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If planning a trip to Lisbon, Portugal for the first time is on your bucket list then look no further! I’ve put together a comprehensive guide for your first time in Lisbon, Portugal. From delicious pastries and colorful tiles to bubbly natural wine and beaches, this guide will cover everything you need to know for planning your trip.
Where is Lisbon located?
Lisbon is a port city located in western Portugal. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal.
When to visit Lisbon
Lisbon offers a temperate climate, which makes it a great year round destination.
While Lisbon is very popular in the summer when the sun is bright and hot, in my opinion the best time of year to visit Lisbon is in September and October. The weather is still warm and dry, but the summer crowds have dissipated.
If you are visiting during the winter months you can still expect pleasant temperatures, as Lisbon very rarely drops below freezing, but you will want to pack a light jacket. You will also want to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as the winters (especially November and December) can be quite rainy.
Getting to Lisbon
The most popular way to get to Lisbon is by plane, with Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) located just a 15 minutes drive outside of the city. You can find direct flights from all over the world. In fact, Lisbon is one of the cheaper destinations to travel to from the US, and therefore one of my favorite destinations for a girls trip.
Getting around Lisbon
Once you arrive in Lisbon, it is extremely easy to get around as it is an extremely walkable city. However, it is also a very hilly city with lots of steep roads, so prepare for a little workout if you are planning to explore the city by foot.
There is also a great public transportation system in Lisbon – buses, trams, and metros. A single ride costs just a few euro, however if you are planning to travel a number of times in one day then I recommend purchasing the 24-hour pass.
You can also get around Lisbon by Uber which is both cheap and reliable. I wouldn’t, however, recommend renting your own car as the driving can be a bit crazy. It can also be very difficult to navigate the narrow, windy, steep roads.
Things to do in Lisbon
Feira da Ladra (Lisbon Flea Market)
If you happen to be in town on either a Saturday or a Tuesday, be sure to add a visit to Feira da Ladra to your Lisbon itinerary. This is a huge local flea market – selling antique, used clothing, tiles, and more. The market is located in Campo de Santa Clara, just a short walk east of Alfama, and open Tuesdays and Saturdays from dawn to the early afternoon. Plus, Tram 28 stops right at the market, so it is perfect for a full day of sightseeing.
Tip: On the way to the flea market, stop at Café Alcobaça for a fresh pastéis de nata (local cream start). You’ll want to arrive early, as then often sell out of the best pastries by 9:30 or 10am.
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
If you’re looking for the best view of Lisbon, it only makes sense to head to the highest point in the city. Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, located in Graca, offers sweeping views of the city down below and one of the best sunset views in Lisbon.
Expect a steep walk uphill as you climb Rua da Senhora do Monte up the view point. I promise the views will be worth it! Just be sure to pick up a bottle of wine or beer to enjoy as you watch the sun set offer the colorful rooftops.
Miradouro da Santa Luiza
On the topic of great Lisbon viewpoints, Miradouro da Santa Luiza is another one of the most popular spots to catch sunrise. The viewing platform gets very busy, but you can expect some lively music and great views. Make sure to grab a drink to enjoy as the sun sets.
If you’re looking for a calmer experience (or want to snag some photos), I recommend visiting in the morning instead.
Located in Alfama, a visit to Se Cathedral is one of the most popular things to do in Lisbon. Se Cathedral has been intertwined with Lisbon’s history since the 12th century. There are two main tourist sections of the cathedral that you can visit. There is no fee to enter the main section, but a small admission fee of 2,50 for the smaller section.
As the name suggests, Belem Tower is located in Belem. Originally built in 1520 to defend the city, Belem Tower is now classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Belem can easily be reached from Lisbon by car or public transportation. While walking is possible, it is a very long (and not super scenic) walk.
The admission fee is 6 euro, or fee with the Lisboa Card.
Enjoy a traditional Pasteis de Nata
If there is one thing that you must eat while in Lisbon, it is a traditional Pasteis de Nata. These are small baked tarts, filled with a creamy custard. Traditionally served with cinnamon and powdered sugar, these flaky tarts are typically enjoyed in the morning with breakfast.
The classic tart, Pasteis de Belem, originates from Belem! While there are many variations of this found throughout the city, and throughout the country for that matter, it is not officially a Pasteis de Belem unless it is made in Belem. Make sure to stop by the original shop, Pasteis de Belem, touting the best tarts in town.
Once you’ve had your fill of Pasteis de Nata, there are plenty of other delicious local pastries to check out. Another popular morning pasty is the Pasteis de Feijao, a flaky tart filled with bean curd.
Wander the streets of Alfama
Alfama is considered the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, and easily one of the most charming. While it has gotten significantly more touristy over the past few years, it still holds on to a lot of its original charm.
What you can expect? Steep winding roads that twist and turn in every direction. Allow yourself to get lost in the streets of Alfama, stopping for a shot of cherry liquor along the way.
