Lisbon tips for food loving solo travelers
Solo travel is ideal for when you want to go with the flow and step outside your comfort zone. When you are taking a trip by yourself there’s more room to improvise and, while you do so, learn about yourself.
Lisbon is a perfect destination for solo trips: it’s safe (Portugal actually ranked 3th in the Global Peace Index for 2022), welcoming, most people speak English, and there is certainly no shortage of incredible things to keep you entertained. With a charming blend of historic neighborhoods and contemporary worldly vibes, Lisbon’s overall atmosphere is so friendly that you may come here solo, but that won’t necessarily translate into feeling lonely.
We have extensively written about insider’s recommendations and practical information for your trip to Lisbon before. This time, we have gathered our best tips for solo travelers coming to Lisbon, so that you can best immerse yourself in Portuguese culture, take in the impressive sights around our capital city and, of course, enjoy Portugal’s culinary delights in the most pleasant way:
Stay at a solo traveler friendly accommodation
There’s plenty of lovely Airbnbs and short-term accommodations all over Lisbon, perfect for a self-catering holiday. But if your stay in Lisbon is a short-term one, we would highly recommend saving your meals for outings which will allow you to explore our rich gastronomic traditions. Staying at a hostel can make things easier if you’d like to make friends, but if you want a more cozy and restful experience, book yourself at a hotel. We would always recommend establishments which care about the food and wine side of life. And, if possible, which serve a tantalizing spread for breakfast which will give you energy to explore but, to start your immersion into the local culture first thing in the morning, are also a good representation of what the Portuguese eat for breakfast.
Some accommodations we’d suggest for epicureans staying in Lisbon include:
By the same owners as the renowned patisserie Confeitaria Nacional, you’re guaranteed the highest quality breakfast, including fresh Portuguese pastries to begin your day on a sweet note.
📍 Rua do Duque 26, 1200-159 Lisbon
Lisbon Cheese & Wine Suites
Enjoy a complimentary selection of cheese and wine upon arrival to this boutique guesthouse.
📍Calçada Marquês Abrantes 40, 1200-719 Lisbon
Casa do Mercado Lisboa Organic Bed and Breakfast
Every room at Casa do Mercado is decorated according to a food theme. Think chocolate, fruits, seafood, and more, making sure you get hungry to explore and devour Lisbon!
📍 Rua da Boavista 10, 1200-066 Lisbon
Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
If you’d like to treat yourself you can stay at Altis Belém, eat at their Michelin starred restaurant Feitoria and conveniently go straight back to your room to rest, after enjoying one of their tantalizing gastronomic experiences with wine pairing.
📍 Doca do Bom Sucesso, 1400-038 Lisbon
Alma Lusa Baixa/Chiado
Stay in a prime downtown location, renowned for its style and comfort and, above all, for the restaurant Delfina Cantina Portuguesa. Taste the best of traditional Portuguese food overlooking the historic plaza facing Lisbon’s town hall.
📍Praça do Município n.º 21, 1100-365 Lisbon
Goodmorning Solo Traveller Hostel
If your budget or socializing preferences will make you lean towards staying at a hostel, check out this accommodation specifically catering to solo travelers. Simply staying here will help you meet other travelers, but joining one of their organized activities (such as the onsite happy hour or themed dinners) will make the task even easier.
📍Praça dos Restauradores 65, 1250-188 Lisbon
Eat at the counter
Eating alone is one of solo travelers’ most dreaded activities. If you were in certain parts of SouthEast Asia, for example, meals would probably feel like less of a production, as you’d be able to grab something quickly by the roadside, perhaps sitting in communal tables with other people, thus avoiding the uncomfortable position of having no one sitting across from you at the table. If you love exploring a new culture via its food, just like we do, but don’t care for the feeling of sitting at a restaurant by yourself, we recommend sitting at the counter.
