Lisbon, with its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and iconic cafes, is the perfect city to escape to for 4 days.
Whether you are a first-time visitor or a returning explorer, spending 4 days in Lisbon will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Get ready for a journey that celebrates the city’s vibrant culture, beautiful sights, and traditional cuisine as you explore Lisbon’s neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, and tasty treats.
Plus, you’ll find out a few local tips for making the most of your experience.
So, let’s get started on your 4-day Lisbon adventure!
Table of Contents
- Day 1: Ride the Tram 28 and Explore Lisbon’s Historic Districts
- Day 2: Explore Belem, Lx Factory, and Lisbon’s Nightlife
- Day 3: Discover Sintra
- Day 4: Experience Cascais
- Final Thoughts
Day 1: Ride the Tram 28 and Explore Lisbon’s Historic Districts
If you’re planning an exciting day exploring Lisbon, then you won’t want to miss riding the famous Tram 28.
Tip: Get the Lisboa Card. This card will give you access to unlimited access to public transportation, free train rides to Sintra and Cascais, and discounts for museums and attractions. You can get the Lisboa card for 24 hours (€22), 48 hours (€37), and 72 hours (€46).
Also, two must-see neighborhoods are Alfama and Baixa! Both neighborhoods offer excellent public transport links, and accommodation ranges from budget to high-end hotels and apartments.
Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and theft-proof bags. Don’t worry, Lisbon is generally safe, but there might be some pickpockets targeting tourists.
Now that we’re ready, let’s get started with our itinerary.
Guide to Lisbon’s Famous Tram 28
This classic yellow tram takes you through the city’s historic districts, including Alfama, Baixa, Estrela, and Graca, and is a must-do activity for any visitor. The tram’s historic Remodelado cars offer an experience, unlike any other public transportation system in the world.
The Tram 28 route, known as E28, passes through many of Lisbon’s most popular tourist attractions and landmarks, including the Sé Cathedral and the Portas do Sol tram stop, which is close to the entrance of São Jorge Castle.
It also makes stops in Estrela, a calm and affluent neighborhood, and at the Basílica da Estrela, which features a beautiful Baroque façade and a huge domed roof.
To make the most of your ride on Tram 28, consider some simple tips:
- Avoid the mid-day crowds by riding early or late in the day.
- Board the tram at Campo Ourique (this is usually the final stop). While you may need to wait in line at Martim Moniz (the first stop) for an hour or two during high season, the wait time at Campo Ourique is around 5 to 10 minutes. (Just keep this a secret)
- Remember to be vigilant about pickpockets, who are known to target tourists on crowded trams.
Single tickets for the tram cost €3 and can be purchased from the driver. But a better option is to purchase a 24-hour unlimited public transport ticket for €6.40. This ticket includes all tram and bus services and can be purchased at any metro station.
Alternatively, you could get the Lisboa card if you’re planning on taking the train to Sintra and Cascais (days 3 and 4 of our itinerary). Plus, the Lisboa card includes free entrance and discounts for some attractions.
Tram 28 typically operates from 6 am to 10:30 pm every day, with at least six-hourly departures between 7 am to 6 pm. During peak hours, trams can be very crowded and standing-room only, so plan accordingly.
Overall, riding Tram 28 is a quintessential Lisbon experience that should not be missed.
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Alfama, Lisbon’s Oldest District
As one of Europe’s oldest neighborhoods, Alfama has a history as far back as the Iron Age.
It’s a picturesque maze of cobbled alleys, steps, and small squares that will enchant you. With its dense bedrock foundations, it was practically the only neighborhood unaffected by the 1755 earthquake.
As you walk downhill, you’ll find yourself at the waterfront while walking uphill will lead you to the castle and tram tracks.
What to See in Alfama
- São Jorge Castle with its amazing views — €15 for adults (25+ years old), €7.50 for young visitors (13-25 years old), free for children
- Santa Luzia viewpoint — Free
- São Vicente Monastery — €5 for adults and €3 for students
- National Pantheon — €5 or free with the Lisboa card
- Sé Cathedral — €5 and free for children
In Alfama, you’ll find local color with the sound of fado music echoing from open windows, elderly ladies chatting across balconies, and cats lazing in the sun.
You’ll also find a plethora of dining options, with local seafood specialties, traditional restaurants, and open-air cafes.
How to Get to Alfama
Take tram 28 to reach most of the attractions in Alfama.
