Lisbon is Europe’s second-oldest capital city and one of its top destinations for visitors. It offers so much to see and do, from historical and cultural attractions to beautiful scenery and incredible cuisine.
Ideal for those on a budget, Lisbon’s accommodation, food, and entertainment are all available at far lower costs than in many other European capitals.
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If you are planning to visit for the very first time, you are probably wondering how many days in Lisbon you will need to see all the best attractions the city has to offer.
The quick answer is that you should choose a short break of just a couple of nights if you are prepared to see everything at a fast pace, whilst constantly on the go.
But if you would prefer a more relaxed vacation where you can occasionally take time to sit and watch the world go by, then plan to spend 3 or 4 nights in Lisbon.
There are, however, a few other things you might want to think about when deciding on the length of your stay.
How To Choose How Long To Stay In Lisbon
Here are all the main points to consider when planning how long for Lisbon you will need.
Designed to help you put together a realistic itinerary, this guide also contains a list of the city’s main attractions. I’ve suggested roughly how long you will need to spend at each one so that you can calculate how many you can visit each day.
That said, we suggest you make a list of the things you want to do in Lisbon and consider your time of arrival and departure as well as the distances between places. This way, you’ll be able to craft a realistic itinerary in Lisbon.
Once you’re done, you’ll know exactly how many days in Lisbon you’ll need.
Time Of Arrival, Hotel Check-In Time, And Time Of Departure
If you feel that you will need 2 or 3 full days in Lisbon, you need to make sure that your hotel arrival and departure times allow for this.
If you arrive in the city in the afternoon, for example, you obviously won’t be able to fit in as many activities as if you’d arrived early in the day. In that case, it would be a good idea to add on an extra night.
Similarly, a very early departure time will limit the number of attractions you can see that day.
If you wish to save time, we recommend you book a private transfer from the airport so you won’t need to find a way to reach your hotel on your own.
Don’t forget to organize what you will do with your luggage. The cobbled streets of Lisbon can be very hilly and you definitely won’t want to be carrying your bags around!
If you will be arriving a few hours before your check-in time, make sure your accommodation provider will be happy to store your bags so you can get straight to sightseeing.
Most will do this but not all, so it is important to know ahead of time. The same will apply if you leave Lisbon several hours after checking out.
If you can’t leave your bags at your accommodation then you will need to make alternative arrangements.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of options, with many private companies offering a luggage storage service across the city. These can be conveniently booked online – well ahead of your visit – so you won’t need to worry about not being able to secure space at busier times.
There is also luggage storage available at Lisbon airport and coin-operated lockers at many of its train stations, including Sete Rios, Cais do Sodré, Lisboa Oriente, and Lisboa Santa Apolónia. Lisbon Oceanarium has facilities for storage, too, and even offers coin-operated lockers for bikes.
Activities In Lisbon
You will, of course, want to see the best of Lisbon’s attractions and landmarks during your stay. This means you’ll need to plan in advance which are the most important to you and how long each will take to visit.
My list of ‘What to do in Lisbon’ (below) will help with this. In addition to the time I’ve suggested spending at each, don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to travel between them.
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Also allow for extra queuing time, especially during high season when the most popular sights will be very busy. Many travelers prefer to book their activities and tours in advance to save time and make the most of their holidays.
Pace Of Activities
Ideally, you will leave Lisbon knowing that you’ve seen all the sights you really wanted to. But you also want to make sure you see them at a pace that suits you and your group.
If you pack in so many activities that you find you’re rushing from one thing to the next, you might struggle to really appreciate any of them.
If you are the type of person that likes to take their time soaking up the atmosphere of the places you visit, then I’d recommend adding at least an extra day to the length of your stay.
It may be hilly, but Lisbon is pretty easy to get around!
It has a reliable and simple-to-use network of buses, trams, and trains, along with an efficient metro system. These link all the major sights to each other, with elevators and funiculars available to make the city’s seven hills accessible too.
You can use one travel card to access all these services. It is available from vending machines and ticket offices at the train, tram, and metro stations.
Alternatively, you can purchase the Lisbon City Card. This card gives you access to public transportation but also gives you free entry (or discounts) to Lisbon attractions.
That being said, the joy of exploring Lisbon on foot can’t be overstated! The narrow streets and courtyards are charming – if a little challenging sometimes in the heat of the summer – and the pretty Portuguese pavements are quite unique.
What To Do In Lisbon
Here are my recommendations for the best places to visit in Lisbon and how long you should set aside for each one.
Stroll Through Alfama
This is one of Lisbon’s most charming neighborhoods – a labyrinth of traditional houses and narrow cobbled roads that make their way up to the Sao Jorge castle from the banks of the Rio Tejo below.
Many of the city’s most important historical buildings are found here, including the Panteao Nacional and the Se Cathedral. Traces of its fascinating past are everywhere, highlighting its Roman, Visigoth, and Germanic roots, and the atmosphere is upbeat and lively.
Be sure to head to the Portas do Sol Viewpoint, a terrace offering a panoramic view of the old town.
Suggested time: 2 hours
Take A Sailing Tour On The Tagus River
See Lisbon from an entirely different perspective when you take a relaxing cruise along the Tagus. Some of the city’s most famous landmarks are visible from the water, including the Christ the King statue on the south bank and the Belem Tower monument.
Many sailing tours include the opportunity to help the crew sail the boat, for which no experience is required. Alternatively, you can simply sit back, relax, and soak up the sun.
For the ultimate romantic experience, choose a sunset cruise and watch the sun go down over the city’s skyline.
Suggested time: 1 to 2 hours
Visit Lisbon Oceanarium
Located in a modern building in the Parque das Nações (Park of Nations), this is Europe’s largest indoor aquarium. With a massive central tank the equivalent of four Olympic-sized swimming pools, it is home to an enormous variety of seabirds, mammals, and fish.
A visit here is as close as you will get to walking on the floor of the ocean itself and there are multiple exhibits to help you learn more about the earth’s marine environment and how we can best preserve it.
Suggested time: 2 to 3 hours
Admire The Beauty Of Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos
This UNESCO-listed monastery dating back to the start of the 16th century is an architectural masterpiece.
One of the city’s most popular sights, it is highly decorative, from the stunning sculpted columns in the nave of the Church of Santa Maria to the incredibly ornate two-story cloister.
Here you can see the tomb of the renowned Portuguese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa, plus visit an exhibition dedicated to the monastery’s history.
Book your ticket in advance and skip the line.
Suggested time: 2 to 3 hours
Enjoy A Guided Tour Of The Luz Stadium And SL Benefica Museum
Walk in the footsteps of the legendary players of SL Benfica on this guided tour – a ‘must do’ for every football fan!
You can learn more about the team’s history at the SL Benfica Cosme Damião Museum, enjoy amazing views of the stadium itself, visit the locker rooms, and even pay a visit to the world-famous press room.
Be sure to take a selfie with the eagle mascot of Sport Lisboa and Benfica before you leave!
Suggested time: 2 hours
Appreciate The Art At The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
This art collection contains more than six thousand exhibits, ranging from antique pieces all the way up to contemporary works.
Amassed over a 40 year period, the collection includes stunning Egyptian pieces like a gold mummy mask and an ancient alabaster bowl. Meanwhile, the Greek and Roman sections feature Hellenic coins and an Attic vase almost 2500 years old.
Suggested time: 1 to 2 hours
Final Thoughts On Lisbon Getaways
Hopefully, this guide has helped you decide how many days in Lisbon is enough for you and your group to see all of the city’s highlights. I hope you enjoy every moment of your stay.
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