The Portuguese capital is a city that we have visited two times. Lisbon is super cheap (in the right places) and features some of the best sites in Europe. Check out our ultimate guide to Lisbon.
We’ve been lucky enough to visit the Portuguese Capital twice. The first trip was back in 2015 and Emma actually booked it as a surprise for Michael for the Christmas before. (Yes, top present buyer over here!)
We then visited again in 2019 for New Year and spent the evening watching the fireworks in the main square with thousands of other people! Bizarre right?! Especially when we didn’t even realise what 2020 had to offer.
Where to stay in Lisbon
On both trips we booked some lovely Airbnb’s, however, neither experience was particularly great. Both apartments had super thin walls and we could hear everything that the neighbours upstairs and on either side were doing. For our New Year trip in 2019, we actually ended up having to leave the Airbnb due to the noise and booked a hotel last minute for New Years Eve! (Yep! That’s how desperate we were).
As much as we love to support Airbnb’s and promote them, from our past experiences in Lisbon, we couldn’t recommend due to how thin the walls are and having terrible nights sleeps both times. Each to their own but when we’re tired and exhausted from climbing all of the steep hills and cobbled streets, we want just a bit of quiet and this isn’t what we had.
We stayed at the Sana Malhoa Hotel and it was perfect and just what we needed. The stay included a breakfast which was great as we were due to return home on 1st January and needed to fill up on food before leaving. The room itself was spacious and had all of the basics that we needed.
We would 100% stay in this hotel again as the rooms were incredibly quiet, it wasn’t too far out of the centre and was easily accessible. The price to stay considering it was New Years Eve was actually really good too! The bed was also really comfy which was exactly what we needed after the failed Airbnb we had previously.
Things to do in Lisbon
Panoramico de Monsanto
Our absolutely favourite find in Lisbon was Panoramico de Monsanto. Michael had found it online after a bit of research and we thought we would take a risk and head out of the centre to find it. It is in the middle of nowhere really and around a 20 minute walk from the bus stop, however, when you get there and see the amazing artwork inside and the views from the top, it is 100% worth it. Click the link to find out more as it’s so good and we took so many photos there, it deserved a blog of its own. Read it here.
Now, we didn’t actually take a ride on a tram on either of our trips, however, we did take plenty of photos of them during our stays. The best place we found for the photo opportunities was Elevador Da Bica. It is super busy at the top as everyone either walks or takes the tram up to have a cheap beer, but it’s 100% worth the visit. We got some lovely photos in this street and the tram definitely made them. I mean, you can’t visit Lisbon without getting a tram shot?!
Belem Tower is a medieval defensive tower that lies on the River Tagus. It is one of the icons of the City of Lisbon. When it was built it was completely surrounded by the water of the river. However, over the centuries it has been surrounded by a beach and it’s now on dry land.
Belem Tower is open until 18:30 in the summer. The queue was so long when we visited so we only got photographs from the outside. As you can see, Belem Tower is stunning.
Padrao Dos Descobrimentos
Built in 1940, Padrao Dos Descobrimentos was built to mark the 500 years since the death of Henry the Navigator as well as to celebrate the Portuguese age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th century. It’s a beautiful monument placed on the bank of the river Tagus. You also get a fantastic view of the Ponte 25 De Abril from the monument.
Jeronimos Monastery was our favourite building in the entire city. The jawdropping architecture of the 500 year old monastery makes it a must visit when you’re in Lisbon. Entry tickets are 10 euros and it’s around a 20 minute bus ride from the centre of Lisbon. Use bus 15E.
Praca Do Comercio
This is where the magic happens for New Years Eve celebrations. It seems like a world away right now, but back in 2019, the square was filled with thousands of people. There was an excited buzz in the air and everyone was cheering and drinking in unison. Little did we know what 2020 would bring, but everyone in the square was in awe of the fireworks displays that they put on. The fireworks went on for around 20 minutes and the finale was outstanding! 100% we would recommend visiting Lisbon for New Year, especially if you love a firework display! The square is also amazing to wander around during the day and definitely has plenty the photo opportunities.
Lisbon Stadium Tours
Lisbon is home to two of the biggest clubs in Portugal; Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. On the multiple times we have visited Lisbon there has unfortunately been no matches being played. So, what’s the next best thing? Yep, stadium tours.
We enjoy stadium tours as it lets you get behind the scenes of these clubs as well as learning about the history of the clubs.
