Travel Guide // Lisbon, Portugal

october 1, 2017

Lisbon, the city of 7 hills, looks good from every angle. Set along the Tagus River, Lisbon is all bright and sunny. Sherbert colored houses, ornate azulejos (intricately painted tiles) and flowery vines paint the town. The salty perfume of grilled sardines hangs in the air for a brief moment before the coastal breeze carries it away. The bravado of traditional fado singing pours from taverns serving the finest (and incredibly affordable) Portuguese wines. Tranquil parks, trendy boutiques, and authentic restaurants will entertain all day, just make sure to make it to one of the miradouros (lookout points) by sunset for a gorgeous view and an aperitif.

 

Note: I highly recommend visiting in June, which is basically a month long celebration of the city’s patron saint - think street parties with live music, local food, and dancing all night long.

Eat // Drink

If you want a view…

  • The Insolito sits on the rooftop of a hotel. This place has amazing seafood and cocktails. Their service is also quite good and the setting is a bit eclectic boho, and very inviting. This was one of my favorite restaurants in Lisbon.

 

  • Cantinas das Freiras is quite possibly the best deal in town. Set right alongside the river, a stone's throw away from Baixa (where everything is and where you’ll likely stay), this super casual, cafeteria-style rooftop restaurant serves authentic Portuguese food on the dime exclusively on weekdays during lunch hours.  

 

  • Lost In has a cozy garden, complete with colorful couches and cushioned chairs. It feels like you’re sitting on top of the city. They serve a variety of ethnic foods and have great happy hour specials.

 

  • Chapito a Mesa feels like dining at a friends house, who happens to have an exceptional view of the town and river. They serve a lot of traditional Portuguese dishes.

 

  • Cafe de Garagem was my go-to for busting out a ton of work (their wifi is bang on). The view makes those admin emails a bit more palatable, yah know? They have great coffee and a snacky menu. They also serve wine and cocktails.

 

  • Memmo Alfama is the place to be on a sunny afternoon. This hotel bar and restaurant is super cool about letting non-guests take a dip in the infinity pool. Order something sparkling and be ready to show off for insta. This view is too good to keep to yourself.

 

  • Silk is the swankiest of rooftop restaurants, serving sushi and cocktails in an intimate setting.

 

  • Park is situated on the rooftop of a parking garage in the center of town - it is always full and has a great international vibe.

 

Try Pasteis de Nata, the Crème brûlée of the pastry world...

  • Orion Patisserie was by far my favorite in town for pasteis de nata. Located in between Baixa Chiado and Barrio Alto, Orion is unassuming, but hiding in plain sight. These puppies are super crispy on the outside, with a rich, sweet, and creamy center. I believe their pastry also has a pinch of salt, which distinguishes it from the rest.

 

  • Manteigeria is lauded by locals as “the best in town”. Their pasteis de nata live up to the name - manteiga is the Portuguese word for butter, and their pastry is super buttery.

 

  • Pasteis de Belém is the birthplace of pasteis de nata. A 15 minute car ride out of town doesn’t stop the tourist from flocking. Now, the pasteis de nata were great (they were at every place I tried them - even bought from the supermarket), but I preferred the two places in town. Still, it’s a good spot for a snack after checking out the Belém Tower.

For cocktails and other craft beverages…

  • Cinco Lounge is sophisticated, uber cool, and imaginative, but not at all pretentious. The vibe is warm and intimate  and the bartenders are attentive and incredibly comical.

 

 

  • Double 9 anything you order will have immaculate presentation and taste like the best cocktail you’ve ever had.

 

  • Procopio feels like a secret. This speakeasy-esque lounge seems to be undiscovered by tourists - locals dominate the clientele.

 

 

  • Duque Brewery brews the only beer you want to drink while in Portugal. It’s located just off the main drag in Barrio Alto. Order the Imperial Stout and thank me later.

 

  • A Capela is located in the bustling nightlife quarter of Barrio Alto. The atmosphere is a little more sophisticated than elsewhere on the strip

 

  • Fox Trot is an art nouveau style cocktail lounge with a lovely little garden for warm Lisbon evenings.


