A quick note before you start reading this post..this is going to be a lengthy one. I have hundreds of photos but alas, no one has time for that (not even me) so I’ve tried to consolidate them to the best of my ability. In this post you’ll find the names to many places we visited including where we stayed in Lisbon. If you ever have the chance to visit Portugal, do it. You won’t regret it.
Where to Stay
One of my favorite hotel experiences I’ve had was in Portugal. We stayed at the Memmo Alfama Hotel which is more of trendy, boutique hotel tucked in the old streets of Lisboa. It’s several hundred dollars a night however there are some reasonable priced rooms if you don’t have a view. I do think it’s worth the extra money though because these views were from our room! You can also enjoy the view from the outdoor bar and pool. Unfortunately the pool wasn’t open in November but this would be a great spot in the summer!
The hotel has a complimentary breakfast buffet but this is not your ordinary lame hotel breakfast, y’all. Not only does the cute Smeg fridge have fresh squeezed juices and yogurts, there are a ton of other options set out buffet style and each table has a menu where you can order complimentary crepes, omelettes, etc. Starting the day off in the adorable dining room was awesome. I know not everyone is a fan of hotel breakfast but I think it’s really good here and you might as well save some money!
What To Do If You’re a History Buff
Just a few minutes away from our hotel, stands the famous Lisbon Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in the city as it was built in 1150. I can’t even fathom how long ago that is but the structure is massive and worth a stop!
The Santa Justa Lift is not quite as old as the cathedral but has been around for over 100 years. It is an impressive, working elevator that takes you to the Bairro Alto neighborhood!
Another famous place to visit, especially if you love castles like Jared and I, is Pena Palace which is in Sintra. You do have to drive a bit outside of the city however the taxi wasn’t too expensive and it is entirely worth it. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal and I can see why! The palace is at the very top of a mountain and is built unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. You really do have to see it for yourself because the photos will never do it justice. But be prepared to try to capture its glory. I gave up after some photos because it’s just something better experienced by your own eyes.
Another castle to visit if you’re really into old structures is the Castle of the Moors. I didn’t enjoy this place as much as Jared because it’s all outdoor and involves some climbing. There is definitely more wind here and if you’re afraid of heights at all, this might be scary at times. It reminded me of the Great Wall of China to be honest! It was pretty cool to see the views from the towers but I was too shaky to take many photos.
Belém Tower or the Tower of St. Vincent is another popular historical site to visit in Lisbon. We packed so much into our day that we were not able to go inside but honestly, the outside is gorgeous so I don’t think we missed a lot! The tower is right on the water as you can see and there is a lot of space around to walk around and enjoy the view. You’ll also see a gorgeous bridge here that looks exactly like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I think they were designed by the same guy!
After you visit the tower, you can walk about half a mile to Jerónimos Monastery. Jared and I walked over during golden hour and took some beautiful photos while it was really empty but we loved it so much, we came back the next day when it was open to visit the museum and wander the monastery grounds! I highly recommend this.
The museum has some cool artifacts and artwork but what really made an impression on us was the gorgeous detail in all the architecture. I took tons of photos here so sorry not sorry, I have to spam you with some.
São Jorge Castle is another beautiful area to explore. We walked all the way here even though it is really high up but it wasn’t bad, as there are a lot of fun viewpoints along the way. There are insane ruins here that we got to tour and you also get a magical view of the city.
There are plenty of shortcuts to help you get to the castle like this graffiti lined path!
Where to Take Photos…For the Gram
If you’re in the Alfama area, stop off at this gorgeous viewpoint – Miradouro de Santa Luzia. There’s a nice view of the water, all the famous rooftops, and the grounds itself are beautiful. There is a lot of tiling and a small church. You will see the famous trams around Lisbon and in the Alfama district, runs the famous Tram 28. We didn’t feel the need to travel on a small tram that is rumored to have terrible pickpocketing but hey, it does look cool! Instead, I opted to just take photos of one. We usually explore by foot anyway!
