How to plan a perfect trip to Lisbon

Whenever I know Morgan and I are headed to a new city, I initially stay away from Trip Advisor (although it really is a phenomenal website) and I head straight to Pinterest. I am such a visual person you see, and you can tell me to go somewhere or talk about how magnificent it is – but I want to SEE what you’re talking about. So Pinterest to me is how I visualise and set up our trip or the main parts of it before we have even left.

Lisbon was no different. Before we had left I had ensured visually I knew what I wanted to go and marvel at myself and the kinds of beautiful pictures I wanted to pap to remember our trip by.

We ended up spending 4 full days in Lisbon and if I got to re write my whoel itinerary again I would still do the exact same. It was long enough to really get to spend quality time in the city that completely stole our heart without thinking for a moment we were ready to move on.

{ Walking the hill that the Santa Justa Lift takes in the gorgeous Bairro Alto area }

I was so very grateful for every single blog I read before we left from travellers that had gone before us (that I found via Pinterest photos) so I wanted to repay the favour and write my own piece on what we did and saw in our 4 days.

Here is the thing though – an itinerary that works incredibly for one couple or solo traveller might not work at all for another, so although I am going to share what we did, where we ate and the tours we did, the best time you will have is treading your own path and dancing to the own rhythm of your travel drum, remember that.

For those that just want a bit of inspiration so you really do feel like you saw and did a lot of what Lisbon had to offer, read on compadre read on.

If you are someone who doesn’t like reading and just loves or wants a good clear itinerary of what to do in a city so you can pick and choose (something that almost all blogs lack) then you’re in luck, as I am just going to plainly post out exactly what we did and where we went below. If you don’t mind devouring a good ole travel blog though I encourage you to read on as I go in to more detail in the continued part of the blog.



Alfama district

Chialdo district

Toured the Bairro Alto area

Drank coffee / ate Tapas in Mouraria


Eat custard tarts from Manteigaria Fabrica

Drink sangria from rooftop bar – Topo

Have lunch / drinks at Time Out Market

Drink Sangria + Japanese food at Silks (also a rooftop bar)


Walked the Praca do Comercio square

Walked the Tagus River

Toured Torre De Belemr

Watched sunset from Miradouro look out (highest look out in the city)

Food Tour in Lisbon (we did this one and HIGHLY recommend it)

Day trip to Sintra (Walked up the mountain, Castle of the Moors, National Palace of Pena. And ate at: Saudade, Tascantiga)

Now for those who want to read on, and indulge my new found passion of this city I would love to take you on a bit of a longer journey of what to do, see and eat!

So I feel a trip to this gorgeous city can be distinctly broken down in to 3 core areas, and when you do a little (or all) from column a, a little (or all) from column b and a little (or all) from column c – you have yourself the perfect Lisbon adventure mapped out ahead of you.

{ Stumbling across my favourite little area in Portugal; Mouraria – loved every corner and turn, especially art like this }

Those 3 areas are;

  1. Districts to explore
  2. Food / Restaurants to eat at
  3. Adventures / Tours to do

Lisbon isn’t a small city (like say Porto) and there are a lot of phenomenal places to explore. And here is the thing, when I say explore I MEAN explore. I don’t mean, get on a crammed tram, hope for a window seat and then half hang out of it with your camera to (hopefully) snap parts of the city as the tram whizzes by. I mean explore…by foot.

Morgan and I clocked up over 70km in 3 ½ days by foot and it truly was the best way to see the city.

One of the most famous things to do in Lisbon and what you’ll read on every other blog of ‘to do’ is to catch the Tram #28. It’s an institution of Lisbon and takes you on some beautiful routes. Thing is, Morgan and I didn’t step foot on it. What we DID do however was learn where the tracks were, and follow them on foot. That way we avoided the crowded trams (and the pick pocketers who wait for tourists to let their guide down) and instead got to see far more of the little sights you’d miss on an otherwise crowded and moving tram.

But back to the areas to explore.

Districts to explore

{ Walking around the beautiful and vast Praca do Comercio square that is on the border of Alfama & Bairro Alto }

The main ones we stuck to, went back to, fell madly in love with and know you will too were;

  • Alfama
  • Chialdo
  • Bairro Alto
  • Mouraria

If you have only a day or so, you can still hit them all easily. Even by foot. Alfama & Chialdo AND Bairro Alto are all next to each other in terms of areas and Mouraria isn’t too far away either.

Bairro Alto is such a vibe’y gorgeous area but is best once the sun starts to go down, that is where you’re absolutely going to want to go for a drink in the evening and just get lost in the crowds and music.

My favourite little hidden gem though that I loved the most was Mouraria – no other blogs I had read had talked about it and we only found it as our guide on our food tour took us through this area. We walked past the entrance so many times, literally a small ally that you would never even notice if you weren’t paying attention, but it was my favourite little oasis in all of Lisbon. Tiny holes in the wall (we had some cherry wine in a little bar with a man who owned and worked in the bar for more than 30 years) and there was great history, art and cafes to keep you occupied for a good few hours.


