Lisbon holds a special place in my heart as it’s the first destination I travelled solo to! Back in 2017, I finally ticked off my bucket list of solo travelling with a visit to Lisbon. It was amazing and I loved the freedom of travelling alone a lot. Now two years later, I decided to revisit Lisbon with a few friends and even added in a few more destinations this time around!
For the first four days, we were exploring around Lisbon and included a day trip to Sintra & Cascais (see part 2). Then we made our way to Coimbra by train (part 3), followed by Aveiro and Costa Nova (part 4). Lastly, we ended up at Porto (part 5) for a few more days to complete the 10-day trip.
It’s certainly refreshing to revisit the vibrant city of Lisbon. This trip was more about visiting places I didn’t manage to last time, revisiting some favourite spots (mostly food), and discovering some cool photo spots! Other than visiting these favourites, I also discovered a couple of breakfast/brunch spots this time in Lisbon which you can check out on my Lisbon Brunch Series.
Table of contents:
Where to Stay in Lisbon
Lisbon is no short of beautiful hotels of all budgets and characters to stay in. On both my visits, I’ve stayed near the Rossio station, which is in the Baixa area and super central for exploring the city. Most sights are conveniently walkable from there and you’ve got Rossio station at your corner for a day trip to Sintra. Bairro Alto is another popular location that is just next to Baixa. Other areas you can consider are Chiado and Alfama. Both are still considered centre-ish but may require more walking.
- Urbano FLH Hotels Lisboa – ££
- Browns Boutique Hotel – ££
- Alegria A Lisbon Boutique Hotel – ££
- Altis Avenida – £££
- Bairro Alto Hotel – £££
- Memmo Príncipe Real – ££££
- Valverde Hotel – ££££
- Verride Palácio Santa Catarina – ££££
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The metro network is generally quite good and easy to navigate in Lisbon. You will have to purchase a Viva Viagem card, where you tap in and out at stations and buses. There is the option of paying for a single journey or purchasing a 24-hour day ticket where you get to use the metro unlimited times within the time frame.
Since we were staying quite central, we didn’t find the need for a day ticket as most places are reachable by foot. We only purchased individual journeys for going from the airport to Lisbon’s city centre, from Lisbon to Sintra, and topped up for a tram ride from Lisbon’s city centre to Belem.
We also Uber-ed a few times when we got too tired to walk. All in all, it’s pretty convenient to get around Lisbon.
What to Do in Lisbon (Our Itinerary)
Pastel de Nata at Manteigaria
We stayed at an AirBnB that’s super conveniently located near the Martim Moniz metro station, which is pretty central. Our host kindly prepared some treats for us as we arrived and we’re super grateful for it after a bit of an uphill climb to get there (Lisbon is a hilly city!). Once settled in, we set out to grab a quick lunch at Bonjardim nearby where I enjoyed some fried Bacalhau.
Right after, we wandered over to the shopping district of Baixa and visited my favourite pastel de nata spot in Lisbon – Manteigaria!
When in Lisbon, Pastel de Nata is a must. There are two particular spots most renowned for it – Manteigaria and Pasteis de Belem. The last time I was in Lisbon, I preferred Manteigaria more (though keep reading to find out the final verdict). They were as lovely as I remembered – super gooey and fragrant – and we managed to get a fresh batch too!
Next up we walked up to Alfama, a more historic district of Lisbon, packed with charming but steep cobbled streets and boasts beautiful views over the city. Portas do Sol, especially, offers a fantastic viewpoint for the sea of red roofs and the ocean. Another unmissable sight would be the Se Cathedral, Lisbon’s most iconic religious building.
We planned to make a visit to Cafe Garagem, a local gem with stunning views of the area. A bit of a hike later, however, we found out it wasn’t opened on that day! So we just wandered around the pretty streets, took pictures, and walked back downhill. Though keep reading on as we managed to squeeze time to revisit the cafe another day!
Seafood Feast at Cervejaria Ramiro
For dinner, we revisited my favourite seafood restaurant in town – Cervejario Ramiro. The king prawns are a must-order and they were absolutely heavenly. I was also thrilled to see that they’ve added more amazing dishes to the menu, including Lobster Rice, Steamed Crab and many more! The meal certainly did not disappoint and was just so good that I couldn’t recommend enough.
Breakfast at Zenith Lisboa
The next day, we started off with an epic breakfast at Zenith Lisboa – a popular brunch spot in town where we feasted on pancakes, both sweet & savoury, and some great coffee! For all the breakfast spots we visited during the trip, Zenith is probably my most favourite one. Read more about it on my food review on Zenith Lisboa.
Pasteis de Belem
After breakfast, we headed down to Rossio and hopped on the 15E tram to Belem. Once we hopped off, we decided to pop by the renowned Pasteis de Belem first before doing any other sightseeing.
Belem is known to be the birthplace of the now worldwide famous pastel de nata. From the early 19th century to today, Pasteis de Belem continues to serve the very original recipe of the Portuguese custard tarts. It is believed that these pastries were originally made and sold to the monks at the Jerónimos Monastery next doors during the Liberal Revolution days.
Expect huge queues outside the pastry shop, but do not be put off by it. If you walk inside the shop, there is actually a huge sitting area to dine in. Other than pastel de nata, we also tried the Chocolate Doughnut, as well as coffees and hot chocolate.
