Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Lisbon: What to See, Eat & Do

If you watched my vlog, or read High Street Haul: The Lisbon Edition, Sephora Haul or Lisbon Outfit Diary then you’ll probably already be sick of me squeezing as much content as I can out of a seven-day trip from back in June. After spending 3 months travelling last year and having endless places to write about, I just can’t let go of the travel section of my blog. Plus, I haven’t actually blogged about the city itself yet, so just bear with me whilst I mention Lisbon for the final time. I promise.

As I’d already uploaded a fairly long vlog, I didn’t want to do this post in the diary-like format of my Southeast Asia or USA posts, but it’s also impossible to write a comprehensive guide to a city having only spent a week wandering around.

These are just my recommendations, things I saw, did or ate that I would definitely recommend if you were to go to Lisbon for the first time.


Although it seems like there are a lot of great hotels in Lisbon, we ended up opting for an Airbnb, just to keep the cost of the trip down as much as we could. Honestly though, I loved our Airbnb so much, I think I would choose it over a hotel room again and again.

We stayed in a tiny studio apartment, but it was so bright, modern and clean, and the location couldn’t have been better. We were well within walking distance of all the main attractions of the centre of the city, and also super close to public transport links to take us a further afield.

Things to see in the city

Lisbon Old Town - Alfama
Though the majority of the city centre is full of picturesque buildings and architecture, a trip up to Alfama is so worth the slightly strenuous walking up the steep streets. You also get some incredible views over the city from São Jorge Castle.

Elevador de Santa Justa & Convento de Carmo
Another spot for great views is from the top of Elevador Santa Justa, designed by none other than the apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. Right next to the top of this structure is Carmo Convent, or what’s left of it, following the destruction cause by the notorious earthquake of 1755.

Praça do Comércio
One of the highlights of Lisbon’s architecture is Commerce Square. While we were there in June there was a huge screen set up showing the Euros, and it seems like a space where there is always something going on and a lot of people milling around. The square is right on the Tajo River, which is a nice spot to sit and have a drink.

If you’re in Lisbon during the height of summer, it can get quite exhausting walking around in the hear all day, so we spent a couple of hours out of the sun and basking in the air con. It’s a really great aquarium with one huge tank in the centre, and lots of smaller rooms around it.

Where to eat

Meson Adaluz
We came across this tapas bar completely by accident when we were having a walk on our first evening, but it was one of my favourite meals of the trip. Not only do you have the novelty of sitting at old barrels, but the tapas and mojitos are incredible.

Restaurante Pharmacia
Yep, more tapas. We’d walked past this place a few times over the week as it was really close to our apartment and it was always heaving, so on the last night we finally gave it a go. It’s a Pharmacy museum by day, so all of the cocktails were pharmaceutical-themed.

The Decadente
This was somewhere we picked out of the guidebook, and it definitely surpassed our expectations. Any lunch that tastes this good with three courses for €10 gets my vote.

Hard Rock Cafe
This may be a controversial one, but we have a little tradition where we go to a Hard Rock Café in every new city we visit, even if just for a drink. You either love it or you hate it.

Places to travel to from Lisbon

If you’re in Lisbon for longer than a couple of days, there are a number of places nearby that are well worth a visit.

Belém is technically in Lisbon itself, but it’s a tram ride from the city centre. There are multiple museums in this area, but we just stuck to going in the Monastery of Jerónimos and having a look at Belém tower.

Sintra is a small town a 40-minute train journey from Lisbon with a Unesco World Heritage-listed centre. The attractions of Sintra include Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio Nacional de Pena.

Costa de Caparica
This beach is only worth a visit if you really fancy a day by the sea. There’s nothing particularly special or memorable about this beach, and the restaurants and cafes along the front are pretty basic.

From the moment we booked the holiday we decided that we would include a day trip to Porto. This involved an extremely early morning wakeup call and (due to delays) a very, very late night. But with the chance to visit another new city for just a €9.99 return flight, we couldn’t really say no. A trip to Porto is definitely something to consider if you’re going to be in Portugal for longer than a few nights.

Have you been to Lisbon or Porto? Which European city would you recommend for my next trip?


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