 

Ice cream…

 

  • Gelato Therapy has super fresh flavors, like rosemary and honey, Perfect for those sunny Lisbon days.

 

  • Nanarella has creamy Italian style gelato. Simply delish.

 

  • Gelato Mú has some great seasonal flavors and all the classics.Their chocolate is to die for, especially paired with one of their fruity flavors.

Other favorites...

  • Clube de Jornalistas was the best dining experience I had in Lisbon (and really anywhere in the world). The restaurant is house in an authentically decorated, historic home away from the touristic center of town. I felt like a guest at a dinner party as I was presented with a glass of bubbly upon arrival. The owner was my waiter and he went above and beyond to make me feel welcome. Including letting me try 15 different wines and liquors, custom portions of their signature dishes (smaller servings, so I could try more dishes as a solo diner), and dessert on the house. And I noticed he somehow offered the same level of service for every table. It  was so personal, but not stuffy. This was an outstanding experience. Do not pass up this gem.

 

  • Restaurante 33 is housed in the cutest pink building with an intimate courtyard patio. They serve classic, Portuguese dishes.

 

  • Chipie la Gallete is your brunch spot. You’ll want to take home the pretty ceramic dish your crepe is served on - and you can! They sell them.

 

 

  • A Cevicheria - you will have to wait, but it will be worth it. This was the best ceviche I have ever had.

 

  • Sea Me is a Japanese/Portuguese fusion restaurant. Try the grilled sardine sushi.

  • Cervejaria Ramiro is a classic, Portuguese seafood restaurant. Ask for their local specialties - the servers are very knowledgeable.

See // Do
 

  • Spend an afternoon in the park. Green spaces can be found throughout Lisbon, as a great escape from the busy city. My favorite park is Jardim da Estrela. On nice days you’ll see locals of all ages spread out on the park lawn with drinks and snacks.

 

  • LX Factory is a super cool complex of boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants. They often hold events and festivals, as well. Don’t pass up Livraria Ler Devagar - a bookshop and eclectic art gallery.

 

 

  • Stroll around Comércio Square Praça do Comércio. Located right off the river, this town square is decorated with statues and impressive buildings, housing shops and restaurants.

 

  • Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga has an impressive display of art and historical artifacts from all over the world - “souvenirs” from the Portuguese Age of Discovery, along with works by Portuguese artists through the ages.

Shop // Splurge

 

  • Amelie au Theatre is a posh little shop carrying the finest Portuguese designer fashions. The styles tend to be girly and fun, yet classic.

 

 

  • A Outra Face da Lua is a vintage shop and cafe. Have a cocktail and a snack before browsing their impressive collection of retro and vintage garments.

 

  • Icon Shop sells art, fashion, and trinkets by Portuguese designers.

 

  • Loja das Conservas is a shop with floor-to-ceiling tins of colorful sardines and other canned fish.

 

  • Timeout Market Lisboa is a food hall showcasing local delicacies and top chefs. While I found the food stalls to be hit-or-miss, I kept coming back for the wine and liquor store housed inside. There’s also a little souvenier shop with great books, cooking supplies, and other trinkets.

 

  • The Manipedi has the most professional service and is in the cutest little shop. Choose a bright color for your polish to match the palette of Lisbon.

Day Trip // Weekend Away

  • Praia da Ursa is the one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever been too, but it is a bit of a hike to get there. There are no kiosks or restaurants, so bring a cooler and a picnic for the day. Make sure to check out Cabo da Roca while you’re in the area - this is the most western point of the continent of Europe.

 

  • The Beaches of Arrabida reminded me of being on an Italian coast - absolutely gorgeous with lovely seafood eateries set on the water. Because there is no public transportation, the area is relatively free of mass tourism.

 

  • Cascais is a beach town accessible by a 40 minute train ride from Lisbon. It was quite crowded during peak tourism season, but the beaches are nice and there are some great restaurants in town.