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Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de Nata, Ginjinha, and Charming Trams

 

Lisbon has been flying under the radar for a long time. But those days are over. Europeans are taking cheap flights to The City of Seven Hills for long weekends, and Instagram Tourists have discovered the city’s visual delights.

But, never fear, there’s still plenty of places that are less discovered and compared to the rest of Western Europe, Lisbon is still cheap; for now.

Table of Contents

A Short History

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

A Short History

Neanderthals occupied the area that is now Lisbon tens of thousands of years ago before dying out 30,000 years ago.

Ancient people called The Estrímnios lived here about 3,000 years ago when Lisbon was an outpost for trade with the Phoenecians. Rome took over in 205 BC and held much of the area until the fall of Rome when the Germanic Visogoths took over.

In 711AD, Moors from Northern Africa took over most of the Iberian Peninsula and held it for over 400 years. The Moors brought art, architecture, language, and food, remnants of which are still present in Portugal. In 1147. the Crusaders captured Lisbon after a four month siege.

The Age of Discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries saw Portugal grow rich by colonizing Asia, South America, and Africa. Remnants of this past glory can be seen in places like the Jerónimos Monastery, but 85% of Lisbon was destroyed in 1755 by a massive earthquake, fire, and tsunami. Lisbon was rebuilt in the earthquake’s aftermath and many of the most beautiful areas of Baixa were constructed during this time.

The Republican Movement of the early 20th century saw the country trying to establish a democracy. King Carlos and his heir Luis Filipe were assassinated in Lisbon in 1908 and by 1910 the Portuguese Republic was established when the monarchy was overthrown. This led to a period of political anarchy and governments changed frequently until the fascist Estado Novo took over, led by dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.

Salazar ruled with an iron fist and did not tolerate dissent. He finally died in 1970, but the fascists held on until 1974 when the Carnation Revolution restored democracy. However, Salazar and his toadies had driven Portugal’s economy into the ground and the people were the poorest in Western Europe. Add to that an influx of refugees from newly independent colonies who needed jobs, and Portugal was suffering.

In 1986, Portugal joined the European Community and later, the EU which meant a huge influx of capital into the country to rebuild infrastructure and the economy. Today, the Portuguese still have the lowest per capital income in Western Europe and one of the lowest in the EU.

But, signs of a rebound are everywhere. Construction firms are engaged in projects all over the city and restaurants and cafes are filled with happy locals and tourists, spending money that goes further here than most of the rest of Europe.

Foodie Lisbon

Don’t be fooled into believing that eating in Lisbon is just a clone of Spanish cuisine. Portugal is unique as a great foodie destination in its own right and shouldn’t be overshadowed by its bigger neighbor.

Pastel de Nata

Pastel de Nata is by far the most popular pastry in Portugal. Monks at Jerónimos Monastery in the Belem section of Lisbon used egg whites to starch their habits and, as a result, had lots of egg yolks left over. Starting in the 18th century, the monks used the leftover egg yolks to make a creamy, custard-like pastry, the Pastel de Nata. When the monastery closed, the monks sold the recipe to a local sugar refinery. The owners of the refinery opened a bakery, Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, in 1837. That bakery is still churning out delicious custard tarts to this day and is run by descendants of the first owners.

Pastel de Nata at Pastelaria Santo Antonio (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Pastel de Nata at Pastelaria Santo Antonio (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Living in Rhode Island for many years, I was familiar with Saint Anthony. Or should I say, I was familiar with the superstitions about Saint Anthony. Many friends (religious and non-religious) would pray to Saint Anthony if they lost something. Lose your keys? A chorus of “Pray to Saint Anthony!” would ring out.

And, if you were trying to sell your house in Rhode Island, tradition dictated that you should bury a small St. Anthony replica upside down in the yard. This was said to ensure that the house would be sold quickly. I know plenty of otherwise sensible Rhode Islanders who swear by this cultural oddity.

Since Rhode Island has a huge population of Italian-Americans and everyone has a Cousin Anthony or an Uncle Tony, I assumed St. Anthony was an Italian saint.

Then, our friend Mariana took us to Pastelaria Santo Antonio for breakfast. Turns out Saint Anthony was originally born in Lisbon, went to school there, and studied at a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. He later lived and work in both Italy and France, but he is the patron saint of Lisbon.

June 13th is St. Anthony’s feast day in Lisbon. On the day before (June 12th), outdoor stalls are crammed with potted basil plants, a traditional gift by men to their loved ones. Then, in the evening, there are parades and everyone indulges in sardines which are prepared on grills on every block. The 12th and 13th are both huge party days in Lisbon!

Back at Pastelaria Santo Antonio, Karen and I shared stories with Mariana about St. Anthony traditions in Rhode Island and she told us that S anto Antonio is the patron saint of couples in Lisbon. She then showed us the beautiful tile mural inside Pastelaria Santo Antonio depicting the miracles of the saint’s life.

As far as the food at Pastelaria Santo Antonio, the Pastel de Nata’s have been voted the best in Lisbon (quite an accomplishment), and for good reason. They are light and creamy and if you get them right out of the oven, they are about the best thing on the planet.

Lisboetas will happily argue about who makes the best Pasteis de Nata. My vote goes to Pastelaria Santo Antonio, but there are plenty of devotees to Pasteis de Belem. Many guidebooks will steer you to Manteigaria, who also make a great Pastel de Nata. And, if you want a vegan version, Terra is the place to go.

Jerónimos Monastery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Jerónimos Monastery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

A couple other notes. First, a visit to Jerónimos Monastery (birthplace of the Pastel de Nata) is a must. Even though they don’t play up their relation to the invention of the iconic pastry, the ornate Gothis monastery has a jaw-dropping facade and an equally impressive interior. Explorer Vasco de Gama is entombed here.

Second, if you’re interested i n St. Anthony, the Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa (Church of St. Anthony) isn’t far from Pastelaria Santo Antonio. The church was supposedly built on the site of Anthony’s childhood home. The church is where the St. Anthony Day parade starts on June 13th.

Finally, the story of excess egg yolks being used for baked goods and pastries isn’t unique to to Lisbon and Pasteis de Nata. I wrote about a convent in France that used the egg yolks that were a by-product of the winemaking industry to make little cakes.

Vegetarian Lisbon

No doubt about it, traditional Portuguese cuisine is heavy on the meat and fish. This can sometimes make it a bit challenging for vegetarians. But, more and more vegetarian restaurants have opened recently. And, Portugal’s northern Duoro Valley supplies tons of fresh and tasty produce that makes vegetarian meals top-notch.

Ao 26 Vegan Food Project (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Ao 26 Vegan Food Project (Photo: Brent Petersen)

My number one spot for veggie dining is Ao 26 Vegan Food Project. They offer what might be thought of “typical” vegetarian fare, like quinoa salads with lots of veggies, but Ao’s menu is much more extensive than that.

One of the many pop-up drink kiosks in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

One of the many pop-up drink kiosks in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Ao 26 has vegan versions of the famous Francesinha and Bifina sandwiches. But, the star of the show is Seitan Steak with Roasted Potatoes. Up until the day I visited Ao 26, I wasn’t a big fan of seitan. I’d eaten it, but it usually had a grainy texture I found off-putting. Somehow, the chef at Ao26 created a dish that not only did away with the grainy mouth-feel of seitan, but also created a “steak” that’s as close to real animal flesh as I’ve ever tasted. Highly recommended.

I love visiting Buddhist restaurants when I visit a new city. The food is often very good, healthy, and the space is usually a tranquil respite from the choas just outside. Jardim dos Sentidos is that place in Lisbon. Their lunch buffet is filling and tasty even if the options jump all over the place (Indian, Thai, Italian et al). On Tuesday evenings Jardim dos Sentidos offers a three course meal with wine for just 36€. And, there is a lovely courtyard with tables shaded by trees to eat your meal and get some inner peace, if only for a few minutes.

