Stopover in Lisbon, Portugal

September 27, 2018
View of Lisbon houses from above

I spent a few days in Lisbon with my cousin in 2014. We didn’t have any sort of plan – we just booked an Airbnb and arrived. Thankfully the apartment we rented was right in the middle of Alfama, the historic cobblestone district, and we were able to walk around and see most of the sights easily.

We started our day with strong espresso and a pastry and after a short stroll arrived at the São Jorge Castle. The citadel itself is very impressive, but what we enjoyed most was the panoramic view of Lisboa and the water – best spot for photos. Bonus: wild peacocks hang out in this area and like to occasionally display all their feathers for the tourists.

Along the way we also stopped at the Lisbon Cathedral (which is about 15 min from Castelo or the castle). Lots of cute buggies line up outside the church offering sightseeing tours. You can also access the Cathedral from the tram, which runs in a loop around Lisbon and stops at the landmark. We rode the bright yellow tram for its full tour of the city, but beware pickpockets.

At night we hit the famous Pink Street, a sort of Portuguese Bourbon Street if you will. It’s really easy to bar hop and many places stay open late and offer free wifi (essential for calling Ubers). By the time we left (wee hours of the morning) we just hopped in a taxi – mistake! The cab driver got to the winding medieval alleys of Alfama and refused to take us up the hill, dropping us off in a completely unfamiliar part of town. It took more than an hour of stumbling around lost to finally find our street.

It takes a little searching to find authentic local food in the area of Lisbon we stayed. Most places we saw offered American tourist food like burgers. Finally we found the adorable Canto da Vila bistro and delighted in a vegetarian beetroot risotto (maybe more Italian than Portuguese, but better than fries!). Lisbon also has a lot of great breakfast and brunch options.

Another New Orleans-esque feature is Pasteis de Belem. Expect a crowd similar to Café du Mond looking to try the mouthwatering pastel de nata along with a coffee or hot chocolate. The lines are long but it is worth it!

When it was time to go we flew Tap Portugal to Switzerland it was a great airline. They offer an app for easy check-ins, give you a free breakfast (croissant, yogurt, etc!) and it’s not pricey. I recommend it for short flights within Europe (haven’t flown Tap for long distance).

For my next trip to Portugal I look forward to visiting the coastal city of Porto. It is well-known for beautiful buildings and of course the namesake wine. I’d also like to explore some of Portugal’s beaches on a longer trip.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2019 at 7:55 am

    I’m taking my dad to Lisbon this fall and this article provides some cool tips! I must admit that I haven’t heard of Pink Street before, but it goes straight into my list. Also, the view from the São Jorge Castle looks amazing, I may look into staying in that area!

  • Reply
    Bhushavali N
    August 8, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Wow! I’m planning to head to Lisbon later this year. Thanks for the tip about where to stay. Staying in the middle of historic cobblestone district does sound perfect. Also thanks for sharing your experience with the taxi. I’ll rather stick to Uber.
    Vegetarian beetroot risotto does sound delicious. I’ll definitely try that out

  • Reply
    blair villanueva
    August 8, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Lisbon is also the city that I wish to visit with my love! Your photographs makes me excited more to realize that dream, and hope to build my own memories too. I can picture myself busy taking good photographs with he São Jorge Castle view.

  • Reply
    Nina Bosken
    August 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve been to Lisbon several times and I always love it. I love the pastries from Belem and just wandering the streets. I’m glad you all had such a good time!

  • Reply
    Kristy Bullard
    August 10, 2019 at 12:53 am

    I would love to see Lisbon in person one day. Your photos and descriptions do remind me of New Orleans in the USA, which is also a really cool city. I would love to try out the local pastries and the food at the bistros here! Everything sounds so delicious!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    I’m so glad I came across this article! I’m the perfect target audience to read this because I’m just about to have a long layover in Lisbon. I’ll be switching my flight to Brasil in Lisbon and I have around 24 hours in town. I got a lot of useful tips from this article, thank you for sharing

  • Reply
    Mijia Eggers
    August 13, 2019 at 9:58 am

    The cakes look tasty! The tram is also attractive to me. I have been to Brazil, but somehow I cannot find too many similarities. But in Macao, you really can see the influences.

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