A Quick Guide to Lisbon

Lisbon is all about the food, so more than anything, this is just a guide of places to eat. But in between meals, we managed to get out and see some of the sights and we actually spent a bit longer here than our usual weekend adventures. It was nice to get a feel for some of the different neighborhoods of the city, although I’m not sure I could choose a favorite. It was a bit cold during our visit, but I still think spring is the best time to visit. Of course, it only made me want to explore more of Portugal and to come back when it’s warmer!

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STAY

There are some great options for accommodation in Lisbon, from the crazy luxury of Santa Clara 1728 to more affordable abodes. We decided to go super budget with this trip and stayed first in an airbnb, then a hostel.

Independente Hostel | We liked this hostel because of its modern design and central location. My friend and I stayed in one of the female dorms after George flew back to London and the view from our room was awesome. Although we weren’t as in love with the food at their restaurant, Decadente, the cocktails were excellent and the atmosphere was great.

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COFFEE

I always try to research coffee shops for a city trip because they are perfect when I need a break from walking or when I get too tired in the afternoon because I tried to wake up early. I like to have multiple options throughout the city, so I can stop into whichever is closest.

Copenhagen Coffee Lab | Walked past without any intention of going in, but what can I say? We were drawn in by the smell of cinnamon buns. The Alfama location is top notch.

Heim | The waffles with homemade caramel sauce were amazing.

Hello, Kristof | Loved this place. I enjoyed just sitting with my coffee, reading one of the many magazines they have available. It’s one of those places I could spend a long time in, if it weren’t so small and busy. But I understand the popularity!

FÁBRICA COFFEE ROASTERS | Whether you’re looking to sit and have a coffee or buy some beans to bring home with you, this is the place to go. They are committed to serving excellent specialty coffee, straight from the farm.

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EAT

Manteigaria | The best custard tarts in Lisbon! People will tell you the best are the Pastéis de Belém, but everyone in our group agreed that these were so much better. Best when eaten warm.

Pharmacia | One of my favorite restaurants we visited. It is located inside the Pharmacy museum, which threw us off at first, but it was so cool. I love that the water comes in a peroxide bottle and the bill in a urine sample. It is such an original idea.

A Cevicheria | If I could go back to any restaurant in Lisbon right now, it would be this one! If you didn’t already guess, the ceviche is the thing to order and they do it so well. I didn’t even mind waiting for a table as they have an outdoor bar serving their signature pisco sours. But go early if you don’t want to wait!

Bairro do Avillez | An entire neighborhood of restaurants from famous Portuguese chef José Avillez. We walked into the Taberna for tapas and the explosive olives blew our minds. Haha! If there’s a specific restaurant you prefer, I would recommend making a reservation.

Time Out Market | Literally all the best flavors of Lisbon under one roof.  We had fun even just walking around, checking out our options. I mean an octopus hot dog? What a brilliant idea! Go for a quick snack or hang out all day eating your weight in fishcakes and custard tarts.

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SHOP

A Vida Portuguesa | One of the best places to buy gifts and souvenirs for all things Portuguese. They even have a stall at the Time Out Market.

LX Factory | We came here after spending the morning in Belém because both are somewhat west of Lisbon. It’s basically like an arts center, plus great food and shopping. We ate at the Burger Factory, but the Mexican food at Mez Cais was also tempting.

Cerâmicas na Linha | Beautiful Portuguese ceramics. Most things are sold by weight and very affordable. Seriously contemplated buying an entire set of dishes, but settled on a small flower pot as it was slightly easier to fit into our carry-on.

SEE & DO

Museo Nacional do Azulejo | An entire museum dedicated to Portugal’s beautiful painted tiles. The word azulejo comes from the Arabic zellige, meaning “polished stone” and you can still see many Arabic influences in the tile motifs today. We went here on a rainy day and were so glad to escape inside the world of beautiful tile for a little while.

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Torre de Belém | The tower was closed to visitors during our time in Belém because of bad weather, but it was still great to see from the outside. It was commissioned by Manuel I of Portugal in 1515 to serve as a military fortress and its UNESCO heritage status comes from its importance regarding the Portuguese maritime discoveries.

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Jeronimos Monastery | We didn’t pay to go inside the actual monastery because we were mainly interested in the church of Santa Maria which is free to visit. Also free to see: the tomb of Vasco da Gama (just inside the church doors, on your left).

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Padrão dos Descobrimentos | A monument to Portuguese discovery, first erected in 1940 in honor of Henry the Navigator. It’s a great place to sit by the water on a sunny day, just taking in all the history of the area as well as a great view of the 25 de Abril Bridge spanning the Tagus River.

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Tram 28 | Tram 28 is one of Lisbon’s vintage trams and probably the most famous. Many people ride it as a more affordable sightseeing tour and I’ve linked a good guide for doing so above. However, if you’re more interested in taking a photo, I think the Ascensor da Bica is the most picturesque.

Alfama | Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, home to Visigoths and Moors. I would simply take a walk here, admiring the architecture. Maybe stop for a drink of ginjinha, the Portuguese cherry liquor, from the woman selling it outside her front door.

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And finally, make sure you watch the sun rise or set at one of the Miradouro or observation decks. We went back to the Miradouro Santa Luzia multiple times hoping for a more colorful sunset, but it was still an amazing view regardless!

Hoping to post a closer look at some of our day trips out of Lisbon very soon, so check back here for updates!

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