Earlier, I mentioned Terra for their vegan Pasteis de Nata. But, they also do a nice job of making vegetarian versions of Portuguese dishes.

Markets

Portugal’s mild climate (and abundant rainfall in the north) makes for ideal growing conditions for many fruits and vegetables. This bounty is on display at Lisbon’s best markets.

Wine shop, Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Wine shop, Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

My favorite is Mercado da Baixa, located, of course, in the Baixa district. While this area can be crowded with tourists visiting the Santa Justa Lift and Rossio Square, the Mercado da Baixa is packed with locals on their lunch hour from nearby office buildings.

Mercado da Baixa isn’t the fanciest food hall in Lisbon or the largest, but her charm lies in the vendors selling authentic prepared dishes, Ginjinha (see below), and fresh produce. The perfect spot to get provisions for a picnic.

The Mercado Biológico do Príncipe Real has a Sunday farmers market with organic produce that is another top choice.

Mercado da Ribeira (Time Out Market) is larger with more selections while Mercado de Campo de Ourique is smaller but is also an outstanding food hall. Lisboetas are definitely spoiled with choices when it comes to their markets.

Queijo de Azeitão

Portuguese cheeses don’t have the popularity of Spanish cheeses, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking.

One of my favorites is Queijo de Azeitão, a cheese made from raw sheep’s milk. As a Protected Designation of Origin product (PDO) Queijo de Azeitão can only be produced in the area around the town of Azeitão.

Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

The cheese is soft on the inside with a slightly waxy, edible rind. If you smell Queijo de Azeitão you might be led to think that this is a mild cheese. But, woah, when you taste it! Barnyard floor! Just the kind of flavorful cheese that I love.

A unique thing about Queijo de Azeitão is that most producers don’t use rennet to make the cheese curds. Instead, many makers of Queijo de Azeitão use cardoon, a thistle, to bring the cheese together, making it vegetarian friendly.

Practically any grocery store will carry Queijo de Azeitão, but I like to visit Mercado da Ribeira (aka Time Out Market) or Mercado da Baixa to shop for some cheese, bread, olives, and wine for a picnic.

Transplanted Cuisine

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

During the so-called “Age of Discovery,” Portuguese navigators traveled the globe, looking for trade routes and establishing colonies for their country. Many of these colonies were in Africa, although Brazil was also a very important colony.

Today, people from former Portuguese colonies have emigrated to Portugal, and especially Lisbon, creating ex-pat communities of Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, Angolese, along with people from many other places.

Tambarina is a Cape Verdean restaurant specializing in cachupa, a traditional CV stew of beans, sweet potato, and veggies. It’s usually served with fish or some other kind of meat(s), but Tambarina makes a vegetarian version as well.

Mesa Kreol has Cape Verdean cuisine, too, but they also have dishes from other parts of Africa. Like Tambarina, it is a no-frills atmosphere with filling dishes at cheap prices. And, both places often have live music; especially on the weekends.

Bacalhau à brás

Seafood is a huge part of the Alfacinha (person from Lisbon) diet. Octopus, sardines, and clams all make regular appearances on plates. But, Bacalhau (Cod) is by far the most popular dish.

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

It’s strange that Bacalhau became so popular in Portugal because the fish doesn’t swim in the waters nearby. But, the Portuguese were expert sailors and explorers and found cod plentiful in the cool waters near Newfoundland.

Bacalhau was salted and dried which allowed it to be preserved for months at a time, perfect for long sea voyages.

Today, they say there is 365 recipes for Bacalhau, one for each day of the year. The most popular in Lisbon is Bacalhau à brás.

To prepare the dish, the salted cod is soaked overnight and shredded. Shredded potatoes and onions are fried and an egg is added to the cod, potato, onion mixture. Olives are often added as a garnish.

Bacalhau à brás is so popular that you can find it in almost family-style restaurant, especially in Bairro Alto, where the dish supposedly originated. But, once again, Mercado da Ribeira (aka Time Out Market) is a great place to get this classic dish. Chef Miguel Castro Silva has several restaurants in Lisbon, but check out his stall at the Time Out Market for Bacalhau à brás.

Drinking in Lisbon

All that’s left of the glass of Ginjinha (Photo: Brent Petersen)

All that’s left of the glass of Ginjinha (Photo: Brent Petersen)

There is a wide range of options when looking for a beverage in Lisbon. Excellent and little-known (to U.S. visitors) wines are everywhere. And, Lisboetas are spoiled with options when it comes to coffee and cafes to enjoy a cuppa. But, a tiny cup of Ginjinha from a closet-sized bar is some of the most fun you can have in Lisbon.

Ginjinha

A Ginjinha, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

A Ginjinha, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Having a Ginjinha is one of the highlights of a trip to Lisbon. Served in little plastic shot glasses and usually costing about 1.5, getting a Ginjinha is cheap way to have some fun.

Ginjinha is made by adding cinnamon, sugar, and, sour cherries to brandy. The drink was invented by a friar at the Church of St. Anthony in Lisbon who added sour cherries to brandy. He shared the recipe with a Galecian man named Espinheira who perfected the recipe by adding sugar and cinnamon.

Espinheira opened the Ginjinha Espinheira bar in 1840 and today the place, now known as A Ginjinha, is still in business.

Bottles of Ginjinha at Ginjinha Sem Rival (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Bottles of Ginjinha at Ginjinha Sem Rival (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Don’t expect to come in and sit down for a drink at A Ginjinha. The bar is nothing more than a counter that opens to the square with bartenders pouring shots of the sweet drink into tiny plastic cups. Get yours with or without a cherry in the glass and stand outside with the locals and tourists enjoying the sweet elixir.

A couple minutes walk away, also in Baixa, is another characteristic Ginjinha bar. This one is called Ginjinha Sem Rival. They’ve been in business since 1890. Give both A Ginjinha and Ginjinha Sem Rival a try. Everyone has a favorite.

If you talk to Lisboetas who are middle-aged or older, they will likely tell you about how their parents and grandparents would give them a little shot of Ginjinha to cure everything from the common cold to a sore throat.

Wine

The second largest winemakeing region in Portugal is around Lisbon (the first is the Duoro Valley). Many of the vineyards in the Lisboa wine region (until recently known as Estremadura) are small farms that sell their grapes to co-ops for Portuguese table wines. But there are also some regions that make fine wine as well.

The Old Pharmacy, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

The Old Pharmacy, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

When looking to buy a bottle, look for the DOC classification (Denominação de Origem Controlada) on the bottle. This indicates that the wines have been tested and tasted and the grapes have been grown in a certain geographic region that is particularly good for winemaking.

Indicação de Proveniência Regulamentada (IPR) is just under DOC in prestige.

The next classification is Vinho Regional (sometimes listed as IG or IGP on the bottles). These wines are produced under less strict regulations and often contain lesser-known regional grape varietals.

The last classification is Vinhos de Mesa. These bottles are table wines.

Within Lisboa, there are several regions with the DOC designation.

Because Lisbon’s suburbs are expanding outwards, many vineyards have been plowed under to make room for expensive housing in the countryside. But, some areas, like Bucelas have expanded grape production.

Bottles at Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Bottles at Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Bucelas is known for its white wines, especially those made with Arinto grapes and blended with Esgana Cão. These nice acidic whites often have notes of citrus and won’t bust your budget.

For red wine, look for bottles from the Arruda and Alenquer DOC in Lisboa.

Carcavelos DOC is known for their fortified wines, although these are becoming harder and harder to find with real estate development swallowing up many former vineyards.

The vineyards of Colares DOC are planted in a sand. And, since phylloxera aphids cannot live on sand, these are rare European vines, some of the few that were not devasted by phylloxera and replanted with New World rootstock. But, what phylloxera couldn’t kill, sprawl has. 98% of the vines under cultivation have been removed for suburban construction.

