I’ve been to Paris and I’ve been to London, and while they have been super fabulous, Lisbon takes the cake for me! Ever since I moved to Sicily, Lisbon has been on my “must see” list. However, since I hate flying (surprise, right?!), I mainly opt to visit locations with direct flights from Catania. There is no direct flight from Catania to Lisbon, but I wanted to go so badly, I sucked it up. Can I just say, it was totally worth it! I’d give it a 10/10, highly recommend. So, what should you do if you end up like me and find yourself spending three days in Lisbon? Here are some of my favorite suggestions, but believe me, there is more to be had than what I’m about to tell you.
Upon arriving in Lisbon, I took a car to my hotel. To get from the airport to the city center, you can take a taxi (20€ and approximately 20 minutes), bus (4€ and approximately 45 minutes), or metro (€1.45). If you buy the Viva Viagem or 7 Colinas card (€50) and put money on it, you can load your card with a travel pass for the day (€6.30) which is valid for metro and rail.
There are a ton of options in Lisbon, but I can’t recommend the hotel I stayed in enough. Palácio das Especiarias is a 16th century palace that you can actually stay in. Whaaat?! At first, I was a little worried that it would be a bit outdated (in terms of accommodations), but it wasn’t (fair warning though, there is no elevator, only stairs). It was completely charming and one of my favorite parts of my visit. The hotel is centrally located in the historic district with plenty to do and see right outside of its doors. Next time I visit Lisbon, I will definitely stay here again. Thanks to Katie of Planes, Trains and Babies for finding it for me.
This list will be in no way comprehensive, but I will provide you with some ideas from my favorites.
Portugal has three funiculars, Elevador do Lavra, Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Bica. As Lisbon is so hilly, they are a great way to get up and down the steep inclines. They are also very popular for tourists. Elevador do Lavra is the oldest, with service beginning in 1884. I did not take a ride on one, but I did stop to catch a couple of photos at Elevador da Bica. There are two cars here – one is the traditional yellow and another is covered in beautiful graffiti.
The miradouros are observation points that overlook the city. There are a few in Lisbon, but Miradouro S.Pedro de Alcantara is the largest and most iconic one. It is also right next to the Elevador da Glória. Miradouro De Santa Luzia, was my personal favorite. It has a beautiful little garden and reflecting pool. It is located in the Alfama neighborhood about halfway up the hill. You can see the Tagus River from there as well.
São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle on a hilltop overlooking the historic city center and the Tagus River. It is a main tourist site of Lisbon and dates back to the medieval period. I enjoyed the quick tour, a glass of wine while overlooking the city, and a quick ice cream on the way back to my hotel.
The largest of Lisbon’s plazas, it’s located right along the river’s edge. In the square is a statue of King José I and the Arco da Rua Augusta. You can climb the Arco da Rua Augusta for a small fee. Be warned there are many small stairs to climb, but the view from the top is worth it!! I made the climb during the middle of the day, but I’d definitely recommend this at sunset.
The main, central square of Lisbon, with the Dona Maria II National Theater at the head and a statue of Dom Pedro IV in the middle. The stone pattern here is unmistakable and the fountains are a pretty turquoise.
A great way to close out any day in Lisbon is catching sunset along the Tagus Riverbank. There’s often live music and a few impromptu picnics. Additionally, if you are a gin lover, Lisboa Gin is the best I’ve found on all of my travels. I just had to bring a bottle home!
A great day trip from Lisbon is to Sintra. I visited Pena Palace, but honestly wish I had more time here, as Pena Park spans over 200 hectacres. The castle sits atop a hill in the Sintra mountains. It’s a colorful Romanticist castle that is very much worth the visit.