8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in Lisbon, Portugal
After many visits, Lisbon, Portugal has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world. It is home to some of my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, streets, alleyways, etc., and you will more likely run out of time than you will of things to do here.
So it only makes sense that my next installment of 8 Things be on Portugal’s capital and largest city, Lisbon. If you have plans to visit but are having trouble narrowing down what to do (trust me, I feel your pain!) here is my list of the top 8 things you absolutely cannot miss:
The Best Tools for Traveling Europe
Before we get into the eight things you cannot miss, let’s talk about planning tools! As a full time traveler with a LOT of experience planning trips, I have a handful of sites and tools that I cannot live without. They save me money, time, and frustration - all of which are very important for me and should be to you, too.
For flights, I use Skyscanner. Skyscanner is great because they find you the cheapest flights by comparing millions of options from airlines and travel agents. Click here to find the best flight deal!
For hotels I always use HotelsCombined, as you will notice in my specific recommendations below. I love them because they compare all of the top travel sites in one spot - with no booking fee and no markup. Best price guarenteed! Click here to search HotelsCombined.
When I'm not staying at a hotel, I love Airbnb. When chosen right, it provides a more local experience and you can often get a lot more space for less money. Click here to get $40 off your first stay.
To get from city to city while in Europe, I usually either fly or take a train. For train travel I recommend using Rail Europe, the #1 distributor for European train tickets and rail passes. I like that you can create an account with them which helps keep all of your tickets and info in one central location. Click here to search Rail Europe.
To get around while in city, I recommend walking, using public transit, or Uber if it's available. In many places, like Lisbon for example, Uber is dirt cheap. If you are new to Uber, use code "kbae3" to get your first ride for free. You can also use it on Uber Eats which I can confirm is available in Lisbon!
For tours, museum tickets, and other activities, I recommend GetYourGuide. They are a trusted site and have lots of unique things to do along with all of the standard touristy activites. Booking everything individually can be a bit of nightmare to keep track of. With GetYourGuide you can create an account to book and manage all of your tickets in one central location. Click here to search GetYourGuide.
Want to stay connected while abroad? I recommend renting a pocket-sized personal WiFi hotspot from Tep! Click here to see the latest prices.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
While visiting Lisbon I highly recommend you stay in an Airbnb! I am constantly amazed at how inexpensive they are, especially for the amount of space you can get. Click here for the 8 Lisbon Airbnbs I recommend.
Click here to search Lisbon hotels.
What to Pack for Lisbon
DRESSES. I especially love midi dresses for travel because you don't have to worry about them blowing up and they keep you a bit warmer than a mini. There are a handful of places I love to shop for them - click here , here , here and here (that's the US store - for the Aus version which has more products and also ships to the US, click here !).
QUALITY BASICS. I think investing in quality pieces is important always, but especially when traveling. Why? Because you want the fabric to be breathable and durable and for the items to be well made and versatile. But at the same time you don’t want to overpay, which is why Everlane is my favorite place to buy basics! They make timeless products with transparent pricing — telling you exactly how much it cost to make, how much they’re selling it for, and how much competitors traditionally sell it for. I’ve been shopping here for years and so far everything has been great! Click here to see the latest prices.
COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will likely (hopefully) be doing a lot of walking and the Lisbon hills are huge so this is very important! My very favorite are M. Gemi’s white leather sneakers. I literally never travel anywhere without them. Click here to see latest prices.
NO-SHOW SOCKS. To go with the above mentioned shoes! I have tried so many different ones and find that most fall down under your heel (ouch) but these do not. Click here for the ones I love.
DAY HEELS. Heels you can actually walk in? Yup! These Day Heels are heels you can walk in all day long. Click here to check availability (they sell out constantly, get them while you can!). Note: the hills in Lisbon are pretty intense so you may want to go sans heels, but it’s up to you.
LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL CARDIGAN. Barefoot Dreams’ circle cardigan is honestly one of the best travel-related purchases you can make. It is so warm and soft; I’ve brought mine on every single trip since purchasing it. It's also fantastic for transit days and hotel lounging!
Click here to see the latest prices.
STYLISH CAMERA BAG… if you are bringing a camera! You can’t go to Lisbon with anything that isn’t chic ;) I bring GATTA’s Christie camera backpack (named after me) because it’s hands free, has a zipper AND a buttoned flap, and fully protects my camera yet is so cute no one will ever know it’s a camera bag. Click here to see the latest prices. Want to see more options? Click here for the most stylish camera bags for women!
