To celebrate the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, Dan and I flew to Lisbon, Portugal (where we got married!) for four nights and five days. We had great weather and a lovely time, despite the crazy Omicron Covid testing requirements in place at the time (no longer in place). This article details what we did, ate, and drank in Lisbon in the winter!
DAY ONE – LANDING IN LISBON, EATING AT THE TIME OUT MARKET, & A 25 EURO TASTING MENU!
Dan and I arrived in Lisbon very early in the morning and luckily, we were able to immediately check into our hotel room at the Intercontinental Lisboa. Not surprisingly, the Intercontinental Lisboa was still decorated for Christmas and everything looked very nice. Due the early hour of our arrival, a nap was most certainly in order.
After a pretty sizable nap (we did arrive before sunrise), Dan and I walked from our hotel to Lisbon’s TimeOut Market for lunch. The walk from the Intercontinental Lisboa to the TimeOut Market goes through some pretty parts of Lisbon and we took lots of photos. We also picked up some Covid tests en route, as the rules were super strict and if we couldn’t get a PCR test, we would need to self-test before entering any restaurants, etc. Unlike the US, at-home Covid tests were cheap and plentiful.
On arrival at the TimeOut Market – a modern food hall with lots of restaurant and drink stalls, as well as a little shopping – we did a few laps to pick out what we wanted for lunch. I went with a Portuguese hotdog topped with Portuguese ketchup, mustard, and potato fries, in addition to a glass of Portuguese wine. Dan opted for a Portuguese pork sandwich, potato chips, and a beer.
After lunch, we did a bit more walking and shopping before going back to our hotel to change for dinner and drinks. And for dinner and drinks, we had big plans! First up were drinks at one of the Worlds 50 Best Cocktail bars, Red Frog. Red Frog is a “speak easy” in the Baixa are of Lisbon, just below the Monkey Mash cocktail bar. I made a reservation far in advance (the place is tiny). We each had two cocktails at Red Frog and they were fantastic. I will definitely go back to Red Frog next time we’re in Lisbon. We would have returned this trip, but Red Frog was only open one night we were in town.
We couldn’t stay for any more cocktails, because we had a dinner reservation at A Taberna do Mar, which I made via Instagram a few weeks in advance. A Taberna do Mar, or the “Sea Tavern”, is a tiny little restaurant serving mostly seafood dishes and a 25 euro tasting menu. Yes, a tasting menu for only 25 euro, which is exactly what we did! The food was great and I’ll be writing separately about our meal.
Our evening ended with a trip to 500 Maneiras in Barrio Alto, not to eat or drink, but to pre-pay for our NYE dinner. They required a wire payment to hold the reservation, but luckily they permitted us to hand deliver cash on our arrival to save the wire fee (now I would just use Wise). In Barrio Alto, I convinced Dan to stay for a sangria on a side street of Barrio Alto, but he fell asleep so we went home, LOL. For those looking for drinks, Barrio Alto has lots of small bars serving drinks late at night. Very fun, usually a young crowd.
DAY TWO – MORE COVID TESTS, LUNCH AT BARRIO DO AVILLEZ, THE BEST HOLIDAY LIGHTS, AND NYE AT 100 MANERIAS!
First, more background on the Covid pandemic. In Lisbon in December 2021, the rules were that to get indoors basically anywhere, everyone had to have a PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, a Rapid test taken within the last 24 hours, or a negative at-home test taken on-spot. Since we had obtained a NAAT Covid test prior to departing (equivalent to a PCR but less intrusive IMHO!), our Covid tests were good in Portugal for 72 hours. As such, we had to get a second Covid test to carry us through the New Year. We pre-booked a test back at the Lisbon airport, and spent the first two hours of our day at the airport waiting for a Covid test. We met some nice people in line and eventually received the most intrusive Covid test I have ever received. Negative result secured!
After our Covid-testing morning, we lunched at Pateo inside Barrio do Avillez. Barrio do Avillez is restauranteur Jose Avillez’s own little food hall in Chiado. Avillez has a handful of restaurants here, including our beloved Minibar. Unlike Minibar, Pateo specializes in seafood. Nevertheless, I went with a chicken dish and Dan steak tartare. We are just not seafood people! Our food was good – too bad we just don’t like seafood more.
