When we get the chance to travel to the UK it seems like a waste, because of the proximity and low cost of flights, not to make a quick hop over to Europe. On our last visit we spent three days in Ireland and this time we planned four days in Portugal.
We left England from the Bristol airport and took an EasyJet flight. After just three hours in the air we touched down in Lisbon and (after some confusion) met up with our Uber drive and headed for our AirBnB.
We stayed in the Alfama neighborhood. It’s the oldest part of the city and according to our Uber drivers the area has been changing a lot lately. Even with the editions of a few construction cranes, Alfama is a wonderful mix of new and old tiles, cute stores, and views of the river. There are lots of shops and restaurants at street level with apartments above. A trolly service conveniently runs right through the area. If you don’t feel like braving the crowds on the trolly, walking and Uber are easy ways to get around. Plus, Uber is really cheap in Lisbon.
But First, Seafood
We follow our host’s suggestion and took an Uber to Cervejaria Ramiro for dinner. To say Cervejaria Ramiro is a seafood restaurant would be accurate, but it would also leave a lot of the personality of the place out. The wait will be long. The other patrons will be a mix of locals and tourists. You will think, “I hope this is good!”
When your number is finally called you walk through the packed lower dining room, up tile-lined stairs, and step into a very narrow hallway filled with agile waiters deftly rushing platters of crustaceans or baskets of bread to the diners.
Our Second Day in Lisbon
The day starts with our friends Amanda and Jeremy moving into our AirBnB. Traveling with friends can be the best or the worst thing to happen on your trip so choose your companions wisely. Amanda and Jeremy are the best because we all have similar ideas on how to travel. They’re also vegan and we would have missed out on some great meals without them.
When you’re looking for vegan food in Portugal you will find lots of options in the larger cities. We relied on the app Happy Cow to point us in the right direction. The app did a good job in Lisbon and Porto, but in the smaller town of Sintra things were a little trickier. In a pinch, Indian restaurants are a good place to check for vegan options.
A Walking and Eating Tour of Lisbon
If you’re staying in Alfama, start your day at the your local café for coffee and a light breakfast. There are cafés on every street. You can also pick up water, fruit, and other snacks in any of the shops nearby.
After a morning seeing incredible sights like São Jorge Castle and Lisbon Cathedral, go to Focaccia in Giro for lunch. Focaccia in Giro started as a food truck and has grown into a little restaurant on a quiet street. The sandwiches and coffee do not disappoint! Not sure which sandwich to try? Order a mista—a traditional Portuguese ham and cheese sandwich.
After lunch walk in the direction of Rossio Square. On your way you might stop off at a little terrace bar or cafe like we did for lemonade and Super Bock.
Close to Rossio Square there’s market filled with local produce, venders selling jewelry and handicrafts, and really delicious smelling food. We had our first taste of Ginja, a local Lisbon liquor made from sour cherries. If you’re offered a taste in chocolate cup go for the chocolate!
In the afternoon you might want to get out of the sun. Head over to Embaixada, a former palace/embassy turned concept store and home to restaurants. The building is stunning with grand staircases, archways, and murals. There are floors of shops, but the outdoor garden bar with bean bag chairs and lots of shade is also tempting. We found it easy to while away several hours lounging, sipping local rosé, and snacking on potato wedges.
Before heading back to your hotel or AirBnB, visit a rooftop bar. We went to Memmo as suggested by our AirBnB host and it was gorgeous. It’s a little hard to find and maybe a bit awkward to visit as the rooftop bar of a hotel, but we settled in, had a gorgeous view of the river, and the service was very kind.
For dinner you can check out one of the local fado restaurants or maybe go for take-away vegan, Indian food from the restaurant around the corner and local wine from the stores just a few steps away from your apartment. In Portugal, the food is inexpensive and delicious. Dig in!