Lisbon Like a Local

Travel Advisor Liz Schmittgens in a red sweater.
Curated By

Liz Schmittgens

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  • Lisbon

  • Portugal

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Beaches

  • Beach Town

  • Local Culture

  • Outdoors

White and Orange Concrete Houses and Church Near Body of Water
Curator’s statement

Experience the hills in all their glory in the capital city of Portugal. When your hamstrings are burning, hop on the iconic yellow tram cars to explore the city and surrounding neighborhoods. Cascais is a 30-minute train from Lisbon and serves up relaxing beach vibes to balance out your city experience. Their motto is "stay for a day or a lifetime" — I dare you to resist. After spending six weeks living and working here, plus collecting recommendations from the locals, here is your off-the-beaten path guide to Lisbon!

The Fora Difference

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Lisbon

Farol Hotel

Savor breathtaking ocean views and contemporary luxury at Farol Hotel, a chic seaside retreat in Cascais, Portugal.

Fora Perks
  • Breakfast daily. 

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Wine & Books Hotels | Lisboa

Stylish boutique property nearby the Belém Tower with contemporary rooms and suites.

The Pergola - Boutique Hotel

A stylish and intimate retreat, tucked away in a serene setting, offering personalized service, chic accommodations, and a tranquil ambiance for a truly boutique hospitality experience.

Travel Advisor Liz Schmittgens in a red sweater.

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Things to do in Lisbon

Fortress in Lisbon

Walk the hills. Because at the top of every one is a big payoff. Cafés, views, parks and shopping are all to be found at the top of the next hill. If you just can't do it, there are also trams, buses and even rickshaws to help.

Portuguese School of Equestrian Art. Not being raised a horse person, the Portuguese Equestrian school, plus all of the military horses casually strolling around the neighborhood, was very novel. Our toddler loved touring the stables and the training exercises were fascinating. The trainers were also super friendly and knowledgeable.

Tour a Botanical Garden. Lisbon has the most green space I've ever experienced in a city. Take advantage of the low admissions and enjoy the serenity of the botanical gardens in Lisbon. Jardín Botánico de Ajuda and Tropical Botanical Garden, both in the Belém neighborhood, were standouts.

Visit the Lisbon Zoo. The Lisbon Zoo is the best! The animal habitats are expansive and feel very old-world. There are also many dining options, including a very cute picnic table and play area.

Visit Oceanário de Lisboa. Not to be outdone, the Aquarium is high on every local's list of recommended sights.

Play at Parque Eduardo VII. Not only does this park have a beautiful view of the city, but it also has a wonderful playground and cafe. Portugal has parenting figured out with coffee, wine and snacks never being far from the children's play area. Their cappuccino was the best I had in Lisbon.

Explore Alvito Recreational Park. Just north of the city you will find a massive National Forest, Parque Florestal de Monstanto. It includes one of our favorite parks tucked into the dense wooded area.

Book a Boat Tour. Cross under the Arco da Rua Augusta to the Ferry Terminal, Terreiro do Paço. From here you can book with any number of boat tour companies and enjoy a tour of the Tagus River.

Visit Parque Marechal Carmona. Back in Cascais, you can visit this unique park that is home to many chickens, roosters and ducks.

Shop at an Indie Bookshop. To get your reading fix, visit this bookstore where they have mastered organized chaos. Located inside the walls Fortress Nossa Senhora da Luz de Cascais, the numerous stacks of books lining every surface will consume you and invite lots of leisurely browsing.

See Boca do Inferno. These dramatic cliffs on the western side of Cascais catch the changing tide that will lock you into a calm trance, plus provide the opportunity for some excellent photos.

Places to eat & drink in Lisbon

Lisbon Like a Local - Places to eat & drink

Amélia Lisboa. When I walked in five minutes after opening time on a Saturday morning, did I get a funny look from the wait staff? Sure did. The Portuguese are not what I would call early risers. But brunch at Amélia was worth getting out of bed for and, you guessed it, walking up a few very long hills.

Restaurante Tasca da Memória. Located in the Wine & Books Hotel you will find an excellent meal awaits. Try anything with octopus on the menu.

Time Out Market. I had several of my favorite meals from the stalls in this Food Hall. Connected to a more traditional market you get the opportunity to experience classic foods as well as new takes on Portuguese and fusion cuisine.

Terraço Editorial. For a great rooftop experience. You'll have to look carefully for the entrance to this place. There is no sign out front, but only a menu and at the front of a department store with an elevator up to the top for views and an excellent meal.

Manteigaria. Skip the line down the street and instead go to this cafe for your Pastéis de Nata, the famous Portuguese pastry. The locals will tell you their custard is the best!

Nunes Real Marisqueira. Sit on the patio and enjoy the fresh seafood.

Quiosque Alegria. Our favorite park kiosk in Lisbon, across from the bright, Hotel Alegria. You'll find this small plaza to be a little oasis with large trees, a fountain and a small playground.

Esplanada do Visconde. The best park kiosk in Cascais for snacks and drinks. There are frequent pop-up markets in this park and the carousel offers lots of fun for your little ones.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Zurich Like a Local.

Travel Advisor Liz Schmittgens in a red sweater.

Travel Advisor

Liz Schmittgens

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Lisbon.