So much world to see, so little time… especially when we basically only have one month a year to see it and that is usually split up into smaller spells of holidays not leaving much time to see places. BUT that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Over the last year I have been doing more mini city breaks in Europe, with flights being fairly cheap and flight times at just a couple of hours, there aren’t many cities in Europe that can’t be ticked off the bucket list in just a weekend. However planning your time there is key, so before I leave I always like to do research and come up with a general plan/itinerary so I can see as much as possible. So in today’s post, I am sharing my itinerary of Lisbon with you, I think it covers the best bits including food and where to stay.
Where to stay
If there is one thing to sort before any trip (other than flights… but that goes without saying) it is your accommodation. It is your base for the whole trip. I knew Lisbon would have good views so I fancied a hotel with a terrace and preferably a pool, Memmo Alfama had both. The terrace was definitely the key feature of this hotel and was a sun trap, it offered the best view of Lisbon for sure. I researched “best views” prior to going and Santa Luzia Viewpoint kept appearing, it was stunning but the hotel offered the same view and even a bit better I think.
It is located in the heart of Alfama, one of the older parts of the city, with cobbled streets and views of the river. It is one of the best places to stay in my opinion, it isn’t in the hustle and bustle of Baixa or Chiado but is central so you benefit from less busy streets and a more authentic feel.
The rooms were a good size and really modern and clean. The hotel staff were always happy to help out and give recommendations and advice but for me the best part of the hotel was having breakfast out on the terrace (get there quick, tables go fast) and having a glass of port in the late afternoon before getting ready for dinner. The hotel is so light and the interior is so chic, the sort of interior you would want in your own home.
The breakfast is a mix between self service and waited, you can help yourself to fresh juice, breads, fruit etc, but anything hot on the menu will be cooked and brought out to you, it worked really well and there was such a vast choice, even the fussiest of people would like it I am sure. There was even bottles of bubbly open in the morning if you fancied a bucksfizz breakie, just watch out for the cheeky seagull that likes to steal your smoked salmon!
The only negative for Memmo Alfama is I would not recommend it if you are solely wanting a hotel with a pool, it is more of a decorative feature and I didn’t see people swimming/ didn’t fancy being the only one taking a dip being so overlooked by everyone else just wanting a quiet drink on the terrace. It didn’t affect our stay at all as there wasn’t really much time to swim anyway. I would go back there again and I think it is probably my favourite European hotel I have stayed in.
We got an early morning flight from London, so arrived in Lisbon at around midday. It is easy to get from the airport to the centre with public transport, so we dropped our bags and headed straight out.
As it was more or less lunch time when we arrived (any excuse to check out the local cuisine) we headed out to grab some lunch, we dived into the first place we saw, which I usually don’t do but this restaurant had relaxing boho live music and outdoor seating PLUS octopus salad was on the menu, it was so incredible we went back on our last day too. It is called Le Petit Cafe and is on the main road leading through Alfama.
From here we jumped headed to Santa Luzia viewpoint and then hopped on no. 12E tram to take us to Baixa and Chiado districts. This is probably the busiest part of the city, where all the shopping and socialising goes on and there are also a few historical tourist bits to see too. We just enjoyed wandering here before heading down to the river front. This whole part feels very new, I think it must have been regenerated within the last few years, everyone there was just relaxing with beers or sangria. We walked all the way along, as if we were heading back to Alfama, and found a bar with deck chairs on the river front. So we sat there with a jug of sangria and watched the sun set before strolling back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
I had read that Bairro Alto is the main district for restaurants and bars, but we fancied sticking close to the hotel so we turned down the road next to the Cathedral where there were lots of small restaurants and bars. We went to Esperanca da De, we didn’t check the menu before hand but it turned out to be a Pizza Restaurant. Not exactly what we had in mind, but it actually turned out to be one of the best pizza’s, the dough wasn’t like any other pizza I had had before and they were super generous with the toppings also paired with a great Mojito we really enjoyed the meal.
From here we got a taxi into Bairro Alto to check out the night life. The hotel had recommended Pensao Amor. The hotel said it was the most popular place in Lisbon and they were right! We couldn’t even get in, the queue was too long, but it was clearly “the place to be”. We just went for a small bar with some live music to have a final mojito before calling it a night!
We kick started the day with our breakfast on the terrace and then headed to the train station for a day out at Sintra.
Sintra is located about 40 minutes outside of Lisbon and is a UNESCO protected town and a big part of Portugal’s cultural heritage. It is like something out of a fairy tale, it is probably the closest town to a real life disney magical kingdom I have ever seen. You meander up roads all the way to the castle at the top and along the way you pass so many chateau’s, I couldn’t tell if they were homes or hotels. You could actually do with spending a night in Sintra and seeing more but as we were limited we headed straight for the castle.
It was 14 euros to enter, but they views from the top are worth it and also to see the beautiful intricate details on the interior and the grounds that surround it. This took up the whole day, and sadly we had to cut it short as we had dinner reservations but if you go to Lisbon you can’t miss Sintra!!!
I had reserved 100 Maneiras in advance, I researched the best restaurants in Lisbon and on every site this one came up. It is a small intimate restaurant, and the concept behind this restaurant is that there is one tasting menu, so you tell the restaurant in advance if you have any food allergies etc. The tasting menu is roughly 60 euros per person and there is an option to pair wine with every course which is additional 20 euros roughly. I compared this with the cost of other restaurants of the same standard and this was much more reasonable. It was definitely one of those “experiential” meals, as the service by really made it exceptional. I really loved the fact there wasn’t a formal dress code, I did wear a dress and heels, however other people were in casual clothes but the atmosphere was so relaxed it didn’t matter what you wore.
There was nine courses, four of which were starters, a refreshing dish, two main dishes and two desserts. I won’t outline every dish as to be perfectly honest I won’t explain it half as well as the restaurant does.
It is a great way to end your last night there.
We were flying home this day, but we had an evening flight meaning we still had a full day.
This day was dedicated to cultural things, so we headed to Belem which is to the west of Lisbon. This is where most of the tourist parts are including Torre de Belem, Padrao aos Descobrimentos, Belem Palace and Jarmim Da Pracda do Imperio (the largest plaza in Europe).
Whilst there you have to go to Pasteis de Belem, which is supposedly where Pastel De Nata’s were created.
On the way back to Alfama we stopped off at Estrela, it is more residential than tourist, but there is a lovely park and the famous Tram 28 runs straight through so you can hop on to get back to the centre.
We also had a bit of time to explore Alfama more and grab lunch in our fave Petit Cafe before heading to the airport.
I hope this itinerary inspires some of you readers, and please comment below or drop me an email if you want to know any more details about Lisbon. Thank you for reading!