Bom dia! It seems like it was forever ago (since we can’t travel now), but earlier this year I spent 4 days in Lisbon, Portugal with one of my friends. Lisbon has been on my list since I spent 3 days in Barcelona over three years ago and MLK weekend was the perfect time for a first visit. This post is long overdue so if you’re planning a trip to Portugal for the first time, here’s how we did Lisbon in 4 days and excursions you can add to an extended weekend in Lisbon itinerary.
Traveling to Lisbon From NYC
Since starting grad school, I’ve learned to take advantage of traveling during school breaks with points and miles from my credit cards and paying them off to not accumulate debt. I used 30,000 SkyMiles and paid a little less than $70 for a four day trip to Lisbon after taxes and fees. I had a direct flight from New York City to Amsterdam with a 6-hour layover before heading to Lisbon and flew from Lisbon to New York nonstop.
This was initially a solo trip, but my friend hopped on about two weeks before and paid a little over $600 for the flight and hotel for 4 days in Lisbon, and STILL arrived before me since she was on a different flight. During my layover, I took a 20-minute train ride from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal, but nothing was really open at 7 AM. I walked around the city center of Amsterdam taking photos before heading back to the airport.
Pro Tip: If you have a long-haul flight on TAP Air Portugal that stops in Portugal, you can stay up to 5 days in Lisbon or Porto at no extra cost to your flight with TAP Air Portugal’s stopover program. Travelers that take advantage can receive perks on hotels, restaurants, and activities. Had I known about this offer three years ago, I definitely would’ve made my solo trip a 2-for-1 special.
Best Time to Visit Lisbon
The great thing about Lisbon is the weather is pretty nice year-round. In my research, I’ve read over the course of the year, temperatures vary from 47°F-83°F. During our extended weekend in Lisbon, the weather was pretty mild with occasional rain, between 60°F-65°F degrees, and very sunny. There were even occasions when I took my coat off because I was too hot. If you visit Portugal in the winter months, make sure to add a packable puffer jacket or puffer vest, a small umbrella, and a pair of sunglasses to your packing list.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
The best areas to stay in Lisbon are Baixa, Bairro Alto, Avenida da Liberdade, and Alfama neighborhood. These neighborhoods are in the heart of the city center and within walking distance of major tourist attractions, restaurants, transportation, and shops. Here’s a map of budget to luxury hotels in Lisbon whether you’re staying overnight or 3-4 days in Lisbon before or after a trip to another city in Portugal.
If you want to save some money, stay outside the city center and get a hotel close to the bus or train station. We stayed at the EXE Saldanha which is a boutique hotel 15 minutes from the Lisbon Airport in the business district. Guests at the EXE Saldanha receive complimentary water & welcome drink on check-in. My hotel room had a fridge so I bought snacks and drinks from the grocery store right across the street. The hotel also has a bar and breakfast is offered daily for around €10, but we took advantage of the coffee shops and restaurants nearby. We stayed in separate rooms and since it was winter and off-season, I paid a little over $215 for the entire stay including taxes and fees.
Getting Around Lisbon: Buy the Lisboa Card (Lisbon Card)
Uber and taxis are available in Portugal, but the Lisboa Card is clutch! With 24, 48, and 72-hour options, the Lisbon City Card (or Lisboa Card) includes free transportation on the Lisbon Metro subway and buses, trams, museums, monuments, places of interest, and more! We purchased a 48 hour Lisboa card for our holiday weekend in Lisbon at the airport to get around Friday-Sunday afternoon. I initially took Uber to some points of interest, but after figuring out the transit system, it was easy getting around with the Lisbon City Card.
Exploring Lisbon in 4 Days
As many of you know I’m a “find things to do but opened for anything” kind of traveler. Even though we had key items set and saved in our Lisbon 4-day itinerary, my friends and I usually go with the flow when we travel. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Lisbon in 4 days, here are some activities, excursions, and possible day trips you can add to your Lisbon itinerary.
Lisbon Itinerary Day 1 – Check in and Welcome Dinner
Since I checked into the hotel late, our first day was spent catching up and making final arrangements for our 4 day Lisbon itinerary. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant recommended by the hotel called Alcaparra which served yummy tapas and great wine.