Take a ride on Tram 28
Spend 1 hour in Lisbon and you’re sure to catch a glimpse of the famous historic Tram 28. This tram operates within the older parts of town. The historic Tram 28 has stuck around as the modern trams are not able to operate on the steep, narrow tracks currently in place.
Taking a ride on Tram 28 is a cheap and easy way to see many of the most beautiful parts of the city. The tram originates in Martim Moniz, followed by Graca, Portas de Sol, Se Cathedral, Rua Conceição, Chiado, Sao Bento, and Estrela before ending in Campo Ourique. Once it reaches the end, it returns along the same path.
The tram gets extremely crowded, especially during midday and during the high seasons, so most of the time it is standing room only. If you want a better chance of securing a seat, I recommend hopping on at the start of the route or riding in the early morning.
Note: unfortunately tram riders are an easy target for pickpockets, who will often dress like tourists or carry maps of their own to blend in. Be sure to keep a good eye on your belongings.
Visit the famous Arco da Rua Augusta
Explore LX Factory
The LX Factory is a super cool spot to spend the afternoon. Housed in a converted warehouse, you’ll find shops, cafes, and bars to explore.
Tip: Be sure to check out the Wish Concept Store, which sells leather goods, ceramics, clothing, and more!
Try a glass of natural wine
One of my favorite things about this magical city is the more recent boom in the natural wine market. I go into more depth below on my favorite bars in Lisbon, but here are few must-visit spots of natural wine in Lisbon:
- Vino Vero
- Black Sheep Bar
- Holy Wine
Enjoy Lisbon’s famous cafe brunch scene – Rua da Silva
Spend a weekend in Lisbon and you’ll quickly see that cozying up in a cafe with a warm cup of coffee is the place to be. There are an endless amount of cafes in Lisbon – perfectly aesthetic spots serving up brunch, caffeinated drinks, and often a selection of wines.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very easy to find non-dairy milks in Lisbon – as well as a good cup of matcha!
Not sure where to brunch in Lisbon? I’ve listed a few of the best spots below. Or you can simply head to Rua da Silva, a trendy, colorful street filled with many cafes.
- Hello, Kristof
- Heim Cafe
- the mill
- Dear Breakfast
Take a day trip to Cascais
If you’re looking to escape the city for a few hours (or days), consider a day trip to Cascais. This charming seaside town is just 45 minutes down the road from Lisbon, making it a perfect, easy escape. A train ticket costs 2,25 and leaves every 20 minutes or so.
Head down the coast to the Algarve region
Looking to extend your visit in Lisbon with some time at the beach? I recommend adding a few nights in the Algarve region to your Portugal itinerary. This beautiful coastal region just a few hours south of Lisbon offers striking cliffs and rock formations, miles and miles of beaches, and delicious seafood.
Check out my guide to Lagos here.
Drive up north to Porto
Porto is one of my favorite cities in the world – and located just 2 hours north of Lisbon it is an easy destination to add on to your Portugal itinerary.
Best bars in Lisbon
One of my favorite things about this magical city is the more recent boom in the natural wine market. An industry that was typically more popular in countries such as France, Italy, and Spain, Portugal now has it’s own growing natural wine scene.
A big lover of natural wine myself, this fun fact makes for a great visit to Lisbon. You can find both specific natural wine bars and bottle and glass pours on many restaurant and cafe menus.
While it was an incredibly hard choice, Vino Vero is easily up there as one of the best bars in Lisbon. Located in Travessa do Monte, you’ll find this natural wine bar bustling with guests every night of the week. If you’re planning to stop by on a weekend night I recommend making a reservation, especially if you plan to eat. If you are not eat and don’t mind enjoying a glass standing outside, this is a good option as well.
Vino Vero offers hundreds of different bottles of natural wine, sourced from all over the world – a collection that has taken them 3+ years to build.
A wide range of bottles are available in addition to 7 or 8 glass pours – ranging from 5E to 7,50E.
Tip: If you aren’t able to get a table at Vino Vero, head next door to LA MATTA for a delicious pizza.
Pop the Wine
Pop the Wine is a cozy, quiet wine bar in Graca. Opened just 1 year ago, this spot offers a delicious selection of only Portuguese natural wines. We stopped by on a Friday night, and the ambiance with super chill, with only 2 small tables and a few seats at the bar.
Ippolito & Maciste
Looking for good wine and good food in the coziest eclectic wine bar? Ippolito & Maciste is the spot for you. The bar feels like your own living room – filled with bright hanging plants, funky posters, and some food couch seating amongst the standard tables.
If you arrive early or during the week you should be able to snag a table, but if you plan to visit on the weekend then I would definitely recommend making a reservation.
Ippolito & Maciste offers a large selection of (mostly) natural wines, curated from bottles from all over the world, although there is a heavy influence of french wines (and a mostly french staff).
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, they have a small menu of plates. The tuna tartare was my favorite.
