What to do, what to eat, and where to stay in Lisbon
Going to Portugal? Here’s what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Lisbon!
Oh man, guys. It took me WAY longer to put this together than I thought it would… sorry for the delay!! I had so many photos, so many favorite things to talk about, and then there was also a puppy distracting me ?But it’s done! My Lisbon Travel Guide is here!
If you missed my Barcelona Travel Guide, head over there to read about how my friend Whitney helped us plan our itineraries for both cities. If you are planning a trip abroad and need help beyond my guides, she is AMAZING. She will literally help you plan your day from morning til bedtime… I can’t recommend her services enough!
But let’s chat specifically about Lisbon. We had a great time in Barcelona, but we LOVE LOVE LOVED Lisbon. Like, talked about how we could move there for a year or two, loved it. The food is amazing, it’s super affordable, and the people are so so kind. There was something about this charming city that just put me at ease. Plus, it is SO romantic. I felt like Adam and I were on a honeymoon before the wedding! I even cried a little bit when we checked out of our AirBNB because I was so sad to leave ?
Have I peaked your interest?! Great! Now let’s dive into everything you need to know before you go…
Where to Stay in Lisbon
When pitching hotels in Lisbon didn’t work, Adam and I decided to find an affordable AirBNB property. We had heard amazing things about the Alfama neighborhood, so we narrowed our search to that area and found this duplex. Under $100, gorgeous, and in a great location? DONE.
The apartment is nestled on a small cobblestone side street where cars aren’t even allowed, so you immediately feel like a local as soon as you get there. You have to walk up some steps to get to the top floor, but it’s worth it once you’re up there.
There’s a small kitchen and bathroom, and then it opens up into a nice size living room with stairs leading up to the bedroom. Everything about it felt cozy and romantic. Waking up to this view was amazing and we loved being able to start our mornings in the apartment with some eggs, local cheese, and fresh baked bread. There was also a night that it rained, and we just stayed in the apartment drinking wine, and we didn’t feel like we were missing out on the Lisbon experience at all by not staying out. It was perfect.
If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, I would 1000% check to see if this AirBNB is available. None of this is sponsored, we paid for it ourselves – I just loved it so much and it would make me SO happy if some of you go and stay there, too! You have to tag me in your pictures if you do though so I can see! Deal?
PS. If you’ve never used AirBNB before, click this link to get $40 off your first stay! Such a good deal!
Is it safe?
Yes! We never felt unsafe in this neighborhood. Everyone is so friendly, the restaurants and bars are all open late… I mean, they’re Europeans so they all eat dinner way later than we do ?It felt incredible warm and inviting.
Obviously the weather depends on when you go, but I will say, bring a layer! When I looked at the weather before we left, it said it would be in the 70s, and when we got there, it was in the high 50s/low 60s. I also heard from a few followers that it’s windy there most of the time. Just a heads up – unless you’re going in the very heat of summer, bring a jacket or sweater!
What To Do in Lisbon
Praca do Comercio
After checking in to our AirBNB and getting some lunch, this is where we started. The Praca do Comcercio is a huge square right on the water. There’s a statue of of King José in the middle, with three sides of beautiful yellow building facades surrounding it. Once you’re done in the square, make your way to the gorgeous arch, and you’ll find yourself right on Rua Augusta!
Rick Steves Walking Tour
After loving his walking tour in Barcelona, we immediately knew we wanted to do it in Lisbon, too. For those of you who didn’t read about it in the Barcelona post, Rick Steves has amazing walking tours for a bunch of cities in Europe. You can follow along with the map, but you really don’t need to. Just download the podcast episode to your phone and they’ll tell you exactly where to walk.
This one was really fun because it hit a lot fo the spots we wanted to see, and a few smaller things we definitely would have missed without the tour. It’s a great way to get your bearings, learn some history, and it’s completely at your own pace. We paused it to get a pastel de nata at a bakery and a beer at a historic beerhall! A ton of the places I list below are a part of the tour, too – so it takes the stress out of figuring out where you’re going/what’s near what. And you get to learn a ton for free! We’re such big fans.
Rua Augusta & the Baixa
Rua Augusta is almost like the La Rambla of Lisbon. It’s a big pedestrian walkway with tons of shops and restaurants. It’s definitely very touristy, but we still loved walking it because of the amazing tile work at your feet! So gorgeous!
There are a lot of squares in this city, but Rossio is one of the biggest and liveliest. The wave pattern of the tile on the ground, plus the big fountain and beautiful buildings all around made this one of my favorites. We even went to an Easter market there on our last day!
