We had been wanting to go to Portugal for quite some time and I had high expectations for Lisbon. The city itself is pretty rad. It’s sea views, steep streets, and trolley cars reminded me of San Francisco. However, when you travel long-term, normal life problems seem to creep in your vacay-mindset from time to time. Poor Lisbon got the brunt of reality. We happened to be in this pretty city during a heatwave, while being sick, and while in the middle of a big work flop. But as I reflect on our time in Lisbon, there are some great memories.
Random highlight of our Lisbon trip: We were walking down the street and saw people excavating skeletons!
Where to Stay In Lisbon
Due to the increase in the cost of accommodations in Europe during the Summer, our backpacker budget landed us in more shared living situations than we usually like to do. Fortunately, we lucked out and our hosts/roommates were gone for most of the week so we had the entire, gorgeous flat to ourselves! The views were great and it was on the top floor with lots of natural night. Check it out on airbnb here. The neighborhood left a little to be desired in terms of waste management but it was centrally located.
Haven’t tried out Airbnb yet? Click here to get a $40 travel credit.
What to Do in Lisbon
Try Portuguese liqueur at A Ginjinha Espinheira.
This bar is tiny and super old-school. The liqueur is cherry flavored and surprisingly yummy!
Watch a Movie at the Rooftop Cinema at Cine Society
We didn’t get to do this but it looked awesome. There were little blankets and popcorn that made it feel super cozy.
Walk Down to Plaza del Comercio
What’s a European city without its plazas? Grab an ice cream and stroll down to the water.
Things you can skip guilt-free: Campo de Santa Clara Saturday Flea Market. There were a few nice things but it was pretty junky.
Where to Eat in Lisbon
Lisbon has quite the food scene. And it is reasonably priced for the most part compared to the rest of Europe. We frequented 8 – The Health Lounge for delicious vegan fare. The bowls are almost too pretty to eat and they have charcoal smoothies! For local cuisine check out O Eurico. The line is out the door so go early or late. And of course, you have to try Pastel de Nata, a local pastry, from the famous Pasteis de Belem. The line here is also crazy but it is mostly for takeout so go inside to sit down. Bowls and Bar is another veggie friendly find and La Puttana has great pizza. Although the real foodie highlight here is the TimeOut market. Named after the restaurant review site, this indoor market was fabulous! We tried some sushi but the options were endless and the aesthetic was on point.
As I mentioned, we had a few mishaps while we were in Lisbon so we were ready to let loose one night. Fortunately, the nightlife scene is awesome! The streets of Barrio Alto are filled with restaurants, fado clubs, and tiny pubs and it is cheap! The party spills into the street by the trolley car and it quite lively. For a slightly more sophisticated vibe head to Cais do Sodre. This area has lots of cool bars as well. Pensao Amor is a unique one as it used to be a former brothel. Think fur walls and mirrored ceilings. For a less Hugh Hefner-esque feel head to Pharmacia for a sunset cocktail on the lawn.
Day Trips from Lisbon
We took a day trip to Sintra by train and it really is a trip back in time to a palace-filled land. We visited two of the palaces, Quinta de la Regaleira and Pena Palace. Quinta de la Regaleira had massive grounds that were super filled with hidden caves and tunnels. It was very fun to explore. And we got to go down into the Masonic Initiation Well which was creepy cool. It wasn’t as moss colored and green as I expected. Perhaps because it was so hot and dry when we visited.
We didn’t enjoy Pena Palace as much. It seemed like a weak imitation version of a real palace and it was so crowded we were in a queue filing through the entire time. Quinta de la Regaleira was also crowded but more spacious so it didn’t seem as bad.
We had a yummy lunch with craft beer at Villa 6 and then it was time to head back to Lisbon to catch our bus to Sevilla. While it is do-able in one day, I think an overnight trip would be much more relaxed and you could see more palaces.
There are a few nice beaches near Lisbon and since we weren’t heading south to the famed Algarve Coast, we opted for a day trip by train. We visited Cova do Vapor. I had read that after taking a train and ferry you can walk to the beach. It was pretty far and hot so we stuck out a thumb for good luck and got picked up by a nice young man headed beach-bound. The beach was really wide and pretty. We walked into the small fishing village and had a delicious octopus lunch!
It took a while to get there between the train ride and ferry so I think arriving by car would be better if you have the option. You get on the ferry in the neighborhood of Belem. That’s where you can try the aforementioned pastries and check out the huge Jerónimos Monastery.
Want more information to plan your trip to Lisbon? Check out the Portugal Lonely Planet here.
Check out all of our Portugal recommendations here and read about our entire summer in Europe here.
Lost in Lisbon,