After lunch we did some strolling before returning to our hotel to change for New Years dinner at one of our top ten favorite restaurants ever, 100 Maneiras! We’ve been going to 100 Maneiras from 2014, and its since earned a Michelin Star and gone from a 60 euro tasting menu to a 200 euro tasting menu. In any case, 100 Maneiras was fantastic and we stayed until midnight. I’ll be sharing more on this because our meal was SO good! En route there, we strolled through Chiado, which has some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations that I’ve ever seen. Do not miss Chiado during the holiday season.
DAY THREE – LUNCH AT BARRIO DO AVILLEZ, A BOAT RIDE ON THE TAGUS, WONDERLAND LISBOA, & DINNER IN A TOTALLY GORGEOUS BUILDING.
Day # 3 in Lisbon got a late start, with a walk and lunch back Barrio do Avillez, a little theme on this trip. This time we ate at Taberna and had the famous steak sandwich, as well as a dessert with popcorn. Both fantastic. And for those wondering why we ate at Barrio do Avillez so often on this trip, its because location was super convenient and many places were closed or keeping odd hours during the holiday week. Barrio do Avillez was just easy, and everything we ate was delicious. They were also open pretty regular hours.
After lunch, we had booked an afternoon sail on the Tagus river on the Halcyon I boat. We were very excited about this as we did this exact tour before our wedding in 2017. Just like in 2017, we sailed down to Belem and back by Praça do Comércio. This trip is always gorgeous and its nice to see gorgeous Lisbon from the water. I’d recommend this or a similar boat tour to anyone in Lisbon. Halycon I provides sparking wine and a couple bites for guests.
After our boat ride, we caught the final day of Wonderland Lisboa, Lisbon’s somewhat poor excuse for a Christmas market. Wonderland Lisboa was fun in that it had lots of food, drink, and trinket stalls, as well as live music and rides, but it was definitely not as nice as other Christmas markets I have visited. In any case, entrance was free and we did get some mulled wine. I would also point out that Wonderland Lisboa was packed this day, with a short line to get in.
After Wonderland Lisboa, we walked back to Barrio Alto to have dinner at a restaurant that we had not previously tried – Gin Lovers Bar and Restaurant. Gin Lovers is actually set in the center of a gorgeous old building that is apparently filled with local stalls, etc. selling things. I would like to go back in the day. Our meal at Gin Lovers was ok…I probably wouldn’t go back for food. That being said, true to its name, the drinks were good. I would come back during the day for shopping…or dropping Dan for drinks while I shop = )
DAY FOUR – A DAY TRIP TO SETUBAL, MORE TIME OUT MARKET, & MEXICAN FOOD IN LISBOA.
Our next day was spent on a day trip to Setubal, an area just southwest of Lisbon. We had wanted to go wine tasting, but most wineries were closed due to the holiday. In any case, we began our trip with a visit to Castelo de Sesimbra. Castelo de Sesimbra over looks the Atlantic Ocean but unfortunately, we couldn’t really see the ocean or the castel due to the crazy fog. This was the worst weather we had on the trip. Oh well! Castelo de Sesimbra is an old castle with only walls remaining (no interior), that reminded me a bit of the Morrish Castle in Sintra. We stayed about 30 minutes.
Our next stop was for coffee in Sesimbra, right on the beach. I also did a little tourist-trinket shopping. Despite the fog and small bit of rain, it was nice to be on a beach.
After our coffee break, we visited the Bacalhoa winery. Bacalhoa is a commercial winery with several locations around Portugal, most of them pretty fancy. This particular location has its own paint color designed by Dior – Dior Blue, its own African art gallery and its own collection of Portuguese tiles in the barrel room. The premises were very cool, but the wine was a bit lackluster. We have definitely had better in Portugal. I guess we had to take what was open on a holiday!
After the tour, we again stopped by TimeOut Market Lisbon for lunch. In addition to a pizza, I purchased two delicious donuts from Crush Donuts to bring home. The donuts were amazing.
After some down time at the hotel, we had a very special dinner at Carnal, the newest restaurant by the owners of 100 Maneiras! Carnal is a casual Mexican restaurant, very trendy with a bit of a night club vibe. Reservations are not necessary and there is no tasting menu, very different than 100 Maneiras. In any case, the food was delicious, as expected. Carnal is a good substitute for those that can’t get into 100 Maneiras but want to try the food.
