Foodies, history buffs, adventurers, beach lovers — Portugal’s capital city offers something for every type of traveler. And that’s why we couldn’t settle for just one, or even two, itineraries for a long weekend in the city. All three parts of this series feature different eateries, museums, sights, tours and hotels, allowing travelers to choose the establishments and destinations that suit your travel styles.
This guide will take you to even more award-winning restaurants, off-the-beaten-path museums, art galleries, a sumptuous spa and a few of the most esteemed places to stay in the city.
Lisbon is loaded with quaint, trendy and simply cool coffee shops, and Botequim is one of the most charming of them all. Located in the Graca district, this coffee shop has reigned as one of the top places for creatives and intellectuals to gather since 1968. However, the highlights are definitely the crave-worthy coffee and simple, affordable breakfast eats.
Breakfast at Botequim will put you within a 2-minute walk of Miradouro de Graca, where you can take in some of the best views of the city while sipping your joe. You did grab one to-go didn’t you?
From there, your morning should take you down to the Tagus River, where you’ll find the Lisboa Story Centre. This is the perfect place to take a crash course in Lisbon history that will benefit you throughout your stay. The Lisboa Story Centre presents the city’s history in an interactive and unique way through visuals and sound that make learning about the capital city fun for all ages. Don’t miss the earthquake film.
Start your first afternoon in Lisboa at the Atalho do Mercado, and you won’t be disappointed. Over the past several years, companies have been renovating the city’s old markets, turning forgotten buildings into unexpected places to dine or shop. The Atalho do Mercado in the Mercado de Campo de Ourique and the Atalho Burger House at Mercado de Alges are two of the best places to see what rundown, ancient Lisbon buildings can become. Try a juicy, ingredient-packed burger made from fresh minced meats or opt for a made-to-order sandwich. You won’t be disappointed by the cuts in this unique burger joint/world-class meat market.
Discover Lisbon’s artistic side with an afternoon at the Galeria de Sao Mamede. This awe-inspiring gallery, opened in the 1960s in front of the Church of Sao Mamede and the Office of the Attorney General, sits in a prime location for sightseeing. However, what you’ll find inside is the real treat. The Galeria de Sao Mamede is dedicated to modernism and the contemporary Portuguese movement, but you may find a few standout international artists featured during your visit too. Visitors and Lisbon locals continue to praise this art museum as one of the most beautiful galleries in the city.
Your first evening in Lisbon is the perfect time to taste authentic Portuguese cuisine in a cozy atmosphere. Restaurante 33 offers affordable, traditional cuisine in a romantic and soulful setting. It’s praised for classic and fresh fish dishes, but you don’t have to love seafood to appreciate the excellent service and even more impressive food.
End your evening like a local at your very own apartment in the heart of the city. Holiday OnJ St. Lazaro Apartments offers fully-equipped apartments to those who want to experience the city likes the locals do. Even more impressive, the building housing the apartments dates back to 1830, and has been restored to offer comfortable, amenity-filled vacation rentals for travelers who want a true taste of the city.
Start your second morning in Lisbon at one of the city’s oldest and most famous cafes, A Brasileira. What was once a meeting place for famous journalists, poets, writers and artists (including Portuguese Poet Fernando Pessoa), remains a must-visit place for your morning coffee and a pastry. Get a taste of what life was like in Lisbon in 1905.
From here, you can walk just steps to Basilica do Martires or Praca Luis de Camoes, a historic central square, meeting place and iconic statue of the 16th-century poet.
Take a short walk south of the museum along Rua da Escola Politecnica, and you’ll find the cozy Rota das Sedas restaurant. Ideal for lunch, this local favorite is known for offering affordable, fantastic Portuguese specialties. The outdoor seating is a must on warm, sunny days in the city.
Continue your day two sightseeing at the Foundation Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, a favorite museum dedicated to the work of Viera da Silva and her Hungarian husband Arpad Szenes. Considered one of the city’s most underrated museums, this is a place where you can uncover two of the most influential Portuguese artists of the 20th century without the crowds or expensive entrance fees. The museum is housed in a former silk factory that dates back to the 17th century, making every visit a lesson in Lisbon history, art and culture.
Spend your evening exploring Belem by night. Take the tram or a bus from the city center, and you’ll quickly arrive in an area town that is often visited in day but shines especially bright at night. Gaze at the Tagus River and the25 de Abril Bridge, visit the Discoveries monument and explore the area by foot.
Enjoy a relaxed dinner and dessert of pizza and gelato at Nosolo Italia. The views and food are both worthy of writing home about (or posting on Facebook). With a full stomach and plenty of new photos on your phone, it’s time to head just down the road to Vila Gale Opera, where you can continue snapping photos of the river and Belem at night.
The Vila Gale Opera provides more than beautifully appointed rooms and views of the Tagus. Visitors enjoy a spa with indoor pool, gym, massage rooms, Turkish baths and a restaurant and bar offering live opera performances twice a week. The hotel is located near the train, tram and bus lines, making it easy to head back into the historic city center in the morning.
It’s your final day in Lisboa, and it’s going to be a memorable one. Start your day by heading west along the shore of the Tagus to the stunning Altis Belem Hotel and Spa, where you’ll be pampered at the hotels internationally-acclaimed BSpa by Karin Herzog.
The 1,000-square-metre spa includes a large indoor pool, hamman, sauna, five treatment rooms, an outdoor pool and massage tables overlooking the river. There’s no more rejuvenating way to start your day in Lisbon.
You’ll be craving a delicious breakfast after your morning at the spa, and you can find just that at Fabrica Lisboa. The smell of homemade croissants and freshly-brewed coffee will lure you in from the street. It’s a small and rustic place with affordable prices and award-worthy food. You’ll quickly understand why the locals are lining up for tables.
You’ve explored a lot of the city on foot, by tram and by bus by now, so it’s time to let someone show you around for a while. We recommend a day trip to Sintra and Cascais with Inside Lisbon Tours. Starting at around $75 per person, this tour will take you to some of Portugal’s top architectural and natural wonders.
The company’s Small Group Day Trip from Lisbon includes discovering Sintra Natural Park, Pena Park and the historic towns of Cascais and Sintra, including some of their most famous palaces and monuments. And you won’t go hungry, because you’ll be dining on local fare, like aqueijada and travesseiro, along the way.
Tonight, you’ll be staying at the luxurious VIP Grand Lisboa Hotel and Spa. It’s central location is ideal for getting dolled up before an elegant dinner at Solar dos Presuntos. “Solar” is a fine-dining establishment where you’ll experience authentic Portuguese cuisine at its best, including the freshest local seafood and meats. It’s one of the most well-known restaurants in the city (rightfully so), so be sure to ask the hotel’s concierge to make a reservation for you.
End your evening back at the VIP Grand Lisboa Hotel and Spa, where you can marvel over the city lights at night. The hotel’s Press Club Bar offers a variety of drinks and craft cocktails that can be enjoyed late into the night. After all, you probably won’t want your long weekend in Lisbon to end.