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
I don’t think we would have discovered this viewing platform if it wasn’t for the Rick Steves walking tour – but it’s GORGEOUS! It was a bit of hike to get up there since the Funicular wasn’t working when we were there, but it was worth it. There’s also a beautiful little park right there, too!
Convento do Carmo
The Convento do Carmo is a church that was ruined during the 1755 earthquake. Instead of restoring it, it was left as is to remind the city of it’s beauty despite the tragedy. It’s very powerful to see it in person and hear about that sad day. The walking tour gives a lot of a great backstory, but even if you don’t listen to that, don’t miss this!
Elevador de Santa Justa
I forgot to take a photo of this from street level, but there is a huge iron elevator in the middle of the city! It was built in the 19th century to transport people from the Baixa district up to the Largo do Carmo. We didn’t ride the elevator up or down, but we did go to the top to see the view.
Not gonna lie, I had BIG plans to come here in a floral dress with pink accents and get the perfect insta-worthy shot. It ended up being too chilly to walk around all day in a dress, and exploring the city was way more important to me than a photoshoot.
That being said, once we got there, I realized it’s insta-worthy all on it’s own! The surrounding neighborhood, Cais do Sodre, is also adorable. Plus, make sure you scroll down to the “Where To Eat” section, because there’s an amazing gelato place a block away from this… just saying 😉
Torre de Belem
Belém Tower was built in the early 16th century as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. There are so many cool architecture details, and you can climb all the way to the top if you want to!
Castelo de Sao Jorge
This used to be a royal palace, but now it’s a permanent educational exposition. It is a HIKE to get up there, but the castle has major Game of Thrones vibes and the views are amazing.
*There is also a tram that goes up there if you don’t want to walk it! We walked all the way from Rossio Square and were seriously tired and winded when we got up there. No shame in finding another way!)
Miradouro da Santa Luzia
This viewing platform looks over the Alfama neighborhood. We swung by a few times because it was only 5 minutes from our AirBNB (we could see it from our window!). Another pretty one in Alfama is called Portas do Sol.
Walk around Alfama
This neighborhood completely won us over. There are barely any vehicles on these narrow winding cobblestone roads, so it feels very different from any other city just because of that! There are beautiful tiles are all over the buildings and there are cute restaurants and bars everywhere (lots with outdoor seating). We even found a cute wine store, butcher shop, bakery, and grocery store the first day so we could have wine, cheese, bread, and strawberries in the apartment. And let me tell you, the bottle of red wine we bought for 4 euro was SO GOOD.
Praca De Luis De Camoes
Another beautiful square in this beautiful city!
We stumbled into this tile/ceramic shop on a whim and instantly fell in love. The owner was incredibly nice, and every single piece was more gorgeous than the last. We took home two little planters for succulents that are on display in our living room!
Sintra and Cascais Small Group Day Trip
As soon as we saw photos of Pena Palace, we knew we needed to get there somehow. But the more we researched, the more we realized we wanted to splurge on a day trip to both Sintra and Cascais while we were there. We booked this small group tour and I couldn’t recommend it more. Our guide was the sweetest man who knew so much about everywhere we went, we didn’t have to deal with public transit, and we got to see two different places!
We loved Pena Palace (more on that below), but the rest of the day was also awesome. We saw Roca Cape (the westernmost point of continental Europe), Devil’s Mouth, and our last stop was Cascais. Holy moly, was Cascais charming! We only walked around for a little bit, but we got to sip some ginja, try some gelato, and marvel at the gorgeous coastline.
Ever wanted to see a Disney castle in real life? HERE IT IS! Even when we were there it didn’t look real. It was such a magical experience – it didn’t even matter that it rained on and off. We personally loved our tour because he gave us some great history and insights, but he also gave us free time to explore the interior of the castle, take pictures, etc. Oh, and don’t forget to try a travesseiros in the little town of Sintra!
Try ginjinha and pastel de nata!
I’ll dive into our favorite restaurants in the next section, but you can find ginjinha (or simply ginja) and pastel de nata ALL over the city. Ginja is a Portuguese liqueur made from ginja berries, alcohol, and sugar. It tastes like cherries, and we had it served in a little chocolate cup a few times while we were there. I really want to find it here in the states, because it’s SO delicious and it would be so fun to serve at dinner parties!
