72 Hours of Unforgettable Sightseeing and Dining in Lisbon, Part 1

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Awesome Tips   Bucket List Worthy  

Lisbon_part_one

Photo credit: Alejandro
Photo credit: Alejandro

From the taxi-cab yellow trams to the ancient Castelo de São Jorge fortifications and salted cod picked directly out of the sea, Lisbon is a European destination with multiple personalities. Travelers visit in search of world-famous architecture, cobblestone streets, award-winning eats and accessible sandy beaches, and all of them find what they’re seeking.

 

Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes
Photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes

 

Portugal’s largest city is so magical and diverse that it’s impossible take in all of its charm in a single visit. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. This guide to making the most of 72 hours in Lisbon will allow you to eat, relax and sightsee like you’re traveling with someone who calls this Portuguese capital city home. And one thing’s for certain, you’ll start planning your next visit to Lisboa long before you leave.

 

Day One

 

Morning:

 

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Don’t eat at the airport. Arriving in Lisbon early means you get to enjoy one of the best meals of the day in this city — breakfast. Start at Leitaria Lisboa for mouthwatering pastries, including freshly-baked croissants, scones, cakes and more.  Add a cup of hot coffee (or a decadent hot chocolate for the kids), and your day is off to a perfect start.

 

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Be sure to take your coffee to-go, because you’ll probably want to stop at the scenic waterfront overlooking the Tagus River before heading a short drive north to the heart of the city. This is where you’ll ease yourself into the hustle and bustle of Lisboa life at the beloved Estufa Fria.

 

Photo credit: Shadowgate
Photo credit: Shadowgate

 

The Estufa Fria is a green oasis in Portugal’s largest city, where it’s easy to get caught up wandering the alleyways and cobblestone streets. This series of massive semi-indoor greenhouses takes you through a garden wonderland of walkways and plants from around the world. It’s a relaxing, affordable (just 3 Euros to enter) and scenic way to start your three-day visit to one of Europe’s most iconic cities.

Afternoon:

 

Photo credit: Foodprintz Facebook page
Photo credit: Foodprintz Facebook page

 

Within walking distance of the Estufa Fria is the perfect place to grab a healthy bite and roll your relaxing morning easily into the afternoon. Foodprintz is a cafe and yoga studio, where you can snack on organic, locally-sourced eats in a welcoming atmosphere. This place also offers yoga and meditation classes, seminars, workshops, talks and more, so those who are enjoying the vibes may want to linger a while.

 

Photo credit: Andreas Gniffke
Photo credit: Andreas Gniffke

 

The laid-back morning means you’ll have plenty of energy for sightseeing, and there’s no better place to start than the Padrao dos Descobrimentos. This iconic riverfront monument was erected in 1960 to honor Prince Henry the Navigator and Portugal’s many other esteemed explorers and navigators. In addition to being an awe-inspiring sculpture, the monument offers opportunities to snap photos of the harbor and visit the fortified Belem Tower, one of Lisbon’s most famous sites.

 

Night:

 

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Many Lisbon locals anticipate the night hours more than the day. And that’s because the capital city is home to some of the best dinner restaurants in the world. Your first dinner in the city will be one to remember at Adega Machado, an establishment known for its fresh local dishes, like Dry Codfish Braised Loins and Azores Steak with “Serra de Estrela” cheese sauce.  But even more than the acclaimed appetizers, entrees and desserts, Adega Machado is known for the live Fado music serenading diners every evening.

 

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Continue the excitement of the city a little longer by catching a taxi to the Ministerium Club. Located in Santa Maria Maior, this bustling night club is praised for never disappointing its patrons. It’s the place where people go for unforgettable music line-ups and fun that can extend well into the morning hours.

 

Finally, you’ll end your night in the center of Lisbon at the elegant Hotel Britania. This boutique hotel, designed by the famous Portuguese architect Cassiano Branco, dates back to the 1940s and welcomes visitors in with charming rooms located on a quiet street in the heart of it all.

 

Day Two

 

Morning:

 

Photo credit: Origem
Photo credit: Origem

 

A cup of coffee will be in order on the morning of your second day in Lisbon, and you’ll probably want it fast. Just a short drive or bus ride east of the Hotel Britania, you’ll find Origem, a local favorite for fast, nutritional and tasty meals. Fuel your day with a crepe, tartine, hot cup of coffee or fresh juice in the restaurant’s rejuvenating outdoor space.

 

Atelier-Museu Jœlio Pomar, inaugura‹o, Lisboa 5.3.2013. © Luisa Ferreira
Atelier-Museu Jœlio Pomar, inaugura‹o, Lisboa 5.3.2013. © Luisa Ferreira

 

There’s no doubt you’ll be eager to visit a museum with one full day in Lisbon under your belt, and the Atelier-Museu Julio Pomar is an ideal place to start. Honoring the works of Portuguese artist Julio Pomar, this off-the-beaten-path and free museum offers a true look into the history and culture of Portugal without the crowds of tourists or costly entrance fees. The collection and unique building itself are more than worthy of a visit.

Afternoon:

 

Noobai - First and second Terraces

 

Just around the corner from the Atelier-Museu Julio Pomar is the Noobai Cafe, a waterfront eatery that simply shouldn’t be missed. You’ll find it a short 7-minute walk southeast of the museum, and you’ll be wowed by the panoramic views when you reach the rooftop bar and restaurant. Soak in the views of the historic townhouses, 25 de Abril bridge, the Tagus River and even the sunset if you’re arriving late.

 

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It will be difficult not to linger at the Noobai Cafe all afternoon, but another waterfront attraction awaits. The famed Museu do Oriente, or Oriental Museum, is a favourite attraction for locals and tourists alike. Discover a rich history of relationships and trade between Portugal and the far east as well as a remarkable collection of Asian treasures. You’re guaranteed to leave with a deeper connection to the country you’re visiting.

 

_Lola In Water (Sept 2013)

 

Finish your afternoon with a fun-filled journey on the Hippotrip, known as Lisbon’s most unique sightseeing experience. The afternoon tours depart at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., taking visitors to some of the city’s most famous monuments and sites by land and river. There’s nothing quite like sticking your head (and camera) out the window of a bright yellow bus on the Tagus River.

Night:

 

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The excitement of a day in Lisbon can be exhausting, and there’s arguably no better place to unwind than at the Restaurante Clube de Jornalistas. Here you’ll find a bar and restaurant that was once a family mansion, and don’t be shy about entering through the unassuming green door. As one of the most esteemed restaurants in the city, the Restaurante Clube de Jornalistas offers carefully-prepared, authentic Portuguese dishes in an undeniably charming atmosphere.

 

Photo credit: Cinco Lounge Facebook page
Photo credit: Cinco Lounge Facebook page

 

Forego dessert and a night cap at the restaurant (if you can), and take the short drive to the nearby Cinco Lounge. This swanky cocktail bar is the ultimate place to enjoy an unforgettable cocktail made by some of the best bartenders in Lisbon. It’s everything you ever wanted from a low-key, smoky, late-night cocktail bar.

 

Photo credit: My Story Hotels Facebook page
Photo credit: My Story Hotels Facebook page

 

There’s no doubt you’ll be ready to crash after day two in the city, and you’ll find a sumptuous bed at the My Story Hotel Rossio. Located in the heart of the city at the Square D. Pedro IV, this hotel offers the comfort, modernity and central location you’re seeking to end one day and begin the next.

Day Three

 

Morning:

 

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Continue the tradition on your third day in Lisbon, and start the day at another excellent coffee house. More than your average cafe, the KaffeeHaus Lisboa offers outdoor seating with innovative breakfasts and coffee that you’re bound to crave long after you leave. This place is often swarmed with locals, and you’ll understand why after your meal.

 

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Just a short 9-minute walk northeast of the KaffeeHaus is a quirky yet must-visit Lisboa attraction, the Hospital de Bonecas or “The Doll Hospital.” This odd attraction is truly a hidden gem for those seeking a Lisbon staple that few tourists see. This “hospital” for dolls dates back to 1830 and includes an extensive doll museum and a repair shop for dolls as well as stuffed toys, doll clothing, miniatures and more.

 

Afternoon:

 

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Wherever you’re headed probably won’t have the same quality of restaurants as Lisbon, so your third day in the city is an important time to appease your tastebuds. The Confeitaria Nacional offers a unique way to see and taste Lisboa from the river. Cruises take place at 1p.m. and 3 p.m., every day except Monday, and include traditional Portuguese gastronomy alongside panoramic views of the city and its most famous sites (Belem Tower, the Lisbon Cathedral and the Pantheon to name a few).

 

Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida - Fachada

 

As your sightseeing expeditions in Lisbon come to a close, you’ll want to make one more stop at the Casa – Museu Medeiros e Almeida. Known to locals as one of the city’s best-kept secrets, this museum features the home and personal collection of Medeiros e Almeida. The collection is drawn from around the globe and spans multiple time periods, creating a unique, lovely and virtually unknown museum in the heart of the city. It’s not to be missed.

 

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No trip to Lisbon is complete without visiting the Time Out Market, an establishment that was created in 2014, and has offered some of the city’s best food, drink and entertainment experiences since. The market is home to 24 restaurants, eight bars, more than a dozen shops and a music venue. You’ll want to save room for dinner, but this is an essential place to grab a drink and a quick bite before a night out.

Night:

 

Photo credit: Belcanto Photo credit: Belcanto

 

It’s your last meal in Lisbon, and it better be good. That’s why we’re sending you to the legendary Belcanto. Slide through the charming hole-in-the-wall door, and you’ll be welcomed into one of the city’s most sophisticated restaurants, which has been awarded with two Michelin stars. Dating back to 1958, this is the place to dine if you want an authentic Portuguese meal that you’ll likely remember for the rest of your life.

 

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Keep the evening going just a little longer at the Confeitaria do Palacio. Open until midnight, this decadent stop features international and traditional Portuguese desserts that are the ideal nightcap for your third day in the city.

 

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Photo credit: Almalusa Baixa-Chiado

 

Bed time will probably feel long overdue after a day of dining and discovering, and the “most romantic hotel in town,” will be calling your name. The AlmaLusa Baixa-Chiado offers just 28, carefully-appointed rooms that have been designed on the bones of a building from the 17th century. Inspired by the history of the building and the city, your room will surely wish you could call Lisbon home for a little while longer.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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