Travel Guide to Lisbon
I know I said I would get out the travel guide to Lisbon a couple weeks after the Barcelona guide, but if you’ve been following me, I mentioned that I wasn’t doing well in September and had to take a step back. Then the holidays happened. But I’m now recharged for the new year, and I’m ready to start this travel guide to Lisbon!
Our Trip To Lisbon, Portugal
To recap, we went to Lisbon in mid-May. Overall, we took a trip to Spain & Portugal and our itinerary consisted of Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Porto. We spent a total of 4 days and 3 nights in Lisbon. We flew from Barcelona and the flight was about an hour and a half. Overall, I thought it was the perfect amount of days. We were able to see a lot of the major sites without feeling rushed.
It is such a colorful city! People were right when they say it is the San Francisco of Europe. It is hilly, cable cars (trams), and beautiful tilework. Everything for the most part is walkable, but I do recommend wearing comfortable shoes! A lot of the streets are cobblestone and because a lot of people have walked on it, it smoothed out the cobblestone which can make some of them slippery. So beware!
Things to Know
Overall, everyone speaks English. They don’t do siesta, but there are some restaurants that prefer to only open during lunch and dinner times. Dinner also starts pretty late. An early dinner is 8pm, while most start having dinner around 10pm.
Foods to Try
The cuisine from Portugal is delicious and a lot is seafood inspired. There are several ways to make cod, and each one is delicious.
- Pastel de Nata – you can’t miss these. They are egg tarts and they are AMAZINGLY delicious. It pretty much is a staple in Portugal (especially in Lisbon). They’re in every restaurant and cafe. Best place to get them is in Belem at Pasteis de Belem (where Pastel de Nata originated from). It is worth the hype!
- Octopus (or pretty much any seafood or shellfish).
- Bacalhau A Bras – This is basically shredded cod sauted with potatoes and onions.
- Bolinhos de Bacalhau – They are codfish fritters.
- Sardines – if you are not into them at least get the cans as souvenirs. They are so cute!
- Ginjinha – It is a Portuguese liqueur made out of Ginja berries. It’s not too sweet or too strong. The traditional way to drink it is by taking a shot out of a chocolate cup! There are stands throughout the city, and we found the Ginjinha stand at Praca do Comercio. If you take the shot from a chocolate cup, you get unlimited shots – naturally we did (we limited ourselves to 2). And it was delicious to eat the chocolate after!
Travel Guide To Lisbon
Places to Stay
We stayed at Hotel Lis Baiza. It is located in the heart of Lisbon and you can easily get to any neighborhood. We went with a small room, although do-able, part of me wished we reserved a larger room. Our room can fit a queen bed, but with our luggage (2 check-in bags and 2 carry-on bags), it got tight. But if space is not an issue, the small room works fine! The hotel does offer larger rooms. I love that the hotel is connected to Taverna De Lis (authentic Portuguese cuisine). Aside from our mistake of picking a small room, we had a positive experience!
Below are other hotels we considered:
Places to See
- Rossio Square
One of the popular squares in Lisbon, also called Pedro IV Square after Pedro IV, King of Portugal. It is located in downtown Lisbon by the Rossio train station. It is known for the wave-like pattern tiles. Several cafes and shops surround the square.
- Rossio Station
One of the main train stations in Lisbon that is located downtown. This is the train station that can take you to Sintra, Portugal. The balcony of the train station has an amazing view of downtown. Right by the train station, there is a little Ginjinha stand, where you can take shots of this Lisbon alcoholic spirit or buy a bottle.
- Covento do Camo (view)
Is a section right by the Carmo Convent that has an amazing view of Lisbon. In general, there are a lot of hidden places where you can get an amazing view of Lisbon and this is one of them. Just walk around the convent and you will eventually see it. Trust me, you’ll know when you find it. Here is a list of other places with breathtaking views.
- Bairro Alto
It is the oldest and most traditional neighborhood in Lisbon, and has a very artsy feel to it. There are hidden gems of colorful buildings! It is also known for its nightlife.
Is the neighborhood known for Lisbon’s downtown. This is where you’ll find the most well known plazas and tourist sites.
- Comercio Plaza (Praca do Comercio)
It is the plaza that overlooks the Tagus River and it is surrounded by the Ribeira Palace (the yellow building around it). There are several restaurants and shops that surround it. On weekend mornings, there is an outdoor market filled with local artisanal vendors. There is also a Ginjinha stand where you can take a shot or buy a bottle of the Ginjinha liqueur.
It is a town located outside of Lisbon. You will need to take the train to get there. This town is known for its historic castles and palaces. You can seriously spend at least a day here exploring all castles and towns. Unfortunately, we only had time for a half day.
- Pena Palace
The most well known castle in Sintra and it sits on top of the Sintra Mountains. The castles are very colorful and looks like it came straight out of a Disney classic movie. Fun fact, the castles at Pena Palace inspired Walt Disney’s castle in Disneyland.
Another old Lisbon neighborhood. It is said to have a romantic feel to it, which I guess we can kind of tell. It is also known for all the trams (cable cars). You can find the Castle Sao Jorge in this district.
- Lisbon Cathedral
This cathedral is located in Alfama, and you can walk inside the cathedral and explore it for free.
