Lisbon in a Nutshell: What to See, Eat & Where to Stay

Lisbon has indubitably become the European hot spot capital in the last years and attracts many tourists all year round. Keep reading to find out what I got up to in Lisbon and a tip that will make your stay in a hilly city much easier!

About Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is perched on a strait of the coastline. Legend says that Lisbon is built on seven hills and if you get there, you’ll think it’s true. The city consists of multiple districts called barrios and apart from Baixa, they’re all up on a hill. Better bring your sneakers because you’ll be walking up and downhill a lot!

What To Do

I love, love, loooove sightseeing and Lisbon is the best city for it. There are so many incredible interesting sites, it’s hard to pick only a few if you have limited time.

I’d highly suggest coming to Convento do Carmo first thing in the morning when it opens. This gothic church was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and whilst the roof has collapsed, the structure of the roof still stands. This was one of my favourite moments in Lisbon because it was just me and another girl there at 10am!

Since Lisbon is so hilly, it also has countless viewpoints (called miradouros) that each give you a different perspective of the city. One of the most popular ones is Miradouro de Santa Luzia which offers a view of the sea and the terracotta coloured roofs of the city. Another great viewpoint is Miradouro de Santa Catarina which looks out onto the Puente 25 de Abril, a bridge that looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

Close to the church with the round dome you can see in the picture above, a flea market called Mercado de Santa Clara / Feira da Ladra takes place every Tuesday and Saturday and I highly recommend a visit if you’re looking to get your hands on some more local souvenirs!

I took a fabulous street art tour that showed us a lot of the graffiti and street art in Lisbon in places you usually wouldn’t venture to as they are quite hidden. I’ll get more into that tour in my next blog post since I took so many pictures! If you don’t have time for an in-depth tour, take a metro to the oh-so-hip LX Factory. I actually found it a bit too hipster for my taste and food and drink were quite expensive compared to local restaurants, but the street art there is fab!

If you have a bit more time than a weekend in Lisbon, there are multiple day trip options. You could take a train to Cascais and spent some time on the beach (read my blog post about Cascais here) or you could take a trip to Sintra and explore the countless castles there (read more about my trip to Sintra here). If you want to stay within Lisbon, a trip to Belém is a must!

Where To Eat

In Belém, do not miss out on the best pastries at Pastéis de Belém. The bakery is most known for it’s delicious Pastel de Nata which are the perfect synopsis of crispy batter and melt-in-your-mouth vanilla pudding! I must have had 20 or so when I was in Portugal because you can find them everywhere!

If you’re a fan of food courts like me, you’ll love Time Out Market! It’s located near the Cais do Sodre train station and has a looooot of food stalls. It does get quite busy, but I went there numerous times and everything I tasted was amazing!

For more traditional food, head to the Bairro Alto district. There you’ll find countless restaurants and bars. Two restaurants I’d highly recommend are Bairro do Avillez and Taberna da Rua das Flores. They both do great Portugese food, especially the second one is very popular and I’d recommend booking a table a day ahead as the restaurants is teeny tiny and books out fast.

For sunset, head to the bar Topo Chiado which is tucked away on a terrace behind the Convento do Carmo and has a fab view of the city. The Elevador de Santa Justa is literally next door and without paying to use the elevator, you have the exact same view!

Where To Stay

I stayed at the Home Lisbon Hostel (book it here) which I loved! I’ve stayed in quite a few hostels over the years and have come to appreciate homely hostels. Even though this one is quite big, it still has a lovely vibe which might be fuelled through their daily Mammas Dinner where the whole hostel gets together for a homemade meal!

If you fancy a bit more comfort, there are plenty of hotels around. I’d recommend staying in the Baixa area as it’s a great base to explore the surrounding neighbourhoods and the train stations are close!

I’ll let you in on a secret that I learned on my last day in this beautiful city. After 3 days, my hamstrings were killing me because of all the uphill walking and when I was talking to one of the managers in my hostel, he asked me: “Well, why have you been walking up to Bairro Alto? Just take the escalators!” I thought I hadn’t heard right and then he told me that all the locals just go into the Baixa Chiado Metro Station, go through to the end and you’ll find a set of escalators that take you all the way up to Praça Luís de Camões in Bairro Alto. MIND BLOWN!

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