lisbon, portugal

There is a lot to love about Portugal, which must be why it seems like practically everyone I know has visited recently. It's affordable, the seafood is some of the best I've ever had, the people are warm and welcoming and the European charm of Lisbon is intoxicating. 

Nested on the banks of the Rio Tejo, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities on the continent and is rich with history from its time as the leader during the Age of Discovery. While that position of power is long a thing of the past, ancient ruins, cobbled alleys and seemingly endless mosaics of tiles have contributed to Lisbon's renaissance in recent years. 

There many easy comparisons to my current home of San Francisco also made me feel right at home. The 25 de Abril is Lisbon's answer to the Golden Gate Bridge. The endlessly hilly streets that sneak up on you and trams around every turn. Yet, with a strong cultural history and artistic personality, Lisbon is very much it's own city, ready to be discovered. 

Stay... Lisbon is a city made for Airbnbs. With a bunch of affordable options spread throughout the main neighborhoods, look for an outdoor patio or better yet a room with a view. We stayed in a lovely listing in the Alfama neighborhood. Our listing was bright and clean, and we loved the location. We enjoyed Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, for its charming streets and quieter vibe. We were a slight walk from the center of town and most restaurants (about 20 minutes), but we didn't mind that. There has been a wave of boutique hotel openings recently as well. Here are a few that caught my eye that I'd recommend checking out if you'd prefer to go that route: Memmo Alfama Hotel, Santa Clara 1728, Baixa House

Read... Wallpaper City Guide Lisbon for tips on things to do and places to eat. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel for a mystical story set outside of Lisbon. 

Pack... Good walking shoes & layers for the evening. 

Bring home... Tiles and soaps from A Vida Portugesa, colorful tins of sardines, and a few bottles of port (after sampling a wide variety, of course).


{ eat }

Copenhagen Coffee Lab (Príncipe Real) - This bright and airy spot serving coffee and yummy yogurt bowls (thought the pastries also looked delicious). A bit out of the way, but a good stop to start off your morning which some inspiring Scandinavian vibes. 

The Mill (Bairro Alto) - If a Portuguese-Australian cafe seems like a strange combination, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Open all day, this coffee spot serves full breakfasts along with pastries and coffee and turns into a wine bar in the later hours. While it may not be the most authentically Portuguese, it was a welcome stop for a hearty breakfast and speciality coffee. 

Dear Breakfast (Sao Bento) - Sadly closed on the day we tried to visit (Monday), I'd heard this recently opened spot is a must-visit for yummy all day breakfast, healthy juices and açai bowls.

Time Out Market (Bairro Alto) - Opened in 2014 as one of the first of several planned food halls for Time Out. With over 35 stalls selling regional specialties and a wide range of food option, this is a fun place to come with an appetite to sample a bunch of food. We enjoyed fried cuttlefish, grilled octopus and pad Thai from different stalls, topped off with pastel de nata from Manteigaria. 

Cantinho do Avillez (Chiado) - José Avillez is one of the most well-known Portuguese chefs and has contributed to the Lisbon culinary scene with 8 restaurants in town. While Belcanto is a more formal option (and Portugal's first restaurant to be awarded 2 Michelin stars), we chose Cantinho do Avillez for dinner one night for a more low key evening. I loved the ambiance and decor, and the global dishes with a Portuguese spin (inspired by the chef's world travels) were a hit. The lamb tangine was a highlight. 

Taberna da Rua das Flores (Chiado) - A cozy spot serving authentic Portuguese dishes. The ever-changing menu is written on a chalkboard and brought to your table for explanation by your waiter. We loved the mussels and fried mackerel paired with the house Vinho Verde. Try to arrive early (we used jetlag as our excuse to show up right before 5pm, and snagged the last open table) or be prepared to wait. 

A Cevecheria (Principe Real) - Many friends have raved this is their favorite restaurant in Lisbon. We didn't make it on this visit, but I've been warned to show up at 5pm or risk waiting awhile. On my list for the next trip. 

Pasteis de Belém (Belém) - A trip to Belém may be worth it just to sample the infamous pastel de nata at Pasteis de Belém. Be sure to try these delightful custard tarts from a few spots across town to determine your favorite!

Manteigaria (Chaido) - Another very popular pastel de nata. They also have a stand at the Time Out Market. 

{ explore }

Taking in the sunset at Memmo Alfama Hotel was one of the highlights of our time in Lisbon for me. The Memmo Alfama has a fantastic roof deck. Head to the hotel at sunset for a cocktail and dreamy views of the terra cotta rooftops of the Alfama neighborhood. 

Wander the city - Lisbon is small enough that you can get your bearings and a good sense of the city in a day. Our favorite thing to do was pick a destination and leisurely walk there, stopping into coffee shops and enjoying other sights along the way. 

Miradouro São Pedro De Alcantra -  While you'll be treated to scenic views around practically every corner in Lisbon, we were in search of a picturesque spot to take it all in. This park at the top of the Barrio Alto neighborhood was a a welcome stop to enjoy a cup of coffee and the view.

São Jorge Castle - An old Moorish castle that was the seat of power in ancient Portugal. Dating back to the medieval, much of the castle has been restored since then. It's located on a hilltop above  central Lisbon. You'll have a climb to get up there but will be well rewarded with views of the city and the Tagus River. 

A Vida Portuguesa - This adorable shop stocks tiles, handmade soaps, textiles and the adorable tins of sardines that I was tempted to bring home even though I don't really even like sardines. A fun place to stop to load up on special souvenirs from your trip and gifts for friends back home.  

Taste some port

Torre of Belém (Belém) - Built on the banks of the Tagus river in the 1500s the tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ceremonial entrance to Lisbon. Belém is a neighborhood slightly outside the center of Lisbon, so it takes a bit more planning to get out there (I don't recommend walking the entire way, which we tried to do). You can easily take a short tram ride to save you the time. 

LX Factory - An industrial warehouse that has been turned into art galleries, retail shops and unique restaurants. It is slightly out of the heart of town so plan your trip there accordingly. 

Tram 28 - An easy way to get an overview of the city. There are trams around every corner here!

Day trip to Sintra - Less than an hour outside of Lisbon, and easily accessible by train, Sintra is a great day trip if you are looking to get out of town. The colorful Pena Palace is the main draw here. It opens at 10am and its worth arriving early to have time to explore before the crowds descend. The day we visited was foggy, which was magical in its own way, but on a clear day you'll be treated to spectacular views.  



{ november 2017 }