Sometimes you travel somewhere new, and you take it all in and enjoy it, but you don’t necessarily get a strong feeling that you need to ever return. This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the colorful city of Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon is a place I 100% want to return to, it’s honestly a place I could see myself living and thriving.
It’s truly got everything I love–it’s such a perfect amalgam of new/modern and old/classic. You can find a restaurant that’s been around for 100 years serving homemade food deeply rooted in tradition, but you can also walk down a cobblestone street and find a very ‘vibrant & pure’ spot that serves oat milk cortados, gluten free vegan carrot cake, avocado toast on sourdough and chia pudding.
In my guides I focus mostly on eats + accommodations, because that’s what I’m most passionate about—plus you can find info on the touristy stuff on any old guide 🙂
I was in Lisbon for 5 nights. I stayed in two different airbnbs in the nighborhoods of Alfama and Chiado, and one night by the sea in Azenhas Do Mar.
We stayed here for 3 nights and it was truly perfection. The host met us to check in early at 8 am (for a 20 euro fee- but honestly so worth it when you’re exhausted and flew overnight and just want to settle in and take a little nap.) It had everything we needed and more. Did I mostlyyyyy choose it for the mint green kitchen and pink patio? Maybeeeeee– BUT it also had rave reviews and was affordable despite being considered ‘airbnb plus’ (lisbon is also a very affordable european city). Here are some photos of the apartment and surrounding Alfama neighborhood.
We only stayed here one night- but it was perfectly clean and charming! In what turned out to be one of our favorite areas too. I wish we had more time here.
Outpost Casa Das Arribas in Azenhas Do Mar
Only a 45 minute drive from the city is Azenhas Do Mar. Truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Driving up the winding hills of this magical town by the sea, we approached Outpost, which is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever had the fortune to stay. It is a large property with many apartments you can rent, but it provides the accommodations of a luxury hotel. Every detail has been perfectly curated and well thought out, and it shows. I’ll just let the photos do the talking. We stayed in March so we couldn’t enjoy too much beach time, but honestly just getting to relax at this beautiful property was a treat. I’d love to return during Summer! It’s also right near Sintra, so we took an uber to Sintra to see Pena Palace and then stopped at a winery on the way back (I’d give you the name but it was super overpriced- it’s all we could find last minute but there are so many amazing wineries, if you do a little research I’m sure you can find an amazing one to go to in the area.) We got dinner at one of the only restaurants in town, simply called Azenhas Do Mar, and it is literally built into the cliff overlooking the sea- truly incredible.
My favorite coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants
Probably came here every day… amazing coffee (iced oat milk cortados were divine) and healthy food. They have matcha, turmeric and beet lattes and more! We got the veg breakfast burritos for our plane ride home and it was so good. We also got the chia pudding and the GF banana bread, both of which were amazing– but we didn’t eat too much here, mostly just came for coffee.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab:
We came here every single morning–it was about a 5 minute walk from the Alfama Airbnb. I will never forget it because this is where we had the opportunity to discover our greatest obsession: CARDAMOM BUNS. ohhhhh my god. They are incredible. Every morning we took our walk up the (steep!) and beautiful streets of Alfama to Copenhagen Coffee Lab and ordered two iced oat milk lattes + 2 cardamom buns. We sat outside in their beautiful patio/backyard seating area. Life was good. I can’t wait to go back.
Another fabulous coffee spot with a very cool vibe/interior. Order the gluten free vegan carrot cake, you won’t regret it.
I didn’t actually end up eating here, but it’s very up my alley and I’ve heard great things!
This is a bar/restaurant with an amazing view, we came here and got a bottle of white wine (literally every white wine I had in Portugal was incredible) and an eggplant appetizer (can’t remember exactly what it was but it was good!)
Australian owned cafe/coffee shop with all the usual suspects: flat whites and heaping sourdough avocado toasts, always a good idea.
I literally stayed here for 5 hours, going from lunch into happy hour. I loved this place so much. It reminds me of a street cafe in Paris, you can sit outside and do some amazing people watching, or sit inside with a plethora of green plants and very cool artwork.
Seriously good Italian. I loved the quiet atmosphere and mood lighting. The pasta was divine.
***There were a few places we ate at that are on every “must eat” list for Lisbon, and to be honest they missed the mark for me.
1. Cervejario Ramiro is one of the most hyped/classic restaurants in Lisbon. Anthony Bourdain loved it, they don’t take reservations, they’re super authentic, always crowded etc. so I obviously had to go. We got there super early for “dinner” at like 4 to ensure we could get in. The staff wasn’t very nice, but not the end of the world. Long story short, I got horrible food poisoning from the seafood here (I have my suspicions it was from the cold crab dish served in the shell.) It was my first time getting food poisoning and it was quite awful. About an hour after dinner when I started feeling symptoms, I googled it and found that lots of people reported getting food poisoning here. Try it if you want, but I just want to give a totally honest warning!
2. Cevicheria gets a lot of hype as well- it was pretty good, but, not amazing! Also very expensive for Lisbon.
The tile museum is gorgeous– you must go.
Get prepared to walk A LOT, especially uphill. Don’t be scared though, I am not a big worker outer/in shape human and I got used to it.
Check out the flea market if you happen to be in town, I got some beautiful gold rings there!
3 Replies to “Vibrant Guide: Lisbon, Portugal”
wow this is a fabulous post!!
Wow, is it weird that I know exactly where you stayed in Alfama? I lived there for 6 months last year. It was the absolute best time ever. If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend living in Lisbon for at least a short period of time. There is a wonderful English-speaking community there (look up Lisbon Digital Nomads on Facebook!). Everyone is so friendly and there is so much to explore in the city and the surrounding areas. Next time definitely rent a car and drive down to Algarve!