Lisbon is really having a hot moment in travel right now. Everyone I spoke to about my upcoming trip said it was on their bucket list for 2017. Why so covetable then? For us it was all about the city’s beauty and of course the food! The latter pretty much being the main reason I travel anywhere.We also were after a nice relaxing trip somewhere near (2.5 hour flight from London) with good weather. Unfortunately in March you are not guaranteed hot weather and the rain came on strong 2 of the three days we were there, with sunny temps of 20+ either side of our stay. GUTTED.
How to get there?
We flew by British Airways from London Heathrow but all London airports offer flights to Lisbon. Lisbon airport is a short taxi ride into town (approx. 25 mins).
You can check out flight prices here starting from £45.
Where to stay?
There are many boutique hotel options in Lisbon. We stayed at the Internacional Design Hotel which was our third choice after Almalusa Baixa/Chiado and Santiago de Alfama that were booked up.
The Internacional Design Hotel is part of the Small Luxury Hotel group and had an amazing location right in Rossio square, which is also where the main train station is.
The hotel itself is chic and small with 1 main restaurant and big rooms with modern bathrooms. Our room had a balcony that looked out on to the Rossio square. The room also had a massive comfortable bed and a complimentary coffee machine.
Breakfast was included with our booking in the hotel’s restaurant, Bastardo, but we found this to be disappointing (weak coffee and an underwhelming continental breakfast spread) and opted to eat out for most breakfasts. If you decide to eat here make sure you ask the wait for an espresso coffee which is included and isn’t extra. I also found the restaurant staff to be slow and unhelpful too which was disappointing but the front desk staff were always very helpful.
If you fancy staying in an Air BnB you can find a selection here.
Where to eat?
Our favourite place for brunch was Topo, which was a great recommendation from one of my Instagram followers. This outside terrace has amazing views over the city and offers a set menu brunch spread that includes; coffee, a choice of eggs 3 ways, bread and pastry basket with preserves and a selection of cured meats and cheeses. We also drank Bloody Mary’s as the sun beat down on our faces. The perfect way to start our 2nd day in Lisbon but FYI this places opens at 12pm. You can opt for the non-veggie or veggie option. The Menu costs 15 euros a head.
Praca Martim Moniz | Centro Comercial Martim Moniz 6 Piso, Lisbon 1100-341, Portugal
+351 21 588 1322
Time Out Market
This was our first eatery on the trip and a good one to start with as you have some of Lisbon’s best restaurants in pop up versions all under one roof. We went from stand to stand ordering 1 or 2 dishes from each so we could sample a big selection of food including: Asian Gyoza and Satay Chicken, a Steak, cheese and pickle sandwich with sweet potato fries, some traditional tuna and pepper croquettes all washed down with Super Bock beers, which seem to be served everywhere (2 euros each).
Avenida 24 de Julho | Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon 1200-481, Portugal
+351 21 346 2966
Canto da Vila
This was one of my favourite lunch spots by far. A teeny tiny restaurant with 6 tables Canto da Vila specialises in craft beer and Brazilian/Portuguese style food. It was raining heavily when we came here and the maître d’ tried shooing us away as they were very busy but we insisted on staying to wait for a table. Don’t let the abruptness of some staff get you down, the hospitality was definitely lacking at times throughout our stay but we found that most people warmed to us after a while.
We shared a really tasty Trilogy of Bruschetta: goats cheese, chopped tomato and parma ham and rocket and a breaded goats cheese dish served with honey and walnuts. I am obsessed with goats cheese and always choose it if it’s on the menu! For main we chose the hero dishes on the menu. Rich had Feijao Tropeiro; a traditional Brazilian “Cowboy” dish of chorizo, beef, bacon, baked beans, sautéed spinach and mandioca (yucca root) flour with a fried egg on top (reoccurring theme we found). I had pork rib confit on a bed of mandioca flour fried in butter and bacon lardons. So unhealthy and sooo soooo good. I drank red wine and rich worked his way through a few craft beers.
The star dessert here is the chocolate carrot cake, which tasted nothing like carrot cake as I know it but was really moist and delicious.
I definitely recommend this.
Largo do Limoeiro 2 | Alfama, Lisbon 1100-307, Portugal
+351 21 886 4081
It was easy to find good restaurants here and to my delight there is plenty of delicious seafood to try! We did pre book 1 restaurant as it was very popular and we wanted a guaranteed table but the others we booked on the night. I would definitely book ahead for any of these restaurants though as we a few places we wanted to try out were fully booked or not open Sundays.
The first night we wanted something light after grazing our way through the Time Out market and many many Pasteis de Nata. Confraria is a chic sushi restaurant in the LX Boutique hotel and was recommended to me by another blogger who had lived in Lisboa for a bit. We love sushi and I really liked the food here however it was totally similar to something we would eat at a London sushi restaurant.
We had shrimp tempura, gyoza, baked aubergine and a selection of sushi rolls for main. The setting is really gorgeous and you can see the sushi chefs chopping away at the fish at the top of the restaurant. The cocktails here are also good and we worked our way through quite a few caipirinhas.
For dessert we had a chocolate fondant and a serving of green tea ice cream to share.
Rua do Alecrim 12-A, Lisbon 1200-017, Portugal
+351 21 342 6292
This was the only reservation we made pre arrival and it was sooo worth it. This restaurant fames itself for it’s “Cod 3 ways” dish which is to share and is priced at 40 euros. We thought it looked quite small in the photos online and debated ordering one each but the staff insisted 1 would be enough and they were right, we embarrassingly could not finish it all. It was delicious though.
