém until the evening to capture a clear and uninterrupted sunset along the promenade.

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