Lisbon Winery

Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

One of my favorite places to do a wine tasting is at Lisbon Winery in Bairro Alto. The funky atmosphere has a cool cellar with a small transparent floor to see a pit filled with corks.

The owner of Lisbon Winery, Adriana, is super knowledgeable about Portuguese wines and is happy to answer all your questions. They also have a great selection of cheeses to pair with your vinho selection.

I noticed a bottle displayed on the shelf in which there was a perfect cut across the neck of the bottle. Asking our server she explained that the tradition was to open a bottle of vintage Port by heating the neck and using a pair of tongs to open it rather than by removing the cork.

I asked her if they had a pair of tongs at the winery and she came back a few moments later holding the large tool. Super cool, but I think a corkscrew would be much more convenient.

Coffee

Tongs used to open bottles of Port (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Tongs used to open bottles of Port (Photo: Brent Petersen)

When have a Pastel de Nata, there’s no better compliment than an espresso, or as it’s known in Lisbon, uma bica.

Coffee has been popular in Portugal for centuries ever since the imperial Portuguese brought coffee plants to colonies like Angola, Cape Verde, and, especially, Brazil. Today, Portuguese-speaking Brazil is far and away the largest exporter of coffee beans in the world.

You can get a an excellent uma bica at many Lisbon bakeries like Pastelaria Santo Antonio, but a highlight of a trip to Lisbon is a stop at Café A Brasileira.

In the early 1900’s coffee was not especially popular in Portugal. In 1905, Adriano Telles aimed to change that by importing and selling Brazilian coffee at his shop called A Brasileira. Customers who bought a bag were treated to a free cup, uma bica. Shortly thereafter, a cafe was added which became a meeting place for the intellectuals, poets, and revolutionaries who were working to move Portugal from a monarchy to a modern government.

One of the most famous of these was Portuguese poet and writer Fernando Pessoa. He authored Mensagem (Message) along with hundreds of other works. A frequent customer of A Brasileira, he now permanently sits outside the cafe in the form of a bronze statue.

Inside, the art deco cafe is now mostly filled with tourists and students, but the striking atmosphere is still a great place for uma bica.

Amendoa

Glasses of Amendoa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Glasses of Amendoa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Portugal is a big almond producing country and the northeast region of Trás-os-Montes is where the majority of the country’s almonds are grown. Sweeter varieties of almonds are sold for snacking, but the region also grows a famous bitter almond. These are not popular for eating raw or roasted so many of the bitter almonds grown here are distilled into a liqueur called Amendoa.

Amendoa has a golden color and slightly sweet taste of vanilla and nuts. With 20% ABV, Amendoa isn’t meant to be chugged, instead a small glass is often offered as a digestiv. Sometimes you’ll see Amendoa used as a topping for ice cream.

If you’ve ever had Amaretto from Italy, you’ve tasted a similar drink. However, today, most commercial Amaretto is made from peach pits rather than the traditional bitter almonds. Besides, there’s nothing like sitting in a cafe in Lisbon while sipping an Amendoa and watching the trams and people go by.

Things to do in Lisbon

Earthquake

Gate to Praça do Comércio. Note the king’s horse facing away from the city. (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Gate to Praça do Comércio. Note the king’s horse facing away from the city. (Photo: Brent Petersen)

On the morning of Saturday, November 1st, 1755, most of the citizens of Lisbon were in church. It was All Saints Day, after all. At 9:40 am catastrophe struck. An earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale (the strongest earthquake ever in Europe) shook the city for five minutes, opening 16 foot wide crevices and starting a massive fire. Then, a tsunami crashed into the city, killing more people.

When the shaking stopped and the fire was put out, Lisbon lay in ruins and up to 100,000 were dead. Parts of the city survived, namely Belem, but for Lisboates, a long rebuilding project lay ahead. And, because of this focus, Portugal’s imperial ambitions to expand its empire were put to rest.

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

One of the best examples of the rebuilding of Lisbon in the earthquake’s aftermath is Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). See below for more about how Praça do Comércio was rebuilt without help from the king.

The Portuguese people did a lot of collective soul-searching after the quake as well. Some wondered if the devastation was some kind of divine retribution for Portugal’s sins of empire building and enslavement.

Voltaire, the French author, wrote “Poem on the Disaster in Lisbon” in 1756. In it, he disagrees with the “sins of Portugal” explanation for the natural disaster.

“What crime, what sin, had those young hearts conceived That lie, bleeding and torn, on mother’s breast? Did fallen Lisbon deeper drink of vice Than London, Paris, or sunlit Madrid?”

Carmo Convent

The only tangible remnant of the quake is the Carmo Convent. Built in the late 14th and early 15th century, the Gothic church had over 100 clerics housed on the grounds and an extensive library with over 5,000 volumes at the time of the 1755 earthquake.

The seism destroyed the library and severely damaged the church, causing the Order to abandon it. The site remained unrestored and uninhabited until it became the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo (Carmo Archaeological Museum). The small museum inside is interesting, but the real attraction is the church, whose roof was never rebuilt and ruins stand as a reminder of that terrible morning in 1755.

Trams

Lisbon is often compared to San Francisco. Both cities have hilly terrain, have suffered devastating earthquakes, are known for their iconic bridges, and both have charming cable cars that people love to ride. Except, in Lisbon, they’re called trams.

The tram system first began operation with horse drawn cars in 1873. The lines were electrified in 1901 and 1902 and coverage was expanded to over time to a peak of 24 routes in the 1950s. Lisbon’s bus and metro system diminished the importance of the trams and the system has shrunk over time to the current six tram lines.

The trams are popular with both locals and tourists. Tram line 28 is one of the best for tourists as it runs through the picturesque Alfama district. But, this tram is also the most crowded and pickpockets target tourists. If you ride the 28, zip up your valuables and keep your bag or purse close to your chest. Cameras have been known to be stolen by thieves cutting the strap with a knife.

Take the 15 tram towards Belem to see the 25 de Abril Bridge (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Take the 15 tram towards Belem to see the 25 de Abril Bridge (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Tram line 15 is also popular because its line takes passengers out to the Belem section which is relatively far from the center of town. This tram is modern and lacks the charm of the older carriages, but if you’re going to Belem, and you should, it will get the job done. Pickpockets also frequent this line.

Tickets can be purchased on board. One ride is 3€, but a 24 hour pass, covering trams, buses, metro, funicular, and even the Santa Justa Lift is only 6.40€. The passes must be purchased at a metro station.

Fado

Fado is the soul or folk music of Lisbon. A singer is accompanied by a 12 string guitar player or two and, perhaps, a couple other string instruments like an 8 string bass. The 12 string guitar adds to the melancholy of the singing. Modern Fado can also have percussion, piano, and other instruments.

Fado translates to fate or destiny but also means “a longing.” Fado has been compared to American Blues music because of depressing subject matter in both genres, although musically, they have little in common. To give you an idea, Portuguese writer Manuel de Mello called Fado 'a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy'. Sounds like a description of the Blues, right?

Fado statue, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Fado statue, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Fado originated in Lisbon in the first half of the 1800s and was often sung in bars frequented by the people residing on the lower rungs of society like sailors and prostitutes. The first star of Fado was Maria Severa Onofriana (aka A Severa), a singer and guitarist, who was also a prostitute. She died of tuberculosis in 1846 at just 26 years of age. The legend of A Severa grew through novels, plays, and films about her life. Today, the site of Maria’s house is a Fado House called Maria da Mouraria.

If you want to see Fado performed live, you can go to a Fado House. These places often provide an intimate experience, but you likely will need to purchase dinner to see the show. Or, wander a neighborhood like Bairro Alto and look for signs outside bars advertising a Fado show. This is usually a less expensive way to see Fado, though many of the best singers perform at Fado Houses.

There is also an excellent Fado Museum in Lisbon. The good folks at the museum often schedule Fado performances at the museum and other locales around the city. Check their website for dates/times.