CONVERTER ADAPTER. This one is universal and works no matter where you’re going so it’s a must. When going to the EU I also bring along this very inexpensive 6 pack so that I have extras. So much to charge these days! Need other recommendations? Click here to see my list of 20 must have travel products from Amazon Prime.
Some more Amazon travel essentials:
AN INSTAGRAMMABLE HAT. Good for both avoiding doing your hair and also to help make photos pop! Click here for my favorite hat for summer (you've probably seen it all over my Instagram!).
HAIR ACCESSORIES. For summer hair accessories are huge and are yet another way to easily spice up an outfit (or hide dirty hair)! Click below for my current favorites:
MAKEUP. My recommendations for travel specifically are:
SKINCARE. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I am a skincare fanatic. While I have an incredibly lengthly process while at home in SF, I try to keep it a little more low-key on the road. Click here to see more detailed skincare info or below for the items I believe are most essential for travel:
LUGGAGE. Away makes the best luggage, hands down. Their suitcases have an unbreakable polycarbonate shell (also scratch resistant), interior compartments, removable laundry bags, and built-in USB chargers and TSA approved locks (so fancy!). They are minimalistic yet contain everything you could need, all at a reasonable price point. Click here to check out their suitcases.
JEWELRY. Make packing easy with the ultimate travel accessories from our latest collection! Click here to visit our jewelry shop or on a specific item below.
Other Lisbon information
Assuming you are reading this because you are planning on visiting, I have a ton of helpful Lisbon content to ease your planning woes! Click below for…
Also, subscribe below to get our free downloadable guide and we’ll also send you some step-by-step help to plan the Lisbon trip of your dreams!
Dinner at Taberna da Rua Das Flores
Taberna da Rua das Flores was recommended to me by a coworker before my first trip to Lisbon in 2014 and it turned out to be the highlight of my month long Europe trip. I have since then recommended it to every person I know visiting Lisbon, all of whom have raved about it. I went back for round two during my last trip just to make sure it was still to die for, and, good news, it is!
Taberna da Rua das Flores is a total hole in the wall and you would never give it a second glance while walking by. Once inside, the ambiance is nothing to write home about, reminiscent of an old, dark tavern. But what they lack in decor they certainly make up for in taste! They serve Portuguese food and everyday the menu is different. Once you are seated a waiter comes over to review the options with you off a chalk board. It’s one of those places where each item seems a little off, like not everything in the dish belongs together. One bite of your meal will change your mind about that, though!
You can’t come to Portugal without trying Portuguese food, of course, and Taberna da Rua das Flores is my vote on where to do it :) Don’t miss it.
Note: Rua das Flores is also home to Fabrica Coffee Roasters, one of my favorite coffee shops in Lisbon, so don't miss that either! More info about Fabrica Coffee Roasters can be found in my Best Coffee Shops in Lisbon post.
Brunch at Dear Breakfast
Dear Breakfast offers all day breakfast and is my favorite new Lisboa finding! I loved it so much that I went multiple times. The owner, like myself and many others, opened Dear Breakfast because he loved the idea of having brunch any day of the week. The menu features egg-centric dishes, delicious coffee (including iced coffee which can be hard to hunt down in most European cities), tea, and fresh juices and smoothies. If you are looking for a healthy and incredibly tasty meal, this is the spot.
Equally as appealing as the amazing menu is the venue itself. It features a clean and bright design with exposed, all-white brick walls, marble tables, and blue and blush colored seating. Against the wall is a selection of magazines and a few plants to add some greenery to the room. That whole place is an Instagrammer’s dream, really.
Note: Dear Breakfast is around the corner from one of my favorite coffee shops, Hello, Krisof, so make sure to stop there after! More info about Hello, Krisof can be found in my Best Coffee Shops in Lisbon post.
Visit LX Factory, Lisbon's Art Center
LX Factory is an art center in Lisbon, full of artsy retailers and great restaurants. It’s a fun place to spend some time roaming, whether it’s after breakfast at Wish Slow Coffee House, lunch or dinner at 1300 Taberna or MEZ CAIS, or sunset drinks at the rooftop bar, Rio Maravilha. I especially love it on Sunday mornings because there is a flea market along the main street then!
Wish Slow Coffee House for coffee, breakfast, and/or gifts (the cutest!)
