After living one year in Australia, traveling around Indonesia and Cambodia, meeting my dad in New Zealand and having a Road Trip around the North Island, flying to Brazil for a friends wedding and ending up staying there for 3 months. It was time to go back to reality and Berlin, but you already guessed it, after only 6 weeks I left for Lisbon as I got a job there. The closest I could get to Brazil for now! Yet here I am, over one year after leaving this city and another couple of months after my holidays there that I finally managed to write about that place I called home for a short time. So you will find a mix of my time living in Lisbon and my one-week stay over New Years. So let us start!
Portuguese food, drinks and places to eat
For me, one of the most important things while traveling is trying the local food. If you are a vegetarian or pescetarian (when traveling) like me, Portugal is not the best place because their cuisine is mostly meat or fish based. One of the best-known foods is Bacalhau, which is dried codfish. It can be prepared in different ways like Bacalhau à Brás which is cod mixed with potatoes, eggs, onions, chopped parsley, garlic and olives, one of the most traditional ways to eat it. At Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau you can try Bolinhos de Bacalhau, which are kind of crockett with bacalhau. Whenever traveling I love to check out supermarket (like here in Ecuador and their amazing fruits), another way to see the massive dried codfish which is rather strong smelling.
A traditional restaurant is João do Grão , where you can try Bacalhau com grão de bico (codfish with chickpeas) or the famous Sardinhas Assadas. It is a cute traditional restaurant and they are very friendly. Another place is Restaurante Laurentina, O Rei do Bacalhau but you can find a lot of restaurants that serve fish and sea fruit dishes all around Lisbon. Especially in July during the Lisbon celebration you can find Sardinhas Assadas, Bifanas and fresh sangria in little food stands all around Alfama. Just get some sardines in a can as a souvenir from O Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha Portuguesa (The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines) or more economic, from the supermarket (while you are checking out the bacalhau). You can find all sorts of food stands at Mercado da Riberia – Time Out Market; if fish and seafood, Portuguese food, burgers, croquette, pizza, cakes, ice cream or Portuguese liquors and wines. It is a bit more expensive compared to other places. When in Portugal you just have to mention the Angolan and Brazilian influence, that comes in form of the very popular Churrascarias. Churrasco which means grilled or BBQ in Portuguese, are also restaurants where they serve all kinds of different grilled meats as well as a buffets with all sorts of accompaniments.
I have to admit that I am not too satisfied with Portuguese food, especially as I lived in Italy before and hands down, Italian food is one of the most amazing. Check out my posts about Rome here and the amazing food in Sicily here. This is why I will include some non-Portuguese places where I usually would go with my friends. We quite often went to all you can eat buffets, my favorite one is Samurai, which is Japanese cuisine. They have a lot of different kind of sushi, savory and even sweet ones, I have never had that much choice. You can also choose the meat, fish or vegetables you wanted, and they would cook it in a wok for you. Another place I have only recently been to is the Illegal Chinese, which used to be (as the name might make you already guess it) illegal. While living in Lisbon I heard people talk about it, but I never made it there. During this visit we made it and it is amazing. It is a little bit hard to find though as you have to go up some stairs and knock on a door. The place is really simple (I think it was just a regular flat, they turned into a restaurant), simple tables and guests left notes on the walls. The food though! The portions are gigantic!
Who does not love a good brunch with some fresh dishes, especially after a night out. My hangover goods are tasty things, stay away with junk food! Welcome to my personal paradise! Try the biggest bowl of açaí I had in my whole life and I have been to Brazil, the mother of açaí just saying. Or, in my case and freshly pressed juices and sandwiches with grilled haloumi and an poached egg. Where? Nicolau or Amelia.
Shakshuka and Oreo pancakes, more açaí and avocado-toast with poached eggs with cocktails and coffee! Yes, yes, we had all of that but we did share ..the two of us haha. Who does not love to eat and chat for hours. Where? Zenith my first love.
