Travel Guide: Lisbon
Bump Lisbon up to the top of your “must visit” list. This up-and-coming destination has it all, but still feels undiscovered. Great seafood, gorgeous architecture, beautiful vistas, friendly people, while still surprisingly affordable and not too touristy. The steep hills of Lisbon make for a great workout, to boot!
We stayed at a beautifully-decorated Airbnb in Bairro Alto. It was perfect for us, because it was smack in the middle of the city with dozens of highly-rated restaurants within a few blocks and nearly every attraction within walking distance. That also meant that it was loud and crowded, and since it’s a historic neighborhood, the buildings are older and the cobblestone streets are quite steep. We loved it and I highly recommend staying there!
If you want to be central, but prefer a quieter or more modern stay, try Avenida da Liberdade.
Tuk tuk tour - it’s totally touristy but Lisbon is SO hilly. It’s a great way to get oriented to where you are in the city and to see some of the best views.
Se - the old cathedral in Lisbon. It’s amazing to think of how long ago this was built! Not the prettiest cathedral, but worth a visit.
Portas do Sol lookout - door of the sun. This fantastic view over the city.
National Pantheon - a gorgeous building where all the famous Portuguese people are entombed. Super weird, but beautiful architecture!
Alfama - the cutest and oldest neighborhood just to walk around.
Sailing tour - A lovely way to spend the afternoon and to get oriented to the whole town. Super cool to see the Torre de Belém (which looks like a ship) from the water! We booked a sailing tour on Airbnb, it was not super expensive and really nice staff.
Tram 28 stop - go during day, because a ton of spring break style kids hang out at night (yes, I’m old!). It’s on a super super steep hill, be prepared!
Praca do Comércio - beautiful government buildings, big square. On weekends, artists set up shop all the way around with actually cute stuff you’ll want to buy. Lots of events here, so check the calendar to see what’s going on! There was World Cup soccer viewing parties when we were there.
Time Out Market cooking class - we booked a class to make Pasteis de Nata. It was short (an hour and a half?), not expensive, but and super fun. Make sure to book a few days in advance - they sell out. Also have classes to make cod cakes and other Portuguese food.
Jeronimos Monastery - this church and monastery is gorgeous (and the history is fascinating - sailors would stay here and pray for safe harbor the night before leaving on ships to cross the ocean). If you can go when there is a service going on, the organ is extraordinary.
Botanical Garden - full of jacaranda trees, the beautiful purple flowering trees (if in season)! Great views of the city. Also a bit removed which is either inconvenient or a lovely break from the hustle and bustle.
Walk the waterfront - Torre de Belém, the explorers monument was my favorite part of the waterfront. We stopped for a drink and there’s a nice breeze and view. There are also a few great museums here depending on your interests - we went to the Escher exhibit at the Pop Art Museum and it was well done!
Harbor - where we got the boat. Tons of cute restaurants. Do dinner there! Kind of like the Seaport District in Boston.
Presidential Palace - skip. You can’t see anything from the street.
National Palace - removed from everything - a long steep walk or cab ride away and super crabby staff. Only go if you have time.
Comoba - very Brooklyn and super chic design with healthy food (like my favorite: oat milk lattes).
Sea Me - buzzy sushi and fish place. A huge display of fish on ice that you walk over to and select for them to cook for you.
A Cevicheria - hot spot ceviche restaurant. Beef tartare taco was delicious. Always a line so you can order appetizers and a drink and eat at the bar outside if you don’t want to wait!
Time Out Market - pick anything! Tons of good restaurants to sample. It’s SUPER busy (people fight for tables) so would recommend going at a slightly off rush hour time.
Restaurant 100 Maneiras - very beautifully presented fine dining restaurant. The Miss Piggy course was amazing! 60€ a person.
The Mill - great healthy breakfast on a cute block. A wait at popular times, but they far overestimated the time (said 25-30, it was more like 10).
Bairro de Avillez - a bunch of restaurants in one. Ate at the tapas part (called petiscos in Portuguese). Delicious and not expensive. The dessert was amazing!
Os Bons Malandros - Tapas right near our Airbnb. Super delicious and wildly affordable. The ceviche was great and the mushrooms were so good!
To Do Next Time:
Tile Museum - it was closed on Monday ;( but gets rave reviews!
Dear Breakfast - super cute breakfast place, also closed on Monday.
Park - rooftop bar on top of a parking garage.
Taberna da Rua Flores - amazing reviews little restaurant.
Sintra - we went to Cascais for a night and just didn’t make the time to go to Sintra. The palace looks gorgeous on a nice day!