David and I decided to celebrate our 6 year wedding anniversary in Portugal, and boy am I glad we did. So no surprises here - Portugal was freaking amazing. We spent the first few days exploring Lisbon and then took a train up to Porto and flew back to Italy from there. We loved it so much I wanted to share our 4-day itinerary in Lisbon and Porto, though I wish we had so much more time to visit (obviously).
Before I dive into the two cities themselves, you should prepare yourself by bringing comfortable walking shoes. I mean you're in Europe, so of course you'll be walking a lot. But there are a ton of hills in Portugal. I'm serious. So. Many. Hills. So do yourself a favor and leave those uncomfortable shoes at home. There's no place for them here.
Prepare your tastebuds for the glory of pastéis de nata. This Portuguese egg tart dusted in cinnamon in a flaky crust is all that's right with the world. I would definitely recommend eating them warm, especially if it's your very first time trying it. I don't love them cold, but David will gobble those things down no matter the temperature.
Last but not least, you'll be offered lots of weed. So random, right? Never in my life have I been asked so frequently if I want marijuana, but daily someone would ask us if we wanted some. As far as I know, recreational weed is illegal in Portugal which made the whole thing even sketchier as someone would come up and quietly ask us as we waited to cross the street. We kinda started to make a game out of it, so hopefully this wasn't just an us thing. Has anyone else experienced this? Anyways...
Let's go ahead and dig into the cities themselves:
Places to Eat:
Copenhagen Coffee Lab - Yes, I know it says Copenhagen but it's dang delicious so just go.
Dear Breakfast - Super cute spot for breakfast or brunch.
Pastéis de Belém - Best place to find the famous Portuguese tart. You won't be disappointed.
Time Out Market - Huge indoor market perfect for everyone's tastes and if it's raining.
Os Gazeteiros - Do yourself a favor and make a reservation here and get the wine pairings.
You can get the Lisbon card for (currently) €19 per day; however, because we like to walk so much and didn't feel the need to go inside a ton of landmarks, we decided to skip it. But it's a great tool if you plan on touring every sight you can get your hands on or plan on frequently using the public transportation. We used Uber to get to and from the airport/train station since it was so cost effective and honestly just plain easier.
P.S. If you have longer than 2 days in Lisbon then consider visiting the Pena Palace in Sintra which is about an hour drive outside of Lisbon. I haven't been there yet, but it's on my list for sure!
Activities & Sights in Lisbon:
LX Factory - Filled with an array of restaurants and retailers, it's a cool vibe to pop over and explore
Torre de Belém - We just viewed the outside and soaked in the beauty
Jerónimos Monastery - Because we visited during shoulder season, we had no issues getting same-day tickets before the monastery opened at 10am and walked right in as they opened
Miradouro da Graca - Lookout over the city, perfect for watching the sunset
Arco da Rua Augusta - Beautiful famous arch in a large plaza
The Pink Street - While it's great for night life, it's also super pretty during the day. Wait to visit until after 10am, as it's filled with trash in the early morning from the night before
Tram 28 - Famous tram that passes through beautiful parts of Lisbon
St. George's Castle - If you have time, pop on up to this historic castle
Places to Eat:
Do Norte Cafe - Cozy place to grab coffee and brunch.
Fabrica Coffee Roasters - This Lisbon based coffee roaster is in the top 50 of the world. 10 out 10 recommend stopping by here for a cup of Joe.
A Casa Guedes - Delicious sandwiches and cocktails and mouthwatering chicken.
Cervejaria Brasão Aliados - They have freaking bloomin' onion (expat win!) and a massive francesinha sandwich. Make a reservation if you can especially during the summer season.
Cantina 32 - We loved this cute dinner spot and split a steak-for-2 meal that was amazing! Again, you'll want to make a reservation here.
Porto is filled with the cutest tiled churches that you can just instantly fall in love with and some pretty incredible views filled with picturesque red rooftops. Again, you will easily walk several miles a day, but don't fear - there's a glass of port or wine for like €4 just waiting for you around every corner. Like in Lisbon, there is a Porto card, but again, we weren't going to use it enough to make it worth our while so we skipped it. Plus we really enjoy walking around a new city and seeing all the nooks and crannies we wouldn't otherwise get to see.
Fun fact about Porto: J.K. Rowling used to write around the city and pulled a lot of inspiration from the city itself for the Harry Potter series. Our first night there, we saw many college-aged students in black robes, like in Harry Potter, and it turns out it's a longstanding university tradition. It's definitely not a Harry Potter-themed event like what we initially thought.
Activities & Sights in Porto:
Sao Bento Train Station - The prettiest train station I've ever laid eyes on
Capela das Almas - Gorgeous tiled church (outside)
Clérigos Church and Tower - Panoramic views of the city for about €3
Miradouro da Vitória - Beautiful spot for a sunset
Igreja do Carmo - Insta famous blue and white tiled church
Livraria Lello - Thanks to the Harry Potter novels, this bookstore is famous! It currently has a €5 entrance fee (you can buy tickets online or from the shop around the corner), and I recommend arriving around 9am if you want to be one of the first people inside.
Church of Saint Ildefonso - Catching the church theme here?
Mercado do Bolhão - Historic market with a variety of different foods and items
Se do Porto - Surprise, surprise another gorgeous church
Dom Luis Bridge - Great sunset and different view of the city
Portugal is a gorgeous country, rich in history, charisma and filled with the cutest buildings you'll ever see. I hope this 4-day itinerary in Portugal has helped you plan your next European vacation. I'll always recommend seeing a city during "shoulder season" where you can often still catch nice weather minus all the crazy crowds and higher hotel rates. So ideally April/May or September/October would be perfect times to consider traveling to Portugal.
Honestly, if you can make it out there any time of year I say GO FOR IT! It'll be worth it, and your heart and tastebuds will be in their happy place. If you decide to make a visit over to Italy as well during your European vacation, check out these 10 things to know before traveling to Italy.