If you follow me on instagram then you would know that I recently had a weekend in Lisbon, and oh how I loved it! Going to Lisbon had been on my list to visit for so so long. Actually, I had been there before but this was as a kid – so that hardly counts. Anyway being a bit of a planner I always make sure I do research before travelling somewhere so I know exactly what to visit and what places to go for drinks and food (the latter being pretty much the most important part haha). Me and my friend had the most brilliant time in Lisbon so I thought I’d share my tips as a little travel guide for a weekend in Lisbon!
GETTING AROUND IN LISBON:
We walked most of it – but be aware Lisbon is quite a hilly city! If you want to go further out of the centre like to Belem or you’re out at night and don’t want to walk then I recommend taxis. They are really cheap so very easy to use! Or if the public transport is also pretty good so you can buy a Viva Viagem card for €0.50 and then top it up with whatever type of ticket you’re interested in. Or you can buy a €6 ticket that let’s you use the Metro, Bus and Tram for a period of 24 hours. I believe they also have a more cost-effective 5 day pass, that you can find out about when buy a ticket. The tram 28 covers a lot of lisbon and is very popular with tourists. I would avoid it – unless you like a very crammed rides!
WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON:
While the Bairro Alto neighbourhood is where most of the night time the action is, we wanted to stay in the old town (Alfama). We had a very cute little apartment (AirBnB) in Alfama and loved being in this old and more quiet (but very pretty) part of the city. It’s still not that far to walk (10-20min) to most other areas from there or only about a €6 taxi to Bairro Alto for example. The Bairro Alto neighborhood is known is very buzzy and has loads of bars and restaurants. So also if you prefer a good night’s sleep, I’d stay don’t stay in this area!
WHAT TO SEE IN LISBON:
Lisbon is breathtaking not only because of it’s unique beauty but also thanks to its hilly streets. So here some tips on what to see and do while you’re in the city!
– Miradouro: The Portuguese love their city views, so when you see a road signed marked “Miradouro” you know you’re not far away from one. Because the city is so hilly, a mere tilt of the head will reveal beautiful views of the city. Some of my favourite viewing points are: Graça, Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara – Jardim António Nobre and up from the Santa Justa Lift (using this is also free with the 24 hour transport ticket)
– Book a free Sandemans walking tour: www.newlisbontours.com (daily 11am or 2pm tours). I always really enjoy these walking tours and do them on the first day. Gives me a real insight into the city, its history and means I get my bearings with where everything is.
– The Alfama area is very cute and good to get lost in. Be careful of thief we saw a few. It is probably the poorer area. Really worth it. We stayed in this area and loved it. Walking around there are many little corners and streets and pretty houses with the most gorgeous and colourful tiles!
– Lisbon main city center (Baixa) – shops and just good area to explore and walk around
– Prefered areas to walk in: Rossio, Baixa (center), Chiado and Alfama. It’s even nice it to walk around without a specific plan as this is a way to find amazing spots. Each street and corner hides something special.
– Walk to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara and climb to Praça do Princiepe Real under the tree, go by Embaixada (26 Praça Principe Real) which is a local craft market in a big beautiful house. Go down to the city by Barrio Alto to finish in Baixa
– Belem: We took a taxi here but also easy to get to on the 15 Tram. After a good Pasteis de Nata (the pastries to eat when you’re in Lisbon, but more about that later) you can walk along the waterfront to check out the Tower of Belem which is a lovely old building. We didn’t go inside but was nice to see. Jéronimo monastery is beautiful and of course then buy some more pastries to take with you for the afternoon to keep you refuelled ;)
– From Belem we kept walking (to burn off some of those pastry calories) along the water all the way past the Docks (which is a nice waterfront area by the 25th of April Bridge) and then went to the LX Factory area. We absolutely loved this spot! It’s quite an unique place and when you’re heading there you wonder is this the right place as it’s in a bit of a abandoned / dodgy part but then you get to these gates that state you’ve arrived at LX Factory and behind there are lots of awesome shops and cafes and restaurants. It’s all very hip, with plenty of arts and design stores in an industrial setting. We enjoyed some wine and cheese in the sunshine and did lots of people watching. Also check out Livraria ler devagar (Rua Rodrigues Faria, 103) – cafe and a bookstore in LX Factory – It looks awesome and is worth checking out. Plus you can have a bite or coffee inside as well.
– We didn’t get time for this but next time I go to Lisbon I definitely want to check out Sintra. Apparently it’s one of the most beautiful places, full of old palaces in the mountains, and is just a 40 minute train ride from Rossio station.
