Finally, I made it to Lisbon! It is such a popular spot for Irish tourists and I was the last one of my family to visit, with a list as long as my arm of recommendations I had a lot to pack in on my short 3 day stay. Lisbon is definitely up there as one of my favourite European cities, it has such great food, sites, events and sun. Before we jump into the good stuff lets starts with the basics.
How to get there
We flew TAP which is a Portuguese Airline and it was fantastic, such great service with large planes with lots of room and free snacks which was a big win for us. They’re also very punctual from what we have experienced. The flight was a short 2 hours 20 minutes with very little fuss at check in or arrivals. The flights cost was €187, round trip bags/seats included, note this was during peak travel months and significantly cheaper than other airlines for those dates..
Where we stayed
We stayed in Hotel Luminares in the Bairro Alto area. I would really recommend staying here if you are traveling in groups because they offer hotel apartments that have two rooms perfect for groups of 4 traveling. They are also situated in a really great area at the centre of it all, quite close to a lot of the good eateries listed below. Along with some great viewing spots like Miraduoro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara which is right outside the hotel along with close by trams for a great photo spot. It’s also a 15 minute walk from Castelo de S’Jorge /Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and 10 minutes from Pink Street, the Promenade and the wandering streets of Alfama.
Cost; €249 a night including breakfast
Places to visit
Ok, let me start by saying 100% download an electric scooter app there are so many to choose from; BIRD, LIME, FROG (we got bird). It is the best and most fun way to see the city sites, you won’t believe how much we got done in just 1 day by renting them. It was probably the highlight of my entire trip.
How the app works – first off there are electric scooters on every corner of the city (bar a few red zones).
You download the app for free here, add your card details and when you want a scooter you can tap on the app it’ll show you where the nearest one (or group) is parked and the battery power left. Once the scooter is in front of you tap “ride” scan the QR code and it unlocks the scooter, you are then charged for how long you have it. The idea is you grab one scooter to bring you to A. park it and go visit a museum or café when you come back out you might grab another scooter to B etc. you’re not tied down to the one scooter all day. Once you want to park it you tap “end ride” and snap a pic of the scooter parked safely and the app locks it.
I would be a very nervous person, especially cycling on roads or anything and I’m not going to lie for the first minute I was in a cold sweat but honestly after a couple of minutes I was flying and so comfortable on it. We did 15 km broken up on them in a day which took roughly 2 hours (split up) and the cost all together was 20 euro, which gave us far more freedom than a taxi. We weren’t stuck in traffic, got lots of fresh air and laughs plus it’s better for the environment so win win!
I’m going to map out what we did in 1 day to knock off some of the city’s best sites.
Ps. I would say be careful we mostly just used ours along the promenade where it is pedestrianised, a lot of people use them on roads which is actually illegal so it’s a lot more fun and safer without cars nearby.
Ps. Ubers are pretty cheap here too.
We did this in one day, you can break it up but honestly it didn’t feel like we rushed anything and it was my favourite day of the trip.
We started off by walking down to Praca do Comercio, with the main attraction being the Arco da Rua Augusta arch and the statue of King Jose I, this was the location of the Royal Ribeira Palace before it was destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake that looks out onto the Tagus River.
We picked up some birds (scooter) from just off the plaza, the path is cobble stones there so it’s not the best place to start but it’s completely fine so don’t worry, keep to the footpath left towards the bridge.
There is also a tram from here E15 to Belem (where you can see the monastery and get amazing pastries if you don’t want to get scooters)
We followed the promenade 8 km in the direction of the bridge which was our first stop.
Ponte 25 de Abril is the bridge that connects Lisbon to Almada, it looks very like the Golden Gate bridge from a distance and along the promenade you can get a great snap of the suspension bridge in the background, while hearing the rolling echo of the cars above.
Nearby you will see Padrao dos descobrimentos in the distance marking the ships departed to explore trade in India and the Orient in the 15/16thcenturies. Inside is an auditorium which exhibits a history of Lisbon, you can also get to a viewing point at the top of the monument.
Lastly you will hit Torre de Belem classified by UNESCO as “cultural Heritage of humanity’ symbolising the connection of Portugal with other cultures and civilisations. The fortress is an example of Portuguese Manueline style built during the Renaissance made of Limestone. Unfortunately on our visit the Torre was closed for a music festival (what a location!) but still beautiful to stop off and admire.
From here you can take a detour off the promenade to Mosteiro dos jeronimos which is a 14 minute’s walk or 7 minutes scoot away (1.1km) back towards Lisbon centre the way you came.
