The Perfect Lisbon Itinerary (Including A Sintra Day Trip)!
Oh Lisbon, the cobblestone streets, the pastel de nata, beautiful churches, and more. It’s easy to see why people fall in love with this city. During our four days in Lisbon, we spent three exploring the city and the fourth as a day trip to Sintra. In this Lisbon guide we’ll cover where to stay, places to eat, and things to do in Lisbon.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links which we may make commission from. As always, we only recommend products and places we love.
Where Is Lisbon?
Lisbon is a coastal European city located in the central west part of Portugal. It is well-known for its artistically tiled buildings and many hilly sidewalks. It is also known for delicious cuisine, such as fresh seafood, cured meats and cheeses, and inexpensive, yummy wine. Follow along on this Lisbon itinerary to see why you should visit Lisbon ASAP!
How to Get to Lisbon
Traveling to Lisbon by Airplane
One amazing thing about traveling in Europe is how cheap flights are to other European countries! We traveled to Lisbon from Spain using a TAP Portugal Airline for only €20/person. The flight was only a little over an hour which makes this the fastest and cheapest way to travel to Lisbon if you’re coming from Spain.
Traveling to Lisbon by Train
Again, if you are traveling to Lisbon from Spain as we did, there is also a RailEurope train that leaves every day from Madrid but it’s definitely not the most cost efficient or convenient. It is about a 10 hour trip at €30-60/person – but at least it will save you the cost of a hotel that evening!
If you are traveling to Lisbon from another city or town in Portugal, such as Porto, the journey takes about 3 hours and is around €30/person. We only had the chance to visit Lisbon and Sintra during this trip but we’d love to do at least a two-week Portugal trip next time.
Traveling to Lisbon by Car
Portugal is a relatively easy country to drive in because of its smaller size and excellent roads which makes it perfect for a Portugal road trip. In fact, you can get from northern Portugal to southern Portugal in just 6 hours! Outside of the major cities then we feel having a car would be easier and more budget-friendly than relying on public transportation.
However, driving in the major cities, like Porto and Lisbon, isn’t necessary because of good public transportation and can be complicated due to narrow roads and traffic. For example, we rented a car for our day trip to Sintra and didn’t feel like it was completely worth it due to traffic, narrow roads, and decent bus transportation (more on this later).
When Should You Visit Lisbon?
May and September are the two best months to visit Lisbon due to the nicer temperatures and it is outside of the rainy season. We visited Lisbon in early May and found the temperature to be extremely enjoyable. Though it did rain two out of the four days we visited, a Lisbon local told us that was not common so we must have had a bit of bad luck! But, even in the rain, Lisbon was fascinating and incredible. July and August are the hottest and busiest months to visit Lisbon so if you can, avoid visiting then.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
During our 4 days in Lisbon, we stayed at the Lisboa Carmo Hotel in one of their premium rooms with a river and castle view. The Lisboa Carmo hotel is centrally located near Bairro Alto, Baixa, Chiado and Avenida da Liberdade which made it accessible to most of the major sites in Lisbon. We walked almost everywhere we visited in Lisbon from Lisboa Carmo Hotel and can’t say enough about how perfect the location was.
This 4-star boutique luxury hotel also offered complimentary water and coffee each day in our room and had plenty of space for us to relax. The best part about our room at Lisboa Carmo Hotel was the view from our windows. There were four large windows that had a stunning view of the city that other hotels charge a hefty price for, but it is reasonable here – ask for room 504 if you can!
Other Options for Your Stay in Lisbon
Uncharacteristically we are not recommending Airbnb on our Lisbon itinerary and it’s for a good reason. We spoke with a few locals while in Lisbon and all of them told us (without us even asking) that Airbnb hasn’t been sustainable for the city, a sad fact we’ve heard a number of times in certain cities or countries – especially in Europe.
Many of these beautiful, old buildings that you see when walking around Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Baixa-Chiado are being renovated into posh apartments but not to serve the local community, they’re being rented out to only tourists. But the silver lining is, we did hear that the Portuguese tourism office has now been working on making certain Airbnb accommodations registered with them to provide legal and sustainable accommodations so if you choose to use Airbnb while in Lisbon or in Portugal make sure it’s a registered property.
If you’d like to read more about sustainable tourism in Lisbon and things to avoid doing while in Lisbon this article is incredibly insightful.
Transportation in Lisbon
During our 4 days in Lisbon, we occasionally took an Uber but Lisbon is a very walkable city so we spent a lot of our time walking in Lisbon but here are some other modes of transportation in Lisbon and the best ways to use public transportation.
Lisbon Transportation Card
If you plan to use public transportation while in Lisbon, a Viva Viagem Lisbon Transportation card may be your best bet. You can add single rides or 24-hour passes for €6.40 for unlimited travel in Lisbon.
