VEGAN LISBON | 3 Days in Lisbon
Until somewhat recently, the mission to find vegan food on your trip to Lisbon may have been a challenge. However, with veganism on the rise and tourism to the city booming, the capital of Portugal is quickly transforming into a vegan's dream. This guide will give you all the tips of where to go, what to see, and where to eat during your trip to this picturesque corner of Europe.
(For the purpose of this guide, we have set out 3 full days worth of activities).
Day 1: Lisbon Historic Centre
Your first day in Lisbon should be spent exploring the old historic city centre. There is so much to see here that you could easily split this into two days if you are staying longer, but if your time in Lisbon is limited, try to squeeze as much into this first day as possible. I promise that you won't regret it.
I suggest kicking-off your first day in Lisbon with a breakfast at 'Zenith'. This is a relatively new place (opened summer 2018) with an attractive interior and a selection of several vegan brunch items, including smoothie bowls, toasts and a vegan shakshuka!
Unfortunately the vegan shakshuka was not avaliable when i visited here (much to my disappointment), so I tried the vegan toast instead, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend.
Castelo de São Jorge & Miradouro de Santa Luzia
After breakfast it's time to make your way up to one of the highest points in Lisbon: São Jorge Castle. The castle, located on a hilltop overlooking the old city, was built in the 11th century and offers some fantastic views of Lisbon. It's a bit of a walk up there, so if you're visiting during the summer months I would recommend ensuring you make the hike before the midday heat. As one of the main attractions in Lisbon, it can also get busy and you should expect a bit of a queue to get in, but the earlier you arrive the better.
After you've finished taking in the views and walking the battlements, it's time to head back down the hill towards the old town. On your way down I recommend stopping at Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which is a lovely little observation deck looking out to the water. You will often find musicians playing in the gardens here, and in the summer months the whole space is dominated by the most vibrant pink blossoms.
Eight: The health lounge
Once you've made it back down the hill you'll probably be ready for some lunch. Eight: The health lounge is a great place which we ended up visiting several times during our stay in Lisbon. They have a nice selection of salad bowls, smoothie bowls, toasts and panini, as well as smoothies and juices. Plus, everything is vegan!
They also offer take-away food, so you can always pick something up here in the morning and take it with you for later in the day if you don't want to fuss with finding food elsewhere whilst you're exploring.
After lunch it's time to explore the main centre of Lisbon. Among the sites to see around here include Rossio Square, the Santa Justa lift, the ruins of the Carmo Convent, and the long, uniformed streets of Baixa Pombalina, filled with lots of little shops and restaurants leading down to the picuresque Praça do Comércio - or Commerce square.
After walking around all day, you'll probably want to spend your evening relaxing. I recommend that you grab a few slices of vegan pizza from Pizzeria Romana al Taglio (the simple marinara one was my favourite, but which flavours they have will depend on the day), and head down to the Praça do Comércio. The sunset from here is really spectacular, so find a nice spot to sit by the water whilst you enjoy your food (AND they even have carts which sell cocktails here during summer. The Portuguese thought of everything).
The perfect way to end your first day in Lisbon.
Day 2: Sintra
If you are only visiting Lisbon for a long weekend, you may think that the idea of taking a whole day out of the city isn't worth it. However, ask anybody who has visited Lisbon what their highlight was, and I guarantee you that almost all of them will say it was Sintra.
Sintra is picturesque city surrounded by an excess of fantastic palaces and gardens, about a 45 minute train journey from the centre of Lisbon. There are so many things to see and do around Sintra that you could easily spend a few days here, but here are a few of my highlights.
Quinta da Regaleira
My first big tip is to leave early. As one of the main tourist attractions in the region, Sintra gets very busy, particularly in the summer months, so you'll want to make sure to get there before the crowds do to really enjoy some of these places properly. I recommend getting the train from Rosso station at around 8 o'clock. Tickets for a return journey are only about 5 euros, and Sintra is the final stop, so there's no chance in you getting lost or missing the station.
Once you arrive in Sintra, the first stop of the day is the Quinta da Regaleira. I've suggested this one first for two reasons: firstly, it's just a short 15 minute walk from the station, and secondly it's my absolute favourite place that we visited whilst we were there. It opens at 9am, so by arriving just as they open the gates, not only will you skip the queues but you'll also get these incredible gardens all to yourself, which will make them feel even more magical. As with all of the stops on our itinerary today, you could easily spend a few hours exploring these gardens, and whilst exactly how long you spend there is up to you, I recommend dedicating the whole morning to it to really take in everything to see here. My personal highlight of the gardens has to be the initiation well (pictured below), which despite being called a well never actually contained any water and instead is said to have been used for Masonic ceremonial rituals. After descending the 27 meter spiral staircase and imagining the incredible past that this place must have had, you'll continue through a (very dark) underground tunnel that will lead out to some of the other landmarks within the gardens. There's even the perfect photo opportunity as you attempt to hop over the stepping stones without falling in to the very green water below (spoiler - i didn't fall in).
After you've finished exploring here you'll probably be ready for some lunch. Unfortunately (at the time of writing this) Sintra is a bit behind Lisbon in terms of vegan options, so unless you've bought some food with you (which is a good option), you may have to settle for a slightly modified vegetarian option. We decided to stop at the cafe inside the Quinta da Regaleira, and after explaining that we were vegan to a very helpful waitress, she kindly listed all of the things that they could put together for us. We ended up with a roasted vegetable wrap, a salad and some bags of crisps (although the salad wasn't great, the wrap was acceptable and was enough to keep us going throughout the rest of the day).
The other option would be to walk down the road into the city centre and ask at some of the restaurants there what they can put together for you. The city centre itself is worth seeing, and it's also the best place to get a ride from to your next location, so either way I suggest walking down there and it's just a few minutes walk.
Pena Palace, Castelo dos Mouros
After lunch it's time to head up to the Pena Palace. When most people talk about Sintra, they're probably thinking of this place, and it has definitely become one of the most popular of the tourist sites in the area. To get up there you'll want to hire a ride (trying to walk up the hill is a very bad idea - trust me). You can get an uber for just a few euros, or if you're feeling adventurous you can get a ride in a tuk-tuk. If you are thinking about the second option you should probably consider that the road is particularly bumpy with some very steep hills, and whilst I saw plenty of tuk-tuks making the journey up and down, we weren't quite brave enough to try them.
The entrance to the Pena palace is just 5 minutes walking distance from another great site: the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). Both are worth going to, and whichever you decide to go to first is up to you, but I would probably recommend doing Pena first as takes considerably longer. That way you can spend as much time as you want to at Pena (which is undeniably the better of the two), and then if you haven't already collapsed from all the walking and still have a spare 45 minutes, you can go down the road to the Castelo dos Mouros. Whilst not quite as incredible as the other two places on this list (and yet somehow still the most expensive one to enter...), it will provide you with some very spectacular views over the area, and you should be able to see all the way out to the coast.
AO 26 - The Vegan Food Project
By 5 or 6 o'clock you should have had plenty of time to explore all three sites, and be pretty exhausted from all the walking. You'll also probably be starving, and there's no finer vegan restaurant in Lisbon than AO 26 - The Vegan Food Project. This small restaurant is Lisbon's answer to vegan fine-dining and it's an absolute must-try whilst you're visiting. Everything on the menu is delicious, but a word of warning: it's very popular, so booking ahead for a table is essential. The menu does change a little bit and they always have some interesting specials, but the pumpkin starter (which I forget the name of but was essentially thinly sliced pumpkin between layers of pastry) was probably one of the best things I have ever tasted, so if you see that one on the menu then I cannot recommend it enough. They also have incredibly tempting desserts, which we were sadly too full to manage on our visit, but I have heard great things about them.
Day 3: Belém
For your final day in Lisbon you should venture out to the western side of the city and explore the Belém district.
After all the walking yesterday, you'll probably want a slower start to the day. Thankfully, I've saved one of my absolute favourite places in Lisbon for your final brunch. O'botanista is actually owned by the same people as AO 26 (so you know the food is going to be good!), and has a bit more of a relaxed, casual atmosphere than their sister restaurant, but of course everything is still vegan. They have an extensive brunch menu with some really lovely options on it, including a selection of vegan waffles! Of the savoury options, my favourite was the sweet potato and black beans bowl.
They do also offer bigger meals here too, as well as some great snacks and starters, so it's the perfect place to spend an evening meal too. My only critique is that they don't open until late mornings (and also occasionally close for private functions). Just make sure to check the opening times before hand, but I strongly suggest not skipping this place as it's definitely worth it.
LX Factory, Belém
Once you're full of food and feeling slightly recovered from the day before, it's time to head towards Belém. On your way there you should stop by the LX Factory. This hip, converted industrial space is full of interesting cafes and shops selling a variety of trendy items, from clothing to household trinkets. It's a great place to pick up a memento from your trip, or just spend an hour browsing through it's weird and wonderful wares.
Next, it's time to head onto some of the more traditional attractions. The Torre de Belém (Belém tower), Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) are all located within walking distance from each other, and all feature in the list of Lisbon's must-see landmarks.
Unfortunately vegan food is hard to come by in Belém, so make sure you fill up at brunch so that you can make it through to the evening!
The (final) Evening:
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, PARK bar
As you should have already learnt by now, sunsets in Lisbon are a breathtaking event that are not to be missed, so you'll want to enjoy your final one in one of the best spots in the city. Whilst there are many to pick from, one of my favourites has to be Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. This small park has an incredible view over the old-town of lisbon, and lets you see all the way out to the water.
Another great option is to watch the sunset with a drink in your hand from the PARK rooftop bar. This somewhat quirky bar is located on the roof of an old parking garage, and whilst that may not be the most appealing description, it's actually a very nice bar that has some amazing views over the city. As you may imagine, it can get pretty busy up here, but weather-permitting it makes for a perfect spot to take in those last views of this beautiful city.
I hope you enjoyed my Lisbon Vegan Travel Guide, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. If you tried any of my recommendations then please let me know what you thought! This guide is intended to show as much as possible in three days, but if you prefer a slower, more laid back trip, don't feel obligated to make it through everything that I've mentioned and I hope you can still get some helpful inspiration of what do to during your visit!