Look up Best European Destination at search engines, and you’ll definitely come across Lisbon. The city recently won the World Travel Awards as Europe’s Leading City Break Destination. It’s no surprise as over the years, the Portuguese capital has constantly and steadily climbing along many people’s radar, engaging and charming as many visitors and all those who come and discover the city. For one, it’s one of Europe’s sunniest cities, offering over 300 days of sunshine per year. This abundance of light and warmth means the city makes for a perfect for holidays all year round, mild in the winter, and temperate in the summer. It doesn’t get too cold, and neither does it get too hot. There’s always the Atlantic breeze cooling down the place during the balmy months.
It’s also incredibly colourful, welcoming and rich with history. Lisbon is one of the Europe’s oldest cities, and with hills that surround it’s terra firma, giving it lots of character and dramatic views. But one thing that surprises many is to find the city to be extremely walkable. As long as you’re delighted to climb a few inclines here and there, Lisbon will rewards you with beautiful surprises in every corner. That’s why we always recommend a good walk to everyone, as you’ll discover more when you’re on the move.
Watch our latest Lisbon Video Guide for ideas on a walking route across the central districts of Lisbon, and the many delights the city has to offer!
Walk towards downtown
From our Cheese & Wine boutique hotel suites in Santos, walk along Rua da Boavista, heading towards Cais do Sodré. This street bore witness to a new wave of revitalisation with plenty of trendy shops, cafes, galleries, bars and restaurants popping up to welcome both locals and visitors. There’s Neighbourhood Café, with its blue-tiled front and bringing Aussie specialty coffee to Lisbon town. For your pastel de nata cravings, there’s A Pousadinha, the newest delicacy corner in this road. If you’re idea for lunch or dinner is Mexican, then there’s the excellent Pistola y Corazon just along the way. For shopping, there’s Plus351 store and atelier, with clothes and products that are 100% Portuguese made.
Ascensor da Bica
Just a short walk away is the famous funicular, Elevador da Bica, or also known as Ascensor da Bica. It takes you all the way up to the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, and it’s also one of the most quintessentially Lisbon spots with this furnicular that’s been climbing up and down this hill since the early 20th century. Remember to load your Viva Viagem card first before you take the funicular. We’ve written a guide on how to get around Lisbon hassle-free, which you can read here.
Praça de São Paulo
Across the road is a beloved square, Praça de Sao Paulo with its picturesque fountain and the church Igreja de São Paulo standing at the front. It’s a good place to unwind and relax in this square, with lots of shade from the trees during the summer. There’s a beautiful red kiosk here, too, where you can freshen yourself up with drinks or take a little snack.
Stroll along Lisbon waterfront
Once you’ve crossed Av. 24 de Julho and walked past the Cais do Sodré station, you’ll arrive at a favourite Lisbon hangout – the great Lisbon waterfront. A lot of people tend to flock here along this long promenade as it’s a relaxing place to be. With the sparkling Tejo and the inviting atmosphere, you’ll be drawn here to lounge and sunbathe on one of the reclining benches, or simply sit by the river bank and breathe that sea breeze, as you look out across the waters and glimpse at Cristo Rei and the Ponte 25 de Abril.
You’ll also find Ribeira das Naus with a kiosk and its stunning riverfront terrace that’s perfect to stop by for coffee and drinks. Take one of the lounge chairs and feel the absolute relaxation Lisbon can offer. It’s one of Lisbon’s most popular esplanades, and whether during daytime or sunsets, you’ll find that lots of people love staying here!
Praça do Comercio
Lisbon’s mighty square, commonly known as Terreiro do Paço. The Royal Palace used to stand among this site, but unfortunately due to the 1755 earthquake, that was destroyed. Now you bear witness the completely rebuilt square, as led by by Marquês de Pombal, along with the incredible Arco da Rua Augusta. This triumphal arch that was built to commemorate the city’s devastation. Now you can go up there for €3, and enjoy an excellent 360-degree aerial view of the square, the Tagus river and Lisbon’s downtown.
Walk along the busy Rua Augusta thoroughfare that’s full of shops, cafes, and commercial spaces. And at the end, before reaching Praça do Rossio, turn right and at the edge of Praça da Figueira, is a true Lisbon classic – Confeitaria Nacional. This confectionery café has been here since 1829, and has been serving traditional Portuguese pastries ever since.
Praça Dom Pedro IV
One of the most beautiful squares in the entire of Lisbon, Praça Dom Pedro IV, or commonly known as Rossio Square, gives off a wonderful allure with its black and white wave pattern pavement. There are two baroque fountains to be found here, and a 23-metre high column with a statue of Dom Pedro IV dominating the middle.
