10 Feb Lisbon Guide 2019
Hey guys! Today I’m going to tell you about all my favourite places to visit, restaurants to eat, top things to do in Lisbon. My first impression of Lisbon was how well organized this city is. We felt very safe to wander around late night and everywhere was very easy to get to by walk or Uber. Even though Winter is not a popular season to go to Lisbon and luckily for most days we stayed it’s about 15-16 °C, still considered to be mild. And that makes Lisbon even a better walking city that we got to explore the city by foot. Here are our favourite city walks.
Elevador de Bica – Chiado – Santa Justa
Remember that’s probably the top tourist attraction in Lisbon so we headed to the tram station early in the morning to take the iconic postcard picture. If you decide to take a ride, consider getting a bus pass for a better value that gives you unlimited ride up and down from sea level to the old town. The old buildings and narrow streets where the tram passed by were very beautiful to check out also.
Chiado square was only a few blocks away from where the shopping area was located, a great a mix of new shops and heritage places such as Bertrand the oldest bookstore in Lisbon and Cafe Brasileira – one of the oldest and prettiest café in Lisbon.
We kept following the crowds and walked along the main strip until we spotted a tall grey building that resembled the architectural details of Eiffel tower, which is the Santa Justa Lift. We didn’t prefer to get in line and pay for a 15-sec ride.
We figured out a way to visit this attraction for FREE and get to an Instagrammable spot with Santa Justa Lift, signature colorful buildings and red roofs all in one frame. Here’s how you can get up here! Walk one block up to Carmo Ruins, and you should see a sign leading to a restaurant called Bellalisa Elevador. Keep walking upstairs to the patio you will see a walkway to get to Santa Justa Lift. So instead of waiting in line for 30 mins to get up, you can skip the line and get up to the same level where others needed to pay extra for the lift ride.
Baixa – Pink Street – Time Out Market
We started the walk from the heart of Lisbon, Praca do Comercio once occupied by a royal palace now is probably the most recognizable attraction with the signature yellow façade and statue of King Dom Jose I.
Walked all the way to Tagus riverfront and capture this enormous square as a whole. Sunset over the Tagus river was not to be missed. Lots of restaurants and cafes around the square and the most famous one has to be Café Martinho da Arcada. Even with mixed reviews and said to be touristy these days, I still think it’s nice to have a cup of bica (espresso) and enjoy the view on a sunny day.
Next, we followed The trendy Instagrammable spot “Pink Street” was on our way. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of things you can do in the day time as it’s a nightlife district. It’s just fun to see this spot in person but not only on IG.
Time Out Market was just around right nearby, a great central place for grabbing a quick lunch and trying all the local and international cuisines. We originally thought this was a touristy place so we had lunch somewhere else. Let’s say the presentation of most dishes looked way above average food court standard and might worth a try. At least we should have got some Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts) there because there’s absolutely no lineup.
My agenda was quite flexible and not busy so we walked all the way from Time Out Market to Alfama – the old town district. Got lost and wandered through the beautiful narrow streets, and made it to the top for one of the best lookout points in Lisbon. The best lookout points could get quite occupied with people. Don’t get me wrong, the vibe was so lively and great but just I preferred to find a quiet spot and enjoy my coffee over sunset. We just randomly picked a café to chill out and watch the sunset. Coffee might be slightly overpriced but the ambiance would make up for it.
We actually did a half day vintage car tour to cover the major highlights of Lisbon and Belem was one of them. We only had time to check out the Pastel de Belem and Belem Tower. You should do a half day and check out Monsteiro dos Jeronimos. We also stumbled upon a Pink MacDonald’s right across Pastel de Belem!! That just proves Lisbon is no lack of pink buildings.
Now let’s go to the Food as I just mentioned Pastel de Belem.
We have tried Portuguese egg tarts from the top 3 popular places – Pasteis de Belem, Manteigaria and Fabrica de Nata. My favourite would be Pasteis de Belem because it’s less sweet, we could still taste the natural flavour from egg custard while the other 2 places, the sugar and cream were too overpowering for my taste. My suggestion is to try them all because I find everyone’s preference can be quite subjective. For less than 2 euros you get to enjoy an egg tart plus a good cup of espresso, how would you be able to resist this kind of “sweet” deal.
Seafood is also something not to be missed and I highly recommend these 3 restaurants.
Ramiro – A good mix of locals and tourists and this places was super busy and always packed with people. You can try calling ahead for a reservation but our call never got picked up. We arrived at 5:30 pm and waited to seat in about 10 minutes. So get there early to avoid up to 2 hours of line up. We ordered a bunch of different seafood to try and our server thought we ordered too much for 2 people. But no actually we ordered even more after the first round because everything was so good. We had 2 different prawns, tiger prawns and scarlet prawns. Tiger prawns were huge! The meat was muscular, and the texture was similar to lobster. They also got a hint of smoky flavour from the grill. Scarlett prawns were much smaller in size but the texture was much softer. The head butter was to die for. We never had anything similar to these before and were amazed by how great they taste. Crab and razor clams were also very delicious. Always choose razor clams over clams, they were much more meaty and sweeter. The clams were rather average. This restaurant also had a special menu item – the steak sandwich! Usually order after the seafood feast and served like a “dessert” to finish your meal.
Address: Av. Alm. Reis nº1 – H, 1150-007 Lisboa, Portugal
Pinóquio – where we had our first meal in Lisbon and all we wanted were just simple, delicious, soupy comfort food! Their version of seafood rice or pasta cooked in a rich lobster broth was just perfect. Very generous in portion and very friendly service!
Address: Praça dos Restauradores 79, 1250-188 Lisboa, Portugal
Veranda at Four Seasons – not exactly a seafood restaurant but it’s such an impressive fine dining experience with great value. Their discovery tasting menu was around 80 euros per person, and it came with 5 courses, amuse bouches in between and a dessert trolley (not the typical petite fours) to finish the meal. Every course was executed perfectly and the wine pairing also went very well together. In my opinion, this was even better than many 1-2 Michelin starred restaurants we have been to no matter in food, wine and service. We both enjoyed the French take on traditional Portuguese cuisine and felt pretty sad to end the 3 hours of gastronomic journey. We got to stay in Four Seasons this time and I will put together a full review on my next post if you are interested to check out.
If you have an extra day to spend in Lisbon, a day trip to Sintra is a must. Getting to Sintra is very easy by train at Rossio Station. The station itself is a beautiful architecture to check out, just go straight to the ticket office to get round trip tickets. The train ride to Sintra takes about 45 mins. Consider taking Uber if you travel with a few more people, this way you can get to the Pena Palace directly in an hour for 25 euros.
When we got to Sintra station, we took Uber instead of bus to Pena Palace as I had more flexibility and the price was very reasonable. Don’t consider walking to Pena Palace as it’s uphill and quite far away from the train station.
Pena Palace is the most popular one among the five castles around and you can tell why from the pictures. The palace looks straight from a storybook and I have never seen anything close to this. We didn’t even go in high season but it’s crowded with tourists early in the morning. The only chance for you to get a great shot is to order tickets online and be the first one in line at the entrance.
Sintra is more than just Pena Palace and I suggest to choose 2-3 attractions to visit on a day. My favourite one is actually Monserrate Palace. We arrived in late afternoon and it’s quite empty there. We could spend so much time checking out every room and exhibition, and we even witnessed a wedding ceremony there. Highly recommend this place and the photo couldn’t justify its intricacy and beauty.
Hope you guys enjoy my list of things to do in Lisbon and tell me if there’s anything you want to know and share your experience in Lisbon with me also!
Thanks for reading as always and see you on next post.