TGIF, party people! Can you believe I’m only JUST getting around to finishing up my Lisbon post! It’s so crazy to think that it’s been nearly two MONTHS since we left the Big Apple for Portugal. What happened?! One, I’ve been working on some new content, which will be coming your way soon! Two, time is just flying by and soon it’ll be January 1st, 2018. I’ll save that reflection post for another day, though. I’ve been dying to finish this bad boy so that I could tell you all about our amazing time in Porto and Lisbon (ugh, take me back now plz! I still look through our pics on a daily basis!) We basically spent a week gallivanting, eating, and drinking our way through both cities, and it was an absolute blast.
Our vacay was the most perfect, low pressure trip EVER. We all had ideas about things we wanted to do or see, but there was never a strict itinerary with pressure to hit every single thing on the list. Not to mention, there aren’t many specific sites that you absolutely must see in either city. It was pretty refreshing! And this was also the first time I’ve really done a true ‘girls’ trip’, which was cool. Devin and Carly were the best travel companions and I think we made a great girl gang (Hey guys, if you’re reading this…Where are we headed next?!?) I had such an awesome time with those ladies! Keep scrolling for our itinerary and pics of us living our best lives!!
I’m conquering our Portugal trip posts out of order, and I’ve decided to start with lovely Lisbon. If you had been following along with us on social media (P.S. check out Carly’s AMAZING hand lettering here) you’d know that while we touched down in Lisbon, we headed straight to Porto by train (~2 and a half hours.) We spent 2 full days in Porto before heading back down south to Lisbon. It was a lot of traveling on that first day, but I was definitely happy with our decision to make that Saturday the grueling travel day. So fast forward through Porto, and say hello to Lisbon!
We ended up renting an Airbnb in Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s most poppin’ neighborhood! This neighborhood is so unique, and I’d highly recommend it. Aside from the fact that there are cosy restaurants and bars all over the damn place, the atmosphere is what really makes it worth a visit. The buildings are COVERED in graffiti, and while it may look pretty grungy and rough, I think that it gave the neighborhood a ton of character. Despite the scene, this is definitely a very residential area, and the streets are lined with really pretty apartments that have doors that open up to mini-balconies. We had one ourselves, and it was nice to sit in the window and relax. There’s also an amazing look-out, or miraduoro, in Bairro Alto, which is definitely worth seeing. Unfortunately, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara seemed like it was under construction when we were up there considering the ledge was gated off, but I’m sure that’s only temporary! Devin and I walked up there from Rossio Square, but little did we know it was actually pretty close to our Airbnb. THERE ARE A LOT OF STAIRS INVOLVED IN THAT WALK, so say hello to your glutes!
After the train from Porto to Lisbon, we got situated at our apartment and then hit the ground running! Out first stop in Lisbon (after lunch, of course) was the Alfama, where we made a caffeine pitstop at Pois Cafe and had some drinks at the Memmo Alfama Hotel (more about those spots below!) The Alfama neighborhood was definitely one of my favorite spots, and it really reminded me of Montmartre in Paris. It’s basically made up of a ton of winding, uphill roads with beautiful buildings, many covered in classic Portuguese tiles. It’s pretty much a quaint Instagrammer’s dream! There are quite a few “look-outs” in Lisbon, and I’d definitely suggest stopping at the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, which is in Alfama. We headed there after posting up at the Memmo and the views of the rooftops below are incredible. There’s another amazing view at the Castelo de São Jorge, and I’d definitely suggest adding that to your Lisbon to-do list, too! You can literally see the entire city from up there (and you can see more of Alfama as you follow the street signs up to the top of the hill!) And speaking of walking, Lisbon is totally a walk-able city, so it’s easy to get everywhere you could possibly want to go (not including Sintra or Belém Tower, which aren’t in Lisbon). I’d suggest conquering the city by foot if you can!
