Lisbon surprises you around every corner. Here you are in a big city but then walk five blocks and it feels like you’re in a little village – transported back to the past. History is stamped on every facade and narrow street.
At the same time, Lisbon is a cosmopolitan place. It’s full of open-minded people from all over the world. There are all kinds of artisan shops to explore and nightlife scenes to enjoy. This contrast between the past and present fascinates me and constantly blows my mind.
My Life Story: A Journey from Brazil to Portugal
I’m not from Lisbon originally. I was born in a little town called Pitangui in Brazil. As I grew up, I saw many of my friends plan to enter medical, law or engineering school. They were all concerned with entrance exams. In the meantime, I spent my days discovering new bands, films and artists online.
In the end, I moved to a big city called Belo Horizonte to study advertising and communication. I met people who liked the same things as me and had contact with a whole different world. That’s when I really found myself.
I became increasingly interested in art and photography and began studying, practicing and working on my photography. I moved to Lisbon six months ago and now spend my days exploring the city and having fun.
Getting Lost in the Fascinating Streets of Lisbon
Over the past six months, I have explored this city inside and out. I’ve wandered around the urban scene, observed prominent buildings, immersed myself in the culture of each area and tasted the food from different places.
Yet there are still some attractions that are on my bucket-list. Some of these places I can’t visit until the Covid-19 situation improves. As soon as I get the opportunity, I would like to visit the Jerónimos Monastery, the Azulejo Museum and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology.
Favourite Place in Lisbon: Graça Neighbourhood
My absolute favourite place in Lisbon is Graça. This is a very typical neighbourhood of Lisbon with a strong Portuguese atmosphere – full of history, culture and charming buildings covered in tiles. In other words, this neighbourhood brings together everything I like to photograph.
I like it so much that I chose to live in this zone. The Graça neighbourhood is located on a hill and offers some wonderful views over the historic city.
10 Best Things To Do in Lisbon
Lisbon is a notoriously hilly city home to several cinematic hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo. Whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, there’s never a shortage of things to do on the streets of the capital city of Portugal. Below you will discover my top 10 recommendations for Lisbon.
1. Take in the Beauty of Lisbon from the Miradouros
Lisbon is a city that was built on seven hills. We have many high points around the city. That’s where the “miradouros” are and the views are incredible! My favourite is the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte but I also love the Miradouro da Graça and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
2. Visit the Artistic and Funky LxFactory
LxFactory is a place that is impossible to explain. It used to be an industrial area but was renovated and turned into a mix of shops, restaurants, galleries, artworks and bars. Creatives love this place! Go during the day and watch the sunset with a cocktail overlooking the Tagus River.
3. Explore the Time Out Market of Lisbon
Time Out Market brings together the best restaurants, chefs and gastronomic projects in the Portuguese capital. However, this place is usually full of tourists. If you’re in a hurry, then I recommend checking out Mercado de Campo de Ourique to enjoy a more local experience.
4. Listen to Portuguese Music at a Fado Restaurant
Don’t miss the chance to have dinner at a Fado restaurant. This is a type of traditional Portuguese music. The music presentation goes on throughout the evening and is paused when it’s time to eat. Everyone has to be silent when the fadista sings. It’s a powerful, unique and intimate experience.
5. Wander around the Edge of the Tagus River
The edge of the Tagus River is always a charming experience. I especially love the vicinity of the Cais do Sodré neighbourhood where people are always walking around, doing exercise or simply enjoying the day. On good days, the weather here makes it lovely and the sunset is amazing.
6. Party the Night Away in Bairro Alto
Party animals and those who love a good time need to have at least one night out in Bairro Alto! This is an old and picturesque neighbourhood with a lot of different restaurants, bars and a bustling nightlife. The destination is always popular with locals and tourists alike. So check it out and have fun!
