Lisbon Travel Guide
Last fall I had to pleasure of traveling to Lisbon for Web Summit with a team of women from TWG. This was my first time in Portugal and it quickly rose to the top of my favourite places in Europe. Lisbon is more relaxing than other major European cities, walkable if you can manage the hills, and a comfortable place to stay with views around every corner. Here are a few of the things I'd recommend if you are planning a trip to Lisbon.
Where we stayed
We all stayed at the Pensão Rosinha Lx, a large flat that comfortably fit 10 people. Lots of bathrooms, a fun character, and well situated, but be prepared for climbing three flights of stairs, not being able to flush toilet paper, and no central heating. Located at the crossroads between the Bairro Alto, Estrela, Principe Real, and Santos neighbourhoods, this Airbnb is on the famous antique Tram 28 line, walkable to various restaurants and shops, and next door to a park. The hosts were very friendly, provided us with information about the neighbourhood, and allowed us to keep our luggage there after checking out prior to our flight.
Activities & culture
- Shop at A Vida Portuguesa: This is the singular destination for curated traditional Portuguese handmade items and staples. Affordable, high quality products for home, accessories, and eating and drinking – this is where you'll pick up all of your souvenirs.
- Day trip to Sintra: a 45-minute drive from Lisbon, Sintra is a forested region dotted with castles through the mountains. Buy a one day bus pass and tour the palaces and gardens of Europe's eccentric and exiled famous families. It is worth buying tickets to see the interiors of the castles. I visited the Park and Palace of Monserrate, Quinta da Regaleira, and the National Palace of Pena. Three sights is about the most you can do in a day.
- Shop and drink at Embaixada: Hands down the most beautiful shopping "mall" I've ever been to. This collection of local, higher end, and concept shops is a visual feast and merits a walk through. Located in a nineteenth century palace, wander around to see the best of what Portugal's retail businesses have to offer and grab a cocktail at the atrium bar to enjoy before heading out. Enjoy the very hip Príncipe Real neighbourhood while you're there.
- Visit Torre de Belém: a pretty tourist site close to the beautiful Jerónimos Monastery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Skip the line at the Tower and the paid ticket to get in and instead grab a glass of wine from the truck outside and enjoy the views over the ocean. Best at sunset.
- Walk around LX Factory: A creative mini-neighbourhood in an old industrial centre. A nice way to spend a couple hours away from the downtown core. Visit local shops, grab a coffee, and visit the famous Ler Devagar bookstore.
- Shop for pottery Ceramicas na Linha: Beautiful, affordable, locally made pottery. I bought some fantastic pieces in their "pay-by-the-kilogram" section for only a few Euros.
Food & drink
- Copenhagen Coffee Lab: My favourite place for big mugs of drip coffee and delicious, healthy breakfasts in a cozy spot. Very close to the Pensão Rosinha Lx apartment.
- Park Bar: A hidden bar sitting atop an old parking garage. Unparalleled views of the city and sangria. This one is a must-do.
- Pharmacia: A restaurant built in the Pharmacy Museum, this is a lovely place for dinner. Go for the local food and stay for the stunning evening views from the patio.
- JNcQUOI: Eating at JNcQUOI was a culinary and experiential high point. The food, service, ambiance, and concept of JNcQUOI was beyond anything I had expected. A very special place for special celebrations.
- Manteigaria: The best place we found for famous Portuguese nata tarts. Centrally located in a beautiful historic building. Grab some to go and try them when they're at their best, fresh from the oven.