Bom Dia!! my Almost Fabulous Me Community! After a little over three weeks (!!!) in Lisbon, Portugal I am ashamed to admit I didn’t even use that particular term of endearment to passersby and instead opted for the more traditional, more easily understood and not to mention more easily pronounced ‘olá.’ It’s been quite some time since I traveled internationally and even longer since I traveled somewhere I was unfamiliar with the local language. VERY unfamiliar. After our first rather overwhelming day out and about, engaging with the locals and desperately trying not to be ‘those’ Americans, I promptly Googled some necessary phrases to support our monthlong adventure in Portugal. The main one (and my personal favorite) being ‘obrigada’ or ‘obrigado’ for my gentleman readers. If I couldn’t speak the language and perhaps revealed myself as an English speaking American more times than I’d care to admit, at least I was a very gracious and grateful guest in their beautiful country.
Alas, this post isn’t dedicated to the trials and tribulations of an American fish out of water but rather the discoveries of said American after picking up her life in Austin, Texas and essentially ‘moving’ to Lisbon, Portugal for 23 days. As many of you know, on October 3 I left my job in corporate America and set off on a new path (one that’s still being defined full disclosure). If you’d like to learn more about how I came to that decision (hint: it wasn’t easy!), I invite you to read my blog post ‘I Walked Away From My Job and Toward My Authentic Self.’
October was an extremely busy month, filled with moments of self-discovery, checking long overdue items off my personal to-do list and most importantly LIFE. Lots and lots of life. In a short period of time I’ve soaked up more of the little moments, the in-between moments and the big, joy-filled moments than I have in a looong period of time. One of those big, joy-filled moments happened to be 23 days in a country I’ve dreamed of visiting.
So on November 6, 2022 we set out from San Francisco International Airport toward our final destination - Lisbon, Portugal. What ensued was truly the trip of a lifetime. Before I dive into
my recommendations, I would like to preface this by saying this was a bit of a different trip for us. Adam, my partner, was still working during our travels and as such we spent our afternoons (starting at 2:30pm when the financial markets opened on US East Coast time) in the AirBnb. We went into this trip with the intention of essentially moving our life in Austin, Texas to Lisbon, Portugal for the month. Of course it involved a whole lot more daytime adventures, excursions, discoveries and everything in-between than what a normal day would consist of in Austin, but unlike most of our international trips we were staying put in one place for the duration of our travels. No bopping around to 3 different countries in 10 days. No. Instead, we were focused on getting intimately familiar with our home base for the next three weeks. And that my friends is exactly what we did.
Below you’ll find my top recommendations for Lisbon broken out by category. Should you find yourself at any of these haunts as a result of my guide, please feel free to reach out and/or tag me! Happy travels my fellow adventure loving souls.
Much to my surprise, Lisbon has a HUGE breakfast scene! When researching must-visit restaurants, breakfast spots and cafés came up time and time again which to be honest was quite alright with me. Breakfast isn’t a meal I traditionally eat but if I had to pick a meal to dine out it would most certainly be the first one of the day. Plus, you know I’m a coffee addict so that should be a given. As such, you’ll find more breakfast destinations listed than anything else.
Nicolau Lisboa - my fave breakfast destination from our trip. We ate here twice!
Other Food Recs:
As previously mentioned, breakfast was our jam (pun intended) for the majority of our trip. We would wake up, make our way to a late breakfast and be pretty satisfied food wise for the rest of the day. So it should come as no surprise that there are few recommendations listed below. Don’t take this as a reflection of Lisbon but more so on our chosen ’meal of the day.’ I should make note of the fact that Lisbon is renowned for its array of Michelin Star Restaurants. So if you’re a foodie (of which I am not), I recommend looking into that scene and finding something that suits your fancy (and tummy of course).
Coyo Taco - the churros are a must!
Kiku Sushi (Uber Eats) - our first ‘meal’ in Lisbon after a long day of travel.
Casanostra - the sweetest and coziest Italian spot. Don’t turn down dessert!
TimeOut Market Lisboa - something for everyone! Gets very crowded though so go during ‘off’ hours.
Yak and Yeti (Uber Eats) - get the cheese and/or garlic cheese naan - you’ll thank me later.
Zazah - favorite tapas destination of the trip.
Lupita Pizzeria - there’s a reason it’s considered the best pizza in Lisbon! Go EARLY.
Machimbombo (bar) - fun, trendy spot to grab drinks, light bites and hang out.
Leonetta - divine Italian food in a chic setting (this was where we had our ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner!).
Pastéis De Belém - one of Lisbon’s oldest tourist attractions and home to the famous Pastel de Nata.
AGORA - pricier but delicious healthy, fresh fare.
Hand‘Go TakeAway (Porto) - our only food stop in Porto but one of my faves of the trip!
’Foodie,’ I am not, ‘Dessert-ie’ however I most certainly am. I’m well aware I just made that term up however I’m declaring it should be a real thing. As a lover of all things sweet and confectionary I feel personally victimized that there isn’t a cute, positive title that showcases my love of desserts. People who love food have one, why can’t we dessert lovers be bestowed the same?! *steps down off soap box.* Check out my fave Lisbon dessert destinations listed below.
Sugar Daddy (Uber Eats) - the cookies arrived warm and gooey - need I say more?!
Nivà Cremeria Gelateria Italiana (my fave dessert in Lisbon!). Get your gelato served on a Belgian waffle.
Crush Doughnuts (Timeout Market) - I can personally vouch for the Nutella one!
Souvenir shopping is an art form in and of itself especially when visiting faraway destinations. Destinations which you may never return to! As I’ve gotten older and more experienced in my worldly travels, I tend to shy away from the more traditional ‘souvenirs’ and instead choose to spend my ‘souvenir money’ in more unconventional ways like picking up vintage pieces for my closet at home. Nevertheless, there’s something for everyone down below and more importantly something for all of your souvenir shopping desires.
As De Espadas (Vintage)
Sons of the Silent Age (Vintage)
EmbaiXada - a true shopping experience. Check out the restaurant inside, too!
Cortiço & Netos - take home your very own Portugal tiles!
Under the Cover - small store featuring unique publications from around the world.
LX Factory - Weekly Market on Sundays!
Feira da Ladra - ‘Lisbon’s Flea Market’ held Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Rossio Christmas Market (should you find yourself visiting Lisbon end of November - December).
Points of Interest:
There are plenty! In 23 days in Lisbon I think we managed to see a decent amount of sights but I have no doubt there’s just as many that we likely missed. At every corner and each street we turned down there was a new discovery waiting for us. Lisbon is extremely walkable which makes uncovering points of interest quite easy for tourists and locals alike. Here are some of my personal favorites.
Portas Do Sol - coffee kiosk with one of the most stunning views of the Alfama area.
Alfama Walking Tour - an absolute must! The best way to discover this unique neighborhood.
Sintra - Monserrate Palace, Pena Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena), Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros), Quinta Da Regaleira (our personal favorite!). Probably need a solid two days here.
Nazaré - home of the biggest waves in the world!
Porto - highly recommend a walking tour! If you have time, check out Livraria Lello, a bookstore that heavily inspired J.K. Rowling during her time in Porto. Sadly we didn’t have time to check it out on our guided tour but we heard great things!
University of Coimbra - one of the oldest in the world!
Avenida Da Liberdade - luxury shopping destination!
Elevador de Santa Justa - designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel!
National Tile Museum - one of the most stunning museums set in an old convent.
Oceanário de Lisboa - the best I’ve ever visited!
Centro Vasco da Gama - don’t miss the food court! The mall is walking distance from the Oceanarium.
Padrão dos Descombrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)