Charming, historic, artistic and romantically beautiful; all describe the amazing Lisbon. Being the capital of Portugal, Lisbon is considered one of the most authentic cities in Europe. From the minute you land in the city and see the yellow tram coming your way, you feel like you’ve been carried away to bohemian beautiful 70s.
We’ve landed in Lisbon end of last September and we were so lucky to enjoy sunny breezy mornings and balmy romantic nights. We checked into our apartment that was booked online through Airbnb, a niche and credible social network that connects rentals with travellers. We stayed at Bairro Alto, a famous district in the heart of Lisbon where iconic boutiques, bars and restaurants intersect. Follow our ultimate travel editor’s guide to Lovely Lisbon!
Palacio De Pena is a must visit! Located outside Lisbon in Sintra town, the palace is one of the major icons of 19th-century Romanticism. The beautiful architecture behind the palace is out of this world, picturesque and magical! The interiors of the Pena Palace were adapted to serve as the summer residence of the Royal Family. When you walk in, you are introduced to the authentic dining room, bedroom, bathroom and dressing room of the royal family. You are allowed to take pictures inside but without using flash light.
The castle of Sao Jorge is a magnificent historical place. You can buy a glass of wine there while looking at the colorful city from hilltop! The castle complex consists of some ruins of the royal palace, beautiful gardens, and a large terraced square from which an impressive panorama of Lisbon is visible.
You’ll fall into the mysterious Gothic Era the minute you enter Jeronimos Monastery. The monastery is one of the most prominent historic icons of the Portuguese Gothic Manueline style of architecture. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful and giant works of art will take your breath away.
There are various mouthwatering menus all over Lisbon. Seafood dishes and Paella are the most popular among all. Pastel De Nata is a very special Portuguese dessert that you can find everywhere while walking around Lisbon, even Starbucks! It’s simply a pure indulgence of a little custard tart that keeps you addicted throughout the whole trip. Here is a list of very special must try restaurants:
Chapito Bistro: Climb a few stairs up an alley to reach dinner haven at Chapito Bistro. Amazing view of the city at night, fresh food and good location. You’ll have a romantic dinner while listening to beautiful jazz beats. Make sure to try out their juiciest veal ever, and their Seabass fish tastes so fresh coming from the Mediterranean directly to your mouth. The restaurant also has a small shop showcasing products of young designers and entrepreneurs like accessories, bags and art crafts.
Ao Pe Da Se: Yes that’s its name! Which means ‘at the foot of it’ and it’s located at the foot of the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary. It’s one of the top rated restaurants in Lisbon, known for it’s perfect touristic location and super friendly staff. You can have lunch in the outdoor area while getting the lovely Portuguese September sun and having an unusual meal. The restaurant is like nothing you’ve tried before; the food is hardly even cooked but it’s all flavorishly marinated. You can eat raw fish or beef prepared in an unconventional way. It might be quit weird in the beginning for an Egyptian to eat raw food other than Sushi, but travel is all about new adventures isn’t it?
Dona Quiteria: Cozy and authentic, this restaurant has a very special ambiance. You eat great seafood dishes and a mix of oriental starters like Homous and olive paste on a sidewalk in Alfama district while wrapped up in a warm blanket given by the restaurant. How cozy could dinner get?
Amorino: located at city center, this is the best ice cream you could indulge on in Lisbon. Shape up your scoop with hearts or flowers and bonne appetite!
Lisbon is one of the very few European cities for night owls. Forget clubs and dance floors, Portuguese bars and pubs are a new amazing discovery. Each bar has its unique and quirky sense of style and decor. From infinite toy soldiers and airplanes hanging from the ceilings to red velvet wallpapers and medieval chandeliers. Smoking is prohibited everywhere indoor; so light it up before you hangout.
Pensao Amor: A chic and charming little bar for a romantic date where the ceilings are covered with art and the walls are vibrant red. It’s always busy so go early. It has an outdoor space for smokers too.
Chinese Pavilion: This bar is located inside a very old grocery store with 5 rooms decorated like a museum with toys hanging from the ceiling from the 2 world wars. It’s very spacious and you can find a table easily.
Rooftops: Lisbon has a variety of rooftop bars and lounges. With a stunning view in the afternoon or at night, you can have a soothing drink on top of a beautiful terrace. Go to Parque, a rooftop above a parking area in Bairro Alto district. You can enjoy a selection of cocktails and you can also get a bite of their delicious burgers.
Hidden Gems and Sinful Shopping
Shopping in Lisbon is a league of it’s own. You simply can’t resist. From various bohemian boutiques where you could find pretty kimonos, accessories and harem pants to flea market special buys! The city center is packed with high end and high street brands like Hermes, Hugo Boss or Zara and Stradivarius.
Funky Project: One of the cutest boutiques in Lisbon offering unisex colorful shoes and accessories as well as pretty dresses.
Feira Da Ladra Flea Market: For your vintage obsessions, Feira operates every Tuesday and Saturday. This flea market has hidden gems to die for. You can get a patchwork handmade vest or buy a skirt for 5 euros!
Freeport Outlet: Buy brands like Bimba Y Lola, Carolina Herrera and Burberry on 70% sale! You can also fill your shopping carts with Aldo, Tommy Hilfiger, Pepe Jeans and Diesel. Make sure to visit this outlet on Insane Thursday, which is during the last Thursday of each month with a larger than life sale!
Most shops offer Tax Free receipts, so come home with a few euros to avoid the shopping guilt.
Be a smart-traveler and follow these instructions:
-For only 15 Euros you could buy a Portuguese line and download Google Maps and get your own tour guide. Why is this very important? Simply because Google Maps tell you which bus to use, when does it arrive, how many min you’ll reach your destination and you know either to walk or ride to the destination you chose.
-Walk, Walk, Walk! As much as you can, walk through this beautiful city. Getting lost is the best shortcut in Lisbon.
-Schedule your hardcore shopping day at the end of your trip. You’ll always find special things everywhere around you and you wont resist buying them so don’t start with spending your entire budget in the beginning.
-Don’t be hard on yourself and count those evil calories. Eat and enjoy, you’ll burn them all while walking.
-Never think of packing high heels or the likes. Lisbon is an uphill city, you need non other but a Converse!
-Don’t stay at hotels; use Airbnb for your whole stay. It’s cheaper, more private, location friendly and you’ll get to know Portuguese neighbors.
-Portuguese people are very nice and helpful so don’t feel embarrassed asking them for instructions while you are around. They are very welcoming and most of them could speak good English. Workers are very professional too; let them help you around and save time and energy.
Portuguese is the fifth spoken language in the world with 215 million native speakers! Yes not everyone knows that. If you have a new language on your bucket list next year, go for Portuguese. You can attend private courses at the Embassy of Portugal in Cairo or sign up for the regular program at Ain Shams University.
Copy/paste these addresses into your Google Maps:
Palacio De Pena: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra
The castle of Sao Jorge: R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa
Jeronimos Monastery: Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa
Chapito Restaurant: Costa do Castelo 1, 1149-079 Lisboa
Ao Pe Da Se: Rua Cruzes da se, Lisbon.
Dona Quiteria: v. São José 1, Lisboa
Pensao Amor: R. Alecrim 19, Lisboa
Chinese Pavillion: R. Dom Pedro V 89, 1250-093 Lisboa
Parque: calçada do combro, Lisboa