And, if you’d like to get a grounding in Fado before your trip, listen to some. The Rough Guide To Fado Legends is a good place to start.

Bairro Alto

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Bairro Alto is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Lisbon, and for good reason. This is where locals and tourists come to party. Filled with bars and restaurants, there’s something for every taste, especially if that involves staying out late.

The Seven Hills of Lisbon is a real thing. And while the terrain makes for lovely vistas and charming winding streets, all the climbing gets old real fast. That’s why you have to be smart about getting to Bairro Alto (Alto is High in Portuguese, after all).

Elevators and Funiculars

Elevador da Gloria (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Elevador da Gloria (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Taking a taxi or tuk tuk (an expensive ride in a glorified golf cart) is one way to avoid the steep climb to Bairro Alto. But, smart tourists do like the locals and jump on a funicular.

Long lines at the Santa Justa Lift (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Long lines at the Santa Justa Lift (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Elevador da Gloria’s little street car runs from Restauradores Square to Bairro Alto in a couple short Instagram-worthy minutes. The cost of a single ticket is a little steep (see what I did there?) at 2.90€, but getting the Viva Viagem Card saves 50%. Holders of the Lisboa Card ride for free. There’s also the Bica Funicular and Elevador do Lavra.

The Santa Justa Lift (aka Carmo Lift) is an actual elevator connecting Baixa with Carmo Square. Because of it’s beauty, Santa Justa has become a huge tourist attraction. It is incredibly crowded at all times of day and night with people waiting in line for hours to get a ride.

In my opinion, the ride isn’t worth the wait. Instead, take the Elevador da Gloria funicular and take the short walk through the picturesque streets of Bairro Alto to the top of the Santa Justa Lift. Here, you can access the view without waiting in the ridiculous line below.

The Old Pharmacy

The Old Pharmacy (Photo: Brent Petersen)

The Old Pharmacy (Photo: Brent Petersen)

One of my favorite places in Bairro Alto is The Old Pharmacy. Just a five minute (and mostly flat) walk from Elevador Gloria, The Old Pharmacy is housed in, of course, an old pharmacy. But, instead of pills and elixirs, the glass cabinets are filled with old wine bottles and guitars. And instead of compounds and cotton balls, big glass jars are filled with old corks. Tables and chairs are converted wine barrels and the wait staff wears white jackets, making them look like pharmacists of old, adding to the charming atmosphere. In addition to a great selection of Portuguese wines, The Old Pharmacy has a nice selection of Petiscoes (Portuguese snacks or small plates). Highly recommended.

Lisbon Winery (see above) is a two minute walk from The Old Pharmacy.

Chiado

Statue of António Ribeiro in Chiado (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Statue of António Ribeiro in Chiado (Photo: Brent Petersen)

The fashionable Chiado district, with Chiado Square at its center, is also the bohemian heart of Lisbon. This is where you’ll find the Café A Brasileira (see above).

For many years this was also the home of António Ribeiro, Lisbon’s favorite poet, who was given the nickname Chiado (translates to Squeak) and, in turn, gave his name to the neighborhood.

There is a statue of Ribeiro in Chiado Square showing him with his arm raised as if the satirist is telling an amusing story.

Rua Garrett is the main street in Chiado and a great place to wander. In addition to Café A Brasileira, there are many characteristic shops. One of these is Livraria Bertrand, which bills itself at the oldest bookstore still in operation.

Little Wine Bar

Little Wine Bar, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Little Wine Bar, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Karen and I were climbing flight after flight of stairs from the lower area near Avenida da Liberdade. At 192 stairs, yes I counted, a place caught my eye. Truthfully, Starbucks would’ve caught my eye, I was sick of climbing stairs. But, this place looked good, Karen agreed, and we abandoned our upward march for a table at the Little Wine Bar.

The name is appropriate. The little place has about five tables and a tiny bar area. And the space is so cramped that you’re elbow to elbow with the folks at the table next to you. But, that only adds to the charm of the place. The couple next to us were from Abruzzo, Italy. They spoke a little English and with our (very) rudimentary Italian, we had a lovely conversation.

The owner of the Little Wine Bar suggested a few vintages for us and they were right on the mark. The food is pretty darn good as well.

Baixa Pombalina

Elevador da Gloria (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Elevador da Gloria (Photo: Brent Petersen)

In this lively area there are lots of restaurants, shops, and the busy Rossio Square. This is also where you’ll catch the Elevador da Gloria to Bairro Alto or stand in long lines for the Santa Justa Lift.

My favorite market, Mercado da Baixa, is in Baixa (see above). A great spot to grab provisions for a picnic. It’s also where the Ginjinha bars (see above) are located.

Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)

While Rossio Square is full of life, the city’s grandest square is Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). The area, including a royal palace, was reduced to rubble in the 1755 earthquake. King José I (Joseph I), became emotionally incapacitated after the natural disaster and developed a case of claustrophobia, never again living within the confines of the city. Instead, José I's Prime Minister, the Marquis of Pombal, was talked with the massive rebuild of Lisbon. In Commerce Square there is a statue of José I facing the river. But, if you enter the square through the huge portal, you see the intention of the monument. José I is facing the river, yes, but he is also facing away from Lisbon, symbolizing the king turning his back on the people of the city.

The Rossio Station in Baixa is where you’ll likely catch the train to Sintra. But don’t miss the Fado Statue outside.

Belem

25 de Abril Bridge (Photo: Brent Petersen)

25 de Abril Bridge (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Belem gets its name from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem. This district has some of the most popular and iconic attractions in the city. You’ll want to spend at least a half day to see everything.

My recommendation is to get a very early start. The riverfront along the Tagus is concrete and mostly treeless and gets hot, especially in the summer. Plus, many of the sites get inundated when buses bring cruise ship passengers to Belem.

The best way to get to Belem is by the Number 15 Tram. The 15 goes east from Baixa to Belem, but my favorite thing to do is get a Viva Viagem Card good for 24 hours of rides on the public transportation system and make a few stops along the way.

Cacihas Ferry and Christ the King Statue

On a hill across the Tagus River is the 330’ concrete Christ the King Statue. The statue was built in 1959 by the Salazar dictatorship as thanks for sparing Portugal the horrors of World War II (but, unfortunately, not the horrors of Salazar’s brutal regime.) The statue was inspired by the similar Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Brazil.

To see the statue up close, and enjoy the spectacular views from the hill where it sits, take the Cacihas Ferry. Tram 15 stops at Cais do Sodré, which is a short walk to the Cacilhas Ferry. Best of all, the Cacihas Ferry is part of the public transport system, so it is covered by your Viva Viagem Card.

From there take the 101 or 101a bus up the hill to the statue. Alternatively, get an Uber.

If time is limited, take pictures of the statue from the Lisbon side of the river. It’s visible from practically everywhere in Belem.

25 de Abril Bridge

The 25 de Abril Bridge is the most famous landmark in Lisbon. It is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge because of its design and color. Originally called the Salazar Bridge after the infamous Portuguese dictator, it was renamed the 25 de Abril Bridge after the Carnation Revolution restored democracy.

If you love taking pictures or making your friends jealous on Instagram, get off at the Santo Amaro stop on Tram 15.

MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)

MAAT, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

MAAT, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

MAAT is right on the river and consists of two main buildings. The first is a gorgeous modern structure with a swoosh of a roof you can access by a gently sloping ramp. Great views up here.

The second building is the old Tejo Power Station. This building, uncommonly beautiful for an industrial structure, gives a look back at what the riverfront was like in the not too distant past. Inside, the power station has been renovated into a nice museum that tells the story of electricity from industrialization to sustainable energy.

The Belem stop on the 15 Tram is a short walk to MAAT.

Jerónimos Monastery

The ornate Gothic Jerónimos Monastery was built in the early 16th century with money from taxes on imported goods from Portugal’s far-flung empire. It’s easy to see how powerful Portugal was during this time by simply looking at the church’s facade. It could take a lifetime to inspect each of the beautifully carved figures and fanciful designs on the facade.

