1. COOL, AFFORDABLE HOTELS | Last month I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend exploring Lisbon and my first trip to Portugal did not disappoint! Lisbon is a gorgeous city with so much to see and do, and tons of great hotel options. My husband Steve and I stayed at the Fontecruz Lisboa, Autograph Collection. This hotel is dark, sexy and stylish. And our room was huge by European standards. It was also very quiet, with black out shades that allowed us to sleep in a little too easily. My only complaint was that the lobby and first floor smelled like sulfur. My friend Dave chose an even more affordable hotel option just down the street called Hotel Gat Rassio. His room was tiny, but very clean, with hip decor and great common areas. Both hotels are in a fantastic location, walking distance to everything in the city center.
2. Great Restaurants | Great restaurants are strewn all over Lisbon! On Friday, we had dinner at Restaurant 100 Maneiras, and on Saturday we dinned at Largo (listed as one of the 10 Best restaurants in Lisbon by USA TODAY). Both restaurants are upscale with a fun atmosphere, delicious food, and a good selection of wine and spirits. And Largo boasts a wall adorned with fish tanks full of jellyfish! If you go make dinner reservations in advance as these places get busy, and if you don’t smoke request the non-smoking section. For lunch, eat at one of the many outdoor cafes. We chose 100% restaurant on our walk to the Port of Lisbon and it was 100% awesome to sit outside and enjoy great weather and cocktails.
3. The Lisbon Oceanarium | The Lisbon Oceanarium has the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and the grounds are beautiful! It is also one of the few aquariums in the world to house a sunfish due to their unique and demanding requirements for care. Other interesting species include two large spider crabs and two sea otters named Eusébio and Amália, named after two Portuguese contemporary cultural references.
4. Rad Graffiti Art | Lisbon is a great walking city and there is cool graffiti art around every corner. I ran from our hotel to São Jorge Castle (named as a tribute to Saint George for his bravery saving a virgin from the claws of a dragon!), and I couldn’t help but stop every few minutes to snap photos of all the amazing graffiti art. Much of Lisbon reminds me of the Wynwood Walls in Miami. You can walk for miles and just take in the pretty architecture and cool graffiti art.
5. Pastéis de Belém | I am not a huge pastry fan so I was a little skeptical, but after having my first custard tart ever at Pastéis de Belém I am now totally addicted! Located in Belém, about a 10-minute cab ride from the city center of Lisbon, this busy little bakery churns out world famous custard tarts that are well worth the wait in line.
6. You Can Walk Everywhere | As I mentioned already, Lisbon is a great walking city. You can explore much of the city on foot, which is a good way to burn off all the calories you will consume after eating too many custard tarts!
7. The Views | There are dozens of great spots to take in the views of Lisbon. São Jorge Castle has a fantastic lookout, and there are several lookout towers around the city, but my favorite spot to enjoy a beautiful view is from the rooftop bar at the Bairro Alto Hotel. We had sunset cocktails there, overlooking the water. It is a small, intimate space, so go early and put your name on the waiting list to ensure you are seated in time to watch a magical Portuguese sunset!