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Your Ultimate Guide to Lisbon, Portugal

In November 2023, my partner and I went on our first international trip that wasn’t an all-inclusive resort or within North America. Portugal will always hold a special place in our heart because of that, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Below you’ll find our exact itinerary along with any helpful notes from our experiences and links for anything specific mentioned. You’ll also find crowdsourced suggestions that we weren’t able to experience while we were there, but I wanted to include so you had all of the notes we had from my Instagram community of over 110,000 friends.

First up, the general recommendations. I’ll list any we visited, followed by recommendations from others we weren’t able to get to.

Below that, you’ll find our exact 4-day itinerary for Lisbon including a Belem visit, and Sintra.

Lisbon Recommendations

Coffee Shops & Breakfast Spots

We visited & recommend:

  • Dear Breakfast: we went to two different locations, absolutely delicious + vibes
  • Hello kristoff: smaller spot, great breakfast or coffee to go
  • Heim Cafe: get a window seat facing the street!
  • Comoba lisboa: great vibes but awkward tables if you get the small, low ones
  • Pastéis de Belém: for iconic pastries (pastéis de nata)
  • Espress-O Bar: good option for an early day, classic takeaway spot

Recommended by the community:

  • Breakfast Lovers
  • Nicholas: best breakfast sandwiches
  • Seventh Brunch
  • Janis cafe
  • Augusta coffee
  • Copenhagen Coffee Lab
  • “A Padaria Portuguesa”: some of the best baked goods; Pao de Deus (God’s Bread – it is truly heavenly!)

Restaurants

We visited & recommend:

  • Oficio: Michelin restaurant, unique experience
  • TimeOut Market: tons of vendors, food court style
  • Di Amici: Italian in Belem
  • Java: rooftop Mediterranean; hummus was incredible, burrata and kabobs

Ones we didn’t get a chance to explore, recommended by the community:

  • Ponte Final: a restaurant you take a boat to; locals told us it’s overrated but you get to watch Lisbon from across the water; apparently It was featured on Somebody Feed Phil
  • Leonetta’s: Italian
  • Silk Club: best sushi and view (pricier and has a dress code)
  • A Cevicheria by Chef Kiko
  • Park (rooftop bar with great views)
  • Faz trio
  • Ritalinos 
  • A Nossa Case 
  • Solar du Duque (reserve in advance and request a table outside on their patio): some of the oldest steps in the city
  • Sea Me: pick your own seafood
  • Root Tapas: bar for tasty Asian food on green street 
  • Páteo: Barrio do Alto – outstanding meal!!! You’ll likely need a reservation for this. It’s such a cool spot with every room being a different type of restaurant.
  • Quermesse: traditional and just genuinely good Portuguese food
  • Invicta: small and intimate but SO delicious; very traditional food 
  • A Merendeira: best bread with chorizo (a staple) and traditional collard soup (calde verde)
  • Bonjardim: tastiest chicken and nice beer and French fries
  • Ginjinha Sem Rival: classic old school place serving their local cherry liquor that they drink at all hours of the day
  • Manteigaria: for the best custard tarts
  • O Trev: their famous/traditional sandwich
  • Airbnb food tour in Alfama: fun and a great way to try local Portuguese food

Here are some of the foods you need to try while in Portugal: fresh grilled sardines/mackerel, cod served many different ways (“bacalhau”), bifana sandwiches (delicious pork with mustard in a fresh Portuguese bun), BBQ-ed piri piri chicken, octopus salad, seafood rice (“arroz de marisco”) and starter cheeses/olives always.

And while we’re not big nightlife people, here are some recommendations our community offered for going out:

  • Sky Bar at Tivoli has a beautiful view of Lisbon at Sunset!
  • The waterfront/pier in Lisbon: stunning at sunset and they have little kiosks all along the water where you can drinks and sit
  • Cafe Park: this bar on top of a parking garage! Fun and cool
  • Barrio Alto: the general/best going out area – packed with bars and people just go in and out of them to buy drinks and walk around
  • The Pink Street: pink cobble stone on the ground and a few bars

Here is exactly how we spent our days in Lisbon, Portugal. If you want even more recommendations of what to see and do in Lisbon that we didn’t do ourselves, scroll to the bottom for the full community recommendations!