Close by, in this area, is a Cheese & Wine apartments that make for a glorious location and base during your stay in Lisbon, and you are stying in a most central and stylish location, right in the heart of the city.
Praça dos Restauradores
Just right next to Rossio is another majestic square, featuring an obelisk monument dedicated to the Portuguese independence from the Spanish crown. Around the square are various classical and art deco buildings, but none could match the grandeur of the pink palace, Palacio Foz.
Climb up to Lisbon’s most elegant shopping district, where you can experience the Portuguese café culture, luxury shopping, gastronomic dining and tour around some of the historic landmarks that punctuate the corners of this beautiful district. The place is full of shops, but we would recommend checking out the historical shops that’s been kept preserved throughout the years. Check out Joalharia do Carmo, with iconic Art Nouveau façade, and then Luvaria Ulisses, the only shop in Portugal dedicated to selling gloves.
Convento do Carmo
Up towards Largo do Carmo is a ruined beauty that, despite of the devastating earthquake in 1755, remained standing and enchanting visitors of Lisbon. Convento do Carmo is that Lisbon icon that have stood the test of time, a Romantic Gothic piece of architecture with arches that soar up to the sky. It’s never been rebuilt, and is kept as a reminder to the historical event. There’s also an archeological museum inside, containing tombs and many other relics from the past.
Praca Luis de Camões
This bright, beautiful square is a popular meeting point for locals and visitors, with its strategic position just at the edge of Chiado district and the Bairro Alto neighbourhood. You’ll see the yellow trams charmingly scuttling around the square, and people hang out here, sitting by the benches or the foot of the pillared statue of Portugal’s greatest poet, Luis de Camões. And just at the corner is the famous pastel de nata shop, Manteigaria. So do try and indulge yourself in some of the sweet pastries with coffee.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
There’s an excellent viewpoint here at the Santa Catarina neighbourhood, and one that’s a popular haunt for sunbathing, drinking, hanging out, or simply staring at the panoramic view of Lisbon’s waterfront and the Tagus River. It’s also called the Adamastor Viewpoint, and at the corner is a quiosque where drinks and little snacks are served. There’s also a terrace café called Noobai, with its multi-floored terrace venue, opening up to the view of the skyline. Or if you fancy something a little classier, there’s Pharmacia bar and restaurant, with an outdoor space and a garden ambiance that’s perfect for drinks. And when you’re hungry, something to eat from its delightful menu.
From Santa Catarina, walk up to Rua de O Século, past Palácio Pombal, and you’ll emerge at the Principe Real district, an upscale, trendy neighbourhood full of 19th century buildings, palaces, botanic gardens, bars and restaurants and a thriving boutique shopping scene. And right at the heart of this district is a wonderful oasis, Jardim do Príncipe Real, where residents, families and visitors enjoy the outdoor space, sitting at esplanades and just making the most of the garden. On Saturdays, there’s a vintage and organic market, where you can explore vintage treasures, bric-a-bracs, or shop for your local farm produce.
We’ve singled out this restaurant in Príncipe Real because aside from being our favourite, we also do highly recommend this Peruvian ceviche restaurant A Cevicheria by Chef Kiko. It’s been maintained with such high quality over the years, using fresh ingredients in all their dishes, packed full of flavours and delightful touches. The space is relatively small, so we recommend going there for a late lunch, and try getting your name in the door by mid-afternoon. It’s worth the wait (have a pisco sour while you queue), and trust us, you’ll discover the most amazing dishes. Try the Pure Ceviche and Sea Quinoto. You won’t regret it!
Once you’re finished your splendid lunch, head to Embaixada, the neo-Moorish palace turned shopping destination featuring stellar artisan shops selling excellent Portuguese-made products. You’ll also find restaurants and bars within.
Explore the shops, cafes and bars in Príncipe Real
This beautiful bookshop, of Rio de Janeiro origin, opened its doors recently and graces its 300m space with an incredible collection of books, perfect for book lovers everywhere.
This wine bar from actor Thiago Rodrigues has brought bossa nova vibes into the district. A great spot for drinks and lively, good tunes.
A favourite local spot that serves, well, chocolate and coffee! There’s a marvellous collection of chocolate delicacies here, originating from the family cocoa plantation in São Tome & Principe. The coffee is absolutely great, too.
A sort of Portuguese institution for toiletries and beauty products. Go inside for a range of cosmetic products derived from natural sources, packaged in such artistic, beautiful designs.
A cool, delightful store dedicated to kids clothing! It’s a new brand that excellently combines practical design and comfort for your children. No frills, uncomplicated, and just highly wearable and looks great. Your kids will love them.