One of the highlights of Lisbon (for me, atleast) was the Park Bar (see below for more deets!!) This is a totally sweet rooftop bar in Bairro Alto, and we stopped there for drinks two out of the four nights we were there! The vibes are awesome, and I’d highly recommend checking it out. Hopefully it won’t rain for you like it did for us on BOTH occasions. I also really liked walking through Comércio Square, which is the largest in the city. It’s distinguishable by the incredible arch and it’s bright yellow color. Right behind the arch is the pedestrian-only Rua Augusta, which is filled with shops and restaurants! It’s definitely worth a stroll! Rossio Square is also really pretty. I loved the tiles on the ground and the fountains look pretty magical. No matter where you go in the city, you’ll certainly run into their tram system. Similar to the trams in San Fran, they’re totally tourist attractions, but the historic 28 Tram is really cool to see in action (especially when it’s going up Lisbon’s steep hills… did I mention there are lots of those?)
You might remember that I just mentioned two places outside of Lisbon: Sintra and Belém. Those are two awesome day trips that you should absolutely consider if you’re heading to Lisbon! Sintra is about a 30 minute train ride away, while you can take a quick Uber ride to Belém. Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting about those soon!
And now…without further ado, here are my suggests for eating and drinking your way through Lisboa!
Good thing everything in Portugal is a pretty cheap city, because you are about to INDULGE. The food is amazing, and it seems like the options are pretty much endless being that there are restaurants and squares lined with them on every corner! Here were some of my favorites!
Cafe Buenos Aires : This place may appear to be a tourist trap being that it’s situated on a small plaza about midway up a huge stairway that leads to Bairro Alto, but trust me it’s not. Devin found this spot and it was AMAZING. Both the fig and cheese appetizer and the apple, avocado and shrimp salad will give you LIFE. And the meat pastries… don’t even get me started. (Help! I’m drooling all over my damn keyboard!) I’d suggest sitting outside and before you go, make sure you head to the ATM because it’s CASH ONLY! Otherwise, you might just find yourself counting coins like a peasant, chugging your beer, and running around the neighborhood in the pouring rain on the hunt for the closest ATM (hint: it’s in the Rossio train station.)
Boa-Bao : Super trendy asian fusion eats! Think: Tao, but slightly less ritzy, and the food is absolutely DELICIOUS. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to WAIT (totally worth it!) Everything about this spot from the branding to the food is perfection, and It would literally be a mortal sin to skip this restaurant if you’re in Lisbon! You’re getting the spring rolls and the dim sum for a starter, and chicken fried rice and the Pad Thai for your mains. Oh darling, let’s be adventurers in Portugal!
Sea Me: Holy SHRIMP, this place is good! If you’re in the mood for some amazing seafood in a trendy atmosphere, you’re headed to Sea Me in Bairro Alto! It’s not the cheapest place I’ve ever eaten at, but the seafood is uber fresh! I would suggest trying the sushi!
The Mill: Now here’s a brunch spot worth getting on your radar! From the atmosphere to the food, this place is the perfect spot for any palate. You can get some fresh yogurt and granola (like I did!) or you can opt for a heartier meal with some eggs and avo. Another awesome brunch spot is Tartine. Shout out, Dev, for coming through with the BRUNCH!
Fidalgo: Great seafood options at a decent price! We popped into this spot after we went for some drinks in our neighborhood. Super tasty, especially my Salmon!
Timeout Market: If you like places like Urban Space or City Kitchen, you’ll love it here. You know what, even if you don’t love those places, you should go. JUST DO IT, OKAY?
And if you thought the food in Lisbon was a good deal, just wait until you see the drinks! Most beers cost around 2-3 euro, while wine seemed to fall around 3-5 euro. I’ll take it.
Ribeira das Naus – Quiosque – A solid waterfront drink spot! We posted up here on one of our last days to kick our feet up and relax with a drink in hand (until the mist came in….and then the rain… and then we gave up.) There are tons of lawn chairs facing the Tejo River, and tables for larger groups!
Ginginha do Carmo: Right near the Rossio Square and train station is Ginginha do Carmo, a TINY shop that pours shots of Ginginha (a classic Portuguese liquor!) in milk chocolate shot glasses! First you take the shot of Ginginha, then you take a slightly smaller second shot (the shot glasses are small, so it takes two tries to get a full shot down). The second shot is different though, as they’ll suggest you pop the entire chocolate shot glass filled with the liquor right into your mouth! It’s pretty yummy!