DAY FIVE – NATAS AT A FAMOUS OLD CAFE, GINGINA, & A FINAL VISIT TO JOSE AVILLEZ
On our fifth and final day in Lisbon, we had a good chunk of the day before we had to leave for the airport around 3:00 PM. We started the day with a walk in Baxia for coffee and Pastel de Natas at Confeitaria Nacional. The natas were excellent, as was the setting and the coffee.
Next up was a stroll through the Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods and a must see for first time visitors. We walked up to the Castello da Sao Jorge but didn’t go inside (great views and peacocks(1!) if the weather is good). We also did some shopping before heading back down for a special Lisbon treat.
And, that special Lisbon treat was a glass of gingina! Gingina is a cherry liquor popular around Lisbon and central Portugal. You sip a shot glass size of it from a literal hole in the wall for a euro or two. This was the first thing that we did on our wedding week!
After gingina, we went back for lunch at, where else, Jose do Avillez, LOL. The steak sandwich of two days ago was just so good that we needed a second round.
After lunch, I made a quick pharmacy stop before grabbing a taxi to the Lisbon airport. We had some time at the lovely ANA Lounge before flying back to Newark. A fantastic NYE getaway to Lisbon!
HIGHLIGHTS & TIPS FOR VISITING OVER NYE
- The lights everywhere – so pretty! The best lights are saw were in Chiado!
- The weather. While certainly not beach weather, Lisbon was quite mild over New Years, even at night.
- Many large or chain hotels will host New Years parties/events. Be sure to inquire and book in advance, as in before your trip to Lisbon! Most of these places sell tickets to non-guests and they certainly fill up.
- Fireworks at midnight on Praça do Comércio.
LOW LIGHTS OF VISITING LISBON OVER THE HOLIDAYS
- It was COVID, so COVID tests were required to enter indoor restaurants and bars (72 hours for PCR, 24 hours for Rapid, and 1 use for at home tests taken at the door). Those visiting in future years will hopefully NOT have this issue.
- Crowds. Lisbon is quite crowded during the holidays.
- On that note, smaller towns outside of Lisbon largely shut down for holidays. This is not the time to hop around to small towns.
- Closed tourist things. Some tourists attractions and tours are closed some combination of December 31st through the first week of January. Confirm far in advance if there is something that you must do. I would note that closures are more common outside of Lisbon.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Intercontinental Lisbon: R. Castilho 149, 1099-034 Lisboa, Portugal.
TimeOut Market Lisbon: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisboa, Portugal. Open daily 10:00 – 12:00.
Red Frog: Praça da Alegria 66b, 1250-004 Lisboa, Portugal. Reservations highly recommended. Tuesday – Saturday 18:00 – 1:00.
A Taberna do Mar: Calçada da Graça 20 B, 1100-266 Lisboa, Portugal. Open 19:00 – 23:00. Closed Sunday – Monday. Reservations recommended as this restaurant is tiny. Casual. I DMed on IG for a resy.
Barrio do Avillez: R. Nova da Trindade 18, 1200-303 Lisboa, Portugal. Open 12:30 – 15:00, 19:00 – 00:00. Certain restaurants within keep different hours. Double check with the restaurant to confirm hours. The linked website is for the entire Jose Avillez food hall. Be sure to reserve at the correct restaurant if you are making a reservation. Reservations recommended during busy times.
Wonderland Lisboa: Parque Eduardo VII. Generally open early December – late December/early January from 12:00 – 21:00 Monday – Thursday, 12:00 – 12:00 Friday, 10:00 – 12:00 Saturday, 10:00 – 22:00 Sunday. Shorter hours on 24/12, 25/12, and 31/12. Search online for latest hours, etc.
Carnal: R. da Misericórdia 78, 1200-273 Lisboa, Portugal. Open 18:00 – 2:00. Casual, but of a night out vibe. Same owners as 100 Maneiras. Reservations recommended during busy times. No tasting menu.
Halcyon I – Historical Lisbon boat tours: Mobile +351 91 367 19 56. Reservations should be made online in advance. Restroom on board. Guests need to climb a small ladder to access the boat.
Confeitaria Nacional: Praça da Figueira 18B, 1100-241 Lisboa, Portugal. Open daily 8:30 – 20:00. This place can get busy during high season. You can sit in or take to go for faster service (eat on one of the squares!).
Ginginha: Largo São Domingos 8, 1100-201 Lisboa, Portugal. Open daily 9:00 – 22:00.
Setubal tour: We booked our tour through Viator, although I cannot find a similar tour currently available. Search “Setubal” on Viator and available trips will come up.