I visited Lisbon as solo traveler in January 2019 for a total of 6 days and absolutely loved it! Lisbon is a very walkable city with friendly people who speak English very well in addition to their native language of Portuguese.
My flight to Lisbon was $350 roundtrip on Delta Airlines from Washington, D.C. (layover in New York-JFK).
I stayed at Hotel Santa Justa which is conveniently located by Rossio Square, the Santa Justa Lift, and Praca do Comercio. It’s also near public transportation (metro, trams, and a funicular).
From the airport, I arranged private transportation which cost around €16 euros. To get back to the airport, I took an Uber for €9 euros.
To get around the city, I spent most of my time walking and occasionally took Uber and the metro. I found both methods of transportation to be inexpensive compared to other places (i.e. Amsterdam). Additionally, I found all Uber drivers to be very friendly, helpful, and have very clean cars.
Another method of transportation, that I used a few times, was the tram. Trams in Lisbon are definitely worth a ride as they provide scenic views of the city. I took Tram 12 which goes to the Alfama district (part of the Inside Lisbon “Best of Lisbon” tour) and I also used the tram to get to the LX Factory. The cost for the trams are approximately €2 euros. When boarding and while on the tram, keep your items close to you as pickpockets are onboard. Pickpockets also tend to wait at the tram stop. Stay alert.
What I Did in Lisbon
When I first arrived in Lisbon, I went on a food tour with Taste of Lisboa Food Tours. This tour covered the Mouraria district which is a very authentic and well preserved neighborhood in Lisbon. When walking through the area, you will see many murals and decor relating to fado music because Mouraria is the birthplace of fado. It is also the home of the famous fado singer Maria Severa. You can find a painting, or two, of her posted in this neighborhood as well. As for the food, this tour provided the following food samples: pastéis de natas, cod fritters, cheeses, meats, samosas (veggie option available), and mackerel. For the beverages, the tour provides green wine (vinho verde), red wine, and ginja. Overall, great tour and highly recommend!
Pasteis de Belem
While Lisbon offers many pastéis de natas, I must say that the original (pastéis de Belém) are the best! The originals are the only ones that carry a different name and you can only find them at Pastéis de Belém! Unlike pastéis de natas, the originals are sweeter, richer, creamier and so delicious!!! To avoid the crowds, it us best to go early or later in the evening. If it happens to rain during your visit in Lisbon, as it did during mine, then you should definitely pay a visit to Pasteis de Belém on that day, because the line will be very short and the wait will be less than 5 minutes.
Time Out Market
Time Out Market is a huge food court with many top ranked restaurants. The market is also host to cooking courses, shows, and special events. Usually the market is very crowded during lunch time and high season (at any time of day), but since I went during the low season (and as a solo traveler) I had no trouble finding a place to sit. If you want to try the best pastéis de natas go to Manteigaria. It is delicious!
The LX Factory is a trendy hippy area of Lisbon comprised of boutique stores and restaurants. It is also home to unique street art! For food, I highly recommend Mez Cais for delicious Mexican cuisine and margaritas. I also recommend that you visit the More Than Wine store, where you can find various flavors of Portuguese chocolate with port wine flavor in a toothpaste shaped tube (but it is not toothpaste nor similar in any way). It’s amazing!!! You can spread it on fruit, breads, or eat it alone.
Best of Lisbon Tour
During my 6 days in Lisbon, I wanted to cover as much ground as possible so I decided to book a tour with Inside Lisbon called “Best of Lisbon.” This tour covers the Baxia, Chiado, and Alfama districts. The tour included sites such as Santa Justia Lift (great views from the top!), Carmo Covent, Praça do Comércio, and many more. Snacks and beverages were also provided on the tour including: white, red, or green wine, cheese, cured meats, bread, pastéis de nata, and shots of ginja.
Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril
I took a day tour with Inside Lisbon to visit Sintra and Cascais. On the way to Cascais, the guide drove through the town of Estoril. Estoril has a luxurious vibe with luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, and streets lined with palm trees that are reminiscent of Los Angeles. Estoril is well known for its casino (Casino Estoril) which served as inspiration for Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale novel.
After passing through Estoril, we headed to Cascais. Cascais is a small beach town also known for its beautiful beaches and busy marina. This is also where Cabo da Roca is located. Cabo da Roca is a jagged shoreline with high winds, a lighthouse, a cross (pictured below). It is also the most western point of Europe. Cabo da Roca was once believed to be the end of the world (hence its name). Visiting Cabo da Roca was pretty cool! The coastline is amazing and a site to see, but the winds are fierce! Make sure you are not too close to the edge when you are taking pictures or observing. They have plenty of signs up just in case you “forget.”
The final stop on this tour was Sintra. Sintra is home to the Pena Park and Pena Palace which was built in the 1800s. Definitely a must visit! The architecture is amazing, the interior is beautifully decorated and frozen in time with antique furniture and art that elegantly decorates each room. Additionally, from the top of the palace, you can get a great view of the Moorish Castle.
Beautiful area of Lisbon containing many sites such as the Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Monument to the Discoveries, and the April 25th Bridge. You must visit them all! The architecture and history behind each structure is very interesting. Belém district also sits right on the Tagus River which is a beautiful and scenic area for pictures.
The Pink Street (Calle Rosa), once gray, was the former red light district in Lisbon where sailors would visit to have a good time. Now, this street is home to bars, restaurants, and clubs. It is also a popular spot for Instagram worthy photos.
Travel Tip: If you want the infamous pink street to yourself for photos, go early in the morning. Otherwise go in the evening/late night to experience the nightlife scene.
I took the “Downtown Lisbon to Belem” bike tour with Lisbon Bike Tour. The tour takes you downhill from Parque Eduardo VII to flat roads from Praca do Comercio, past the waterfront (Tagus River), and all the way to Belem. A few of the sites I saw on this bike tour were: Belém Tower, Praça de Comércio, Monument of the Discoveries, April 25 Bridge, Christ Statute, and the Church of St. Dominic. This tour also makes a stop for coffee with a pastel de nata, and a shot of ginja! (must try). Overall it was a great tour and there were plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos.
Parque Eduardo VII
I stumbled upon this park while waiting to meet up with the Lisbon Bike Tour guide. While at the top, you will get a beautiful view of Lisbon all the way out to the ocean. There was not a crowd When I visited, there was not a crowd and I had no problems taking plenty of pictures and selfies. Very tranquil and relaxing area.
- Try the green wine!
- When you visit Santa Justia Lift, take the stairs for free! Do not pay for the elevator ride up (unless you really need it).
- Visit the Moorish Castle