To start we shared Octopus Carpaccio and ate the breadbasket, olives and tuna pate they placed on the table when we arrived. This will happen in most restaurants you go to without prompt. If you don’t want it make sure you ask them to take it back as it is not complimentary.
For dessert we shared a really delicious Chocolate Chiffon cake with strawberries.
I noticed that most wines served in restaurants are Portuguese wines. I had to ask for a recommendation, as I didn’t recognise any of them. We drank a nice dry white here for 32 euro. They also have Vinos Verdes on most wine lists. These are locally made fruity and less aged wines. Cheap plonk, basically.
Rua Salgadeiras 18, Lisbon 1200-396, Portugal
+351 21 342 1157
This was our last dinner in Lisbon and I felt like I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have after a late lunch at Canto da Vila. The interior felt quite boutique / cool vibes with a selection of trendy groups of friends and couples.
The food was decent and service was good. We ate a dish of Padron peppers and goats cheese (again) filo pie with a plum jam to start and Rich had a classic Portuguese dish of steak with fried eggs and chips. I ate Pork cheeks in a red wine reduction but had to sadly substitute the lemon risotto for mixed vegetables as the risotto had onions in it. We drank 4-euro mojitos.
Rua da Gloria 85, Lisbon 1250-115, Portugal
+351 21 150 7901
Pasteis de Nata is Portugal’s most famous sweet treat; an egg custard tart encased in a light, flaky pastry. I was fully prepared not to like these but after eating 2 in Lisbon’s best bakery; Manteigaria, I developed quite a taste for them and ended up eating at least one every day of my stay! Although be warned, once you eat one from the Manteigaria bakery no others will live up to the tasty freshness of these!
I recommend making the trip to the bakery in Barrio Alto to see for yourself. They sell 6000 a day. You can buy your pastries and sip an espresso in the shop whilst watching the bakers make these little treats. There is no seating!
Rua do Loreto 2 | Largo de Camões, Lisbon 1200-242, Portugal
+351 21 347 1492
Recommend but did not try:
Frade dos Mares || Club de Journalistas || Moma
What to do?
Our 3-day break to Lisbon was one of R&R so we didn’t experience any nightlife. I have linked a Trip Advisor listings below for the following:
What to do
When not eating or sleeping we spent our time walking around the city. We spent a few hours walking along the cities boardwalk and then up to Barrio Alto to take in views of the city from the Iron Tower. There is a 15th** century ruin with ornate stone carvings (3,50 euros). This is attached to a massive iron tower structure (1.50 euros) that gives the best-unobstructed views over the city.
On our third day we went over to Al Falma, which is the Moorish quarter. There are lots of pretty buildings with tiled facades to see here. It was raining pretty heavily this day so we didn’t get to walkabout as much as we would have liked to.
Lisbon is a small capital city and it’s very easy to get around on foot. Unfortunately it rained quite a bit so we were constantly jumping in and out of 4-euro taxis. You’ll see lots of Tuk Tuk’s around that you can also grab for a ride.
There are also jump on jump off trams all over the city. Every time one passed us they were crammed to this brim with people!
Fares and Passes
Flat fare on the buses is €1,80 – cash paid on board. Flat fare on the trams (streetcars) is now 2,85 Euros with the object being to make more users buy pre-pay passes. A single ticket on the metro is €1.90 without a rechargeable card, €1,40 with.
The main train station is Rossio and you can get trains out of the city to visit other destinations and even head to the beach for a day (nearest and prettiest beach is Costa de Caparica). Travelling by train is very cheap compared to the UK.
A day trip to Sintra
Everyone we spoke to about Lisbon recommended a trip to Sintra. We didn’t look into it too much instead just boarded the train on the Saturday and headed out. The journey is 40 mins and costs 5 euros for a return train ticket.
When we got there we didn’t know where to go but quickly stumbled upon a Las Tours Sintra, a talking car rental shop. These guys rent out mini cars and jeeps that guide you by talking GPS around the town. There are short and long tours you can opt in for and rental is done by the hour. The staff here is super friendly and talked us through all the points of interest (and tipped us off about all the best photo ops) so we could best select out tour to suit our interests and time frame.
Without Las Tours Sintra we really wouldn’t have been able to see as much of beautiful Sintra as we did. We rode in a safari style mini jeep from the 80’s which was a little more expensive than the smaller electric cars on offer but it looked so cool and was a crazy adventure. Oh how we laughed… It was so much fun whizzing around the on the winding roads for a couple of hours, following our guide and stopping off when we pleased to take a closer look at the sights. I really recommend this way to see Sintra efficiently and flexibly as landmarks are quite spaced out and it doesn’t restrict you to a tour guide group.
Smaller electric car 35 euros per hour and 2,75 every 15 minutes after that
Mini Jeep 60 euros per 90 minutes and 3,50 every 15 mins after that
Lisbon is an excellent destination perfect for a relaxed and fairly inexpensive city break as it’s a small place and much of it can be seen within 3 days on foot. I would highly recommend it if you are after a beautiful destination with delicious food and want to have a leisurely explore.
If you want guaranteed sun make sure you are going mid April or later as the only down point of our trip was the rain.
Are you planning a trip to Lisbon? Let me know or leave your own Lisbon recommendations below for everyone to see!