We’ve officially been back from our trip to Europe for just under two weeks now, and it’s safe to say that Lisbon (in particular) has captured both of our hearts. Truth be told, though Portugal has always sounded appealing, it wasn’t terribly high on my list of places to visit – but that changed literally the moment we landed. The food, the winding streets, and the people are beautiful (truly. inside and out) and it was an experience we won’t soon forget.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal anytime soon, and you’re looking for some recommendations, read on as I’m sharing where we stayed (it was incredible), what we ate, where we went, and what’s still on our list for next time. Because, as turns out, 4 days in Lisbon isn’t nearly enough.
Though Lisbon is pretty magical in its own right, this trip was filled with a number of once in a lifetime experiences that we won’t soon forget. To start, my best friend, who lives in Sweden and I haven’t seen in over a year, had been visiting Portugal the week before us – as in her flight literally took off thirty minutes before ours landed – I know, terrible timing on all parts. But when we arrived at our hotel, we were greeted with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, along with a hand written journal complete with all of her Lisbon recommendations, that she had dropped off for us. It was the sweetest gesture and absolutely kicked off our trip with a bang.
In addition to the most beautiful welcome surprise, our hotel (above) truly could not have been more perfect. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at a lot of lovely places over the years, but this one, hands down, took the cake. We booked through a site called Welcome Beyond, which specializes in unique boutique hotels, and I legitimately will never book through anywhere else again. The experience from start to finish was incredible.
We stayed at Myhomeinlisbon, in the heart of one of the older parts of town. The outside is nondescript (in fact, you wouldn’t even know it existed as there’s no sign), but once you walk in you’re greeted with pure magic. It’s a tiny jewel-box of a place, with no more than 10 rooms, split amongst 5 floors, and each more beautiful than the next. Maria, the homeowner, recently renovated the space from top to bottom, and absolutely no detail was left unthought of. From design, to food, to drink and beyond, it was all completely on point. We somehow managed to get the room on the top floor, complete with a huge balcony, and the most breathtaking views.
Upon our arrival, Maria mentioned that three of her favourite Portuguese chefs would be cooking dinner in the garden that evening, and asked if we wanted to join in for a wonderful meal. Thinking it would be a unique experience, and a chance to meet fellow travellers, we graciously agreed. As it turned out, it ended up being an intimate dinner party with a few of Maria’s close friends, who were some of the most fascinating people we’ve ever had the pleasure of dining with – food journalists, famous Portuguese wine sommeliers, artists, and the like.
At first we felt a little out of our league, but everyone was so kind, warm, and welcoming. We ended up dining with them, under the stars, until the wee hours of the morning. It was an incredible evening – one of those moments in your life where you know you’re creating lifelong memories. A truly unforgettable experience.
The next day, my dad (who’s in the wine industry) had arranged an incredible day for us through some of his industry friends. We started with an incredible tour of the Berardo Museum, and finished with an intimate tour, followed by a once in a lifetime dinner on the terrace at the Bachaloha Palace. Both, exceptional in their own right, but the palace, in particular, captured my heart. At 400 years old, it has recently been lovingly restored and is simply seeping with soul and beauty. Located about half an hour outside of the city, it is well worth a visit. We actually didn’t realize that dinner had been arranged for us (which, unfortunately, isn’t something they typically do) until we arrived and ended up dining, overlooking the gardens, literally where Portuguese royalty used to dine. To say our minds were exploding would be an understatement. It was an absolutely surreal experience.
In addition to all of the other magic that seemed to be following us during our stint in Lisbon, we had the absolute pleasure of shooting our engagement photos with Branco Prata* – photographers who I have held in such high esteem, ever since my days as an editor for Style Me Pretty. Their passion and talent were evident from the moment we met, and it was such a unique experience to tour around Lisbon, seeing the best of the best, while shooting with some of the best of the best. You guys, my heart. It’s all too much.
And while we, admittedly, experienced a number of once in a lifetime opportunities on this particular leg of this trip, some of my favourite moments were undoubtedly the in betweens. Getting lost down the winding streets, ingesting more than my fair share of pastel de Natas, and finding ourselves elbow deep in some of the most insanely delicious ribs in the world, while obviously washing them down with bottles of vinho verde at a tiny hole in the wall restaurant… It was 5 days of pure and utter bliss and we will most certainly be back.
If you’ve made it this far, I just adore you. This post is as much for you as it is for me to document (and relive) these special moments of my life. I’ve also included a Coles notes version that includes all of the pertinent details below, in case you are planning a trip of your own. Plus, stay tuned in the coming weeks as I share posts about Sintra, Lagos, as well as Sweden (I know – odd combo – I’ll explain later!)
Where we stayed:
Where we ate:
Ze dos Cornos: a tiny hole in the wall, with a pretty significant (yet worthwhile) wait, where you can get the best ribs of your life
A Taberna da Rua das Flores: worth the hype and the long waits
Manteigaria: arguably the best Portuguese tarts (pastel de nata) in Lisbon. There’s a bell outside that they ring when a fresh batch comes out of the oven. I’m literally drooling as I type this
What to eat in Lisbon:
Pasteis de Bacalhau: a fabulous codfish croquette – a must
Bifana: a thin slice of BBQ’d pork on a bun (simple, yet incredibly delicious)
Pastel de nata: a traditional custard tart
Ginza: Portugese cherry liquor (quite sweet, but a local delicacy)
Port & Tonic: a fab refreshing bevvy after a long day in the sun
Vinho Verde (or green wine): a refreshing take on rosé
What we saw:
Alfama: a small, mostly pedestrian only area, filled with adorable, windy, streets
A Vida Portuguesa: the cutest shop filled with authentic Portuguese artefacts and souvenirs
Conserveira de Lisboa: another incredible shop filled with fun gifts for friends – lots of canned items in retro packages
The Berardo Museum: a family friend’s collection of incredible art spanning across centuries
Bachalhoa Palace: a 400 year old, beautifully restored, palace, gallery and vineyard all in one
What we missed (and will go back for):
Club de Fado: incredible music, great food (though a little touristy, apparently)
Ze da Mouraria: a hole in the wall restaurant with massive lines, for good reason
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos: a beautiful monastery that I’ve been told is well worth a visit
Torre de belem: A fort that we drove past a few times, but never had the chance to tour, sadly