One of the most tasty bagels I had (or was it the New Years hangover?) and Dutch Poffertjes, which are tiny pancakes at WISH Concept Store & Slow Coffee House at the LX Factory.
And more pancakes with fruits, red velvet muffin, pumpkin soup, fresh juice and coffee at Tease
Have you really been to Lisbon if you did not try Pastel de Nata? Those little custard tarts, which you can sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Be carefully here, once I accidentally sprinkled way too much cinnamon on my Pastel de Nata. You can find the best ones at Pastéis de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92), schedule some time as there is usually a queue or go to Manteigaria (Praça Luís de Camões or Mercado da Ribeira). I never heard of Queijada Laranja before but I just needed to try it, it did not dissapoint. Another dessert is Pudim de Ovos, made with leite condensado which tastes a bit like caramel. I am not sure if it is Portuguese or Brazilian as you can also find those in Brazil. Even though those are 100% Brazilian, you should try them will in Lisbon as you usually cannot find them in the rest of Europe. Brigadeiros as well as the Brigadeiro cake which you can find at the supermarket. This is a must-try for every chocolate lover!
Pastelaria Versailles, I had this one on my list for a while and finally managed to go there. Close to Praça do Comércio, you will find Confeitaria Nacional (Praça da Figueira, Praça Dom Pedro IV 18B) which has some of the above mentioned desserts as well as Pastel de Nata.
Luckily I am in Lisbon shortly after Christmas, which means that I found a lot of traditional Christmas sweets like Aletria or Rabanadas which are similar to french toast just that they use bread instead of toasts or Bolo Rei (I think it is for the Three Wise Men Day) which well, looks a bit strange to me ..
As much as I love food, I love to drink and as Lisbon has been a bit disappointing for me regarding the first part let’s talk about drinks. You could accompany your meal by beer like Sagres or Super Bock which is also a cheap options, for the ones who travel on a budget. If you are not too much into beer you could have Sangria during meals or sitting at a terrace with friends, at night or at the beach. The best ones are the ones they mix themselves, with brandy (or rum), red wine, juice and sometimes cider, then add some fresh fruit, like apple, orange, strawberries, mint and even cinnamon et voilà! Or Sommersby which is their very own cider brand, it is a bit sweet though and tastes very similar to apple juice. You could try Vinho Verde, Amendoa Amarga
My absolute favorite drink is a cherry liquor called Ginjinha. It is usually served in a little chocolate glass, sometimes with a little cherry or sometimes with a free refill. There are specific Ginjinha bars or little stands in the street, often run by older local women. I usually get my parents an alcohol bottles as a souvenir, so they also got a bottle of Ginja de Óbidos which they even sell with the chocolate cups, at the airport.
Miradouros and Rooftop bars
As you might know, Lisbon was built in between seven hills. So it might be no surprise that there are a lot of amazing Miradouros – viewpoints around Lisbon. Newly reopened and popular Miradouro de Santa Catarina, close by you have two bars so it is possible to buy drinks there. In the Alfama district, Miradouro de Santa Luzia with its beautiful blue and white tiles. Some other viewpoint are Miradouro da Senora do Monte, Miradouro do Monte Agudo and Linha d’Agua. If you have some spare time, go to Panorâmico de Monsanto which is an abandoned restaurant from there you have an amazing view all over the city. It is quite a trip to go there but the view is absolutely amazing.
If you are like me and enjoy a drink while enjoying the view, you should definitely go to TOPO Martim Moniz, Hotel Mundial or to Park bar, on the weekends there is even a DJ at Park bar. My absolute favorite rooftop bar is Rio Maravilha in LX Factory, here you can find the best cocktails and an amazing view on the bridge.
Going out and more bars
Another of my favorite bar is Pensão Amor which used to be a burlesque many years ago. The whole interior is just amazing, one room with cozy old-school armchairs, another one with pole, with amazing paintings in the staircase and a room full of mirrors with a round armchair in the middle (also the way to one of the restrooms).