The list condensed…

Ate custard tarts from Manteigaria Fabrica

Drank sangria from rooftop bar – Topo

Had lunch / drinks at Time Out Market

Drank Sangria + Japanese food at Silks (also a rooftop bar)

Watched Fado at Fado na Morgadinha

Before we had left, I had read on every blog site that Pasteis De Nata’s were the most famous dessert there and that I just had to try one. So our first morning there we got to do just that as our amazing air bnb host had left us one each as a welcome gift, and honestly we were immediately hooked. So take my advice (not that you need it – HA) get a Pasteis de nata in to you as soon as possible after landing. And then have as many as you feel like a day.

The most famous place or best place we had one from was in Bairro Alto at a place called Manteigaria Fabrica – they pump out over 7,000 of them a day! Morgan and I may or may not have had 3 each from this place but at €1 each how could we not!

My advice; get there when it opens and avoid all the ques!

{ Eating our weight in Pasteis De Nata’s at the famous Manteigaria Fabrica }

Morgan and I also LOVE a good rooftop bar / restaurant so we sniffed out the best ones whlst in Lisbon also – our picks and where we went for drinks and food were:

  • Topo

  • Silks

{ Taking in the delicious view with an even more delicious Aperol Spritz from the Topo Rooftop }

{The exact view we got to take in whilst devouring our delicious wine + Japanese food on the rooftop at Silks }

Topo was AMAZING for an afternoon drink, watching the mood and weather change in Lisbon from that high up, and then we taxi’d on to Silks to watch the actual sunset and have some dinner. We booked at Silks and you want to ask for outside as the views really were and are spectacular.

Another amazing ‘must go see’ place was the Time Out Market, we were recommended it by a tonne of locals whilst there and we are SO glad we did actually end up there.

Time Out Market was an initiative from the Government years ago to put all the best of the best of Lisbon in one place!! So although it attracts a lot of tourists, its where all the locals eat as well. You have stalls and stalls and stalls of food or wine to choose from and sit at a table share style getting to listen to the conversations and mayhem go on around you.

{ We absolutely adored eating and drinking our way around Time Out Market and you absolutely will too }

The last but absolutely not the least thing you really must do in Lisbon is see a Fado show. The best way it was described to me (and once I witnessed it I thought it was the perfect description) was Fado is about the music as Flamenco is about the dancing.

We asked our air bnb host for the recommendation as there are a LOT of Fado restaurants to choose from but we weren’t looking for tourist we were looking for traditional. And we got that in spades with the one recommended to us; Fado na Morgadinha. You’re not there for the best food of your life (be mindful of that) you’re there to see Fado performed so although we LOVED the food and felt like it was like your grandma’s cooking, the French couple next to us were rather dismayed. The food, wine, and Fado to us though was excellent.

Everywhere else in Lisbon, just stop when you find a view you love, a pumping hot spot full of locals (always the best clue) or when you find a gorgeous spot you must people watch from.


The list condensed…

Walked the Praca do Comercio square

Walked the Tagus River

Toured Torre De Belem (aka the Tower of Belem)

Watched sunset from Miradouro look out (highest look out in the city)

Food Tour in Lisbon (we did this one and HIGHLY recommend it)

Day trip to Sintra (Walked up the mountain, Castle of the Moors, National Palace of Pena. And ate at: Saudade, Tascantiga)

{ Taking in the beauty – away from the crowds – that is the Tower De Belem }

{ Stop #1 of the Food Tour & we already knew we were going to love it }

By far the absolute highlight of Lisbon for me was the Food Tour we did called “taste of Lisboa” (this is the one we did that I have already link twice, but honestly, it really was the highlight for both Morgan and I’s Lisbon trip). I even recommend even if you have 2 days in Lisbon, to do a food tour as we drank the best wine, ate the yummiest (and most traditional food) and saw quite a lot of Alfama and it’s surrounds by foot learning about the culture, people and sights along the way. P.s can I just say that nothing I ever promote or recommend – including this food tour is a paid promotion, i just will always sincerely recommend places and things I have loved.

The other thing we knew we had to / wanted to do (especially with quite a few days in Lisbon) was take a day trip out to Sintra, and I do think its worth it. It was about an hour on the train and a return ticket cost all of €4.30 return so it’d be rude not to.

Like the ‘tour by foot’ people we are, we walked a LOT in Sintra (aka up the big mountain to the Castle of the Moors and the National Palace of Pena) but if you’re a) not up for walking or b) want to see a lot more of Sintra, here is where I recommend you take a tuk tuk around.

We ate some of the areas famous cheese cake at Saudade café as soon as we got off the train (highly recommend you do the same) and choose Tascantiga for lunch which again, we absolutely recommend for some delicious and traditional Tapas.

And that’s it. We really did fall so madly and deeply in love with Lisbon and have vowed to come back. I totally see why it is becoming the hotspot for Europeans and if you have never had Lisbon or Portugal on your ‘to visit’ list, I absolutely assure you it’s worth the addition.

When it comes to all things travel though, always just follow what feels good, where your mood is taking you and remember to dance to your own rhythm at all times and you truly cannot go wrong.

Hopefully we will bump in to you somewhere around the globe, but for now….

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