Lisbon, Portugal Travel Guide

At the end of August, I “fled” to Portugal with one of my best college friends as I couldn’t let another summer go by without making it to Europe, where I feel oh, so lucky to have started visiting as a little girl due to growing up with a friend who was Swedish. I love the culture, the language, the water, the narrow cobble stone streets, and learning about the food in each country. I will say, I’ve never had such a hard time figuring out where to go in one country. EVERYONE I talked to had a different opinion: “Go the beach they say; Go South; Go to Porto! Don’t go to Porto! You can just go to Napa instead of the Duoro Wine Valley; There’s not much to do in Lisbon; You’ll LOVE Lisbon; Fly to Azores.” Man, I had a tough time, but after a few weeks of researching, I pulled it off. We did 3 nights in Lisbon, 3 in Comporta, and 3 in Porto. It was PERFECT. I wouldn’t change the order or any of the places or the amount of days. Here is my guide to Comporta which is the up and coming beach and surf town that I actually planned the entire trip around because of an article my always-ahead-of-the-curve travel friend, Leslie, sent me in Conde Nast Traveler. This place is blowing up, and I’d travel this far again JUST to stay at Quinta da Comporta overlooking the rice fields with the most gorgeous pool.

The best lesson I learned on this trip was really from Erin. While I was trying to make sure we didn’t miss a place, a restaurant, or a site visit in advance, she said, “Oh, we’ll figure it out when we get there.” While I heard a lot of restaurants are closed in August, I made sure to find 3 best restaurants in Lisbon and Porto and just call it a day. I never want to come home and someone ask me if I went to the best place on earth and me never have heard about it. While I’m not a big fancy, Michelin-style diner, which there are plenty of here, I found places that were casual, cheffy, great food and never looked back. We had the best time frolicking around, with one big plan each day, and enough space to figure out what to do next in the moment. Highly recommend  this— or just follow my recs below!

View of sunset from the Memmo Alfama rooftop

View from Memmo Alfama pool 


My friend William recommended the hotel Memmo Alfama which was in the Alfama neighborhood and perfectly walking distance to everything we needed it to be for. I got there a day early, had a MARVELOUS rooftop breakfast overlooking the colorful buildings and ocean across the way. This was definitely my favorite breakfast the whole trip. You’ll see bread and mini-croissant pastries everywhere. I LOVED their honeydew and kiwi and mixed nut and raisin granola. The room was a good studio size, great shower, helpful staff, and I just really enjoyed the downstairs lobby cove. It’s tucked away off the main street and really easy to walk everywhere we wanted to go, so I’d definitely stay here location wise. It’s such a nice place to come home to at night and feels safe. Although we did go through the windy streets a few times in circles through all the cobblestones. To be fair, we heard some music and trailed off our Google Maps, and all the tiles are so pretty-  sometimes we chased those. I just love seeing all the colors, the way each is randomly placed on some sides of the street, not on the others, and how some look so new and some look so old. That being said, I think walking around the streets shows you a much better variety and full of life than going to the actual Tile Museum.

Memmo Alfama breakfast

Some of the tile


Head up to the São Jorge Castle  just about a 10 minute walk away for ocean and city views. Honestly, I feel like that’s what most of our site seeing was — going to a new place to see a new gorgeous view. Make sure you bring sneakers / good walking shoes because your calves will be sore for days and everything is uphill like San Francisco over cobblestone. Make sure to look up and see all the colorful tiles on the sides of the buildings! We did not do a tuk-tuk tour which is a little car that drives you around the city — I prefer to walk!

I LOVE tinned fish and basically eat either tuna, mackerel, or smoked salmon every day for lunch at home. I was SO excited to discover that Portugal is known for all their fish shops and loaded up. I’m still going through my stack of 15 at home, but I don’t think it really matters where you buy it. There’s a fancy looking shop called Comur 1942 that has pretty tins that make great gifts and a nice experience vs. a little corner market but also try Miss Can which is by the hotel. Comur has Smoked Trout, Octopus, Roasted Codfish, Sea Bream, Swordfish, etc.

The one thing everyone agreed that we must do is go to Belem and try the famous egg custard at Pasteis de Belem. I hate to spoil this for myself and for you, but I knew by looking at it, that it was just not going to be my thing. I think because of the time of year we went (last week of August/first week of September), we didn’t have to wait in line. There is a walk up bakery and then a HUGE sit down restaurant in the very back full of beautiful tile that I never would’ve seen if I didn’t go to the bathroom. Well, like I said this was probably the best Pastel de Nata I tried, but it’s just not for me. I rather have something a little creamier, pudding like, or softer pie crust. I’m very serious when it comes to the dessert I want and yes I can appreciate it for what it is, but it’s just not something I crave. Then we walked over to the Monument To The Discoveries where we paid a few Euros to go up in the tower and see another great view! This building made of stone is really a site to see. To cross the street, you’ll walk further down and see a tunnel of stairs that goes underground to reach the other side. That was fun to figure out 😉 We then discovered the Botanical Garden since we were already in Belem and then Ubered back to Lisbon. Uber’s are super cheap!

