I knew Lisbon would be unique based on the seven cinematic hillsides unfolding the most beautiful panoramas over Portuguese capital, but I didn’t anticipate how much I would fall in love with it. The energy of the crowds, terraces where you can take in the whole city and azulejo-splashed architecture — it’s an unforgettable, vibrant city. Plus, with endless choice of fresh seafood and fado culture, running out of things to do in Lisbon is nearly impossible! Here’s my take on what you simply can’t miss there…
needed to take it all in
WHERE TO STAY
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz – I was lucky enough to be invited over by Four Seasons to capture my own unique experience. Located right in the heart of the city, it has some of the most amazing views. We had sunsets on its rooftop all to ourselves, so I considered it a hidden gem. What was even more unique about it is that there is an outdoor running track which allows you to run in the open-air while enjoying the view of the city. A work out on the rooftop in the quiet, private atmosphere? Even I will join! Really joining more of a vino-workout, but that counts in my world. 😛
Our suite was exclusive! With historical terrace views and modern amenities (L’Occitane toiletries!) providing a real comfort and peace of mind.
We were served a breakfast on Varanda Restaurant featuring a buffet renowned for its variety. Selection of fresh juices, croissants and muffins, waffles/buttermilk pancakes with banana or berries, crêpes with vanilla, fruit plates, cereal selection, cheese selection, eggs, poached or smoked salmon and many more specialties and oh, it is really an endless list.
After our tummies were sent to heaven we headed out on the adventure with a vintage moto-sidecar! Honestly, these few hours of driving, stopping at the city’s most spectacular miradouros (sites), would make flying across the world worthwhile for me. That, and Pasteis de Nata with a bottle of Quevedo Port wine waiting in our room once we came back from our exhilarating tour. All in all, it was an amazing experience.
WHERE TO EAT
Pastéis de Belém (in Belém) – best place to get your sugar fix is at the famous Pasteis de Belem which pumps out over ten thousands Portuguese tarts … per day! The crisp pastry nests are filled with custard cream, baked at 200°C for that perfect golden crust, then lightly dusted with cinnamon. However, only two people in the entire world know the full recipe so while you are enjoying these authentic treats in Lisbon and admire azulejos in the vaulted rooms of this place, try to guess the secret ingredient.
Amorino Chiado – Nailing both flavour and artistic look, this sweet, sweet stuff from which heaven is made seemingly emerges straight from Amorino Chiado’s kitchen.
Mercado de Ribeira – market doing trade in fresh fruit and veg, fish and flowers since 1892. Here you will find everything from national wines to Conserveira de Lisboa fish, Arcádia chocolate and Santini gelato.
Fruit popsicles from Paletaria – best kind of refreshment on a summer day.
Bacalhau at Casa Portuguesa – do not miss Portugal’s beloved bacalhau (dried and salted cod fish; nowadays 365 recipes and counting!). Just incredible!
Park Bar – you can see the whole city from up there, so I’d definitely say go here for some sunset drinks!
SIGHTS NOT TO MISS
Moto-sidecar tour with Four Season Hotel Ritz – As mentioned before, you shouldn’t miss feeling vintage on a moto-sidecar tour. The streets and architecture are so rich in life, colour and history. The driver will take you around some of the most historically significant buildings in Lisbon, secret spots and best views of the city.
Miradouro de Santa Luzia – magnificent views of white-domed cathedrals.
Basically, visit as many miradouros (viewpoints) as you can!
Lisboa Ponte 25 de abril – go to Almada for the most spectacular view of Lisbon (keep in mind: it kinda feels like both – San Francisco & Brasil)
Panoramico de Monsanto – easily considered one of the best viewpoints of Lisbon. It used to be a restaurant, but nowadays it is a completely abandoned site, currently in ruins and closed to the public.
Rua Augusta Arch – one of the most famous views of Lisbon is looking back up the central shopping street – Rua Augusta, from the huge river fronted square. Mostly I loved the square, but now you can also climb the arch and see yet another spectacular vista of the city.
Belem – filled with some iconic landmarks and many architectural and historical sights, Belem is a wonderful place to get lost. It has many museums (we liked MAAT the most), plus there is one thing there you can’t possibly miss – sinking your teeth into the real deal, made using the original 187-year-old recipe at Pasteis de Belém.
Rua Da Bica – Lisbon’s most photographed street with the most touristic vintage tram.
Alfama District – get lost in the more traditional side of Lisbon, here you will find every kind of azulejo imaginable.
ONE DAY TRIPS
Sintra – said to be one of the most enchanting towns in Portugal with picturesque façades and glamorous palaces and gardens (that’s if you like your fairytales real).
Azenhas Do Mar – go here for the white-washed coastal villages overlooking the Atlantic.
Cabo Da Roca – the most western point of continetal Europe.
Praia Da Ursa – probably one of the most beautiful beaches in whole Europe.
WHAT TO BRING
- Cozy sweater – because the Atlantic breeze can be more of a harsh wind, even in the summer!
- Good sneakers – so you don’t go on a super hike in sandals like me – out of town beaches might be hard to reach, you will have to climb down hills for the best experience. You’ll also be doing a lot of walking in the city, so better bring your favourite pair.
WHEN TO GO
Summer – you can enjoy open-air festivals, al fresco dining and beach days. Although you might still find waters and nights chilly even in the summer.
To sum up: the city is magical and there is actually a saying:
Lisboa espera para ti – Lisbon is waiting for you.
❥ So, what are YOU waiting for?