Inside is tomb of Vasco de Gama and a maritime museum inside (separate entrance fee). The Lisboa Card gets you free admission to the Jerónimos Monastery.

Getting back on the tram after visiting MAAT and taking the 15 Tram to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos stop is an option. But, the waterfront makes for a nice stroll from MAAT to the Monument to the Discoveries and then across the street to the Jerónimos Monastery.

Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém

After all that culture and history, it’s time for a snack. Literally just across the street from the Jerónimos Monastery is Fábrica de Pastéis de Belémin. They started selling Pastel de Nata in 1837. Lines can be long, but some Lisboetas call these Pastel de Nata the best in the city.

Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

Monument to the Discoveries (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Monument to the Discoveries (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Built as a temporary structure during the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940, the original monument was destroyed in 1943. A permanent Monument to the Discoveries was constructed from 1958-1960 and was based on the original structure. The new Monument to the Discoveries was dedicated in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

The massive structure depicts the bow of Portuguese sailing ship with 33 statues of famous Portuguese navigators, political figures, and royalty headed by Henry the Navigator. Surprisingly, to me at least, Vasco de Gama recieves a subordinate position on the eastern side of the monument.

Tickets can be purchased to go to the top of the monument which affords great views. But, if you don’t want to wait in line or pay for a ticket, the roof of the MAAT offers nice views as well and is free.

Tiles

Azulejos mural at Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Azulejos mural at Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Photo: Brent Petersen)

For more about the cultural importance of tiles in Portugal, check out my Porto post.

Some tile installations are sadly falling apart in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Some tile installations are sadly falling apart in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

The distinctive tiles of Portugal, called Azulejos were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa by the Moors. Popularized in Portugal when King Manuel I visited Seville, saw the tiles there, and decided to decorate his palace with the colorful Azulejos in the early 16th century.

Early Azulejos were geometric in design which kept with the Muslim tradition of not depicting people or animals. But, with the Renaissance, Azulejos came to show both people and animals, mostly in Biblical settings.

Tiles decorating an apartment building in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Tiles decorating an apartment building in Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Sadly, during the early 20th century, Azulejos were looked down upon as a style of the lower classes and many great Azulejo installations were destroyed.

Then, when Lisbon built its underground metro system in the 1950s, something wonderful happened. Artists decorated the stations with Azulejos and suddenly the tiles became popular once again.

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

To see Azulejos, you can visit one of the many metro stations decorated with them. Gare do Oriente (Lisbon Oriente Station) has some fine examples.

Many apartment buildings have Azulejo facades with colorful geometric designs.

There is even a National Museum of the Azulejo (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) with the largest collection of Azulejos in the world.

But, my favorite spot for Azulejos is Miradouro de Santa Luzia. This small square and garden doesn’t have the most beautiful Azulejos (not that they’re ugly). However, the setting, with a deck overlooking the river, is spectacular, makingthe Azulejos even more wonderful.

Daytrips

Sintra

Sintra is the most popular daytrip destination from Lisbon for good reason; its concentration of castles and palaces.

To get to Sintra, take the train from Rossio Station. It takes about 40 minutes and is faster than the bus. Don’t think about driving, the roads are tough and there’s almost zero parking in Sintra.

The train station is over a mile from the city center and the walk to most sites is uphill, so taking the bus is best. Take the 434 and buy a hop-on hop-off ticket from the driver. This allows you to ride the circular “Circuito da Pena” route once.

Pena Palace

The medieval Pena Palace was mostly reduced to rubble during the 1755 earthquake. Rebuilding resulted in the colorful fairytale castle that looks like it could be straight out of Disney movie. The palace is in the Pena Park, a 200 hectare (500 acre) forest on a hilltop (that’s why it’s a good idea to take the bus).

Tickets are available for Pena Park only or for the park and the interior of the palace. It’s worth going inside for the extravagance of the palace, but don’t skimp on the park. There are some beautiful walks and the Cruz Alta (High Cross) gives great views back to the palace.

Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)

A 15 minute (mostly) downhill walk from Pena Palace is the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). You’ll have to hike uphill to get back to the Pena Palace and catch the bus.

The castle hasn’t been restored, but much of it still stands and there is a small chapel from the time of the Reconquista. The protective wall and turrets are good for a hike but some of it is pretty steep and you’ll get some amazing pictures.

Sintra National Palace

If you need more fancy places where royalty hung out, then check out the Sintra National Palace. Though not as flashy on the outside as the Pena Palace, it has some nice tilework and artwork inside.

Quinta da Regaleira

The Quinta da Regaleira looks like an old castle, but it was actually built a little over 100 years ago. The house is a private residence, but parts of it are open to visitors. The grounds and gardens are wonderful for wandering and taking photos.

Queijada de Sintra

Queijadas de Sintra is sort of a combination of a cheesecake and a Pastel de Nata. Made with a simple crust and filled with a cheese, egg yolk, and sugar mixture, the little Queijadas de Sintra are baked at high heat to brown the tops. When taken out of the oven, the mini cheesecakes are sprinkled with cinnamon.

Queijadas da Sapa was the first place to make the Queijadas de Sintra all the way back in 1756 and they’re still cranking out the delicious treats today.

Évora

Évora escaped the damage of the 1755 earthquake that leveled Lisbon and, therefore, is one of the best preserved Medieval towns in Portugal.

Trains depart Santa Apolónia Station and Gare do Oriente a few times a day. It’s 2+ hours from Santa Apolónia and 90 minutes from Oriente to Évora. Advance tickets can be purchased online.

Cathedral of Evora (Se Catedral de Evora)

The Cathedral of Evora is a 12th century Gothic cathedral that looks more like a fortress from the outside with the imposing walls. Get on the roof for the best view of the city.

Igreja de São Francisco (San Francisco Church)

I know, I know, another church. Trust me, if you like the bizarre or the macabre, you’ll want to visit Igreja de São Francisco.

Yes, there’s a beautiful arched ceiling and azulejos (tiles), but the real attraction is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). At the entrance is a sign reading Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos. (“We bones that here are, for yours await"). Inside, the chapel, walls and pillars are decorated with the bones of 5,000 corpses taken from local cemeteries 500 years ago.

Roman Temple of Évora

Built in the first century AD, the Roman Temple of Évora is one of the better preserved temples on the Iberian Peninsula. A dozen or so Corinthian pillars still stand on a complete base.

Sericaia

The Portuguese love their sweets. Whether it is a Pastel de Nata in Lisbon or a Queijadas de Sintra in Sintra, a little dessert is a must. In Évora that means Sericaia, which is an egg pudding. What makes Sericaia unique is that the milk is infused with cinnamon and the pudding is then topped with cinnamon and then baked. Delicious.

Every bakery in Évora will have Sericaia, and many restaurants have it on their dessert menu. Pastelaria Conventual Pao de Rala is an excellent choice for your Sericaia fix.

Coimbra

Coimbra is about halfway between Porto and Lisbon, making it a great stopping point if traveling to both cities, or an easy day trip from Lisbon.

The University of Coimbra has 20,000 students making the former capital city of Portugal lively and exciting.

There are frequent trains from Santa Apolónia Station and Gare do Oriente in Lisbon to Coimbra. Note that trains from Lisbon stop at Coimbra B Station which is a mile uphill walk to the city center. Better to take a local train from Coimbra B to Coimbra A or grab a cab outside the station.

University of Coimbra

Coimbra is the oldest university in Portugal and sits atop a hill, affording gorgeous views of the city.

The library, Biblioteca Joanina, is definitely worth a visit. The baroque library is huge in every way, from the mammoth doorways to the giant study desks made from Brazilian hardwood. 250,000 volumes are stored here, protected by a bat colony who eat the insects that would otherwise devour the books.

There’s also a former so-called Academic Prison in the basement of the library where students who broke the rules were kept. While this makes a great story, the prison itself isn’t much to see.

