It’s hard to believe that my trip to Portugal was over a month ago considering it still feels like I got home yesterday but I’m excited to share a peek into my trip and some of my favorite spots in Lisbon & Porto. If Portugal isn’t on your travel radar, it definitely should be – it’s one of the more affordable spots in Europe I’ve been, and Lisbon is a very quick flight from the east coast. Plus the food is great, the architecture is insanely beautiful with colorful tile galore, and there’s an amazing laid back cool kind of vibe going on. My Portugal trip was my third solo trip of 2017 (more on solo travel to come soon!) and it’s definitely an easy trip to dip your toe into the waters of solo travel if you’ve ever been interested on doing a trip on your own, I never felt unsafe and everyone speaks English, making things a breeze.
Anyway, let’s get to it! Here are my favorites from my time in Lisbon and Porto between Christmas and New Year’s:
I’m a loyal Airbnb traveler and there was an amazing selection of really affordable options in both Lisbon and Porto. I always prefer to stay in Airbnb apartments vs. hotels not only because of price, but also to have a more local, authentic experience, but typically filter my Airbnb searches by “entire apartment” and then “Super Hosts” to ensure I’m going to have a great experience and also spend time reading through reviews looking for mentions of location to know I’ll be staying in a part of the city that’s centrally located and walkable to other destinations.
My trip started out with a quick stop in Lisbon, where I stayed here, then headed to Porto and spent a few days in the apartment of my dreams (seriously one of the coolest Airbnb’s ever!) before heading back to Lisbon and ending the trip in this apartment.
To Eat & Drink:
Overall the food was SO GOOD in both Lisbon and Porto and I was blown away by how affordable my meals were, even when dining at fancy restaurants and indulging in my fair share of wine. I was tempted to extend the trip just to keep my restaurant tour going as I feel like I really only scratched the surface of the dining scene in both cities but had some really incredible sea food and meals in general. Some stand outs:
- Wish Slow Coffee House: I stumbled upon this little hidden coffee spot on my first day in Lisbon and spent a few hours tucked away in a window seat with a coffee and a book, and it was absolutely heavenly. Really great coffee and a simple, but delicious brunch menu too.
- Brunch at The Mill: Typically I have low expectations when it comes to breakfast options while traveling but loved the food and vibe at The Mill. Since I was traveling solo it was easy to skip the long line for a table and grab a single spot and felt like being back in SF having a brunch of avocado toast and fresh squeezed juice.
- Copenhagen Coffee Lab: After drinking all of the Copenhagen Coffee Lab coffee while in Copenhagen last year I was excited to find out they had a location in Lisbon as well. A really trendy spot (warning: more expensive than many others) with great third world coffee.
- Time Out Market: After a glowing recommendation from my friend and ultimate foodie, Kit, I made Time Out Market one of my first stops after landing in Lisbon and was immediately OBSESSED. Food halls are such a great way to experience a variety of cuisine options in one spot and I had to do a few laps scoping out all of the vendors before committing to my dinner option, everything looked incredible!
- The Decadente: Really great, trendy dinner option with a modern twist on traditional Portuguese cuisine. My meal was great and the atmosphere was really lively – definitely go with a seafood option and give yourself time to eat slowly and sample as many things on the menu as possible.
- Combi Coffee Co.: Great coffee was a bit harder to find in Porto but Combi Coffee Co. was my SPOT. Really cute interior (because… Instagram), great coffee and a really friendly staff.
- Cantinho do Avillez: I had one of the best meals of my entire life after two other restaurants on my wish list were closed for winter break after the holidays, so it was really a third time’s the charm situation. I got lucky and was able to score a bar seat without a reservation and loved the entire meal from start to finish. Don’t miss the marinated scallops. veal risotto and hazelnut dessert and don’t be afraid to ask the staff for a wine recommendation!
- Mesa 325: Cozy cafe spot with really delicious chemex coffee and a simple but satisfying breakfast menu. I popped in on a rainy morning and enjoyed a slow start to my day with several cups of coffee and a book.
- Cremosi: You know I’m an ice cream girl so I popped into Cremosi one afternoon and not only was it adorable, but their ice cream was pretty damn good too ;) They had a ton of flavors, including some more unique options like mojito, and is the perfect option for satisfying a sweet tooth craving.
- Cantina 32: Tapas-style menu with a really great variety of items and really dark, romantic decor. Don’t miss the bread + banana butter (SO GOOD) to start, the fries to snack on, the octopus dish and the cheesecake dessert to finish.
- Casa Guedes: When looking for lunch options, Casa Guedes kept coming out on top and the line around the block with locals confirmed that I was in the right place. Their sandwiches are simple and really cheap, but SO GOOD – don’t miss the pork + cheese sandwich (the soft cheese is locally made with a really unique flavor)
To Do & See:
Both Lisbon and Porto are really walkable cities, but bring comfortable shoes and be ready for some unexpected hills and uneven cobblestone streets. Since the winter weather was really mild, I spent a lot of time exploring both cities on foot, just wandering in whatever direction looked most appealing. Some favorite sights I stumbled upon:
- Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen or Miradouro de Santa Luzia: There are some serious hills involved but both of these viewpoints offer incredible panoramic views of Lisbon and the water from above. They’re also a bit hidden and tucked away, making it the perfect quiet spot to spend some time relaxing and soaking in the scenery.
- Praça do Comércio: Lisbon’s iconic city square – wake up early and walk along the waterfront to sneak in a visit when it’s more peaceful and less crowded. I spent New Year’s Eve here which was a ton of fun with a big, free concert and huge party happening with fireworks over the water at midnight.
- Miradouro de Santa Catarina: Another amazing vantage point with a local crowd, this was my favorite spot to watch the sunset with a really great view of the water. You can grab a beer or bottle of wine at a local market and bring it with you to enjoy while you hang out, or there’s also an outdoor bar nearby as well.
- Rossio Square: Your typical gorgeous European square ;) The patterned tile-work and fountains are very picturesque and there are a lot of bars, restaurants and cafes surrounding the square for grabbing a drink or bite to eat.
- São Jorge Castle: Another amazing viewpoint in Lisbon, I tried to kick my New Year’s Eve hangover by making the trek up the hills to the castle on New Year’s Day only to sadly discover it was closed. From my research I’ve seen everyone recommends visiting around 4 PM so you can soak in the castle’s history and then have a killer view for the sunset.
- Walk the Ponte Dom Luís Bridge: With the city of Porto built onto the edge of a cliff, the Ponte Dom Luís bridge offers really stunning views of the city and really allows you to soak in the architecture built into the hillside. Bonus points for there being some amazing spots for Port tastings right on the other side!
- Capela das Almas: The ultimate spot to see Porto’s iconic blue tiles! It was incredible to see the detail and level of artistry on every tile adorning the entire exterior of the church.
- Ribeira: Porto’s old town neighborhood is full of color and charm and is a great spot to walk around and bar hop in the evening, with outdoor seating a plenty.
Have you been to Lisbon or Porto? What were some of your favorite spots?