You’re too close to miss Pasteis de Belem only 700m from the monastery it’s a must (see below for more)
Following the monastery and pastries, get back on the promenade route back towards to city you can take another small detour to explore LX Factory.
Lx factory is a must visit for anyone heading to Lisbon. It’s a small village full of craft shops, eateries, pubs and rooftop bars. A complete haven and escape from the city to wander down the short cobble streets and meander from shop to shop. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink, ice cream or iced coffee to sit back and chill.
There is a great city viewing spot here at Rio Maravilha rooftop bar.
We strolled around Alfama and visited some of the city’s best viewing spots up at Castelo de S’Jorge and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Pink street, we also popped into some local stores. I have to say Castelo de S’Jorge was my favourite there were a few bar stalls at the top, it was the most magical place to have a sunset drink or chat overlooking the city. The cost to get into the space is €10 which is pretty steep so for a free option head over to Miraduoro da Senhora do Monte just 5 minutes’ walk from here, Zach preferred this view way more. We walked some of the tram 28 route which famously goes through some of the city’s best sights, but has become almost too popular with tourists that getting a ride on the tram that comes every 10 minutes could take about an hour in a queue at a cheap price of €2.90 if you’re willing to wait or get there super early. We routed it out on our google maps and did some of it on foot, it was way more enjoyable walking in the sunshine than being packed into a tram but I’m not sure am I just saying that to make myself feel better for lack of patience, ha!. If you want to take a short tram I recommend the one beside our hotel on Rua São Pedro de Alcântaratram, if anything it’s great for a snap.
Visit Sintra, It was a toss-up between Sintra or Cascais and the debate on my instagram post did not help. It seems both places are a love it or hate it kind of place. We decided to go with Sintra purely because we live by the sea and beach at home so we opted for a different kind of scenery. I thought it was a pretty magical place to wander, yes crowded with tourists but hey where isn’t these days? If you fancy checking out a castle perched on a hill with some killer views and a magical park this is the place for you. We opted to get an uber there because we were lazy to go get the train not going to lie, the Uber trip was 35 euro and took 30 minutes, if there’s a group of you divided it’s pretty cost effective. There is a train service that goes to Sintra from Lisbon which takes 40 minutes you can have look at it here. If you are driving you can get a car the whole way to the top but with the train you will have a 30-40 minute uphill walk to the castle gates, we did jump out of the uber at the bottom to get some steps in!
You will meet a fast moving queue at the gates and the entry to the castle and park is €14 per adult €12.50 for children or seniors. From the gate it’s a short 5-6 minute walk to the castle, on that note don’t forget to bring some water and some spf.
Where we Ate
Time Out Lisbon was sensational, I had never been at a Time Out Market before and wow was I blown away, not the most ideal place for an indecisive eater however if you like trying lots of things it’s great. This market seemed to be carefully curated to only host the best of the best eateries in that area so you can’t go wrong. We loved SeaMe for really good nigiri, Tartare for vegan options along with Asian Lab (best veggie option) and A Cozinha da Felicidade..
You’ll eat the best tapas of your life if you head to Agua Pela Barba (@aguapelabarba_restaurante)
Book in advance, we managed to get a walk in table but that is very rare.
Anything you order will be delicious.
We ordered 4 plates which were a good size portion and drinks and it came to €60 .
The best Tacos and atmosphere check out Pistola y Corazon Taqueria it is walk ins only, but it’s a fast moving queue but if your like us we tend to eat early than most Europeans so you shouldn’t have a problem if you head there once they open. Great vegan options the black bean tacos and mushroom tacos were so tasty. Also great value. Options for veggie/vegan.
Pharmacia for cocktails and tapas and a view to look out over the city. We weren’t mad about the food it was delicious but I think we had just had such great meals in other spots before here that we had really high standards- ha! It’s been recommended so much to me that other people seemed to really enjoy the tapas there, check it out here to scope it out before your trip. ( @pharmacia_cheffelicidade)
Fauna and flora for brunch its very typical with its avo on toast dishes but it is great especially for pancakes or lunch time bowls. The menu is huge so no matter what you’re feeling like they’ll have something to satisfy you. Lots of veggie/vegan options.
Pasteis de belem is where you will get the best Portuguese custard tarts and I don’t want to sound over the top but they are so much nicer than anywhere else. It’s only a few minutes’ walk or scoot from the monastery in Belem. The queue will be large but it moves really swift so don’t stress.
Other food spots I was recommended but didn’t get to check out;
Roof top of Park bar for sunset drinks.