WHERE TO EAT IN LISBON:
A few points about eating out in Lisbon:
- Almost all restaurants will bring you a plate of olives and bread without you asking for it and add it to the bill in the end. If you don’t want it, you can ask them to take it back or just leave it untouched.
- Sunday is a bad restaurant day. Everything is closed so make sure to plan accordingly.
- Tipping: It’s not customary, but it’s a good gesture. 5-10% of the bill is good enough.
– SWEET THINGS. One thing that was clear on this trip was that the Portuguese have a major sweet tooth. Most pastries here are heavy on cream, egg yolks and sugar. We sampled quite a few pastries while we were there both savoury and sweet and the favourite was definitely the Pasteis de Nata from the famous pastry shop PASTEIS DE BELEM, an egg tart made with flaky pastry. They claim to be the best – and they are the best! It is always busy so you can grab them to take away or they actually also have a huge cafeteria attached to the shop these days so you can grab a coffee and devour the pastries warm and dusted with cinnamon (and order a second round as soon as you’ve had your first one. Trust me you will…one is not enough).
– Check out the RIBEIRA MARKET (Avenida 24 de Julho). I love food markets and this has an old food market part but also a modern part, where you can try delicious food and enjoy drinks. Good thing to do on a rainy day because the market is covered. There is a huge selection on offer; drinks, espresso, sushi, Portuguese food or pretty much anything you feel like eating!
– CERVEJARIA RAMIRO (Av. Almirante Reis) – This place is shellfish heaven. Fresh tiger prawns, scarlet prawns, crabs, clams, and goose barnacles for the adventurous. All at affordable prices. We loved this place. You can choose what you want to eat through pictures on iPad (yes they have an iPad menu which is rather odd when you look at the non-modern interior). Everything we had was amazing; definitely have the clams in garlic and the prawns….and the bread drowned in butter (woooops but oh so good!)
– PARK (Calçada do Combro, 58) – Club/bar/restaurant located on a top floor of a car parking. Amazing view on a city, good food and nice vibe. I got excited about the outdoor part, but the in door is stylish as well. Hard to find (just literally look for the lift in a carpark building and take the lift to the 5th floor and walk up to level 6 where you’ll find the bar) but you’ll be happy once you’re there because the vibe is lovely and we definitely enjoyed a cocktail or two here.
– PAP ‘ACORDA (Rue da Atalaia 57) Located on a narrow cobbled street in the Bairro Alto, Pap’Açorda combines a sophisticated take on Portuguese classics with a consistently cool atmosphere. The latter draws in the crowds before they make their way to the area’s many small bars, whilst the former brings both tourists and locals to Pap’Açorda who are eager to experience one of the best restaurants in Lisbon. The restaurant takes its name from the Portuguese classic Açorda, a shellfish stew usually mixed with bread and covered in garlic and coriander. Pap’Açorda offers multiple varieties of their namesake dish, and the Cod Açorda and the Lobster and Shrimp Açorda are both amongst the best in the city. We enjoyed our dinner here and the service was fantastic. Also make sure you save a tiny bit of space for dessert. Their famous chocolate mousse was the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m still dreaming about it now!!
– PINOQUIO, is located on Placa dos Restauradores, right in Lisbon’s historic centre, and could be mistaken to be one of those typical tourist places that sells overpriced dried sardines. I was recommended this place by a Portguese friend of mine and turns out this place is fantastic. I was surprised because it really doesn’t look anything special and the area feels very touristy. They specialise in seafood and their clams are the most popular dish. We had the pork with clams and the squid. It was very tasty but after our visit I read we should have had the classic house dish, the Pica-Pau (woodpecker) which are diced pieces of steak, cooked quickly in a sauce of olive oil, garlic (lots of garlic!) and bay leaves. For next time! Or order this when you go there and let me know what you think! At Pinoquio we got a drink on the house with our dessert which was Ginjinha and we loved it. Turns out this is a typical Lisbon drink; a morello cherry liqueur. It was delicious so definitely sample this drink while you’re in Lisbon!
– TABERNA DA RUA DAS FLORES (Rua das Flores, 103) We didn’t end up making it to this restaurant but it’s on the top of my list for when I go back to Lisbon. Anyway I found out about this place on blog somewhere and we did try to get a table one night but would have had to wait until 11pm and we were too hungry to wait that long. The bistro is small and looks super cosy and the food looked incredible and I think definitely try and go here if you can – just make sure you book so you don’t end up missing out like we did.
Have you been to Lisbon before and if so, what are your favourite spots in the city? I’d love to hear them! I definitely will go back sometime for another weekend in Lisbon – it’s just such a fun and beautiful place :)