You’ve probably seen this all over Instagram but not everyone tags it with the right geotag, so if you’re looking for the exact name of this bookstore it’s called Ler Devagar. It’s an independent bookstore within LX Factory which is a fun spot to visit. I thought there were going to be more shops but it’s actually a better spot for food and drinks. Basically it’s a historic industrial complex that got converted into an artsy district of shops and restaurants. You’ll even find some that are inside shipping containers!
Another popular Instagram spot is Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as the Pink Street. This was Lisbon’s historic red light district that’s now deserted during the day, except for tourists, and a spot for nightlife during the evening. The shocking pink street will totally catch your eye and you can’t miss it. We actually stumbled upon this by accident and I immediately recognized it from you guessed it, Instagram.
Another popular area to wander but take photos is the Praça do Comércio square which is right by the water. There are restaurants here as well as the famous beer museum (lol). We indulged in some beers but trust me, we did our fair share of learning about the history of Portugal. I would say skip the Lisboa Story Center, by the way. It was kind of lame.
Literally any street or doorway will probably make a good photo op. Lisbon is seriously beautiful that you can’t go wrong anywhere you look.
Where to Eat
Time Out Market is one of the new, hip spots in the city that every foodie has to go to. There is a little bit of everything here though I’d recommend starting out with some traditional Portuguese foods. One of the things we tried was Portuguese duck rice, as pictured below. Pretty tasty but we agreed it could use some hot sauce! We also got some delicious sangrias here as a pick me up. Just a warning, the market is crazy busy and it can be difficult to find seats.
Walking around the city, you will find tons of cafes, restaurants, and small eateries. We found it overwhelming to pick places to eat even! This gelato was one of my favorite snacks.
Possibly the most hyped food is the Portuguese egg tart – but for a good reason. Pasteis de Belem is the most famous spot to get the tarts however you can find these all over the city. I’m usually hesitant to wait in long lines but the line passes quickly and if you’re taking the tarts to go, it’s really not too bad. These are perfectly flaky in the crust but so creamy and rich inside. I am drooling just thinking about them!
Another famous snack you have to try is called bolinhos de bacalhau or salted cod cakes. They’re very, very salted as the name suggests and remind me a bit of a crab cake. Highly recommend only when they are piping hot! Once they have cooled down, they’re not as enjoyable.
Something else recommended to us was a fado dinner. Fado is a genre of music famous in Portugal that is very emotional, and powerful. We went to Casa de Linhares for our dinner and it was an incredible experience. We did a tasting menu so we were SO incredibly stuffed by the end of the night. I already forgot all the food that we ate but we had a variety of seafood for sure.
What to Pack
Obviously depending on the time of year, you’ll have to pack accordingly however in general I would say there are a few must-have essentials all year long.
-Comfortable walking shoes. Lisbon is a very old city and there are tons of hills and cobbled streets. Your adorable heeled shoes are great for Insta but your feet will hate you. Be kind to yourself and just wear comfy shoes.
–Sunscreen. Even in November (which is when we went) there was a lot of sunshine. You need sunscreen and maybe a hat.
–Light jackets. Again, even in November, it wasn’t freezing (unlike Prague which we went to right after but that’s a different story). You still experienced some winds though, especially when on the mountaintop in Sintra. It did sprinkle here and there as well so I would recommend a light jacket to guard yourself from at least the raindrops.
–Secure bag. I recommend something with locking zippers or at least something you can keep close to you like a small crossbody, worn in front. There are a lot of pickpockets around the city, especially on the trolleys. I never go on a vacation without my PacSafe backpack with secure zippers. I did a full review of the backpack here!
Congrats, you made it to the end.
Ah…this post is finally over. I procrastinated hard core when it came to editing these photos and because I had waited so long to write the recap, it took me extra long to remember what things are called. Going down memory lane was so fun though and I had a great time putting this together. I hope this was enjoyable and helpful!
Cheers, Lisboa. You are a gem.