Pretty tiles, great wine, the buzz of Barrio Alto and the romantic streets of Alfama. Its safe to say I fell in love with Lisbon and its rugged charm. Here’s my alternative travel guide to some of the best hidden gems I discovered whilst exploring Portugal’s capital city – from restaurants and bars to shopping and sightseeing.
This lovely little restaurant is tucked away on the other side of the river Tagus – so you’ll have to catch a ferry there. Set right on the waters edge under the 25 de Abril Bridge, its slightly hard to find. So look out for its bright yellow tables and chairs sprawled out on the river bank in front of the restaurant. Ponto Final serves up an honest menu of delicious seafood dishes with good wine to match. Food aside, it’s the perfect secluded spot to escape the bustle of the city whilst still enjoying a fantastic view of its skyline from across the water as you dine.
Cortico & Netos
Lisbon is famous for its beautiful Azulejos. You’ll find them tiled on buildings, walls and everything in between all over the city! But everywhere you go you’ll also see the Azulejos’ original patterns and styles altered and shaped into souvenirs for tourists. If like me you want your very own more authentic piece of Lisbon to take home with you, then tile shop Cortico & Netos is well worth a visit. The shop’s primary goal is to help preserve the Portuguese tile industry, selling Azulejos and other ceramics of discontinued design lines from Portuguese factories. This means that the Azulejos sold there are both unique and invaluable – there’s lots of choice and they are very reasonable (between €1 and €5 per tile).
Taberna Ti Camila
Its location isn’t exactly hidden – right opposite from the Fado museum, but this little bar could be easily missed among the tumble of chairs and tables sat out on the spindly streets of Alfama. Make sure you don’t. Not only is their Sangria the best I had in Lisbon, served with a mix of fruit and cinnamon sticks, but they make their own wine too. Enjoy a glass of it poured straight from the barrel, or even buy a bottle to take away for a fraction of the price.
LX Factory is an example of gentrification at its finest. What was once one of Lisbon’s most important manufacturing factories, has now been transformed into a creative hub that gives a home to the city’s artists, designers and entrepreneurs alike. Here you’ll find a mix of galleries, independent restaurant and bars and boutique shops. Yet the place stays true to its roots – with a rough and ready industrial look and feel remaining throughout, as well as lots and lots of street art.
Miradouro da Nossa senhora do Monte
There’s plenty of miradouro’s nestled among Lisbon’s seven hills. But this one is the best. It’s a little bit more of a steep walk to the top than some of the others, but it’s well worth it for the view. Here, you can see all the sights of Lisbon laid out at your feet. From the castle in the east, to the 25 Advil bridge gleaming in the south west, and the sprawl of terracotta roofs and pastel walls in between. Make sure to head up there in the evening to catch the most beautiful view of the sun setting over the city.
Topo is certainly not a bar you’d stumble upon accidentally, perched on top of a weary shopping centre in Bairro Alto. However, the bar itself is far from shabby. Neutrally but stylishly decorated, and with an outdoor terrace that gives you an unspoiled view of the São Jorge Castle on the opposite hill. Their drinks menu is also pretty reasonable with plenty of cocktails, local beers, wines and prosecco to choose from. The best time to head up there is mid afternoon before it gets too busy so you can grab a seat, and relax in the sun.
Street art tours
Forget about having to visit a gallery to see some art – because in Lisbon, it’s everywhere. The street art scene is massive here, and continuously growing, and exploring it is a must. You can discover amazing work by both Portuguese and global artists by simply wandering around any of Lisbon’s districts. Try Alfama in particular. But if you want some context behind what you’re seeing, a company called ‘Lisbon Street Art Tours’ do guided tours of the city’s best pieces. Read my other post about Lisbon street art here.
This is not by all means not an exhaustive list of all Lisbon’s hidden treasures, but hopefully should be enough to get you started in exploring this fantastic city. Have fun!