You want to visit Lisbon – but what exactly can you do there? Like most capital cities in Europe, it’s filled with a rich history and plenty of activities. I spent a week in Lisbon around Easter time. While the best itinerary will vary person to person – and on time of year – hopefully what I did can help you to better plan your trip.

Day 1

Due to airline delays, I arrived in Lisbon later than expected. However upon arrival, the atmosphere did not disappoint. Take the metro from the airport your accommodation if you’re staying centrally – it is incredibly cheap. It’s also fairly easy to navigate as all signs are in Portuguese and English. A note on the language: many of the Portuguese words are spelt similar to Spanish words so if you know Spanish this may help you to read signs and the like. I stayed in the Alfama District of the city which I would highly recommend. The Alfama District was once the working class area of the city. Now, it is filled with culture, history, small streets with stories and plenty of life. In my opinion, it is the best area of the city for atmosphere, with many of the supermarkets there being local.

Day 2

Day two saw an initial exploration of the city. In a city this size, I would recommend spending at least one day wandering. Lisbon is a beautiful city to get lost in. The best way to explore it is going to be to ditch the map and just walk. You won’t regret it (although do take a map so you can get back to where you’re staying!). It also means you can identify anywhere you can’t miss and plan accordingly. If you want to take any trips and haven’t booked, there are plenty of tourist agencies on the main street. Especially with tourist buses, you can take a local bus for much cheaper, however some (trips such as Sintra) you will need an agency for. There are plenty of small bars and restaurants for meals out, should you wish.

Day 3

Jeronimos Monastery. You can in theory walk to this area of Lisbon (it’s a few miles from the centre), however if you are trying to cram everything into a week in Lisbon, you may wish to save time by taking a bus. You’ll need a full day in the area. The Jeronimos Monastery is a huge tourist attraction for the stunning courtyard. You can book timed tickets on the day or online, but either way you will still have to queue. The monument of Discovers is a small walk away, on the seafront. Definitely visit this while you’re there. You can also see Belem Tower. Even if, like me, you opt not to go in due in the tower due to the queues, it’s worth a walk over to see the exterior. In this area, there is also the National Museum of Maritime and the National Museum of Ethnology. I went to the ethnology museum and loved the collection, and it’s a great way to spend an hour if you’ve got the time.

Jeronimos Monastery

Day 4

Day four was the chilled out day in the middle for me. I walked up the main street, looking at the markets to the Park of Edward VII. The park is great to have a look around, and the views over the city are worth the walk to the. There’s a cafe (used mostly by locals) if you walk a little past the park. They serve amazing coffees, salads, lunches and cakes. Plus, the water structure has terrapins which is always a bonus.

Day 5

Day five was by far the busiest day. I would advise splitting this day into two – you need a lot more time in Sintra than they give you on a tour! I would say, still do a tour as they take you to some sites not to be missed. These are Cabo da Roca (most western point in Europe), Boca de Inferno (Hell’s mouth) which is a rock formation and Cascias. Cascias is a fairly touristy town, which, to be honest, could easily be skipped. However pretty much all Sintra tours take a stop here. I would recommend doing a tour, but revisiting Sintra on a local bus on another day on your holiday.

The actual part of the day in Sintra was not nearly long enough. In Sintra, you shouldn’t miss the Quinta da Regaleira. It’s an old fairy-tale-style building with extensive gardens. You can’t really look around much of the inside, but the exterior and the gardens are well-worth the visit. If you take nothing else away, you have to visit it. In the gardens, you’ve got hundreds of buildings and the famous initiation well.

The Quinta de Regaleira and the Initiation Well

My tour also took us to Pena Palace which was absolutely brilliant. It’s reminiscent of a Moroccan castle. The tour guides are very well informed and the whole castle is open to look around. On an aesthetic level, you don’t want to miss it and the history and culture behind it make it special to visit. The picture of the Palace is the image at the top of this page.

Day 6

Another day visiting a very different style of monastery. The ‘Monsteiro de Sao Vicente de Fora’ is nowhere near as famous as the Jeronimos Monastery however it is much more open and with much more information for more of a cultural education. There is also quite a large street market up near the monastery, selling everything from jewellery to clothes. Even if you don’t intend on buying, have a wander down just for the atmosphere. On the same day, you should spend some time at the ‘Portas do Sol’. This is the main viewpoint for the Alfama district – up a lot of small streets and stairs! There is a lovely plaza cafe at the viewpoint. Here you should try Mazagran coffee. It’s iced with lemon and (from being a dubious coffee lover) – I loved it. Take a book up with you if you’re got the time to spare – the view and the drinks deserve a few hours.

The Alfama District, Portas do Sol and Mazagran Coffee

Day 7

The flight was a very early morning one, so this day wasn’t as full-on as the others. In saying that, it was lovely to have a day at the end to just wander around the city for the last time. If you think you’ve finished what there is to do in the city, you could always get a bus out to the sea if you wanted. On this day, I also visited the Lisbon Story Centre (Home | Lisboa Story Centre), which is dedicated solely to the history of Lisbon. It was a great way to finish off by learning about the drivers of change in Lisbon’s physical and political history as well as having a last chilled out day in the sun.

If you’re enjoyed this post and want more travel inspiration, have a look at What to do for a week in Zadar. Thank you for all of your support in reading and supporting this blog!