This is my 4th time going back to Europe and I swear every time we go it’s like we don’t want to leave…I know it’s like that majority of the time when you take a vacation but EUROPE is like no other. You can literally stay for months and not want to go home. Bub (Hubby) and I take a trip every year in August to celebrate our wedding anniversary and each time my goal is to give ourselves an unforgettable experience, more like bucket list moments. This year we decided to do Portugal. I picked Lisbon and Porto. You can read more about Porto in my next post.
I did so much research before going on this trip (typical me) I feel like I should become a Vacation Planner (Lol) and was so confused if we should do Portugal or not, many reviews and sites said it’s mediocre, it’s not the nicest, it’s the slum of Europe blah blah blah but please let me tell you DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT. Portugal is not only beautiful but Lisbon is probably one of my favorite cities I’ve visited so far. So if you are even slightly debating, DON’T. It will exceed your expectations.
Baxio/Chiado – One of the liveliest neighborhoods, most popular for nightlife, bars and restaurants. Great for young couples, singles and people who want to be out and about.
Bairo Alto – The drinking alley is what I like to call it. The liveliest alleys in Lisbon, Everyone here is drinking on the streets, bars on bars and small clubs jammed right beside each other. We ended up here on our first night and won’t ever forget it! Although we don’t drink we Red Bulled it all night!
Alfama –Named the old quarter of Lisbon filled with breathtaking views! Make sure to pack comfortable shoes because the streets are very hilly. Alfama is a beauty and let me tell you ladies it’s very romantic. Tons of great restaurants playing fado and it’s quite live till late night.
There are many other neighborhoods in Lisbon that you can also stay in but if it’s your first time you wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else other than the ones I mentioned.
There are so many boutique hotels and places to stay but this time around we tried Airbnb for the first time and it was the most amazing experience ever. We stayed at Jesse and Oscar’s beautiful and elegantly decorated Airbnb apartment which was located in the heart of Lisbon, Baxio/Chiado. Keep in mind that its extremely noisy in that neighborhood till early mornings, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet you may want to pick Alfama (Old Quarter).Our apartment was absolutely stunning and had balconies in the living area and bedroom so the views were great. Bub and I would just sit late night and people-watch before going to bed. Jesse was an amazing host and even bought us charger converters for our phones and left it for us in the apartment. Highly recommended!
Before booking our Airbnb, here are some of the hotels I was looking at.
- Hotel Avinda Palace – 5 Star – Located in the heart of Lisbon. Chiado/Baxia
- International Design Hotel – 4 star- Located in the heart of Lisbon, right beside Rossio Square, pat of the small Luxury Hotels of the world
- Vincci Baixa – 4 star- Located in the heart of Lisbon
Summers in Portugal means SEAFOOD GALORE. It’s really hard to find anything other than seafood so if you are a meat and chicken lover you may have to do your research to find something else. During the 5 days we were there I ate chicken once and it took me a long time to find it!
We stuffed ourselves with Bass, Sardines, Cods and Shrimps on a daily basis. Food is very cheap in Portugal. You can expect to have an appetizer and main for less than 20 Euros in some places.
Must try: Sardines, Bass, Cod, Seafood Rice (a big bowl for 2 comes with all the seafood in the world similar to a Risotto), Cod Fish croquettes, Caldo Verde (traditional Portuguese soup)
- Pharmacia located inside the Pharmacy Museum with stunning views over the river in a gorgeous setting
- Taverna Del Ray located in Alfama in front of the Fado Museum for reference point, we ate here two nights in a row and make sure to order the seafood rice. It’s ahhhmmazing!
- Cantino Lustiano – Reasonably priced best known for Portuguese Tapas
- Santini – Best gelato place in town, they have several locations, ask anyone and they will guide you to one nearby. Their best known for their fruity flavors but everything is amazing. Best gelato we have had yet!
See & Do
- Walk around Alfama, Chiado/Baxia and Bairro Alto
- Check out the night life before 2am in Bairro Alto
- Go to Belem to taste the infamous Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese tarts)
- 25th of April Bridge (looks exactly like the Golden Gate Bridge)
- Check out Christ the King Statue – Smaller version of the statue in Brazil
- Check out the main square Praca Da Comercio
- Take a boat ride on the Tagos River
- Alfama has stunning views make sure to check the view from Miradouros or Golden View
- Largo de Carno Square
- Check our Rossio Square
- Go to Sintra for the day – Must check out Sintra Palace
- Monestory of Jeronimo
- Check out Docas and go for a dinner date right by the water – Waterside
- Getting around in Lisbon is very easy; we stayed in Chiado/Baxia so we literally walked everywhere.
- There is also an amazing Tram system that takes you to Alfama for $7 and there are bus stops everywhere
- You can also ride the Tuk Tuk’s. They have only been in Potugal for 5 years now and they are quite a nice experience. Most of them also offer day tours starting at 40 Euros
- No need to leave tips in Europe, it’s only a North American thing!
- When you order Coffee it means you are ordering an espresso shot, if you want coffee you have to say “ café au lait”
- French is very commonly spoken so might not be a bad idea to pick up a dictionary
- Lisbon is the hilliest city I have ever been to, make sure you are ready to walk up and down the hills . The roads are all cobble stone which can be also be slippery. Pack comfortable shoes and leave your heels at home!
- Watch Fado (traditional Portuguese music) in Alfama, they take this very seriously and Fado music is historically sad so make sure you respect the music and the environment
- Book your tours ahead of time so you don’t waste looking for tour guides especially if you are there for a short period of time. I booked all mine through Viator
- If you are going during the summer most places don’t have AC so just be prepared to check the temperature and pack accordingly. Also check with your Airbnb to ensure they have AC.
Don’t leave Lisbon without…
- Trying the Pasteis de Natas – Custard tarts
- Riding a Tuk Tuk
- Going to Sintra for the day
- Checking out the beach life
- Trying the seafood
- Watching a Fado show
Our Lisbon Itinerary (4 days)
- Familiarized our self with our surroundings, we were staying in Chiado so we took the evening to walk around to figure out what’s close to us.
- Walked around Bairro Alto to check out the night life, went to a small club and didn’t get home till 5am!
Full day trip to Sintra and Cascais – Booked through Viator for an avg of $50 CAN per person. Spent the evening in the main Square Praca da comercio and watched the light show
- Small Lisbon Group Tour through Viator which included
- Belem Tower
- Monestory of Jeronimo
- 25th of April Bridge Christ the King Statue
- Main Square Praca Da Comercio
- Docas by the water
- Lisbon Baxia
- Afternoon walk by the Tagos River
- Fado Show in the evening
- Walked around and partied by Docas (Santo Amaro Docks) at night time
If you need any more advice or questions, shoot me an email! Would love to hear your feedback on this post. Enjoy Lisbon!