+ day trips to Sintra and Cascais
Lisbon! What a beautiful, vibrant place.
You've probably heard too much about Mercado da Ribeira. That said, my friend and I had a super delicious clam and butter bean dish with grilled bread and olives here our first day in Lisbon that I'm still thinking about. (I think it was from #10 or #11 on this map.) Get vinho verde here as well, obviously. (Also, it has wifi, which is helpful for planning your next move.)
Pasteis de nata are a must, and I did not truly understand this until I had one from Manteigaria. Note that they are open until midnight... this turns out to be extremely helpful. (There's one in the Mercado, too, but the separate storefront was way more low key.)
Go to Graca do Vinho for snacks/wine. When we were there, the server was super opinionated (which I like) and helpful with picking wines and cheeses. We sat at a table outside which was both a great idea (beautiful night, lots of good people watching) and a bad idea (any sudden movements seemed likely to throw you down the steep hill this place is on.) Inside looked cozy, too. We just went for a late night bite after still being kind of full from lunch, but it looks like you could kind of make it whatever meal you wanted.
Get Mozambican food at Cantinho do Aziz. Great location, super friendly people, and lots and lots of delicious food. There was this prawn dish with a buttery curry sauce that made me want to lick the bowl. You may want to get a reservation if you can—they were packed.
Gelataria Nannarella. A small will get you a cone or cup of three flavors and whipped cream. It's among the best gelato I've ever had.
Wander. Get super lost. It is inevitable. And I think it's kind of the only way to get a feel for the city. Plus, that way, you’ll get to see the incredible street art around every turn.
Go to Cascais. It's a super easy train ride. If you get off one stop early, you can walk along the boardwalk and scope out the beaches. We left late morning from Lisbon, spent a few hours under an umbrella on one of the less-crowded beaches, and then got hungry enough to go find some lunch. We decided to wander through the town (so many bougainvilleas and jacarandas and cute pastel houses!) and walk towards the Boca do Inferno, or "mouth of hell." We found a decent seafood restaurant where we could wile away the afternoon. We ate a lot of gigantic prawns and fish and drank a lot of wine and were inexplicably and constantly blasted by the installed misters all around the perimeter of the patio. Didn't hate it though. Walked from there down to the Boca in the late afternoon. It was gorgeous. Took a wandering path back to town before hopping on the train back to Lisbon.
Go to Sintra, particularly Pena Palace. A few disclaimers: this is super touristy. It isn't cheap, necessarily. BUT it was also completely magic, which may have had something to do with the weird cool, misty weather on the day we went. We arrived late morning, and took a tuktuk up and down the mountain, which was fast and worth it if you don't feel like hiking an actual mountain and adding a solid 3 hours or so to your day. When we were there, the inside was under construction and there wasn't a whole lot to see, I don't think. However, walk the outside of the castle (I mean.) and the grounds (Yeah.) for sure. It's a beautiful, strange place. And the farther you walk away from the castle, the quieter it gets—plus you come across things like beautiful greenhouses and baby goats. Pick up pastries from Piriquita for the train ride home.
4. I got a tiny bit obsessed with tiles when I was in Lisbon (when in Rome...). If you get similarly preoccupied, may I recommend the tile museum?
5. Lisbon is full of lookout points, but my favorite one is called Miradouro da Graca. We went in the evening, so it was a little quieter, and it was a beautiful, sparkly view of the city. (It's also very close to Graca do Vinho, if you want to make a night of it.)
I'd recommend bringing another bag just so you can go to my new favorite place in the world, a by-the-kg ceramics store called Ceramicas na Linha. I probably spent two hours here (how.) and walked away with five new dishes for like 20 euro. I talk about the pieces I got like small precious children.
A Vida Portuguesa is 100% made for tourists, but that isn't to say that the store isn't 1) beautiful and 2) great for little knickknacks/souvenirs. (Also they have nice little rugs there for less than 7 euro, so.) There's a location right around the corner from the ceramics place.
Places I wanted to get to but didn't:
The Pharmacy Museum: we went to the attached restaurant which was underwhelming, but the museum itself looked quite weird and fun.
Any of the many botanic gardens—apparently there are frequently peacocks roaming? After our day in Sintra we didn't prioritize this, but I'd love to visit at some point.