Lisbon Portugal

24 hours in Lisbon: A food lover’s guide, Portugal

If you’ve never been to Lisbon before, you’re in for a treat. Fertile soils, easy access to the sea and an irrepressible sweet tooth have defined Portugal’s culinary culture and brought it a good deal of acclaim. But while classics like bacalhau (dried salt cod) and pasties de nata (custard tarts) never go out of fashion, there are plenty of other dishes here to tempt your appetite.

24 Hours in Lisbon: A Food lovers guide

If you’ve only a day or two in the city, make sure you try the following:

1. Custard tarts at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem

Lisbon’s most famous patisserie, Antiga Confeitaria de Belem is ideal for laying down some much-needed energy reserves ahead of a busy day of sightseeing. A hop skip away from Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Belem’s famous pasties de nata (sweet filo pastries filled with custard) have been made, baked and sold here since 1837.

When Portugal’s liberal revolution forced the monastery to close in 1834, the monks banked on the success of their recipe (to this day a closely-guarded secret) to fund their livelihoods. A local sugar cane refinery provided the sugar and the rest, as they say, is history.

Pasteis de nata are best enjoyed the traditional way – straight from the oven, dusted down with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar and chased down with a cup of strong black coffee. At roughly €1 each, you’ll be tempted to scarf down more than just the one!

Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, 84-92 Rua de Belem,     

pastéis de belém shopfront
Photo By: Mel Butler

2. Grilled salt cod at Café a Brasileira

Many of Lisbon’s best restaurants offer great lunchtime deals, especially if you opt for the menu do dia (fixed menu) or prato do dia (daily special). If you’re shopping or sightseeing around Chiado, Café a Brasileira (established in 1905) is a unique place to stop by, an old world atmosphere reflected in its gleaming art deco fittings.

Wanting to try a typical Portuguese dish, I honed in on the grilled bacalhau (dried salt cod) and wasn’t dissapointed. It came out glistening with olive oil and butter, served with onions, peppers, garlic spinach and roast potatoes. The portions were so large I could barely move when I got up from the table!

NB: Restaurants in Lisbon will often serve you couvert (appertisers) e.g. bread, cheese and butter, before your meal. Anything you eat is added on to the bill so send these away if you’re not too hungry (this is where I got burned…).

Café a Brasileira, 120 Rua Garrett

 Café a Brasileira sign above the entrance
Photo By: Alexandra Williams

3. Sweet pastries in Sintra

Just half an hour from Lisbon by train, Sintra is great for a day trip. And while most visitors come to explore the town’s exotic gardens and fairytale palaces, its famous bakeries are worth a look-in too.

Marching up the hill towards the National Palace, you’ll come across Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa, a small bakery that’s been cranking out queijadas (crisp pastry shells filled with a mixture of fresh cheese, sugar, flour, and cinnamon) since 1756. These bite-sized cheesecakes were a hit with Portugal’s royal and aristocratic families and are also sold at Café Saudade opposite the train station, whose marbled floors and frescoed ceiling bear more than a hint of royal opulence.

Take a food journey around the world

Sintra’s second-most famous sweet are travesseiro – flaky puff pastries filled with a sweet, jam-like filling made from ground almonds and egg yolks. You can try them at Piriquita on Rua das Padarias or, if that’s closed, a few steps further down at Piriquita II.

Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa, 12 Alameda Volta do Duche
Café Saudade, 6 Avenida Doutor Miguel Bombarda,  

Piriquita, 1-5 Rua das Padarias
Piriquita II, 18 Rua das Padarias

Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa sign
Photo By: Alexandra Williams

4. Wine tasting at ViniPortugal

Keen to try out a whole host of Portuguese wines without the rigmarole of booking a wine tasting class? ViniPortugal allows you to drop by at short notice, either on your own or in a group. The procedure is simple: buy an enocard for €2, grab a glass and taste as many tipples as your credit allows. There are about 12 different wines to choose from, ranging from full-bodied Douros to light Vinho Verdes, as well as port and Madeira.

The tasting rooms are tucked away beneath the 18th-century arcades on the western side of Praca do Comercio. This grand square was dominated by Lisbon’s Royal Palace which, unfortunately, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant place to stroll and take pictures of the huge equestrian statue of King Joseph “The Reformer” facing the Tagus river.

ViniPortugal, Praca do Comercio, 

Wall of wine on display
Photo By: Mel Butler

5. Wine and tapas at Bebedouro

Situated just off Rua da Prata, Bebedouro is one of those hole-in-the-wall type places that’s overlooked at first. Stepping inside, however, is like entering a wine shop, with a huge array of bottles lining the walls. Scattered tables, dim lighting and a cosy outdoor terrace reveal it for what it actually is – a small but stylish boutique wine bar that specialises in wines from Portugal’s fertile Douro valley and serves excellent pesticos (tapas).

The owners make a point of working with lesser-known wine producers so, if you’re lost on what to try, ask for advice; or, if you’re not a fan of the grape, try an artisan beer or port cocktail instead. The waiter recommended I start dinner with a platter of regional meats or cheeses before moving on to the tapas (tinned mackerel drizzled with virgin olive oil and served on cornbread and tomato-based squid stew were two of the ones I tried).

The servings are surprisingly huge here so, in the interest of tasting as much as you can, feel free to order the dishes as you go.

Bebedouro, 24 Rua Sao Nicolau

mackerel tapas dish
Photo By: Alexandra Williams

Thank you for reading this Guest Post article ‘24 hours in Lisbon: A food lover’s guide, Portugal  by Alexandra Williams. I hope it helped you to decide where to eat while in Lisbon Portugal. 

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Other places of history in Europe

Discover other places of History in Europe, feel free to read my following articles. All are great days out of London for groups of friends or family. 

Disclaimer: This is a Guest Post and all views are based on Alexandra Williams own experience.

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14 thoughts on “24 hours in Lisbon: A food lover’s guide, Portugal

  1. Tamie says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the different foods, especially about the monks guarded recipe. Great photos!

    • melbtravel says:

      Thanks Tamie for your comment, it made me really hungry reading it. I am heading back to Lisbon in October for my birthday and I can’t wait to try out some of Alex’s suggestions.

    • melbtravel says:

      Definitely just me a line when you decided to go, I will be happy to give you some tips.

  2. Alex says:

    This post made me laugh – my parents live in Portugal and we often talk about how rubbish Portuguese cakes are (my mam threatens to set up an English tea-room just to show off what real cakes are like), she’d not be pleased you enjoyed their sweet delicasies 😉 I, on the other hand, can’t go a day without a vanilla pastry when I’m there.
    And I’m so gonna get full marks on the imaginary score sheet in my head for telling my dad about the Vino tasting place – he’ll love that! (but hate that I told HIM about it!)

    • melbtravel says:

      I always think it is funny that we always think what we have at home is better. My friend who is a great copyright, wrote the story and I supplied her with some of my pictures from my time in Portugal. I am heading there again in October for my birthday. I think a English tea-room in Portugal would be a great idea especially overlooking the water. lol, parents never like being told things.

  3. Kati from Ms B Travels says:

    All this great food! 🙂 And architecture! And history… I’ve got to get to Europe (So glad I’m going in October!)

    • melbtravel says:

      When you come over this way Kati, you are going to have to let me know. I would love to met you and take you around everywhere. Thanks for your kind words

    • melbtravel says:

      I am always craving wine 🙂 I am heading back to Lisbon in October, so hopefully I can get some then. Enjoy your weekend

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