Sitting at the counter has the potential of turning your meal into a more captivating experience, as you can peek into the kitchen as the chefs cook your food and the bartenders prepare your drinks. Furthermore, it also offers the possibility to serve as an ice-breaker with other solo diners sitting around you: you don’t obviously need to make chit chat if you don’t feel like, but if you do, there will be other people around you and if they are locals there’s the bonus of maybe making Portuguese friends who’ll generally be happy to share with you more about our food and culture.
Some of the best restaurants to enjoy authentic Portuguese food sitting at the counter in Libon include:
Coelho da Rocha
For Alentejo regional food.
📍 Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon
Bistro 100 Maneiras
For fancy Portuguese food with international influences.
📍Largo da Trindade 9, 1200-466 Lisbon
For a mean bifana, at the same snack-bar where iconic Anthony Bourdain tried this Portuguese sandwich during the shooting of TV show No Reservations.
📍Praça Luís de Camões 48, 1200-283 Lisbon
For meaty delights.
📍Rua Carlos Testa 1B, 1050-046 Lisbon
For a seafood feast.
📍Praça do Comércio 70-71, 1100-148 Lisbon
For all things pork.
📍Rua 4 de Infantaria 68, 1350-274 Lisbon
By The Wine
For an in-depth wine tasting.
📍Rua das Flores 41 43, 1200-193 Lisbon
For an old-school Lisbon dining experience.
📍Av. da República 14, 1050-191 Lisbon
Take a food tour and get to know other travelers
If eating by yourself truly isn’t your cup of tea, we recommend taking a food and cultural tour on your first day in Lisbon. Not only will this work as a great introduction to the cuisine of our country, it is also likely that you’d meet other like-minded travelers. Some of our most successful cultural activities end with some of our guests making further plans to explore Lisbon and, of course, its eateries and bars, together! But even if you don’t want to go exploring with other travelers, at least during the food tour you will have company and you’ll be able to exchange experiences. We believe great food tastes even better in good company – wouldn’t you agree?
Participate in a Portuguese cooking class
You can make friends while eating out at a restaurant, but you’re going to need to be a little extroverted for that to work out. To hang out with people while sharing food you can more easily participate in a guided food tour or, if you’d like a more hands-on experience, take part in a Portuguese cooking class. As Lisbon is a destination known for its rich cuisine, there’s no shortage of activities you can sign up for and that will put you behind the stove for a couple of hours. These classes usually revolve around traditional Portuguese dishes or, for those with a more pronounced sweet tooth, baking local treats such as the iconic pastel de nata. Make friends, eat well and learn a skill which will come in handy back home when you miss Portugal!
Partake in a Portuguese wine tasting experience
If you feel like getting a drink but you may not like the idea of sitting by yourself at a bar or restaurant, sign up for an organized wine tasting. Not only will you get to drink a selection of beverages, you will also learn more about the world of Portuguese wines. You can enjoy a self-guided experience at places such as Vini Portugal, where you load a card with money which you exchange for servings of around twenty different wines that represent the distinct wine region of Portugal. For a group activity, with an actual professional who will introduce the wines and help break the ice with the group, sign up for a tasting at one of the many food and wine tour operators which specialize in wine tastings and classes, and which will guide you through the Portuguese wine regions and the many grape varieties which exist in Portugal, in an approachable and fun way.
Dine at home with a Portuguese family and make local friends
So eating and hanging out is your thing, but stirring the pot not so much? No problem! Sign up to enjoy a Portuguese homemade dinner with a family in Lisbon. Visiting a private home will give you a deeper insight into our culture and way of life and, while at it, will also grant you the opportunity to taste home cooking which often differs from the dishes available at restaurants. Sit around the table for a few hours with your Portuguese hosts as well as other international visitors, enjoy a multi course dinner with wine pairing, and bond over travel stories, life experiences and hopefully exchange a few recipes too. Experience the warmth of Portuguese hospitality doing what we know how to do best: spending quality time with friends around the table!
