We had an incredible experience travelling through Portugal during August-September 2017. Our first stop along the way was Lisbon where we spent 5 days taking in the city’s sights, culture, food and drink. Since we kept a detailed itinerary of each day, I’ve decided to share it here in case it can be helpful as you plan your upcoming travels or if you’re looking for inspiration. We had an wonderful time in Portugal—and Lisbon in particular—and would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone considering it!

Where to Stay

 Feeling Chiado

  • Boutique b&b style hotel; dozen unique rooms
  • Best service ever experienced at a hotel
  • Only considerations: lots of stairs (no elevator, on 5th floor of building) and no mini fridge

Neighbourhood: Bairro Alto

  • Very central; surrounded by restaurants, bars, close to train station, walking distance of many sights/attractions
  • Lots of character

Day 1 — Settle In, Watch the Sunset, Eat Like Locals

Exploring Castelo de São Jorge

  • An hour to walk to the castle from Bairro Alto
  • Amazing view of sunset
  • Wine to go cart — we hung on to reusable plastic wine glasses provided (came in handy)

Dinner at O Eurico

  • Really inexpensive, home cooked, authentic Portuguese food
  • No one spoke English but still friendly/accommodating and great service; woman running restaurant very sweet
  • No reservations
  • Very busy / popular all the time
    • If you see a line, check for seating inside; many people will wait for patio but we were able to be seated inside right away
  • Massive plate of prawn, and meat croquettes, fried potatoes, 1€ beer

Day 2 — Eating, Drinking and Exploring

Time Out Market 

  • Divided into farmer’s market and cafeteria; large and modern with great selection of vendors (esp prepared food) Go for lunch
  • Sea Me – Ceviche & oysters
  • Leitão de Ribiera – amazing crispy pork
  • Manteigaria – a natas (famous dessert)
  • Ginja cherry liqueur
  • Charcuterie/cheese/bread to go at Manteigara Silva

A post shared by Brett Donald (@brettdonald13) on

Garden tour & picnic

  • Parque Eduardo – easy to walk, great view of garden/city out to water
  • Velocity Cafe – rent bikes (closed while we were there so couldn’t rent bikes; looks like city is adding infrastructure for grab/go rentals)
  • Parque Monsanto — we went, however being on foot made it challenging; it’s a huge park and found it a bit difficult to navigate as there’s little information online. May have been better on bike but there are likely other better ways closer to the core to spend a few hours.

Dinner at Peixaria da Esquina 

  • Located at the edge of Barrio Alto (Rua Correia Teles 56 1350-102 Lisbon)
  • Reservations available
  • Modern, a bit dressier
  • Fresh seafood deliciously prepared
    • clams — smaller side and usually steamed, sweeter and more tender than ours in Atlantic Canada
    • scallops
    • vinho verde — only made in northern Portugal and Spain;  young, very fresh without being sweet, great with seafood; some have some fizz
  • Solid service
  • Overall good, but could likely find better value; Cervejaria Ramiro was widely recommended for seafood but was closed while we were there

Day 3 — Day Trip to Sintra

  • The train from Lisbon direct to Sintra (right from Rossio station) comes every 30 mins
  • Go and stay a night so you can enjoy a full day—there is so much to see and this was a major highlight of our trip!

Accommodations in Sintra: Chalet Relogio

  • Estate/mansion turned into bed & breakfast
  • Antique feel, lots of character in rooms
  • Great location (short walk to downtown Sintra)
  • View of Moorish castle from our bedroom window

Private Tour of Sintra

  • Private full day (6hr) jeep tour with Green Walk Tours
  • €65 each
  • Amazing value; were able to request/customize stops and cover a huge amount of ground—palaces, castles, and many stops along the gorgeous coastline
  • Our tour guide, João, was extremely knowledgeable
  • Tour covered wide range of history, geology, and João provided private tours of each site to guide us along
  • Could not recommend this tour enough; there is no way we would have covered this much ground on our own or learned as much as we did. Well worth every euro!

Tour highlights included:

  • Quinta da Regaleira (estate, gardens, underground tower)
    • Labyrinth of manmade caves that would have been difficult / time consuming to navigate without someone who knew what they’re doing (some people miss highlight of underground tower because they get lost)
    • Go early as possible as there are lots of tight spaces which would be tough with a crowd
  • Azenhas do Mar (sea pool) — look off, beautiful view 
  • Several beaches
  • Cabo de Roca (most western point in Europe) — our tour guide took us off road before the lighthouse for private, spectacular view
  • Lunch at Casa do Luis — sea bass for 2 (catch of day); pretty/quaint spot in a small village
  • Sintra Forest
  • Pena Palace (gardens & palace exterior)
    • Use back entrance to garden to avoid massive lines at main entrance
    • Large gardens could be difficult to navigate without a guide unless you have lots of time to wander
    • Palace has amazing views of all of Sintra and can see as far as Lisbon on a clear day
    • Huge lines to see interior of Palace; decided to skip as it’s mostly furniture and would have been 1+hr wait 

Tacho Real for Dinner

  • Rua da Ferraria, 4, Sintra-Vila, 2710-616
  • Reservations available
  • Seafood rice for 2 — flavourful, lots of fresh fish, huge portion (could likely feed up to 4 with a starter)
  • Live music, small patio
  • Not the best value but you wouldn’t be disappointed if you went

Day 4 — Sintra Town & Steak Dinner in Lisbon

Piriquita Bakery

  • Founded in 1860s
  • Famous Sintra pastries
    • Queijadas
    • Travesseiro, a pastry stuffed with sweet eggs and almond (secret recipe)

National Palace of Sintra

      • Medieval Palace
      • Maintained with some original furniture
      • Signage could have been more informative; may get more out of it with a guide but still interesting
      • Gardens have nice view of town and can see up to Moorish castle

…train back to Lisbon…

Dinner at La Paparrucha

      • Best steak we’ve ever had IN OUR LIVES: Parrillada Buenos Aires
        Grilled Tenderloin, Sirloin and Rib Eye Steak for 2 people  
      • Reservations available; recommend as it is quite busy
      • Most expensive meal but well worth it
      • Beautiful view over city; request a window table when you book
      • Terrace to have a drink

Drinks at Pavilhão Chinês

      • Eclectic bar serving cocktails and filled wall to wall with WWII toys and antiques
      • Very weird and expensive drinks (nothing overly special for price) but worth seeing; suggest browsing around like a museum to take it all in

Day 5 — Art and Culture to End

National Museum of Ancient Art

      • Madonna exhibit from Vatican which was in town
      • Collection of other art, some interesting pieces like the “lettuce” jewelry
      • Could spend several hours here

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

      • Rich man’s personal collection spanning ancient Egypt to 1900s and many different cultures
      • In a large garden open to public

Other Attractions in Lisbon

We didn’t have time to check these out but they were on our list… next time!

      • Elevador da Glória — apparently overrated/expensive but leads to beautiful park/garden with great views of the city. Under construction when we were there unfortunately but would be a great place to relax with a beer and take in the view
        • Jardim de S. Pedro de Alcântara
        • Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
      • Laurentina — “King of codfish”
      • Butchers — apparently best meat in Lisbon

Have you been to Lisbon before? Are you planning a trip sometime soon? Let me know in the comments!

Laura Hawkins Travel

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *