Situated in the Iberian Peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Tagus River, Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon is known for its seafood, wine, fado music, and classic yellow cable cars. Its hilly landscape and waterfront location make for a breathtaking cityscape, and the friendly locals make you feel right at home.
For those who want a bit more out of their honeymoon than sitting on a beach for days on end, but don’t want to be too busy, Lisbon is a wonderful option. As Europe’s westernmost capital, it’s as close to the U.S. as you can get, so getting there isn’t too big a pain. There are things to see and do, but you won’t feel overwhelmed with “must do” activities. With a population of about half a million, it’s a vibrant city with plenty of activity, without being too big to navigate. The food is delicious, the wine is plentiful, and the people are kind and welcoming. Plus, a number of magical small towns, such as Sintra and Cascais, are perfect for day trips and only a short train ride away.
Here’s your guide for how to honeymoon in The City of Seven Hills: Lisbon, Portugal.
Above: R. Garrett in Lisbon’s Baixa-Chiado neighborhood
Where to Stay
When looking for a place to stay in Lisbon, explore the Baixa-Chiado and Bairro Alto areas. They’re both close to the action, but not right in the middle of the touristy area. Both neighborhoods are full of restaurants, bars, attractions, and shopping.
If you prefer the convenience of staying in a hotel, try the Lisboa Carmo Hotel. Tucked away next to Largo Do Carmo, the hotel has comfortable rooms with great city views and friendly and helpful staff. It’s also got a charming and delicious restaurant, Maria Do Carmo Restaurante, inside. It’s in a perfect location: a few minutes walking from any sort of activity you want, but hidden away from the tourist traps.
If you’re looking for something more independent and budget-friendly, there are many apartments and rooms available on Air BnB throughout the city.
Above: Pausing for burger, a glass of wine, and people watching at Honorato Hamburgueres Artesanais Chiado. Photo by Paxton Swafford.
Where to Eat & Drink
One of the best parts of honeymooning in Lisbon is that you’ll find great food and wine around every corner. The food is generally light; a typical dinner consists of fish or meat with vegetables. There are many famed Portuguese dishes, but when in Lisboa, don’t miss bacalhau, a salted cod; pastel de nata, an egg tart pastry; and the local port wine, of course.
For a meal with a view, head up to Topo Chiado. On a patio overlooking the Santa Justa Lift, the restaurant offers a plethora of craft cocktails, local wines, and fresh, delicious food. Along with the usual dishes, they have some more unique choices as well — the guacmole is surprisingly good, for example. As it’s a bit tucked away up on a hill, the restaurant can be difficult to find. To get there, first make your way to the Carmo Archaeological Museum. When facing the front of the museum, follow the walkway around the right of the building, go down the stairs about halfway, and then walk onto the grassy patio with lawn chairs on your left. Once you cross that patio, you’ll find another set of stairs to take you up to Topo Chiado. No matter where you go in Lisbon, there will be lots of uphill walking, and this one is definitely worth the trip.
For some classic Portuguese cuisine, head over to Antonia Petiscos Portugueses. It’s a small restaurant with a fun, vintage decor and friendly staff. Try the bacalhau or the Portuguese steak and the tomato salad, with a bottle of local wine, obviously.
If you’re looking for a place for some snacks and a glass of wine, pop into Sandeman Chiado. The restaurant has a wide selection of wines from throughout Portugal and is situated in a small, picturesque square away from the main tourist area.
Across the way from Sandeman Chiado is Tapas Da Trindade. If you find yourself in need of a culinary shake up, stop in here for some traditional Spanish tapas. For another step out of the norm, grab a burger at Honorato Hamburgueres Artesanais Chiado.
A more touristy spot, but still worth a pit stop, is Cafe A Brasileira. The cafe is one of the oldest and most famous in Lisbon. Opened in the 19th century, the cafe served as a haven for local artists and writers. Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa spent a lot of time writing here, and his legacy is commemorated with a statue outside. Sitting on the patio along bustling R. Garrett is appealing, but don’t miss out on the art deco interior of the cafe.
Above: City view from São Jorge Castle
What to Do
Another great thing about honeymooning in Lisbon is there are many things to do, but you won’t feel the pressure to check off all the “must see” boxes, like you might feel in bigger cities like Paris or London. However, whether you enjoy historical sites, museums, beaches, or shopping, the Portuguese capital has something for you.
Above: Magical forest in Sintra
Perhaps the top historical site to see is São Jorge Castle. Located atop one of the high hills of Lisbon, the Moorish castle provides beautiful views of the city below. Explore the towers, learn the history in the museum exhibit, and keep an eye out for the wild peacocks that wander the property.
Other historical sites to visit include the Santa Justa Lift, a neo-gothic elevator in the city center; the Rua Augusta Arch, located in the town’s famed waterfront square; and Belém Tower, UNESCO World Heritage Site at the mouth of the Tagus River.
Above: Perusing the Berardo Collection Museum. Photo by Paxton Swafford.
For an afternoon of art, head to Berardo Collection Museum. While the museum is located outside the city center in the district of Belém, it is worth the trip. This wonderful contemporary art museum includes works from Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, and James Turrell, among many others. The collection takes you on a chronological journey of modern art, guiding you through each era while showcasing some wonderful pieces. Whether or not you are usually a fan of modern art, this museum is truly worth a visit.
Above: Street art in Lisbon
Lisbon is also a wonderful place for book lovers. The city is home to a number of famed authors, like Fernando Pessoa and José Saramago, among many others. Immerse yourself in the culture of Lisbon by perusing the town’s book shops and reading some local literature. There are many great bookstores, but Bertrand Books And Music (known as the oldest bookstore in the world) and Ferin Bookstore are both good places to start.
When in Lisbon, music is a must. Take to the streets and explore the bars, grab a drink, and soak up the fado and jazz. Start in Baixa-Chiado and wander on from there.
Above: Pena Palace in Sintra
Another great thing about Lisbon is its accessibility to day trips. There are many to choose from, but two of the best are to Sintra and Cascais.
Sintra is a fairytale town home to brightly colored castles, enchanted forests, and a quaint old town. It’s about a 45-minute train ride from Lisbon’s Rossio train station, but be prepared, it’s quite crowded with tourists, so make sure to get there early. For more tips on taking a day trip to Sintra, see our post here.
Cascais is a picturesque seaside resort town a stone’s throw from the city. Its coast is dotted with beaches, shops, and cafes. The town is about half an hour by train from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station.
Above: One of Lisbon’s classic yellow cable cars
When you’re on your honeymoon, you don’t want to stress about getting from place to place. Yet another perk of visiting Lisbon is it’s pretty easy to get around. It’s quite walkable (just full of hills, so bring your walking shoes) and there are metro, bus, and train systems, as well as those iconic yellow cable cars. Additionally, Uber is a widely used, convenient, and pretty inexpensive way to make your way around.
Lisbon is a truly lovely town and makes a perfect destination for your honeymoon. It has the perfect balance of activity and relaxation, and it’s just far enough away to feel like a real escape. Its scenic cityscape, welcoming locals, delicious food and wine, and rich culture will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.
Above: Taking in Lisbon from São Jorge Castle. Photo by Paxton Swafford.