Around campus look for Repúblicas, student housing run by the students who share the space and all the chores, including cooking and cleaning. Repúblicas are obvious by their loud decor.

The university also has a 32 hectare (80 acre) botanical garden. Nice for a stroll and quiet meditation.

Rua Sofia

Rua Sofia was dominated by the church. Then, in 1834 Portuguese monasteries were abolished and the buildings were taken over the university. Today, the street has UNESCO World Heritage Status and a stroll down the street reveals Medieval structures like Sé Velha Cathedral and Renaissance buildings like the Sub Ripas Palace.

Coimbra Fado

Fado originated in Lisbon (see above) and was often sung by women. But, in Coimbra, a different kind of Fado, sung exclusively by men (no women we allowed entry to the university) developed.

The tradition of Coimbra Fado is alive and well at Fado ao Centro where there are daily performances along with a little history lesson at 6pm each day. Book in advance at their webiste.

Pastel de Santa Clara

The legend goes that nuns from the Santa Clara Convent in Coimbra made little pastries to sell to students. The Pastel de Santa Clara is similar to the Pastel de Nata in that it has a thin crust and an eggy custard filling. The difference is that the Pastel de Santa Clara also has almonds in the filling.

Most bakeries have Pastel de Santa Clara, but Pastelaria Venus has some of the best.

Transportation

Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)

Smartly use public transportation or you’ll be climbing all day (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Smartly use public transportation or you’ll be climbing all day (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Non-stop flights to Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, North America, and China. Metro, bus, shuttle, taxi, and Uber connect to the city.

https://www.aeroportolisboa.pt/pt

Alameda das Comunidades Portuguesas, 1700-111 Lisboa, Portugal

Train

Trains connect Lisbon other cities in Portugal and the rest of Europe. Clean and reliable.

https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en

Viva Viagem Card

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Load up this card with Euros and save big on Metro, Bus, Trolley, Ferry and Funicular rides. Essential.

https://www.metrolisboa.pt/en/buy/viva-viagem-card/

24 Hour Card

An excellent value if you’re only using public transport for one day.

https://www.metrolisboa.pt/en/

Tram

Lisbon’s iconic trams are part of the public transportation system. Get a Viva Viagem Card and zap in/zap out when you ride.

https://lisbonlisboaportugal.com/lisbon-transport/lisbon-tram-guide.html

Things to Do

Lisbon Walker

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Several excellent group and private walking tours.

http://www.lisbonwalker.com/

Inside Lisbon

Walking and food and wine tours.

https://www.insidelisbon.com/

Lisbon Chill-Out Free Tour

Walking tour is free but always tip your guide at the end.

https://www.lisbon-chillout-freetour.com/

Praça Luís de Camões, 1200-243 Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon’s ubiquitou s  Tuk Tuk’s. An expensive way to get around town (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Lisbon’s ubiquitous Tuk Tuk’s. An expensive way to get around town (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Devour Tours

Food-centric tour of Lisbon.

https://devourlisbonfoodtours.com/

Santa Justa Lift

Fun way to get from the Baixa neighborhood to Barrio Alto. Often has long lines.

https://www.lisbon.net/santa-justa-lift

Rua do Ouro, 1150-060 Lisbon, Portugal

Museu Arqueológico do Carmo (Carmo Archaeological Museum)

Ruins of the Carmo Convent, abandoned after the 1755 earthquake. Now a museum.

http://www.museuarqueologicodocarmo.pt/info_en.html

Largo do Carmo, 1200-092, Lisbon 1200-092, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Estufa Fría

Greenhouse and garden of exotic plants on the grounds of a former stone quarry.

http://estufafria.cm-lisboa.pt/a-estufa/the-greenhouse.html?L=1

Parque Eduardo VII, 1070-051 Lisboa, Portugal

Lisbon Cathedral

First church built in Lisbon after the Moors were pushed out.

https://www.patriarcado-lisboa.pt/site/

Largo da Se, Lisbon 1100-585, Portugal

Praça do Comércio

Huge square on Lisbon’s riverfront.

Praça do Comércio, 1100-148 Lisbon, Portugal

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Museum of Ancient Art)

Not ancient art, but instead a huge collection from the “Age of Discovery.”

http://www.museudearteantiga.pt/english

Rua das Janelas Verdes, Lisbon 1249-017, Portugal

Museu Do Aljubel (Museum of the Resistance)

Museum dedicated to the rise and fall of Fascism (and its leader Antonio Salazar) in Portugal.

https://www.museudoaljube.pt/

R. Augusto Rosa 42, 1100-059 Lisbon, Portugal

A small part of the History of Lisbon Mural (Photo: Brent Petersen)

A small part of the History of Lisbon Mural (Photo: Brent Petersen)

History of Lisbon Mural

Colorful mural showing the history of Lisbon in comic book form.

https://www.facebook.com/nunosaraivailustrador/

Beco de Santa Helena 25, 1100-117 Lisboa, Portugal

Maria da Mouraria - Casa de Fados

Former home of Maria Severa Onofriana, a famous Fado singer. Now a restaurant with Fado performances. Cash only.

http://mariadamouraria.pt/en/

One of the views at Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Photo: Brent Petersen)

One of the views at Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Photo: Brent Petersen)

R. Capelão 2B, 1100-341 Lisboa, Portugal

Miradouro de Santa Luzia

Beautiful views, great tile murals.

Largo de Santa Luzia, Alfama, Lisbon 1100-487, Portugal

Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa (Church of St. Anthony)

Church dedicated to the patron saint of Lisbon. Supposedly located on the site of Anthony’s childhood home.

https://stoantoniolisboa.com/en/hompage/

Largo de Santo António da Sé, 1100-401 Lisboa, Portugal

Memorial to the Victims of the 1506 Massacre of Jews (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Memorial to the Victims of the 1506 Massacre of Jews (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Memorial to the Victims of the 1506 Massacre of Jews

Small memorial to the Jews killed in Lisbon in 1506. The square is also the site of a slave market.

Largo de Sao Domingos, Lisbon 1150-320, Portugal

Museu do Fado (Fado Museum)

All about the history of Fado. Occasional performances.

http://www.museudofado.pt/

Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Lisbon 1100-139, Portugal

National Coach Museum

Vasco de Gama’s final resting place at Jerónimos Monastery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Vasco de Gama’s final resting place at Jerónimos Monastery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Museum of over-the-top royal coaches.

http://museudoscoches.gov.pt/en/

Av. da Índia 136, 1300-004 Lisboa, Portugal

Jerónimos Monastery

Ornate Gothic monastery with an impressive facade. Inside is tomb of Vasco de Gama. There is also a maritime museum inside (separate entrance fee).

http://www.mosteirojeronimos.gov.pt/en/

Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal

Monument to the Discoveries (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Monument to the Discoveries (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)

Massive monument to Henry the Navigator and other Portuguese explorers.

Avenida Brasilia | Belem, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal

Bordallo Pinheiro Garden

Garden populated with crazy porcelain sculputres by artist Bordallo Pinheiro.

Campo Grande 245, 1700-162 Lisboa, Portugal

Cacilhas Ferry

Commuter ferry to reach Cacilhas. Bus or Uber from there to Cristo Rei statue.

Rua da Cintura do Porto de Lisboa, Lisbon 1399-059, Portugal

Cristo Rei Statue (Christ the King)

330 statue inspired by the one in Rio. Spectacular views!