Alternatively, you could walk since Lisbon is a very walkable city. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes and get some water for those uphill areas.
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Baixa, the Heart of Lisbon
Baixa is a district of grand plazas, bustling shopping streets, and classical buildings with a fascinating history. It’s considered the heart of Lisbon and a popular tourist destination.
In 1755, it was hit by a powerful earthquake, reducing it to rubble and killing thousands.
The Marquis of Pombal, who oversaw the city’s rebuilding, created the world’s first grid city layout and the neo-classical “Pombaline” style of the buildings, named after him.
Today, it offers a welcoming atmosphere, where visitors mingle with locals and different nationalities come together to socialize in the evenings
What to See in Baixa
- Santa Justa Elevator — €5.30 or Free with the Lisboa card.
- Rua Augusta — Free (shops and bars surrounding this street are not included).
- A Ginjinha bar — €1.20 for a shot of Ginja (traditional Portuguese sweet cherry liquor).
- Praça do Comércio…
Praça do Comércio, is one of the most impressive squares in the city. Surrounded by yellow buildings, the square is open on its south side, providing a panoramic view of the Tagus River.
In the center of the square stands an illustrious statue dedicated to King Jose I, while the impressive Triumphal Arch of Rua Augusta is on the north side.
Praça do Comércio was historically the commercial center of Lisbon, where captains and merchants would plan and execute lucrative transatlantic voyages to places like Brazil, India, and Southeast Asia. Today, the Plaza do Comercio is a popular venue for tourists to walk, dine and relax in Lisbon.
In Baixa, you’ll find a selection of trendy and fashionable bars, perfect for an evening drink after dinner.
How to Get to Baixa
Take tram 28 and stop at Martim Moniz (if you departed from Campo Ourique, this should be your last stop). Then, walk 6 to 10 minutes to reach Baixa.
Lisbon is best explored on foot. Consider joining a free walking tour to learn more about the city, its history, myths, and fascinating stories.
Where to Eat in Alfama and Baixa
These are some of the restaurants in the Alfama and Baixa areas recommended by Lisbon locals.
- Cervejaria Ramiro — very popular seafood restaurant with lots of fresh options.
- Solar Dos Presuntos — high-end Portuguese cuisine with seafood and meat options.
- Parreirinha de Alfama — oldest Fado (Portuguese singing) house in Alfama offering traditional cuisine.
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Day 2: Explore Belem, Lx Factory, and Lisbon’s Nightlife
Belem, Portugal’s Seafaring Past
Belem is steeped in rich history and culture. As one of the top destinations in Lisbon, Belem will surely captivate you as you get immersed in Lisbon’s past.
What to See in Belem
Start your day with a visit to the beautiful Torre de Belem. Built around 1515, the tower served as a defense system against invaders.
It was also the departure point for many seafaring voyages to other continents. If those walls could talk, we’d be able to hear all kinds of stories.
Designed in the ornate Manueline style, you could spend hours just admiring the tower’s architecture. Make sure to pause and take some time to observe its fine details and beautiful views.
After visiting the Belem Tower, stroll over to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Constructed in 1501, the monastery is known for its elaborate stonework and Manueline-styled cloisters.
- Tickets to go inside the Jeronimos Monastery are €10 for adults and €5 for students.
- Tickets to go inside the Belem Tower are €6 for adults and €3 for students.
Tip: Make sure to get pre-paid tickets for both the Monasterio and Belem Tower. Try to arrive as early as possible (both open at 9:30 am). The lines are huge and you may need to wait in line for hours just to purchase tickets.
After all that walking around, you might get a bit hungry. So, head over to the Pastéis de Belém and grab a delicious Pastel de Belém — a famous custard tart made with a secret recipe created at the Jeronimos Monastery in the 1800s.
Tip: Want to avoid waiting in line? Try to go before 11 am when there is not much of a line outside the Pastéis store.
And don’t forget to walk to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos by the river. This towering monument celebrates Portugal’s seafaring history and age of exploration.
How to get to Belem
Take tram #15 from Praça do Comercio or Praça da Figueira (€3 per ride or free with the Lisboa card). The ride to Belem takes approximately 15 minutes.
Lx Factory, Lisbon’s Creative Scene
At the Lx Factory complex, be sure to explore the vibrant street art and indulge in the unique shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The complex is filled with trendy boutiques, galleries, bookstores, and cafes, making it a hip and creative destination.
