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I’m so excited to be sharing my Lisbon Travel Guide with you! Michael and I try to set aside two weeks every year to go on an international trip. This year, we decided on Portugal and Morocco. We visited Lisbon and Porto (Douro Valley too!) in Portugal and Marrakech and the Sahara Desert (with pitstops along the way) in Morocco. I’ll be sharing travel guides for all of the cities. First up is Lisbon as that’s where we started and ended our trip!
Portugal has been on my travel list for a while now. Once we started planning our trip, we had to decide where to go! Lisbon immediately topped our list as it’s the capital of Portugal, and we’d heard that it’s an amazing city to visit!
Lisbon exceeded every expectation I had. The people were friendly, the city itself is beyond charming and beautiful (old European feel), the food was great, and it was generally an easy place to visit and a place where we really felt like we were on vacation. Uber is available and most people speak English. And it’s on the far western side of Europe so it’s an easy hop from the East Coast.
Lisbon Travel Guide
Let’s dive in!
H&M Sweatshirt with “love” Script (only $10! wearing Large) | Lululemon Wunder Under 7/8 Leggings (wearing size 6) | Tretorn Sneakers (TTS) | Madewell Sweater Coat (sold out, similar) | Away Everywhere Bag | Away Bigger Carry On Bag
Michael and I book almost all of our flights and hotel stays with points. This trip was no different. First, we booked our roundtrip flights in and out of Lisbon via TAP Portugal airline (check out this post to see how we scored round-trip business class tickets for $54!). Our round trip flight took us flying out of New York (JFK) to Lisbon and back from Lisbon to Boston. The flight overseas is about 7 hours. On our way there, we flew JetBlue from Houston (Hobby) to JFK, and on our way back, we flew United from Boston to Houston (IAH). We picked the JetBlue and United flights based on the timing with our international flight.
When it’s all said and done, it takes a full day to get to and from Portugal from Houston. If you live on the East Coast, your trip will be a little easier. Since we’ve traveled a lot together over the years, we’ve gotten some what of a routine down for international travel. Upon arrival from overnight flights, I generally like to leave the day of arrival open – no plans – in case we need to nap. This was NEEDED when we arrived to Lisbon.
I was feeling a bit under the weather on our flight so I didn’t get much sleep despite being in business class with lie-flat seats. If at all possible, I highly recommend giving yourself a buffer day on the day of your arrival to catch up on sleep and acclimate to the time zone. After posting up at a coffee shop for a few hours, we were finally able to check into our Airbnb (more on that below). We both napped for a few hours before freshening up and heading out to dinner.
Where to Stay
Cami NYC Lace Top (wearing XS) | Leopard Oversized Scarf | Madewell Jeans (size down one size) | Sarto Boots (old, similar) | Kendra Scott Earrings | Gorjana Necklace | Anthropologie Bag (old, similar)
We stayed in two different places in Lisbon since we started our trip there and ended it there too! Apparently October is high season for tourists in Portugal – we didn’t know this. We waited until about a month out to book our accommodations. As a result, all of our hotel picks (all Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton owned properties) were booked! So we ended up going with an Airbnb.
I used to love staying at Airbnb properties while traveling, but I’ve pretty much grown out of that phase, especially after this trip. Our Airbnb was totally nice, absolutely nothing wrong with it! It was in a great area, was super clean, and had all of the basics. My number one complaint: we had to wait until 3PM to check in (after an overnight flight, this is NOT ideal). Other than that, I think it’s just me being a bit older now and appreciating nicer accommodations and the amenities that come along with staying at a hotel. Plus, between the two of us and Michael’s hotel status from work travel, it’s nice to be able to cover our hotel expenses with points. What can I say, I like the #suitelife. 😉 Try not to judge too hard. Here’s our Airbnb. If you’re looking for an Airbnb in a great location at an affordable price, this one is a great option.
We stayed in Lisbon and our Airbnb for three nights. We ended our two-week trip with one more night in Lisbon since we were flying out of the Lisbon airport. For that night, we stayed at a newly acquired Hyatt property – Hotel de Estrela. The property is a boutique hotel and a really cool property. It’s an old school, and there are only 19 guest rooms. The lobby and bar are really nice!
We were upgraded to a suite, which was very nice, however, there was one downside … there was no shower. Only a bathtub. And on top of that, the bathtub was situated against a glass wall that was completely open to the bedroom – it was odd. And I’ not a bath person. So this was a deal breaker for me. But that could have just been the case in the suite, I’m not sure. If we would have been staying more than one night, I would have requested to move rooms. Just something to keep in mind to ask if you’re considering this hotel!
