We had never discussed holidaying Portugal or Lisbon before but due to a friends wedding being out in Lisbon, we booked the flights and started getting excited. As soon as we arrived we were quickly amazed that Lisbon had never been on our to-do list! It was one of our favourite holidays to date which made it easy for us to decide on what type of post to write. So here we go, our top seven things to do in Lisbon.
1. Find out more about Lisbon on the open bus tour
We feel like we say this a lot, especially to friends and family, but a sight-seeing bus tour is worth a couple of hours. We learnt and saw more than we possibly could have done on foot. It’s a great way to get your bearings and will always be the first thing we do when we hit a new city. The red route is the best on this tour, we wouldn’t particularly recommend the blue as it takes you out of the city, it’s mostly just a good way to get to the aquarium.
2. Enjoy Lisbon’s food and drink – custard tart/Ginjinha shot
Everyone raved about the custard tarts, from Gabs’ Grandma to Richard
Wash it down with a shot of Ginjinha. Ginjinha is a Portuguese, sour cherry liqueur and they mostly serve it in mini chocolate shot glasses. It combines two of our favourite things, booze and chocolate. A must-try while you’re there.
3. Watch the sun go down at Madame Petisca
We’re not really big foodies and never seek out fancy restaurants while abroad, but this restaurant has got to be one of the best places we’ve ever eaten. The combination of the view as the sun sets and the awesome food made it the best night of our trip. (The veggie burgers are incredible, as is the chilli tuna steak and everything on the dessert menu. Check it out here).
4. Check out the Time Out market
This was a hidden bonus. The Time Out market is opposite the Cais do Sodré train station and is the best place to finish the evening. Around the outside there are various food pop-ups – there was so much choice and it all looked great. In the centre there’s the Time Out bar, we met a guy from South London who moved out to Lisbon seven years ago and we can’t say we blame him. When we went there was also music and loads of people dancing. We were only a few cocktails shy of joining in but the atmosphere was awesome. It’s open from
5. Go and visit the peacocks at Castelo de S. Jorge
The Castle of Jorge offers some incredible views of Lisbon. It’s one of the main tourist attractions of the capital and stands high above the city and the Targus River. In peak season you might have to queue for a little bit longer but the photos you’ll come away with are worth it. You can climb the tower walls and walk around the castle itself, it also has an observatory with scheduled shows. After all the step climbing you can relax with a coffee or ice cream and enjoy the company of peacocks and peahens (this was Gabs’ highlight) and their chicks. Cute huh!
6. Get lost in Alfama
Make sure you put some time away to go and get lost in Alfama. The twisting and turning backstreets of Lisbon are the most authentic and raw. Go and see how the locals live behind fabric curtains and stacked window boxes. Past every different doorway you’ll hear a whisper of local radio or a hint of home cooked food on the breeze.
7. Take in the best views from Parque Eduardo VII
If you have some spare time and fancy a walk, we would thoroughly recommend The Eduardo VII Park. It’s lovely for an early evening stroll up to the top and you won’t be disappointed with the views. It’s more of a nice to see than a need to see but it oozes romance as you amble past couples hand in hand.
Even better than Lisbon? – Visit Sintra
We don’t agree on this but as much as Gab loved Lisbon, she loved Sintra just a tad more. Check out our blog post on the sights of Sintra here.
Where to stay
We stayed in Paço de Arcos which was about 20 minutes on the train to the outskirts of Lisbon. The apartment we stayed in is no longer available, but we would still recommend looking into Paço de Arcos if you would rather not stay in the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.
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