We hired Alessandro a young Portuguese / Cuban to pick us up for a day tour to Sintra, Cascais. What’s App him to book him (+351 910 781 505). He is incredible and has a wealth of knowledge and care. His dad is Cuban and had met his Portuguese mother there and then they moved back to Portugal to raise their kids. One of the best parts was that Alessandro took us to all the local Portuguese lunch spots on our adventure vs. where the American tourists would prefer to go. We invited him to eat with us, of course, so we could learn more about the culture, enjoy the food, and it was such a highlight! Definitely plan a whole day with him to drive to Sintra, walk up the hills to the castle but skip going in there and go into the gift shop. Then walk around the grounds and do the “hike” to the top where you can see a great view of the castle and perch up by a cross for a bit. Then walk through the gardens, see some swans, and all the groomed land.  Alessandro took us to Casa Piriquita for the BEST pastry I had all trip. It’s a pillowy pastry filled with egg cream and almond which is what really makes it stand out. It’s soft, flaky, and the inside really got me. Then we ate at Restaurante Apeadeiro 1970 where all the local police, workers, and drivers were eating – even Alessandro’s dad popped in! We got a really good shrimp in yellow curry sauce then headed to Cabo da Roca. It’s a great ocean view and known for being the most Western point of Europe. We ended the day at Cascais (pronounced KASH-KI-SH). We walked along the promenade through the flowers, did some shopping, I got a fun colorful print, some candy, gelato, saw the beach. You know just a little stroll of fun! It was fun to drive around seeing all different areas, so I definitely recommend doing this if you have 2 full days of Lisbon under your belt already and make this the 3rd day.


My first night might have been my favorite meal because I met up with my friend Becca who led the yoga treat I went to in Todos Santos earlier this year and is now a local! We tried a quaint, maybe 6 outdoor table restaurant, O Velho Eurico, in the Alfama neighborhood and I tried this amazing dish— Migas. It’s not what you think! It’s a bunch of beans, greens like escarole or cabbage almost, cornbread crumble and you can get it topped with an egg. It tasted like comfort food and I couldn’t get enough of it. People come to Portugal for the fresh octopus and 2 EURO wine, but I’d definitely recommend this restaurant that is not on the map to tourists at all but feels equivalent to what would be your favorite neighborhood restaurant if you lived in the Lower East Side. There are about 12 things on their chalkboard menu for the night, and we also had tuna, codfish, green salad, etc. Don’t expect to eat here without a reservation.

DEFINITELY get a drink at Rocco before dinner at Pateo. This newish bar feels like a hot hotel bar in Italy. There are about 3 different concepts within it — a Gastrobar, Crudo Bar, and Restaurant. Walk downstairs into the breathtaking Gastrobar that has a gorgeous marble tile straight ahead that wraps around in anoval shape where guests can sit all around on lavish floral patterned bar stools atop black and white checkered floors. We cozied up on the side cushions side by side so we could watch the bartenders in their white uniforms + bowties (so official), martini glassware, while also keeping our eye on the DJ right by the door and his vinyl. There is SO much to look at here including the menu of 7 different types of Negronis such as Classic, Elderflower, Strawberry, Coffee, Cocoa. Sit over here for olives and snacks before dinner elsewhere. Whatever you do, do not miss a visit to the bathroom. The Alice in Wonderland mirrors, floral wallpaper, spiral staircase make it an event just to go down there. You’ll have to see the mosaic floors and all kinds of patters inside for yourself.

Páteo Bairro do Avillez is a restaurant that every single friend told me to visit. It’s a restaurant inside of another restaurant. It’s pretty huge. I think I like smaller more intimate spaces that feel European like O Velho Eurico. That being said, I LOVED the food. Order the best Tuna Tartare with Spicy Marinade and Chives, Octopus (honestly everyone says to get it everywhere so eventually it’s just the same thing), but my absolute favorite was the BROTHY RICE—aka Scarlet Shrimp, Crab and Clams Rice. It was so healing, warming, and feel good. Rice is my favorite savory carb and seafood is my protein of choice, so it was a win-win for me. We skipped dessert but watching the cute little girl next to us swoon over the Chocolate Cake and giggle with every bite made me actually feel like I tried it. She was so adorable I couldn’t stop watching her, AND her mama even let her order a second piece and she finished it. I love her!

From our Sintra hike

Sintra castle

Rosamar felt super modern and a place that could easily be in Austin. Filled with plants, cacti, and a little outdoor atrium area that wasn’t really outside but felt like it had a Mexican touch as does the menu. Go for the Crunchy Shrimp Tacos and Catch of the Day on the Grill which, you know I never pass up. Erin was such a fun person to dine with because I never knew which way she would steer. She likes red meat more than me and I will eat any sea creature. We both like to try a lot of things so we played tetris a few times figuring out what to order and I learned so much from her on how to compromise and not act like a meal would be my actual last meal in life 😊

Back to the Whole Fish, it came with a lemongrass emulsion, garlic crisps, crispy capers, mixed grilled veggies, avocado puree sauce, jalapeño sauce, salad, and blue corn tortillas. What a spread! We could’ve actually just only ordered this. However, dining with with Erin can be super creative as she can somehow make up a dish that isn’t exactly on the menu and the kitchen let us get it and it be AMAZING. She had her eye on that Clams Tagliatelle and asked if it was possible to order a pot of that great looking pasta minus the clam and seafood emulsion. I kid you not, these were some of the best noodles I’ve ever had. Vacation can do a funny thing to your pallete 😉 We had a fun walk home that night, passing through ice cream shops, vintages stores, listening to some musicians on the streets and galivanting through all the tiles and cobble stone streets.

Yes, I did go to the Time Out Market. It was a lovely walk and fun to look at all the food in there! I ended up getting a Rare Ahi Tuna Sandwich on this amazing brown bread bun at the outpost of Sea Me. They did have pics of an Octopus Hot Dog that intrigued me, though. While it’s fun watching what people choose to order as there is almost every cuisine and giant donuts, I’d rather sit at a cute street-side café outside and order than sit in a big enclosed market with a bunch of people.

From Hotel Memmo Alfama

From São Jorge Castle