Travel to Lisbon

Our top five favourite things to do in Portugal's capital city

Lisbon has been a great city to start our four month European adventure. Spending two weeks here has given us the opportunity to travel slowly, spending time getting lost in Lisbon’s winding streets, going up and down the city’s never ending hills, and spending afternoons in coffee shops and parks. Here are our top five favourite things to do in Lisbon.

1. Wander the hilly streets and stumble upon a miradouro

Lisbon miradouro

Lisbon’s streets are beautiful to meander. You have to be prepared for a hill workout, but will be rewarded with lovely stone sidewalks underfoot, brightly coloured buildings, many with tiled facades, and numerous lookouts (miradouros) with views of the city and river.

There are many great viewpoints, but our favourite was Miradouro de Santa Luzia because of the beautiful gardens that accompany the view. Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara is our runner-up, and one that we were lucky enough to walk by most days on route to and from home.

2. Drink coffee and picnic in Principe Real Garden

Jardin Principe Real

When our legs need a break from Lisbon’s hills, we take a break at a coffee kiosk in one of Lisbon’s many parks. We find these permanent stands very reasonably priced, and the perfect spot to soak up the sun and watch the world go by.

Our favourite is close to our apartment, in the Principe Real Garden. We get the impression that this park is loved by its neighbourhood’s residents, not just tourists, as evidence by the card tournaments that happen in the west end of the park, and the number of children making use of the play structures. We made use of the picnic tables on the West side of the park for a picnic dinner one night.

Jardim Fialho de Almeida is our runner-up favourite park . A much quieter alternative than Principe Real, we picked up gelato from Nannarella’s down the street and enjoyed it in the tranquility of this park.

3. Spend an afternoon at Copenhagen Coffee Lab and Fabrica

Reading at Fabrica Coffee Roasters

As nice as the parks are for hanging out, Lisbon is going through a cold spell right now, and so some time inside is necessary.

The best coffee we’ve had so far in Lisbon has been at Fabrica Coffee Roasters. It’s not a very laptop friendly coffee shop, but it was a great place to spend some time reading our books. (Tim’s currently reading Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd, while I’m reading Ray Dalio’s Principles).

For working, our local haunt has been Copenhagen Coffee Lab. Their location on R. Nova da Piedade is close to home for us, laptop friendly, and has good coffee. We also spent a fair amount of time working out of A Padaria Portuguesa, a Portuguese chain that can be found all over Lisbon. Although their coffee isn’t as good, they are well-priced, have wifi, and their pao de deus (brioche with coconut topping) makes for a tasty treat!

4. Eat fresh out of the oven pasteis de nata

Pasteis de nata at Manteigaria

We have yet to have a day in Lisbon without eating pasteis de nata. These delicious Portuguese egg tart pastries are addictive, and perfect any time of the day. Our favourite place to buy them is at Manteigaria. There isn’t great seating in the store, so we usually get them to go and enjoy them at a nearby square or lookout.

5. Run along the Tagus River and in Parque Eduardo VII

Running along the Tagus river

Running in the city we encountered 1) serious hills, 2) narrow sidewalks, and 3) slippery stone sidewalks underfoot. We found it was a fun way to see new sights, but we quickly developed two favourite repeat running routes that allowed for a more stress-free run:

  1. Running along the waterfront. With a dedicated multi-use path for runners, walkers, cyclist, we were able to run uninhibited from traffic and enjoy the beautiful waterfront. We ran from our place down to Cais do Sodre, and then West to Ponte 25 de Abril. We had plans to run along the water to Belem, but unfortunately never made it that far.
  2. Running laps around Parque Eduardo VII. The park makes for a great hill workout, and with a rewarding view over the city with the Tagus river in the distance. The path climbs almost 50 metres over half a kilometre, with the full loop clocking in at 1.3km.