Lisbon bleg

I'll be there for a few days, next week, plus have one free day for a day trip.  What should I do, what should I eat, and how should I think about what I am doing?

Your assistance is both requested and appreciated.


The Torre de Belém is not very imposing from afar, but the view from the top of the Golden Gate-esque bridge across the Tagus is good. The nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is also spectacular and includes the tomb of Vasco da Gama. You can get there easily on buses from the main square in Lisbon (the Praça do Comércio).

Instead of bread, many cafés and restaurants give crackers with a variety of canned spreads. (Anything seafood, especially cod, will be good.)

Alfama is the old (Moorish) district that is the real home of the fado,
although it can also be found in the Bairro Alto. The alfama is of
interest on its own, quite aside from the fado, which one must go in
the evening to see.

Sintra is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the mediterranean. You should check it out. There is a castle there made with all sorts of beautiful things of the Masons or the Templars. Definitely worth spending your day there.

The Gulbenkian is an interesting art collection - plus an interesting background. Gulbenkian was an Armenian oil magnate, expelled from the UK during WWI for his links to the Ottoman empire, who subsequently solicited bids for countries to relocate to.

Food--see,Portugal/Restaurants/Casual_Dining/ enjoyed D'Avis and Tasquinha d'Adelaine a lot, so others on the list are probably good. Some waiters in Lisbon are crooks (e.g. at Pap Acorda), so check your bill carefully for both price and items ordered. Disappointed in a couple of high end restaurants, so can't recommend anything in that price range. Liked Belem pastries as served in Belem.

Sintra is a nice day trip. If you go, Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most memorable places I have ever been, and I've been a lot of places.

Bairro Alto is a groovy area to hang out in at night

The club B.leza (yes that's how it's spelled) on Rua Conde Barrao - great place to listen to African music. Not easy to find as you have to walk through a courtyard.

Walk through the city. Am I remembering correctly? I think it was pretty nice. Cobblestoned streets. There is a 20% chance I am thinking of Oporto.

Eat fish. 8 years ago, 8 bucks got you a great fish dinner.

Pasteis de Nata, custard tarts, are to die for. Most famous are the Pasteis de Belem in the town of Belem, just north of Lisbon. (sidebar: I could start a business here in the US making just these delicacies!) Belem is worth a visit—it is a monument to Henry the Navigator and Portugal's dominance as a world power hundreds of years ago.

Just walk around Lisbon, up to the castle ruins and around the old part of the city. I was amazed by the ornate exteriors†¦ who knew you could do so much with tile!

The other thing I'd be sure to taste is Ginga, a cherry liqueur. I most enjoyed the one I had at Ginja Sem Rival (without rival) on the main street Rua das Portas de Santo Antao 7 in Lisbon (let me know if it's still there).

I hope you enjoy your time in Portugal as much as I did!

Absolutely the Pasteis, except that Belem (that last "m" is pronounced "n", as in Berlim) is due directly west, not north. Hop onto the #15 eléctrico (tram) on Praca do Comercio, by the river at the foot of Baixa.

Douglas -- that is a cool idea. CleanFeed puts out some good music. Do you know if they have a store? A performance space?

I'd highly recommend going to Sintra, Estoril and Cascais just a little outside Lisbon. As far as the food - I think the seafood was pretty good.

I second the recommendations for pasteis de nata, especially at Belem. No one seems to have pointed out that the Monastery itself is quite spectacular, built during that brief period of Portuguese wealth in the "Manuelline" style. It's a shame you won't have time to go further north to see the other examples of the style in Batalha and its environs.

Sitting outside and having pastries in any of the main squares is pleasant, and the pastries, not just the pasteis, are very different from anything I've had elsewhere, almost middle eastern in feeling.

I'd look for grilled chicken and for suckling pig (leitao); the best suckling pig is further north, but you should be able to find decent versions in Lisbon. I'd also consider going to an inexpensive beer/seafood place. I wish I could remember the name, but there's one I like a lot that you can find as follows: stand facing the opera house, turn right and take the slightly curved streeet (there will almost always be a group of African immigrants hanging out against a low wall, on the northern side of the street). About half way down the street is a rather run down place with seafood in the window, tiles on the wall inside, and a long bar. Order beer or vinho verde and have the clams alentejano (clams and pork). It brings tears to my eyes to think of it.

Lisbon, and Portugal, are among my favorite places in the world. The comments suggest I am not alone.

Ride the Electrico.
I spent an entire day riding the entire streetcar system.
I loved it.
Some of the cars were built in the 1880s.

Pasteis de Belem!!!

In fact, don't just try those. Try anything you can find in the Alfama, Belem, or Bairro Alto neighborhoods. Its all just too good.

Do me a favor too. Go see a Benfica game. It will give you an appreciation for how sports fans should act. In the US, its almost pathetic how boring the fans are. There is one on the 11th, hopefully you can make that.

Grilled fish is popular and easy to like (try octopus), drink port (cheap stuff is good), visit the fish market to see Old Lisbon. Bring a sweater. Eat in a (Portuguese word for patisserie, but offers wide selection). They know how to serve tea in Lisbon.

Do: Museu do Azulejo in Lisbon. It's something you won't probably find elsewhere. Azulejos have a long tradition in Portugal stemming from the period of Arab domination of the Iberian Peninsula.

Eat: we've been poor for a while so nothing coming out of a pig is wasted, try the Cozido à Portuguesa.

Think: the big secret about portuguese people is that we regard ourselves as masters of improvisation, therefore we take great pride in being unprepared for most events. Can you spot it ?

I also recommend Sintra, especially the Quinta da Regaleira, where you should explore the grounds and see what you can find (no need to spend much time inside the building, and it's better not to read much in advance about it).

In Lisbon, I agree that the Torre de Belem and Gulbenkian Museum are worth seeing, and it can also be worth going to the Castelo Sao Jorge to get a look at the city (including through a camera obscura).

ah! when riding the 28 tram (everybody does it and it's really a must) beware of pickpockets. we don't want nothing to happen to you.

Quinta da Regaleira - a must see.

Buy the book Jerusalem by Goncalo M Tavares. Very hard to get any of his writings in the United States, but I found him excellent.

I lived in Cascais, just outside Lisbon, for 5 years....and would second some of the above recommendations. Sintra (Castello dos Mouros and Palacio da Pena especially), Cascais, Estoril as a longish day trip. The custard tarts, yes. Instituto do Vinho de Porto (Port Wine Institute).....the real value here is that you can try several different seriously good vintage ports by the glass. More vintages more normally that you'd have to buy by hte bottle. a 63 Fonseca, or a 57 Warre's for example.

Also worth trying the white port as an aperitif. If you see quiejo de azeitonas on the starter menu try that. Remember that in Portugal tapas and little plates of ham etc before a meal are not free. Each is charged for. If you don't want it ask the waiter to take it away so as not to be charged.

Lisbon is still laid out in a rather pre industrial, alomst guild fashion. All the goldsmiths are in one street, the furniture in another etc. Given your foodie interest you'd probably like the area outside Cais de Sodre (on the metro and the train station to go to Cascais and Estoril). the fish markets, especially salted and dried fish.

One peculiarity of fish pricing. Something like dourado or robalho (sea bream and sea bass, although I can never remember which way round it is) goes up in price per kg depending on how large the fish is. A 1 kg fish is more expensive than two 500 g....much more. So the major difference between eating those at an expensive or cheap restaurant is the size of the fish....while portion size may be exactly the same. 8 euro might get you a lunch special of two smallish robalho, while 30 euro get you one large one....of roughly the same total amount.

Make sure you take the time to go to Castello Sao Jorge. There's a bar with tables outside on the battlements where you can sip a cocktail or a port and look out over the city.

If you like flea markets, try Lisbon's Campo de Santa Clara in Alfama; also visit the Mercado da Ribeira. For a day trip, I would recommend Coimbra, especially a visit to its university -- one of the oldest in Europe. Also while there if you want romantic history (Prince Pedro and Ines) with a wonderful meal, visit Quinta das Lagrimas, where legend goes King Afonso IV had his son's lover killed at the fountain in the gardens.

Lisbon is a wonderful city -- walk around in the old neighborhoods of Lisbon and take the trams -- very easy to find out where you're going. Again, don't use Spanish -- just a few Portuguese words will go a long way in making new friends.

Take the train to Sintra and enjoy the vista from the top of the Moorish Castle. Here's a decent idea of what you'll see: Sintra can be done in half a day, but you can make a full day of it too.

If you want to walk around Lisbon, pick up a Streetwise map in the States, they're plastic and accordion folded so it packs well. Walking around, hit the Alfama/Sé district, be sure to wander around Baixa-Chiado (the "blocks" down by Praça do Comercio) and walk through Castel São Jorge. Again, here's some photos of the area:

If you have the time for a day trip, take the train to Porto. The town where they make Port wine is just north of the Douro River call Vila de Nova Gaia. The caves (pronounced caav-ehs) are in the area and vinho do porto is so much cheaper than in the US. Some of them are now exporting to Costco and bottling their 10 Year Vintage though just a normal tawny is excellent and a fifth of the price you'd find here.

Also, check out the bookstores, you might find one of these:

Lastly, you may want to sign up on and see if folks are available to walk with you or give you a tour. When I visited Porto, I stayed in a hostel but met up with a local that showed me around.

My family went to Lisbon last summer, and other than the graffiti, loved it.

If you're willing to splurge for dinner, Olivier, in the Barrio Alto, has incredible food. It was my best meal in Portugal.

Grilled sardines are available everywhere, and if you don't mind the bones, they are very, very good.

There is a famous chicken place on restaurant row that truly has great chicken. Even though it is smack in the middle of a very touristy area, every local will tell you that it's the best chicken in the city. You'll see it if you go to restaurant row, or you can just ask a local and they'll know the name. I think most locals take it out, which we did while we were there.

A night of fado is a must. We went on a private fado tour - a fado dinner and then another club with fado singers. It was very interesting. He was able to interpret the songs, give information on the performers, and just provide a lot more context about what we were watching. I believe the tour guide is Amalia Rodriguez's nephew, so he was very knowledgeable.

Like many others, I really enjoyed Sintra.

Ride the Electrico.
I spent an entire day riding the entire streetcar system.
I loved it.
Some of the cars were built in the 1880s.

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