Consider Lisbon For An Autumn Getaway

There’s plenty to explore in and around the Portuguese capital.

Originally Published: 
A Bustle writer recommends hotels, restaurants, and what to do in Lisbon, Portugal.

While the city of Lisbon has consistently ranked among the most popular and budget-friendly European destinations in recent years, I’d never visited the Portuguese capital — that is, until I was invited by IHG Hotels & Resorts to explore the historic city.

Strolling through the hilly, cobblestoned roads, I experienced the city’s vibrant culture and flavorful local cuisine firsthand, all of which can be enjoyed within Lisbon’s bustling cityscape, which sits below the imposing national monument São Jorge Castle. Dating back to the 7th century BC, it’s been called home by monarchs like Alfonso III, King Ferdinand I, and King Manuel I.

Lisbon’s tourism season peaks between June and August, during which time millions of travelers flock to the coastal city. I visited in the quieter month of September and basked in the region’s glorious autumn temperatures — which average 80 degrees Fahrenheit — making time for some of the area’s hot spots, like the bougie beach town of Cascais, the towering Palace of Pena, and the westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca.

Whether you’re booking a solo trip, a brief weekend getaway, or planning to travel with family and friends, check out my recommendations for visiting Lisbon, below.

Where To Stay

IHG Hotels and Resorts’ Convent Square Lisbon, Vignette Collection is nestled within Lisbon’s bustling Baixa district. The hotel has a real old-meets-new interior, in part because it was designed with its history in mind: The building was originally a 13th-century Dominican Convent.

Built in 1242, the 121-room hotel was acquired by IHG Hotel & Resorts in 2022 and underwent an extensive redevelopment ahead of its grand opening in 2023. Facilities include an on-site bar, restaurant, and cozy outdoor courtyard, where I planned my daily excursions by a communal fire pit.

I also enjoyed the hotel’s tranquil indoor plunge pool and sauna, where I’d relax before heading back to the comfort of my room, which had complimentary charcuterie and an impressive rotating mirror-television.

An outdoor view of the Vignette Collection, Convent Square Lisbon.
The peaceful rooms belie the bustling streets outside.
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With close links to the nearby Avenida da Liberdade, the Rossio and Terreiro do Paço Squares, and the Chiado neighborhood, the hotel’s central location makes it the perfect home base for days of exploring.

What To Do

Watch The Moonrise At Miradouro São Pedro De Alcântaramust

During my quest to admire the famed Lisbon sunsets, a waitress recommended I take a short tram ride up to Miradouro São Pedro de Alcântaramust. I wasn’t disappointed.

With outdoor food stalls in abundance and a crowd-pleasing local busker, this atmospheric public terrace offers panoramic views of the city, and as the moon began to rise above the São Jorge Castle, the spot’s appeal soon became clear.

Sunsets here are hard to beat.
Lisbon’s iconic yellow trams.
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Explore The National Palace Of Pena

When you first lay eyes on the bright yellow and orange tones of The National Palace of Pena, it immediately confirms its reputation as the jewel of the Sintra Hills.

Following a half-hour drive outside of Lisbon, I arrived at the magnificent 12th-century structure, an UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s been crowned one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Once you’ve admired views from the palace’s many balconies and walkways, be sure to head inside, where you can tour the chambers of King Carlos (who occupied the palace between 1863 and 1908) and pick up a nice memento from the upscale Pena gift shop.

Blue skies at the Palace of Pena.
Stunning panoramic views from the top.
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Hit The Beach At Cascais

The picturesque coastal town of Cascais, about a 35-minute drive outside of Lisbon center, is where soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will soon call home. With a seemingly endless string of boutiques, bars, restaurants, and Instagram-friendly beaches, Cascais is the place to be if you’re in search of a relaxing day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The sandy beaches of Cascais.
The coastal town boasts many shops and restaurants.
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Where To Eat

Capítulo Restaurant

For an authentic Portuguese dining experience, make a reservation at the Capítulo Restaurant, which is located within the Convent Square Lisbon, Vignette Collection.

For dinner, I recommend the cod fritters with coriander mayonnaise and wasabi to start, beef lion for main, and the traditional Portuguese dessert toucinho do céu (almond cake) to finish.

Don’t forget to order a cocktail from the nearby hotel bar to compliment your meal, where you’ll find one of the world’s most expensive tequilas, Clase Azul.

Tips For Visiting

Venture Outside Of Lisbon Center

If you’re staying for more than a few days, explore some of the surrounding tourist spots. Along with Cascais and the Palace of Pena, I recommend visiting the charming town of Sintra, where you can treat yourself to one of the region’s famous travesseiro pastries.

Pack Sunscreen

Even in the middle of autumn, the Portuguese sun can be very unforgiving, so come prepared.

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