Lisbon Itinerary Day 2 – Lisbon City Center & Food Tour
On our second day in Lisbon which was also our first full day, we spent the morning and late afternoon exploring the city center for our photoshoots. On these photoshoot/city tours we view the many art murals of Lisbon, walked down the very empty Pink Street, shot photos on Bica de Duarte Belo, Praca do Comercio, Cais do Sodre, the Timeout Market food court, had yummy Pastéis de Nata from Manteigaria which is the best place to get them.
In the evening, we went on a Portuguese Food and Wine Tour where we sampled cheese, pastries, port wine, green wine, beer, and other drinks. If you’re Caribbean or from the diaspora, try the saltfish fritters! They were so good my friend and I went back every day for more.
Lisbon Itinerary Day 3 – Day Trip to Belem & African Lisbon Tour
The third day in Lisbon was by far the busiest as we did a day trip to Belem and the African Lisbon Tour. Belém is located in western Lisbon and has many museums and points of interest in Portugal including Torre de Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and Belém Palace. We also took photos of the 25 de Abril Bridge (Tagus River Bridge) which is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, to the municipality of Almada. If you have your Lisboa card, you can get free entry or a discounted rate to the Belém tower and museums in the area. Although we didn’t eat, Belem is also known for its seafood restaurants and Pastéis de Belém which is where pastel de nata originated.
If you want to learn and share about the lost, covered, unknown, and silenced history of slavery & colonialism in Portugal, I HIGHLY recommend the African Lisbon Tour with Naky. The African Lisbon Tour is a mix of history with culture and gastronomy, full of so much information and very interactive. We also visited the African neighborhood to try snacks. The tour lasts 5 hrs, includes a lot of walking, and ends with dinner at an African Restaurant. Once I walked in, they honestly had me at plantain & peppa sauce so my belly was happy. 😋
Lisbon Itinerary Day 4 – Day Trip to Sintra
On our last day in Lisbon, we had brunch at Zenith Brunch and Cocktails and took a day trip to Sintra. The Lisboa card allowed us to take the train to Sintra and receive a discount for the hop-on hop-off bus. Pena Palace was #1 on our list we weren’t able to visit because it closes early on Sundays. Obviously, that is a reason for me to go back to Portugal. Stops on our Hop on Hop off Bus included:
- Largo Rainha D. Leonor
- Galeria Municipal –Turismo
- Portão dos Lagos
- Castelo dos Mouros
- PalácioNacional da Pena
- Igreja de S.Pedro de Penaferrim
- Estação de Caminhos de Ferro
- Palácio da Quinta da Regaleira
- Palácio de Seteais
- Parque de Monserrate
- Colares – Adega Regional
- Cabo da Roca
- Convento dos Capuchos
- Chalet da Condessa
Other Things to Know About Visiting Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is Safe
When doing my research I was pleased to know Lisbon is a pretty safe city. If you’re a solo traveler, I always recommend taking necessary precautions about the neighborhood you’re staying in and being mindful of your surroundings. Overall the people we interacted with were very friendly and gave lots of recommendations for our current and possible future trips.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Lisbon has a lot of steep hills and the streets of Lisbon are cobblestone. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to walk around; your feet will thank you. You can also take the funicular up and down some hills or utilize public transportation with the Lisboa card to get around if you’re tired of walking.
Lisbon is Affordable
Out of the handful of European cities I’ve visited, Lisbon was one of the most affordable. No wonder many people decide to live in Portugal when they retire. The food, wine, and uber (when we took them) was very cheap compared to NYC and London. Between saving money on flight and hotel by traveling in the winter, to spending money on food and excursions, I barely broke my pockets.
Lisbon is Great for Nightlife
On our photo walk and the African Lisbon tour, our guides mentioned the nightlife is great. Since we were pressed for time, we didn’t get to enjoy much of the nightlife, but most of the partying is done in Barrio Alto. We also learned not to get there too early because they party late.
I hope my travel guide to spending 4 days in Lisbon, Portugal inspired you to book a trip to Portugal. Lisbon has a lot of history, great food, and wine and is great place to visit for a weekend trip with the girls, solo, or a baecation. If you found this post helpful, pin it for future reference.