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The Perfect 3 Day Lisbon Itinerary for Families

Lisbon has received a lot of attention in the press lately, having been named at the top of many “must see” destination lists. With year round moderate temperatures, a thriving arts scene, and welcoming locals, it’s easy to see why the city enchants visitors. Three days are not enough time to do the city justice, but sometimes it will have to do. Here’s the perfect 3 day Lisbon itinerary if you’re traveling with kids.

The Perfect 3 Day Lisbon Itinerary for Families - Kids Are A Trip

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How to Spend 3 Days in Lisbon with kids

Lisbon is commonly referred to as the “City of Seven Hills,” and it’s easy to see why once you arrive. There are high and low points throughout the city. In some of the older districts, expect to find cobblestones and uneven pavement.

If this might be a problem, the best bet is to use city transportation. There are buses, trams, subways, and elevators to get from point A to point B.

Lisbon districts

The city is divided into districts. The main tourist destinations are Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, Alfama, and Belém. It’s best to focus on a particular district and its attractions for part of the day instead of moving all over the city.

Belém

Belém is known as the launching point for Vasco de Gama’s famous expeditions. It is equally renowned for the pasteis de nata (custard tarts) of Pastéis de Belém, one of the traditional Portuguese foods. The original shop opened in 1837 next to the Jerónimos Monastery to raise funds for clergy and workers since the convents and monasteries were shut down during the 1820 revolution.

The recipe of the pastéis de Belém is a well-guarded secret, which is part of what draws a crowd at all hours of the day. If there are long lines, like there may be during Lisbon’s peak season (the summer months), persevere — it’s worth it! After grabbing a savory treat, head out to explore the area.

There are three not to miss spots in Belém: Jeronimos Monastery, Belém Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries.

Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery was built in 1502 and is a testament to Portugal’s wealth during the Age of Exploration. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the elaborate, decorative Manueline architecture is stunning.

The Kings of Portugal, Vasco de Gama, and the famous poet Luis de Camões are buried in the monastery. It’s wonderful to explore all of its nooks and crannies and marvel at the intricately carved archways and columns.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon Visit Jeronimos Monastery-Kids Are A Trip

Belém Tower

Belém Tower is just down the road from Jerónimos Monastery. The tower sits majestically on the shore of the Tagus River and offers beautiful views along the waterfront.

Inside the tower visitors can tour different levels from the upper terrace to the lower dungeon. Built in 1515, this UNESCO site was the first (and last) sight sailors would see in the harbor.

Belem Tower

Monument to the Discoveries

Monument to the Discoveries was erected in 1960 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. It is a giant ship with sculptures of famous people in nautical history from Magellan to Henry the Navigator.

Inside there are rotating exhibitions and it is possible to take an elevator to the top for a view of the surrounding Belém neighborhood, the 25 de Abril bridge, and Christ the Redeemer statue on the other side of the river.

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Of course, there are other sites to see in Belém, but for those short on time, these three are a must. Other popular attractions in the area include the National Museum of Coaches, the Cultural Center of Belėm, and the Maritime Museum.

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Alfama

The Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon and home to one of the city’s most recognizable monuments, São Jorge Castle.

The fortification was built by the Moors in the 11th century but was conquered by Dom Alfonso Henriques (the first king of Portugal) in 1147. To reach the castle, visitors must navigate Alfama’s famous medieval maze of narrow streets, but the view is worth it.

Sao Jorge castle 3 day Lisbon itinerary

The castle is the main tourist attraction in this area, but there are other sights to explore. Some might recommend using Tram 28 to get around, but we found it’s easier to explore on foot and the tram is notorious for pickpockets. The Se Cathedral, National Pantheon, Fado Museum, and Roman Theatre Museum are all located in the Alfama district.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon visit Sao Jorge Castle-Kids Are A Trip

Baixa

Considered Lisbon’s city center, Baixa is the main shopping district of Lisbon and where many tourists tend to congregate at some point during the day. The main pedestrian corridor is Rua Augusta running from Commerce Square on the waterfront to Rossio Square in the heart of Lisbon. This is the perfect place to do some shopping, grab a bite to eat, or watch the street performers.

How to have the perfect weekend in Lisbon Santa Justa Elevator-Kids Are A Trip

If you’re looking for some of the best views you’ll find in the city, one thing not to miss is the Santa Justa Elevator (also called the Santa Justa Lift and Elevador de Santa Justa).

Designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel, this 1902 wrought iron lift transports passengers between the Baixa district and the ruins of Igreja do Carmo (Carmo Church). The ride to the top is the best way to take in spectacular city views and is easier than climbing up steep hills.