The Lisboa Card is a 3-in-1 transportation card, museum pass, and discount card. It covers travel by bus, tram, metro, and elevadores. It also offers discounts or free admission on certain attractions in Lisbon. There are a few different options depending on how long you plan to stay in Lisbon ranging from €20 (1-day pass), €34 (2-day pass), €42 (3-day pass). If you plan to visit any of the attractions they have listed and use public transportation, then the Lisboa Card will save you money on your Lisbon itinerary.
Uber or Taxi
Uber is Lisbon is incredibly inexpensive. In fact, some of our Uber rides were less expensive than if we were to take the bus. So if traveling with 2 or more people Uber may be your best bet. If traveling solo it is probably cheaper to take the bus or metro.
We didn’t use Taxis while in Lisbon because they were more expensive than Uber. One of the hotel employees at Lisboa Carmo Hotel even told us that, a number of people get ripped off by certain taxi drivers while in Lisbon. The day we arrived we paid only €10.50 via Uber while another hotel guest paid €45 for the same ride but from a taxi. Obviously, that isn’t the case for all taxi services, but it leaves a sour taste. If you do want to use or schedule a taxi while in Lisbon we recommend downloading the app Cabify.
Before visiting Lisbon we were really conflicted about riding the Tram 28. At first, it was mostly due to the stories of pickpocketing but then we saw how crowded it was. The tram was PACKED full of people. But the main reason we’re telling you to skip the Tram 28 ride is due to impending the residents of the city.
Prior to the boom in tourism in Lisbon, the Tram 28 was used as a main mode of transportation for Lisbon residents. Now, because of tourism, many locals are struggling to use the tram to get from point A to point B. Instead of riding the tram take some snaps of it from the outside. There are other trams that run specifically for tourists and when we saw those, they weren’t nearly as crowded. Same view, less crowds – what’s not to love about that?
Safety in Lisbon
We felt that Lisbon was a very safe city and didn’t run into any trouble while we were there but here are some things we feel you should be aware of or could encounter.
- Pickpocketing and Theft – Like many larger cities, pickpocketing is extremely common. We, fortunately, didn’t encounter this while we were in Lisbon but have heard that the most common areas that you’ll find pickpocketing are the Tram 28 or other public transportation, outdoor restaurants, city squares, while waiting in lines, and other places as well.
Our tips for avoiding pickpocketing are the following:
- If you are carrying a wallet, money clip, and/or phone in your pocket make sure to carry it in your front pocket(s) and that your pants have deeper pockets so nothing sticks out the top.
- Carry a purse or backpack with secure zippers. I personally love my PacSafe products because they have a ton of anti-theft features such as mesh (to prevent slashing), locks, and zipper security additions. If someone was going to get into my backpack, I’m 99% sure I would have known.
- If you are sitting down at a restaurant, hold on to your bag. My Pacsafe backpack also has a strap that unlocks so I can attach it to a chair and feel better about it being secure.
- Be aware of your belongings AT ALL TIMES. This seems like a given but we’ve all be in a position where we let our guard down. Just make sure you are always paying attention to the people around you and the items you’re carrying. Not every person that accidentally bumps you is trying to steal your stuff (the sidewalks are super narrow!) so don’t feel like you have to cling to your purse like it’s a newborn baby, just pay attention. 😉
- People selling drugs – While we didn’t encounter anyone selling “real” drugs while in Lisbon a few guys tried to get us to buy what they said was pot, but was actually bay leaves rolled up *cue the eye-rolling*. We simply told them no and kept walking. In fact, anytime someone tried to sell us something on the street we only had to say no and found that most of the time they would move on to the next person instead of being persistent.
If you do find yourself in an emergency situation while visiting Lisbon dial 112 (emergency number) or visit a local police station. All this to say, we never once felt unsafe while in Lisbon but it’s best to be cautious when traveling anywhere. Every Lisbon local that we chatted with was incredibly helpful, friendly, and showed warm hospitality to us during our 4 days in Lisbon. 🙂
Key Phrases to Know When Visiting Portugal
One thing we always recommend when visiting another country that doesn’t speak the same language that you do is to learn a few words or phrases in that language. In Portugal, Portuguese is the most common language but we found that in Lisbon, a lot of people spoke French and/or English as well. Regardless, it’s still important to make an effort to know a few words in Portuguese!
- Hello – Olá
- Goodbye – Adeus
- Yes – Sim
- No – Não
- Good morning – Bom dia
- Good afternoon/evening – Boa tarde/noite
- Please – Por favor
- Thank you – Obrigado
Key Things to Know About Traveling to Lisbon
Wear Good Shoes!
I cannot stress this enough. No matter what, you’ll be doing a lot of walking! Sidewalks are very narrow – some hardly passable by two people side by side and certain areas are quite hilly. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and have good grip because those sidewalk tiles are SLICK!
Forms of Payment in Lisbon
Portugal uses the Euro (€) as its form of currency. While we heard that credit cards aren’t widely accepted we found that to be the opposite. Almost every place we visited on our Lisbon itinerary was credit card friendly but there were a few smaller shops that required cash only payments or had a minimum spend for credit card usage. When using cash try to use smaller bills (under €50).