During the week you could check-out Anjos 70, some nights they have salsa night on other days there is a flee market.
In Lisbon, you can find a lot of bars with a small dance floor, especially around a few streets in Bairro Alto. Some with live music, 5€ XXL Caipirinhas, Brazilian funk or the Irish bar, whatever your taste you should found it here. Usually the bars here are open until 2 am if busy until 4 am. Once they close but you still have energy, head down to Pink Street where you will find more bars with music, here they are usually open for longer (if busy obviously) or go to a club. Like K Urban Beach, LUX or my favorite Hawaii as they play mostly Brazilian funk as well as Lust in Rio.
Azulejos, graffitis, the other side of sightseeing
When I visit a new city I like to walk around, try the food, look at the buildings, meet the locals. So unless it is a rainy day I rarely go to museums, unless they are about the history of the country or in a city I already know. Once in Amsterdam we did a free walking tour where you would tip them at the end of the tour, I just loved it. I remembered that my mom did one while visiting me in Lisbon and that they meet at Praça do Comercio. It was the top thing to-do on my bucket-list and ..well, I did not make it AGAIN.
Another thing Lisbon or Portugal is famous for are their colorful tiles – Azulejos. While living in Lisbon I never made it to the National Tile Museum, which is supposed to be amazing but even just walking around Alfama you can find a fair amount of amazing azulejos. After a quick Google search, and here I found some of the supposedly most amazing ones:
Rua de São Domingos à Lapa, 43-45
Rua do Possolo, 76
Largo Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro
The André Saraiva Mural in São Vicente de Fora,
Fabrica Viuva Lamego,
Jardim da Quinta dos Azulejos
Campo de Santa Clara 124-126,
Rua das Cruzes da Sé 13-15,
R. do Milagre de Santo António 14
At the metro station stop Intendente:
Loja Viúva Lamego, 68
Rua dos Anjos
Fábrica Viúva Lamego – Avenida Almirante Reis
Fábrica Viúva Lamego – Largo do Intendente
But I would not worry too much because just strolling around you will find beautiful building. All you need to do is look up and take your time.
Lazy Sundays or day trips, weekends away
There are a couple of beaches close to Lisbon, depending on how much time you want to spend on the public transports. On the Lisbon side, you can find beaches in Cascais, which is about a 40-minute ride away or you can go across the bridge, and go to Almada. Here you can find Costa da Caparica or Praia da Fonte da Telha, which is located more south. If you have a car, you could go to some of the hidden beaches around Sesimbra. You can find more nice beaches on the peninsula Tróia. Especially during the summer, there are beach parties around Costa da Caparica.
If you would like to spend a weekend surfing, you should go to Ericeira a little calm town, with a lot of surf spots. Once a year the Billabong Pro takes place here at Praia d’Ilhas just outside of Ericeira.
While in Lisbon you should certainly not miss out on a day trip to Sintra with its beautiful castles. Like the colorful Palácio da Pena (pictured), the medieval Castelo dos Mouros and the Gothic styled Quinta da Regaleira. Even though one day might not be enough to see all three of them as well as the castle in Sintra.
Friends told me about Coimbra which used to be a University City from here J. K. Rowling got the idea for the capes in Harry Potter. If you got a weekend, catch a train and visit Porto and find out what to do in my post Farewell & Birthday weekend in Porto or fly to São Miguel, the Azores for a long weekend or even a week.
Of course there are so so many more things to see and do, like the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira and its gardens. The Lisbon Story Arch or the famous Fado Graffiti, just next to it is a bar and they have a huge Sangria which is super good but also really strong. I do hope though, that this post made you a bit curious to explore Lisbon and its surroundings.
Check out events that take place during the year on Visit Portugal – Event list
Pictured, the typical black and white Portuguese tiles at Praca do Rossio even though it is mostly known for being the pattern at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fun fact, the Cristo Rei stature located in Alamada which you can see from Lisbon is inspired by the Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
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