Charming and colourful, hilly and historic, ravishing and rugged, optimistic and outgoing: words that aptly describe the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. One of Europe’s oldest cities, Lisbon’s winding streets are alive with the clatter of trams, the hubbub of chattering locals, and the many delicious aromas that emanate from an eclectic mix of cafes and eateries. With Portugal’s colonial past, Lisbon reaps the benefits of a wonderful mishmash of varied cultures and traditions. Cosmopolitan and cool, the city is, on the whole, free from any sense of affectation, enjoying a quiet, live and let live mentality.
Rooftops in Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood. Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash.
Hilly Lisbon. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.
Built on seven hills, walking in Lisbon is not for the faint-hearted (although walking is the best way to traverse and see the city). Thankfully, for those who prefer a seat on the move, Lisbon’s famous vintage yellow trams, its jaunty tuk-tuks and small, but efficient metro, will take you where you need to go. Whatever your choice of transport, Lisbon is a city firmly rooted in a ‘slow-living’ way of life—a joy once you adapt to the pace.
The famous vintage yellow Lisbon tram. Image via The Guardian.
Sadly, Lisbon is blighted by cruise ships and, like many popular destinations, may soon move towards vehemently rebuking tourists. On days when these monstrous ships dock in the city’s cruise port, swarms of eager day trippers descend upon the nearby old, cobbled centre. With just a few hours allotted for sightseeing before their ships once again set sail, the majority of these tourists have three things on their agenda: hop onboard Tram 28 (a popular route that passes many of the city’s attractions along the way), take a tuk-tuk tour, and grab a pastel de nata (the humble Portuguese custard tart). But Lisbon, a playful and thriving city, is so much more than a brief stop on some cruise ship’s agenda. Away from the tourist trails, off the beaten track, Lisbon rewards the curious visitor with a great deal of surprises.
Explore Lisbon with these smart tips from LZF for worldly travellers:
Check-in at The Lisboans
Live more like a local. Located in a UNESCO World Heritage area (in downtown Lisbon), The Lisboans boutique hotel is housed in a recently renovated former canned food factory. Its fifteen bright and airy apartments enjoy high ceilings, tall windows and French balconies; each apartment is furnished with an eclectic array of Portuguese designs. Apartments include a fully-equipped kitchen and every morning, guests at The Lisboans will find a bag of fresh breads and orange juice hanging outside their door.
A bright apartment living space at The Lisboans. Image © 2018 The Lisboans Apartments.
A smart apartment dining space at The Lisboans. Image © 2018 The Lisboans Apartments.
Have breakfast at Dear Breakfast
An ode to breakfast, Dear Breakfast opened its doors in August 2017 in the Sao Bento neighbourhood of Lisbon. This calm and cosy space offers an all-day fusion of breakfast staples, inspired by a range of international cultures. It’s a great place to linger and take it easy, with friendly staff to boot.
Dear Breakfast counter. Image via Dear Breakfast.
Cool, calm and collected at Dear Breakfast. Image via Dear Breakfast.
Sip some joe at Café Boavida
For a laid-back coffee fix, it has to be Café Boavida. Or after a day of wandering around the city, stop by Café Boavida for a glass of wine and some tantalising small plates. This low-key establishment has no website—find it at Rua do Poço dos Negros 119.
Find your creative edge at LX Factory
Set in a former industrial manufacturing complex, LX Factory is an urban project in one of Lisbon’s grittier districts. A veritable creative island, LX Factory includes an amalgamation of happening fashion, fine arts, architecture, music, arty retailers and cafes.
Peruse the titles at Under the Cover
This bijou book and magazine shop has an expertly curated selection of mainly independent, modern titles. At Under the Cover, an emphasis is placed on free expression and provocative thinking.
A selection of the many fine titles at Under the Cover. Image © 2018 under the cover.
Find genuine Portuguese wares at A Vida Portuguesa
Set time aside, A Vida Portuguesa will captivate and conquer your mind, heart and wallet. This original shop believes in a future for old Portuguese products, such as soaps, pencils, ceramics and notebooks. Aesthetically pleasing and most welcoming, A Vida Portuguesa is a Lisbon must-see—find its beautiful main store in the heart of the Chiado neighbourhood.
A Vida Portuguesa was made for some serious browsing. Image via Ideal & Co.
Stock up on fine foods and wine at Prado Mercearia
Prado Mercearia is a sister establishment of The Lisboans. This handsome grocers is a haven for fine Portuguese foods and wine—it’s that grocers every neighbourhood wishes it had. Prado Mercearia has a well-stocked range of natural and biodynamic wines, the best bread in Lisbon and a colourful array of tinned tuna and sardines. After stocking up, sit by the window and enjoy a coffee or craft Portuguese beer. Find Prado Mercearia beneath The Lisboans at Rua Pedras Negras 35.
Have dinner at Os Gazeteiros
This small hidden gem, close to Lisbon’s cathedral, serves a daily tasting menu and a selection of natural Portuguese wines. Dishes at Os Gazeteiros are imaginative, beautifully presented and delicious—they are served with aplomb and to the beat of some smooth jazz tunes.
Wines at Os Gazeteiros. Image © andershusa.com.
In Lisbon, find life, love and laughter. Enjoy.