The Starters Are Not Complimentary
In the United States (where we live) we are often greeted at restaurants by a basket of fresh bread, chips and salsa, or some other free starter. However, when you receive said small plates at a restaurant in Portugal, this is not the case. This is one of the biggest complaints we saw when reading reviews of restaurants in Lisbon.
No, the restaurant is not trying to be a “crook.” That’s just how things are done. Definitely DO NOT give a restaurant a negative review based on that – I can’t tell you how many reviews we read said: “the food is terrific here but we hated how sneaky they were about charging us for bread and olives we didn’t order – 1 star.”
Starters are often bread, cheese, olives, vinaigrette marinated carrots, and/or olive oil and though you will be charged if you eat them, it’s usually a minuscule amount say anywhere from €1-4. If you don’t want the starters simply tell your waitress or waiter to take them back and you won’t be charged.
Prepare to Dine More Slowly Than What You’re Used To
Living in the United States has given us and many others the idea that dining and service should be fast paced – get in and get out. But in Portugal, dining is much more slow and if you know this ahead of time and go with the flow, you’ll definitely find it enjoyable.
One evening we spent 2-3 hours (we lost track) in a restaurant laughing, chatting, and of course, eating tons of amazing Portuguese food. In that moment we both said, “why aren’t all meals this way?” Another thing to keep in mind is, waiters and waitresses won’t come to your table as often as you’re probably used to so be prepared for that.
Wine and Beer Are Incredibly Cheap & Water Isn’t Free
Portuguese wines are some of the best in the world and they’re some of the most inexpensive. Yes, you read that right. A bottle of wine in Portugal ranges from €1.50-12 in a grocery store while a glass will cost you €2-5 at a restaurant. Of course, there are wines that are extremely expensive but you can buy a very nice bottle of wine in Portugal for around €6-8 easily (ready to take an extra suitcase now?). Beer is also super cheap ranging from €1-3 for a nice sized portion and no, it’s not even close to tasting like a Natty Light, it’s WAY better.
With wine and beer being so inexpensive we hardly ever ordered water at restaurants (don’t worry we did drink… some 😉 ). But water is usually around €2-3 for a liter bottle. You can save on the cost of water, soda, wine, and beer by shopping at a local grocery store and stocking up in your hotel mini fridge if you happen to have one!
For the Best FREE Views Head to Miradouros Around the City
There are a number of places you can visit for a paid view (you’ll see some listed here in this Lisbon itinerary with the cost) but to get the same, if not better views, for absolutely free head to any Miradouro (viewpoint) in Lisbon. Our favorites were Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen for its expansive view and Miradouro de Santa Luzia for the beautiful scenery and view.
Make Sure You Wander Around the City
Yes, I realize that reads as cliché as it sounds, and to be completely transparent, I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes initially. But in Lisbon, you really REALLY should do that. There is so much to see on every corner from tiled, colorful buildings, fantastic viewpoints, and more. The popular neighborhoods include Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Alfama (which was probably our favorite of the ones mentioned).
But, being so popular, these neighborhoods mean more tourists. A few lesser visited neighborhoods (from our opinion) we really enjoyed exploring were Mouraria – the old Moorish district, Cais do Sodré – where you’ll find the infamous “pink street”, and Graça – which is right on the border of Alfama.
WiFi in Lisbon
There were a number of places that offered free WiFi around the city so you can utilize that if you don’t need constant WiFi. On this trip, we decided to use the $10/day international plan that our cell phone companies provide because we found it to be about the same price (or cheaper) as renting a device and saved us the hassle of returning a device. Logan activated it on his phone and I hotspotted occasionally or used public WiFi.
Essential Things to Pack for Your Lisbon Itinerary
- Travel adapter: Portugal uses C and F plugs so if you are traveling from somewhere other than the European Union you will most likely need a travel adapter. For reference, plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and type F has two round pins with clips on the side.
- Comfortable shoes with non-skid soles. I brought some of my favorite comfortable sandals but didn’t think much about the soles on them – big mistake! I slipped a number of times when trying to walk up some of those Lisbon hills. Fortunately, I had another pair of shoes with good grip!
- A copy of your passport: Carry this with you while you keep your original in a safe at your hotel.
- Umbrella: One thing we always recommend packing no matter the destination is a small collapsible umbrella. Of course, it will help with the rain but also provides shade in the summer too.
- Scarf and/or light sweater: Not only will this keep you warm or provide you with some extra coverage from the sun if you are planning to visit any churches you’ll have to make sure your shoulders are covered and there are no shorts allowed that are overly short.
- Sunscreen: Portugal is a very sunny and warm country most of the year so it’s important to protect your skin!
