After 3 days, we can say that we really loved Lisbon.
5 things you should not miss when visiting Lisbon
1) Street parties in June
Yes, for this, you have to be there in June … but for local and popular parties addicts, it is well worth it. It is even what led us to love this city so much. All month long, to celebrate « Saint Anthony of Padua » (Santo Antonio, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day), Lisbon’s districts are partying every night.
The Alfama (the oldest district of Lisbon) and the Bairro Alto (the trendy bars district) get prepared all day long to create an incredible atmosphere from nightfall. Set up stands, beers’ trucks (Superbock, Sagres) and sangria everywhere… the Portugueses who have a balcony set up speakers as an ephemeral bar…
In short, popular, mixed, dancing and friendly … nothing better to literally get into the crowd (streets are crowded and you have sometimes to elbow your way through). And taste the Portugal very local flavors there, and furthermore, it’s very cheap (spare ribs, sardines … for a few euros).
2) Taste local specialties
Sardines, bacalahau cake, pastel de nata, ginja …
As we said, during the neighborhood parties, it is very easy to eat local for really cheap (ex: 1 € the sardine or lomo tartine, 1 € for a delicious cabbage soup …). Maybe it does not sound good, but actually, it’s delicious. Also not to be missed, the cod!
The Portuguese have 1000 ways of cooking it, do not hesitate to taste it in all its forms (porridge, fried, hachis parmentier …). The cod cake with cheese (trompe l’oeil in the shape of a potato from Casa Portuguesa) is a bit expensive (3 € /each), but it is a true delight.
You’re a treats addict ? You have to test a pastel de nata (small flan cooked as a pie with puff pastry) in the Belem district (in the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belem or elsewhere). Do not forget to stop by a ginjinha to drink a ginja in the street (aperitif from Lisbon with morello cherry) and perhaps even to eat its small container in chocolate.
Not local, but during the holidays, we found in the center a stand of Pisco Sour (Peruvian-style cocktail) run by a Peruvian … we could not resist to have a memory of our journey in South America!
3) Take a ride in the tram 28
2.85 € and about 1h
All the guides will tell you that, but to make a tour of the city in the mythical tram 28 is a moment out of time and unforgettable. This old machine will takes you to all the most typical neighborhoods of the city and climbs for you the steep streets of Lisbon.
Great views to the key, and a great inspiration for your next walks. There are trams frequently, so it is better to wait and try to be on the window side! If you’re going to do it just once in your life, it’s better to be well placed. For happy dog owners, dogs are only accepted if they are in a cage or a carrying bag.
4) Enjoy breathtaking views of Lisbon
There are many beautiful views of the city and its tiled roofs throughout Lisbon. In good weather, the panorama is breathtaking. Do not miss the Santa Luzia viewpoint which gives a superb view of the roofs of the Alfama district and the Taje. The place is touristic of course, but it’s worth a visit. Perfect to get your eyes full of beauty before heading down to explore the oldest part of the city.
5) A nice trip along the Taje, walking or biking
Want to get away for a while? Rent a bike and pedal, hair in the wind, along the Taje River to the beautiful beaches of Cascais (around 20km). Super nice when the weather is good, and a bit of sports after succumbing to the local specialties is rather a good idea, isn’t it?
You will pass in front of the night clubs where we were parked for 3 days.
5 is good, but here find bonus:
- A/ Finding a bar in the Alfama district with a Fado singer on a Thursday night.
- B/ Visiting one of these wonderful shops: Conserveira de Lisboa, a sardine box shop (box per year). On paper, maybe it does not sounds like a dream, but it’s a real Disney Land in there. (It is the same brand as the shop selling Bacalahau trompe l’oeil and fine groceries).
- C/ Cross the bridge Vasco de Gama, the longest in Europe (13 km).
- D/ Find a free parking 10mins from Lisbon centre. Av. 24 de Julho 118, 1200-109 Lisbon, Portugal. No service, nightclub parking and noisy gym at night but it’s still a free parking. At only 10 mins walking from the center of Lisbon, which is not bad!
- The center, a bit too touristic to our taste (June is one of the busiest month). The Baixa district is home of the famous “Elevator de Santa Justa” (Gothic architecture).
- El “Labyrinto de orror”. We had a good time in it, but it is a little too expensive for the experience given ($ 15 without discount).
You want to discover Portugal? >> Read our article “2 weeks in Portugal with a van“
Listen to our musical playlist special Portugal on our Youtube channel.