Lisbon City Guide

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My husband and I visited Portugal this past May to celebrate our wedding anniversary and had such an enjoyable trip. We had about 9 days in-country with part of that time spent in Lisbon. If possible, I recommend at least 4-5 days in this city in order to settle into the pace of the city, and to learn the culture. Here are some of our favorite things from the trip.

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Hotels: We used hotel reward points and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Avenue Liberdade. It exceeded my expectations for a Holiday Inn, in both style and accommodations, and had a great European-style breakfast included. We also considered staying at the Intercontinental Hotel but decided that we wanted to be closer to the action. If we visit again, I would find a hotel or an Airbnb in the Chiado district where we'd be closer to the restaurants/boutiques/cafes.

Coffeeshops: Lisbon has some third wave coffee shops popping up! We visited The Mill, Copenhagen Coffee Lab and Hello Kristof. All three were lovely spaces and worth visiting, though Copenhagen Coffee Lab was hands-down the best coffee. Fabrica Coffee Shop was also on my list, though we didn't make it there.

To Eat: We started at Cafe Nicolau, a buzzy spot in the center historic district, where we had a great brunch. Put your name on the list and plan to wait at least half an hour for a table. Nearby at the Confiteria Nacional, pick up traditional Portugese sweets at this gorgeous, historic spot, or head upstairs and grab a table for a more casual cafeteria-style lunch.

Stop by the Mercado da Ribera, a central market turned food hall which hosts outposts of some of the best restaurants in the city. Grab lunch or dinner here one day. For a casual lunch with a view, stop by the market/ food stands at square overlook. There is a cart selling freshly sliced jamon sandwiches that was especially tempting as well as a cart with fresh fruit juices and various sangria's to choose from. Be sure to take in the view as well.

One MUST while in Portugal is to try the handmade sweets, Pasteis de Nata. You can find these at any pasteleria that you come across, but they are especially delicious at Manteigaria. Stand at the counter and grab a coffee while you're at it.

The last meal we had while in Lisbon was at Maria do Carmo Restaurant. I can't recommend this spot enough. The food was superb, the design of the restaurant was on point, and you can wander around beautiful Square Carmo after dinner.

To Do: Be sure to ride a streetcar while in Lisbon. I recommend the historic #28 streetcar which takes you through the center of town and then sweeps you up into the Alfalma. Get off in the Alfama, wander, explore, take pictures and get lost. The city is built on hills, so find one of the many overlooks "miradouros" for gorgeous views over the city.

The MUDE design museum was closed while I was there, but I recommend visiting when it does re-open.

Shopping: If you're like me and you enjoy bringing home fabrics for your next project, you'll want to check out Casa Tavares & Tavares, a beautiful, clean little shop near Rossio square. Around the corner, Feira dos Tecidos is more of a bargain basement fabric store.

Portugal is known for its hand-painted ceramics and there are plenty of tourist ships where you can pick these up. However, Ceramicas Na Linha stands out from the rest with excellent quality pieces at very reasonable prices. Just around the corner, A Vida Portugesa sells specialty items like beautiful soaps, honey, journals, etc.