What to Drink in Lisbon
We covered this above, but man, Portuguese wine is cheap! It’s seriously incredible to me that they can even turn a profit for how much they’re selling it for. When you think of a $2 bottle of wine in the United States most might think of Trader Joe’s 2 buck chuck, which, admittingly isn’t TERRIBLE but not the finest of wines. The complete opposite goes while in Portugal. That €2-8 bottle of wine should cost a premium for how good it is. I mean, even Logan drank wine (not his typical adult beverage by choice) with every meal.
Where to purchase Portuguese wine:
- VINIPORTUGAL / Wines of Portugal
- Cerveteca Lisboa
- At every restaurant you dine at while in Portugal – no joke!
Though Portugal might seem behind on the “craft beer” seen they’re starting to make their way to the public, however, the two most popular beers in Portugal are Super Bock and Sagres. Just like wine, beer is also inexpensive and can be found at restaurants and grocery stores.
- Super Bock: The oldest beer company in Portugal (est. 1927).
- Sagres: The second oldest beer company in Portugal (est. 1934) – you’ll find their pale ale in most restaurants, grocery stores, or bars but they also have a darker ale and a red ale too.
Ginjinha (or Ginja)
Ginjinha is a liqueur that is made from sour cherries – we tried this on our Taste of Lisboa food tour (more on this later) and while it wasn’t our favorite shot to sip on, it was way better than expected (we were thinking it would be exactly like sipping on a shot of cherry cough syrup).
Places to try or purchase Ginjinha:
- Os Amigos Da Severa
- A Ginjinha: Claims to be the first bar in the world where you could buy ginjinha.
I don’t know how to discuss Sumol without sobbing because it was so good I wanted an extra suitcase just so I could bring home all of it. Sumol is a lightly carbonated water beverage that has fruit juice inside it (no artificial colors or flavors either). Just try it, you won’t regret it!
Flavors of Sumol to try:
- Laranja (orange)
- Ananas (pineapple)
- Maracujá (passion fruit) – my personal favorite and it’s apparently more difficult to find!
What to Eat in Lisbon and Restaurant Recommendations
Pastéis de Nata
We ate so many Pastel de Nata in Lisbon it’s a wonder that we didn’t have to buy new clothes (guess we have those Lisbon hills to thank!). You’ll find these Portuguese custard tarts all over Lisbon but skip the ones at a grocery store or Starbucks and go get them from an authentic shop. We’ll cover more about our favorites in this Lisbon itinerary but we’ve also listed them below!
- Pastéis de Belém: The one, the only, the original shop that started in 1837. I wouldn’t say it’s the BEST Pastel de Nata shop in Lisbon, but as I said, it’s the original so you simply have to go.
- Manteigaria: This was our favorite shop – it had the most flavor, set custard, and extra cinnamon.
- Confeitaria Nacional: This pastry shop was founded in 1829 and makes a number of different pastries to enjoy in their shop. Definitely try their Pastel de Nata and a few of their other Portuguese pastries as well.
- Aloma: Aloma started in 1943 and was our second favorite of the Pastel de Nata shops in Lisbon. The custard in their tastes have little cinnamon and their custard isn’t as set as some of the others but it’s delicious!
Many restaurants you visit that serve Portuguese cuisine will have a variety of cheeses that are popular in Portugal but you can also visit a cheese shop or grocery store to enjoy some of these on your own. In Portugal, they say that the stinker the cheese, the better it tastes – so while you might need a nose plug, they’re all going to taste great! Here a few that you should try while in Lisbon.
- Queijo de Azeitão: Azeitão is a sheep’s milk cheese that is a natural hit with its creamy texture and strong, yet still mild flavor.
- Serpa: Serpa is a sheep’s milk cheese that is pretty pungent with a spicy flavor due to the seasoned paprika rind. Pair it with a jam or marmalade which makes for a really great combination.
Places to try or purchase Portuguese cheese:
- Pingo Doce: Grocery store (or any other Portuguese grocery store or cheese shop).
- Manteigaria Silva: Meat, bread, and cheese store.
Pata Negra (Cured Ham)
Pata Negra is a type of cured ham that is commonly found in Portugal and Spain. It is dried and sliced in thin slices and served by itself, on a sandwich, or paired with cheese.
In order to be served, it has to follow three rules.
- The pig has to be from the local region.
- Pigs are kept in an open forest so it can eat as much acorn fruit as they desire.
- The ham must be cured for at least 9 months before serving and can be kept up to 5 years.
Places to try Pata Negra or Jamón ibérico:
- Manteigaria Silva: Meat, bread, and cheese store (also has a location at Time Out Market)
- Campo de Ourique Market: Similar to the popular Time Out Market but more local.
Bifana (pork) Sandwich
A Bifana is a sandwich made up of a crusty bread roll and strips of juicy pork that has been marinated in various spices and wine. It’s paired best with a beer and often served as a late-night snack!
Restaurants to try a Bifana:
- Zé dos Cornos: A popular “fast lunch” shop.
- O Trevo: A spot made popular by Anthony Bourdain’s show, “No Reservations.” This was Logan’s favorite bifana sandwich he had on this Lisbon itinerary too!
