Lisbon Travel Guide
Lisbon might just be my favorite city in the entire world. We traveled to Portugal for our honeymoon and completely fell in love with the country. We loved it so much, that when we were at the airport, we started looking into flights for the winter holidays later that year. We ended up going to Vietnam (Hoi An Guide coming soon) instead, but would have jumped on a plane back to Portugal in a heartbeat for many reasons...
- The food is some of the best in the world
- Both Lisbon and the countryside are ridiculously charming
- The people are some of the nicest, most welcoming and genuine in the world.
- Lisbon is a magical place. It has the old world charm of a European city with it's quintessential colorful painted tiles, rolling hills and cable cars that reminded us of home.
- Everything about it is so underrated- it's like Europe's best kept secret!
A Cevicheria- One of our favorite meals in Lisbon! Expect to wait in line for a very long time, but you can order drinks in line. While it's not traditional Portuguese food, it's absolutely incredible. Many of the dishes are Peruvian (where the chef hails from), with quintessentially Portuguese ingredients. It's in the Príncipe Real neighborhood.
Decadante in The Independante hotel- Where all the cool kids in Lisbon hang. Great cocktails and modern Portuguese fare.
Time Out Market- We worried this would be a huge tourist trap, but it was such a pleasant surprise and one of the highlights of our time in Lisbon. Here you can sample almost any traditional Portuguese snack (many with a modern twist by various local chefs). The market itself is the oldest and largest market in Lisbon. Time Out took over in 2014 after winning a competition to update the space. It's like the Ferry Building in San Francisco, but in Lisbon!
Pastéis de Belém- Established in 1837, this pastry shop is the original maker of pastéis de nata (a sweet egg custard in pastry dough), the national dessert of Portugal. Each tart is made by hand, using a secret recipe in a secret room. The recipe has not changed since 1837! It's near the Jerónimos Monastery, where the recipe is from.
Local foods to try- Anything with balcalhau (salted cod), cured meats, pastéis de nata, octopus, chouriço and linguiça sausage, caldeirada (fish stew with potatoes, usually served in a giant pot), canned sardines and tuna, fresh grilled sardines, caldo verde vegetable soup. And then of course there is vino verde (a slightly effervescent white wine made of unripened grapes), port and Madeira.
My favorite food story was that of alheira, a chicken sausage. It was made in secret by Portuguese Jews after the 15th century king ordered a forced mass baptism to Christianity. It was how Jews maintained their religion secretly, while appearing to be good Portuguese Christinans. Also, the Japanese dish tempura comes from Portugal!
A Ginjinha- This teeny little bar serving Portuguese cherry liquor has been at this location since 1840. When the building was purchased and updated recently, the community rallied with the owner to keep the doors of the historic ginjinha bar open. So, instead of knocking the whole place down, the developer built around it. This is the story a proud Lisbon local told us over a glass of gijinha.
Kaffeehause- This coffeeshop is around the corner from the A Vida a Portuguesa shop and the ceramics shop. It's the perfect afternoon spot to charge up for more shopping.
Café Lisboa- A beautiful cafe by (arguably the most famous) local chef José Avillez, set in an 18th century building.
HEALTH FOOD MARKETS
Brio organic market
Celerio health food market
A Vida a Portuguesa- A gorgeous shop selling antiques and made-in-Portugal items with the most beautiful packaging. Most of the items are souvenirs, food products and items for the kitchen and home.
Ceramics shop- There is a ceramics shop around the corner from A Vida Portuguesa. I can't remember the name of it, but if you ask someone at A Vida Portuguesa or maybe at Kaffeehaus, they will be able to tell you where it is. You can purchase Bordallo Pinheiro and other made in Portugal ceramics for a fraction of the cost as in the high end stores on the main tourist drag.
Príncipe Real- An extension of the Barrio Alto neighborhood, Princípe Real is where many of the cool restaurants, bars and shops are in Lisbon. Make sure to stop in one of the Moorish kiosks in the park for an espresso.
Embaixada- A shopping center filled with shops by Portuguese shop owners, in a centuries-years-old palace, also in the Príncipe Real neighborhood.
Claudio Corallo- A beautiful coffee and chocolate shop, perfect for souvenirs.
Caza das Vellas Loreto- Our Lazy Flavors guide, Veronica, shared with us that this shop in the Barrio Alto neighborhood has been run by her family for generations. In fact, it is the oldest continually operated candle shop in the entire world (since 1789).
Lazy Flavors Food Tour- The hands-down best tour of any sort we have ever been on. We recommend it to all of our friends. You won't regret it, and they have a handful of tours available all over Portugal as well as cooking classes with local chefs.
You don't need a car in Lisbon. You can take Uber or the many beautiful cable cars. It's a great walking city as well. If you plan to leave Lisbon, I recommend renting a car. We rented an adorable Fiat convertible.
The Algarve- If you decide to go to the Algarve (the Southern coast), I recommend going in September after many of the European tourists have left. I also highly, highly recommend a meal at Evarista. It's a beautiful seafood restaurant on the Algarve coast where you select the fish you want to eat when you enter. The chef then prepares that exact fish just for you, for your meal. The Algarve is absolutely stunning, though it can become overrun by tourists in summer.
Loule or Lagos- Visiting at least one of these castle towns is an absolute must if you are visiting the south!
Alentejo- The countryside in the Southwest of Portugal. If you go here, expect a quiet and relaxing few days. I highly recommend staying at Cabeça da Cabra, a simple and absolutely stunning former schoolhouse turned boutique hotel. Spend time over breakfast with the owner, Maria- she's wonderful and has the best recommendations like Ze Inacio, a restaurant in nearby surf town Porto Covo, where we may have had the best meal of our entire trip.
Comporta- This was our first stop in Portugal. Comporta is a sleepy little coastal village with major style. Nearby there are vineyards, rice fields and fishing villages. Much of Portugal's rice comes from this area, and it's estuary makes it the perfect location for rice farms. We stayed in one of the fisherman's huts at Cabanas No Rio, where someone came to our hut every morning to make us breakfast, and we had our own little canoe, which we could ride out into the estuary to see flamingos. There was not another building or road in sight- heaven!
Porto, the Douro Valley and Sintra are all on our list for next time!
In Lisbon, we stayed at this little AirBnB in the Barrio Alto neighborhood. It was the perfect location in a beautiful, historic building.
If you have been to Lisbon, I'd love to hear your recommendations. I know we only scratched the surface, so I know we will be back!