Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is Europe’s sunniest capital. Need we say more? It’s also one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to 1200 BC. Do you like delicious but seriously cheap wine? Seafood? World history? Art galleries? Viewpoints and patios? Do you enjoy wandering aimlessly around pretty places?
According to Time Out magazine, the city on seven hills has 17 official viewpoints, 182 art galleries, 7 Michelin star restaurants, and over 100 parks and gardens. The closest beach is 28 minutes away.
The more we travel, the more we realize there are so many different ways to experience a city. And Lisbon in particular has a lot to offer. So while we don’t claim to know all there is to know about Lisbon, we do know that we loved it.
We spent 7 nights in Lisbon, but took a few day trips in the middle. See what we did below.
- Day 1: Cascais, Rossio Square
- Day 2: Óbidos, Comércio Square
- Day 3: Lisbon, Time Out Market, Noobai bar, Cerveteca Brewery, LostIn restaurant, Baixo-Chiado area, Lady of the Mount Viewpoint
- Day 4 & 5: Sintra
- Day 6: Alfama neighborhood, National Pantheon, Lisbon Cathedral, Martim Moniz square
- Day 7: Belem, Campo de Ourique market, Park Bar, Carmo Convent, Topo Chiado bar
We landed in Lisbon mid-day and took a taxi straight to our AirBNB. Our host gave us the grand tour of our top level apartment overlooking Lisbon’s rooftops.
We stayed in the Chiado neighborhood, near Carmo Square, and felt like it was a great, central location in perfect walking distance of metros and restaurants.
After the long flight, we thought it would be a good idea to head to a beach, so we ditched Lisbon and took a 45 minute train to Cascais.
Getting back from Cascais in the evening, we wandered through Rossio Square and the surrounding streets before calling it a night.
It was our first full day to be in Lisbon, but because museums and other fun oddities are usually closed on Sunday, we decided to ditch Lisbon (again) and visit Óbidos for the day.
Back in Lisbon around 5pm, we rested before finding Duque Brewpub for a sandwich and beer. We walked south towards Comércio Square and sat along the river.
We wandered through Lisbon and found a small bar just down the street from our Airbnb. We drank wine and Jameson and ate dessert before turning in early, excited for the next full day in Lisbon.
The famous Tram 28 was first on our list (there are multiple trams with “28” on the front). This old yellow screeching tram system is said to be the ticket if you want to sit down and enjoy a ride through some of the most popular neighborhoods of Lisbon.
The problem is, everyone has the ticket, especially mid-morning during the summer months. This morning we decided to bypass the line of well over 100 people and kept to exploring on foot.
Whenever our plans go awry, we usually default to finding food. So we walked south to find Time Out Market. It’s a hip and trendy food hall near the Cais do Sodré train station. Come for a snack or a meal, or just drinks and gifts to take home to your foodie brother.
After delicious Asian food, we walked east along the Tagus river and stopped for a drink at a small pop-up bar just west of Monumento al Gallo.
The hot sun burned our Minnesotan shoulders. It was the perfect afternoon to bar hop, so we started at Noobai, a rooftop bar Ali found online.
We sat on a cushioned bench in the shade, listening to foreign music, overlooking hundreds of orange rooftops and the 25 de Abril Bridge (an ode to Portugal’s newfound independence). Like the other bars in Portugal, Noobai served up big gin & tonics here. It was the perfect spot for an afternoon drink.
We also drank a flight of beers at Cerveteca Brewery in the Príncipe Real neighborhood. We missed it, but would have also loved to have gone to Quimera (Chimera) Brewpub to drink some ales in the 18th century coach tunnel.
Afterwards, we walked to LostIn, an Indian inspired cafe-restaurant and bar in the Principe Real neighborhood. It’s chic but practical–servers provide fleece blankets to patrons on chilly days.
There are open air cafes all over the city, but particularly a high concentration in the Baixo-Chiado area.
That evening, we climbed a million stairs to the highest point in the neighborhood, Lady of the Mount Viewpoint. Bring snacks or a drink to enjoy as you watch the sun set over the city.
We spent 2 days galavanting around Sintra, the most popular day trip out of Lisbon.
One of best places to spend a day wandering is the Alfama neighborhood, Lisbon’s oldest child. It was once the Arab district, with narrow maze like alleys, steep stairways and stone arches.
Being the oldest quarters in Lisbon, Alfama is known for many things, but especially it’s fado houses, trams, and churches.
The National Pantheon provides great views of the city from the observation deck. It’s a cheap ticket to climb the stairs and a great way to get out of the heat.
Terracotta rooftops, pastel-colored houses, tiled exteriors, and narrow balconies with jungles of potted plants–all things Portuguese.
Alfama is home to many churches, including the Lisbon Cathedral. If you’re bent on riding the famous trams, we suggest catching a ride later in the day at an inconspicuous stop to avoid crowds.
If trams aren’t your thing and you’d like a more personal tour, hire a tuk tuk to drive you around town (pictured left, behind the tram)!
After getting lost and draining all of our energy in Alfama, we walked to Yak and Yeti for lunch, an Indian restaurant suggested by a friend (very good!).
We walked back to our Airbnb to rest and organize our things. About an hour later we headed back to Alfama to meet with our tour guide and professional photographer, Emanuele. He walked us through streets we did not see that morning, and gave us photography tips along the way.
We booked Emanuele through Airbnb experiences.
We ended the tour with a drink and dinner in Martim Moniz square. We walked back up the hills to our Airbnb, following trams along the way.
On our last day in Lisbon, we took to the Belem neighborhood–just a quick train ride west of the downtown area.
We didn’t go inside the Tower of Belem but suggest doing so during the off season. The tower was built in the early 1500’s as a line of defense for the old city. There are canons inside!
Both the Monastery (not pictured) and Tower are UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their involvement with Portuguese maritime discoveries. We did not spend enough time in Belem, for the tour buses took over and our zest to join wasn’t there. So we left for the Campo de Ourique neighborhood and market.
At the Campo de Ourique market, we dined on fresh iced tea and pasta from one of the variety of vendors. Come for lunch, a drink, or to buy something to make at home. This is a locals place, and much less touristy than Time Out Market.
After lunch, we found the inconspicuous Park Bar, a rooftop oasis on top of a parking garage.
Back in the Chiado neighborhood near our Airbnb, we stopped to tour the Carmo Convent.
The Roman Catholic convent was built between the 1300’s and 1400’s. The gothic structure endured damage from the famous 1755 earthquake, and though some parts have been rebuilt, look at this place–it feels like a graveyard.
Right behind the convent, we visited the Topo Chiado bar and restaurant.
The wrought-iron elevator above, Elevador de Santa Justa was built in 1902 to connect the downtown area (Baixa) to Carmo Square. If you’re unwilling to wait in lines to take the elevator, the Topo Chiado provides just as awesome views.
And on our final evening in Lisbon, we took our last walk through the Chiado neighborhood, watching tuk tuks fly by and snapping a photo of our favorite neighbor.
If you have any questions about our experience in Lisbon, email us!