What to Do
There’s so much to do in Lisbon! But with three and a half days to explore, I think we did a pretty good job of covering the highlights. As a caveat, Michael and I like to explore cities through food and drinks. We’re not huge museum or art people. Michael is more of a history buff than I am, but I do enjoy seeing historical landmarks when we travel to different cities. We also enjoy walking around new-to-us cities to get a feel for the different areas of town and different neighborhoods.
Tagus River // Lisbon is situated on the Tagus River. We found ourselves along the river several different times while exploring the city. It has a very San Francisco feel as there’s an iconic bridge connecting Lisbon to the municipality of Almada that looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was actually built by the American Bridge Company, which constructed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate. #funfact
Praça do Comércio // The largest plaza in Lisbon is a site to see (and people watch).
Ride Tram 28 // Ok, so we didn’t actually RIDE Tram 28, we just spotted it several times while out and about exploring and snapped a couple of photos of it. Honestly, every time we saw it, it was SO crammed with people, my palms would start sweating thinking about how claustrophobic it must feel inside. The Trams are a very iconic part of Lisbon. If you’re dying to take a ride, I’d recommend finding a less popular one than Tram 28 (as they’re all around the city) to experience a tram ride.
Parque Eduardo VII // This is a park located in the city center. It’s really pretty, and it’s worth trekking to the top (we used Bird scooters lol) for the view!
My outfit: Everlane Tank (wearing XS) | Levi’s Jeans (TTS) | Tretorn Sneakers (TTS) | Mott & Bow Cashmere/Cotton Long Sleeve (wearing Small) | Quay Sunglasses | Anthropologie Bag (old, similar)
Michael’s outfit: Bonobos Tee (wearing Medium) | Bonobos Travel Jeans (Athletic Fit, TTS) | Allbirds (TTS) | Warby Parker Sunglasses
Belém Tower // Belém Tower is probably the most iconic landmark in Lisbon. It’s situated right on the Tagus River and acted as a lookout tower at its construction in the 16th century. We didn’t tour the inside as the line was really long the day we visited, but it’s an option if that’s something you’re interested in doing. While you’re in the area, walk to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries). It’s a cool monument also situated on the Tagus River.
LX Factory // LX Factory is an industrial area that used to be home to industrial factories but is now home to lots of local shops, artists displaying their work, and restaurants. It’s a cool place to shop around and grab a bite to eat (although, I will say that a lot of the restaurants felt a bit touristy to me).
Lookout Points // Lisbon is HILLY. It’s sometimes referred to as the city of seven hills. Although it can be a workout to walk around the city, one perk is that the hills offer amazing lookout points over the city and the Tagus River. There are lots around town, I’m pretty sure this is where we went (and snapped the photo below).
Alfama Neighborhood // Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon. It’s so charming with homes, restaurants, bars, and shops lining the cobblestone streets and sidewalks. We took an Uber to the lookout point linked above, which put us at the top of the hill in the neighborhood, and we wandered downhill through the neighborhood.
Ceramincas Na Linha // I stumbled upon this ceramics store while we were wandering back to our Airbnb from walking around the Alfama neighborhood. It’s the cutest shop! So many fun ceramic pieces! They have classic plates, bowls, and really any type of ceramic you can image, along with some unique pieces like the large, colorful rooster I picked up and now have in our living room! Roosters are synonymous with Portugal -it’s a fun reminder of our trip!
Where to Eat
I love checking out coffee shops in the cities we visit. Michael and I like to not only hit up coffee shops for breakfast, but for lunch too! Usually, coffee shops offer some sort of food menu and prices are usually pretty reasonable. While traveling, especially for two weeks, this is a great way to still eat great local food, but on a budget. We prefer to splurge at dinner and on cocktails! 😉
Copenhagen Coffee // We stopped in both locations while we were in Lisbon. We actually posted up at the location that I linked for a few hours right when we arrived in Lisbon since our Airbnb wasn’t ready yet. The coffee is fantastic as well as their pastries. They also have heartier sandwiches for lunch too!
Tease // Tease is right by the Airbnb we stayed in. It was good, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to go here.
The Mill // This was probably my favorite coffee shop that we visited while in Lisbon. We ate a heavier breakfast/brunch here and everything was delicious! The vibe is really great too.
