When my husband, Dominick, and I arrived in Lisbon, Portugal for 5 days in May 2023, we had no set plans.
This was the first week of our three-week adventure, and our goal was to acclimate to being in a new country, try delicious food and drinks, and take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city.
With no itinerary in mind, we set out to explore and discover the hidden gems of Lisbon. Along the way, we stumbled upon some tourist traps, but also found some fantastic spots that we highly recommend to anyone visiting.
Keep scrolling to see where we stayed, my recommendations for things to see and do in Lisbon, as well as some places to avoid, and how to make the most of your time in this charming city.
Tips For Visiting Lisbon
Before we dive into how we spent 5 days in Lisbon, here are some things to consider:
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk a lot – Lisbon is a hilly city with lots of narrow streets and cobblestone alleys. The best way to explore the city is on foot, but that means you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for lots of steep inclines.
- Pack light – As mentioned, Lisbon is a hilly city, and it can be challenging to drag a heavy suitcase up and down the cobblestone streets. Packing light will make it easier for you to navigate the city, plus you’ll look like less of a tourist. Check out my recent blog post on how to pack for your trip using only a carry-on!
- Don’t rent a car – The public transportation in Lisbon is ample and affordable, so there’s no need to rent a car. The city is relatively compact, and you can easily get around by Uber, bus, tram, or metro. Plus, parking and driving in the city can be a nightmare, and the narrow streets can make it difficult to navigate.
- Learn some basic Portuguese phrases – Learning how to say “hello” and “thank you” goes a long way in making connections with the locals and showing respect for their culture. Almost everyone we came in contact with spoke English but the free Google Translate app came in handy when reading menus at restaurants.
- Get euros – After leaving the airport, one of the first things you’ll want to do when you arrive in Lisbon is get some local currency. While most places in Lisbon accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. The easiest way to get euros is by using an ATM.
- Get an eSIM card for your phone – As I’m sure you know, your phone is life, especially when traveling. If you want to use your phone’s maps or any other apps, I suggest getting an eSIM to avoid expensive roaming fees. We used the Airalo app and purchased a 5 GB plan for just a few euros. It was incredibly easy to use and gave me peace of mind knowing that I had a reliable data connection while exploring a new city.
5 Days In Lisbon, Portugal
Map of my recommendations:
Days 1-3 in Lisbon:
Where we stayed: Bairro Alto Apartments
For our first three days in Lisbon, we stayed in a fantastic neighborhood that was both centrally located and not too touristy. It was the perfect home base for exploring the city and getting a taste of local life. We discovered some great restaurants and cafes in the area, and here are a few of our favorites that we highly recommend.
During our first three days in Lisbon, we didn’t have any set plans, so we spent most of our time exploring the city on foot.
Here are some of the highlights from the first leg of our trip:
Our first meal in Lisbon was at Tacos La Malquerida. It was down the street from our apartment, hidden at the end of an alley way. We are both big fans of Mexican Food and were surprised by how delicious and affordable our dinner was. We had six tacos, a quesadilla, and two beers for less than 15 euros.
Dear Breakfast was another favorite spot. It had amazing breakfast options and coffee in a cool location. We highly recommend trying their version of the huevos rancheros, as well as getting a cappuccino. There are several Dear Breakfast locations throughout Lisbon so be sure to keep an eye out!
Although we heard a lot of recommendations for LX Factory, we were a bit disappointed when we visited. It felt too touristy and was unimpressive, especially after having to navigate the train system to get there.
On the other hand, we loved Time Out Market! It’s a massive food hall with over 40 different vendors, ranging from traditional Portuguese cuisine to international dishes like sushi and burgers. With live music and dancing, the atmosphere was lively and there were plenty of seating options both indoors and outdoors. It’s a great spot to try a variety of foods and drinks in one place. Plus, it was across the street from an amazing park called Jardim do Tabaco, where we spent several afternoons relaxing and sipping on aperol spritz!
One of our favorite things to do in Lisbon was to wander along the water. The city is located along the Tagus River and the waterfront area is known as the Ribeira das Naus. There are several waterfront bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
Finally, we found an excellent pizza place called Lupita Pizzaria. They had amazing pizza with fresh ingredients. The staff was friendly, the portions were good and the prices were affordable! If you plan on visiting, make sure to get there when they open, or be prepared to wait for a table.
Days 3-5 in Lisbon
Where we stayed: Studio 59
For our last two days in Lisbon, we decided to explore a different neighborhood that felt less touristy but still had plenty to offer. Our new base was a great introduction to the city, with a great vibe and a central location that made it easy to get around on foot.
On Saturday, we visited the Féria da Ladra flea market, an open-air market that takes place every Saturday and Tuesday. The market is a treasure trove of clothes, jewelry, antiques, and other curiosities, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a unique souvenir to take home! If you plan to visit, make sure to have cash on hand!
Another highlight of our time in Lisbon was the National Pantheon, which cost 4 euros to enter. Located next to the flea market, this impressive building is one of the city’s less famous attractions, but it’s definitely worth a visit for the stunning architecture and the panoramic views of the city from the observation deck. We had the place almost to ourselves, which was a nice change from some of the more crowded tourist spots.
For the best sunset views in the city, we headed to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. This hilltop viewpoint is the highest point in Lisbon, and the climb to the top is well worth the effort. We grabbed some beers on our way up and enjoyed the stunning views as the sun slowly set over the city.
Finally, we had to mention one of our favorite restaurants in Lisbon: Josephine Bistro & Bar. We loved this place so much that we ate there twice! The prices were reasonable, the location was gorgeous (it’s situated in a picturesque square), and the staff were incredibly kind. It was the perfect way to cap off our time in this beautiful city.
Final Thoughts On Our 5 Days in Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon was an amazing city for our first international trip, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore a new culture. Despite arriving with no set plans, we had an incredible time wandering around the neighborhoods, trying new foods, and soaking in the local vibe. We always felt safe and welcomed by the locals. Not to mention, Lisbon is a relatively affordable city compared to our hometown in Phoenix, Arizona.
Lisbon was our first stop on our 3-week Portugal adventure! Next up? The sleepy costal town of Porto Covo!