Where to stay, eat, drink, shop and swim at Portugal’s vibrant capital city
It’s a gloomy and rainy afternoon in Vienna, while I am uploading the images of my Lisbon trip. Never have I thought that Lisbon would take my breath away the moment I arrived in this beautiful coastal capital.
With approximately 4.5 million annual visitors, Lisbon has a lot of international fans who visit the city for its historic ruins, music, strolling around the old town, trams, great food and of course– pasteis de nata.
Our journey started from Vienna to Lisbon, followed by a short trip to the Sesimbra region. Today, I want to share some of my personal tips and suggestions by the locals who have recommended new places where to eat, drink and what to see.
WHERE TO STAY
Lisbon is full of beautiful boutique hotels and beautiful guesthouses. It has many distinct neighborhoods that vary both in atmosphere and activity, so your experience will be different depending on where you stay.
Most of the luxury hotels are in Chiado or Avenida da Liberdade, but also in Baixa and Bairro Alto there are a lot of nice budget options. The city is large but the center is quiet small and walkable. There are good transport links to other districts, as well as with the uber. Lisbon’s historic center is filled with attractions, both high-street and more niche shopping, nice cafes and bars, but in some areas— noise can be an issue.
As I have been only to two hotels in Lisbon, I can highly recommend:
- The Vintage Hotel & Spa, Lisbon, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, Lisbon
- The Lumiares Hotel & Spa, Rua do Diário de Notícias, Lisbon
WHAT TO DO
Praça do Comércio
Lisbon has a lot of beautiful plazas, but one of the most important plaza’s in town—is Praça do Comércio. Before the terrific earthquake of 1755, the royal palace was located here, but today it is surrounded with yellow buildings, arcades, and a statue of Dom José I.
This is an ideal starting point to explore the city, and take a long walk through the narrow streets, and feel the city’s powerful vibes and thrilling history
Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira
Located in the Benfica neighbourhood, this Palace is about a 20-minute taxi ride from the city center. It is a 17th-century palace— built for Dom João Mascarenhas, 1st Marquis of Fronteira. A perfect location for architecture lovers and beautifully landscaped gardens.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Belém Tower is an architectural attraction and one of the absolute must-see places. Also known as the Tower of St. Vincent, it was originally constructed to defend the city. Later, the fortress acquired new life as both a lighthouse and customs office. You can combine the tower visit with a tour of the nearby Jerónimos Monastery, and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT).
Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT)
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is a project of the EDP Foundation. It opened in 2016 to help revitalize the Belém waterfront, bringing together visual arts, urban affairs, technology, and science. There are series of exhibitions (called Perspectives) pulled from the EDP’s archives of more than 250 contemporary Portuguese artists.
The Romanesque building, completed in 1150, is the city’s oldest church, and one of its most impressive features is the rose window, which was rebuilt with fragments from the original. This iconic church is located in an impressive old neighborhood, where you can take a ride with Tram 28.
If you’re in search of cultural adventure, hop on tram No. 28. This tram is manually operated (a circa-1930s old tram) and has a charming vintage aesthetic. Departing from Martim Moniz, then through neighborhoods like Graça, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, and São Bento. As you ride, you can see the Lisbon Cathedral and Portuguese Parliament building.
National Azulejo Museum
A museum of my dreams. Azulejos, or glazed tiles, and more that 300 pieces to see. This is a craft that has long played a role in Portugal’s cultural history. This museum’s Azulejos are decorative storytelling that traces the evolution of the azulejo from 16th-century handicraft to modern-day showstopper.
São Vicente de Fora
The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, meaning “Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls”, is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.
Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white, 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli.
Time Out Market
Time Out magazine has curated this upbeat food hall in Cais do Sodre, which successfully merges the worlds of culinary highbrow and lowbrow. Set within the old-school Mercado da Ribeira, where locals buy their meat and fish, it’s one of the best places in Lisbon to spend the day, eating and drinking from more than 50 different concepts.
WHERE TO EAT
Pastéis de Belém
Café A Brasileira
If you have never been to a Brazilian-Portuguese restaurant, you should book a table at this restaurant. Great food, service and vibes. A perfect place for dinner!
Loved the tacos and burritos here. A must for taco lovers!
A hot spot for ceviches. They are made with fresh fish that chef Kiko Martins hand-selects from Portuguese markets each morning. And besides ceviches, the pisco sours are the signature cocktails here. Make sure to reserve a table on time.
WHERE TO GO FOR SUNSET DRINKS
Lisbon trip is not complete without sunset drinks in a nice rooftop bar, here are my favourites:
The V Rooftop Bar
This gorgeous but tiny rooftop bar is located at The Vintage Hotel.
Lumi – Restaurante & Bar
The Lumi offers a contemporary menu from Chef Joao Silva, with spectacular views overlooking Lisbon’s skyline and the Tagus River.The rooftop bar and restaurant is located on the 5th floor of the hotel and offers high quality, locally sourced, seasonal food – with a focus upon fresh authentic ingredients.
Delicious food at the Lumi – Restaurante & Bar
One day at Sesimbra
TOP BEACH BARS IN LISBON
1. Bar Do Guincho, Praia do Guincho, Alcabideche
2. Bar do Peixe, Meco, Sesimbra
3. Praia da Princesa
4. Bohemian Beach Club
Praia da Princesa
WHERE TO SHOP
If you are looking for a sustainable and transparent brand, you should shop at Istro. Their style is minimal and it has a great quality and everything is produced in Portugal. The slow-fashion brand found in Embaixada, of forever basics for men and women. isto.pt
Casa do Passadiço
Located on the famous Avenida da Liberdade, it’s a perfect setting for sisters Cláudia and Catarina Soares Pereira’s thoughtfully curated antiques and art pieces, along with custom furniture, from ebony tables with engraved marble to plush velvet sofas. casadopassadico.com
If you are looking for sustainable and transparent brand, you should shop at Istro. Their style is minimal and it has a great quality and everything is produced in Portugal. The slow-fashion brand found in Embaixada, of forever basics for men and women. . isto.pt
Known for her whimsical creations at Anthropologie, Anna Westerlund is a Swedish-Portuguese artist’s multi-brand outpost in Chiado. Her creations like hand-painted jars, coffee mugs, bulbous, and her outfit-making beaded ceramic earrings share the spotlight with ethereal prints by illustrator Joana Soares and featherweight linen towels from France. annawesterlund.com
Juliana Bezerra Jewellery
Known for her naturalist pieces, Juliana Bezerra moved from Brazil to work in her atelier at Páteo Bagatela – Lisboa. Her main inspiration are the flowers, leaves, and shells. A true master of the jewellery manufacture at Juliana’s atelier, each mesmerising detail is designed after a careful process of drawing it into paper tracing organic forms. As a true jewellery fan, of course I bought earrings at Juliana Bezerra and met her personally at her atelier. julianabezerra.com
Photos (c) DisiCouture
*Unpaid collaboration / all recommended places are either the places that I have visited and self-paid, or suggested by the locals