Praceta do Cristo Rei 27, Almada 2800-058, Portugal

Sintra

Pena Palace

Pena Palace (Photo: parquesdesintra.pt)

Pena Palace (Photo: parquesdesintra.pt)

Colorful fairytale looking palace surrounded by Pena Park. Essential.

https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/commercial-area/ticket-office-2/

Estrada da Pena, Sintra 2710-609, Portugal

Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)

Former Moorish castle with spectacular defensive walls and turrets.

https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/parks-and-monuments/moorish-castle/descricao/

Estrada da Pena. Parque de Monserrate, Sintra 2710-609, Portugal

Sintra National Palace

Royal palace with extravagent interior.

https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/parks-and-monuments/national-palace-of-sintra/

Largo Rainha Dona Amelia, Sintra 2710-616, Portugal

Quinta da Regaleira (Photo: regaleira.pt)

Quinta da Regaleira (Photo: regaleira.pt)

Quinta da Regaleira

Private estate with beautiful grounds and gardens.

https://www.regaleira.pt/en

Rua Barbosa do Bocage, Sintra 2710-567, Portugal

Évora

Cathedral of Evora (Se Catedral de Evora)

Spectacular 12th century Gothic cathedral with the best views in town.

http://www.evoracathedral.com/?lang=en

Largo do Marques de Marialva, Evora 7000-809, Portugal

Chapel of Bones (Photo: igrejadesaofrancisco.pt)

Chapel of Bones (Photo: igrejadesaofrancisco.pt)

Igreja de São Francisco (San Francisco Church)

Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is as creepy as it sounds. Bones of 5,000 people decorate the walls.

http://igrejadesaofrancisco.pt/

Praca 1 de Maio, Evora 7000-656, Portugal

Roman Temple of Évora

Roman temple built in the first century AD

Largo do Conde de Vila Flor, Dentro da Muralha, Evora 7000-804, Portugal

Coimbra

University of Coimbra

Oldest university in Portugal. Situated on a hill for nice views.

3004-531 Coimbra, Portugal

Biblioteca Joanina (Photo: visit.uc.pt)

Biblioteca Joanina (Photo: visit.uc.pt)

Biblioteca Joanina

Baroque library

http://visit.uc.pt/en/library/

Praca da Porta Ferrea, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra 3000-447, Portugal

Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra

32 hectare (80 acre) botanical garden. Nice for a stroll and quiet meditation.

http://www.uc.pt/en/jardimbotanico

Calçada Martim de Freitas, 3000-456 Coimbra, Portugal

Rua Sofia

Rua Sofia has UNESCO World Heritage Status with Medieval structures like Sé Velha Cathedral and Renaissance buildings like the Sub Ripas Palace.

Fado ao Centro

Cultural center with Coimbra Fado performances daily.

http://www.fadoaocentro.com/en

Rua Quebra Costas 7, 3000-340 Coimbra, Portugal

Food and Drink

Belcanto

Two Michelin starred dining experience from chef Jose Avillez.

https://www.belcanto.pt/index.php?lang=pt

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

R. Serpa Pinto 10A, 1200-026 Lisbon, Portugal

Ao 26 Vegan Food Project

Not just great vegan food, great food period.

https://www.facebook.com/ao26veganfoodproject

Rua Vitor Cordon 26, Lisbon 1200-484, Portugal

O Botanista

New restaurant by the folks behind Ao 26.

https://www.facebook.com/0botanista/

Rua Dom Luis I 19, Lisbon 1200-149, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

The Old Pharmacy

Great spot for wine and small bites in Bairro Alto

Rua do Diário de Notícias 73, Lisbon, Portugal

Terra

Vegetarian take on Portuguese dishes. Vegan Pasteis de Nata!

https://www.restauranteterra.pt/English/Welcome.html

Rua da Palmeira 15, Lisbon 1200-311, Portugal

A Primavera do Jeronimo

Lisbon home cooking. Always busy.

http://primaveradojeronimo.pt/fr_BE/

Travessa da Espera 34, Lisbon 1200-176, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Manteigaria

Great place to get Pastel de Nata.

https://www.facebook.com/manteigaria.oficial/

Rua do Loreto 2 | Largo de Camões, Lisbon 1200-242, Portugal

Cafe Fábulas

Nice spot for brunch.

https://www.facebook.com/Cafefabulas/

Calçada Nova de São Francisco 14, 1200-300 Lisbon, Portugal

Alcoa

Nice pastry shop.

https://www.pastelaria-alcoa.com/#

Rua Garrett 37, 1200-309 Lisbon, Portugal

Cafe A Brasileira

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Coffee bar famous for the writers and intellectuals who hung out here in 1910’s and 1920’s. Now tourists and students do.

https://abrasileira.pt/site/

Rua Garrett 120, Lisbon 1200-205, Portugal

Cafe Tova

Little cafe that serves Amendoa.

Rua Coreto 33, 1200-241 Lisbon, Portugal

Carmo

Petiscos (tapas) and full meals are delicious.

https://www.facebook.com/restauranteocarmo/

Largo do Carmo 11, Lisbon 1200-092, Portugal

Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Lisbon Winery (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Lisbon Winery

Not only the best wine bar in the city, but good cheese pairings with Fado music often playing in the background.

https://www.lisbonwinery.com/

Rua da Barroca 13, Lisbon 1200-047, Portugal

Tambarina

Cape Verde restaurant with simple dishes and grogue (Cape Verdean firewater).

https://www.facebook.com/Tambarina-Restaurante-323152674549885/

Rua do Poco dos Negros 94, Lisbon 1200-341, Portugal

Pavilhão Chinês

Is this a bar or a museum of kitch? Either way, it’s good fun. Ring the bell to get in.

https://www.facebook.com/pavilhaochineslisboa

R. Dom Pedro V 89, 1250-093 Lisboa, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Jardim dos Sentidos

Vegetarian place with a lunch buffet and a great deal on Tuesday for dinner. Three courses with wine for 36 Euro.

https://jardimdosentidos.com/en/

Rua Mae D'Agua 3, Lisbon 1250-154, Portugal

Pasteis de Belem

The first commercial bakery to make Pastel de Nata. Same family still runs it.

https://pasteisdebelem.pt/en/

Rua de Belem No 84 a 92, Lisbon 1300-085, Portugal

O Corvo

Nice restaurant with aguardente bagaçeira (firewater) cocktails.

Largo dos Trigueiros 15A-15B | Mouraria, Lisbon 1100-611, Portugal

Cozinha Popular

All-inclusive inexpensive restaurant using local produce.

https://www.facebook.com/CozinhaPopularDaMouraria/

Rua das Olarias 5, Lisbon 1100-377, Portugal

Ze da Mouraria

Lively restaurant. Lunch only.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ze-da-Mouraria/506949056013831

Rua Joao do Outeiro 24, Lisbon 1100-292, Portugal

Pastelaria Santo Antonio

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Voted best Pasteis de Nata.

https://www.facebook.com/Apastelariasantoantonio

Rua Milagre de Santo António 10, 1100-351 Lisbon, Portugal

Café Martinho da Arcada

Been doing it since 1782.

http://martinhodaarcada.pt/

Praca do Comercio 3, Lisbon 1100-148, Portugal

Restaurante Bastardo

Restaurant in the Internacional Design Hotel. Unique takes on classic dishes.

http://restaurantebastardo.com/en/

Rua Betesga 3, Lisbon 1100-090, Portugal

Boutique Taberna

Funky spot for sangria and music.

https://tropicwelcome.wixsite.com/home/boutiquetaberna

Escadinhas Sao Cristovao 8, Lisbon 1100-512, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Mesa Kreol

Menu features dishes from Portugal’s former colonies (Brazil, Cape Verde, etc.) Veg. options.

https://www.facebook.com/mesakreol/

Arco das Portas do Mar 9, Lisbon 1100-035, Portugal

A Tendinha do Rossio

Little dive with cheap eats.

