Lisbon: Tracing the Roots of an Imperial Cuisine - Atlas Obscura

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon: Tracing the Roots of an Imperial Cuisine

Lisbon is one of the world's greatest food cities, and you'll experience the very best of it. Visit markets and farms, meet fishermen and bakers, learn to make Portuguese specialties, and eat and drink glorious delicacies, all while getting the chance to explore one of Europe's most beautiful cities. 

Journey beyond the city’s tiled buildings and narrow streets to discover the long legacy and vibrant present of culinary inventiveness in Lisbon.

We’ll learn about the voyages and trade routes that stocked the city’s pantry with spices, and sample the contemporary fare that inflects traditional dishes with Goan influences. We’ll enjoy iconic egg-custard pastries, baked in the shadow of historic convents, and venture far past the city center to get an insider perspective on fresh-from-the-water seafood at the city’s bustling ports. At far-flung farms and vineyards, we’ll get our fill of the region’s famous salt-cured ham and local wines. This six-day journey will be a feast for your eyes and your stomach.

This trip is limited to a small group of 12 explorers.


  • Engage your senses and your hands: On visits to farms and the city’s distinctive restaurants, you’ll get an insider’s view of Lisbon's distinctive food scene. You’ll also join in yourself, getting the chance to prepare the region’s beloved buttery, egg-custard tarts.
  • Shop magnificent markets: You'll eat your way across Lisbon's traditional market, meeting butchers, bakers, and greengrocers, and sampling the city's delicacies.
  • See seafood as locals do: Down at the historic docks, mingle with fishermen and survey the fresh catch before feasting on cod cakes and goose barnacles.
  • Experience one of the world's greatest food cities like a local: You'll get a chance to eat and drink the very best Lisbon has to offer. 


Célia Pedroso, Bureau Chief
Célia, Culinary Backstreets' Lisbon bureau chief, is a freelance journalist, writing mostly about travel and food. She is the co-author of the book Eat Portugal, winner of a Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Her work can also be seen in The Guardian and Eater, and she has appeared on television productions including the Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil." Célia wrote the Portuguese entries for the book 1001 Restaurants you Must Experience Before you Die, and has been leading culinary tours since 2014. She keeps searching for the best pastéis de nata so you don't have to. 


A $500 deposit is required to secure your spot. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. We have limited capacity and expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $3,375—the $500 deposit plus the $2,875 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including all accommodations, meals, and activities listed in the itinerary below. 


Please email us at or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.

Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 1
Welcome to Lisbon!
  • As travelers arrive, we’ll gather at our hotel for a welcome drink and begin getting to know our guides.
  • Afterward, we’ll take to the water: A chartered cruise will ferry us to a delicious al fresco dinner with a panoramic view of the city.
Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 2
A Culinary Crossroads, Explored
  • We’ll start the day by awakening our senses at a classic pastry shop beside the 18th-century Estrela Basilica. As we munch, we’ll be transported back in time, to the era when Lisbon was at the epicenter of the spice trade.
  • From there, we’ll journey off the beaten path—and to the present day—in the Campo de Ourique neighborhood, a “city within a city.” Here, we’ll learn about some of Lisbon's hidden history, such as plots to subvert the Salazar dictatorship that dominated the country in the 20th century.
  • On our way to one of Lisbon’s finest traditional markets, we’ll also enjoy a belly-warming shot of ginjinha, a local liqueur made from alcohol-soaked sour cherries. Once we arrive, we’ll visit fishmongers, butchers, greengrocers, and bakers. We’ll descend into a bookseller’s secret basement, which stocked contraband literature during the dictatorship.
  • At lunch time, we’ll nibble our way around the neighborhood. First, we’ll try a few traditional seasonal specialties, and then we’ll move along to a hidden gem that has been upholding a family’s culinary traditions for generations. At a private association with a subversive past, we’ll dig into vindalho—a curry dish with ancestral roots in both Goa and Portugal. 
  • After resting up at the hotel in the early evening, we’ll savor the sunset and take in an outdoor film on a rooftop near the ruins of the Carmo Convent, where we’ll feast on sweeping views and plenty of snacks.
Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 3
A Sense of the Sea
  • Today, we’ll dive into Lisbon’s port district—where varinas, itinerant fishmongers, once peddled their catch from baskets hoisted on their heads—and learn about the deep affinity the city has for the sea.
  • We’ll begin with a bite at a neighborhood bakery, followed by a bica, a Portuguese-style espresso, at a wood-fired roastery still preparing coffee the old-fashioned way.
  • Next, we’ll wind through the neighborhood and its narrow alleys, catching the smell of fish roasting on charcoal grills. Down at the port, we’ll stop into port workers’ favorite grill joint, where—if we’re lucky—we’ll try in-season sardines.
  • As we continue following the river to the east, we’ll reach Alcântara, a working-class district where local workers nurtured a lively culinary culture that includes some of the city’s best cervejaria, or no-frills seafood, and beer halls, as well as venues for fado, Lisbon’s unique musical tradition. Here, we’ll visit a few local favorites in search of delicious cod cakes, shrimp, local clams, and goose barnacles harvested from Portugal’s rocky coast. In these comfortable neighborhood institutions, we’ll do what Lisbon’s locals have perfected: relax and enjoy the freshest seafood in the world with a cold glass of vinho verde.
  • You’ll have the evening free to discover Lisbon after dark.
Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 4
Sweet & Sacred Delights
  • After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll travel to the the lavishly tiled Convento das Trinas do Mocambo, a former convent now home to the navy’s Hydrographic Institute. On a private tour, we’ll learn about the building’s intricate decoration and Portugal’s Moorish heritage.
  • From there, we’ll journey to Lisbon’s last active convent. Hiding behind the whitewashed walls in the city center, it withstood the devastating 1755 earthquake and remains awash in original details. Here, we’ll eat lunch, tour the convent’s art collection, and try our hands at making pastel de nata, the locally beloved egg-yolk tart.
  • After sampling our custard delicacies, we’ll have a few free hours to explore the city before regrouping at the hotel to head to a multi-course Goan feast at Jesus é Goês. where the boisterous chef, Jesus, will describe the relationship between Portuguese and Goan cuisine.
Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 5
The Rural Connection
  • After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we’ll get an early start and drive out Alentejo region, southeast of the city. At a traditional farm, we’ll learn to bake the region’s signature loaves of bread, and then we’ll head out to the fields to learn about the local olives, cork production, and Iberia’s famous black-hoofed pigs.
  • We’ll lunch on cozido à portuguesa, a hearty meat stew with delicious regional variations that’s sometimes called the “national dish of Portugal.”
  • After our meal, we’ll make our way to a small producer of wine and cheese. We’ll enjoy a tour and tasting, accompanied by region’s famous presunto, cured Iberian ham.
  • In the evening, we’ll return to Lisbon for a much-needed good night’s sleep.
Rodrigo Cabrita
Day 6
Hidden Neighborhood Heritage
  • This morning, you’ll be free to zip or wander around the city on your own.
  • After lunch, we’ll meet up at the hotel, where a fleet of tuk tuks—three-wheeled, motorized rickshaws—will be waiting. We’ll ride through the city’s winding streets, stopping into a number local cultural institutions to hear their stories. Over a quick drink, we’ll meet the people keeping these institutions vibrant.
  • We’ll tuck into a delicious farewell meal at a contemporary Portuguese restaurant, celebrating our final night in Portugal over local wines and fresh takes on classic fare.
Day 7
Farewell & Departure
  • Return to the Lisbon Airport in time for your flight home. 
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print



  • All lodging in a modern, well-equipped boutique hotel throughout the trip. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $525. Otherwise we'll work to place singles of the same sex together.)
  • All meals and transportation during the trip, including in a private coach for visits outside the center city. Travel within the city will be by foot and public transportation.
  • An experienced, local English-speaking guides to accompany you throughout the trip.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that Lisbon has to offer!


For flights in and out of Lisbon International Airport (LIS), we suggest you arrive anytime before 3 p.m. on June 24 and depart anytime on the morning of June 30. We are happy to book you extra nights at the group's hotel and provide suggestions for things to do and see in the city on your own.


Itineraries are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific activities and events in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change in coming months. If any activity or attraction that is advertised is missed or not available, then we will always replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value.


Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking 3 to 5 miles each day and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Keep in mind that Lisbon is a bustling and crowded place!


You will be charged a non-refundable $500 deposit to hold your space. The final payment of $2,875 will be due by March 24, 2019. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $525 will be included in the final payment.


  • Transportation and flights to and from Lisbon. 
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Baggage charges.
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings.
  • If applicable, applying for a Portuguese visa (not required for U.S. citizens).

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