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© 2018 by Callahan McKinley

LISBON

“By day Lisbon has a naive theatrical quality that enchants and captivates, but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments going down to meet her dark lover.” 
― Erich Maria Remarque

Rolling hills, cable cars, and waterfront restaurants. Lisbon feels a lot like my hometown of San Francisco, and indeed they are quite similar. That being said Lisbon's nightlife is unrivaled and the quality of food is off the charts! I'm going to be taking you through a list of my top 10 favorite things to do in Lisbon, Portugal.

FOR A LIST OF MY FAVORITE STREET FOOD SPOTS AND RESTAURANTS, CLICK HERE

 

Photo by: tm

1. Barrio Alto

I'll start with what is undoubtably my favorite area of Lisbon, Barrio Alto. This lively district is closed to cars, and is packed with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. During the day it's a fun area to walk around and maybe grab a bite to eat. By night however, the bars open up and people spill out into the streets, drinking and dancing all night long. 

Graffiti covered streets give it an edgy vibe, and it's where all the young locals hangout. I can't stress enough, this is NOT a good spot for a nice relaxing evening, this is where you come if you want to party! For a complete list of my favorite bars, restaurants and clubs, CLICK HERE

Price: Free

Hours: The area doesn't typically start going until 10PM - 11PM and continues until the sun comes up

Address: Barrio Alto, Lisbon, Portugal

2. Mercado da Ribeira

This fun, local market offers a variety of food, antiques, and crafts. Most people come here for the massive food court that has dozens of restaurants (some with Michelin stars!). Its relatively cheap prices draw in a mixed crowd of locals and foreigners. 

Always packed with people, the market opens at 10:00AM and serves food all night long until 2:00AM! A great spot to get a taste of Lisbon's diverse food culture.

Price: Free

Hours: 10:00AM - 12:00AM Sun - Wed

             10:00AM - 2:00AM Thurs - Sat

Address: Av. 24 de Julho, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal

3. Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

This tranquil park overlooks the the city, and gives you amazing panoramic views of the port and castle. Various live music acts perform here and there's even a small bar set up in the center, serving delicious mojitos as well as various other drinks. Best to come here just before dinner, as the sunset is shouldn't be missed. 

There are also several cafes nearby that serve various small plates and snacks, as well as some small clothing stalls and antique shops.

Price: Free

Hours: All-day, everyday (best to go around sunset or early in the morning)

Address:  R. São Pedro de Alcântara, 1200-470 Lisboa, Portugal

4. Feira da Ladra

The name literally translates to the "Thieves" market, and it's the largest flea market in Lisbon. People come here to buy and sell just about everything, including antiques, furniture, second-hand clothes, trinkets, toys, stamps, coins, militaria, and old books. 

If you go up a bit further can get amazing views over the Alfama district and the Tagus River. If you actually want to buy something try and get to the market early, because all the good stuff is sold by noon. 

Price: Free 

Hours: Tues 6:00AM - 2:00PM, Sat 6:00AM to 5:00PM 

Address: Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisboa, Portugal

5. Costa da Caparica

Less than 20min outside of Lisbon are miles and miles of pristine beach, known as Costa da Caparica. During the summer hundreds of Portuguese flock to the beaches hoping to soak up as much sun as possible. 

 

Dozens of beachside towns begin to fill up and restaurants go into overdrive, cooking up delicious seafood dishes and serving freshly made cocktails. Now it can get pretty chaotic during this time but as a visitor you have the luxury of visiting whenever you want. So with that in mind, I recommend picking a particularly hot day during the week, when it will be a bit more subdued.

Price: Free

Address: I'd start by renting mopeds (costs about $60USD a day), so you have the freedom to stop whenever you want. There are several beaches between the town of Costa da Caparica and Lisbon so it's nice to be able to keep going if one is too crowded. 

6. Jardim do Príncipe Real

Jardim do Príncipe Real is a small garden frequented by locals. It's best to go on Saturday, when you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. The gardens center piece is a 100-year old cyprus tree that casts its shadow over dozens of families having picnics and old men playing cards. 

A fun spot to sit down and relax, taking in the afternoon sun. 

Price: Free

Hours: All day, everyday

Address: Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal

7.  Ribeira das Naus

Ribeira das Naus is the walkway that runs along the waterfront, circling the city. People sprawl out on the stones enjoying the afternoon with friends or maybe reading a good book. There are also several festivals and street fairs that spring up all over this area. 

When I went, the Tall Ships race had just come into port (a yearly race involving 1800's style ships from all across Europe), and a huge festival had been arranged to greet them!

Price: Free

Hours: All day, everyday

Address: Ribeira das Naus, Lisboa, Portugal

8. Alfama District

One of the oldest areas in Lisbon, Alfama is packed with shops selling traditional crafts and cafes, old buildings in traditional Portuguese style, and the historic no. 28 tram that winds its way through the city. 

At night you can hear Fado music coming from restaurants and cafes, that play all night long (Fado music is traditional Portuguese music that dates back to the 1820's). 

Price: Free

Address: Alfama District, Lisboa, Portugal 

9. Pastel de Nata

No trip to Lisbon would be complete without trying Portugal's most famous desert. Pastel de Nata is an egg tart pastry that can be found at nearly every restaurant and bakery in the city. Pastéis de Belém is a bakery just outside of Belém that specializes in it.

Receiving raving reviews by both foreigners and locals alike, Pastéis de Belém is a city-wide favorite, and a must if you're staying in Lisbon

Price: Varies (typically 1€) 

Hours: 8:00AM - 11:00PM, daily

Address: R. Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal

Photo by: Pedro Simões

10. Cais do Sodré (The Pink Street)

Formerly the red light district of Lisbon, it has since been transformed into the hippest area in town. What used to be central hub for sailors, prostitutes, and criminals has become home to street artists, cafes, and trendy shops. The bar scene here is also off the hook and many people choose The Music Box as their go to nightclub. 

Price: Free

Hours: Always open (most of the clubs close around 6:00AM)

Address: Rua Nova do Carvalho, Lisboa, Portugal

 

WHERE TO STAY?

As I previously mentioned, Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon, and one of the best places to stay while you're here. Its central location, winding streets and delicious restaurants make it a natural choice for those who want to explore the city on foot, and take in its rich history.

Another option (on the opposite end of the spectrum) is Barrio Alto. This is without a doubt the king of Lisbon's nightlife scene, and probably the most fun area of the city. That being said if you are sensitive to noise I recommend staying just on the outskirts of this district due to the clubs and party-goers that continue until the sun comes up. Airbnb is by far the best option for lodging, and it isn't too difficult to find a decently priced place. 

 

CITY GUIDE MAP

A complete list of restaurants, bars, clubs, and more