Piri Piri Chicken
Piri Piri Chicken is a free-range spicy roasted chicken dish that has roots from Africa and Portugal. The key to the chicken is, of course, the spices and the piri piri sauce made from chiles. If you like spicy foods, this one’s for you!
Places to try Piri Piri chicken:
- Bonjardim: Restaurant that specializes in Piri Piri chicken.
- A Valenciana: Known for Piri Piri chicken and other Portuguese dishes.
Bacalhau (or codfish) may not found in nearby waters, but it is a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Here are a few ways to try bacalhau and where to get it!
- Bolinhos de Bacalhau: These fried nuggets are not your average fish sticks. They include shredded cod, potatoes, onion, and parsley and are exceptionally delicious when fresh.
- Bacalhau à Brás: The codfish is shredded and baked with fried potatoes and scrambled eggs.
- Bacalhau à Lagareiro: Grilled olive oil soaked cod with boiled potatoes.
Restaurants and places to try bacalhau:
- O Buraco: Some of the best Bolinhos de Bacalhau we had!
- Cozinha da Felicidade: Located at Time Out Market offers a few different Bacalhau dishes including Bacalhau à Brás.
- Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau: Not the authentic Bolinhos de Bacalhau and is definitely a touristy spot but they combine the traditional ingredients with Portuguese cheeses.
Unlike bacalhau which is preserved by salting, drying, or freezing – Portugal does have some of the freshest seafood there is to offer. It’s typically served solo or with a starchy carb such as rice or potatoes.
- Arroz de Marisco (Seafood Rice): While it may look similar, don’t confuse this dish with Spanish paella. This dish is cooked in a saucepan and includes a creamy tomato rice and a variety of fresh seafood including mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, and lobster.
- Arroz de Polvo (Octopus Rice): Similar to Arroz de Marisco (above), this rice dish is made with a creamy tomato sauce but this time is paired with octopus and occasionally shrimp.
- Grilled Sardines: Sardine season in Portugal starts in March or April and lasts until September or October. So if you happen to visit Lisbon during this time, you can get your fix of freshly grilled sardines.
- Fresh Fish Platter: Another way that you can enjoy fresh seafood in Lisbon is by ordering a sampling of fresh fish and shellfish to try. It can come at a larger price tag but it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Seafood Restaurant Recommendations for Lisbon:
- Ramiro: Fresh seafood priced by the pound and cooked fresh – also recommended by Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”
- Sacramento: We were recommended this restaurant by the hotel staff and it did not disappoint. The service and food were both excellent!
Non-Portuguese Cuisine Restaurant Recommendation:
Pizzeria Romana al Tavolo: In case you or someone you’re traveling with is a picky eater, pizza is a safe choice. We tried this one evening when we couldn’t make up our minds on where to eat and although it was a bit touristy, it was pretty darn good! We wanted to throw out this idea in case anyone else needed a backup plan.
LISBON ITINERARY (INCLUDING SINTRA DAY TRIP)
DAY 1: LISBON ITINERARY
Manteigaria – Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata
Start your day off with a coffee and two (or more, we’re not judging) Pastéis de Nata from Manteigaria. These little custard tarts are pretty heavy so they’ll probably hold you over until going on the Taste of Lisboa food tour (which you’ll see later on this Lisbon itinerary).
Hours: 8am-12am, everyday
Cost: €1 each
Praça do Comércio
There are a number of city squares that you’ll see in this Lisbon itinerary. Most are places you’ll pass by while en route to another destination. However, Praça do Comércio is one of the most popular as it sits by the Tagus River. There is plenty of space to walk around and view the water, and there are a number of street performers here too. One thing to keep in mind is the many cruise ships that stop right bt this square daily so it can get really crowded.
Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa)
Just like there are many public squares you’ll walk by in Lisbon, there are a number of churches too! The Lisbon Cathedral is considered to be the most important Roman Catholic church in the city and dates back to the 12th century. It’s survived a number of natural disasters including the earthquake of 1755 but you might not know it looking at it from the outside or inside – it’s a beautiful masterpiece!
Cost: FREE to visit the church, €2.50 to visit the cloister
Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift)
The Elevador de Santa Justa is an architecturally beautiful elevator that is in the middle of the city but with that means the lines are incredibly long to ride to the top. Unless riding on the lift is incredibly important to you skip that part and take the access bridge located behind the elevator to the top where you can see the panoramic view and either climb back down or take the lift down.
Hours: May to October: 7am-11pm, November to April: 7am-10pm
Cost: €5.30 for the lift and viewing platform, €1.50 for only the viewing platform
Praça do Rossio
Another square that you’ll pass by is Praça do Rossio, an area with numerous cafes, restaurants, and beautiful buildings. One thing we loved about this square was the mosaic cobble design so be sure to look down!
