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Nov 8, 2022

For the Love of Lisbon

Torre of Belem, famouse landmark of Lisbon, Portugal

What to do, who to see, and what to eat in this magical city…


One of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon is widely considered the pearl of western Europe. With roots that date back to 1200 BC when the Phoenicians set up a port, this Portuguese city buzzes with history and culture. Overlooking the majestic River Tagus, its seven rolling hills are believed to be the coiled snake Calypso, heartbroken after Ulysses’ departure. Nearly every influential culture throughout history has docked at its ports, creating a city rich with classic traditions, mystical stories, and intriguing philosophies.

Lisbon is a city of many influences, from Moorish to Romanesque, from Gothic to Baroque. With over 30 museums, historic monuments, and breathtaking views, there is much to uncover in this magical place. And the excitement doesn’t end there; exciting hidden gems and delicious traditional cuisine make it a bucket-list destination for those who want to take in as much as possible.

With so much to explore, Lisbon can be a daunting undertaking. But we’ve curated everything you could possibly need to know about this mystical city of seven hills.



Historic Must-Sees

Even if the food and nightlife are more your scene, you’ll be remiss if you don’t stop by some of these consecrated moments in history.


Torre de Belém

This breathtaking tower is known the world over as an architectural marvel. Originally constructed for military purposes, it soars over the mouth of the River Tagus as it has since the Age of Discoveries in the 16th century. The tower is considered to be the most iconic monument in Lisbon. Throughout the ages, the Belém TowerLink opens in a new tab has served as the first welcomed glimpse of the city for many historic adventurers. If you only have time for one historic stop, make it this one.

Lesser-known fact: In the 19th century, the tower served as a political prison during the Liberal Wars.


 Castelo de São Jorge

St. George’s CastleLink opens in a new tab is one of the most well-known landmarks in Lisbon. Built by the Romans roughly 2,000 years ago, the great citadel sits high above the city, looking down on the old Alfama District. (The Alfama District is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, full of crooked alleys and winding staircases. Spend an afternoon here if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to stroll through the Middle Ages.) With incredible views, beautiful gardens, and historic battlements to wander, a trip to Lisbon isn’t complete without a visit. The castle housed various royal occupants throughout its storied past, and it’s impossible to walk along its towers and not feel abuzz with historic energy.  

Elevador de Santa Justa

This neo-Gothic lift was originally built in 1902 and re-built in 1933. Since Lisbon is a city on seven hills, this lift connects the Baixa and Chiado districts, which are built


Mosteiro do Jerónimos

Built to celebrate Portugal’s ‘Age of Exploration,’ the Monastery of Jerónimos is the largest religious monument in the city. Located on the banks of the Tagus River, this Manueline-style monastery is embellished with intricate stonework and tall columns. It’s an architectural feat and an inspiring reminder of the city’s enduring resilience.

Lesser-known fact: The convent wing of the monastery was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755, but the original church and cloister survived and are still standing today.


Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

Home to Portugal’s astounding art collection, the National Museum of Ancient Art houses everything from religious art to chiaroscuro, dating from the 16th to 19th centuries. With over 40,000 pieces, the museum was originally founded in 1884 to house the collections of the royal family. Most of these pieces came into public ownership during the aftermath of the Liberal Wars. The Museum of Ancient Art is the quintessential stop on your tour through Lisbon’s rich history.

Must-Try Traditional Foods

To truly understand Lisbon, you must sample an array of local flavors and dishes. With so many cultural influences, eating your way through Lisbon is a gastronomic experience of epic proportions.



Codfish is considered a Portuguese staple, specifically salted codfish. Brought to Portugal by Norwegian influences, the Portuguese have officially made it their own, with over 365 cod recipes. Some of the more popular dishes include:

-        Meia-desfeita, a cold dish made up of shredded cod, chickpeas, boiled egg, and plenty of parsley

-        Pastéis de bacalhau, codfish cakes made with a potato batter

-        Bacalhau à Bràs, one of the most popular dishes in Lisbon, made of cod, scrambled eggs, potatoes, black olives, and more parsley.


Grilled Sardines

In Lisbon, the smell of grilled sardines is the smell of the summertime. Families grill sardines right outside their doorstep, sharing with tourists and neighbors alike. Grilled sardines are the highlight of the festival honoring Lisbon’s patron saint. Eaten as a snack with bread, or as a meal with potatoes and salad, grilled sardines are a staple of a healthy Portuguese diet.

Lesser-known fact: Grilled sardines are best eaten in the summer months between June and October. Any other time they usually come frozen and aren’t nearly as tasty. A Lisbon local would never hear of it.


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 Cozido à Portuguesa

This hearty stew is a meat-lovers dream. Filled to the brim with pork, chicken, beef, and sausage, and veggies like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, this traditional dish has it all. If you can find this stew, chances are you can find its sister dish as well; Sopa de Cozida, a soup made with the stew’s broth and fresh pasta.

Lesser-known fact: Most restaurants have an entire day devoted to this dish, including all-you-can-eat options.


Peixinhos da Horta

This traditional appetizer is the vegetarian’s answer to Portuguese cuisine. These deep-fried green beans got their name because their shape resembles little fish. Made to share, this dish is the perfect first course.


 Pastéis da Nata

This flaky crust with sweet egg filling is the ultimate Portuguese dessert. Made all throughout the country, the best ones are said to be sold at the famous café Pasteis de Belém. Rumor has it that only three people currently know the original recipe. It’s one of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets.



Although the traditional dishes are tried and true, the restaurants in Lisbon offer a little bit of everything. With flavor influences from around the globe, the culinary scene is ever-evolving and always at the height of innovation. From traditional small-town cafés to trendy Michelin-starred fine-dining, Lisbon has something for every taste bud.


Attla Restaurante

Located in Alcântara, this informal restaurant was founded by chef André Fernandes, after working in kitchens all throughout Southeast Asia and Central America. This modern restaurant’s menu features tasty dishes with influences ranging from all over the world. You’ll experience tastes of Mexico, Italy, and even France. The combination of flavors is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.



This Michelin-starred restaurant prides itself on incorporating modern twists into traditional cuisine. Using only the best ingredients and freshest produce, Feitoria represents both the past and the present, colliding in the most delicious way.



Located in the Campo de Ourique neighborhood, this restaurant is every pork lover’s dream. Dedicated to Portugal’s rich history of pork cuisine, Chef Miguel Azevedo Peres lets nothing go to waste. Even the dishes without pork feature a pork fat-infused butter. You haven’t experienced Portugal until you’ve eaten at Pigmeu.


Tasca da Esquina

If tapas—known in Portugal as petiscos—are what you’re after, look no further than this casual restaurant in Campo de Ourique. Chef Vítor Sobral, known as the Father of contemporary Portuguese cuisine, takes these traditional dishes to another gastronomic level entirely. Using classic ingredients like octopus, sweet potatoes, cod, and lemon, these petiscos are sure to dazzle the taste buds and introduce brand-new flavors to your palette.

Extra Gems

With so many historical sites to visit and so much delicious cuisine to devour, it can be easy to let some of these lesser-known experiences fall to the wayside. But they are just as vital to Lisbon’s overflowing sense of culture and idiosyncrasies.


Tram 28

No trip to Lisbon is complete without a journey along its iconic Tram 28. Lisbon is known for its tram lines, similar to America’s San Francisco. This particular line works its way through the old Alfama district, weaving along cobblestone streets and beneath sites rich with history.

Lesser-known fact: These trams have been fondly referred to as Carros Americanos.


 Fado Music

Lisbon is where Fado, a form of Portuguese singing, finds its origins. Rich with poignant melancholy and longing, Fado is the result of decades of cultural and national intermingling. No need to buy expensive tickets to Fado shows; you can find it happening in most restaurants. Tasco do Chico is your best bet, with live Fado shows beginning every night around 8 pm. Grab a drink, order a few pesticos, and enjoy the show.


 Portuguese Pavements

In Lisbon, black and white patterned stones cover the sidewalks and squares. These unusual landmarks date as far back as the 15th century. These stones add charm and distinction to this magical city, as if it needed anymore. It feels like walking on a magnificent carpet. These public works of art are so uniquely Portuguese, they even mark Portuguese influence in other countries.

The Pearl of Western Europe

Portugal’s capital city is a place like no other. A cultural crossroads with influences from around the globe, visiting Lisbon feels a bit like taking a tour through world history. Gorgeous summers and mild winters make the city on seven hills a premiere destination any time of the year. Whether marveling at the vast array of architectural wonders or enjoying Fado while eating deliciously salted cod, Lisbon is a city with which to fall absolutely, irrevocably in love.


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