It wouldn’t be a trip to Portugal without a stop in this large, sophisticated city with pockets of old-world European charm. Spend three days in Lisbon and you’ll have plenty of time to discover all the pockets of wonderful things this area has to offer. Lisbon, while expansive and mysterious, wasn’t quite as thrilling for me after spending so many days in Porto. It’s a much larger city and it feels that way. That being said, it’s a worthwhile stop for two to three days while you are exploring the country. Although I won’t return for a second visit, I am overwhelmingly happy that I visited and it wouldn’t be a trip to Portugal without a visit to Lisbon.
Don’t get me wrong – Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a city that everyone should visit at least once. It’s got stunning architecture, expansive views, delicious food, and enticingly, a warm climate. Countless reasons to add spending three days in Lisbon to your bucket list. Historically, the city has been ruled various civilizations, including the Moors, who left their mark in the form of architecture. Prime examples: the Castle of São Jorge and the Alfama neighborhood (which is where you should stay). You’ll find plenty more grilled sardines in this part of the world, but they are also famous for Cozido à Portuguesa, a hearty stew that is perfect for a chilly night. The public transportation system is easy to navigate if you don’t want to walk entire stretches of this expansive city like I prefer.
Check out my personal recommendations and Lisbon Travel Guide after the photos.
Lisbon Travel Guide
STAY: You want to stay in the Alfama district: it’s tight magical winding streets are even smaller than those that have a similar feel in Porto. There are tiny restaurants and cafes tucked into every corner with traditional food and Fado music, the melancholy but traditional music of the country. There are charming and vintage private rooms to be had on Airbnb in the area for $20-40 a night in the area and entire flats for $35-$70.
EAT: I had a harder time finding cuisine that I was over the moon for in Lisbon, simply due to the grander larger nature of the city. Small intimate recommendations were harder to come by here: Lisbons’ seem to pride themselves on being a cosmopolitan city and most of the places that were suggested were fancier and more American than we were looking for. That being said, I had some solid meals in the city, the most memorable of which came on my last night in a small restaraunt with three tables run by one older woman who spoke no english. She fed me the traditional dish of Portugal: salted cod with shredded fried potatoes and it was clearly the nation’s comfort food.
- Queijaria for afternoon snacks or lunch: this place was quaint, unassuming and filled with amazing cheese. It’s a great place to stop and refill mid day while you are out exploring – you can quench your thirst with a glass of wine and eat cheese and antipasto to your heart’s content.
- Garrafeira Alfaia is dark, unassuming and comfortable. Dine on traditional black pudding rice with cumin, sausage with scrambled eggs or the secret black pork Lagareiro. If you aren’t that hungry, order more wine and cheese. I may have consisted on pure wine and cheese this entire trip.
- Frangasqueira Nacional for lunch. This small grilled meat shop offers nowhere to sit, but quite possibly the best blood sausage and roasted chicken in the city. Order up a mixed meat platter and head down the road to the Principe Real Garden to enjoy it. After that, head down the road to the Botanical Garden to walk off your massive food coma.
- Solar do Vinho do Porto is a warm cozy place to curl up on the couch with a book on an overcast day. It’s dark and wonderful in there and the selection of ports will astound you.
- Listen to Fado at anywhere that draws you in at night in Alfama. You can wander the streets until you hear something that intrigues you or make dinner reservations
- Get lost in the streets of Almalfa. The view is particularly gorgeous from Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Wander all the way up to the mediaeval Castle of São Jorge, the royal residence until the early 16th century.
- The Museu Colecção Berardo has an impressive collection of modern art and no entrance fee. It had more Warhols than I’ve ever seen in one collection!
- Still not museumed out? Head up to the Museu da Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian which has an incredibly impressive collection of ancient world, religious and Impressionist and European art.