Igreja de São Domingos
At one time, Igreja de São Domingos was the largest church in Lisbon and hosted a number of royal weddings. It suffered a number of hardships including damage from the 1531 and 1755 earthquakes. But one of the more recent tragedies was in 1959 when a fire broke out in the church and was gutted completely. When rebuilt, they left a number of signs of the fire including a deep orange painted interior and the stone pillars still scorched.
Hours: 7:30am-7pm daily
Taste of Lisboa Food Tour
I cannot recommend doing a food tour while traveling enough and if you can, try to do it on your first day so that you get a feel for places you might want to return! We did the Downtown-Mouraria Food & Cultural Walk with Taste of Lisboa which was one of the most involved and amazing food tours we have ever done. There were 7 stops total sampling some traditional Portuguese cuisine and adult beverages.
If you have dietary restrictions they will do their best to accommodate if you let them know ahead of time. For example, I do not eat beef or pork products and have an allergy to walnuts which they were more than happy to accommodate for. Something else to keep in mind that this food tour lasts around 3-4 hours so plan accordingly and don’t book any tickets or reservations until after 8pm – (P.S. you won’t need dinner after!).
We tried a number of different items on our food tour that we’ll highlight here, but there’s so much more to this food tour than just trying the cuisine. You’ll learn history, find unique spots to explore, and make some new acquaintances too!
We started off our tour visiting a small shop where we sampled pata negra (cured ham), bread, olive oil, and red wine. Since I don’t eat pork our guide added an additional item of Portuguese curd cheese with almonds. While on this stop we learned a lot about Portuguese wine (which is delicious by the way!). There are over 250 kinds of grapes in Portugal and most wines are a blend of at least 4 different kinds of grapes.
On the second stop, we went to a traditional Portuguese “snack bar” to try a salted codfish cake, creamy tomato rice, and Vinho Verde (green wine). But this green wine isn’t actually green – it is from Minho, a region in northern Portugal, that has a significant amount of rain where grapes are harvested young and the wine consumed quickly after bottling.
For our third stop, we went to a traditional “fast lunch” restaurant that gave us a sampling of Portuguese cheese, vegetable soup, and bifana sandwich (I had prawn croquettes instead if the bifana).
One of our favorite things about traveling is finding more “hole-in-the-wall” places so we were thrilled to visit a local bar on our fourth stop to try ginjinha, a liqueur made from sour cherries. We were a bit skeptical at first fearing that it would taste just like cherry cough syrup but were quite surprised that it was sweeter than anything. Not something that we’d be buying a bottle of anytime soon but it was still fun to try. Sidenote: If you see ginjinha being served in cups made of chocolate back away – that’s totally a Lisbon tourist trap. The real deal is served in a plastic shot glass (per EU regulations).
Next we visited a place that specializes in tinned fish. We tried mackerel on a piece of crusted bread with olive oil and a side of vinaigrette carrots.
Another thing we love about food tours is learning about the history of the city and the restaurants we visit. So when we stopped by an African restaurant that served samosas (a traditional food from India) we had to know more about the history. At this stop we tried beef and vegetarian samosas and a choice of Portuguese beer or a fruit juice. Logan opted to try the beer and I ordered a cashew fruit juice so we could try a sampling of both. Now some of you might be thinking, cashew fruit juice what? Well, to blow your mind, the cashew nuts we eat actually grow on a fruit called a cashew apple which is then made into a fruit juice that tastes like apple and pineapple with a hint of nutty flavor.
Of course, for our last stop, we had to try something sweet and what better to have the most well-known Portuguese treat, the Pastel de Nata paired with a small, strong coffee.
Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
As we mentioned before, there are many free viewing points of the city called Miradouros. If you feel up to it after your walking food tour with Taste of Lisboa we recommend visiting one! Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen offers a panoramic view of the city and the Tagus River. Cost: FREE
DAY 2: LISBON ITINERARY
Time Out Market
Time Out Market is a fun place to try a number of different kinds of foods in smaller portions. We weren’t sure if we would visit Time Out Market at first due to how many people told us how unbelievably crowded it was but we opted to go at 10:30am and were pleasantly surprised to find very few people there.
By the time we left (around 11:30am) it was incredibly busy so save your sanity and go between 10:00am-11:30am in order to beat the crowds or visit another market that we’ll mention later on in this post!
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 10:00am-12:00am, Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-2:00am
Rua Nova do Carvalho
Nearby Time Out Market is Rua Nova do Carvalho, the infamous pink street of Lisbon. But this pink street wasn’t created for Instagram, what was once the red light district of Lisbon is now an area with fun cafes and trendy bars. If we had the chance we’d head back here to enjoy the evening!
LX Factory is a hip, open-air shopping area that has many cafes, restaurants, book stores, and specialty shops to look at. Even though it was raining the day we visited we still enjoyed walking in this area, visiting the shops, and seeing the street art. Grab yourself a latte and lunch at one of the many restaurant options here.
Places to visit or eat at LX Factory:
- Wish Concept Store
- Ler Devagar: Bookstore with a nice cafe.