7. Discover the Oldest Neighbourhood, Alfama
Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It’s full of alleys and is one of the most powerful places that transports you back to a small village feel from the past. Go in the afternoon and get lost in the streets. You will find many old buildings, churches and residents sitting at their doors.
8. Spend an Afternoon Drinking Beer at a Kiosk Cafe
One of the best ways to live like a local in Lisbon is to sit at one of the famous kiosks and order a beer. Then order one more, and a few more, and spend hours with friends enjoying the day outside on the tables. There’s nothing better than relaxing and watching the world go by.
9. Marvel at the Classic Belém Tower
This grandiose monument was built in the 16th century. It’s located on the banks of the Tagus River in a large and pleasant open area. Go to understand why it is one of the most visited tourist spots in Lisbon. Don’t forget to try the famous Pastéis de Nata de Belém!
10. Relax at the Beautiful Jardim da Cerca da Graça
And we’re back at the incredible Graça neighborhood! The Jardim de Cerca da Graça is a large green space with epic views of the city, a kiosk café, picnic area, playground and overall offers serene tranquility. This is the place I go when I want to relax, sunbathe or drink wine outdoors in nature.
Immersing in the Local Lisbon Way of Life
People of Lisbon are just as diverse as the landscape and architecture itself. There are many immigrants (including myself) who call this city home. I’ve always been lucky to meet a mixture of both immigrants and local Portuguese. Many of the locals are keen on connecting with new people.
My recommendation for your visit to Lisbon is to immerse yourself in the culture by opening yourself up. Start a conversation, show interest in their lives, listen to their unique stories – and that’s all you have to do really! The best way to know a city is to know it’s people and Lisbon is no different.
Glorious and Glamorous Food of Lisbon
The food in Lisbon is simply the best! For starters, everyone has to try Pastéis de Nata. It’s a staple food of the city. My favourite ones are from Manteigaria (custard pie factory). I can’t recommend this place enough!
In my opinion, the great magic about the gastronomic scene in Lisbon is to allow yourself to be surprised. Some of the best dishes I have ever eaten were in restaurants with small doors. Those places that I entered with no expectations but left feeling pleased with the simple and homemade food.
Lisbon is full of these charming little restaurants which are known as Tascas. O Fernandinho is hands down one of my favourite places so far. There are very few tables and lots of flavour in the dishes. It’s a place to eat like a local. Fish is always the best choice – served fresh daily.
As mentioned before, Bairro Alto is the best district of Lisbon to enjoy a night out on the town. I can recommend Pub Português if you are after beers, cocktails, snacks and to meet friendly new people.
Best Places to Stay in Lisbon for Accommodation
Before moving to Lisbon, I visited the city twice as a tourist. On both occasions, I chose Airbnb because I travelled with my boyfriend and we like to have an apartment – both for convenience and privacy.
Both times we stayed in the historic part of the city. The area is located between Cais do Sodré and Santos, not too far from Chiado and Bairro Alto. I can recommend this area as it’s beautiful and safe. I can also highly recommend my Airbnb hostess and her apartment: Charming Mastros.
What You Need to Know Before You Go
The first thing you need to decide is the amount of time you want to spend in Lisbon. I recommend at least 7-10 days. The city itself is incredible and there are many magical places nearby like Sintra and Cascais. These spots are easy to reach by train and deserve to be visited.
As a lover of Tascas, I would say avoid those restaurants located next to tourist attractions. A lot of them are only interested in drawing in as many tourists as possible without any personal service. The prices are high!
Whenever you can, choose the small neighbourhood restaurants. This way you will get to experience real homemade Portuguese cuisine and for a lower price. You might also meet new people. So definitely give it a try!
Last but not least – bring a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Lisbon is a hilly city and when you’re exploring the older neighbourhoods you might slip on the cobblestone streets if you’re not wearing good shoes.
Thanks for reading my Lisbon travel guide. I hope you found it informative and inspiring. Here’s hoping we see you in Portugal soon!