Destinations,  Europe,  Portugal

What to See in Lisbon

A city filled with culture, color, and some of the prettiest viewpoints in Europe, Lisbon is truly a treasure of the Iberian peninsula. Whether you’re looking for history, tasty seafood, quaint cobblestoned streets or just some gorgeous views, Lisbon has something for everyone. Three days definitely wasn’t enough time to see everything, but that just gives me a great excuse to go back. Read below for my all-inclusive guide of what to see in Lisbon!

Celebrating our trip to Portugal with my first drone shot ever!

Where to Stay

Although there are plenty of adorable neighborhoods to set up camp in Lisbon, we decided on a quaint Airbnb in the Alfama district. The apartment was spacious, well-decorated and close to tons of little restaurants and cute souvenir shops! The only hiccup we experienced was upon check-in…when the employee assigned to bring us keys fell asleep and we were forced to wait over an hour.

Even with this unfortunate delay, I would definitely stay in Ana’s Airbnb again! You can find the listing here.

Bairro Alto is another great neighborhood of Lisbon! In hindsight, Bairro Alto would have positioned us closer to the sights and public transportation than our place in Alfama did, but they’re both great options for accommodation.

If you’re traveling solo and looking for a fun, hostel-stay in Lisbon, look no further than Sunset Destination Hostel! Although I’ve never stayed there myself, I’ve toured the property a couple of times during my work with Bus2alps. The rooms are clean and spacious and the hostel has a rooftop pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Currency

Portugal takes the euro. Make sure to avoid currency conversion shops and Euronet ATMs! I would suggest taking cash out at a bank ATM, preferably one directly outside said bank.

Useful Portuguese Phrases

Hello: Olá (oh-LA)

Good morning: Bom dia (bom DEE-ya)

Good afternoon: Boa tarde (BO-a TAR-de)

Good night: Boa noite (BO-a NOI-te)

Goodbye: Adeus (a-DAY-ush)

Please: Por favor (por fa-VOR)

Thank you: Obrigado (obri-GAH-du)

You’re welcome: De nada (dee NA-da)

Yes: Sim

No: Não (now)

What to See in Lisbon

Pink Street

You thought I loved a pink wall…you should see how much I love a pink street! Pink Street is the perfect spot to document all your Instagrammable moments in sunny Lisboa. The magenta asphalt is lined with cute bars and restaurants, but beware: everything here comes at a higher price. It’s better to take all your pics and venture over a few streets for your Pastéis de Nata and vinho (wine).

Castelo de Sao Jorge

I’m forever searching for a viewpoint and there is no better picture of Lisbon than from Castelo de Sao Jorge. A €10 ticket grants you access to the 11th century Moorish castle along with the museum and a truly stunning view. Perched at the top of the hill in the Alfama district, the castle is surrounded by adorable shops and outdoor restaurants and is a great place to grab a bite to eat after some exploring.

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of a peacock raising its feathers! The castle is filled with the exotic birds. (Did anyone else know that a peacock cry sounds like a human child screaming bloody-murder? I didn’t and it was more than a bit frightening the first time I heard it).

Try Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata, an egg tart dusted with cinnamon, is the local pastry of Lisbon. Available on every corner, I couldn’t get enough during my stay in Portugal! Luckily you can’t find Pastéis de Nata in Florence, or else I might be in trouble.

The original Pastéis de Nata can be found at Pasteis de Belém. The bakery is home to one of the world’s most top secret recipes. Only three people in the world are privy to their secret. We never made it down to the Belém district, but we ate our fill of these flaky, buttery, custard-filled treats from Manteigaria. With three locations around Lisbon, there’s a reason there’s always a line out the door!

Take a Day-Trip to Sintra

If you have more than a day or two to spend in Lisbon, be sure to plan a stop in Sintra. Only an hour train ride away, Sintra is filled with enough palaces and castles to keep you occupied for days! Train tickets are only €5 round-trip from the Rossio Railway Station, and well worth it. The 19th century National Palace of Pena is a masterpiece of King Ferdinand II and my personal favorite attraction in Sintra. Tickets only €12.50.

Tip: The palace is perched on the top of the mountain, so take a Tuk Tuk to the top!

The National Palace of Pena.

