Lisbon is a great city for solo travelers! To begin with, it's safe. So safe that, in 2023, Portugal was ranked as the 6th safest country in the word, just behind Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark and Austria. Portuguese have a reputation of being quite welcoming, and most of the local population speaks English. On top of all of these positive points, there are plenty of activities which you can do to meet fellow travelers with a keen interest in food while you travel around the Portuguese capital.
So if you don’t have a group of friends willing to take this trip with you or, why not, you like going solo because you're a spirited and independent trailblazer, you can be rest assured that, here in Lisbon, you will only be by yourself if that is what you actually choose to do when you feel like it.
These are some food and wine related activities you can join to meet new people and make friends in Lisbon:
Do a wine tasting near Lisbon
There is no shortage of opportunities to taste nice portuguese wines downtown, whether it is at some of Lisbon's best wine bars or during organized activities where experts will share with you tips that will take your wine appreciation and knowledge to the next level. Here at Cooking Lisbon itself, we organize an experience called Winemaker for a Day during which you get to learn (and taste!) more about the different beverages from Portugal’s distinct wine regions.
There's no denying that a drink or two helps even the shyest folks to loosen up, so if you’re a little unsure of how to strike up conversation in a random setting in order to make new friends, joining an organized tour during which alcoholic drinks are a must, can help make things flow.
Take a tour starting in Lisbon, or go directly to some of the most interesting wineries near Lisbon, where they organize visits to the vineyards, the cellars and themed wine tastings. If you're not sure where to go, we have great tips on some of the best wineries near Lisbon and how to get there.
Go eat at restaurants where you can sit at the counter or at a communal table
We're not particularly fond of eating alone. That's OK for breakfast or a coffee break mid afternoon, but for lunch and especially dinner, we like having good company. If you share the sentiment with us, don’t worry, because there is certainly no need for you to sit by yourself when you go out for a meal in Lisbon, and have to stare awkwardly into your phone as you wait for your meal to arrive at the table.
There are several restaurants in the city which make dining out alone a more fun experience. We can think of those where you get to sit by the counter, thus having first row seats to the bar area and, if the kitchen is open, even granting you the possibility of seeing the action taking place inside. Seating by the counter is great to chit chat with the restaurant's staff and, if the people around you are open for it and you're in the mood for it too, strike up a conversation with fellow diners.
Some of our favorite restaurants in Lisbon where you can eat by the counter, include:
Coelho da Rocha
To try the regional cuisine of Alentejo
📍 Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon
Michelin guide recommended Portuguese food
📍 Calçada da Ajuda 14, 1300-598 Lisboa
For all thing pork
📍 Rua 4 de Infantaria 68, 1350-274 Lisbon
Bistro 100 Maneiras
Curious to know how a Micelin star chef blends Portuguese food with Yugoslavian influences? Come here to find out…
📍Largo da Trindade 9, 1200-466 Lisbon
Come here only if you're ready to try one of Lisbon’s best “bifana” pork sandwiches in a busy, noisy but oh-so-delicious atmosphere
📍 Praça Luís de Camões 48, 1200-283 Lisbon
Joining a dining experience where you are invited to sit at a common table, is another delicious way of meeting fellow foodies who are living in the city or simply passing by.
If you are open for this kind of intimate experience, we can’t help but recommend a few restaurants with a communal table set-up:
For a fancy dining experience with contemporary Portuguese cuisine
📍Campo de Santa Clara 128, 1100-473 Lisbon
For a Chef's Table Experience - 1 table,10 seats
📍Rua da Alegria 41C, 1250-182 Lisbon
Go have dinner at a local’s home
Making friends with fellow travelers can be great, but if you are visiting Portugal, chances are you'd be open to also meeting some Portuguese folks, right? Even though most of us speak languages and are generally friendly and open, it isn't always easy to actually get to hang out with us. After all, local people are going about their lives whilst tourists are in vacation mode and have time to hang out following different schedules.
Having dinner at a local person's home can be a great way not only to meet Lisbon locals but to also get a proper insight on how Portuguese people eat at home and what our life is really like. In an ideal world, you'd be meeting Portuguese people who would later invite you to eat at their place. That of course can still happen but, if we were to be more realistic, we'd suggest not to count on that right away and instead book a dinner at a local’s home, which is something readily available via tour companies.
Eating at home with a Portuguese family you will get to try home-style cooking, which is often different from the food you get to taste at Lisbon’s restaurants. And, around the table, you'll see how compelling topics of conversation come up, about Portuguese culture and more. Dine, wine and have a great time!
Join a themed supper club
If going straight to a local's home feels a bit too intimidating, join a larger group experience such as a supper club. Supper clubs are a delicious way of taking a culinary journey to different regions of the world. They tend to be immersive dining experiences where you get to try new foods but algo meet new people!
Here in Lisbon the popularity of supper clubs is certainly on the raise. Searching online, you will find dining experiences dedicated to traditional Portuguese cooking, the contemporary gastronomy of Portugal, international cuisines and even those focusing specifically on vegetarian or vegan foods.
Because supper clubs tend to be fairly intimate experiences in a private setting, they are usually ideal to meet new people and actually get to connect!
Take a Portuguese cooking class
Last but not least, we can’t help but suggest that you come join us for a few delicious hours here at Cooking Lisbon. Whether you are joining with your friends or family or, in this case, coming by yourself, it's part of our job to make you feel at home the moment you step into our cooking school.
At Cooking Lisbon we’re not only about teaching some of the best Portuguese recipes (yes, that includes irresistible pastel de nata made from scratch!) we're also about spending quality time behind the stove and around the table, thus creating memories which we hope turn into some of the highlights of your Lisbon travels.
Is there something that brings people together more than food? We don’t think so! So come do a cooking class with us and meet fellow travelers who like to bond with new friends over a shared meal cooked together.