One of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe, this is a city made for wandering around. On top of the various hills there are usually viewing areas called Miradouras and most have café bars from which you can gaze over the city in the beautiful light. Lisbon is also still reasonably cheap by European standards. It is however becoming even more popular as a destination and some of the main sites can seem a bit overcrowded as are the fantastic trams.
Taxi prices from the airport vary and some drivers do try and overcharge, make sure they use their meter and it should be between €15 & €20.
There is also a frequent and reasonable bus service to Rossio square which terminates at the Cais do Sodre station. The metro now runs from the airport although for most central hotels this will mean a change of lines.
Travel cards are available from Metro Stations. The first time you buy it, there is a small charge plus the amount you want to put on the card, then the card can be recharged when needed. It covers bus, tram, metro, lift, elevators, and ferries all run by Carris. This gives you a big discount on all fares however it is only valid for 12 months but any remaining credit can be transferred to a new card.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com most hotels are around the Avenida de Liberdade with the top end ones near the top and the more reasonably priced as you come down towards Rossio and Figueira squares. There are many new hotels that have opened recently in the Baixa area and this area now has more choice of places to eat and drink particularly in the evening.
An exception is the very good LX Boutique Hotel, www.lxboutiquehotel.com well located for the Bairro Alta & the newly trendy area around the Cais do Sodre. This is a stylish boutique hotel with lovely touches such as welcoming drink on your first night and a glass of port with traditional custard tarts when you come in after a day’s sightseeing. Very friendly and helpful staff and some great places on your doorstep and also good transport links.
A great alternative is an apartment especially as it gives you the opportunity to stay in or near the lively Bairro Alta area or to be even more local the Alfama. Friendly Rentals www.friendlyrentals.com is a highly recommended company with apartments in a large number of cities including Lisbon. Another company is www.citysiesta.com who are also worth checking out.
Bistro 100 Maneiras, Largo de Trinidade, is a very smart restaurant, with a modern take on Portuguese cooking, the food is excellent and the staff are great, book early as it is incredibly popular. It is in the upper range of prices but worth the splurge.
Toma La Da Ca, Travess do Sequeiro 38, is a small, modern place but with traditional Portuguese cooking, excellent food and service, and very reasonably priced. It is very popular and they do not take bookings, but if there is a queue it moves fast. Didn’t try it on our last visit and there have been recent mixed reviews.
100 Maneiras Restaurant, Rua do Texeira 35, has fabulous food, the chef owner has the Bistro of the same name, see above,but here is only a tasting menu. Unusually for these types of menus every course was outstanding. Booking is a must, service is excellent and not too formal. Good atmosphere and reasonably priced wine list although they do suggest wine pairings, we chose not to and picked from the list.
Un de Maio, Rua de Atalaia 8, is a very busy Tasca with a wide choice menu and very reasonably priced, it is very busy most of the time. This has been here as long as I can remember but recent reports are mixed.
Versiculo do Faia, Rua do Barroca 60A, is a great place to eat, top quality food and service however booking is essential as it is very small and incredibly popular. The food and service surpassed expectations when we went for a special dinner on this trip.
Restaurante Fidalgo, Rua do Barroca 27, was a find on our most recent visit, with good cooking and attracting very much a local clientele. We were booked in advance which was wise and enjoyed our choices, wine and service.
Stasha, Rua das Gaveas 33, was a chance find, hadn’t read anything about it before going in one evening for dinner and it was a pleasant surprise. Good choice of dishes and reasonable priced, definitely one to be recommended.
The Old Pharmacy, Rua Diario de Noticias 73-83, a recent addition to the wine bars in this area, they offer a wide selection of wines and food, More upmarket than some of the others, the mixed platter of meat, pate & cheese is excellent. Roger the main server is very knowledgeable about the wines and they have a great selection by the glass.
Artis Wine Bar, Rua Diario de Noticias 95, has been around for a few years but this was our first visit and we were impressed by the friendly and helpful staff. We only tried the meat and cheese platter which was good value but there is a large menu and there are very good reviews of the food.
