Bom Dia, Lisboa! You are such a beautiful surprise.
In June we decided to take a last minute vacation. Lisbon has been on my list of places to visit for a few years, but I somehow always ended up prioritizing other cities. This time around, thankfully, we booked our tickets to Lisbon and oh what a treat we were in for.
Where to begin?! Lisbon is charming and beautiful, which probably most of you already expected that. But it is so much more than that - it's fun, filled with great restaurants and positive energy.
Getting around Lisbon
After arriving to Lisbon airport, we rented a car at the airport because we were heading down south to Algavre later on, so we drove into the city. This proved to be more trouble than its worth, because finding parking in Lisbon is not easy. There are lots of tiny, one-way streets and limited street parking. We ended up paying for parking in a garage for the 2 days, which costs as much as a roundtrip Uber trip from & to the airport. Uber is quite inexpensive in Lisbon and the airport is close to the city, so it's a good option.
Once you're in the city, I found it best to discover the city on foot. Lisbon is so beautiful and we walked by so many cool shops, restaurants and beautiful buildings along the way that I didn't mind ringing in a daily 10 kilometer walks. If you get tired though, just hop on one of the city's adorable yellow trams. They are everywhere and it's part of the Lisbon experience to ride the tram. Lisbon also has a great bus and subway system. Also, expect to climb a lot of stairs as the city is quite hilly - reminded me of San Francisco - so you'll be exercising those glutes.
IG Tip: you can snap a cute photo of the yellow tram by the Elevador Da Bica/Ancensor Da Bica. This tiny yellow cuteness runs up and down the hill, every 15 or 30 minutes and the tiny streets provide a good photo op to catch it.
Eat, drink and be merry
Unfortunately, two days wasn't enough to eat our way through Lisbon because there is just so much good food everywhere. We barely scratched the surface of the city's culinary potential, so we left wanting more...hopefully we'll come back soon. Meanwhile, here are the places we tried. Unfortunately, I didn't get to photograph every place because I was just too hungry (haha).
Seafood lovers unite. This place is just heaven and I had the best ceviche ever here...not just one ceviche, but four different ones precisely. The menu is filled with mouthwatering options, all fresh, all delicious and creative. We decided to go with the tasting menu, which includes five amazing courses for only €40. The food was exceptional, and the ambiance, the plating all just adds to the experience. Hands down, my favorite Lisbon restaurant and it should not be missed.
IG Tip: when I know I want to photograph a restaurant/cafe interior, I always get there before opening. This way I have the freedom to choose our table (always by the window) and if I'm lucky I get to take photos of the interior without guests. Nautrally, always ask the staff if they are ok with that, politeness goes a long way.
Time Out Market
Time Out Market is a food hall, similar to New York's Chelsea Market or LA's Grand Central Market. It is filled with great small restaurant kiosks ranging from traditional Portuguese to Asian cuisine to cafes. It's a great way to sample different dishes without committing to just one place.
Dom Afonso o Gordo
We stumbled into this restaurant by sheer luck for dinner one evening. It was an absolutely delicious find, we tried three dishes - cod fish steak, braised pork cheeks and duck leg confit - and they were all divine. Sadly it was night-time, so I couldn't take photos but trust me when I say it's a must-try place....especially if you are traveling with a hungry man, because the portions were very generous.
Fabrica da Nata
One thing you will definitely learn when visiting Lisbon is what 'nata' is. Oh, heavenly goodness! Pastel de nata is Portugal's cherished egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon. It's made of a thin flaky dough that serves as a delicious cup housing the golden creamy egg yolk & sugar filling. Sounds strange?! It definitely does at first, until you take the first bite and then you are hooked for good. One of the most delicious pastries I ever had, so delicious that we ate at least two of them a day. They were delicious everywhere, but Fabrica da Nata was our favorite place.
Vegans and vegetarians, this is a great place for breakfast or lunch. We had a delicious omelette here with all sorts of goodies. Comoba is also by the foot of Elevador da Bica, so you can swing by after riding the tiny tram.
H10 Rooftop Bar
There are plenty great bars in Lisbon, and I can't claim my recommendation is the best...but you have to admit, H10's rooftop corner is stunning. I am guilty of choosing places based on their interior, but I can't help it, I love beautiful design. We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed a few cocktails overlooking the terracotta roofs Lisbon.
All Lisbon is beautiful, but that probably doesn't help you with your planning. I won't be writing a full list of "sights to see" in Lisbon, because there are plenty of travel sites for that. We found ourselves spending most of the time in two neighborhoods, so I wanted to highlight those.
Alfama stretches between Castelo de San Jorge and the Tejo river. It's a lovely neighborhood with tiny alleyways, tiled houses and lots of steep stairs. I like to explore by walking around without an aim and we did just that. We found beautiful viewpoints, one of them a park that offers an amazing vantage point of the old town, its called Miradouro de Santa Luzia and just next to it the Visigothic Wall.
IG Tip: on every trip I try to get up for sunrise at least one time. I am a terrible morning person and have a hard time with getting up, but it's always worth it. Sunrise is such a special time of day. The world still sleeps and the light is magical. When we found this park in the afternoon, I knew I wanted to get up the next morning and have it all to myself, without the crowd.
Bairro Alto is lively, packed with restaurants and cafes and lots of yellow trams. By now you must realize I have a slight obsession with yellow trams. The streets of Bairro Alto around Elevador Da Bica turn into a huge party at night time, with vendors grilling meats and sausages and people dancing on the streets. Walking around is also the best way to discover the neighborhood and stopping along the way to eat at A Cevicheria and grab a nata for a snack.
One last gem
One special gem for closing - Embaixada is a beautiful concept store housed in the Ribeiro da Cunha palace. We came for the murals more than shopping itself, because an absolutely gorgeous staircase this is?! It's finding these little things, off the travel books, that make traveling so much fun for me.
I hope this post will convince you to add Lisbon to the top of your Euro-trip list. It honestly quickly became one of my favorite European cities and we left with nothing but beautiful memories.