Join a food experience with Lisboetas and expats
Away from the sphere of tourism, there’s a whole world of activities in which food loving Lisbon residents (Portuguese and expats from many countries all around the world) come together to hang out. It isn’t always easy to navigate local events when you’re in town for just a few days, but browsing websites such as Meet-up and joining certain Facebook groups can make the task easier. Either that, or you can go by some our tasty suggestions, of course:
Lisbon Supper Club
They organize themed dinner parties with “unlimited alcohol and plenty of laughter”.
Vinho da Gama – Wine Events
They get together at Pub Português for wine and trivia nights.
Lisbon | Girl Gone International
This Facebook group is a treasure trove of valuable tips for ladies passing by and particularly for those settling in Lisbon. They often organize events for girls to meet each other and, of course, these usually involve food and drinks – perfect for female solo travelers in Lisbon!
Explore Lisbon’s riverside (with a treat at the end of the way)
If you are staying in downtown Lisbon, we highly recommend exploring the attractive riverside paths that connect the city’s main square, Praça do Comércio, to the museum district of Belém. If the weather is not too hot this is a delightful place for a stroll or even a bike ride. You’ll get to enjoy the views across the Tagus river, pass the happening areas of Cais do Sodré and Santos, and eventually reach the historical neighborhood of Belém, popular for its many monuments such as the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument of Discoveries and the imposing Belém Tower. For a little food history, and because we promised there would be a treat for you after making this trip to Belém, head to Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, and taste warm out of the oven Portuguese custard tarts (here and only here known as pastéis de Belém), at the original place where the recipe was invented.
Drink a cup of coffee while people-watching
Immerse yourself in Lisbon’s atmosphere while you calmly sit down at one of the city’s many cafés. Have a good book to keep you company or, better yet, sip your caffeinated beverage of choice while people-watching. Observing local residents going about their daily life in a given city can teach you so much about the place you’re at – observe what people tend to order and see how they interact, while you are mindfully present in the moment. Experience coffee culture in Lisbon while gathering energy for your next adventure out and about and, if the opportunity comes up, don’t be shy to strike up a conversation with a Lisboeta. Insider’s tip: if you don’t know what to chat about, talk about food. This is a certain ice breaker with Portuguese folks!
Some of downtown Lisbon’s best cafés for people-watching include:
To watch the hipster crowd of LX Factory in a literary environment.
📍Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103 – G 0.3, 1300-501 Lisbon
Esplanada da Graça
To observe a mix of locals and tourists in a happening spot, with dramatic sunsets over Lisbon as a bonus!
📍Largo da Graça, 1100-266 Lisbon
Esplanada do Príncipe Real
This trendy neighborhood is ideal for people-watching, even more so on Saturday mornings, where the square that houses this café also receives the weekly organic farmer’s market.
📍Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-184 Lisbon
This peaceful spot at Amália Rodrigues garden is mostly frequented by locals, including a mix of office workers who come here for a much deserved break, as well as students who find the tranquility and lake views conducive for reading.
📍Jardim Amália Rodrigues, Rua Marquês de Fronteira, 1070-099 Lisbon
Quiosque Ribeira das Naus
This outdoor café and bar couldn’t have a more privileged location, right in front of the Tagus river, with views towards the 25 de Abril bridge and the south bank. What a marvelous place for all sorts of people watching!
📍Av. Ribeira das Naus 5, 1200-000 Lisbon
We hope that during your trip to Lisbon you’ll find a good balance between making friends and spending time alone to recharge. If you feel like hanging out with us, during one of our curated activities, we’d be so happy to welcome you and introduce you to the very best of our country – book one of our food and cultural experiences or get in touch with us via Instagram for further information. Please tag us: @tasteoflisboa #tasteoflisboa
Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:
Real people, real food. Come with us to where the locals go.
Signup for our natively curated food & cultural experiences.