Exploring Lisbon: A 4-Day Itinerary

Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal, beckons with its colorful streets, rich history, and delectable cuisine. Join us on a journey through this enchanting city as we recount our four-day escapade, filled with culinary delights, cultural excursions, and unexpected encounters.

Day 1: A Michelin Meal & Exploring core Lisbon

Our Lisbon adventure began midday after an overnight flight. We checked into our accommodation near the iconic Pink Street on Rua Ferragial. Our Airbnb was cute and in a perfect area as a home base. My only ‘warning’ with this specific spot was that you can hear the partying on Pink Street all through the night. There are really lovely windows you can open up for some fresh air, but we had to close them at night to lessen the noise. Once it’s closed, it wasn’t too bad but they do party until the early morning hours…even during the week days!

If you want to check out our exact Airbnb, you can find it here.

Eager to explore despite the intermittent rain, we indulged in a late brunch at Dear Breakfast. The cozy atmosphere, coupled with delicious offerings like eggs benedict and acai bowls, provided the perfect start to our journey.

We shared a halloumi toast with red pepper hummus, cinnamon, maple nuts, and honey. We tried to get this later at another location, and the staff had no idea what we were referencing! It was so good.

Our favourite Dear Breakfast location was this one, address Calçada de São Francisco 35, 1200-201 Lisboa, Portugal. Get the window seats upstairs and watch the famous tram head up the street! They had fabulous cappucinos (love Europe for that!), and the perfect vibe to kick things off.

As the rain subsided, we ventured out to discover Lisbon’s charms. From the grandeur of Commerce Square to the quaint beauty of Alfama, every corner revealed a new facet of the city’s allure. We meandered through narrow streets, popped into charming shops, and marvelled at the architecture that blends the old with the new. Alfama is a great area to wander on your first day, you’ll run into a lot of iconic tourist spots naturally and get your bearings for the city.

You don’t need much of an itinerary or plan for the day, but you’ll see a lot of the main spots!

I would recommend seeing the Commerce Square during the day and at night! Totally different vibes – nighttime was super magical.

For dinner, we followed a recommendation from a friend to dine at Oficio, a Michelin-starred restaurant just a short walk from our Airbnb. It was the only night there were reservations available, so we jumped on it! The culinary experience exceeded our expectations, with each dish showcasing the chef’s creativity and skill. Some of our favourite dishes were the beef on crispies, garlic prawns, leeks, sardines, and the white chocolate dessert. They had an option to let the chef pick a combination of the small plates and would definitely recommend this as we got to try lots without having to make decisions!

The food was great, but the atmosphere, interior architecture, and staff was really what made it top tier for us.

We returned to our cozy Airbnb, content and ready for the adventures that awaited us.

Day 2: Pastries, Palaces, and a Sunset Cruise in Belem

Our second day in Lisbon promised more exploration and culinary delights. After a leisurely breakfast at Heim Cafe, we made our way to the vibrant TimeOut Market, sampling local treats from the outdoor vendors along the way.

We decided we were going to walk from our Airbnb near Pink Street all the way to Belem. There were some places we wanted to stop along the way, and we figured we could grab an Uber if we changed our mind at any point, but it was a great way to keep exploring!

Our next stop was LX Factory, a creative hub housed in a former industrial complex, where we browsed shops and soaked in the artistic atmosphere.

You have to stop at the bookstore, Livaria ler devager. It’s absolutely magical and a really cute spot for videos if you’re a book lover! We missed it on the first trip, so we went back another day to see it and discovered more shops upstairs at LX Factory too. I ended up getting a hat from a cool local skateboarding brand too.

No visit to Lisbon is complete without indulging in pastéis de nata, and we savored these delectable custard tarts at Pastéis de Belém. I don’t think my community would have forgiven me if we didn’t try our first ones from here…it’s iconic as the original pastéis de nata makers!

They notoriously have massive lines but they actually have a separate line that wraps around the side of the building for those getting pastries to go. The line took less than 5 minutes for us, and the pastries were delicious.

We spent 5 euros each to explore the botanical gardens nearby – it was practically empty, and so lovely to stroll through. Super tropical!

While we didn’t want to wait in line to go inside the Monastery, we took some photos outside and admired the architecture and then went to the outdoor garden and pool across the street.

We also checked out Torre de Belem from the outside, but didn’t bother to pay for tickets to go inside either.

We had a bit of time before our scheduled activity, so we spent some time walking through the outdoor vendors and shops in the area.

As the sun began to set, we embarked on a memorable boat tour, taking in panoramic views of the city from the water. The shimmering lights of Lisbon cast a magical spell as we sailed into the evening.

If you want to do the same boat cruise as us, it was a nice small group and we learned a lot about Lisbon from the tour guide. He was super friendly and offered recommendations for local spots to check out.

It was around $57 CAD per person, and you can grab tickets through Airbnb here.

For dinner, we opted for Italian cuisine at Di Amici in Belem, where we indulged in creamy burrata, authentic pizza, and decadent carbonara, savoring each bite. It was such a charming little spot, and I knew it was going to be good when someone said they had gone for lunch and had to return for dinner since it was so delicious.

It was some of my favourite Italian food to date.

Day 3: A Day Trip to Sintra

Eager to explore beyond Lisbon’s city limits, we embarked on a day trip to Sintra, a picturesque town nestled amidst lush hills. We left our Airbnb around 7 AM, grabbed a quick breakfast at Espress-O Bar since barely any spots are open that early in Portugal, and then we boarded a train and made our way to this fairy-tale destination.

We are generally not very comfortable navigators with public transit, but it was super easy! There was an option to buy tickets at a kiosk or with a real person, so we got them at the window and waited for our train.

We watched a lot of TikToks about the best order to visit the different attractions at Sintra based on where the crowds typically go so here’s the order we followed:

Our first stop was Quinta da Regaleira, a stunning estate known for its mystical gardens and underground caves. We wandered through the lush grounds, marvelling at the elaborate architecture and hidden passageways.

We walked to Quinta da Regaleira, and only the first part of getting to the main city is steep. A lot of people take the bus for the day, which might have been a good idea in hindsight…more on that later.

The walk wasn’t bad, but the signs for it aren’t totally clear. We ended up walking 10-15 minutes up a steep hill that wasn’t the right direction. Luckily we figured it out and then the actual walk there wasn’t too bad.

The coolest part is going down into the spiral well and then the caves underneath! I saw so many posts about the spiral stairs but nothing about the caves…they were so cool! The line for this was long but it was worth waiting because it moves quickly.

After a leisurely lunch at Paco Real, where we sampled local specialties like garlic prawns and codfish, we grabbed pastries at a spot Josh saw was famous online.

We ended up taking an Uber up to Moor Castle – our GPS kept telling us it was only a 15 minute walk uphill but the local guides said it was an hour and a half and that no one walks it. The Uber likely cost more than if we had done the bus for the day, but it wasn’t bad and it was quick!

Moor Castle was one of my favourite visits, and then we cut through the forest to walk to Pena Palace. We were only able to get an evening entry slot for Pena Palace but they let you go into the grounds ahead of time.

Your hot tip for Pena Palace: you can walk the grounds and up to the palace, but then there’s a strict line for entry based on your time slot. The security guard let us know we could cut through the gift shop, head up the stairs, and actually explore the full exterior of the palace before our time slot.

We followed his instructions and decided we saw so much of it from the outside (+ a small church we were able to go inside) so we didn’t bother waiting around for our time slot to go inside.

Despite a minor hiccup with the train schedule on our return journey (I mentioned we weren’t great with public transit!), we made it back to Lisbon in time for dinner at Time Out Market, where we indulged in sushi and gelato before winding down with a stroll along Pink Street to see the partying and nightlife, and got serenaded by a drag queen on rollerskates (iconic!).

Day 4: Exploring Lisbon’s Creative Hub

Our final day in Lisbon was dedicated to exploring its creative side. After fueling up with breakfast burritos from Comoba Lisboa and coffee from Hello, Kristoff (we had to hit two coffee shops because there are SO many good ones in Lisbon!), we returned to LX Factory to delve deeper into its eclectic mix of shops and galleries.

As I mentioned early, this time we found the book store AND the upstairs shops!

With newfound treasures from Ementa and an origami artist in tow, we ventured to Green Street and Bairro Alto, taking in panoramic views of the city and indulging in some cute shops along the way. We didn’t end up buying anything, but it was cool to see some of the different shops they have vs ours.

For our last dinner in Lisbon, we opted for a meal with a view at Java, where we savored hummus, burrata, and kabobs against the backdrop of Lisbon’s twinkling lights. This was a super popular recommendation, and we were able to show up without a reservation by going right when it opened since we know the Portuguese like to eat late!

It was so gorgeous and a perfect last meal. Probably the best hummus I’ve ever had. Everything was delicious and the restaurant was GORGEOUS.

A sweet ending awaited us at Time Out Market, where we indulged in cookies and pastries, savoring the flavors of Lisbon one last time before bidding farewell to this captivating city.

As we reflect on our four-day adventure in Lisbon, we’re filled with gratitude for the memories made, the flavors savored, and the beauty discovered. Until we meet again, Lisbon, obrigado for an unforgettable journey.

Other Things to Do & See in Lisbon, Portugal

These recommendations are based on community recommendations on Instagram. Some of these listed we did, some we didn’t get a chance to explore! I’ll leave them here for you to decide if you want to explore them for yourself:

  • Alfama neighborhood: super cute + best sunsets
  • Tower & Jeronimos Monastery
  • Embaxaide: old concept store in old house; gin bar in centre
  • Ulysses Luvaria: leather gloves
  • Daytrips
    • Cabo da Roca
    • Belem: we walked from Lisbon!
    • Sintra
    • Cascais: get off at Estoril and walk along the boardwalk over to Cascais
  • Costa Da Caparica: small, less touristy beach down (20 min Uber)
  • Timeout Market
  • LX Factory: cute little area with shops and restaurants
  • 4-hour tuktuk tour 
  • Tile Museum 
  • Museu de Artes Decorativas Portuguesas
  • Bairo Alto/Praca do Commercio/Chiado: Lots of walking through streets with great shops and places to stop in and eat as well. You could make a whole day of just exploring these areas.
  • Beaches: Praia do Guincho and Praia de Carcavelos  
  • Santa Luzia View Point
  • Price Do Comercio
  • Castelo de Sao Jorge: walking up for an amazing view of the city
  • Rua Cor de Rosa
  • Pink Street & Green Street 
  • Torre de Belem
  • Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
  • Arco da Rua Augusta: one of the most famous arcs that leads into the city streets/shop (start here and wander through those neighbourhoods, shops and restaurants all day)
  • Castelo Sao Jorges (the Moor Castle) also offers a  good view of Lisbon (you will be able to see it across the city from Tivoli!). For a little extra fun you can take a tuktuk up!
  • Obidos: It’s an old medieval city w/ cute shops
  • The water front is beautiful by Praca do Comercio: worth a stop if walking around before having a snack or something!
  • Try and check out a soccer game! Benfica and Sporting are Portugal’s two main teams and Portugal LOVES soccer and the rivalry between the two teams is wild
  • There is an elevator in the middle of downtown – it’s equal parts tourist trap and very cool again for skyline/views – there is lots of great shopping here

Anything you’d add?

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