- Cucurico: Portuguese free-range chicken restaurant
- Central da Avenida: Sandwiches, cheese, cured meats, and wine
- Rio Maravilha: Gastrobar with a terrific view!
Hours: Vary depending on store or restaurant
Torré de Belém
We’re going to be honest, we found Torré de Belem to be pretty underwhelming and we heard from many others that the inside is even more so but because we were going to Belém to visit a few other sites we decided to stop by. It was nice to view and I’m sure it’s even better at sunrise or sunset being right by the Tagus River.
Hours: October-May 10am-5:30pm (last admission at 5pm), May-September 10am-6:30pm (last admission 6pm), Closed Mondays and certain holidays.
Cost: €6/person, free on Sundays from 10am-2pm, free to view the tower at anytime
Pastéis de Belém
After eating alllll the things at Time Out Market we weren’t overly hungry for lunch but we definitely had room for one special treat. Yep, you guessed it, more Pastel de Nata! But this time it’s Pastéis de Belém, which is the original for this heavy and delicious sweet. It was started in 1837 and the secret recipe remains the same still today. You can either dine-in or get take out at their store just prepare yourself for some crowds.
Hours: 8am-11pm daily
Santa Maria de Belém Church
Located directly next to your next destination, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, is Santa Maria de Belém Church. The outside architecture is impressive but the inside is simply stunning with exceptional detail. While visiting churches can get a bit monotonous, this one we found to be different from the rest.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
When visiting an attraction earlier is better right? Well, usually, but this didn’t apply for Mosterio de Jerónimos. After reading reviews we saw that most people recommended visiting 4pm or after to avoid the lines. This was what we decided to do and were pleasantly surprised that the lines were quite minimal at this time.
Visiting Mosteiro dos Jerónimos can be incredibly confusing. Hopefully what we share can help clear up the confusion that we faced. When you arrive you’ll notice two separate entrances. If you are facing the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos the entrance on the left is where you will purchase your tickets or enter for the archaeological museum. The tickets are bought off a kiosk then you’ll take the tickets and head back outside. The entrance on the right, which is located next to Santa Maria de Belém Church, will take you to Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
The natural light coming in from the open-air courtyard along with the stunning pillars make Mosteiro dos Jerónimos one of the most impressive places we visited. Be sure to go upstairs to read about the history and see the view of the courtyard from above. One other suggestion is to splurge the extra €2 to be able to visit the archaeological museum too. We didn’t actually do this, but feel like it might have made the admission cost worth it more (two attractions for only €6 each versus €10 for just the monastery).
Hours: October-May 10am-5:30pm (last admission 5pm), June-September 10am-6:30pm (last admission 6pm)
Cost: €10 monastery only or €12 for the monastery and archaeological museum
DAY 3: LISBON ITINERARY
We’re both suckers for trendy breakfast and brunch spots so we had to visit Dear Breakfast while in Lisbon and wish we could eat there every morning! We loved their yummy pancakes, fresh fruit, and poached eggs on toast.
A few other brunch restaurants to check-out in Lisbon:
Jardim de São Bento
After dining at Dear Breakfast we made our way towards the Campo de Ourique neighborhood. One place to stop along the way is Jardim de São Bento (Garden St. Benedict). It’s not a large garden area but has a nice square and fountain in the middle.
Basílica da Estrela Church
The Basílica da Estrela was one of the most intricate and ornately detailed churches we visited while in Lisbon. The idea was constructed by Queen Maria I as a dedication to her son, José. But José sadly died in 1788 by smallpox before the church was completed. The grieving mother was eventually buried there to commemorate her son.
Hours: 10:30am–7:30pm daily
Cost: FREE, €4 to visit the top of the dome
Jardim da Estrela
Jardim da Estrela wasn’t originally on our Lisbon itinerary but we stumbled upon it when we were walking to Campo de Ourique Market. It’s not a “hidden gem” by any means but it’s worth the stop if in the area as it’s directly across from Basilica da Estrela.
There are tons of beautiful flowers, trees, and even some of the biggest cacti we’ve ever seen – who knew they could grow so well here! If you need to stop and take a break, there are places to sit down and enjoy the scenery too or you can simply walk through admiring the sites as we did.
Hours: 7am-12am daily
Campo de Ourique Market
We told you we’d let you in on another market that isn’t as busy as Time Out Market and Campo de Ourique Market is it! This market is just a little off-the-beaten-path. Gorge yourself on some fresh fruit, cured ham, cheese, or even a cocktail.
While in the area consider grabbing a sweet at one (or more) of the following:
- O Moço dos Croissants: Per recommendation, we got their pain au chocolat croissants and a traditional Portuguese sponge cake to share.
- Aloma: Okay yes, yes we did eat ALL the Pastel de Nata possible to find you the best ones. It was a tough job but someone had to do it! Pastelaria Aloma was the last stop for us and we noticed that the custard wasn’t as set and had a very faint cinnamon flavor inside.
- O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo: They claim to have the world’s best chocolate cake!
Explore your Favorite Neighborhood
Now that you’ve been in Lisbon for 3 days you’ve probably found some favorite spots. I told you before that while roaming the streets isn’t something that I normally include in itineraries, Lisbon is one of those places where this can apply.
On our last night in Lisbon, we walked around Alfama and Graça capturing photos of the buildings, flowers, trams, skyline, and more before heading to one last Miradouro (below). Obviously, Alfama isn’t a hidden spot in Lisbon and if wandering around isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Feel free to pick something from the list of other attractions to visit in Lisbon featured below!
Miradouro de Santa Luzia
Miradouro de Santa Luzia was our favorite Miradouro we visited while in Lisbon. The setting has beautiful tiles, red doors, pretty flowers, and naturally a terrific view. I wasn’t too busy when we arrived but became a bit busier as the sun continued to set. Regardless, this is definitely one of the better Miradouros to visit while in Lisbon for the setting and view.
Visit a Rooftop Bar for Golden Hour and/or Blue Hour
The sun sets later in Lisbon, like 9:15pm some nights when we visited in May which gives the excuse to go enjoy sunset from a rooftop bar.
- Bar Terraço de Santa Luzia: Right next to the Miradouro we mentioned above!
- Portas do Sol: We walked by this one when visiting Miradouro Portas do Sol and it was incredibly busy but included it on this list because it did seem quite popular.
- Memmo Alfama Hotel Lisboa: This one was recommended by a few people and is located on the rooftop of a hotel – but you don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit!
DAY 4: LISBON ITINERARY – SINTRA DAY TRIP
We actually visited Sintra on our first day in Lisbon because we rented a car to drive there early. But we put Sintra at the end of our Lisbon itinerary so you could determine what day a Sintra day trip would work best for your schedule.
Prior to visiting Sintra, we were told that we would probably only have time to visit 3-4 attractions in Sintra. Since we usually travel pretty quickly we thought we might be able to do more, but in reality, we only made it to three! If you would like to enjoy more of Sintra you’ll probably need at least 2 days. Here are the places we visited during our day trip to Sintra.
In our opinion, Pena Palace is the most iconic spot in Sintra. The vibrant colors are very eye-catching and there are so many fascinating areas to explore. We recommend starting at Pena Palace because as the day goes on, it tends to get extremely busy.
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily
Cost: Palace and Park: €14.00 and Park: €7.50
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is a large estate in Sintra that is open to the public for visiting. While at Quinta da Regaleira make sure to visit the incredibly romantic palace and chapel on the grounds as well as the Initiation Well where you can journey down the stairs 88-feet. Once at the bottom, be sure to look up from the bottom! Quinta da Regaleira is full of mystery.
Hours: 9:30am-7pm daily
Palacio de Monserrate
Palacio de Monserrate was the least busy of the three attractions we visited but was just as beautiful and charming as the others. There are gardens, lakes, small waterfalls, and of course the lavishly decorated mansion.
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily
Other Attractions to Visit in Lisbon
Museu Nacional do Azulejo
You’ll notice that Lisbon is full of colorful tiled buildings that any person would love to take home. But the tiles you see on the walls of Lisbon aren’t being made anymore. One place to learn about the history and types of tiles is the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (The National Tile Museum) which features a collection of azulejos (colorful ceramic tiles).
One other thing to note, you might see shops in Lisbon that sell “authentic antique tiles” and although they are authentic, they are illegal. These tiles are taken from the walls and stolen to sell. Sad isn’t it? If you’d like to buy a tile visit Fábrica Sant’Anna to buy a handcrafted souvenir to take home.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 10am-6pm, closed Mondays
São Jorge Castle
If you are interested in history, São Jorge Castle is a place you might consider adding to your 4 days in Lisbon. It also offers a pretty incredible panoramic view of the city but if you aren’t interested in the history of this castle you can still find some pretty terrific views for free all around Lisbon.
Hours: November-February: 9am-6pm, March – October: 9am-9pm daily
Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon)
Panteão Nacional (also called, Church of Santa Engrácia) is a 17th-century church that was later converted to Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon) in the 20th-century. Many prominent Portuguese rulers and historical figures are buried here.
Hours: 10am-6pm daily
Cost: €3, free to visit on Sunday mornings and holidays
Amoreiras 360 Panoramic View
If you want to see a view of the 25 de Abril Bridge (which resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) and skyline view of Lisbon the Amorerias Shopping Center offers panoramic views of Lisbon.
Enjoy Fado Music
Each night from our hotel room we would hear the most beautiful live Fado music coming from a nearby building, we’d open the windows and simply listen as the emotional, yet beautiful melody filled our ears. Now my only regret is that we didn’t go see a Fado show while in Portugal (we’ll probably head back though!). The melody can best be described by using the Portuguese word “Saudade”, which means “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia.” How poetic is that?!
Places to attend a Fado performance: