inally, finally, we made it to Lisbon - even though the capital of Portugal had been on my list for so long. So many people had told me beforehand about how similar Lisbon and San Francisco were. So I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

As you know, we live in San Francisco on the equivalent West Coast of the US. Thus, Lisbon and San Francisco have many distinct similarities but also some major differences: Both cities are on seven hills, and they have iconic cable cars that move up and down. They also possess suspension bridges that look very similar, along with stunning architecture and a reputation for being food and wine destinations.

However, there’s a major difference: Lisbon is attracting expats like a magnet, while San Francisco is seeing people leave. And it is worth noting that Lisbon is more affordable than San Francisco and the USA in general.

So, when we landed in Lisbon, I thought, I was honestly concerned that I might like Lisbon more than San Francisco. And since I am quite known for my spontaneous, and emotionally driven decisions, there were actually chances that I would fall in love with Lisbon and want to move there. But, I can reveal this much already. Even though I found the city really quite amazing and was able to take some particularly beautiful photos, we won’t be leaving San Francisco anytime soon. At least for now 🙂


After flying for about 18 hours, we arrived in Lisbon on a very late Friday evening. We checked in at our apartment, which was located in SĂŁo Bento – a district that I’d heard mixed reviews about beforehand. But it turned out that the location was a winner, with plenty of cozy coffee shops, lively bars, and delightful restaurants just around the corner. It was also just a short walk from the bustling city center around Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto – really worth seeing districts, but to be honest it would have been a bit too hectic and noisy for me to stay there.

Imprensa Cocktail & Oyster Bar

Imprensa – which means “written press” in Portuguese – is an absolute gem of a bar in the heart of PrĂ­ncipe Real. Upon entering the bar, you are transported directly into a world that revolves around the art of writing and newspapers. There are even typewriters as decorative elements! But of course, it’s really all about the cocktails and Imprensa is the place to be, with an experienced team mixing what I consider to be the best drinks in town. The cocktails are named after fonts, matching the theme of the bar. In addition, there are said oysters, freshly shucked daily and specially delivered from the SetĂşbal region, and other bar snacks that pack a punch. For example, in addition to a couple of oysters, we had the burrata salad and the pulled pork sandwich and were really excited.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the hustle and bustle of a typical European city in the summer. People were out on the streets, talking loudly, smoking, and seeming to be having fun. The bar owner quickly took notice of us and promised us a table and something to eat within the hour. We did end up standing at a makeshift spot at the bar for quite a while (which speaks to the popularity of the bar), but since we had been sitting all night and all day anyway, we didn’t mind. I ordered a Negroni (a classic), and Daniel tried a Mint Julep for the first time (both fantastic). When we got assigned our table, it was well past 1 am (you can only do that in Europe, right?) and we finally ordered our food (Pulled Pork Sandwich, Oysters, and Burrata Salad), which was unbelievably good. With the meal we were served a generous glass of prosecco (for me) and red wine (for Daniel) which made us sleep really well afterward. What a wonderful welcome to Lisbon.

LISBON DIARY dayday oneone

The next morning, we gave in to a well-deserved sleep-in (thanks to the jet lag!). When we finally left our apartment, it was almost noon, and the city was boiling hot. Honestly, we hadn’t bothered to check the Lisbon weather forecast before boarding our plane. Some friends and family had compared Lisbon to San Francisco, emphasizing the winds and cool temperatures, so we naively expected something similar. Note to self: Always check the weather forecast; there is no such weather as in San Francisco.

We strolled a little bit around on the lookout for some breakfast and found a great place very quickly. Just down the street from our apartment was THE FOLKS, a coffee house chain serving excellent coffee (coconut flat white, strawberry matcha, and others… yum!), and some healthy food options. 

After we had relaxed for a while on the roof terrace in the truest sense of the word, we went back to the apartment. We both needed a shower and wanted to freshen up for dinner. We had discovered the perfect place earlier in the afternoon: At Lupita Pizzaria, the pizza not only looked stunningly delicious, the atmosphere seemed wonderfully informal and breezy enough for the hot and humid evening.

BAHR Rooftop Bar

Eventually, we ended up in the rooftop bar of the Bairro Alto hotel, the BAHR. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the rooftop offers an exceptional view of the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the surrounding rooftops in an atmosphere conducive to relaxation in a privileged setting. It was the ideal spot to savor some Espresso Martinis, unwind amidst the day’s heat, and bask in Lisbon’s picturesque vistas. While we didn’t sample any food, it’s worth noting that BAHR & Terrace serves up some of the finest cuisine in Lisbon. Curated by Michelin Star Chef Nuno Mendes, their menu features Portuguese delights presented with a unique twist, drawing influences from culinary traditions across the globe.

After hanging out on the rooftop for a while, we made our way back to the hotel (we both needed a shower) and got ready for dinner. Earlier in the day, we had settled on our dinner choice: pizza. And as for the destination? Lupita Pizzaria, it was.

Lupita Pizzaria & Lumi Rooftop Bar

Duda Ferreira brought the art of slow and natural fermentation pizzas all the way from SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil, to Rua de SĂŁo Paulo in Lisbon. And the long way was absolutely worth it, as the pizzas were nothing short of amazing. We savored one topped with zucchini blossoms, squash, and burrata, while the other featured ricotta and lemon zest. Both were absolutely phenomenal and left us feeling thoroughly content and satisfied.

After enjoying that outstanding pizza, we could’ve just headed back to our place, but you know how jet lag goes – it gave us that extra nudge. So, we meandered up the twisty streets, determined to find a rooftop bar and catch the sunset. It took us a bit of sweet-talking to persuade the security staff down at The Lumiares Hotel, but once we stepped into the Lumi Rooftop, we were in for a treat. We kicked back, soaked in the lovely evening, and watched the sky transition from shades of blue to a mesmerizing palette of pink, and orange, and back to serene blue.

Wow, what a fantastic way to kick off our time in Lisbon! I had already heard that Lisbon was a paradise for foodies – but I was still positively taken. Everything was just perfect: sunny weather, charming, winding streets full of architecture that the eye can not get enough, cozy and stylish cafĂ©s, lively bars, great restaurants, and the people who sit on the streets, eat, enjoy, and drift.

LISBON DIARY dayday twotwo && threethree

I’ve already mentioned how scorching hot it was during our first two days in Lisbon, and days two and three didn’t offer any relief. In fact, the forecast predicted temperatures soaring up to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 38°C). Faced with this sweltering heat, we made a game plan: why not escape to the stunning Portuguese coast for a beach day? It seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore Portugal’s renowned shoreline.

In the late morning, after grabbing a quick bite at Copenhagen Coffee Lap, we hailed an Uber that took us across the iconic April 29 bridge to Costa da Caparica. Nestled on the southern bank of the river, Costa da Caparica is a cherished beach destination for Lisbon locals. This former fishing village still exudes its maritime charm, with colorful boats gently swaying in the waters and local fishermen offering their day’s catch to the river-facing seafood restaurants. Today, a cluster of lively late-night bars adds a vibrant buzz to the area. A charming little train meanders along the 10-kilometer coastline, making stops at various beaches. The further south you venture, the thinner the crowds become.

We ended up spending two consecutive days at Costa da Caparica, and it was a decision we never regretted. While we would have loved more time in Lisbon, the extreme heat made it challenging to fully enjoy the city. Heading to the beach allowed us to experience a different side of Lisbon and Portugal. As an unexpected bonus, we ran into our good friend Jess, who was overjoyed to see us and eager to spend the evening sharing her love for Portugal with us.

Later in the evening, we discovered this amazing wine bar that I absolutely have to tell you about because it was truly exceptional. We enjoyed a delightful dinner complemented by some exquisite rosé wine and then decided to wrap up the night with another visit to the Imprensa bar.

Magnolia Bar

Lisbon’s newest hotspot is a wine bar on the thriving corner of Praça das Flores.

So, let me spill the beans about Magnolia Lisboa – it’s the brainchild of two culinary maestros: Camila Martins, the former head chef at CafĂ© SĂŁo, and Yves Callewaert, the guy whose terrace dinners have been the talk of the town for more than a decade. Now, here’s the best part – you don’t have to be an A-lister to enjoy their legendary hospitality. Nope, it’s open to anyone who wants to relish selected bites and drinks in Lisbon’s finest quarter. Now, let’s talk wine – they keep it short and sweet, all-natural, just the way we like it. Picture this: it’s the end of a long, sun-soaked summer day, and you’re not in the mood for a wine list as thick as a novel. Nope, you want something concise, something that doesn’t require a sommelier’s guidance. That’s where Magnolia Lisboa swoops in, offering the perfect selection to tease your palate – tapas that are nothing short of culinary poetry.

Let’s move ahead to the next day. Imagine this: after a day of soaking up the sun at the beach, we returned with smiles on our faces and sand on our toes. However, Lisbon is known for its captivating stories waiting to be discovered in every nook and cranny. Therefore, we decided to explore the heart of Lisbon, its city center, and put our camera to good use.

I wish I could share a sneak peek of the photos we took, but they deserve more than just a small mention in this travel diary. Hence, I dedicated an entire blog post to showcase the vibrant colors, intricate details, and charm of Lisbon’s streets. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about doing justice to the beauty we captured: 

Lisbon Unfiltered: A visual journey through spectacular views, cable cars, and hidden bars

What I have to share, though, is the last bar that we went to that night and that was actually recommended by the owners of Imprensa Cocktail bar. 

Quattro Teste

Quattro Teste nestled on a quaint little street in Mouraria, is a true gem among cocktail bars – one of those rare finds that leave an indelible mark on your memory. Opened in late 2021 by a dynamic duo of bartenders from Italy and the Basque region, this cozy gem is a fusion of flavors and styles that just clicks. They’ve gifted Lisbon with on-tap negronis, kalimotxo (yes, the wine and Coca-Cola combo), and wall-mounted Basque cider – things you didn’t know you needed. Alf del Portillo and Marta Premoli are the brains behind the bar and their warm, confident hospitality and top-notch cocktails prove it. (Fun fact: Del Portillo was crowned champ at the 2015 World Class Cocktail Competition.)

Overall, it’s clear that I was completely captivated by Lisbon and its beauty. While I mentioned at the start of this post that we aren’t just upping sticks and moving to Lisbon, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit to some second thoughts about staying put in San Francisco. Lisbon showed me how fun living in a Mediterranean city could be.


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