Take a look at the Ler Devagar bookstore, which was previously a printing factory and now displays a towering bookshelf that stretches to the ceiling.
Allow yourself ample time to absorb the atmosphere of this creative hub and take lots of photos to remember your experience.
How to Get to Lx Factory?
From the Monastery Dos Jeronimos in Belem, you can take the 201 bus to Lx Factory. You could also walk for approximately 30 minutes from Belem. It’s a scenic walk if you go on the river path admiring all the views.
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Lisbon’s Night Scene: Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre
As a tourist in Lisbon, you’ll want to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife on your second night. Two popular neighborhoods for this are Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre.
Bairro Alto offers a happening scene with many bars and clubs playing music until the wee hours of the morning.
Cais do Sodre, on the other hand, has gone through a transformation and is now the trendiest district in the city, with Pink Street being the hub of the nightlife scene.
Here, you’ll find numerous bars and clubs that party until the sun rises, and the district also boasts the rejuvenated Tejo Estuary waterfront.
Also, don’t forget to take a look at the varied food stalls in the Timeout Market. You’ll find something delicious to eat as well as some great shows at night.
If you’re planning a night out, most people begin the night in Bairro Alto and then move on to Cais do Sodre. Whether you’re looking for great music, unique drinks, or a fun atmosphere, both Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre have got you covered
How to Get to Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre
Walk to Bairro Alto from Alfama or Baixa (approx. 15 minutes) or take tram 28.
For Cais do Sodre, take trams #15 and #25 from Praça do Comercio. Or take the metro to the Cais do Sodre station.
You could also walk. If you’re coming from Bairro Alto, it’s just a 10-minute walk.
If you’re traveling with a small group (3-4 people), you could get an Uber. A ride might end up costing the same as a single tram ticket, after splitting costs. Uber rides are relatively inexpensive in Lisbon (€8 – €9 for 20-minute rides).
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Day 3: Discover Sintra
On your third day, get ready to explore the nearby town of Sintra. Just an hour away from the city, Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a real-life fairytale.
Sintra Fairytale Castles
What to See in Sintra
Visit the stunningly colorful Palacio da Pena, a fairytale castle situated on one of the highest peaks. Built in 1854, this Romanticist castle offers exceptional views if the weather permits.
Spend some time exploring its architecture and landscape. Its surrounding park is just as beautiful, full of mysterious and magical gardens.
And don’t miss the Castelo dos Mouros (Moors Castle), a mysterious cliff-top castle built in the 8th century. You can explore this ancient Moorish castle in less than an hour and enjoy its peaceful views.
If you plan on visiting both the Pena Palace and the Moors Castle, get off at the castle stop and walk up to the palace (a 10-minute walk).
If you’re into mysterious gardens, then you won’t want to miss the Quinta da Regaleira, a fantastic Renaissance-style manor.
Designed in the late 1800s, this magnificent setting is home to beautiful gardens along with mystical caves, lakes, wells, and a waterfall.
One of the main attractions at Quinta da Regaleira is the initiation well. This underground well (which was never used for that purpose) is actually an inverted tower featuring a spiral staircase, 9 flights of stairs, and Gothic designs.
There are all kinds of myths and legends connected to this place, and the initiation well seems to be linked to the Knights Templars and past initiation ceremonies.
Finally, stop by the National Palace, built for the Portuguese royal family in the 15th century and now famous for its cone-shaped chimneys.
Steeped in history and architecture, the National Palace won’t disappoint history buffs and Sintra explorers.
Try to reserve your tickets for Sintra attractions in advance. In fact, Pena Palace requires ticket reservations with a specific date and time, so plan accordingly.
Sintra tickets cost: €14 for Pena Palace, €11 for Quinta de Regaleira, €10 for the National Palace, and €8 for the Moors Castle. Youth tickets cost a bit less, and children may enter for free.
Tip: As with all the other Lisbon attractions, it’s better to get there early. Buses, trains, and places start getting crowded after 10 am, so it’s best to plan for early arrival.
After visiting all the wonderful Sintra palaces, take a stroll around the town. Wander the cobbled lanes of the charming historic town center and sample the local pastries such as ‘queijadas’ and ‘travesseiros.’
How to Get to Sintra
You can take the train to Sintra from two Lisbon stations: Rossio and Oriente. Tickets cost €2.30 one way. Also, you could use the Lisboa card and get free train rides to Sintra and Cascais (see Day 1 for details).
