As soon as I stepped off the Baixa-Chiado metro stop in the heart of the city, I loved Lisboa. I was greeted with sunshine and street performers playing music. Lisbon is the European San Francisco sharing the trolley cars, hills, 25 de Abril bridge (constructed by the same company that built the Bay Bridge), warm weather, and relaxed atmosphere. There is even a lookout point, where locals and tourists go to enjoy a drink with a view, that reminds me of Dolores Park. I felt right at home. I spent my days meandering the stone streets and enjoying lots of pasteis de natas. I highly recommend visiting this beautiful city!
My favorite lookout point with view of the 25 de Abril bridge
Free walking tour (with donation): My favorite fact I learned on the tour is that J.K Rowling lived in Lisbon! The inspiration for her character Salazar Slytherin came from a past Portuguese dictator who was assassinated near her apartment.
Village Under Ground: This is the hipster area characterized by retro themed double-decker buses underneath the 25 de Abril bridge that have been converted into cafes and co-working spaces.
Book stores: The streets are lined with small book stores, and in fact the oldest book store in the world, Bertrand, resides in Lisbon.
Lookout point: This is the lookout point that reminds me of Dolores Park. It is across from Museu de Farmacia off of rue Marechal Saldanha. Everyone basks in the sunlight and enjoys beers that they bought at a nearby convenience store.
Sintra: I took a perfect day trip to Sintra, located about 1-2 hours by train from Rossio station. It is a picturesque Portuguese town where the Portuguese monarchs lived in the 20th century. It is filled with lush green hills and pastel-colored houses. My three favorite sites are Quinta da Regaleira (large estate/park with the famous initiation well that you enter through a cave), Pena Palace (the colorful palace at the top of the hill), and Castelo dos Mouros (medieval castle). The castles and parks are a bit too far to walk between but you can take an overpriced (5 euro per person) tuk-tuk ride. I recommend taking at least one to Pacio da Pena at the top. From there, you can follow a trail down back to the city.
Barrio Alto: A trendy area filled with cute shops and cafés that is very Marina-esque—there is even a juice shop.
Azulejos tiles: Cannot be missed as they are all over the city.
Pink Street: This is where most of the bars and night life takes place.
Pena Palace at Sintra
Me walking up to Pena Palace
Village Under Ground
What to eat:
Pasteis de nata: Rich custard pastries. The custards grew in popularity because women used the egg whites for bleach and were left with excess yolks. Their solution was to make pastries, and lots of them.
Petiscos tapas: A typical one is Moelas– chicken gizzards with traditional sauce. Yum!
Bacalhau: Cod fish. Cod is a staple component to many Portuguese dishes and is often served with roasted potatoes. The fried cod cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau) are popular too.
Sardines: Another specialty from the region.
Ginja: Traditional cherry liquor that you sip. To me it tastes like cough syrup but many people enjoy it.
Where to eat:
Cervejaria Ramiro (Seafood) The seafood restaurant recommended by Anthony Bourdain. It is very touristy and the queue is always long. We waited at least an hour. They offer champagne (don’t be fooled though—it’s not Moët) and charcuterie plates in a nice outdoor terrace while you wait.
Pasteis de Belem (Pasteis de nata) A 40 minute bus ride from the city center but these are supposedly the best in Lisbon. I found the ones from the little shops in town were equally as tasty.
Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau (Cod pastry) The popular cod pastry that you should at least try once while you are in Lisbon. It is often served with a glass of port wine.
TimeOut Market (All types of cuisine) It is over-priced and touristy but cool to check out if you have the time. Not a highlight.
O Cantinho (Locals, traditional) Pan-fried sardines and roasted potatoes.
Nicolau Cafe (Healthy) A marina-esque cafe offering soups, salads, smoothies, and toasts. I opted for the soup of the day (slit pea), avo toast, and a coconut latte. I heard their pancakes and french toast are also good.
Artis (Portuguese tapas) I recommend the roasted octopus and moelas (chicken gizzards).
Santini (Ice Cream) Best ice cream in Lisbon. I got roasted apple and mascarpone.
Chapito (Nice, traditional) Restaurant with view. Needs reservations.
Casanova (Pizza) Best pizza in Lisbon
Topo (Rooftop bar)
Park Bar (Rooftop bar)
Porto is a small coastal town in the northern part of Portugal, around 3 hours by train from Lisbon. To me it is a mixture between Nice and Florence. The close proximity to the water gives it a laid-back and carefree atmosphere that I experienced in Nice. The cobble stone streets, colorful houses, and cafes along the Douro River create the romantic Italian feel. It is often cheaper to fly out of Porto than Lisbon so I recommend tagging it on before/after your trip.
Port wine tour: It is where port wine originated so there is no shortage of wine tastings.
Dom Luis I Bridge: Beautiful view of the city.
Livraria Lello: The bookstore that inspired J.K Rowling.
What to Eat:
Broa Bread: Traditional bread made out of corn.
Francesinha: A sandwich consisting of sausage, steak, egg, ham, cheese, fries, and special sauce (each restaurant has their secret recipe).
Traditional Vegetable soup
Where to Eat:
Café Majestic: Touristy and over-priced but it is nice to see and enjoy an expresso if you have time.
Bread and Breakfast: A cheap alternative to Cafe Majestic, located around the corner.
Casa Guedes: Pulled pork sandwich.
Café Santiago: Where you can try the famous Francesinha sandwich. I recommend splitting it with a friend.
Buraco: Cheap local food. A main entrée is around 5-6 euros.
Fish Fixe: A nice restaurant on the water but it is a bit more expensive.
Maus Habitos (Bad habits): A rooftop restaurant known for their pizzas and salads served in homemade pizza dough.
Traditional vegetable soup with broa bread
Maus Habitos salmon salad
Port wine tasting
Obrigado Portugal, for a wonderful week filled with delicious food!