When people talk about Lisbon, they all same the same thing: Lisbon is amazing. And, guess what? It is. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and cool and mysterious. Fundamentally, it’s just a nice place to be. When you stroll the limestone streets, you feel grateful and happy to be there: it’s spectacular azul skies are crystal clear and there are surprises in the form of tucked away cafes at every turn. (It’s worth noting that it does offer efficient public transit options in the form of an underground metro and trolley system, but, why bother when there is so much to look at?) The cuisine is simple, but fresh — fish with a little olive oil, sea salt and oregano is favored — and it’s known for its salted cod or bacalhau, which is a staple on most menus and a must-try. In addition to the many wonderful restaurants, including Das Flores and Seame, the Mercat Riberia (pictured below) offers a combination of a traditional open air market in a trendy, arcade-style hall filled with restaurant stalls.
And the revival of the arts and crafts movement makes for great shopping. Among them is A Vida Portugeuse, which offers a treasure trove of products created and fabricated in Portugal. Chapelaria D Aquino (pictured below) offers a great selection of hats handmade in Portugal from only natural fibers (you’ll need to pick one up; the sun is strong), and We3 Concept store stocks only Portuguese designers, included the shoe line Catarina Martins, which are produced just north of Lisbon in Porto.
To Stay: Casa De Santos Bed and Breakfast. It’s nestled in the heart of the Bica and the Santa Catarina districts, which are the new buzzy neighborhoods with new restaurants, cafes and shops popping up daily. It’s also close to the river and an easy walk to public transit. Even if you don’t stay here, pop in for their buffet breakfast. At 6 euro, it’s well worth it.
To Eat/Drink: Seame Piexeria Moderna for excellent seafood and fish. It’s lively and also offers great people watching.
Das Flores for an authentic, local dining experience. This place is tiny and jam-packed. There’s often a wait, but it’s well worth it.
Deli Delux for a fun, outdoor dining experience. This place is tucked behind a gourmet “deli” and sits right on the river.
The Park is worth visiting at sunset. It’s on the (unused) top floor of a parking garage and feels like a tropical oasis. It also offers great views of the city.
To Visit: LX Factory. Walk through two giant iron doors into a creative compound of warehouses filled with restaurants and shops.