I’ve just returned from a few sunny days in Lisbon, a city that I’d previously made the mistake of overlooking. Portugal just wasn’t on my radar – not part of my European canon of long-cherished dream travel experiences. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lisbon is white-hot at the moment and buzzing like crazy. As I write, they are hosting Eurovision and the city is reaching fever pitch with passionate fans of the annual song contest descending in droves. The food in Lisbon is fantastic, the people are friendly, and the prices are reasonable – for example, we made their excellent transit system our bitch for 3 days and it cost less than 15 euros each, including our trip to the airport.
I’d tell you to go, but the secret is already out – it seems like half the people I know are already planning to visit, or are wandering around those crazy cobblestone streets right now.
I love sharing other people’s wonderful media and photography and no matter how much I fill my phone with snaps, I appreciate the next level photography I find online:
Richard Ayoade just slays me – his Travel Man series may veer off into silly an awful lot, but you still get a good sense of the city:
Food and Drink
We really lucked out on this trip for eating well. I did a little bit of research and ‘starred’ a few noteworthy places (something I talk about here), but we also threw a few random walks down random streets into the mix and were handsomely rewarded for our adventurous spirit.
Honorato Hamburgueres Artesanais – totally random pick, saw it across the street while walking in our AirBnB’s neighborhood, knew we were on to something awesome before we even crossed the threshold. They have a simple menu of burgers, and they endeared me to them further by offering mini versions at smaller price points. Wash your burger down with a fishbowl-sized gin & tonic – flip through their impressive cocktail menu, or order their cocktail of the day.
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Time Out Market – all I can say is WOW! This place! Bring your appetite, bring your patience, suppress your aversion to crowds, because this place is absolutely amazing. I’ll let Time Out explain it in their own words:
Have a look at their Instagram page here to get a sense of the size and scale of the market. Our group opted to sit outside – it was such a lovely, sunny day and a bit more peaceful to sit and get table service at Balcão da Esquina. My pork sandwich seemed like a quick choice while scanning the menu but it was damn tasty, on some of the best bread I’ve eaten in ages. While wandering around the market after lunch, I could see myself coming back to Lisbon on a longer trip, simply to have more opportunities to eat at all the other excellent restaurants.
And a huge thanks to this Guardian city guide for tipping me off to Palácio Chiado, a palatial (#sorrynotsorry) set of five restaurants under one roof. The best part? You can order off all five menus no matter where you are seated. This meant we could start with Spanish acorn-fed 100% Ibérico ham, olives and bread, move on to a Hawaiian poke bowl filled with bite-sized chunks of sushi-grade raw salmon and Japanese flavours, while the husband could go another healthy direction – grilled tuna covered in chimichurri sauce on a bed of millet and sweet potatoes. Then I veered over into Italy for some gelato, and Jeff finished things off with a nice glass of port. A great restaurant if you and your group aren’t quite sure what you’re in the mood for, but you know you want great food in beautiful surroundings. Sounds like me, all the time.
You don’t go to a city dubbed ‘The City of Seven Hills’ without craving a few lookout points. A few of my favourites:
Miradouro de Santa Luzia – calling it an observation deck just seems so clinical. Resplendent with red roses, a pergola, and sweeping views of the city and the Tagus River.
Castelo de S. Jorge – a Moorish castle from the 11th century. Of course, there’s much more to explore than just the view.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos – take the elevator to the top of this monument for stunning views of the Tagus River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, and a beautiful suspension bridge called Ponte 25 de Abril.
I’m a big enthusiast of simply wandering, especially in such a sunny, warm city – stroll through ancient squares, have a glass of Vinho Verde on a sidewalk while watching the world go by, do a bit of shopping, and enjoy your city break. But if you need ideas….