Are you planning to visit the westernmost capital of Europe? We’re talking about Lisbon, Portugal! Here’s how to spend your weekend in Lisbon!
Whether you are travelling to Lisbon for two, three or four days, you will undoubtedly be seduced by the Portuguese capital and its many intriguing charms. A “world city” of 545,733 inhabitants and 2,821,876 lisboetas throughout the metropolitan area, Lisbon sits over a series of hills at the mouth of the Tagus and facing the Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese capital has a lot to offer its visitors, including a rich historical and cultural heritage. Two days is a bit short to visit “Lisa”, as the locals say. We recommend, if you can, to stay four days not only to have the time to discover the city but also to explore the surrounding coast and its magnificent beaches.
Staying in Lisbon feels like being at the crossroads of different continents and cultures. From Lisbon’s colourful streets, its artistic graffiti in the working-class areas, its iconic trams, its boutiques in the chic neighbourhoods, to the famous Vasco da Gama bridge, the city is reminiscent of cities like Havana, Santiago de Chile, London or San Francisco. From our perspective, we had spent four days in Lisbon and had been enchanted by that city. Here’s how to spend a great weekend in Lisbon.
Book your flight and accommodation for your weekend in Lisbon
First step: compare prices for your return flights to Lisbon. Skyscanneris our favourite flight fare aggregator website. You can fill-in your desired schedule, and even compare flight fares over an entire month. Through aggregating several departure cities (such as Barcelona, Geneva, Paris, Marseille), the algorithm offers you the best rates, including low-cost flights with Ryanair, Vueling, Transavia, etc. It is possible to find affordable flights, even in June, with return flights from Paris to Lisbon priced at €72. We recommended you land early in Lisbon to maximise your visiting time. Once you’ve purchased your ticket online, look for a neighbourhood to stay in Lisbon for your weekend. The city’s most excellent quarters are Baixa, Alfama, Bairro Alto, Chiado, or Bélem. Homestay accommodation and youth hostels are the cheapest lodging options. Alternatively, Lisbon is packed with hotels.
What to do upon arrival in Lisbon?
Once you’ve landed at the airport, very close to the city, how to begin your weekend in Lisbon? The cheapest way to transfer from the airport to the city centre is to buy a magnetic pass (Viva Viagem, €0.50) and take the red Metro line (€1.45). We advise you to buy a Lisboa Card (24h, 48h or 72h) to enjoy unlimited access to transport without paying for each journey. Otherwise, you can travel via the Aérobus Express 91 or the Lisbon bus line 1 (City Center) to reach your accommodation and drop off your luggage. You can also rent a car to get around the city at your convenience. Alternatively, you can use a taxi to reach downtown Lisbon and roam around the city.
Day 1: Visit Lisbon
After dropping off your luggage at your accommodation, pick up a map of the city, and take the time to visit Lisbon’s must-see sites. Start by exploring downtown. Wander through the neighborhoods of La Baixa and Rossio, where you will come across the famous Praça do Comércio featuring arcades and baroque buildings. From there, walk up to Praça do Marquês de Pombal, Parc Edouard VII or the Botanical Garden of Lisbon. You will probably pass by the Praça da Figueira, one of the city’s busiest public squares. You will find an array of shops, bars, cafés and restaurants to suit your needs. Don’t miss the local delicacy called Pasteis de Nata, an absolute must-try.
Continue your visit by taking the elevator of Santa Justa – Elevador de Santa Justa – and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Tagus and the 25 de Abril Bridge. On your first day, don’t miss a visit to the Fado Museum and the Castelo de São Jorge, a castle built by the Visigoths in the 5th century and offering one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon. In the evening, immerse yourself in the swarming social life of the city centre and relax on the terraces of the narrow, colourful streets of the Alfama quarter.
Day 2: Visit Lisbon (continued)
On the second day of your weekend in Lisbon, wander around the city’s western districts, home to numerous landmarks such as Bélem Tower, the Hieronymites Monastery and the Bélem Gardens. Take a walk in the famous Bairro Alto district, one of the city’s most charming areas, filled with colourful houses and streets, and vintage trams. If you’re keen to party, the Bairro Alto district is bound to suit your needs. Trendy and festive, the area is packed with bars, restaurants, nightclubs, as well as bookshops, tea rooms and art studios. Go up to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Lisbon.
Day 3: the beaches of Lisbon and Sintra
If you stay a third day during a weekend in Lisbon, don’t miss a visit to the National Palace of Pena located in Sintra. This multicoloured palace, which resembles a castle, is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In the area, take the opportunity to visit the Castle of the Moors, the Regaleira Palace and the Capuchos Convent.
If you have some time left before heading home, you should explore Lisbon’s surroundings and its numerous beaches, among the most beautiful in Europe. The beaches of Cascais and Estoril are the most famous – they are accessible from the station of Cais do Sodré -, while those located further north, in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park – Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais – will seduce nature lovers. Alternatively, the southern coast, between Lisbon and Setúbal, also features superb beaches for a relaxing weekend in Lisbon.
Day 4: discover the quirky side of Lisbon
If you’re planning an extended 4-day weekend in Lisbon, take the opportunity to relax on your last day after three days of intense touring. Rent a bike and discover the city’s seven hills; enjoy a cruise on the Tagus River; or stroll through the alleys of the city’s various districts that you have not yet visited (if you’re using the Lisboa Card, think of all the monuments, museums and attractions you still haven’t seen). For football fans, if the Benfica team plays at home during your stay, try to see a game or visit the Estádio da Luz!
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