For this trip, I find Pasteis de Belem’s pastel de nata better than I remembered. There was this moreish caramelised touch and ultra crispiness on the pastry that really stood out to me. Last time, I felt Manteigaria was better, but I was left utterly torn this time around as Pasteis de Belem seemed just to have a better edge! But one thing for sure, no matter who should get the crown for the best pastel de nata, there are no other place that makes them as good as these two.
Belem & Jerónimos Monastery
After a full and happy belly, we set out to walk around Belem, visiting iconic sights such as Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the Belem Tower. For Belem Tower, we didn’t go in, but rather chose to enjoy the river view from outside.
Then we visited the Jerónimos Monastery, Portugal’s most impressive symbol of power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. History aside, the monastery showcases magnificent architecture, with each column of the cloisters individually carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs, evocative of that time of world exploration at sea.
Ponte 25 de Abril
From Belem, instead of immediately taking the tram back to central Lisbon, we walked towards the picturesque Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge and explored more of that area. As long as the weather permits, it’s a really nice walk along the promenade!
The bridge shares striking similarities with the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. Should you be interested in getting a better view, there is an elevator for tourists.
Village Underground Lisboa
Continuing the walk, we then arrived at Village Underground Lisboa, a creative space composed of 14 maritime containers and 2 disabled buses that are meant to serve as a co-working space. It almost felt like a mini theme park as we walked up and down through the installations. We then popped into one of the double-decker buses that housed a small cafe to grab a drink and some desserts.
After that, we stopped by Lisbon’s new hot spot – the Lx Factory. The old industrial complex have been renovated into this really cool shopping & restaurant area. It almost reminds me of London’s Shoreditch, but more artsy and vibrant.
We particularly popped into the Livraria Ler Devagar, formerly a printing space converted into a beautiful bookstore. Upon stepping in, you’d be greeted by a wall of books that span across two storey and all the way up to the ceiling, plus the unmissable sculpture of a bicycle hanging in the middle of the shop.
Just the day before, we missed out on Cafe Garagem, but the second time’s a charm. For the record, we weren’t particularly keen on doing the steep uphill walk back up to Alfama again after a whole day of walking and took an Uber there instead.
Anyway, Cafe Garagem is a cafe downstairs of the Teatro da Garagem and an absolute gem in the area. If you want one of the dreamiest view of the castle district and Alfama, Cafe Garagem is the spot.
Dinner at Bairro Do Avillez
You might have noticed I didn’t mention anything about lunch for this day…this is because we didn’t! And you bet we were famished by dinnertime despite having snacked throughout with pastries and desserts. Bairro Do Avillez is a popular and buzzing restaurant in the heart of the Chiado area. It is founded by renowned Portuguese chef, Jose Avillez, and offers a great selection of a modern take on traditional Portuguese dishes.
Options are a little bit limited as the meats are not halal but we still got some nice seafood options. Most memorably, the Prawn Acorda had been a pretty interesting one. It’s a Portuguese speciality and roughly translates as a savoury bread stew/porridge. Essentially, think of porridge, but made from bread and savoury in flavour. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but certainly an interesting one to at least try out!
Day 3 (Day Trip)
For Day 3, we decided to start the day early for a day trip to Sintra and Cascais. Last time I only spent half a day at Sintra, but this time we had a pretty packed itinerary and plenty of sights. See part 2 for the full itinerary.
Late night stop at TimeOut Market
The train back from Cascais to Lisbon stops at Cais Do Sodre, which is right next door to the TimeOut Market. We were absolutely knackered by then (it was almost midnight) but thought we might as well have a quick stroll before calling an Uber back to our AirBnB. Even though it’s relatively late, it’s still pretty busy in there. We treated ourselves to a cheeky little pastel de nata from Manteigaria. You can have a little read on my article on TimeOut Market Lisboa a few years ago. It might be a little outdated but it’s still a good reference point!
Breakfast at Heim Cafe
After a few days of lots of walking (especially around Sintra!), we decided to take it easy and be more chilled for our last day in Lisbon. We started the day with a visit to the Heim Cafe, a super popular brunch spot in town. I enjoyed some Coffee Pancakes and a really lovely cup of galão (the Portuguese version of a latte) – you can read more about it on my Heim Cafe food review.
What would attract all the Instagrammers? A street in pink! The actual name of the street is Rua Nova do Carvalho and is a hub of Lisbon’s nightlife. It used to be the red light district, with plenty of shady stories where sailors and criminals hang about, as opposed to the vibrant quirky district we see today. The street was painted pink fairly recently (finished in 2013) as part of a gentrification project. We stopped for some quick photos and then headed off to another cafe in the area to continue our day.
Why settle for one breakfast when you can have two?! We popped by another popular cafe/brunch spot in town, Comoba Cafe, for more coffees and treats. The vegan-friendly cafe features a stylish interior and we enjoyed the likes of vegan matcha pancakes, charcoal latte, and more. Read more about Comoba Cafe here.
When in Lisbon, a tram ride is a must! And there’s no ride more iconic than the Bica Funicular. Well, technically it isn’t a tram but you get what I mean and it’s arguably Lisbon’s most iconic views. The funicular railway line connects you from Cais do Sodré to Bairro Alto and it’s a scenic ride.
So this pretty much sums up our itinerary for Lisbon. From there, we hopped on the train from Santa Apolónia to our next stop to Coimbra (part 3). But before we jump ahead to the next city, read more about our day trip to Sintra & Cascais in part 2!