Girl walking through a cobblestone alley in Lisbon.

Four days I went to explore Lisbon, four days full of warm sunshine, gentle sea breezes and many fun memories that I won’t forget any time soon. Come take a stroll through this fascinating city with me in my Lisbon travel diary!

I have never been to Portugal before and to be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect. My sense of adventure and my inner explorer where brimming with expectations and anticipation! I still took some time to read a bit about Lisbon and, of course, religiously scrolled through the relevant Instagram hashtags before we departed – but the city still remained mostly a mystery to me. 

But alas, the Portuguese capital wowed me in many ways and made me marvel and dream during our four days stay. I am a big fan of dreamy port cities and Lisbon instantly enchanted me with its glowing red roofs and charming cobblestone streets!

The Hostel

Since I was travelling with a good friend and we always like to meet new people during our city trips, we decided to stay in a hostel. We ended up spending three nights in the Yes! Hostel Lisbon.

The hostel definitely fulfils its promise: It’s located in the city center, so you can reach almost all the sightseeing spots on foot. For everything a little further away or up a steep hill (of which there are many in Lisbon) there are several bus and tram stops within walking distance of the hostel. 

As for living standards, there wasn’t much to complain about: Nice rooms, comfortable beds and a clean bathroom.

What to do in Lisbon?

What surprised me a bit was just how touristy the city really is. It happened quite a few times that we seemingly were surrounded only by other tourists with no locals to be seen.

In some aspects, I have to admit this was a bit annoying. For example, we would have liked to do a tram tour in the (admittedly famous) public tram 28. But when we arrived at the bus stop in the morning, such a long queue had already formed in front of an already overcrowded tram that we ultimately decided against it.

Good on foot

But, that’s no reason to get angry! We spontaneously decided to explore the city on foot instead. The many small alleys and streets are always a beautiful sight and we stumbled upon some hidden cafés and restaurants along the way to rest our weary feet. 

Bonus points: I certainly got my daily work-out in by walking up and down the many hills and stairs in Lisbon – without even really noticing it. 😉

Castelo de São Jorge

I had one of the most impressive sightseeing moments when I visited the Castelo de São Jorge. After a short walk and a delicious breakfast (a „Portuguese“ croissant and a delicious cappuccino) we went to visit this old castle ruin and the extensive gardens around it.

In addition to the phenomenal view over the whole city, the old castle impressed me with its well-preserved ruins and exciting history. Literally every few meters, we found a great scenery for a nice picture!

Belém

On Saturday we made an excursion to Belém, about a 30 minutes train ride from the city centre. We ate the delicious Pasteis de Belém at a local food market, then went to see the famous Torre de Belém and the Mosteiro dos Jéronimos.

In addition to these sightseeing attractions, Belém offers long stretches of coastline that invite you to take a stroll by the sea, and many small, relaxed parks where you can take a break with a delicious gelato.

Bairro Alto

Most of our evenings were spent in the artistic city district of Bairro Alto. Countless cafés, bars and restaurants adorn the streets and invite you to linger. There is a suitable restaurant for every culinary taste!

Funny fact: We quickly noticed that the Portuguese are very outdoor-oriented people. Every evening the people stood outside, in front of the bars, cafés and in parks with a cool beer or some fruity cocktails. Music, cheerful conversations and laughter filled the evening streets and people generally don’t spend much time inside of the establishments. 

As a Swiss person, this took me a little time to adapt. But with the nice temperatures even at night, we soon adapted. 

Bars & Restaurants: Tips

If you want to enjoy a vintage drink in a unique bar, you should definitely stop by the Pensão Amor bar. The former guesthouse for prostitutes has been transformed into a super cool, urban and decadent bar where there’s plenty to discover – including an exciting drinks menu. 😉

View from the Park Bar, Lisbon.

Café Tati offers relaxed drinks and – starting from 8 p.m. – delicious food at fair prices. If you are in a hurry or would like to enjoy a live music show while eating, the Mercado da Ribeira Nova has everything your heart could ever desire.

For cool drinks on in even cooler rooftop bar, the Park Bar is well worth a visit. But careful: Better show up early, as the bar is always filled to the brim in the evenings, despite the well-hidden entrance.

Conclusion

Lisbon is a wonderful city for a short city trip. For those interested in culture there is a lot to discover and experience. Gourmets won’t miss out either.

If you’re easily annoyed by large groups of tourists everywhere, you might want to skip this town or look into unpopular travel times for Lisbon, though!

All pictures by me or Celine Schnorf