Benjamin Coffee House // A really cute coffee shop that has really great açai bowls.
Time Out Market – We hit up Time Out Market at kind of the wrong time. It’s essentially a large warehouse with lots of different restaurants, food vendors, and wine bars. We did try out the famous Portuguese pastry, Pastéis de Nata, treat while we were there, but I wish we would have been there around lunch time as it looked like a great place to grab a bottle of wine and a light bite!
Amazon Pearl Headband | Kendra Scott Stud Earrings | Madewell Sweater Coat (sold out, similar) | Madewell Jeans (size down one size) | Sarto Boots (old, similar) | Madewell Top (old, similar) | Anthropologie Bag (old, similar)
Tapisco // Amazing tapas spot with great wine! Go early to grab a table. We went around 6PM and were seated immediately, but it filled up fast!
Cevicheria // If you like seafood and ceviche, this is your spot! It gets very crowded and the wait time can be long, BUT they have a walk-up bar on the sidewalk where you can order a glass of wine and hang out on the sidewalk (and people watch) while you wait! We arrived around 6:30 and waited for about an hour, but it was totally worth it!
O Asiático // I have mixed feelings on this spot. The food was outstanding! But the vibe was a little lack luster. Maybe it was because we had been to Tapisco and Cevicheria the two previous nights, both of which have amazing atmospheres! Perhaps it was just the night we visited though. Like I said, the food was awesome, so I’d still highly recommend checking it out.
Alma // If you watched my Instagram Stories (I created a Lisbon Highlight) while we were in Lisbon, you may remember me talking about this spot! Alma was on our list of restaurants we wanted to go to from the day we arrived in Lisbon. It’s a two-star Michelin restaurant, has amazing reviews, and also a really approachable (and reasonably priced) menu. Unfortunately for us, it was booked the entire month of October. Michael and I both called multiple times to see if they had any last minute openings, and we even had the front desk staff at the hotel we stayed in (for one night) call too.
As a last ditch effort, I thought I’d try to utilize the concierge service that comes as a benefit with my American Express Platinum credit card (learn more about the card and its awesome benefits here!). At first, I had no luck. The concierge received the same response – they were booked. On our last night in Lisbon, which also happened to be the last night of our trip, while I was getting dressed for the evening, I received a call from Alma saying they had an opening for 7PM that night! Kid you not!
From the moment we arrived, the experience was amazing! The service was top notch and like nothing I’ve never experienced before. The food was outstanding. It was the PERFECT way to end our trip! If food is your thing, and you’re visiting Lisbon, make a reservation ahead of time at Alma. It’s well worth it!
If you’re looking for a casual afternoon or evening cocktail or glass of wine, we loved posting up at a table in this park (pictured above) and ordering spritzes from the pop-up bar and people watching. The park is situated on a pretty busy street so it makes for a great place to post up for an afternoon drink!
Monkey Mash // A cool, speak easy type bar. We went before dinner, and the crowd was a little light, but the bartenders were awesome, the cocktails were great, and the decor is really cool!
Foxtrot // This bar was right next to our Airbnb. It’s a true speakeasy – you have to knock on the door and wait for someone to answer. It’s a cozy, underground spot that would be absolutely perfect if you’re visiting in the fall or winter!
Double9 // This cocktail bar is super modern and located on a busy street – the same street as Cevicheria and Tapisco. The servers were so nice and hospitable and the cocktails were awesome – my favorite cocktails in Lisbon!
General Tips on Visiting Lisbon, Portugal
- It’s hilly! Bring sneakers (with good grips) to wear day and night.
- It’s pretty casual – no need to dress up for dinner (it’s too hilly for heels).
- Uber is easily accessible and pretty cheap.
- You need converters and adapters. Buy this and you’ll be set for any trip abroad for life!
- The airport is close to the city center – 15ish minute Uber ride.
- The currency is the Euro – You can get Euros out at the airport. Most places accept credit cards.
- My entire Portugal packing list is here.
Lisbon is a super easy city to visit as an American. It’s relatively easy to get to, especially if you live on the East Coast. Almost everyone speaks English. Uber makes getting around really easy. It’s a walkable city. The people are friendly. The restaurant scene is top notch. Overall, I highly recommend adding Lisbon to your travel list if it’s not on it already! It’s a place where you can have a nice mix of relaxing vacation time and exploring a new-to-you European city. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to get back there soon!