Planning a trip to Portugal and wondering how many days in Lisbon make for the perfect trip? Discover how many days you need for every type of trip and traveler!
My fellow travel planners will agree that after you decide which cities you're going to visit, the next step is deciding how long to spend in each place. If you've never been to your chosen destinations, figuring out the perfect amount of time can become quite frustrating.
Vacation days are precious. You don't want to spend too long in one place only to rush the next place and wish you had done things differently.
If you're visiting Portugal and trying to decide how many days in Lisbon are ideal for the average tourist, I'm here to help. This is such an important part of itinerary planning and yet it's often over looked in the travel blog world. Hence, why I started dedicating blog posts to this specific topic on popular destinations.
This post will take into account a handful of factors. What type of traveler you are, the style of trip you're looking for, and your overall budget. We will consider all these things and more when discussing how many days in Lisbon, Portugal will be right for you!
Short Answer to how many days in Lisbon are ideal
If you want the quick answer for the average tourist, three days is the golden ticket. This will allow enough time to see the main sights in Lisbon, spend a a few hours in Belem, and spend half a day in Sintra. Continue reading for a more in-depth breakdown.
HOW MANY DAYS IN Lisbon FOR A FIRST TRIP TO Portugal | 2-3 DAYS
The capital is an obvious place to start on a first trip to Portugal. Lisbon is a large city with several neighborhoods to explore, a small list of worthwhile attractions, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes to overwhelm your trip research.
Three days in Lisbon would be the ideal amount of time for a first time visitor that plans to visit other areas of Portugal. While Lisbon is an incredible city, there are other places in Portugal that you will want to carve time out for (like Porto and the Douro Valley).
While some cities around the world, I am all about lingering and having too much time in...Lisbon isn't one of those cities (just my personal opinion).
Here's how I would carve out three days in Lisbon:
- full day to explore Lisbon
- half day in Sintra, rest of day to explore Lisbon
- few hours in Belem, rest of day to explore Lisbon
As you can see, you'll have one full day and a little more than two half days in Lisbon...which is more than plenty.
A half day trip to Sintra is a must and the highlight of most tourists (including myself). Some tourists spend an entire day here. A full day really isn't necessary. Sintra is small and the main attraction, Pena Palace, can be seen in about two hours. Add time to get to and from Sintra, wander the town, have a snack...you've carved out half a day.
You'll also have time to visit neighboring Belem and the famous Monastery of Jeronimos (the highlight of my last trip to Lisbon). It's a 10 minute Uber to Belem, so you really only need two to three hours for this little side trip.
A very quick two days in Lisbon
If you're short on time or itching to get to the next destination, you could do Lisbon in a whirlwind two days. Spend one day exploring Lisbon and going to Belem to tour the Monastery of Jeronimos. Get up early and explore Sintra in the morning and use that afternoon and evening for Lisbon.
Use Uber to fit in as much as possible vs. public transportation/walking
A big part of why it's easy to do Lisbon quickly is how cheap and readily available Uber is. I typically rely on public transportation to keep costs down while traveling. Not so in Lisbon. I rely on Uber to get anywhere that's more than a 20 minute walk. Uber is beyond cheap in Lisbon. Skipping public transportation and using Uber has really helped me to fit a lot of sightseeing into a short amount of time.
A note on what to see and do in Lisbon
Lisbon is more about exploring the neighborhoods. You're worthwhile "Lisbon attractions" are things that really don't take long. Viewing Elevador de Santa Justa, riding Elevador da Glória (a few minutes), visiting the grand square of Praca do Comercio, enjoying the views at Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, Miradoura de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol...these attractions don't eat up much time.
You'll want to explore the Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Chiado neighborhoods. Joining a walking tour and a bike or Tuk Tuk tour would be a great way to see all these areas, learn the history, and skip the hassle of getting lost, planning what to see, etc.
- A private Tuk Tuk tour will cover a lot of ground and take you through the top neighborhoods and sights. If you choose one of the longer tours (3+ hours), you'll also knock out Belem.
- I'm always a fan of private walking tours when time is limited. It will be the most convenient as you won't have to pace yourself and what you see based on others in the group.
- An e-bike tour is a fun way to zip around the city. E-bikes are a must as Lisbon has a lot of steep hills. Jake and I loved our tour with Bike a Wish.
- My Lisbon Tours has some wonderful small group walking tours.
HOW many days do you need IN Lisbon to JUST SEE THE HIGHLIGHTS | 1-2 DAYS
If you're short on time and just want to see the highlights of Lisbon to say you've been there and done that, then one day will be sufficient. Don't get me wrong, it will be an extremely full day, but you'll be able to see the most popular attractions and get a feel for the city.
Add a second day to see Sintra and Belem. Visit Sintra first thing in the morning and explore Pena Palace. Head to Belem to tour Monastery of Jeronimos in the afternoon.
HOW MANY DAYS IN Lisbon FOR THE BUDGET TRAVELER | 3 DAYS
Portugal, in general, is very cheap...especially when you compare it to cities like London, Paris, and anywhere in the US. Lisbon lies in the middle if you're really focused on budget.
It's cheaper than popular coastal towns but a tad more expensive than Porto and other smaller cities like Evora. The most expensive city to live in Portugal is Lisbon and the prices reflect that.
See the main sights and then head elsewhere if you really want your dollar to go as far as possible.
Again, Portugal in general is a great deal and the difference in price between Lisbon and other cities isn't huge, but you'll feel that your dollar will go farther in other cities.
HOW MANY DAYS are ideal FOR THE SLOW TRAVELER | 5 DAYS
If you've learned to love the art and pleasure of slow travel, you could easily spend five days in Lisbon.
Spend an entire day in Sintra, taking your time to see Pena Palace, the Moorish castle ruins, National Palace, and wander around the town enjoying a few coffee stops and lunch. Pick two attractions a day, and then save the rest of your time for shopping the boutiques, enjoying multiple coffee stops, leisurely meals, and time to relax in the beautiful parks and outdoor spaces.
Take an entire half day to explore Belem. Tour the Monastery of Jeronimos, Belem Tower, National Coach Museum, and Maritime Museum.
There are multiple day trips you could add to your itinerary including Evora (famous for its university and chapel of bones) and the seaside fishing town of Cascais.
Explore each of the top neighborhoods at a leisurely pace with enough time for multiple coffee stops and shopping. See a Fado show, window shop along Avenida da Liberdade, visit Gulbenkian Museum and the Museum of Ancient Art.
Lisbon has a great restaurant, cafe, and bar scene. Having a few extra days in Lisbon will allow you to really explore the culinary delights of the city.
A SUMMARY of how many days in LIsbon are ideal
I hope this post helps you decide how many days in Lisbon are ideal for your upcoming trip.
Spend one day in Lisbon when time is short and you just want to see the highlights.
Three days is perfect for a first time visit and allows enough time to visit Sintra and Belem. This is my recommendation as Pena Palace in Sintra is always a highlight as is the Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem.
Five days will let you explore each neighborhood (Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Chiado) in full, take your time in Sintra and Belem, and the possibility to add another day trip.
Lisbon is not the cheapest city in Portugal. It's actually the most expensive city to live in Portugal and the prices reflect that. If budget is your main concern I would recommend three days. That way you'll see the highlights, not feel rushed, and then you can slow down in smaller/cheaper cities.