*in collaboration with Clickstay
It’s the Portuguese capital famed for tiles, trams and tarts – of the custard variety – but my list of hotspots you must visit in Lisbon includes none of the three. Although I did love the tiles, obviously.
I’ve written previously about how I struggled to love Lisbon the way I do with the majority of places I visit but now, with a year of hindsight under my belt, I thought it was finally time to write about some of the sightseeing spots I genuinely think are worth seeing. It’s a short list but make time for these few things and your trip will be off to a great start.
Image credit: Clickstay
But before we get into that, you’ll obviously need somewhere cool to stay and I’ve worked with Clickstay on this post who have over 75,000 properties across the world. After scouring their site, I can confirm that they’ve got some great apartments in Lisbon listed and while it can be hard to find budget accommodation in this overcrowded city, there’s some really reasonable options.
It’s cheating but it was the highlight of my trip so here we are. While most people, including us, will visit Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that staying overnight in this adorable town would likely be well worth it.
After taking the train and queuing for the sightseeing bus at each stop, you’ll probably squeeze in Castelo dos Mouros and Pena Palace without much time to see the rest of the town. They’re undoubtedly the main attractions and worth the trip alone for the gorgeously vibrant Pena Palace, but there’s so much else to see! Spend a night here to see more, relax more and (hopefully) queue less.
A trip to Belém comes highly recommended by travel guides large and small but of all the attractions, this was the most impressive to me.
Towering along the main road through Belém, the richly decorated facades of the Jerónimos Monastery invitingly in the sunlight: I’d almost say too invitingly as the entry queue snaked almost the entire length of the building. As we relaxed in the cool shade next to the monastery walls, sunlight dappling through the trees, I realised that I felt entirely comfortable for the first time since I’d been in Lisbon.
As well as the monastery itself, the building’s West Wing is also home to the National Archaeological Museum and the Maritime Museum – I can’t say we visited them though. Sunshine was calling, what can I say?
I’m nowhere near cool enough to set foot in this hipster cluster of stores, cafes and bars but there I was, pretending I didn’t feel utterly out of place. If you love to browse or grab yourself some quirky art and trinkets, this is well worth a visit.
It’s also home to Ler Devagar, voted one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. The name translates to ‘Read Slowly’, something most of the visitors didn’t take note of as they snapped their Instagram shots and left immediately.
After taking one of my own, I enjoyed watching a steady trickle of visitors clad in floaty dresses and hats slowly stroll past the shelves in front of a DSLR lens while my companion hunted for a book in English. I’ve always regretted not learning Portuguese properly but that feeling reached a new level here.
All. The. Restaurants.
I couldn’t get through an entire blog post without mentioning food and Lisbon is home to some excellent vegetarian-friendly restaurants. My favourite of the bunch is PSI, one of the city’s oldest vegetarian restaurants with an outdoor garden where you’ll sit among the lake, fountains and foliage.
With reasonable prices for the quality of food, I’d particularly recommend their extensive roti selection (turns out I can eat a lot of bread) but the restaurant manages to combine Indian, Thai and Italian style dishes with impressive ease.
I also really enjoyed Jardim dos Sentidos, an accidental discovery when we were searching for somewhere close to our Airbnb and found this just across the main road. Sadly, we couldn’t claim a seat outside here but from our seat near the door, we could appreciate the garden ambiance while staying toasty warm and enjoying a delicious vegan cheeseboard.
Now, I’m off to search for my next break to a warmer climate…
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