History? Charm? Good wine? This European city has it all. Plan your next vacation with the help of my What to Do & Eat in Lisbon travel guide.
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Well, gang, this is it. The last part of my honeymoon series. So far we’ve traveled to Barcelona, Ibiza, and Mallorca. Now it’s time for the last stop on our tour: What to do & eat in Lisbon, Portugal!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad this series is coming to a close. It’s been an awesome way for me to relive our honeymoon! I guess I’ll just have to look back at these posts from time to time to live vicariously through my own memories. Oh, by the way, did you see the sneak preview we got of our wedding photos? We got a few back from our photographer! I posted some of my favorites on the ‘gram.
Anywho, onto the guide. What do do and eat in Lisbon (or Lisboa as the locals call it), here we come!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the Lisboa Plaza Hotel in Lisbon’s historic center. The location was fantastic. The hotel itself was so-so. It was a pretty dated, but I’ll chalk that up to European charm. Although it could have used some upgrades, everything was functional, so I don’t really have any complaints. We tend not to spend a lot of time at the hotel (active vacations for the win), so as long as it’s safe and in a good location, I’m happy. Lisboa Plaza checked those boxes and had free breakfast. Done.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
After checking in to Lisboa Plaza, we headed out to wander and explore. We stumbled across an outdoor market to get some lunch before making our way to the water to see Praça do Comércio, a big square off the Tagus river.
There were street artists and shops galore. We wandered down a few more side streets before heading to dinner, but more on that later.
The next day, we decided to sleep. Our plan was to catch Tram 28 up to the Alfama neighborhood, one of the oldest parts of Lisbon perched up on a hill. Our research told us to go early to avoid lines, but sleep won. As a result, lines we faced indeed (say that like Yoda and it will make sense). The trams make various stops just like a bus line, so it’s not the speediest form of transformation. It’s supposed to be part of the Lisbon experience, though, so we waited about an hour before cramming onto a tram. We rode up and up along the tight and winding Lisbon streets.
It was pretty neat, but then… the driver didn’t let us know when we reached the top of the hill, where pretty much everyone wanted to get off! The tram stopped, and I thought, “Is this where we want to get off?” No one got up, so I figured it must not be. Everyone else must know where we were going, right? WRONG.
All of the sudden, we were heading down.
“Wait… I don’t want to be going down!”
I told Will we should get off at the next stop and walk back up before we got too far down. The tram stopped, and I started pushing my way through the crowd to get off. I got off, turned around to say something to Will, and… he was gone. The doors to the tram closed, and it started moving back down the hill. Will was still on the tram! CRAP.
I didn’t know what to do. Follow the tram? Meet Will back at the hotel? Meet him up at the top of the hill? Stay where I was?
Fortunately, the tram stopped in traffic and Will convinced the driver to let him off. PHEW!
So, we took the tram to get an experience and avoid walking uphill. At least we got an experience? Honestly, the walk up isn’t that bad.
On our way up, we stopped at Lisbon Cathedral and the Portos del Sol viewpoint (where we were supposed to get off the tram) before making our way to São Jorge Castle.
The line for tickets looked long, but it moved really quickly. We bought our tickets and were told we were just in time for a free tour. SWEET. I guess missing the tram helped there!
The tour was awesome. We learned a lot about Lisbon’s history and the castle and took in the beautiful views.
The castle grounds are also home to a few peacocks. I guess they were in the mood to get a little frisky because the male peacocks were flaunting their feathers (a sign they’re trying to mate).
We grabbed a bite to eat before making our way back down the hill toward the city center and then back up the other side (Lisbon is hilly) to another neighborhood called Bairro Alto, which quickly became my favorite part of the city.
The neighborhood reminded me a lot of Brooklyn with cool little bars and tucked away shops along cobblestone streets. We spent some time exploring the area before heading to Lisbon Winery for a reservation (more on that in the eats section).
Later that evening, our wandering feet took us to a Fado festival. Fado is a type of music that originated in Portugal. It was described to us as folk-music, but it was more ballad-like and operatic to me. All the songs sounded quite intense and sad, and we learned later that Fado is characterized by mournful lyrics. It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m glad we experienced it while we were there.