- Elevador Baixa (Castelo) view
This is the elevator known to have one of the best views of Lisbon. I recommend you get there early to avoid the line. The line can be very long!
- Praca do Municipio
The plaza where the municipal building is located. Just a nice square to stop by on your way to Comercio Plaza or Chiado. It also makes a pretty back drop for photos.
A town west of Lisbon. You will need to take the train to get there, but it is a quick ride! This place is known for Pasteis de Belem, where the famous Lisbon pastry Pastel de Nata originated from.
- Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
This monastery is located in Belem and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is right next to Pasteis de Belem.
- Tropical Botanical Garden
This botanical garden is in Belem. It is a small botanical garden, but a very pretty one! There are peacocks roaming freely in this botanical garden. My first time seeing a real, live peacock!
- Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanario de Lisboa)
This is Lisbon’s aquarium. Tre loves going to aquariums and when he heard that they are the largest indoor aquarium in Europe, we had to check it out. This also requires taking a train to get there. It is still in Lisbon, but farther north.
Places to Eat/Drink/Snack
- Taverna De Lis
This restaurant serves very traditional Portuguese dishes. It has a rustic feel to it. It is connected to Hotel Lis Baixa.
- Pop Cereal Cafe
This is a unique cafe and they carry every cereal possible. Even those that are rare and hard to find. Tre is a big cereal fanatic and was loving this place. They create several concoctions with their cereals including toppings. Tre got the Chocolate mix and said it was very delicious. I of course, tried their latte and enjoyed it.
- Namur Baixa
A small cafe where we snacked and had their pastel de nata and pastries. It was very good.
- Confeitaria Nacional
This was a popular pastry place. They have several different traditional Portuguese pastries and bread. Some say their pastel de nata is the best. I thought there were other places that have better pastel de natal in my opinion. However, their breads were good!
- Confectionary Queen Amelia (Rainha Dona Amelia Confeitaria)
Another small cafe where they served sandwiches and traditional pastries. I loved their pastries and they carried some traditional pastries that I didn’t see other cafes have.
- Ministerium Cantina
This was located in the Comercio Plaza. We loved the outdoor seating. The food was good and served tapas style.
- Fabrica Lisboa
Went here for breakfast and we loved it. It is a cute coffee shop that happened to serve breakfast food. I loved the funky decor!
- Pasteis de Belem
This is where the pastel de natas originated from. Everyone claims they have the best pastel de natas and it is so true! It was really worth the hype. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. They also served other Portuguese pastries and food.
- Bairro do Avillez
This was my favorite place for dinner! Oh my, every single dish was delicious! It was a modern flair to traditional Portuguese food, and they serve tapas style. You will definitely need a reservation!
It’s a cute gelato shop, and their gelatos are so good! We were full from dinner, but immediately had room for gelatos after we had a sample.
Day Trips From Lisbon
There are several places you can go for day trips. For instance, you can go to Sintra to see all the castles (like the infamous Pena Palace), and Belem (where Pastel De Nata started and the all time best pastel del nata). It’s so easy to take day trips from Lisbon because the train schedules are pretty easy to follow.
If you want to go to Belem, there are a couple ways to get there. You can take the tram (cable car) or the train. We took the train. You have to get on at the Cais do Sodre station, and it is only 3 stops away. There is a lot to see in Belem. There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We spent half a day there to explore some of the main site, and of course to eat at Pasteis de Belem, which is a must! I recommend leaving Lisbon early and heading straight to Pasteis de Belem before exploring Belem. Their line gets busy and long real fast.
Sintra is a town 25 km away from Lisbon. Therefore, you will definitely need to take a train there. You will have to go to Rossio Station, and it is the last stop. This town is known for its palaces and castles. Definitely devote a day to explore. I don’t think there is time to see all of the places and castles in one day, so if you only have a day I recommend thinking ahead of time which ones you want to prioritize seeing. We went only to see Pena Palace.
Quick Recap Of Our Lisbon Itinerary
If you are new here, in most of my travel guides, I share a quick recap of our itinerary.
- Lunch at Taverna De Lis
- Rossio Square & Rossio Station
- Covento do Camo
- Walked around Bairro Alto
- Snacked and coffee break at Pop Cereal Cafe
- Walked Around Baixa-Chiado
- Pastel de Nata at Namur Baixa
- Comercio Plaza
- Breakfast at Confeitaria Nacional
- Rossio Station to go to Sintra
- Pena Palace and Park
- Lunch at the Pena Palace’s restaurant
- Walked around Alfama
- Snacked at Confectionary Queen Amelia (Rainha Dona Amelia Confeitaria)
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Walked around Alfama some more
- Elevador Baixa (Castelo)
- Dinner at Ministerium Cantina
- Breakfast at Fabric Lisboa
- Praca do Municipo
- Pasteis de Belem
- Walked around Belem – also checked out Mosterio dos Jeronimos
- Tropical Botanical Garden
- Lunch at Oceanarium’s cafe – food was really good!
- Dinner at Bairro do Avillez
- Gelato at Santini
Hope you all find this travel guide to Lisbon to be helpful! As mentioned, overall this is a small city and you can definitely see a lot in a short amount of time. However, I do recommend taking day trips. I really wished I planned more days there for more day trips to Cascais, Cabo da Rosa, and Obidos. They’re all short rides from Lisbon and navigating the train was very easy!