The Carmo Church

The Carmo Church warrants a visit as well. This Gothic church was completed in 1423 and was the largest church in Lisbon. On November 1, 1755, a series of earthquakes and a tsunami struck the city. The devastating earthquake and tsunami caused massive damage and killed over 60,000 people.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon-Carmo Church

The Carmo Church was left standing in ruins. Today it is a haunting reminder of what was lost and how the city has rebuilt around it. It’s beautiful to walk around and explore the different exhibits that tell the story of this church, the neighborhood, and its history.

Bairro Alto

Not far from the Carmo Church is the Barrio Alto district. Peaceful during the day, this area is quite loud in the evening with many bars and restaurants nearby. Head over to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, a peaceful park in the middle of it all. This garden has spectacular views of the city and is located next to the Gloria Funicular.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon ride the funicular-Kids Are A Trip

The Gloria Funicular has been transporting passengers from Restauradores Square to Bairro Alto since 1885. It’s fun to take a quick ride up and/or down the hill.

Chiado

Chiado is the upscale, trendy area of Lisbon, filled with cafés, fashion houses, and high-end retailers. On a weekend visit, take a stroll through the neighborhood.

Stop for a coffee at the famous Café Brasiliera, one of the oldest cafés in Lisbon. It’s easy to recognize with its bright yellow patio umbrellas and the constant stream of tourists.

Walk through the streets and admire the building decorated with azulejo tiles. Below is the oldest bookstore in the world, dating back to 1732.

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon Walking through Neighborhoods-Kids Are A Trip

Where to eat in Lisbon with kids

Not far from Chiado near the river, don’t miss Time Out Mercado da Ribiera. This former marketplace was revitalized in 2014 by Time Out Lisboa. Inside is a feast for the senses with food stalls featuring dishes from some of Lisbon’s finest restaurants.

It’s the updated version of a food court and we loved it! Everything from hamburgers to seafood to ice cream co-exists under one roof. Outside the food hall it is a typical market selling the daily fish deliveries, gorgeous flowers, and fresh fruit. Worth a visit at least once on a weekend!

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Other recommendations in Lisbon are A Cevicheria, Prado, and Cervejaria Ramiro.

If you or your kids are vegan, don’t worry, there’s plenty in Lisbon for you to eat. Use this Lisbon vegan guide to find the best vegan tours and restaurants in Lisbon.

3 Day Lisbon Itinerary – Public transportation

It looks like a lot, but we managed to see most of the highlights listed above during our 3 day Lisbon itinerary. Here are some other tips that helped us get around.

As mentioned above, use funiculars, elevators, the metro, and buses as needed. The hills in Lisbon can be exhausting. As an alternative, there are tuk-tuks available for hire. These are available near Rua Augusta and Rua Comércio. It’s definitely a different way to explore Lisbon with kids!

Perfect Weekend in Lisbon Take a Tuk Tuk Tour-Kids Are A Trip
Why not try a tuk tuk city tour?

Save Money on Your 3 Day Lisbon Itinerary – Invest in a Lisboa Card

The Lisboa Card is similar to those found in other major cities, in that it offers free entrance (and discounts) to major attractions, free transportation throughout the city, and skip the line privileges. The card is available in 24, 48, or 72 hour increments.

If you're headed to Portugal's capital city, go in with a plan. Here are the things to add to the list for a perfect weekend in Lisbon. - Kids Are A Trip

It even offers free day-trip transportation for those wishing to visit Sintra or Cascais. This is a great way to save money in Lisbon with kids as it provides discounts on quite a few attractions, the elevator, and funicular.

Make time for snacks

Lisbon is a city that can be physically grueling, especially when walking instead of taking public transportation. Take plenty of breaks! There are cafés everywhere, shops with water and snacks, and fresh fruit stalls in many of the town squares. Stop as needed and refresh! There’s always time for ice cream.

Or, making sampling Lisbon’s diverse and delicious food a centerpiece of your day on a food tour. There are a number of options for booking a walking tour through the city that explores Lisbon’s rich history as well as its dynamic food scene and local restaurants.

3 day Lisbon itinerary ice cream
There’s always time for ice cream.

The weekend in Lisbon with kids went by in the blink of the eye. In hindsight, the city deserves in depth exploration and relaxation as a 3 day Lisbon itinerary just isn’t enough. Lisbon was one of our favorite European cities to visit and we are already trying to find a time to return.

Looking for other places to add to your Portugal itinerary? Don’t miss Porto with kids, how to plan a trip to the Douro Valley, and the best reasons to visit Alentejo.