Our Favorite Things About Lisbon
Start out with Lisbon during your Portugal trip. From hilly streets with cable cars to sweeping city views, there is always something to see. Portuguese culture is laid-back and the locals are friendly. There are so many reasons to stay a while.
Lisbon is a great city for digital nomads and also isn’t as expensive as other cities in Europe, making it an affordable place to travel. With all the free ways to explore this city, you can even save money while you’re there, while also eating great and seeing a ton of things.
Okay, ready for a trip to Lisbon? First make sure you do these things before you travel abroad, and then you’ll be set.
Best budget restaurants in Lisbon
For brunch, head to Café Noobai, in Bairro Alto. Here, you’ll get a view of the river and the bridge while you dig into eggs, coffee and bread. Depending on the day of the week, go when this cafe opens, to get your pick of a table with the best view and to avoid a wait.
For dinner, treat yourself at Pap’Acorda, above the Time Out Food Market. This is a top pick for new Portuguese cuisine, and it’s a good time to try Portuguese meat dishes, delicious appetizers and wines. Ask your server about pairing with Portuguese wines, and try a vinho verde (green wine).
For checking out market food and some faster options, head to Time Out Market (open late!) for all types of trendy food vendors, in a big open-air market with long tables. The Time Out Market is located near the water and is a top attraction for visitors.
Best chilled-out nightlife in Lisbon
The Bairro Alto neighborhood is the main bar area near Rua Norte, with various pubs, loud bars and little holes in the wall selling beer. We found ourselves out until 3am talking with locals and making new friends.
There is also a cereal café, called Pop Cereal right next to all the bars. If you love cereal, stop by for a bowl, in between bar hopping. Or really any time (they close at 12am). Our friend Eddie made this cool video for them, check it out! Dan loves cereal so he may or may not have been here a lot. Also fun fact, Dan had a Pop Cereal sticker on his phone for 8 months – until the phone broke.
How to make a self-guided Lisbon walking tour
Our favorite thing to do in Lisbon is walk around. That’s a free thing to do during travel, and we do it everywhere we go.
We kept walking all weekend. We couldn’t stop.
Bairro Alto Neighborhood
During daytime, walk around Bairro Alto’s quaint yet busy streets. Keep an eye out for the famous cable cars! There is a photo op at a place called Elevador da Bica, where an old cable car is stopped permanently in the middle of the street.
Try a pastel de nata
Also, don’t forget to try a Portuguese egg tart, called pastel de nata in Portuguese. You can find them in small bakeries anywhere! Buyer beware, they’re high in calories. Make sure to walk a few extra hills after eating one.
Next, look for Pink Street, which used to be the red light district. Now it’s a posh street with hotels and nightlife! Head back later on at night for some action.
In the Alfama district, we found historic architecture, lots of cafes and a tons of hills. Guess what? More lookout points await you!
Basilica da Estrela
If you’d like to sample some local life in a non-touristy area, check out the Basilica da Estrela, a grand old cathedral, next to a park that bears its name, called Jardim da Estrela.
To get here, walk 20 minutes from Bairro Alto, up a big hill, naturally. We enjoyed people-watching in Jardim da Estrela, and watched children’s birthday parties, teenagers hanging out and locals enjoying the pretty public space.
LxFactory is part of our alternative guide to Lisbon and it is a custom-built hip space with an bookstores, art, enclosed bar, cafes and more.
Going when it opens is recommended, as it gets crowded. This trendy area is like a secret part, so prepare to be surprised.
Where to Find the Best Views in Lisbon
Because of all its hills, Lisbon is an amazing place to get views, and take photos. We found as many spots as we could.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Go to Santa Catarina, a beautiful viewpoint where you can see all the churches and red roofs from above. Called Miradouro de Santa Catarina in Portuguese, this elevated area will give you a panoramic view of the city.
Zambeze Restaurant Roof Deck
We climbed hills through a neighborhood and wound up at ZamBeZe where there is another excellent view of the city from a different perspective. We sat down for a coffee here and it was a relaxing break.
Where to stay in Lisbon
We recommend finding an Airbnb or hostel near Bairro Alto or the Alfama districts. Both are charming, picturesque and near all areas of interest. We think you’ll love it in either!
Lisbon charmed us, and we couldn’t get enough of the friendly locals, grand architecture, cool shopping and fantastic views.
Staying in Lisbon for a while?
We have a lot of friends that have come to Lisbon for an extended stay. If you’re thinking of moving to Lisbon, let us know and we can help make an introduction with someone.
If you’re a runner, you’ll find Lisbon’s hills a challenge. Sidewalks can be slippery when very dry or very wet. We do recommend running along the water, and you can run to the next train station and take the train back to where you started, or turn around and see the view from the other side! Plus, Pacman.
If you prefer a gym, Dan recommends Fitness Hut. Beware, they’ll sign you up for a mailing list and it’s really hard to get out of.