Central Area – Rossio & Pombal
A Provinciana, Travessa do Forno 23, this is an old school Tasca, great to find when so many are disappearing. Very popular with local workers there are a number of dishes offered as daily specials and a menu of standard traditional dishes. Amazing value, friendly service, good house wine and so good we went back again for lunch, it is also open for dinner.
Martinho da Arcada, Praco do Commercio, is good to sit out for a beer and watch the trams, it has an expensive restaurant but also does lunch in the bar and outside. Very popular with visitors to the city because of the location.
Rua das Portas de Santo Antao is a whole street of mainly expensive seafood places but also some cheap haunts including the tiniest ‘Ginjinha’ Bar and nearby is a Lisbon institution called Rei do Frangos in Travessa de Bom Jardin, a roast chicken restaurant.
Cais do Sodre
The Time Out Mercado do Ribeira, Avenida 24 de Julio 49, is a great addition to Lisbon’s eating and drinking scene. On our most recent return it is obvious it is even more popular with locals and visitors than our first visits and weekend it was just too busy. One reason for the popularity is the range of dishes available, many from top Lisbon chefs and at reasonable prices. Alexandre Silva stands out for the quality of the dishes and we have eaten there on a number of occasions, the wait can now be long at popular times. He also has a more upmarket restaurant called Loco in the Estrella area which is worth checking out. The market has encouraged many new places to open up nearby see below and also under bars.
Caso De Pasto, Rua Sao Paulo 20, 1st Floor, we booked for a special occasion and loved the whole experience. The welcoming staff, the decor and above all the food made it a great evening. Booking is recommended especially at weekends.
Sala de Corte, Praca Dom Luis 7, is another recent addition specialising in meat dishes, no bookings are taken therefore get there early or be prepared to queue. We did not get a chance to eat there but checked it out and it is definitely on the list for a future visit.
Barracao de Alfama, Rua de San Pedro 16, is an excellent value restaurant for lunch and dinner, really friendly service. Next door there is a tiny bar, actually on the corner opposite, specialising in Ginjinha, the local cherry liqueur.
After gazing at the great views from the Miradouro there are a number of local places to eat. Churrasco de Graca at 43 Largo de Graca is a very local place with good quality fish dishes at very reasonable prices. The owner is incredibly friendly and helpful.
Real Fabrica, Rua Escola Politecnico, is just by Rato Metro and is a very popular restaurant with excellent fish dishes, as well as meat ones. They are slightly above the average tasca prices but not expensive for the quality.
O Papagaio, Rua Joao Penha 30, just by Jardim do Amoreiras, is a real local Tasca Bar which does great food at incredibly reasonable prices, it gets packed with various office workers. Stick to the dishes of the day, it was a real find.
There are loads of places to eat, both on the main street and in the square behind, towards the river.
Clube de Jornalistas, Rua Das Trinas 129, is worth seeking out. Walk, take the 28 tram or a taxi to try this wonderful restaurant run by a charming young couple who are Portuguese and Brazilian. The setting is lovely, the food excellent and incredibly reasonably priced for the quality. Very good to see it up in the top rankings.
A local area worth exploring especially now the Mercado Campo Orique has had a makeover with food outlets but still keeping the old produce stalls. Locals say that it is very popular, we tried a couple of stalls, amazing pies at one – try the black pig, and also liked the “meat” one, the quality of beef, lamb etc looked outstanding and is on the list for a return visit.
Imperial de Campo Ourique, Rua Correia Teles 67, on the edge of the main part of this area this was a lovely find. An old school Tasca run by a father and son, good old school traditional cooking at reasonable prices.
Praca de Flores
Is between Sao Bento, Rato and the Bairro Alta. It is a lovely square with a great selection of restaurants, try Canela who have a number of places including a cafe, restaurant and grill. The grill does Portuguese tapas which were good but the service was very slow. The restaurant has a buffet lunch during the week and a brunch at weekends.
There are loads of places to eat and drink but not many get rave reviews for food but it is a popular area and the river views are great. It does get popular with a young crowd at night.
Worth a visit for some smart modern bars and restaurants, these seem to come and go but have a look at it if you are in the area, as it is popular, with a local crowd.
The ground floor of the Bullring has a number of bars and restaurants, Rubro is a modern place with tapas and grilled meats, it was good value but the shape of the building makes it a difficult seating area, they also have a place off the Avenida on Rua Rodrigues Sampaio No. 35
Across The Tagus
Calcilhas – this is the shortest crossing and the ferry goes every 20 minutes from the Cais do Sodre. Farol, Largo Aldredo Dinis No 1. is the nearest restaurant to the ferry and is very popular, the food is very good and the seafood platters reasonably priced. They have a late afternoon very reasonably priced special offer of prawns and a beer.
Trafaria – take the ferry across the Tagus from Belem to this small fishing village which has a great selection of seafood and fish restaurants. One of the nicest is Restaurant O Caldeiradas, Rua Jose Antonio Rocha, on the front, you can see it from the ferry terminal it has as you would expect lots of different fish dishes.
Bars & Cafes
Café A Brasiliera, Rua Garrett is a Lisbon institution which was frequented by many Portuguese literary figures.
Tasca Pombalino, in Rossio just up from Cafe Suica, is a new addition and good for a refreshment. The drinks are reasonably priced and they have a good selection of Portuguese snacks.
Cais do Sodre
What a change in an area in a few years, this is now a must visit area however it still does have a wide range of bars and clubs so choose wisely.
Time Out Mercado de Ribeira is a good place to start an evening a wide variety of drinks are available, local beers, a great wine selection from the various outlets and also a gin bar. It gets very busy these days particularly at weekends.
Sol E Pesca, Rua Nova do Carvalho 44, was an old fishing tackle shop which is obvious from the quirky decor. Now a popular bar with food, most of which is fish & seafood, and a good range of drinks. Still as good as ever, enjoyed the food this visit. Next door is a bookshop bar which we didn’t get a chance to try.
Vinharia, Rua de Sao Paulo 18, is owned by the restaurant Casa de Pasto above. It is very small and has only a handful of wines on draught and some snacks but the staff are welcoming and it is worth a visit.
Arco de Velha, Rua de Sao Paulo 184, we found on a previous visit and returned to find it very popular in the evenings. It does a small range of food as well as drinks and is another quirky but welcome addition to the area.
A very lively area and the many narrow streets get very crowded with people wandering from bar to bar with drinks but there are still bars which are less busy and comfortable for a drink, see below. There really is every type of bar you can imagine so no problem to find one that suits.
The Port Institute, Rua Sao Pedro de Alcantara, used to be a must however on this visit the building is being converted to a hotel although I was told there will be a small bar attached, not sure if it will be run by the Port Institute.
Miradouro de San Pedro de Alcantara, is just by the top of the Gloria Elevator and is a lovely terrace bar and café which stays open late and has the most amazing views. It has a DJ at weekends at night
Janela da Atalaia, Rua da Atalaia 160, has been our favourite for many years,run by Fred it attracts an older crowd and has a relaxed atmosphere and very reasonably priced cocktails.
Garrafeira Alfaia, Rua Diario de Noticias 125, is a wine bar with meats and cheeses.
Chiado Cafe, Rua do Loreto 46-47, is a lovely cafe for breakfast or at other times during the day, Top quality breads and cakes and also savoury snacks and soups.
Bar Maria Caxuxa in Rua Barroca, is a smart modern bar with a slightly older crowd, also Green Door Bar in Rua Loreto, on the main road, opposite Café India, is a tiny cheap bar and very friendly.
Park Bar, Calcada do Combro 58, is on the top floor of a multi story car park, not the easiest to find but worth the searching. Very cool, does food and has great views.
Embaixada Portuguesa, Calcada do Combro 87, is opposite the car park. A fun bar but only open Thursday to Saturday.
Pavilhao Chines, Rua Dom Pedro V 89, has the most over the top decor of any bars I know. Ring the bell for entry, there is a James Bond movie style pool room in the back which is the best place to sit, they do excellent cocktails
Lost In, Rua Dom Pedro V 56, is a gem of a terrace bar, with a great view, chilled music, selection of drinks and food. It is down a lane or can be accessed through the boutique owned by the same people in the main road.
Enoteca Chafariz do Vino, Chafariz da Mae D’Agua, below Principe Real, is a well established wine bar and restaurant, difficult to find but worth it.
The Kiosk at the Miradouro Largo Portas de Sol, just at the 28 Tram stop is popular for a refreshment and view, however there is now a very smart terrace bar just below.
Portas de Sol, opened in 2009 has a very cool terrace bar with drinks including excellent cocktails and also does food. It has DJ’s at the weekend and I would think would get very busy, go early and watch the sun set.
There are a selection of bars and kiosks in other squares and miradouros, try Principe Real, Miradouro de Santa Caterina, near the Bica Elevator, Miradouro do Torel, near the Torel Gardens just along from the Lavra Elevator and the Miradoura de Graca.
In summer the Docas areas are particularly lively, they can be reached by public transport or taxis which are cheap.
Portugal for years has been best known for producing port wine from the Douro valley and also of course many years ago those strange shaped bottles of Mateus Rose. Luckily things have changed on the wine front and Portugal is now producing some excellent wines, particularly complex and unusual reds.
The Alentejo region has led the way in the wine revolution, look out for wines from Herdade de Grous and Herdade de Esparao. The other top red producing area is in the north around the Douro. There are of course some reasonable rose and whites as well as the well known young vino verde whites.
Portugal has a large variety of native grapes and there is a lack of well known varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. Do try and look for local wines and producers and you will be surprised at the value for money available.
Also a must to try is Ginjinha, a drink made from infusing sour cherries in alcohol. There are many small Ginjinha bars in the city the best being in Rua Portas de Santo Antao near Rossio, currently €1.40 a glass.
Some of the most fun things to do in Lisbon are using the various modes of transport, so get your travel tickets ready.
Firstly take the best tram ride in the city, the 28 up to near the Castelo de San Jorge then wander through the Alfama, these days getting on it can mean a long wait, try going to the terminus at Prazeres and getting on there, also watch your belongings. There are a couple of other routes not as popular but still fun to try. Also try the modern tram 15 to Belem
The newly extended metro is excellent, some stations are like galleries or museums with works of art, definitely worth checking out the stations with the best installations.
There are four elevadores, three are similar to funiculars, the most used is Elevador da Gloria from Ave Liberdad to Bairro Alta, essential to start a night out. The second one Elevador da Bica from the Bairro Alta down to the river front and the third hidden one, from the castle side of the Av Liberdad, Largo du Anunciado, Elevador do Lavra. As you wander back down to Rossio there are some great cheap local restaurants.
Lastly the best known is really more a lift, the Elevador San Justa, from the top there is a walkway to the Bairro Alta and a café on top of the lift tower if you don’t mind heights, the view is fantastic.
For the best value transport take the ferry from near Praca do Commercio or Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas, they run frequently. Have a drink and a snack or lunch in one of the many places, see Farol above. The ferry back is wonderful for the views. Other ferries go to Barreiro and other places which are slightly longer journeys.
Estufas Fria & Quente are under the Parque Eduardo V11 at the top of Av Liberdad, they are hidden gems of greenhouses, pools, flamingos, with tropical and cold gardens, great value
Other more obvious sites are the Castle, Alfama and the Saturday Flea Market atnearby Campo Santa Clara
Gulbenkian Museum is worth a visit if a bit difficult to find, a huge variety of exhibits and lovely setting. Make sure you know which bus to get, with all the hills it looks much easier to get to than it actually is
Belem and its various museums and monuments also has the famous cake shop Antiga Casas do Pastels in Rua de Belem, the tram 15 goes but gets very crowded, an alternative is the train from the Cais do Sodre much quicker, very frequent but you will need a new ticket even if you have a Carris travel pass.
Expo Site has a great new metro link, there is lots to see, including a huge aquarium and very futuristic buildings.
Museu da Agua has various locations, including one near Rato with exhibitions and a great view from the roof.
There are several new museums and galleries which have opened in the last few years, including the Museum of the Oriente at the Doca de Alcantara.