And then there’s pastel de nata – my FAVORITE! Pasteis de nata (the plural!) are Portuguese custard tarts made from egg yolk and sugar in a crisp pastry shell. Eat one with an espresso… and then get another one immediately 😉
Where to Eat in Lisbon
BEST MEAL OF THE TRIP. A Cevicheria was recommended to us by multiple people, so we made sure we got there while we were in Lisbon. When we arrived, there was already a long list ahead of us (they don’t take reservations), but they have a little window where a bartender is whipping up their signature Pisco Sours for you while you wait.
We waited over an hour and a half, so we kept saying “this better be good” by the time we sat down – and let me tell, it WAS. We ordered the salmon ceviche (salmon, pineapple, coconut, cashews) and Portuguese ceviche (codfish, octopus, potato, parsley) and it was a million times better than any other ceviche I’ve ever had. Unreal.
We also tried the King Crab Causa and Mini Surf & Turf Sandwich, which were good, but not as amazing as the ceviches. And lastly, we finished the meal with their Quindim dessert with coconut mousse and passion fruit granita. YUM.
Our AirBNB hosts suggested Maria Catita right when we arrived, and it was the perfect introduction to Lisbon. Adam announced that he was going to get a steak, so I asked our waiter what he likes best. He suggested an octopus dish with garlicky spinach and potatoes. Why not?! Turns out it was amazing – so tender and not at all chewy. And they gave us a taste of wine on the house! The sweetest!
We discovered this historic bakery because of the Rick Steves tour and we went back our last day because their pasteis de nata were one of the best we tried! They’ve been around since 1829, so it’s no surprise they have the recipe down!
Bairro Do Avillez
José Avillez is one of Portugal’s most renowned chefs and restauranteurs, and all of his restaurants came very highly recommended. Since we were near Bairro Do Avillez around lunchtime one day, we stopped in and had the best cod dish EVER. The small dish was described as “cod with cornbread and chorizo crumbs served with onion puree.” We inhaled it… and then wished we had ordered two!
Mercado de Riberia/Time Out Market
To be honest, we didn’t get any food from the restaurants here because it was so overwhelming ?But we DID try Manteigaria’s pastel de nata because that’s the one Phil tries on the Lisbon episode of Somebody Feed Phil! It was definitely one of the best we tried on the trip – right up there with Confeitaria Nacional!
Coracao De Alfama
Even though we didn’t eat dinner there, we had the best time in this little restaurant! We stumbled upon it when we were walking around near our AirBNB and enjoyed wine, bread, cheese, iberico ham, and olives. They also have fado music!
Esperanca da Se
We kept passing this adorable restaurant every time we left the Alfama neighborhood and it always smelled amazing. So, on our last day, we figured we could stray from Portuguese food and eat some Italian. We got the bruschetta and the prosciutto pizza. Absolutely delicious!
And because we were in Europe, and Adam is addicted to ice cream, we tried a lot of gelato. Bar Gelato had the best! It’s only about a block away from Pink Street, and their stracciatella flavor was literally heaven. YUM!
Want to remember what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Lisbon? Pin the image below!
PS. You might also like my Barcelona Travel Guide!
April 26, 2019 @ 5:48 pm
We are going to both Barcelona and Lisbon this summer. We are currently in the middle of planning out our itinerary for each day – what perfect timing to see your guides! Thanks for sharing!
April 27, 2019 @ 11:30 am
Such perfect timing!!! Let me know if you have any questions about either city – you’re going to have a blast!
May 2, 2019 @ 6:09 am
Great review – seriously will take your advice on a lot of things.
May 2, 2019 @ 7:02 am
So glad it was helpful!
May 9, 2019 @ 2:17 pm
Your posts are so helpful! We are also going to both Barcelona & Lisbon (with a few other stops in between) this summer and curious how many days you spent in each city. Right now we’re debating between 3 or 4 in each city so wanted to see if that would be too many or not enough. Looking forward to checking out your recos!
May 9, 2019 @ 2:24 pm
Hi Heidi! I’m so glad these guides are helpful – and so excited that you’re going to these exact places!! We got to Barcelona around mid-day on Saturday and stayed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We then got a flight early on Wednesday morning to Lisbon and stayed there Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We flew back to Barcelona on Saturday evening to then fly back to the states. Hope that helps! And please let me know if you do anything in these guides – I’d love to live vicariously through you!! (I already want to go back!)
May 13, 2019 @ 2:04 pm
Thank you so much! This is very helpful – I’ve already created my itinerary and have added in some of your suggestions 🙂