I’m so happy to announce my first guest writer: Wonderful Victoria from Berlin did a beautiful Lisbon guide. I’ve been to the city about five years ago, so too much time passed and it’s great having a different view, right? Victoria went this late summer and brought some nice tips – focusing on food and culture – A mix to love and which makes me want to go back to Lisbon asap. So take a bite of this lovely list!
1. Better Breakfast
Brunch is my all time favourite meal and if you have a day of exploring and walking ahead of yourself, you just have to start the day right – especially with those steep Lisbon hills! Luckily with »Dear Breakfast« the city just got a brand new brunch spot that is a gem: Clean, bright interior design (think white walls, marble tables, green plants) meets delicious food and drinks (think açai bowls, fruit and yogurt parfait, eggs any style, avocado toast, fresh juices, coffee of course). This place and the super friendly owners made my heart skip and I’m happy we stumbled across it. If you’re looking for alternatives: Just around the corner of »Dear Breakfast you’ll find »Hello Kristof« offering a winning combination of great coffee and international magazines and if you’re in the mood for some Danish pastry after all those Pastéis de Nata head over to the »Copenhagen Coffee Lab« for the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had.
Dear Breakfast: R. Gaivotas 17, 1200-649 Lisboa
Hello Kristof: R. do Poço dos Negros 103, 1200 Lisboa
Copenhagen Coffee Lab: R. Nova da Piedade 10, 1200-298 Lisboa
2. Paint the town red
Lisbon’s nightlife seems to be bustling every night of the week – be it in rustic, cosy taverns or in rooftop bars with a view. One of my favourite places was »Pensão Amor« – a quirky bar in a former brothel with burlesque performances and a perfect French 75.
R. do Alecrim 19, 1200-014 Lisboa
3. Get fancy
Feeling more like royalty and drinks in a palace than the red light district? Look no further than to the »Palácio Chiado«: Built in 1781, this beautiful palace with its decorative architecture and fresco paintings oozes history – images of days gone past with opulent dinners and decadent dances come to mind. During the 1970ies the venue also temporarily served as home to the »Instituto de Arte e Decoração«. In 2016, after careful restoration, the palace was finally transformed into a food court and now welcomes the public with several options for fine dining and drinks.
R. do Alecrim 70, 1200-018 Lisboa
4. Wine with a view
Once you’ve made your way up to the Castelo de São Jorge treat yourself to a glass of Portuguese wine from the cute »Wine with a view«-van and just take a moment to relax and muse upon the stunning view of the city. You might feel a little like being in Lisbon, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro all at the same time, when you discover the Ponte 25 de Abril, that looks remarkably like the Golden Gate bridge, and the Cristo Rei monument, that was inspired by the infamous Cristo Redentor statue…
R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa
5. Cake it if you can
I know this is a bit of a touristy cliché but you simply cannot go to Lisbon without having a Pastel de Nata (or Pastel de Belém). Even though you can get them at any corner shop why not take a trip to Belém and go straight to the place with – so legend has it – the original, secret recipe? Apparently Portugal’s most famous dessert originated in the Heironymite Monastery and it is said that to the present day the »Confeitaria Pastéis de Belém« bakes their tartes following that safely guarded recipe that was passed on in the 19th century. I don’t know if it was partly due to the joy after having made the wait (expect a queue), but I have to say they were delicious! After you got your pastel fix head over to the monastry to say a little prayer of gratitude for these sweet treats.
R. Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa
6. Culture’s center
Set in the facilities of a former threads and fabrics company dating back to 1846 the LX Factory has been transformed into an urban playground for all kinds of creative industries like design, fashion, music, visual and performing arts – and yes, also shopping and more food! Having lived in the Ruhr area as well as London, this place reminded me of both: a perfect combination of revived »industrial cathedrals« and the East End vibe.
I especially loved the »Ler Devagar« (»Read Slowly«) bookstore, which I heard was actually listed as one of the ten most beautiful bookstores in the world and I can see why. Though sadly I cannot read Portuguese this is a truly inspiring place – and in the end I even found an English cookbook with Portuguese recipes to take home with me.
1300, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisboa
7. Life’s a beach
What’s great about Lisbon is that it combines the best of both worlds: A vibrant city and beach life. On our holiday we took a trip to Portugal’s west coast around the area of Peniche – but you don’t have to travel that far. You can reach several beaches around the capital easily by public transport. So don’t miss the ocean view while you are there!
8. Time travel
Take a daytrip to Sintra (around 25 km from Lisbon) and travel back in time. I think I have never seen so many castles and palaces in one spot. Though I was overwhelmed by the colourful beauty of the Palácio Nacional da Pena, I must say if I had to recommend only one, it would definitely be the Palácio and Parque de Monserrate, located a little outside of the historical town centre. Not only is it so much less crowded but to me it was also the most stunning: You can walk around the garden grounds for hours and feel carried away to a far away exotic place and also the villa itself has a very oriental and delicate feel to it. 2710-405 Sintra
9. Stay grounded – walk!
Rather than hoping on the Tram 28 (that admittedly will take you past lots of Lisbon’s sights) I would recommend to walk and discover the city by foot. Get lost in the small historical streets, look at the beautiful houses, each one decorated with different tiles, stop for a coffee and just soak in the atmosphere – I often find this is enough to get a first idea of a new city.
As this was my first – and far too short – visit to Lisbon I have only scratched the surface and will return for sure… So here are some things I have already added to my »to do«-list for next time:
Teatro da Garagem (Garage Theatre): There seemed to be no performances going on during our stay – maybe it’s currently the theatre Summer break just like here in Germany. According to the company’s website their work is dedicated to theatre experimentation, exploring new scenic forms and innovative writing – which sounds like it could be exactly my cup of tea and worth exploring. So I will be sure to check out the programme when I return. In the venue you also find the »Café da Garagem«, with a super relaxed atmosphere and a panoramic view over the city.
On my trips I usually try to squeeze in time for the local textile and fashion museum, if there is one. However, the MUDE – Museu do Design e da Moda, is temporarily closed down due to renovation works. So there is something more to look forward to!
Underdog Gallery: I read about this place whilst browsing a magazine at »Dear Breakfast« on my last morning – sadly I had to set off for the airport soon and had no more time to actually check it out. But it seems like an interesting place: an exhibition space showcasing contemporary urban-inspired artists and work that e.g. reflects on the city itself.