Memmo Alfama Hotel: Shout out to Yuf for this AMAZING suggestion! The Memmo Alfama is a trendy, boutique hotel located in, you guessed it, the Alfama neighborhood. We headed up to the roof deck for some wine and spectacular views of the Alfama neighborhood below. The roof has a gorgeous, yet tiny, pool, and tons of space to relax. This is definitely a quiet and tranquil drinking experience– nothing like heading to, say, Mr. Purple or Le Bain. We walked in and were slightly confused because we weren’t sure if we were even in the right spot (it’s very quiet.) Trust me, though, this is worth every second of your time.
Park Bar: First thing’s first: I can’t write anymore without saying ‘obrigada‘ to my friend, Alex, who suggested stopping at Park Bar. We loved this spot so much we went back twice (and it rained each time, BOO!) Park Bar is a rooftop bar and terrace that’s located on top of a freakin’ parking garage in Bairro Alto. How nifty is that?! New York, can you jump on board, please? You take the grungy, some-what sketchy, graffiti ridden elevator up to the top floor, and ALAS, you find this awesome, rustic space with stunning views of Lisbon. They have tons of outdoor seating, but they also have room inside as well (where we all took shelter from the rain!) . This more of a tradition lounge experience and should be high up on your list.
Castelo de São Jorge: Why is this on the list? Let me explain. You’re going to pay $10 bucks to enter the grounds so you can “tour the castle”, but think of this as a small premium for the wine with a view you’re about to experience. Literally, there is a stand outside of the actual castle called “Wine with a View”, where you’ll get a glass of wine in a plastic glass. Make your way to the seats carved out along the ledge, where you can sip some rose and check out the phenomenal views of Lisbon below! Skip the castle shiz (it’s very underwhelming, and that’s coming from someone who loves visiting historic sites), and go straight for the wine (#millennialmindset #yolo #sorrynotsorry). I am so happy Devin and I didn’t turn back! Plus, you’ll walk along tons of picturesque roads in Alfama to get up this spectacular miraduoro.
Clube da Esquina: This is a no-frills local spot in Bairro Alto that was pretty much right around the block from our apartment! We ended up here on our hunt for Ginginha, which we did end up trying while we were there! What makes this place worthy of this list is the fact that the bartender was SO awesome. He made us these random concoctions that you wouldn’t find on the menu (He probably sensed our disappointment that he didn’t have chocolate shot glasses for the Ginginha, but I won’t complain. Not only were they delicious, but they were gorgeous (and strong.) It’s worth popping in here! The vibes are pretty cool too!
*Just a note about Bairro Alto: there is a drinking scene here unlike anything I’ve ever seen! On Friday and Saturday night, the streets are full of people wandering in and out of bars and even drinking on the streets! Don’t let that turn you off though- the sound didn’t bother us at all, and the plethora of bars around made bopping around easy! I wish I could tell you the names of all the bars we stumbled into (one was definitely Kitsch`n Bairro Alto, and it was AWESOME. The singer/guitarist that was playing there was a contestant of Portugal’s ‘The Voice‘) , but it’s worth doing some exploration on your own! LIVE MUSIC is totally a thing in Bairro Alto, and I guarantee you that you’ll find some awesome local artists jamming out at many of the small bars in the ‘hood”
Try Pois Cafe in Alfama. It has Spreadhouse (LES) vs bookshop feels. We posted up here for a quick pick me up following a day of travelling! Yuf had mentioned this spot, but Carly actually lead us here after finding it on Google Maps. Praise be, Google Maps!
If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, you’re hitting up Santini. The gelato here is unreal! You’ll walk it off anyway.
And there you have it! I owe a big fat THANK YOU to my friends Alex and Yuf, who gave us some amazing itinerary suggestions! I’m all about personal exploration, but I’ll never pass up some great word-of-mouth recommendations. Alex had visited both Porto and Lisbon about a month before I did, and Yuf studied abroad there, so we had a ton of ideas when it came to eating, drinking, and sight-seeing. Thank you bot h SO much!!!! And if you have any other cool Lisbon ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!!