1. For food lovers: Restaurante Leopold
This is Lisbon dining at its most intimate. The tiny, unassuming room has just four tables (reservations are essential) and the vibe is casual but elegant, from the playful cabbage-themed dinnerware to the minimalist jazz playlist. Ana Cachaço owns Leopold with her boyfriend, chef Tiago Feio, who mans the open kitchen. As she describes five wildly different dishes—each designed for sharing, of course—it’s clear that the couple’s togetherness and passion for the food is what makes the place so romantic. We order everything on the menu, each prepared single-handedly by Feio. The chef is an experimentalist and an innovator, using humble ingredients like root vegetables and bacalhau in radical and surprising combinations. We recommend ending the meal with glasses of port, served here with dried figs delivered in a charming tin box, then ambling hand-in-hand along the narrow, steep streets of Mouraria, the medieval Moorish district.
• Restaurante Leopold, Rua São Cristóvão 27, Lisbon, 351-21-886-1697
2. For nature lovers: Park of Pena
Located in Sintra—a quick 30-kilometre day trip west of Lisbon—the Palace of Pena is a fairy tale-like 19th-century construction of King Ferdinand II. It stands over an 85-hectare garden dotted with the vibrant flowers of 500 tree species. At times more of a forest than manicured royal grounds, the park has quiet, contemplative corners where time feels suspended. Walk in the lush camellia groves and snap photos fringed with flowers as the sound of running streams drowns out any external distractions. Couples on a tight schedule can find romance without leaving the city. Head to Belem’s Jardim Botanico da Ajuda, a walled secret garden that was once part of the Ajuda National Palace. Get lost among the gorgeously manicured hedges and 18,000 plant species from around the world.
• Park of Pena, Estrada da Pena 2710-609, Sintra, parquesdesintra.pt
• Jardim Botanico da Ajuda, Calçada da Ajuda 1300-011, Lisbon, 351-21-362-2503, jardimbotanicodajuda.com
3. For ocean lovers: Boca do Inferno, Cascais Portgual
Start your day in the beach town of Cascais, where you can pick up a blanket, bread, presunto (cured ham) and a bottle of Rioja. Set out on the picturesque ocean-side path, which winds past sun-kissed and windswept men casting fishing lines into the waves of the Atlantic. Once you reach Hell’s Mouth—a cave formation that’s far more enchanting than its name implies—choose one of the inviting patches of grass along the shore for your picnic. After a lazy lunch in the sun and salt-tinged breeze, take the steps down to the cliff edges for maximum wonder.
4. For street life lovers: A Ginjinha
Just north of Rossio Square, look for a mob of people outside a tiny store with “A Ginjinha Registada” written above the door. This is the only spot in Lisbon selling the original, Benedictine monk recipe for ginja—the sour cherry liqueur that is Portugal’s national beverage. Served con frutta in shot glasses, the nectar is best consumed in the square with your arm around your beloved, either at the foot of Pedro IV’s column or next to the elaborate bronze fountain (sure to cool you down in the summer). Take in the honey glow of the sun as it hits the churches and apartment buildings that climb the hills around you. If you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded, as we were, by a busker syllabically singing “Wonderwall.”
• A Ginjinha, Largo São Domingos 8, Lisbon
5. For chocolate lovers: Landeau Chocolate
There’s more to Lisbon’s sweet side than custard tarts. At this chic Chiado café down the street from Taberna da Rua das Flores (the area’s coolest restaurant) couples settle into side-by-side armchairs and indulge on the only food item on the menu: perfect chocolate cake. The dessert is rich, fresh, slightly salty and as gooey as cheesecake. The romantic thing to do is share a piece, but this stuff is so good, you’re certain to require a second slice.
• Landeau Chocolate, Rua das Flores 70, Lisbon, 351-91-727-8939, landeau.pt
Air Canada rouge offers non-stop summer flights from Toronto to Lisbon.