I had a brief few days in Lisbon at the end of May and wish I could have stayed longer. The city exudes charm and liveliness; public spaces and parks are well utilized, creating a fun and vibrant energy throughout the streets. The Portuguese are passionate yet carefree, (both qualities I love!) Built on seven hills, Lisbon is steep, so be prepared for a lot of walking, and a lot of stairs – flats and sneakers are the go, so do it how the Lisboetas do.
Here are my tips and tricks for how to spend a few creative and delicious days in this beautiful city.
The most important thing – meal times. In order to immerse yourself in the city, you have to know when to eat.
9:00 – 11:00 breakfast – coffee and sweet pastry.
13:00 – 15:00 lunch.
17:00 lanche – pre-dinner snack (any excuse for an additional meal).
20:00 pre-dinner drinks.
Starting the day with coffee, Hello, Kristof has you sorted. Known as a magazine and coffee shop, their short (but ideal) menu, cakes, fresh juice and coffee made to perfection is your starting point. It’s not huge, so you may need to wait for a table, but everything here is created with passion. I did my homework with trailing pasteis de nata and I’d say hands down, Manteigaria reigns superior. Paired with an espresso, it’s the perfect in-between snack.
I stayed in the bohemian-cool Bairro Alto; central, colourful and easy access around the city. There are numerous furniculars that double as steep walking paths connecting different areas of the city. In most parks, there are small cafes, known locally as Quiosque’s, that are perfect for the quick coffee stop or light lunch break. I’m a big fan of raiding the local gourmet stores and markets and decking out an extravagant picnic lunch – always a highlight for trying the local foods and flavours.
One of my favourite things about Lisbon (besides the abundant seafood) was the azulejo, the decorative ceramic tile on many of the house facades. They’re intricate and perfectly colour considered – to me, showing a cultural importance and focus on design, form and style. My friends know, ceramics are one of ‘my things’, so head on over to Ceramicas Na Linha, a store where they sell ceramics by weight. Unfortunately, they don’t ship though, so be sensible with your purchases.
Portugal’s love for fish and seafood is reflected in the dining scene – make the most of this.
Seafood lunch – go early, wait in line, have coins handy if you’re after a refreshing beer while you wait.
Dinner highlight. Choose your own and take their recommendations. People watching (of chefs) at its best. Order all the octopus.
A Cevicheria, Bairro Alto
Cevicheria – no more to be said.
Food, interiors and outfits in the colour scheme of black, white and green.
Incredible dining experience and natural wine list. Impeccable service and bread as good as Paris.
Estrela da Bica
Petiscos, chilled out and fun. In a touristy area still with a neighbourhood feel.
Great for relaxed dinner or lanche. The best restaurants in Lisbon are all set up here in a warehouse styled communal eatery.
It’s delicious and bustling. Good luck choosing what to order!
Behind the markets, natural wine bar. Good vibes and live music.
Coffee and breakfast joint.
Rooftop bar, beautiful sunset views. Get there before the peak sunset rush. Take the stairs as the lift is slow.
Don’t be too precious – be prepared for a bit of European smoking.
The creamiest, most perfect pastel de nata. One a day – minimum.
Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology. Take the tram to Belem. Avoid peak times, the trams back will be full.
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere, history and creativity of Lisbon. Spend 4-5 days minimum.
You will be offered weed regularly.
Order all the octopus.
As always, please contact me for more tips and image usage. Enjoy the adventure!
All images Copyright Josie Withers.