How long should you stay in the Portuguese capital to really get the most out of it?
This is a question that most people planning a trip to Lisbon will be thinking about.
In 2015, tourism brought €8.4bn to the city of Lisbon with an annual growth of 10%.
Lisbon is a popular destination with its beautiful surroundings, the historic city centre with unmissable cultural heritage, beautiful beaches, a nice climate, and a low cost of living.
In this article, Superprof is looking at how long you should spend in Lisbon.
Why Fly to Lisbon?
It’s usually your holiday allocation from work that will define how long you can go on holiday for and it’s unlikely that a job will let you use all your holidays in one go.
Those working full-time probably won’t have the freedom to go as long as they want to Lisbon. However, if you’re retired, a job seeker, a freelancer, or a student, you’ll probably have more freedom when it comes to the length of your holidays.
Interested in discovering more about Portuguese culture in Lisbon but not sure how long to go for?
Before you compare flights, you should consider a few things.
What do you want to do in Lisbon? Visit museums? Party all night? Go to the beach? Head of the beaten path or do a road trip down to the Algarve? Thinking about staying a bit longer and learning to speak Portuguese?
It might seem obvious that you’ll need a flat and a job if you want to stay in Portugal for a few months. On the other hand, if you’re heading just to get away, a weekend or a few days should be enough to enjoy the best monuments and attractions Lisbon has to offer.
Of course, you’ll need to have the holiday allowance for this. The cost of flights might also dictate how long you can go for.
Portugal is a great destination to take in some sun without spending too much money once you get there. However, you’ll still need to know what you’re going to do there.
Make a list of what you want to visit: the Bairro Alto, the Alfama, the Castelo São Jorge, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém, etc. This will help you know how many days you’ll need and how long your trip should be.
You should also keep in mind that not everything will happen exactly as planned.
If you’re staying for a short amount of time, you might have to skip some of the things you’ve planned as you can’t do everything in just a couple of days. You’re going to have to make some tough choices.
Find out the best time to visit Lisbon.
A Week in Lisbon to Visit All the Unmissable Sights
A week in Lisbon will give you enough time to see all the tourist attractions and also spend some time further afield.
We recommend getting the Lisboa Card. This is a pass valid for one, two, or three days that allows access to different tourist attractions and use of the city’s public transport.
The price is:
- 24 hours: €20
- 48 hours: €34
- 72 hours: €42
This works out at €20 per day, €17 per day, and €14 per day respectively.
Given that a metro ticket for an hour costs €1.45 and a day-pass costs €6.15, you can see how cost-effective the Lisboa Card is since it also includes certain attractions.
A week in Lisbon is enough time to see the famous neighbourhoods (Alfama, Bairro Alto, Chiado, etc.), visit the museums, relax in the Botanic Gardens, go to the beach (depending on the season), have a relaxing day where you try the pasteis de nata and other local pastries, and have a romantic night out.
If you want to visit outside of the city, we recommend renting a vehicle and maybe adding a few days to your trip.
Find out more about accommodation in Lisbon.
Our Plans for Visiting Lisbon
Have you booked some last-minute flights to Lisbon and don’t want to miss the best the city has to offer?
Here are some ideas on how to spend your time in Lisbon.
3 Days in Lisbon
Fresh off the plane at Lisbon airport, you’ll need to get to the city centre. You can take the shuttle bus, metro, or a taxi.
You can take the red line to the centre of the city in just 20 minutes costing €1.50 (or free with a Lisboa Card).
- Day 1: Arrive at hotel, Tower of Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Jerónimos Monastery, the city centre, São Jorge Castle, Praça do Comércio.
- Day 2: Bairro Alto, Chiado, Alfama and its Moorish architecture, take the Line 28 tram, Lisbon Cathedral, bars in Bairro Alto, Parque Eduardo VII and the viewpoint.
- Day 3: Ocreanário (Europe’s second largest aquarium with 8,000 different species and 7 million litres of seawater), enjoy some local pastries, Sintra National Palace, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, National Museum of the Azulejo, Museum of the Orient, Carmo Convent.
A Week in Lisbon
What can you do in a week?
This would be your chance to see more sites and museums or take a day trip to the places to visit outside of the city.
You can enjoy the Archeology Museum, the Gallery of Coaches, and the Roman Theatre.
Don’t forget to enjoy the Amoreiras 360° Panoramic View 174 metres over the river Tage and the city.
For the last two or three days of your visit, consider renting a car and going to the beaches, visiting the coast from Sintra to Nazaré, the Parque Natural da Arrábida near Setúbal in the south.
You can also visit Lisbon for its nightlife and festivities between June and September.
A Long Stay in Lisbon to Learn Portuguese
If you want to really learn about the Portuguese language and culture, you’ll need a few days. We’re thinking about language immersion, for example.
You could stay with a host family and learn more about the culture and everyday life. If you’re planning on doing something like this, you might want to spend at least 6 months to a year in Portugal.
Portuguese evolved from the Vulgar Latin used by the Romans present in the Iberian Peninsula, Gaul (France), Dacia (Romania), and Italy. Portuguese, theoretically, should be easier to learn for anyone with a knowledge of other Romance languages.
If you can’t live in the centre of Lisbon because it’s too expensive, you should consider sharing a flat. If you’re young, you may want to stay near Bairro Alto.
There are a number of companies and organisations offering language stays in Portugal. During your stay, you’ll have the opportunity to learn Portuguese vocabulary, grammar, the history of Portugal, etc.
During your free time, you can explore the Park and National Palace of Pena in Sintra, the Castelo dos Mouros, and the coastal resort town of Cascais.
On the weekends, you can head to the south of Portugal and visit the Benagil caves.
Are these experiences too expensive?
Have you thought about travelling on your own?
You can head to Portugal for a few weeks with World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, HelpX, or Work Away.
Looking to learn some Portuguese before you go?
Get help from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available on the site: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. There are pros and cons to each and the best one for you really depends on your situation.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most personal and have you and your tutor working together for the whole session. Of course, this bespoke service comes at a cost, making it the most costly type of tutorial available. If shyness has been getting in the way of your language learning, this is probably the best option. Additionally, the tutor can tailor each lesson to exactly what you need to learn or what you've been struggling with.
Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face tutorials with the main difference being that the tutor isn't physically in the room with you and you're more likely to find native Portuguese speakers as you can broaden your search to anywhere in the world!
Finally, there are group tutorials. In these types of tutorials, there are several students and just one tutor. With all the students sharing the cost of the tutor's time, these tutorials are usually the cheapest per person per hour but each student won't get the bespoke tutoring or one-on-one time that they would in the other types of tutorials. However, you will get plenty of opportunities to practise your language skills with the other students in the class.