Lisbon has recently become the ‘destination du jour’ and it’s easy to see why. The city is an exciting alternative to Paris or other main European “bucket list” destinations, for younger travellers who are after a new European city experience that offers value for money and isn't jam packed with tourists.
My ideal holiday includes exploring a city rich in history on foot, with great architecture, great food, great wine and friendly people. Lisbon offers all of these things, plus the added benefit of being a city my husband, Eddie, and I had not visited before, so it made for the perfect honeymoon destination for us after our recent elopement in Florence, as we both love to discover new places.
If Lisbon is on your bucket list, too, here are a few of my top tips for making the most of this beautiful city…
Where to stay:
We stayed at Palacio Ramalhete which is in the area of Janelas Verde; a historic Palace that feels like a home, with stunning original features. Just a short walk from the main centre, on a street filled with diverse local restaurants and design stores, the location was perfect.
If you like your hotels a little more modern, I have also heard good things about Casa C’Alma near Ribeira market, and Bairro Alto.
Pictured: Our accomodation at Palacio Ramalhete
How long to stay for:
We stayed for four nights, however we would have happily stayed longer, as there is so much to see and do in Lisbon and its surrounding areas. I don't think you could do the city justice in any less time than what we did.
Where and what to eat:
Just up the road from where we stayed was the very popular Pistola y Corazon Taqueri, a local eatery that serves incredible Mexican food and tequila based drinks. It is a popular spot with both locals and tourists alike - when we left there was a considerable queue down the street.
For authentic Portuguese food mixed with a heady dose of ambience, head to one of José Avillez’ restaurants. We had the most incredible crab and paella dishes at his Pateo restaurant, Bairro Do Avillez. If you love entertainment and food, their cabaret is apparently unbelievable. Book a few weeks in advance, though, as we sadly missed out due to not doing so!
Pictured: Our divine meal at Bairro Do Avillez.
Where to shop:
In all honesty, I didn't shop, as we didn't have any room left in our bags after everything we had to pack for our wedding! However, there are some wonderful vintage stores and design stores throughout Lisbon so I would strongly recommend keeping some space aside in your suitcase, for any special pieces you may pick up. These stores are all quite hidden away, with many having improper signage – so keep an eye out as you wander the streets. Another favourite was Storytailors Design and Concept Store, which stocks beautiful organic tees alongside pieces from incredible local and niche designers.
Pictured: Exploring the incredible history and architecture at Sintra.
One must-do activity:
If you don't mind a few tourists, head to Sintra (pictured above) to see the beautiful coloured castles and its equally stunning landscape. We took a private driving tour, which I highly recommend, as this way you have the added benefit of local knowledge, plus a shorter wait time across the board.
What to pack:
Comfortable shoes that you can easily walk miles in but are dressy enough for a dinner date. The best eateries are often up steep stairwells or cobbled streets, so it’s best to leave the stilettos at home. Lisbon has a very relaxed but cool vibe to it so I wore lots of denim, leather and combat-style boots. For jewels I kept to mixed metal pieces that felt casual yet still put together – my picks from our own collection would be Vintage Jaguar Hoop Earrings or Balmain Russo Clip-Ons and the Carine Cuff. And a final tip - always pack a warm jumper for when the sea breeze gets colder in the evenings.
Pictured: Inside the beautiful Storytailors boutique (image source), our Balmain Russo Clip-Ons, Vintage Carine Cuff and the cobbled streets of Lisbon city.
If you are thinking of heading away on a European sojourn in the near future, I definitely recommend adding Lisbon to the list. Aside from the unique architecture, food and wine, Lisbonians are so welcoming and friendly – which was a breath of fresh air after coming direct from Paris! We had the best time and can’t wait to return.