A few weeks ago, we got a good glimpse of this lovely country that is Portugal when we stayed for a few days in Coimbra and Lisbon. After telling you everything about our adventures and our favorites, it is now time for us to share our Portugal handy guide that sums up all our good addresses, good advice and tips to make the most of your stay there !
How to get around in Lisbon?
During our stay in Lisbon, we mainly moved around the city by subway as it was the easiest way for us. When you get to Lisbon, you’re gonna have to buy a rechargeable subway card at one of the desk or machine (you can use in English). You’ll have to validate it each time you’ll take the subway and then recharge it whenever necessary. The way Lisbon‘s subway works is petty simple. The directions are well indicated and there are only 4 lines so nothing to fear. If you have already experienced taking the subway in big cities like New York City or Paris, you should be able to deal with it without any trouble! However, we were pretty disappointed by the famous Tram 28. Being known worldwide as the symbol of Lisbon, the line 28 is naturally taken over by tourists. If you wanna try to have a window seat, you’ll have to take it at Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique. We did but ended up standing at the end of the tram car anyway. There weather was bad that day so there was fog on the windows and, above all, the ticket price (almost €4, $4.4!) frankly made us feel like it was more a tourist trap than a real experience. We got off the tram just a few stops later and we were better off looking at it from outside. It’s the best way to enjoy it according to us. Finally, don’t forget to put on good flat shoes if you decide to wander the city on foot: Lisbon is also called the city of seven hills for a good reason!
– 4 subway lines
– Reloadable card you have to validate each time
– Very touristic line
– About 4€ (4.6$) a trip
– Take it at Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique tram stops
– Lisbon’s nicknamed the 7-hills city
– The city center is paved
– Wear good flat shoes
Accomodation in Lisbon
When we were in Coimbra, we were staying with our friend Audrey from the French blog Bom Dia Portugal. So unfortunately we can’t tell you much about accommodation options there. However, we had the opportunity to try out the Lisbon Destination Hostel which is in Lisbon‘s city center. It was our first hostel experience and we ended up loving this place where we instantly felt right at home. The staff is young and friendly. The rooms and dorms are clean and well decorated. And, most of all, the hostel is quite unusual as it is located in the premises of the beautiful Rossio train station. It’s simple, the building is so beautiful that we passed several times by it before realizing that our hostel was there! Our stay there went very well and we loved this type of accommodation. We feel it’s the best way to meet people and sleep in an original cheap place! To learn more about our impressions about the Lisbon Destination Hostel, just click here!
Largo do Duque de Cadaval 17, 1200-160 Lisbon
Dorms start at 17.95€ ($20)
Private double rooms start at 68.40€ ($76)
Young and friendly staff
Book your stay!
Where to eat?
Before coming to Portugal, we didn’t know anything about the Portuguese cuisine. We were very curious to find out more about it and we definitely weren’t disappointed! Our foodies souls were completely satisfied and we were able to find some awesome places to eat (the whole list is in the right sidebar!). We never had a bad experience when eating at the restaurant in Portugal. The food was always fresh and delicious and the waiters were always patient, friendly and gave us good advice. The service was always excellent. We were also very pleasantly surprised by the prices in the Portuguese restaurants that are well below the ones in France. It was easy for us to eat for two for €20 (approximately $22), appetizers, coffee and wine included! Before you go to a restaurant in Portugal, there are certain things you need to know:
- Appetizers and bread are automatically served and will be charged
- The dishes are very copious and served by 1/2 portion (for 1 person) or 1 portion (for 2 persons)
- Wine is often homemade, it’ll be automatically served in a bottle or a carafe. You’ll only be charged for what you drank
- Not many places accept foreign credit cards, make sure to always have cash on you!
The best restaurant we went to in Lisbon is Aurora, a small typical restaurant. We stumbled across it while we were out with our friend Sophia we had met at the hostel. We had a great meal there. The waiter (we unfortunately forgot his name) gave us very good advice and didn’t hesitate to tell us when he realised we wanted to order too much food. He was very helpful and cheerful. We had a very nice conversation with him during which we laughed a lot and he told us about his hometown, the beautiful Odemira we absolutely have to visit according to him. The evening ended on a very warm and festive note since we stayed until closing. We even had the privilege to share a xiripiti with him, a nightcap before closing. Another great place to eat in Lisbon is the chic Carmo which was recommended to us by our friend Pedro we also met at the hostel. Again, it’s a very nice and welcoming place and that’s where we tasted the delicious sangria espumante, made with sparkling wine and delicious fresh fruits. A revelation!
Rua do Duque 9
Alfama Pasteria |
Rua da Regueira 39
Pastéis de Belém |
Rua Belém, 1300-085
Portuguese food to try
During our one-week stay in Portugal, we had the opportunity to taste many delicious traditionnal Portuguese dishes. Our definite favorite is the chanfana we tasted in Coimbra. It’s a tasty dish made of goat meat simmered in a wine sauce that was served with boiled potatoes. The meat was perfectly melting in the mouth and the sauce was absolutely divine, a must try! You also need to taste the cod (bacalhau) dishes, a specialty of Portugal. We tasted it as a gratin on our first evening at the Lisbon Destination Hostel, it was really good. Among other Portuguese dishes we tested, we also recommend you to try the pica pau (made of beef, veal or pork meat, depending on the region), migas (fried pork) or the cogumelos salteados com queijo (sautéed mushrooms with traditional goat’s cheese). We didn’t really like the francesinha though. It’s a sandwich made of veal meat, cheese and egg served covered in a tomato sauce. Obviously, the charcuterie is also to die for along with creamy goat cheese and delicious jams that you can taste at Cantinho Gourmet, in Sintra.
On the sweets front, Portugal also has plenty to try. First, the quejada which, as its name doesn’t indicate, contains no cheese but is made from condensed milk and vanilla. There are also the delicious pastéis de Belem (kind of small flan) or the Travesseiro a delicious dessert which name means “pillow”. Finally, it will be important that you stop by the Alfama Pasteria when wndering around the Alfama district. It is the only place in Lisbon where you can taste the Alfama, delicious little pastry made with almond paste. Finally, on the beverage front, we loved the ginjinha. It’s a delicious cherry liqueur which can be served in a small chocolate shot you’ll have to chew during tasting. You absolutely also have to try the Amêndoa Amarga, a refreshing almond liqueur served very cold with a little lemon. The Portuguese sometimes call it xixi de los anjos (“pee of angels”). Here’s how good it is! And of course, there is also the port and red wine that are a little less foreign for us French but still delicious!
Things to see and do
– Take a tour of the University of Coimbra and its beautiful library
– Attend the students traditionnal festival (May)
– Stroll around the botanical garden
– Enjoy the view of the Rio Mondego from the Parque do Coimbra
– Discover the Alfama district
– Check out the Tower of Bélem
– Visit the Jeronimos Monastery
– Admire the view over the city from the Miradouro Senhora Do Monte
– Taste fresh fish at Cacilhas
– Find pink street
– Attend a fado concert
– Party in the Bairro Alto
– Admire the 25 de Abril bridge (a copy of the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge)
– Visit the Igreja do Carmo, the roofless church
Bonus : take as many azulejos photos as humanly possible!
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