Livin’ la vida Lisbon

Livin’ la vida Lisbon

Lisboa is super colorful and cute, reminds us a bit of San Francisco with the hills, cable cars, and oh yeah, the “golden gate bridge.”  We loved the laidback vibes and excellent food.  Everyone, even the visitors, were friendly.. we chatted with Barcelonans and Americans in the tables next to us while we lingered over a meal for hours.  Lisboa is experiencing a boom in construction, so expect to see cranes dot the skyline.  Bring your walking shoes.. so much to see, so many hills.

Lastly, when planning your Lisbon trip, you must carve out an extra day to spend in Sintra.


  • Cervejaria Ramiro ()

    If you love shellfish like we do, you have to come here.  Our host said seafood in Lisbon is delicious because the Atlantic water is so cold.  Don’t know how true that is, but it was phenomenal here and priced really well compared to the US.  First, tell them you only want 1/2 bread portion if the bread they bring you is too much, but you’ll definitely want some carbs to sop up the juices. Second, definitely get the razor clams and grilled giant tiger prawns.  You can request by weight (minimum 100g, which is a small bread dish portion of seafood to try) and with the larger shellfish, you can request by number.  Lastly, we really liked the goose barnacles, which we haven’t seen anywhere else in the world.  Ask the waiter or your neighbor how to open and eat them!  Remember, you’re on vacation in a new place, be adventurous!  For dessert, you are supposed to get a prego steak sandwich.

  • Gelato Davvero ()

    We know, weird to tell you to go get Italian dessert here, but honestly one of the best gelato shops we’ve been to (and we just finished a 3-week trip through Italy).  It is spacious, clean, generous portions, amazing crunchy cone, and above all.. incredible gelato flavors.  We already miss it.

  • Fábrica do Pastel Feijão ()

    If you’re walking around this area, pop in to try this unique pastry.  It’s a modern take on the travesseiro, a sweet bean pastry that tastes a bit like mung bean sweets from Asia.

  • Ginjinha Sem Rival (★★)

    Ginjinha means sour cherry in Portugese.  You can get these marinated cherry brandy shots as a little aperitif or dessert.  There are two “rival” shops: A Ginjinha is a bit more picturesque, but we preferred the ginjinha from Ginjinha Sem Rival because it was smoother.This shop also sold an anise liquor called Eduardino which was also really tasty (and L doesn’t even like licorice).

Portuguese Foods to Try

    • Pastis de Nata:  Portuguese egg tarts are everywhere, eat plenty of them.  L liked the famous Belem.  Y preferred Manteigaria, which has a few more locations and you can see them making it!
    • Bifanas: are a simple pork cutlet sandwich.  We had them at standing room only shops that looked like they were frequented by locals.  Squeeze some mustard or spicy oil on top of the sandwich.They won’t be more than €2 unless you’re at a nicer restaurant.  We really liked them at these two shops: Bifanas Do Afonso and I Triangulo da Riberira.
    • Prego: These shops also sell steak sandwiches and were also pretty tasty, add an egg if you want more protein.
    • Arroz de Polvo: rice stew with octopus (our favorite was in Porto)
    • Sardinhas Assadas: grilled sardines
    • Sopa de Legumes: vegetable soup, NOT just beans!
    • Caldo Verde: collard greens soup w/sausage
  • Pastéis de Bacalhau: cod fritters (or anything salted cod, which we learned actually gets imported from Norway)

Belem Neighborhood

Take a half day to walk along the water around Belem to see these sights.You’ll also be able to see the Golden Gate-lookalike 25 de Abril Bridge from this part of town.

    • Belém Tower ()

      Looks like a chess piece.  We didn’t buy tickets to go up as it seemed fairly small, but it was a nice starting point to our walk along the water.

  • Aos Combatentes do Ultramar ()

    A very modern and sleek monument to fallen Portuguese soldiers.

  • Padrão dos Descobrimentos ()

    Huge and impressive “Monument of the Discoveries,” did not enter.

  • Jeronimos Monastery ()

    The ticket gets you into a beautiful and peaceful cloister.  If you only want to enter the church, it is free (take the right side path).

  • Pasteis de Belem (★★)

    One of the things to eat here are Portuguese egg tarts.  This is one of the most famous places (apparently they sell 30,000/day) and rightfully so.  You can take them to go or sit down (head all the way to the back to find the host stand).  If you take to go, the line moves pretty quickly, and definitely get at least 2-3 per person!

Lapa Neighborhood

We highly recommend our airbnb (search for “Lapa” in the title, click here for $40 off your first stay).  It was in a newly renovated building with 8-10 apartments.  Quiet, nice linens, lots of light, and air conditioned.  We stayed on the third floor with a lovely view of the water.  The lower floors trade views for a patio.  Our host Ricardo was super friendly and had great recommendations.  The only tradeoff is it is a bit far from central Lisboa, but nothing a 15-20 minute tram, bus, or walk can’t get you to.

We enjoyed these places in the neighborhood:

    • Conte (★★)

      Lunch only, super local, no frills shop.  We think its a Portuguese grandmother in the kitchen pushing out the food!  Try the rice with octopus (arroz de polvo) or their daily soup (sopa de legumes).

    • Heim Cafe (★)

      Another good, hipster place for brunch with tasty toast.

  • La Boulangerie (★)

    Solid croissant sandwiches, fresh fruit juice.  Sitting outside is slightly more expensive than sitting inside.


    • Tram 28

      People say this is a nice tram that runs around in a circle around Lisbon allowing you to see all the sights.  We didn’t get the opportunity to try it, but it looks PACKED, so try to get on at a stop where you’ll be able to get a seat (as opposed to getting on where everyone gets on).  Be mindful of pickpockets here!

  • Elevador de Santa Justa

    Do not line up and do not pay to go up this to see the views from the top, you can actually get to the top by stairway and see the views FOR FREE!

  • Viewpoints

    Because of the hills, Lisbon has some great (and free) vistas.  See map below for photo icons for spots.

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