Guide to Porto & Lisbon
Bierback's guide to
PORTO & LISBON
I can't wait to go back to Portugal. In 2016 I had the pleasure to visit Portugal for the first time with one of my best friends for the most spectacular wedding, the celebration of Portugal winning the European Championship in football and the Portuguese festival Super Bock Super Rock.
We started out in Porto, the town 315 kilometers north from Lisbon that actually used to be Portugal's capital city. As this is where the wedding was held, we didn't get to explore the city too much but we managed to walk across the Dom Luís I Bridge, do some last minute shopping and start our mission to find the best pastel de nata in Portugal.
After the wedding we jumped on a train down to Lisbon. The trip was very smooth and something I would highly recommend. Reaching Lisbon that late afternoon only to rush out to find a place with outdoor seating and a screen is a moment I'll never forget. The streets were empty, as the people of Lisbon had already emerged into their living rooms. We passed a staircase when overhearing someone replying "yes, upstairs" to another lost tourist asking if they had a screen.
We flew up the stairs, only to meet a terrace filled with long tables where locals and tourists were mixed up, all facing the big screen where the final had just started. The mama of the restaurant came up to us and only said "Meat or fish?". The simplicity, the friendly atmosphere and the expectations hit us like a electric shock and we were in heaven. Portugal won, and we wandered out on the streets with the biggest smiles on our faces to celebrate all night.
After such a good start to our Lisbon visit, we were on a high and stayed on it until we had to leave. Watching our friends surf, eating the best food, listening to bands we love, late night snacking on patés from the supermarket, chewing on cinnamon gum, sipping on green wine, walking up and down the cobbled streets, enjoying the very Scandi friendly climate. We never wanted it to end.
But it did, and that is why I'd like to share my top tips and what to do, see and eat in Porto and Lisbon.
1. EAT | PORTO
In Porto we stayed in the Vitória area, close to the bar street Rua das Galerias de Paris. Perfect for us as we had everything we needed within walking distance (natas, bars and shopping, that is). Breakfast in Portugal is not easy, if you're a true scandinavian looking for smoothie bowls and avocado on rye bread. But we did manage to find O Diplomata that actually had yoghurt and granola on the menu. We enjoyed the cheapest yet the tastiest lunch at Restaurant Comme Ça one day. I'd like to say it's a true local spot, and you'll only find simple but well prepared food on the menu. For Portuguese tapas and a glass of crisp white wine, head to mão Travessa.
2. DO | PORTO
You have to cross the Ponte Luís I bridge. Enjoy the view, lose your breath over the kids daring each other to jump off of it and then walk a little further. Pass the over priced restaurants next to the water and head to Graham's Port Lodge. The family owned company has been around since 1820 and I strongly recommend a guided tour of the cellars as well as a tasting session.
3. SWEET | PORTO
Pastel de natas. Or simply "natas". The custard filled baked goods that you must try when in Portugal. We decided to find t-h-e best place for natas, and therefore had 2-3 each a day, from different bakeries. Turned out the first one we tried, also was the best. Nothing could beat the nata we had at BUuh!. This cute little café has the best nata in all of Porto and Lisbon. Now you know it, and you don't have to look any further.
4. DO | LISBON
When heading to Lisbon, pack a good pair of sneakers. The best way to explore the city is on foot, even if busses and trams are easy to access as well. Depending on how much time you've got, renting a car to explore Sintra is a great idea. We visited Pena Palace as well as Quinta da Regaleira, absolute stunning buildings in breathtaking surroundings.
We didn't surf, but did watch others doing so whilst enjoying some "caracois" (we dare you to try it) at one of the restaurants on Praia Grande do Guincho.
Back in Lisbon we made sure to visit LX Factory, the creative and hip area where you'll find niche shops, tattoo parlors, hair dressers and a great selection of bars and restaurants. You should also check out the flea market at Feira da Ladra where you most certainly can make several bargains.
In 2016 the festival Super Bock Super Rock was held in Parque das Nações in Lisbon and we couldn't resist buying tickets as we got to see The National, Disclosure, Massive Attack, Young Fathers, Jamie XX, The Temper Trap, Kendrick Lamar and many more for as little as 95 Euro. As the three day festival kicked off quite late each day we could expore the city during the day and then head out to the festival by train or with an Uber. Other festivals worth checking out are Lisboa Dance Festival, NOS Alive and Rock in Rio.
5. EAT | LISBON
For some reason, I've heard rumours that the food scene in Portugal (and Lisbon) isn't that good. That is not true at all. Lisbon has a lot of great places to offer, and I honestly don't remember having a single disappointing meal. One of the best places we had dinner at was DAMAS. A place we wished we had booked a table at (but had to settle for a late night nata) was AO PÉ DA SÉ.