1300 Taberna for Portuguese food with a twist
MEZ CAIS for Spanish-inspired tapas
Ler Devagar, Instagram’s favorite book store in Lisbon
Sunset drinks at Rio Maravilha
Click below to see the latest prices for some tour options that include visiting LX Factory:
Taste a Little of Everything at Time Out Market
Time Out Market is a food hall and market and is yet another can’t miss spot! The media company Time Out runs it by one simple rule: if it’s good it goes in the magazine, and if it’s great it goes on to the market. It features the best chefs and dishes in town and is a great way to try a variety of different things under one roof!
I also stayed at an Airbnb right next to Time Out Market last time I visited and found it be extremely convenient! Click here to see the latest prices.
See the Sights via a Tour
In most cities I recommend starting your visit with a bike ride so that you can get a feel for the city, see all the main sights, and then decide early on which ones you want to go back to to spend more time at. However, Lisbon is a very hilly city, so for that reason I don’t recommend a bike tour but do still recommend that you start your visit with a tour of some kind!
Get Your Guide, my favorite tour site, has a very highly recommended “Lisbon Essential Tour”. Click here to see the latest price and reserve your spot.
If you want to give yourself a tour instead, tram 28 will take you through most tourist spots. You can either ride the entire route or get off at different points of interest to explore them more. Keep in mind that it is famous and listed in many tourist books and sites so it will get very busy at times.
Click below to see the latest prices and reserve your spot for other highly recommended tours:
Watch the Sunset Over Drinks at Park Bar or Portas do Sol
Lisbon is jam-packed with beautiful view points, many of which are accompanied by wonderful bars! At sunset I recommend pulling up a chair at either Park Bar or Portas do Sol for some of the best views in the city.
Note: Rio Maravilha is awesome too, but we covered that already in the LX Factory summary ;)
Dine at Any (Or All) of Chef Kiko's Restaurants
Prior to my last trip I did not know anything about Chef Kiko Martin, but after having dinner at A Cevicheria I became one of his biggest fans! A Cevicheria is a Peruvian restaurant where he combines traditional Peruvian specialities, such as ceviche and pisco sour, with local Portuguese flavors as well as Asian and tropical. He also has O Asiático, offering asian tapas, and O Watt, offering healthy, clean food.
If you too like delicious, flavorful, healthy food, check out as many of Chef Kiko’s restaurants as you can fit in your schedule!
You can find more information including addresses and hours in my Where to Eat in Lisbon post.
Explore Alfama, Chiado, and Bairro Alto
During my first to Lisbon I fell in love with three neighborhoods: Alfama, Chiado, and Bairro Alto. When visiting I would highly recommend setting aside a fair amount of time to simply roam these three spots on foot - with a camera, of course.
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon so you know it’s going to have a ton of charm. It’s one big maze full of never-ending alleyways and is home to Castelo de Sao Jorge, a beautiful hilltop castle.
Bairro Alto is located in the center of the city and is my favorite neighborhood of all. Before my last trip to Lisbon I put all of the different places I wanted to go onto a custom Google map and noticed they were basically all in the same place - Bairro Alto! It has, in my opinion, the best cafes and restaurants, the most adorable streets, and is especially fun at nighttime. It’s also where I highly recommend staying while visiting.
Chiado is next to Bairro Alto and will forever remind me of the movie Love Actually because at the end when they run through the streets of Lisbon, this is the neighborhood they’re in. It can be a bit touristy during the day because a lot of chain stores are located here, but at night the vibe is much different. There are restaurants who seat customers in tables basically on the stairs of the city and it’s so lively and fun.
Speaking of photos, click here for the most stylish camera bags for women!
And one "DO miss" item...
Before my most recent Lisbon trip I came across a Conde Nast Traveler article titled “15 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Lisbon”. It included a photo of some rainbow tiling on Avenue Infante Santo which I of course drooled over, being the color lover I am!
I quickly asked a friend who was living there to go check it out and send me a photo of it, which he did. He said it was not cool, not worth checking out, and was basically on the side of a highway.
Being stubborn, I decided to hunt it down anyway the next time I was in town. The verdict? It’s not cool. It’s not worth checking out. It’s basically on the side of a highway. And when I say basically, I mean literally, because I had to walk along a very thin sidewalk next to speeding cars with no guardrail. Don’t bother :)
Click below to see the latest prices and reserve your spot for popular Lisbon activities: