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For food lovers, many of the best things to do in Lisbon are centered around discovering the country’s cuisine.
Lisbon is rich in history, culture and every growing culinary reputation. And, as Portugal’s capital, the diverse regional food and wine can be explored at traditional restaurants and cafes.
Food lovers can enjoy exploring the Portuguese cuisine in the picturesque capital and nearby towns.
From unique Portuguese dishes, pasteis de nata custard tarts, soulful Fado music and day trips, the list of things to do is endless.
This food and travel guide highlights some of the best things to do in Lisbon. From the many Libson attractions to see, to Sintra and nearby sandy beaches Portuguese specialties are plentiful.
Use this Lisbon guide as a starting point to plan your culinary adventures. Lisbon is one of our favorite cities, and here’s how to make the most of your delicious stay.
Things to do in Lisbon
1- Take a Food Tour To Taste Famous Lisbon Food
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, offers a wide range of traditional Portuguese dishes from all over the country.
Exploring the delicious food in this vibrant and authentic city is one of the best things to do in Lisbon for food lovers.
With a local guide on a food tour, you’ll dive into Lisbon’s gastronomy, history and culture while exploring the diverse local neighborhoods.
While in Lisbon exploring the local food specialties, we took several food tours and were surprised by the diversity of the cuisine.
From local market visits to sampling Portugal’s iconic food and wine in historic neighborhoods gave us a deep appreciation for the cuisine.
The range of food tours in Lisbon is quite varied. You’ll find tours that include local farmers market visits. Others that are oriented towards Port and Portuguese wines.
And, for those looking for private tours, you’ll find those too. There’s nothing quite as delicious as visiting a place and “tasting the culture”.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If your travels take you to Lisbon and you want authentic local food experiences, consider taking a food tour. Here’s our review of the best 7 Lisbon food tours you want to try.
2- Savor the Best Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon and Stroll in Chiado
No trip to Lisbon would be complete without tasting the iconic Pastéis de Nata.
And, one of the best places to taste pastéis de nata is Manteigaria.
A former butter shop, this pastry shop is dedicated to the art of making exceptional pastéis de nata.
In full transparency, you can watch the preparation process right in front of you while savoring your pastel de nata.
For the best experience, time your visit with the ringing of bells from the store. This signals the arrival of hot and freshly baked pastéis de nata.
To eat pastel de nata like a local, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the warm custard pies. To go with it, order a bica, local Portuguese coffee similar to an espresso.
Manteigueira is located in the heart of Chiado, a Lisbon historic neighborhood. From there, enjoy strolling down the streets at your own pace taking in the city’s vibe.
You cannot miss A Brasileira where the Fernando Pessoa statue stands. The famous Portuguese poet was a regular at the cafe.
Chiado is famous for art galleries and cultural sites like the National Theater, one of Lisbon’s most beautiful spaces.
The Chiado museum which focuses on Portuguese contemporary art is nearby. And, Chiado in central Lisbon is a well known shopping district.
Don’t hesitate to stop for a bite at Cantinho de Avillez, the famous Portuguese chef’s contemporary restaurant.
3- Sample Traditional Portuguese Food at Time Out Market
The Time Out Market in Lisbon has become one of the most visited and talked about culinary spots in the city.
Since its opening in 2014, this food lovers market has attracted visitors and locals alike.
The canteen-like food hall has several stalls offering a variety of local Portuguese food, drinks, desserts and products.
On one end are stalls from a few Michelin-star chefs representing different regions of the country. And, all around are dozens of stalls selling regional specialties.
You can find bacalhau prepared in many ways and stands dedicated to local cured meats, Portuguese sweets and more.
In the interior of the large open room are communal tables, perfect for eating in groups.
Wines from different regions of Portugal as well as craft beers were also available in the center aisles.
The Time Out market is the perfect stop to refuel while sightseeing around Lisbon at any time of the day.
Keep in mind that lunch time can get really crowded and you might have to wait to eat. We recommend going off-hours for an enjoyable tranquil experience.
The Time Out Market is one of Lisbon’s top attractions and not to be missed by food lovers visiting Lisbon.
4- Listen To The Best Fado With Traditional Petiscos in Barrio Alto
Fado music, a symbol of Portugal, is known as the soul of Portuguese music.
The melancholic tunes and lyrical musical style of Fado are said to have originated in two Lisbon neighborhoods. The Alfama district and Bairro Alto, known for having many typical fado houses.
Originally, Fado was performed at infamous bars where the city’s poor and sailors gathered.
Today, Fado is performed at well sought-out places where Lisbon visitors can enjoy performances and a very local experience.
You will find most of the Fado venues in the core of Alfama district as well as in some parts of Bairro Alto.
Fado is typically performed in local restaurants or more touristic venues. However, space and tables are generally limited.
We enjoyed listening to Fado at Mascote da Atalaia, in the Bairro Alto neighborhood.
For an all-inclusive experience on your Lisbon Portugal visit, we recommend taking a Lisbon Fado and dinner tour.
With a local guide, you’ll wander through the narrow streets of old Lisbon where Fado was born. You will learn the history and the cultural importance of Fado.
Your night will end at a traditional Fado house where you’ll savor Portuguese food and wine while listening to nostalgic Fado music.
5- Take A Lisbon Cooking Class
One of the best things for food lovers to do in Lisbon is to take a Lisbon cooking class and learn about the cuisine.
Portuguese food including the regional cuisine are rich in gastronomic history but not well known beyond a few iconic dishes.
In a Lisbon cooking class with a local chef, you’ll learn the secrets of a Portuguese kitchen while having fun making several dishes.
If you enjoy pasteis de nata, you might as well learn to make them and replicate it at home.
Or, if you prefer to learn how to make the famous cod fish and bacalhau dishes, get hands-on and learn to prepare them the Portuguese way.
For something new and different to do in Lisbon, learn how to make traditional Portuguese food.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: In this Portuguese cooking class in Lisbon you will learn to prepare a 3-course menu using seasonal ingredients. With a chef and in a small group make a fish dish, meat recipe and dessert and enjoy amazing wine and Portuguese food.
6- Ride on Lisbon Tramways and Funiculars For City Views and Food
Lisbon, built on seven hills and along the Tagus River, has many miradors or viewpoints offering breathtaking views of the city.
Some of the most awe-inspiring miradors are Mirador de Graca or Mirador of Santa Catarina.
The yellow tramways are iconic in Lisbon and worth riding at least once or twice on your trip to Lisbon.
The Tram 28 links the neighborhoods Campo de Ourique to Graca. While Tram 15 links Lisbon city center to Belem Tower, where you can go for pastéis de Belém.
Note however, these two tram lines can get really crowded in the peak summer months.
Alternatively you can also explore the local Lisbon neighborhoods, on the other trams lines; 12, 18, 24 or 25. The cost for a one way ride on the tram is 3 €.
Linking the Lisbon Portugal lower districts to the upper parts of the city, are funiculars also called Ascensores.
The most famous and busiest is Gloria Funicular, a national monument which opened in 1885.
It connects Restauradores Square with Rua San Pedro de Alcântara in Bairro Alto. From there you have superb views of the Alfama district and the historic Lisbon castle, Sao Jorge Castle or George’s castle.
Besides the funiculars, visiting the famous Santa Justa elevator that connects Baixa district with Bairro Alto is one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
With a Lisbon Card you can get free transportation and access to top attractions in Lisbon.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: As you plan your Portugal visit, consider taking a historic tram 28 tour. Get to know this historic tram route as you go through Lisbon’s colorful neighborhoods. Enjoy panoramic views of the entire city as you learn about Portugal’s Age of Discoveries and rich history.
7- Enjoy Lanche or Afternoon Snacks at a Pasteleria The Portuguese Way
One of the pleasures of Lisbon is taking the time to sit at one of the many local cafes and pastelerias in the city.
Portuguese enjoy light snacks in the middle of the afternoon known as lanche.
At lanche, you can enjoy either a savory treat or sweet snacks depending on your mood and appetite.
The savory treats are called salgados. You will find different types of sandwiches that are cold or warm, like bifana sandwiches or savory doughy pastries filled with meat.
Sweet treats will extend beyond pastel de nata to include different cakes and pastries of multiple shapes and forms.
Two of our favorite Portuguese sweets for lanche are the salami de chocolate and bolos de arroz.
Like locals, accompany your treats with either local beer or wine. Sit back and take in the relaxed pace as you quickly adjust to the Portuguese way of life.
8- Visit Lisbon Museums and Historic Sites
To get a better appreciation for Lisbon’s cultural heritage, visit any of the museums and cultural sites the city offers.
With the Lisbon card, many of the museum entrances are free or at reduced rates. You have museums and top attractions to choose from depending on your tastes and time availability.
One of our favorite museums is the Museu dos Azulejos or National Tile Museum. This art museum is dedicated to the unique traditional ceramic tilework of Portugal dating back to the 15th Century.
Another one of our favorite attractions to visit is the impressive medieval castle Castelo De São Jorge or George’s castle located in central Lisbon.
From the towers, you have impressive panoramic views over Lisbon and the Tagus River.
Leisurely walking down the hills from the castle, you will get to the Lisbon Cathedral also known as Sé de Lisboa.
The cathedral, classified as a National monument, has survived many earthquakes since it was built in 1147.
Lisbon doesn’t lack religious sites. The Carmo Church is certainly one of the most impressive sites we visited in Lisbon.
This open-air museum is the gothic ruins of the Carmelite church which was never rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of Lisbon in 1955.
It is now an archaeological site and museum worth visiting on your Lisbon trip.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: São Jorge Castle, a historic Lisbon monument and Moorish castle is deeply intertwined with Lisbon’s history. This Lisbon food and cultural tour with a São Jorge Castle visit is a delicious way to dive into history. Explore the famous Lisbon monuments, the medieval castle and city walls in context of the local neighborhoods. Along the way, enjoy 10 food tasting with 4 delicious wines and drinks for the perfect cultural and food experience.
Popular Day Trips from Lisbon
One of the best things to do in Lisbon is to visit the nearby regions outside of the city.
Lisbon offers many amazing day trips to choose from. Explore the beautiful coastline, sample Portuguese wines or tour the natural parks.
You can find the right activity that suits your liking. For food lovers, here are some of the best day trips from Lisbon not to miss.
9- Visit Sintra A Lisbon Day Trip in Wonderland
Sintra is rightfully known as the wonderland of Portugal. It is a long-time royal destination for Portuguese kings with lush forests and magical palaces.
Only 40 mins by train from Lisbon, Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site is the perfect destination for a Lisbon day trip.
You want to visit the restored Palacio Nacional da Pena or Pena Palace. And, don’t miss the Moorish castle or Castelo dos Mouros, an ancient castle perched on the crest of the mountain.
The town of Sintra itself has an spectacular Gothic royal palace, Palacio Nacional de Sintra with massive chimneys and an impressive kitchen.
Spend time walking the cobblestone streets exploring the shops within walking distance of the town square.
Sintra is also known for its sweet Portuguese treats. The two Portuguese desserts that are authentic from Sintra are queijada de Queijada de Sintra and Travesseiro.
As you enjoy visiting this great location nearby to Lisbon, don’t miss an opportunity to savor Sintra’s sweet delights.
10- Tour Cascais A Coastal Resort Town
Cascais, by the Atlantic Ocean, is the perfect day tour from Lisbon for seafood and beach lovers.
A former fishing village, this charming town has sandy beaches and a beautiful marina.
Seafood and freshly-caught fish are served in the traditional and upscale restaurants of its historic center.
By the waterfront, you can visit the fishing harbor, the marina and the restored fort.
Before you head back to Lisbon, take your time to linger on the beautiful beaches of Praia da Conceição or Praia da Duquesa.
Where to Stay in Lisbon for Food Lovers
Finding the best place to stay in Lisbon can be quite daunting in Portugal’s capital and largest city.
To help you get the most out of your trip, we recommend the following hotels and apartments for where to stay in Lisbon for food lovers.
Hotel do Chiado in Lisbon city center
Memmo Príncipe Real in Principe Real
Be Poet Baixa Hotel in Lisbon city center
Casa das Janelas com Vista in Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto Bronze of Art Apartments in Bairro Alto
WC by The Beautique Hotels in Graca
What to Eat in Lisbon Portugal
Portugal’s signature sweet, pastel de nata, is known worldwide and is one of the things to do in Lisbon.
Known as Portuguese custard tarts, these flaky tarts with a soft, melt-in-your mouth center and caramelized surface, will beckon you from every window.
Pasteis de Nata, or pastel de nata if you are talking about them singularly, are not all made alike.
The most famous place to eat pastéis de nata in Lisbon is the district of Santa Maria de Belém, and specifically the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém.
Invented in the 19th century by the monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, these are the only pastries that can be called pastéis de Belém.
Everywhere else, they go by pasteis de nata. While in Belem, take the time to stop by at the Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Petiscos, Grilled Sardines and Seafood
You are probably already familiar with tapas, small snacks or appetizers, which are very popular in Spain.
In Portugal, petiscos are the equivalent of tapas. These are little bites to get your appetite going.
Sardines are some of the most popular and traditional petiscos.
You can have them grilled or in colorful Portuguese sardine cans or conservas.
Simply top your slice of Portuguese bread with sardines or other seafood delights. Wash it down with a refreshing glass of vinho verde or Portuguese green wine.
Savor Bacalhau or Codfish Cooked in Many Ways
The Portuguese are obsessed with bacalhau or codfish and it is the one dish that screams Portugal.
They say there are over 365 different ways of cooking bacalhau, one for each day of the week.
While in Portugal, try bacalhau and find your favorite preparation style.
Our favorite is Bacalhau à Brás. This is a wonderful combination of bacalhau pieces mixed together with potatoes, eggs, onions, olives, chopped parsley and garlic.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Pataniscas de Bacalhau Recipe: Easy to Make Portuguese Cod Fish Fritters
Best Restaurants in Lisbon
Lisbon offers a wide range of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
From Michelin-star restaurants to neighborhood restaurants and cafes, there are many options for food travelers at every budget level.
One of our favorite things to do in Lisbon is to dive into the Lisbon flavors at traditional Portuguese restaurants.
Here are our recommendations for some of the best traditional places to eat local Lisbon specialties.
Carvoaria Jacto – Portuguese Steakhouse
Tucked in an unpretentious street in Penha de Franca, a few blocks from Intendente metro station, you will find Carvoaria Jacto.
Join the local and lively crowd in the large open air restaurant dining room with friendly and helpful staff.
This local Portuguese steakhouse, very popular with locals, is known for its excellent meat prepared the Portuguese way.
Meat lovers won’t be disappointed. You can choose from different cuts of beef, lamb or pork.
Everything is served with excellent Portuguese red wines at reasonable prices.
You’ll also find a wide selection of seafood dishes, including the famous bacalhau, if meat isn’t an option for you.
With that comes a complimentary fresh and delicious salad buffet.
Be sure to reserve room for the enticing dessert selection as you close on your excellent Portuguese dining experience at Carvoaria Jacto.
Madragoa Cafe – Classic Food in Lisbon
Madragoa Cafe is located in the charming and artsy Santos neighborhood.
You will be greeted in the warm and cozy environment by Cristina, the restaurant owner. The dining room is intimate with a classic and vintage decor.
The menu features an interesting selection of Portuguese regional dishes as well as Cristina’s homestyle cuisine.
The dishes are prepared fresh and made to order. Cristina is always available to guide you if you are unsure of what dish to have.
Don’t forget to leave some room for the excellent traditional Portuguese dessert.
This is the perfect place to have a taste of Portugal’s regional foods in a quaint and off the beaten path neighborhood.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique Where Locals Eat
Campo de Ourique is a neighborhood known to locals as a foodie haven. This is where new restaurants and concepts are tested and launched.
In the core of the neighborhood is the modern farmers market, Mercado de Campo de Ourique.
During the day, you will find a variety of food vendors, selling fresh produce, fresh fish, cheese and meats.
It is also the perfect place to come for lunch, an afternoon snack or even dinner.
In addition to fresh produce, find food stalls serving tapas or petiscos, Portuguese dishes, salads, drinks and more.
The quality of the food is excellent and this market is a great place to sample regional food specialties in a casual environment.
Lisbon Travel Tips
How To Get Around
Lisbon is well served by local transportation. In addition to the historic trams and funiculars, Lisbon also has an underground network with the metro system.
You can also use the bus system to provide access to areas not served by the metro.
The public transportation network is pretty safe and clean. And we never found the buses or metro too crowded even during the rush hours.
We highly recommend exploring Lisbon neighborhoods by foot. This is the best way to navigate the meandrous streets and narrow stairs.
To use public transportation, you can purchase a rechargeable card called Viva Viagem.
Purchased at any of the metro stations, the card costs 0.50 € and you can get a single ride or day pass.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the best ways to get around Lisbon is to use a Lisbon Card. This card offers free transportation around the city and free access or discounts to several museums and cultural attractions. You can choose a Lisbon Card with transport, based on the number of days you are staying in the city.
Lisbon Safety for Women Travelers
Lisbon is one of the safest capitals in Europe and crime is relatively low. We never felt unsafe in the city even at late hours or while visiting neighborhoods outside the city center.
However, you do want to be vigilant and watch out for petty theft like pickpocketing.
On the trams, particularly Tram 25 and Tram 28, you want to carefully hold onto your bags and wallets. While on the beach, don’t leave your personal belongings unattended.
Watch out for drug dealers at all times of the day. Rosemary was approached by dodgy dealers in the middle of the afternoon at the very frequented Praça do Comércio. Simply ignore them and walk away.
In general, Lisbon is safe for female travelers, solo travelers or older visitors.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Whenever you travel, you want to make sure you are covered just in case anything goes wrong. Even if you are only gone for a short trip you should always travel with insurance. We use and recommend Allianz travel insurance which is an affordable option for US residents. Another great option we also recommend is World Nomads travel insurance which covers residents from all over the world.
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Claire is a culinary explorer who travels the world in search of the best local foods. She is always looking for her next culinary adventure to bring you the best bites while exploring new places.