Happy Tuesday! You guys seemed to really enjoy my last post on top 10 things to do in Marrakech, so I figured why not do one for Lisbon as well? We spent quite a bit of time in Portugal split between Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra that I might just do a specific post for each city. I feel like I may regret this once I start and find out that I have to write all of this 3 times over, but who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy it!
When we went on our trip a couple of weeks ago, we kicked off the first 2/3 of it in Portugal, and instantly fell in love with the country. We’re already making a list of all the places that we want to hit up the next time that we go back (the goal is in the next few years), and I’m so excited – probably even more than our next destination! Hopefully this speaks volumes of the phenomenal country, because there are literally no words to describe how much we love Portugal!
Wander through all of the beautiful cobble-stone streets
Portugal is definitely a walking country. The whole place is built on mountains, so the streets aren’t level and stairs will be a big thing that you’ll face. If you’re not much a walker, there are definitely things that you can do without having to exert that much energy. But I found that some of the most beautiful streets were hidden ones that we walked around aimlessly lost in circles while exploring.
If you love to walk around, I would highly recommend walking to Miradouro das Portas do Sol to again take in the beautiful view.
We made a goal to hit about 20k steps everyday while in Portugal, and these goals were easily hit. You have to work off all of the egg tarts that you consume after all!
Take a day trip to Belem and visit the monastery. Even if you’re not religious (I’m more or less not), I would highly recommend that you pop into Mosteiro Jeronimos for a visit. I’m a true sucker for beautiful architecture (if you couldn’t already tell from my fawning over all of the stunning places in Marrakech), and this monastery blew my mind away.
Although the church is still active, you can visit the cloisters on the other side and wander through the hallways and admire the beautiful carvings on the walls. If we weren’t in such a rush, we would have probably popped into the adjacent museum connected to the monastery as well, but we were on the hunt for Portuguese egg tarts, so our visit was cut short.
Pasteis de Belém
If there’s one thing that you have to eat while in Portugal, it’s their egg tarts. You can’t leave the country without having tried them at least once. Once you’re done at the monastery, take a short walk over to Pasteis de Belém for their famous tarts (probably the most famous ones in the entire country). The line may look long, but the workers are efficient and you won’t be waiting for longer than 10-15 minutes tops. We ended up taking a package of 6 to go so that we would have some for the road and for the next day as well. I’m not ashamed to say that I had egg tarts for breakfast almost every single morning while we were in Lisbon.
Torre de Belem
If you have some time after chowing down on your egg tarts, walk back over to Torre de Belem to admire the beautiful view.
Tip: You’ll encounter a long line up to enter the tower but don’t be tempted to join the tourists.
To be honest, the view from inside and from the top isn’t that phenomenal (considering that the tower isn’t really that high), and you’re better off sitting on the steps leading down to it and relaxing from there. Trust me, the view of the outside of the tower is significantly better than what you’ll be able to see from the inside. Save that couple of dollars and score yourself some more egg tarts instead.
Praça do Comércio
For a beautiful view of the harbour, and to enjoy some street buskers, take a walk along the Praça do Comércio. This is also where you’ll be able to catch a tram to Belem for delicious egg tarts and beautiful sites. The square is massive, but it won’t take you long to walk around the whole place. There are some small vendors here and there, along with some restaurants scattered throughout, but overall the place is more of a meet up spot with a beautiful gateway – definitely a photo opp!
The Decadente Restaurante & Bar
We went here for dinner one night by recommendation of 2 fellow Toronto Instagrammers (@lapetitenoob, @dialaskitchen), and the restaurant seriously held up to our expectations. I kind of wish that we also had the time to go back for brunch because the food there was absolutely delicious.
It’s a little far from the downtown core, but a mere 10-15 minute Uber ride away. If the wait for a table is too long, do not, and I repeat do not leave for somewhere else. There is ample space by the bar to sit down and enjoy a drink while waiting for a table to clear out, and I believe that you’re able to order some apps to snack on while you’re waiting too. We received impeccable service while here (the bar staff was ridiculously attentive and extremely welcoming), and if there was ever a place that I would go back for more drinks, this would be it!
If you can’t guess by now, we ate our way through Portugal. Pharmacia also came by recommendation from Joelle, and this restaurant also did not disappoint. The flavours here appeal more to the comfort food, home dinner style, but I loved it regardless. We also had delicious drinks here too and the decor is on point.
On the day that we stopped in for lunch, it was quite warm, so we opted to dine indoors away from the sun, but I do dream of going back to lounge on their outdoor patio. The front of the restaurant oversees a beautiful park in front with a view of the harbour as well (from what I remember), so it would be a great place to park yourself for a bit to relax and enjoy a cold drink.
This very nondescript bar was actually recommended to us by a local who reached out to me through Instagram. Through all of our research of the best things to do in Lisbon, we never once stumbled upon this place – which kind of sucks. I’m so glad that we took the time to check it out, otherwise we would have missed out on the beautiful sunset view over the entire city.
It’ll be hard to find, but the trek is worth it. PARK Bar is located on the top of a parking garage (yes, really), and you’ll either have to walk up a set of stairs or ride the ridiculously slow elevator. Either way, follow the group of people randomly walking into the parking garage and you’ll know that you’ve found your place. Once you get inside, your first order of business is to secure a seat right next to the church bells so that you can watch the sun set over the roof tops. Then send someone off to order your drinks for you.
I’ve recently fallen in love with Gin Sours, and they make a delicious one – so that’s my drink reco for the day!
Castelo de São Jorge
Yet another beautiful place to take in the sunset – trust me, we did this a lot while exploring Portugal. The country is riddled with beautiful views, and watching the sun set over the water and city is never something that gets old. Make sure to allot yourself enough time to explore this castle, as the estate is quite large and when it gets dark, it’s hard to see where you’re going. There isn’t much artificial lighting on the inside, and you’ll definitely want to explore before taking a seat on the ledges overlooking the city.
Tip: Wear sneakers on the day that you plan to visit the castle. It’s quite the trek and there are lots of cobblestones and rocks along the way.
Miradouro das Portas do Sol
Trust me, sunsets don’t ever get old in Portugal. The beautiful overlooking view of Alfama offers stunning views of the city as well as breathtaking moments with the sunset. We gladly spent an hour here just relaxing and taking in the view. It’s not a place that’s overly crowded by tourists either, so the views are fairly unobstructed and you’ll easily nab a photo. This lookout is probably one of the more magical sunset moments that we experienced while in Lisbon, and I often dream of being back there.
And there you go! My top 10 favourite things to do while in Lisbon! There were so many others that I wanted to mention but tried to keep it as condensed as possible for feasibility of reading. If you can’t already tell, I fell hard for Portugal – probably more than anywhere else that I’ve ever traveled to. And this love for the country really caught me off guard because I never thought that I could feel this way for anywhere else other than home. I hope to inspire your future trips to Portugal and that you get the chance to relive some of the magic that we experienced while we were on our trip!