It is quite interesting that my beloved hometown – Lisboa, or Lisbon for you foreigners – is becoming quite a popular destination for weekend breaks. This is good news for the “current economic climate”, but also because, in my humble opinion, it is quite a place.
More often that not, I get asked by friends and friends of friends (I’d say at least once a week!) so an email is ready to be forwarded. But with this blog soft-launch, why not go all the way and share my favourite places?
They are not the latest places that opened in town – they are my favourites, some of them I have been going for 10 years and always have a brilliant experience. You can take my word for it!
Lisbon is quite a compact city and you should take the opportunity to have a look around. On this page you’ll find some recommendations and links to external sites.
Taxis are cheaper than anywhere else in Europe and easy to find 24 hours a day. Two useful numbers, in case you need to call one – Teletaxis (+351) 218111100 or Radiotaxis – 218119000. Taxis only take 4 passengers, and extra charges apply for luggage and pre bookings (1.60 Euros). A taxi ride within the city should never cost more than 10 Euros, so don’t get fooled! Uber now also operates in Lisbon.
Both buses and the underground system are inexpensive and easy to use – I can’t offer more advice as I rarely use them for the above mentioned reasons. Very naughty, I know!
Trains are modern and punctual, but we’d definitely recommend hiring a car if you really want to see the country. Besides the usual suspects, we have been getting good prices at Avis (but hiring a car in Lisbon can still be a bit of an experience).
A good place to start, would be to get yourself an updated travel guide. A particularly good one, guess what, HG2 (www.hg2.com) but the DK Eyewitness Lisbon Top 10 and Wallpaper guides are also good.
Lisbon has 2 sightseeing tour companies, and one is clearly better than the other one. Visit Carris’ website on www.carristur.pt. It has information on various tours, which you could consider:
– Lisbon Hop-On – Hop-Off – there are 2 guided routes: the Colinas and the Discovery circuits. They stop everywhere and run quite frequently. €18 per person – Sintra tour – fantastic little place 45 minutes away from Lisbon. €35 per person.
Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive to Sintra, and return via Cascais – more details in a second!
Portuguese food is excellent and should appeal to most tastes. What is Portuguese food like? I hear you ask.. well, it’s lovely! We use mediterranean ingredients, but cook them in what I would say a “simpler” way than Spanish or Greek (I love them both, not complaining!). Obviously, it will be easy to find other types of restaurants. Below are some of Mrs. O’s all-time favourites:
– Pap’Açorda – modern Portuguese, a classic – Rua da Atalaia, 57. Tel 21 346 48 11. Has 2 seatings for dinner: one at 8pm and another at 10pm. (Bairro Alto)
– Vaskus – mostly meat: fondue, brazilian picanha and steaks – Rua Passos Manuel, 30. Tel. 21 352 22 93. Only takes reservations until 8.30pm. If you do not turn up by then, only go after 10pm as it’s a small place and always busy.
– Kais – modern Portuguese, by the river – Rua Cintura Porto Armazém 1, Tel. 21 393 29 30 www.kais-k.com
– A Travessa – more French/Belgium, in a convent – Travessa do Convento das Bernardas 12, Tel. 213902034 www.atravessa.com
– Bica do Sapato – Portuguese food, very trendy place, located next to Lux. Ensure you book a table at the “Cafeteria”, trust us – Avenida Infante Dom Henrique Armazém B, Cais da Pedra à Bica do Sapato, Tel 218810320 www.bicadosapato.com
– Charcutaria – very Portuguese, with traditional food from the Alentejo – Rua do Alecrim 47 A, Tel 21 342 38 45 (near Bairro Alto)
– Estado Líquido – Fusion Sushi – Largo de Santos 5 A, Tel 21 397 20 22 www.estadoliquido.com
– Aqui há Peixe – fish dishes – Rua da Trindade nº 18 A, Tel. 213 432 154 www.aquihapeixe.pt
– Parreirinha de Alfama – to listen to fado music and eat traditional Portuguese food – Beco do Espírito Santo 1, Tel 218 868 209 (good if you are of a certain age, it is not for me, except when friends beg me to go.. the food is actually quite decent here if you are up to a “touristy Portuguese night”
One of Portugal’s best kept secrets are its patisseries, or “pastelarias” as they are called. Most Lisboners go out for breakfast as it is delicious and not expensive at all.
One of the best pastelarias in Lisbon is Versailles and we’d strongly recommend a visit. These places are open between 7.30am and 8.30pm and is it located on Av. da Republica, 15-A, immediately after Saldanha. http://www.pastelariaversailles.com
Portugal is a good place for shopping and the offering is quite good. Obviously, we have most international brands at better prices than in the UK, as in most cases these are indexed to the local cost of living. Zara, Mango and Massimo Dutti’s prices in Portugal can be 30-40% lower. It’s worth checking out some Portuguese and Spanish brands which are not available everywhere and are particularly good:
– Wesley (for men) – has a shop outside Amoreiras Shopping Centre, one in Saldanha and another in Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre
– Lanidor and Globe (for women) – they are on most high streets and shopping centres, and both have flagships in Avenida da Liberdade
– Adolfo Dominguez, Purificación Garcia and Carolina Herrera (for both men and women) – all 3 can be found of Avenida da Liberdade and at El Corte Inglés department store. Adolfo Dominguez has a shop in Saldanha’s Atrium Saldanha Shopping Centre and Purificación Garcia has another shop in Saldanha Residence Shopping Centre.
Large Shopping Centres
– Amoreiras Shopping Centre (in Amoreiras), best accessed by taxi
– Vasco da Gama (in Parque das Nações), underground: Oriente (red line)
– Colombo (Portugal’s largest shopping centre), underground: Colégio Militar (blue line)
– El Corte Inglés – Lisbon’s only department store, underground: São Sebastião (blue line)
– Freeport Designer Outlet – located in Alcochete, 30 minutes south of Lisbon. Easy to get to by car, but there is also a hotel shuttle service in the summer. Brands include Carolina Herrera, Purificación Garcia, Zegna, Burberrys, Versace, Adolfo Dominguez, Boss – as always, you need to be lucky on the day you go.
High Street Shopping
– Avenida da Liberdade – where most designer shops are
– Rua Augusta (in Baixa)
– Rua do Carmo and Rua Garrett (Chiado area)
As far as hotels are concerned, my home away from home is the Sheraton Lisbon, where I always stay when I’m in town. It’s 5-stars (literally) and average rates are around €115 per night, which is unbeatable. Did I mention it is also the tallest building in Lisbon and has one of the coolest rooftop bars? www.sheraton.com/lisboa
With these suggestions, you can spend a great long weekend in Lisbon, ensuring you see a little bit more than the Castle and all the other “must-go” places.. and help the local economy of course!. If you use these suggestions, I’d be delighted if you let me know how it went! Photos, please!