And Tour the Moorish Castle!

Another must-see in Sintra, has been a symbol of Portugal since its construction in the 9th century. Entrance tickets to the Moorish Castle only cost €7!

…If you get hungry in Sintra…check out Casa Piriquita, a local pastry and sandwich shop in the center of town that sells delicious Travesseiro. A fluffy puff pastry filled with almond cream, travesseiro is the Pastéis de Nata of Sintra!

Ride the 28 Tram

Although Uber is unbelievably cheap in Portugal, you can’t visit the city without riding in one of Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams. It would be smart to avoid rush hour, the tram cars are cute but they’re not spacious.

Eat lots of seafood

Being right on the coast, Lisbon is home to some of the best seafood in Europe. Get your fill of deliciously fresh and affordable seafood dishes while you’re on the coast. Keep scrolling for a list of our favorite restaurants that we frequented during our time in Lisbon!

Seafood paella.

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte Viewpoint

I told you I spend my vacations chasing viewpoints…Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is the center and highest point of the Alfama district. This is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the afternoon with a Sagres beer and some well-deserved people watching!

Gulbenkian Museum

The Gulbenkian Museum is considered the best art museum in Lisbon. The museum showcases the prized collection of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, a British businessman with a fondness for art during WWII. His collection of Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Islamic and Oriental pieces is beautifully displayed and worth the €5 for a student ticket (€10 full-price). The museum is a great way to spend a few hours indoors recovering from the Portuguese sun!

Shop for some cork

Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world and Lisbon is a great place to buy it. With everything from cork bags to cork postcards for sale, I’m convinced the Portuguese can make anything out of cork. Teresa Martins, a Portuguese designer, even designed a cork dress for Lady Gaga to wear when she performed in Lisbon in 2014!

Where to Eat

We tried plenty of restaurants while in Lisbon; some amazing, some not-so-amazing. Keep scrolling for a list of our budget-conscious favorites!

Restaurante Sto. André

The perfect lunch spot in the heart of the Alfama district, Restaurante Sto. André was the site of the best mussels and grilled octopus I’ve ever tasted! With an spacious outdoor patio and fair prices, it’s the perfect local restaurant to sample during your time in Alfama (our Airbnb was right around the corner).

Fresh mussels.
Shellfish rice, grilled octopus, ham & cheese omelet, Sagres beer.

Comidas de Santiago

Another hidden gem in the Alfama district, Comidas de Santiago has a friendly family atmosphere packed into a tiny space. The waitstaff was friendly and accommodating and it’s the perfect place to throw back a few Sagres and try some traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Fish soup, cod à bras (traditional Portuguese dish, flaked cod mixed with eggs, fried potato and corriander), spaghetti bolognese, roast lamb with potatoes. Couvert: bread, olives, butter/patê, cod cakes.

Madame Petisca

Rooftop restaurant = views + food! My two favorite things packed into one perfect evening. A classy tapas bar with friendly staff and stunning view of Christ the King, Madame Petisca is the ideal location for a Saturday night dinner on the town. We had a lovely time trying loads of traditional dishes washed down with Portuguese wine!

Super bock (beer), Serras de Azeitão (wine). Sausage and cheese, popcorn chicken, tuna tataki with wild rice

A Obra

An tiny tapas bar in Bairro Alto, A Obra serves tasty food in an intimate and cozy atmosphere. The restaurant puts an interesting, yet delicious, twist on traditional Portuguese dishes and they are more than happy to offer a recommendation or two to confused American tourists!

Shrimp soup, pork loin and potato skins
Breaded oxtail croquettes with “Serra da Estrela” cheese and red onion jam.
Chévre cheese spring rolls with green apple purée and half-pickled cucumber.
Mackerel sashimi.
Prawn & lemongrass risotto.

I plan to return to Lisbon ASAP to continue exploring and eating my way around the city. If you plan on visiting Portugal soon, I suggest giving yourself more time than three days. There’s simply too much to see!

And if you enjoyed my guide to what to see in Lisbon, make sure to check out my related posts on the most-popular destinations in Europe! Like…A Weekend in Paris, How to See Barcelona in a Weekend and How to Spend Four Days in Dublin.

As always, thank you for reading and follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!

xoxo.

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