It was early November and a Friday. I arrived in Lisbon at about 7 pm, just a few days before the Web Summit that was the reason for my trip. I got the whole weekend to enjoy before the event!
I had lived in Lisbon for a year, in 2012/13, but after two years of not seeing the city I could notice much change – in a positive way. I’m pleasantly surprised with the number of buildings that were completely refurbished since then, giving a cleaner face to the city.
Lisbon is an unusual city, and you never fully understand all its beauties before you see it in every season. In this case, I was in Lisbon in November, maybe the least known season, at least before the Web Summit started happening.
Imagine that you decided to come again to Lisbon to see how the fall-autumn is, and see more attractions. This guide is here for you.
1)Pink Street for the Friday night
Lisbon is known for having interesting nightlife, for both people who party hard and for introverts who just want to discover the social life and culture. From the crowds in the tiny street of Bairro Alto to the crazy atmosphere of the newly famous Pink Street – very honestly, although I used to work in a party hostel in Lisbon – I didn’t know that name! Obviously, I had known the street, but I had no information that the street was painted in pink and became commonly said to be the pink street.
Nightlife in Lisbon is a truly heritage travel because of the way how people interact, get food and drinks, have fun. First of all, Bairro Alto is a historical district with a variety of beautiful and cute buildings, mostly inhabited by students and artists, while some of them are hostels. The bars provide the historical charm of Lisbon – don’t forget that this city once served as the European entrance and exit port for the rest of the world.
There is nightlife in Lisbon for centuries, and precisely Pink Street once was the center of it. While today used by bars and discos, these buildings used to be brothels for luxury prostitution. One of the largest bars, Pensao Amor, is decorated in order to remind of the building’s glorious past.
There is a perfect place to eat near the Pink Street – the Time Out Market. That’s another place that had been unknown to me before this trip. While there is a vast array of restaurants I could recommend in the zones of Bairro Alto, Chiado, and Baixa, this place provides you an opportunity to choose from a variety of restaurants that offer typical Portuguese fish dishes, many healthy options, but also the delicious Santini ice cream.
After the Time Out the option is yours – for partying hard it’s better to stay around Pink Street, while you might want to take your way up to Bairro Alto or even enjoy the unforgettable Sao Pedro de Alcantara viewpoint.
2)A dreamy Saturday
Mornings in Lisbon are quiet and barely anything opens before 9 am or even 10 am. Don’t plan to wake up too early in the morning unless it’s you general habit or you want to take some sunrise pictures at the Praca do Comercio square or on the sides of Alfama, for instance.
The greatest ideas to do at about 10 am is to go up the Rua Augusta Arch. It costs 2.5 euros and elevator takes you almost to the top, while the rooftop terrace is only accessible by stairs, which makes it inaccessible for some people.
The views from this top are absolutely stunning, but I was even luckier than most travelers – I had an opportunity to see the Tagus side, bathed by the beautiful morning sun, while the city side was dark, rainy and – the rainbow appeared right suddenly!
After this cute morning enjoyment, I would suggest you taking the subway and meet another part of the city before the lunch time. You can opt for the great Gulbenkian Museum if you are a real art lover, but what I did that weekend was a visit to the Fronteira Palace, a noble home that is still used by the family that built it back in the XVII century.
Beautiful gardens, fountains, pieces of arts and splendid salons of this palace will conquer you. The palace is opened only in the mornings every day except Sundays and the tour is guided – if you need some help in finding the useful information about this place, and how to get there, feel free to contact me.
There is a nice alternative to this option, which might be perfect for young travelers, particularly for sports fans. The Luz stadium, owned by the football club of Benfica has an extraordinary museum. It was actually the first time I visited this kind of museum, and I plan to visit more football club museums and stadiums around Europe and write an article about them. The visit to the museum comes with a short and cute tour over the stadium when the best part is a moment of meeting live eagles, the club’s symbol.
I visited both the palace and the stadium that day, but I would even suggest you visiting only one of these attractions, particularly in the fall or winter, to save a bit of daylight for walks around historical Lisbon. If you are doing this weekend trip in the summer, both places are recommended!
Back to the so-called historical center, take a walk around Alfama, or take a tram ride on tram number 28 if haven’t done so during your previous visit. Find the viewpoint of Graca that provides a view that is slightly different that the one of the São Jorge Castle.
Feel free to get lost on the streets of Alfama. You will find your way back to reality quickly and with no pain. Notice the azulejos-covered walls, notice a lot of smaller, unexpected viewpoints.
3)Having dinner at the Museum of Beer
Have you ever listened to fado? If you are a fan Alfama is a perfect place to stay for a dinner or drinks, but I will suggest you something else.
Back to the Praca do Comercio, in the late afternoon, when the dark replaces the daylight, the atmosphere gets another magic. You might notice something called “the sexiest WC on the Earth”, and trust me this is a real set of bathrooms, restrooms, toilets, WCs or whatever you call it. The ticket costs 1 euro and you have a unique opportunity to purchase toilet paper in several colors.
After seeing this curiosity, notice another place. The “Museu da Cerveja” is the name of a restaurant, BUT it has a museum inside, the Museum of Beer. For three euros you will get a mug of craft beer and the entrance to this beautiful and cool gallery space. Having dinner in that restaurant is a good idea either. The terrace is heated up when the weather is cold, enough that sitting on the terrace feels comfortable. The excellent creative atmosphere is included along with the tasty Portuguese dishes made with innovative and creative recipes.
4) Sunday at the (West) Coast
The Portugal’s touristic slogan is highly surprising but accurate: “The Europe’s West Coast”. Fair enough, as Lisbon is the westernmost European capital.
I hope that you arranged your travel plans well so you can keep going around until the evening. There is a perfect thing to do on Sunday Morning if the weather is nice – take a trip to Cascais, by train. The trip takes around 40 minutes. And you will not regret.
All you need is to come to the Cais do Sodre station, close to the Pink Street. The trains depart every 20 minutes.
Once in Cascais, take a walk through the beautiful coastline, beaches, and historical urban patterns. Take your way to the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum – you will learn fun stories about lighthouses and their keepers while you will also enjoy the best views in Cascais.
I had lunch in Cascais, which is a very good idea. To complete this day with a perfect afternoon, I suggest you to take the train back to Lisbon but step out at the Belem station (just verify if the train you are boarding really stops on that station; fast lines do not stop there, but after each fast line, there is a regular line 20 minutes later).
Take a walk around Belem and take your opportunity to visit the 2 surprisingly fun museums at the Tagus waterfront – the Museum of Electricity and its younger sibling MAAT.
Don’t forget to go to the “Pasteis de Belem” place after it! 😀
Where to stay if you want to have these experiences?
Even though Lisbon is not that large or populous city, it’s a bit complicated in terms of relocations – the underground covers some parts, other parts are covered with tram lines. There are funiculars that might be helpful in getting up the hills. However, the logistic might still be time-consuming. If you want to have a weekend like I suggested, feel free to contact me for budget accommodation recommendations, as I have several good places in mind for you.