The Other Iberia: Lisbon, Portugal

 

Portugal’s vibrant capital city beautifully blurs the line between holiday and city break. Follow our top tips to see why this is the European city to visit right now.

SEE

Once frequented by local intellectuals including the late poet Fernando Pessoa, A Brasileira is well worth a coffee stop. Prepare for a day of city wandering with a “bica” or espresso, and take in the intricate, super traditional surroundings.

History buffs will love wandering through the impressive walls of the Castelo São Jorge – in case you were wondering, it is definitely worth the up-hill trek. The gigantic Moorish fortress sits on one of Lisbon’s highest hilltops, ominously overlooking the city streets. Make sure you catch a glimpse of it at sunset, when the walls glow bright orange.

PLAY

A stone’s throw from A Brasileira, you’ll find A Vida Portuguesa, a beautifully curated concept store. Both traditional and modern Portuguese designs and fine objects are displayed from floor to ceiling – everything from traditional shaving accessories to handcrafted stationery.

The hip, former bohemian quarter Bairro Alto, transforms from early evening. The doorways that line the narrow, picturesque streets are flung open to reveal colourful clandestine bars and boutiques and a young, trendy crowd appear from out of nowhere. Our favourite haunts include The Old Pharmacy Wine Inn and Maria Caxuxa.

EAT & DRINK

For typically Portuguese fare in staggeringly beautiful Moorish surroundings, head to Casa do Alentejo. The unassuming entrance belies the decadence and size of the interior, which also houses a private dining room, a courtyard bar and various other opulent chambers which guests are allowed to wander in and out of. The simple menu offers no frills Portuguese fare. We recommend opting for any seafood dish for a truly local experience.

Lisbon offers a bounty of rooftop bars but our favorite has to be Park. Situated on the top floor of an unassuming multi-storey carpark near Bairro Alto, trendy locals flock here for the chilled garden vibe and the panoramic views. Head here for sunset, and watch the city grow dark with a Sagres in hand.

STAY

More boutique hotel than hostel, make The Independente the bolt hole of your choice during your stay. The trendy, industrial-lux interior boasts a total of 90 beds and 11 dorms, each with their own lounge area. If you can afford to take it up a notch, opt for one of the four special suites and enjoy complimentary breakfast on your own balcony, overlooking the Tagus River. Dining at the in-house restaurant, The Decadente, is a must. Their contemporary take on tapas-style dishes are to die for.