Spoiler alert, I went to Lisbon Portugal and had an amazing time!
This was one of those trips where I didn’t plan much aside from where we were going to stay and how I was going to get from point A to point B. Other than that, I arrived in Lisbon with a clear state of mind and had absolutely no expectations as to what I should see and do. I usually have a mental list or notes on my phone of food I want to eat, monuments I should see and experiences to try but it just didn’t happen here. For this trip I thought what was best was to plan nothing and embrace everything. And being honest, my mind was distracted with work up until that point.
To embrace all that comes your way in Lisbon and to give you a head start on doing nothing but still having a great time, I’m sharing six things I highly recommend that will leave a sweet spot in your heart for Lisbon. Pocket friendly and cultural, do these things to see what Lisbon has to offer (and it works just as well if you’re short on time in the city)!
Breakfast at the Brunch Cafe
My husband arrived in Lisbon late on a Saturday night. Deciding to just cosy up at our airbnb for the night, we made a decision to taste some of the food that Lisbon had to offer the very next morning. Enter the Brunch Cafe.
I’ve never had breakfast or brunch that took up the entire table. I felt like a glutton but was also very pleased.
Now if you’re going to this cafe on a Sunday, please do make reservations because everyone and there mom will be there and you’re likely to find a line. This happened to me so we made reservations for the next morning (Monday) and rolled up to find the place was not as booming (no lines). Any who, once you get in you enter a small but cute space with over 10 different brunch items on the menu. Choose from pancakes or classic bacon and eggs – it’s all there!
A great way to start your morning tour of Lisbon, we paid 12 euros per person for two drinks (hot and cold) plus all you see at the table in the photo! The vibe is also super relaxed. No one is rushing you out the door and the staff are very friendly and patient.
Look at all the Street Art
Nothing screams chilled that free art. Especially street art. If you like browsing the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY or Shoreditch in London, UK, Lisbon is your place to see a new style.
If you love color, you’ll love Lisbon!
A great activity to do after eating a large breakfast, literally every corner in Lisbon has something interesting to look at. Make sure you bring your walking shoes because you will be climbing up the city hills and admiring all that is before you because there is a lot. For instance if one corner you might find art that you feel belongs in a museum and on another you’ll find something that reminds you of a beautiful comic book that speaks to your being (or whatever art critic you may be harboring). Various colors, drawing style, patterns and more are all over the city. What I love about this activity is that it’s free and you can stumble across many other parts of the city without using a map. Just follow what delights your eyes and I’m sure a cool cafe or trendy shop will lure you in.
Bifana and Vhino Verde Break
After you’ve had a chance to view some cool art (and take photos of it for Instagram of course), what you should do next is head to the Bifanaria Lisboa because you will have renewed your appetite.
I’m not a Bifana expert but I will say that although it looks like a tourist trap, this place is pretty nice. The upstairs seating is well decorated and the price of the Bifana (a pork sandwich that can include cheese or chips) is not too bad. It isn’t hugely filling but it is a nice snack that will definitely top you up after you’ve burnt some energy looking at all that art.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is tasty. I had a Bifana with chips and a glass of some Portugese wine (vhino verde) which was really yum. Take a chance to chill out with some bubbly wine and just people watch from the window upstairs. I really liked this place as it was an unexpected cosy spot. You could catch your breath, plan your next move, or just sit there editing your photos to make people jealous of your vacation.
Walk the Tram 28 Route
I found out about the famous tram 28 while in Lisbon and was tempted to go on a ride. But then I looked it up online. It’s the opposite of chill. It’s so touristy in fact that you have to wait two hours online to buy a ticket and once you get on, you end up packed inside a local cuisine favorite (a sardine).
People love it because it takes you past all the bits of Lisbon city center that you hear about in the guide books but honestly, walking along the route is better. You see more and you get more space and autonomy. Also, if you are desperate for a tram ride, there are other ones that you can get on and they wont be as packed. I’m all for not being stuck in a commuter ride situation where you’re smelling someone’s armpit (not on vacation anyway).
Ride the Metro
At this point (if you’re doing this all step by step), you’re feet will be hurting so I recommend you give them a break by heading to the metro. I feel like riding the public transport is a great way to get an idea of the kinds of people that inhabit a city. You see who they are, how they interact, how clean the metro is (or maybe not), how it’s designed, etc. For a very curious person, this a great thing to do. It’s also pretty cheap so that can’t do you any wrong.
The metro in Lisbon is also very cool. Aside from the culture, you can see that the art extends from the city walls to the underground. Some cars have graffiti on them, others have colorful chairs and some stations have really unique facades.
Jump off at the Botanical Gardens
Not pricey and very peaceful, the botanical gardens is a nice place to visit. I went on a Monday and the vibe was very chill. Stroll through the gardens and look at all the flowers and trees around you. Sit down at one of the many benches and do a sketch, listen to music or even journal. My husband and I did this (he sketched and I journaled). It was a great way to take in everything while also letting out some emotions all while on vacation.
The gardens are also a wonderful backdrop to take photos. I certainly had my husband take quite a few of me because I’m always hungry for content ideas even if I don’t have a particular idea nailed down. It’s fun to just figure things out on the fly.
So there you have it! Those are my ideas to enjoy Lisbon while on a budget and without too much fuss. The people that know me know I like to enjoy and indulge but I also dislike the extra commotion that can sometimes occur when you travel. If you’re like me then these tips will certainly make your time in Lisbon even better.
Have you been to any of these places? Have you been to Lisbon? What’s the most chill or most low key thing you’ve done there but still had a lot of fun doing? Let me know!