8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in Lisbon, Portugal
After two 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:
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
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!
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!
When I first went to Lisbon years ago I did this via Eco Tuk Tours. They were incredibly lovely and it was fun to see the city via tuk-tuk, especially since that a very common means of transportation there and something you don’t get to do everywhere!
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.
A few other highly recommended options:
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.
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 :)
Those of you that have also been, is there anything I missed?
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