We spent three fabulous days in Lisbon on our Portugal trip. As with all the places we went, I wish we had an extra day or two, but three days was sufficient to see the main sights and get a good taste of Lisbon. One of my favorite parts about Lisbon was the wonderful views everywhere you went. It’s a city of hills (which will get to you when you’re walking around!) and has a beautiful river. The cobblestone streets and tiled buildings make it a charming place to visit.
Friday: Church in Alfama, National Pantheon, Miradouro, Sao Jorge Castle
Saturday: Belem – Monestary, Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument), Belem Tower; San Justia Lift (Lisbon)
Sunday: Sintra – Moorish Castle, Palacio de Pena, Cabo de Roca
Our flight arrived into Lisbon at 7:30AM. After getting our baggage, getting a European sim card for Luke’s phone (the BEST way to have internet while you are in Europe and not get lost, only $12 for a week of internet and free texting!), we hailed a cab from the airport ($25) and headed to our Airbnb in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon. Despite our jet lag, we decided to unpack a bit and go explore Lisbon.
Each morning we were there, we had breakfast and coffee at a wonderful little Pasteleria (Portuguese for cafe) in Alfama called Pastelaria Afama Doce.
I was worried about what I would eat for breakfast in Portugal, as I’m not huge on sweet pastries, but to my delight they had delicious cheese and sausage pastries everywhere. We tried many varieties and had pastries from other cafes in Portugal, but this place was definitely our favorite. And I loved the coffee too! They served it like a latte and even without flavoring, it was delicious.
After breakfast, we set out to see a few main sights that were relatively nearby: the National Pantheon, a cool church, a miradouro, and the Sao Jorge Castle.
We did a lot of walking that first day in Lisbon (13.62 miles!). After visiting all those sites, we walked over to Time out Mercado for lunch.
Though we enjoyed tasting a variety of dishes from all of the venues in the market, we would recommend going to a local restaurant for lunch instead. I think you get a better taste of Lisbon at the local restaurants.
After lunch, we walked back to our Airbnb for a little R&R. We took a quick nap before heading back out for a little more exploration and dinner.
Our dinner on Friday night in Lisbon was our favorite meal from the trip! We went took the ferry across the river to eat at Ponto Final.
They have tables on a little pier that extends into the river. When I found the place on TripAdvisor before we went, I was crossing my fingers we could get the last table on the pier. I made a reservation to sit outside, but wasn’t sure if we would be able to get THE table. We did!
It was the most perfect view of the bridge, Lisbon, and the sunset. The food and wine were great too. I ate entire fish (head, eyes, bones and all) for the first time!
Go to Ponto Final if you’re in Lisbon. It was the highlight meal of our trip and I know it will remain one of my favorite memories.
Saturday we woke up and headed to Pastelaria Afama Doce for breakfast again. Then we walked to the National Pantheon to see the “famous” flea market and buy the Lisboa card for our trip to Belem. The flea market was a bit of a bust. It was basically a huge garage sale and didn’t really interest us.
We quickly set out to go buy the Lisboa card inside the National Pantheon. However, though they told us about the card there the day before, they didn’t sell the card there. We then went to multiple places trying to buy the card. Once we eventually got our hands on the Lisboa cards, it was almost noon. The tram going to Belem was very delayed, and eventually, we ended up hopping on a bus.
When we finally made it to Belem, we stopped at the famous Pasteis de Belem to get our Pastel de Nate!
It was delicious! Layered crispy shell with a not-too-sweet rich custard in the middle.
After eating our pastel de nate in a little park, we walked over to the Monestary.
Then we stopped at the Padrao dos Descobrimentos statue before grabbing some lunch at a local cafe.
We ended our trip to Belem at the Belem Tower.
By the time we got back to Lisbon, it was getting late. We didn’t have much time to go back to the hotel before our reservation for dinner at 100 Maneiras, and we happened to walk by the Sao Justia Lift. So we waited in line and made it to the top of the lift for some wonderful views just in time!
Then we headed to dinner at 100 Maneiras, where we had made a reservation after reading rave reviews and getting personal recommendations from a few friends. We enjoyed our dinner there, but it didn’t “wow” me quite as much as I’d hoped. Most dishes were tasty and beautiful, but we had better food at some of our other meals in Portugal. The pork belly and egg dish were our favorite courses.
It’s a fun place to go as you get multiple little courses, but if you want a better taste of Portugal, I’d choose a more local restaurant such as Ponto Final.
On Sunday, after breakfast at the same pasteleria near our apartment, we walked down to the train station and hopped on a train to Sintra. Our Lisboa card came in handy because we arrived at the station just as the next train did – we didn’t have to wait in line for tickets and were able to make that train!
Once we arrived in Sintra, we bought the bus pass and (after waiting a bit) headed over to the Moorish Castle.
The castles in Sintra were very cool! It was a bit of a hike getting to the top of the castle, but the trip was worth it. From the top of the Moorish Castle you can see the Pena Palace.
After we hiked up the Moorish Castle, we took the trail over to the Pena Palace. It was a bit of a hike again, but not too bad. There was a bus you could wait in line for (and pay for) that would drive you to the top, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re not comfortable with a mile or two hike.
The Pena Palace is straight out of a Disney movie! It’s very colorful and so fun! We were able to walk around inside too.
The two castles alone are definitely worth a day trip to Sintra. We were hoping to visit Quinta da Regaleira as well, but after both castles and lunch it was 4 PM. Since visiting Cabo de Roca was priority, we decided head over there after lunch and before we took the train back to Lisbon.
Cabo de Roca is the Western most point in Europe and it was beautiful, though very windy! From Sintra, we took the 403 bus that ran every 30 minutes (an additional fee for this bus). We were able to hop off at Cabo de Roca and spend a bit walking around and admiring the beauty before hopping back on the bus. It was quick, but definitely a must if you go to Lisbon!
We ended Sunday with a dinner at a local fado restaurant in our neighborhood. We had no idea there was fado that night, so it was a nice surprise. Lisbon is famous for fado music, but the Alfama area is where it all began. Luckily, we were able to end our trip to Lisbon with authentic fado in Alfama!