It wasn’t my first choice considering there are so many other places in the world I want to see … but when my husband suggested we visit, and Portugese friends convinced me to stop in for a visit—we did so so for six days, and I don’t regret one single hour!
Lisbon is a colourful city jam-packed with family friendly nightlife, rich culture, easy access to incredibly scenic daytrips, gorgeous scenery and the crème de la crème: creamy cod, green wine, bifana and pastel de nata!
Yes, there’s so much good food to eat here, but amazing experiences to be had as well. Portugal is a surprising country.
We visited other regions of Portugal on our month-long trip throughout Spain and Portugal, but I’ve compiled a list for just Lisbon alone. Here goes:
Top five to do in Lisbon:
1. Visit Alfama
Alfama is a wonderful experience that should be amassed by foot, if you’re able. Many trams or tuk-tuks (yes, tuk-tuks…) take a tour through the narrow streets, but one of the most charming things about Lisbon is to get lost in Alfama’s streets. Turning around every corner looks the same – with the gorgeous square cobbled pathways, smell of sardines cooking on makeshift BBQ’s down every alleyway and gorgeous gift shops here and there.
We were lucky enough to visit during Portugal Day and the Portugese festival – meaning late nights dancing with the locals to live music, bifanas to go and cups of wine for 1 euro. It was a cultural experience I will never forget – and family friendly – with everyone from grandmas to little children getting out during the night to join the dancing and experience the fun.
Oh, and at one stage one of the beer companies Sagres were giving out crazy green afro wigs. I crowd-dived for one – a souvenir of one of the funnest nights of our trip!
2. Take a trip to Belém!
Belém Belém! A short tram ride from Lisbon, this is a wonderful day trip where you’ll get to eat some of the best local food, visit breathtaking cultural sites and even visit a War Museum if it takes your fancy. Win.
We jumped off the tram and practically ran for Pastéis de Belém – where you can takeaway the famous Pastel de Nata, or opt to sit down for lunch. We arrived early for lunch – and lucky we did! We scored a table within minutes, while others waited half an hour or more to sit down and eat. Green wine, a selection of pastries and two pastel de natas each (they are the BEST in Portugal) and we were done.
The Tower of Belém, and admiring the waterfront is the perfect way to walk off lunch too. You may even walk as far as Museu Do Combatente – as we did – and end up buying tickets. A cheap way to spend a fun afternoon. We love war museums, and this one didn’t disappoint.
3. Book day trips to Sintra and Cascais
There are many places you could choose for day trips from Lisbon, but train rides to Sinta and Cascais didn’t disappoint.
If you only have time for one, Sintra would be our pick. We actually only spent an afternoon here but the scenery was simply spectacular, and there was so much we didn’t get to see.
We chose to visit Quinta de Regaleira for times’ sake – it was the number one rated attraction on Tripadvisor. It was simply stunning. A beautiful mansion, endless gardens and amazing wells to tour up and down – plus caves. It’s not-to-be-missed.
Cascais is a gorgeous beach town with stunning blue water, plenty of little coffee shops and gorgeous stops to enjoy a glass of wine with a view.
4. Try green wine, creamy cod & BIFANA
We were introduced to creamy cod well before we hit Lisbon (by our Portugese friends), and we ordered it as much as we could when we were visiting. There are many variations of cod you can try (and we make it at home now on occasion for a homely, scrumptious meal) but creamy is our fav.
I love a good glass of green wine; you can order it in most restaurants and from the supermarkets too – something different.
During my trip to Lisbon I was on the quest for the best Bifana. I sampled the pork sandwich in Alfama, researched the spot Anthony Bourdain recommended and bought them as quick snacks during our big travelling days. Who can go past a pork sandwich with mustard? No one in Lisbon, I tell you. No one!
5. Drop by a cooking class
Confession time… I hate cooking, and my husband wanted to book a cooking class while we were travelling. I was against the idea (and anxious about it for a few days, haha) but I can truly say it was one of the best parts of the trip.
Cooking Lisbon is an outstanding company, allowing us to cook a variety of dishes in a team. Plus, the class included olive oil tastings, plenty of wine and a great opportunity to meet fellow travellers. One attendee was actually a chef – which he didn’t reveal to us until the end of the class. I still follow these guys on social media and they regularly like and comment my pics – they really were lovely people.
Thanks for the good times Lisbon.
Bye from Pie xx