Benfica Stadium Tour Review
The Benfica stadium tour in our opinion was by far the better tour. Our guide was brilliant, knowledgeable and passionate about Benfica. On the tour we went pitch side, seen the dressing rooms and visited multiple stands in the stadium as well as the Benfica museum. Benfica’s 64,642 Estadio De Luz was reconstructed in 2003 and the design has been closely resembled in many new stadiums including the Emirates stadium. It really is a stunning stadium and the tour was great value. We booked on Benfica’s website and the tour cost just €10.
Sporting Lisbon Stadium Tour Review
The stadiums of Benfica and Sporting are located close to each other, meaning, if you time it correctly you can do two of the tours on the same morning. Sporting’s Jose Alvalade Stadium feels a bit more run down than the Estadio De Luz. The tour wasn’t as good and the tour guide wasn’t as enthusiastic as their counterparts at Benfica.
Having said that, it was still a great tour and we were able to see everything behind the scenes at the 50,000 capacity stadium.
If you have the time, do both tours, however, if you can only do one, then do the Benfica tour.
Best Restaurants in Lisbon
Pistola Y Carazon (Now Foodriders)
As we are huge Mexican fans we make a point of visiting the best one’s in each city. Pistola Y Carazon is not only the best in Lisbon but one of the best in the world. There is no reservations for this place, you turn up, wait for a table to become available and then have some of the best food ever.
We’ve visited many times on our visits and our most memorable time was when we sat at the bar. The barman was so friendly and gave us a taste of all the tequilas he had on offer. The food is always top quality as are the staff. The only disappointing thing is that no Mexicans can ever live up to this place. It’s brilliant.
Pistola Y Carazon is now unfortunately closed, according to Google it’s moved across town and it now called Foodriders.
It was New Years Eve and we were STARVING. One problem, everywhere was fully booked. We trailled the streets of the capital looking for a restaurant that would take us in. After a quick Google we found that a Nepalese restaurant got great reviews. We got there and unfortunately there was no tables but a booking had not turned up. As the time ticked by it was clear the party would not turn up so we managed to grab the last table.
It was the first time that we had tried Nepalese cuisine, however, it won’t be the last. The food was very close to an Indians and the flavours of the curry’s were incredible. The restaurant is very small so I’d recommend booking in advance. If you pass this place you’d usually walk past it as it doesn’t look great. However, on this occasion don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The food and staff were both fantastic and we will be visiting when we return to Lisbon.
O Vinhaca offers a fantastic dining experience in a very cosy and intimate setting. The food is amazing and only the best ingredients are used. The owner is fantastic and advises you on all of the food on the menu. The food is fantastic but it really is the hospitality from the owner that makes this place special.
Time out market
Time Out Market features everything under one roof. The huge food market features cuisines from all over the world. Seriously, everything is there, take your pick. The wide variety of food options makes it a must visit. The atmosphere is also fantastic as the locals tend to enjoy a glass of wine or 5 with their meals.
Mister Tapas is the perfect place to grab a light bite whilst in Belem. The mobile tapas van is situated on the banks of the river and offers fantastic views of Lisbon’s famous bridge. It would be the perfect place for a sunset dinner. The food is very good and we enjoyed washing the tapas down with a few beers!
Best bars in Lisbon
Another hidden gem in Lisbon. Park Bar is hidden on the top floor of a car park. It doesn’t seem very cool, does it? Wrong!
Park Bar occupies the top floor of the car park. On an evening it has a great vibe and the bar overlooks the centre of Lisbon. It’s a must for sunset as you can watch the sun go down behind the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
The bar is quite pricey but for it’s quirkiness and views it’s a must do.
As Park Bar is quite hidden we have decided to help you, find its location by clicking here.
Jam Club provided our most memorable night in Lisbon. We only originally went in for one drink but stayed all evening. The owner and staff make this place. Jam Club is a small and intimate bar but the atmosphere it generates is amazing. A guitarist was on the night we visited and the owner made sure that everyone joined in and had a fantastic night. The food was good, the drinks were fantastic but the experience was unforgettable. 5/5 for the Jam Club!
Check out the Jam Club’s upcoming events, here.
Eclipse Rock Bar
If you fancy a change of the hip bars in Lisbon then give Eclipse Rock Bar a try. It’s a new frills spit and sawdust bar but the music is great! They play everything from the Rolling Stones to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is good. The only downside for us is that they allow smoking indoors.
Is Lisbon worth visiting?
We’re due to head back to Lisbon this year. We’re starting our trip in Porto and as the flights worked out so much better coming back from Lisbon, we’re going to take the train to get there and spend 2 nights relaxing before heading home. Now, Lisbon isn’t our favourite place in Portugal but it is lovely and we would definitely keep returning. It’s a great base and had plenty of places to explore.