The next day, we met up with a small group to go on a day trip out to Sintra and Cascais, two small towns a few minutes outside of Lisbon. I couldn’t recommend this day trip enough. I loved every single place we went and learned so much from our guide.
Our first stop was Pena Palace, which took my breath away.
It’s so beautiful, bright and colorful, and if the palace isn’t pretty enough, it’s surrounded by the incredible Pena Park. The park is over 200 hectacres (didn’t even know that was a thing) big and is absolutely stunning. The pictures honestly don’t do the palace justice.
We walked through the park a bit to get to the palace and then got to explore inside. We had our tickets booked through the tour so we avoided a line there, and we avoided the line to get into the palace by getting there early. Speaking of the inside, can we talk about this kitchen?
I was ready to turn Pena Palace into Chateau de Drinkwater (my new last name, by the by), but it was time to move on to visit the town of Sintra.
The town is so cute. More cobblestone streets and cute shops. Sintra National Palace is there, but we didn’t have time to inside. I’ve heard it’s stunning, though. There was some sort of fireman’s fair, though, so there’s this:
Then it was off to Cabo da Roca, which is the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
This stop was one of my favorites. The hills and cape are just stunning. It was windy AF up there, but these views are worth a little messy hair.
We took about a bazillion pictures before piling back into our mini van and making our way to the last stop of the day, the beach town of Cascais.
We took our time wandering around and may or may not have gotten lost in the winding pedestrian streets. Whoops!
I was sad when the tour came to an end but was excited to have another night out in Lisbon. We decided to spend out last night back in Bairro Alto for dinner and a little bar hoping.
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Lisbon and our honeymoon. The only thing that made me happy about leaving was knowing I’d be coming home to Moose.
I wish we’d had another day or two to explore Lisbon because there’s a ton we didn’t get to see, but we’ll just have to go back!
WHERE TO EAT
I did a bunch of restaurant research before our trip and wrote down a few places to check out. One of them was A Cevicheria. It had great reviews and looked delicious. They don’t take reservations and reviews said you could be waiting for an hour, but I figured why not? We got to the restaurant our first night in Lisbon. There was a crowd waiting outside and the waiting list was quite long. The host said it’d be over an hour but we were welcome to get a drink at the outside bar. Alright, I wasn’t hungry just yet. We can wait. We waited an hour. Then an hour and a half. The host assured us we’d be seated soon. Will was getting hangry and wanted to leave. We finally got a table over two hours later. I honestly don’t know why we waited as long as we did. I guess at that point, we’d waited so long, I figured the second we left they’d call our name.
The food was good, really good, but I don’t know if it’s over-two-hour-wait good. If you want to give it a shot, I suggest going on a weekday for lunch.
My favorite foodie experience in Lisbon was at Lisbon Winery. We booked a premium tasting experience, which was pricey but in my opinion very worth it.
We got to taste five different Portuguese wines from different regions of the country. Our sommelier walked us through each wine and also told us we could try a different wine at any time if one wasn’t too our liking. We also got to taste Portuguese olive oils, 6 types of artisanal cheeses (I took two Lactaid pills, hoped for the best and had no issues!), 6 types of Iberian Portuguese free range pork, long cure Pata Negra Ham and traditional jams. We left stuffed and definitely a bit buzzed.
You should definitely pop into a local restaurant in Bairro Alto for some local fare. Our Sintra tour guide told us to try cod cakes. I wasn’t sure I’d be a fan but I ended up enjoying them.
Last but not least, if you make it out to Cascais, I suggest stopping at Santini. They have a bazillion flavor options, including a bunch that are dairy free! I had passion fruit and mango. YUM.
I think gelato is a good note to end on. What do you think?
I hope you enjoyed my honeymoon series! If you’ve been to this amazing city, please leave your tips for what to do & eat in Lisbon in the comments!
What active adventures have you been up to lately? Share them in today’s Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up!
Have you ever been to Lisbon?
What’s the most charming city you’ve ever been to?