From the minute that I decided to book another trip to Lisbon, I had this tiny natural wine bar marked on my map to visit.
One thing that I love about Holy Wine is that you are able to order any of their wines from the glass, rather than just ordering from a small selection of glass pours.
Part natural wine bar, part vegetarian restaurant, Senhor Uva is definitely a spot to add to your Lisbon itinerary.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, it is essential to make a reservation at least a day or two in advance as they are typically fully booked.
Black Sheep Lisboa
If you’re looking for natural wine and a bustling atmosphere, Black Sheep Bar offers just that. With only a few seats scattered by the bar, I wouldn’t bet on getting seating. But you can order your wine at the bar (if you can squeeze your way to the bar) and enjoy it outside, with a crowd that only grows throughout the evening.
If you’re looking for a quieter evening at the bar, I recommend visiting on a weekday, or evening Holy Wine a few minutes down the street instead.
Black Sheep has both international and Portuguese natural wines that can be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle.
Gin Lovers Bar & Restaurant
Finally, a cocktail bar! As a wine lover I focused all of my time in Lisbon on exploring the many wine bars scattered throughout the city. But that doesn’t mean that Lisbon doesn’t also make a great cocktail.
Cafes in Lisbon
If you’re looking for the best brunch in town, Heim Cafe is a good place to start. This plant filled cafes offers a delicious selection of brunch options, prepared with the finest ingredients.
Not to mention, they also have a handful of natural wines by the glass starting at 3,50 EUR if you want to enjoy a glass with brunch or kick off your evening.
A cozy cafe with a long communal table – perfect for cold days or lazy afternoons. Hello, Kristof offers both food and drink, but tends to be less busy than the popular Dear Breakfast just across the road.
The mill is an easy go-to brunch spot to check out in Lisbon. This Australian-Portuguese cafe serves breakfast food all day long. The mill is also open quite late, for your late night toastie and juice cravings. You can usually expect a wait.
Marquise da Mobler
Looking for some delicious baked goods? Marquise da Mobler is your spot. Warm, freshly baked pastries all day long in a cozy cafe setting.
Dear Breakfast is easily one of the most popular brunch spots in Lisbon, and because of that you’ll usually find a decent wait time.
This might just be the best chocoalte cake that I have ever tried, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t even typically like cake.
In addition to a location in Chiado, you will also find a location at the LX Factory. A slice of cake costs 4,60, and you’ll want to grab a water or coffee to help wash down all of the delicious rich chocolate goodness.
A Portuguese art bistro serving up all-day cozy fare. You’ll find delicious brunch items – with tons of vegan options – served from 8am to 10pm.
Restaurants in Lisbon
Taberna da Rua das Flores
A traditional old school dining experience that you won’t want to miss when in Lisbon. Unfortunately they do not take reservations, so you’ll want to arrive right when they open (or slightly before) to get your name on the list if you want any chance of snagging a table for the evening.
Kefi Greek Bistro
If you’ve had your fill of Portuguese food, trek up the hill to Kefi Greek Bistro. Located in the quiet, affluent neighborhood of Lapa Estrela, Kefi serves some of the most delicious Greek food in town.
Do yourself a favor and be sure to order both the grilled octopus and the baked feta, which is baked with onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
A reservation is a must on weekends!
Sadly we weren’t able to snag a reservation here, but I have only heard fantastic things so I had to add it to the list. At this bright, plant-filled restaurant you’ll find a small curated menu of farm-to-table style dishes. Everything pairs nicely with their full menu or natural and biodynamic wines.
Tasty Mediterranean fare in Barrio Alto. The food here is fresh, vibrant, and super tasty. There is also an extensive wine list – always a plus in my book! It can get busy, especially on weekends.
Penalva da Graca
I first visted this restaurant on a trip to Lisbon in 2018, so it was only fitting that I returned on my most recent trip. Located in Graca, a hillside neighborhood north of Alfama, Panalva is a local restaurant serving up Portoguese seafood.
I recommend an order of the clams and the shrimp, both served in a delicious salty, garlicky oil (perfect for soaking up with bread once the seafood is done). Best paired with a carafe of their local house wine.
Sacramento do Chiado
If you’re looking for something a bit higher end that doesn’t break the bank, the trendy Sacramento do Chiado is a good option.
Reservations are necessary on weekends, and should be made at least a few days in advance. We were only able to secure a 9:30pm reservation on a Friday, and even then we were not seated until after 10pm.
Located next door to one of the best bars in town, Vino Vero, LA MATTA is a go-to spot for pizza in Lisbon.
Although I haven’t had a chance to dine here myself, it would be a shame to not mention the famous Alma. Alma is a Michelin star dining experience that is a must for any fans fine dining.
Alma offers a set menu for diners.
Visiting Portugal? Here are some other articles to check out:
- How to get from Lisbon to Lagos
- Best Restaurants in Lagos, Portugal
- The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
- 3 Days in Porto