Praça Dom Pedro IV 6, 1100-200 Lisbon, Portugal

Restaurante Laurentina o Rei do Bacalhau

The place for Bacalhau à bras.

https://www.restaurantelaurentina.pt/index.php?lang=uk&id=home

Avenida Conde de Valbom 71 A, Lisbon 1050-067, Portugal

Restaurante A Floresta da Estefania

Family-run, no-frills with great food.

https://floresta.webs.com/

Rua Cidade da Horta 39, Lisbon 1000-101, Portugal

A Ginjinha (Photo: Brent Petersen)

A Ginjinha (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Winebar do Castelo (Chafariz do Vinho)

Cozy winebar near the castle.

https://www.facebook.com/winebardocastelo

Rua da Mae d'Agua | Praça da Alegria, Lisbon 1100-078, Portugal

A Ginjinha

Tiny place to get a Ginjinha. Great atmosphere.

https://www.facebook.com/GinjinhaEspinheira/

Largo São Domingos 8, 1100-201 Lisbon, Portugal

Ginjinha Sem Rival

Great place for a Ginjinha. Been in business since 1890.

R. das Portas de Santo Antão 7, 1150-264 Lisbon, Portugal

Cantinho de Sao Jose

Hole in the wall with hearty Portuguese cuisine.

Rua de Sao Jose 94, Lisbon 1150-324, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Little Wine Bar

Cozy with excellent food and wine.

https://www.facebook.com/thelittlewinebar

Calcada do Duque 39, Lisbon 1200-155, Portugal

Tágide

Restaurant with a small but nice bar.

https://www.restaurantetagide.com/

Largo da Academia Nacional de Belas Artes 20, Lisbon 1200-005, Portugal

By The Wine

Sleek wine bar with excellent choices.

http://www.bythewine.pt/en/

Rua das Flores 41-43, Lisbon 1200-193, Portugal

Quimera Brewpub

18th century underground brewpub.

http://www.quimerabrewpub.com/

Rua Prior do Crato 6, Alcântara, Lisbon 1350-261, Portugal

Dois Corvo

Craft brewery with several options on tap and food.

https://www.doiscorvos.pt/en

R. Cap. Leitão 94, 1950-052 Lisboa, Portugal

MUSA

Taproom

http://cervejamusa.com/en/eng-taproom/

Rua do Acucar, 83, Lisbon 1800-022, Portugal

Harbor in Belem (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Harbor in Belem (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Cerveja Lince

Lisbon microbrewery.

http://cervejalince.pt/site/index.html

Rua do Açúcar 76, 1950-009 Lisboa, Portugal

Sintra

Queijadas da Sapa

The originator of the Queijadas de Sintra pastry in 1756 and still going strong.

https://www.facebook.com/queijadasdasapa

Volta do Duche 12, Sintra 2710-631, Portugal

Évora

Pastelaria Conventual Pao de Rala

Photo: Pastelaria Conventual Pao de Rala   Facebook page

Photo: Pastelaria Conventual Pao de Rala Facebook page

Great place to get Sericaia, the local egg pudding.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pastelaria-Conventual-Pao-de-Rala/169787683079463

Rua de Cicioso no. 47, Evora 7000-658, Portugal

Coimbra

Pastelaria Venus

The place to get a Pastel de Santa Clara.

https://www.facebook.com/PastelariaVenus

Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian 131, Coimbra 3000-092, Portugal

Shopping

Mercado da Ribeira

Huge food hall with a few produce stands.

Av. 24 de Julho, 1200, Lisbon 1200-481, Portugal

Photo: corkandcompany.pt

Photo: corkandcompany.pt

Cork and Co.

Everything you can imagine made of cork and then some.

https://corkandcompany.pt/

Rua Salgadeiras 10, Lisbon 1200-396, Portugal

A Vida Portuguesa

Store offering Portuguese homegoods.

https://www.avidaportuguesa.com/

Rua Anchieta 11, Lisbon 1200-023, Portugal

Livraria Bertrand

World’s oldest bookstore still in operation.

https://www.bertrand.pt/

R. Garrett 73-75, 1200-203 Lisbon, Portugal

Casa das Velas Loreto

Candle shop has been in the same family for seven generations since it opened in 1789.

http://cazavellasloreto.com.pt/pt

Rua do Loreto 53, 1200-241 Lisboa, Portugal

Mercado do Jardim, Crafts and Design Market

Great market for one of a kind souvenirs. Open first weekend of the month.

12 Praça da Estrela, Lisboa, Lisboa, 1200-694, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Pelcor

High end cork shop with shoes, bags, and more made of cork.

https://www.pelcor.pt/

Patio do Tejolo 16, Lisbon 1250-096, Portugal

LX Market

Trendy outdoor market on Sunday.

Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103, Lisbon 1300-501, Portugal

Photo: Brent Petersen

Photo: Brent Petersen

Cortiço & Netos

Place for authentic azulejos (tiles).

https://www.corticoenetos.com/english

Calcada de S Andre 66, Lisbon 1100-022, Portugal

Wines of Portugal Tasting Room

DIY wine tasting with lots of vino on tap.

http://www.winesofportugal.info/pagina.php?codNode=132027

Terreiro do Paço, 1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal

Mercado da Baixa

Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Mercado da Baixa (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Outdoor food market busy with locals.

https://www.adbaixapombalina.pt/mercado-da-baixa.html

Praca da Figueira 10-B, Lisbon 1100-241, Portugal

Livraria Simão

Tiny, tiny bookstore only fits one person at a time.

Escadinhas de São Cristóvão, 18, 1100-511 Lisbon, Portugal

Feira da Ladra

Lots of junk at this flea market with the occasional find. Open Tuesdays and Saturdays.

http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/equipamentos/equipamento/info/feira-da-ladra

Campo de Santa Clara | Alfama, Lisbon 1100-471, Portugal

Fabrica Sant' Anna

High quality tile reproductions.

http://www.santanna.com.pt/en

Rua do Alecrim 95 97, Lisbon 1200-015, Portugal

Photo: doreytiles.pt

Photo: doreytiles.pt

d'Orey Azulejos

Authentic antique colored tiles.

http://doreytiles.pt/wp/?lang=en

Rua do Alecrim 68, 1200-213 Lisbon, Portugal

Salão Musical de Lisboa

Taking up Fado? Get your guitar here.

https://www.salaomusical.com/gb/

Largo do Carmo, Rua da Oliveira ao Carmo 2, 1200-309 Lisboa, Portugal

Mercado Biológico do Príncipe Real

Saturday farmers market. Organic produce.

http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/equipamentos/equipamento/info/feira-de-produtos-biologicos-do-principe-real

Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal

Mercado de Campo de Ourique

Smaller but still very good food hall.

https://www.facebook.com/mercadodecampodeourique

Rua Coelho da Rocha | Campo de Ourique, Lisbon 1350-075, Portugal

Places to Stay

Photo: heritageavliberdade.com

Photo: heritageavliberdade.com

Heritage Avenida Liberdade

Contemporary hotel in the Avenida da Liberdade area.

https://www.heritageavliberdade

.com/

Av. da Liberdade 28, 1250-145 Lisbon, Portugal

Figueira

Baixa hotel near the lively Placa da Figueira.

http://www.thebeautiquehotels.com/the-beautique-hotels-lisboa

Praça da Figueira 16, 1100-241 Lisbon, Portugal

Pestana CR7 Lisboa

Reasonably priced hotel in the Baixa district.

https://www.pestanacr7.com/en/hotel/pestana-cr7-lisboa

Rua do Comércio 54, 1100-150 Lisbon, Portugal

Teatro B&B

Opulent B&B with a theatrical motif.

http://www.teatrobbb.com/

Rua Trindade 36, 1200-468 Lisboa, Portugal

Photo: patio-sao-vicente-pt.book.direct

Photo: patio-sao-vicente-pt.book.direct

Patio Sao Vicente

Adorable cottage apartments.

https://patio-sao-vicente-pt.book.direct/en-gb/cottages

Telheiro de Sao Vicente 10 Portas Abcd, Lisbon 1100-620 Portugal

Torel Palace

Hotel is in two historic mansions on a nice hilltop locations.

https://www.torelboutiques.com/torel-palace-lisboa/

Rua Camara Pestana no 23, Lisbon 1150-082 Portugal