It takes about 40 to 50 minutes to get to Sintra from these stations.
How to Get Around in Sintra
The National Palace, Pena Palace, and the Moors Castle can be reached by taking the 434 tourist bus that departs from the train station. Tickets for the 434 bus are €7.60 for a round trip.
You could also get an Uber or hire a Tuk Tuk driver. While Uber rides to Pena Palace tend to cost approximately €10, a Tuk Tuk ride will cost €10 per person.
If you want to walk to these sites from the train station, then keep in mind that it takes about an hour. It’s also a steep hike, so people with health conditions should avoid doing this, especially during the hot summer months.
Sintra and Cascais in 1 Day
People with a tight schedule may want to visit Sintra and Cascais in one day. This is usually not a good idea because there is just so much to see and each location needs a whole day. But if you must include both destinations in one day trip, here are a few options to consider:
Go to the Sintra bus station and take a bus that connects both places. Busses 403 and 417 connect Sintra and Cascais. Bus 403 stops at Cabo da Roca, the famous cape marking the westernmost point in Europe. Tickets are €4.35 one way and can be purchased from the driver.
Alternatively, you could get an Uber or hire a taxi and head to Cascais in just 20 minutes. Explore as much as you can, then take the train from Cascais back to Lisbon.
There are also tours that will pick you up at your hotel in Lisbon and take you to Sintra and Cascais for a day trip.
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Day 4: Experience Cascais
You cannot leave Lisbon without experiencing its amazing nearby beaches. So on your fourth and final day, let’s head to Cascais, a paradisiacal beach destination.
Cascais Famous Beaches
Once a sleepy fishing village, Cascais is now a sophisticated destination with grand 19th-century villas and multiple golden beaches. In fact, Cascais is home to 17 gorgeous beaches along the coast.
With so much to explore, a one-day visit may not be enough. But don’t worry, there is always a next time. For the time being, let’s take a look at the most iconic places to visit in Cascais.
What to See in Cascais
Praia da Rainha (Queen’s Beach) is probably the most popular beach in Cascais. It was chosen by Queen Amelia as her personal and private beach back in 1889, hence its name.
Here you’ll find crystalline calm waters and beautiful views. It’s also just a few steps away from lots of beach restaurants and cafes.
While Praia da Rainha is beautiful, it can get a bit crowded.
So, if you prefer less crowded beaches, head over to Praia da Conceição in Cascais. You’ll find clear waters and all types of restaurants and beach bars within walking distance.
Also, try to spend some time at Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) where you can admire an amazing rock formation. Enjoy a spectacular sunset as strong ocean waves crash against the gorgeous sea caves.
And don’t forget to visit the Praia da Santa Marta. This picture-perfect hidden cove is only steps away from the Cascais Marina. Enjoy the romantic views of the Santa Marta lighthouse and museum as you grab your camera and record these amazing scenes.
How to Get to Cascais
Take the train from Cais do Sodre to Cascais (€2.30 one way). It takes about an hour to get from Lisbon to Cascais.
Also, the Lisboa card includes free train rides to Sintra and Cascais (see Day 1 for details).
Cascais is also known for its spectacular cuisine, which tends to include fresh seafood, secret recipes, and organic ingredients. So make sure to sample and enjoy a few local dishes.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Cascais:
- Marisco Na Praça inside the Mercado da Vila — fresh seafood and delicious sangria.
- Flecha Azul — traditional Portuguese dishes and affordable prices.
- A Nova Estrela — local cuisine, fresh fish, and inexpensive items.
- Taberna Clandestina Cascais — great tapas, fun music, and good vibes.
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After visiting several cities in Europe, Lisbon is now my favorite destination. It’s got it all — culture, history, beaches, cuisine, transportation, low costs, and kind people. Yes, people tend to be very kind and friendly, even if you don’t speak their language.
Having said that, it’s important to learn a few basic words in Portuguese:
- Ola (hello)
- Por favor (please)
- Obrigado/a (thank you)
It’s always nice to be able to respond to the locals in their language and reciprocate their kindness.
Lisbon is really a magnificent place to visit. And 4 days will never be enough. So, enjoy your time, immerse yourself in this beautiful culture, try their award-winning cuisine, and start planning your next visit.
You will want to come back for more.
About the Author: Denisse Romero is the founder of MacQuil.com. As a frequent traveler, she’s always looking for travel opportunities to share with her readers.