THE LISBON GUIDE

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• Scroll down for where to stay, eat, shop, drink and what to do in Lisbon •

During the Christmas holiday I was really longing to go away somewhere for New Year’s like we did last year in Berlin. We had considered it, but thought it was too late. Prices during New Year’s are usually higher than any other time of the year, and if you want beach and sun you need to go far away. The plan was to just stay at home in Copenhagen, but on Christmas Day me and Alex decided to gift each other a trip somewhere. Somewhere we could just chill, sleep in, go on long walks and do nothing. The goal was to find a destination where we could enjoy lunch outside in a ray of sun.

I cannot count the times we’ve been to Paris, London and New York, but as much as I love those cities and would choose them any day, that was not what we were looking for this time.

Suddenly Alex said Lisbon! I completely forgot that it was on my travel wishlist, but after checking the weather report it didn’t take long for us to book.

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Lisbon is amazing! The city is exactly as beautiful and charming as it looks with pastel colored buildings and tile facades all over. You can easily get lost in the narrow streets and hills, and before you know it you’re on top of Lisbon with the most spectacular view. Some days the tracker on my phone said we walked 44 floors! The city’s low pace is perfect for a chill holiday and even though there are tourists, it feels a little less spoiled and more authentic than many other European cities.

Here are my best tips and must do’s for the city.

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WHERE TO STAY

The purpose of our trip was to chill and just do nothing, so we opted for an Airbnb. The apartment we chose was located just on the central Praça da Figueira within walking distance to most places, and was bright, spacious and cozy with a perfect sunny terrace. Find the place here.

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MUST DO’S

Go pastry crazy Lisbon is known for it’s tasty pastries, the most famous one being the Pastel de Nata. It’s a small, slightly burnt custard tart that makes people line up for hours. You can get it all over the city. Confeitaria Nacional (above left, Praça da Figueira 18B) is a traditional old bakery (reminiscent of Ladurée in Paris) but one of the best new spots are rumored to be Manteigaria (Rua do Loreto 2). To be honest I was more into feeding my croissant appetite (I’m not a big custard fan), luckily there are plenty of places to do that too. You almost can’t go wrong in even the smallest, most low key bakeries – believe me, I know from experience.

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Hop on the tram … or just enjoy the sight of it. The most famous line is the 28 (which starts the route at Praça da Figueira) but it was too busy, so we just tried capturing it on a photo instead.

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Get a view of the city With all the hills in Lisboa, it’s pretty much impossible not to get a good view of it all. However we did map out some spots, to make sure we were in for a good look. Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia are great spots to start.

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Go to the market Lisbon’s most famous market is the Feira da Ladra (Campo de Santa Clara) which rolls out every Tuesday and Saturday. Here you’ll find a mix of souvenirs and antiques, but in my opinion the real reason you should visit is to see André Saraivas wall art featuring 50.000+ tiles in colorful purple, pinks and blues portraying some of Lisbon’s signatures and even a bit of Paris. It’s beautiful!

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Go tile crazy I could walk around for days and photograph the beautiful tiles in the streets (and I did), but Lisbon also has a museum dedicated to them. I didn’t get to stop by, but I would have loved to! Museo Nacional do Azulejo, Rua da Madre Deus 4.

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WHERE TO EAT

Coffee and breakfast As mentioned Lisbon has lots of great pastry shops, but they also have a few good spots where coffee is high on the agenda. Look for Fabrica Coffee Roasters (several locations), The Mill (Rua do Poço dos Negros 1), Hello, Kristof (Rua do Poço dos Negros 103) and Copenhagen Coffee Lab. The latter even serves the danish raspberry pastry ‘hindbærsnitte’ along with avocado toast, eggs and other cakes. They have two locations, the latest just opened near the Feira da Ladra flea market. If you’re looking for the real breakfast deal, Dear Breakfast (above left, Rua das Gaivotas 17) is your place. It’s an instagram dream of marble, velvet and pretty matcha lattes, but the menu takes it one step further with eggs florentine, truffle omelette, croissants and pancakes. We went there for a special January 1st brunch, and let’s just say I couldn’t have wanted a better start to the year. If you’re into something a little more healthy, Fauna & Flora (Rua da Esperança 33) is packed with smoothies bowls, banana pancakes, juices and smoothies. Read more about that here.

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Seafood searching? Lisbon’s your place! My top pick if you should only go one place is A Cevicheria (above left, Rua Dom Pedro V 129, no reservations). The small, beautiful restaurant is open all day and serves the freshest selection of yes, ceviche. Dishes are elegant and refined and the chic interior (including the giant octupus in the ceiling) suggests this is a spot you could find in New York, London or another foodie city. Go for a nice evening out, or for a decadent lunch – because seafood calls for a glass of white wine, and who would say no to that at lunch? In a more traditional matter there’s Cervejaria Ramiro (above right, Avenida Almirante Reis 1), a restaurant you’ll find in all city guides to Lisbon. You know the seafood is good when the interior and lightning is horrible, but people line up for hours anyway. They don’t officially take reservations, but try them anyway. We did, and jumped over the line and were seated upstairs right away. If you’re in the mood for something a little different but just as fresh, try the poke bowl at Poké House (Rua da Misericórdia 71) and traditional Japanese and sushi at Hikidashi (Rua Coelho da Rocha 20A).

It’s hard to eat out in Lisbon and not come across chef José Avillez. The Michelin-starred chef has several restaurants and bars in town (not all Michelin) – we tried Catinho do Avillez, serving Portugese inspired dishes and great cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. Next door you’ll find his other restaurant Pizzaria Lisboa, probably my Avillez favorite, because you can’t go wrong with delicious pizza and great wine. We didn’t get to try his other spots, but heard good things about Mini Bar and Bairro do Avillez. Find them all here.

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WHERE TO DRINK

The pretty city of Lisbon and beautiful weather calls for a bar with a view. On December 31st we sipped aperol spritz in a T-shirt at Noobai (Miradouro de Santa Catarina) – I couldn’t really ask for more! I think we were really lucky with the weather, but if the sun is shining, this is where you go for a drink, coffee or just a juice at night or during the day. We also heard many good things about Park Bar (Calçada do Combro 58), a rooftop bar on top of a parking garage. Unfortunately it was closed all of Janaury for renovations. We were also unlucky when we visited Casa Independente (Largo do Intendente 45), a creative space in an old beautiful building showing art exhibits, hosting concerts and more. They were closed when we stopped by, but their garden looks perfect for sipping a drink during summer – guess we’ll have a reason to come back.

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TAKE A TRIP

The Belém district is a popular spot to visit, and the tram will take you there in about 30 minutes. I have to warn you though, there were a lot of tourists when we went, many lining up for one of the legendary pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém (Rua Belém 84-92). Instead we opted for a walk around the charming town and a visit to the Botanical Garden (Tv. Ferreiros a Belém 41) – it’s absolutely beautiful and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of the peacocks. On your way back from Belém, visit LX Factory (R. Rodrigues de Faria 103). An old factory area transformed to cafés, restaurants and shops selling magazines, antique furniture, cute ceramics and much more. It’s a nice spot to spend a few hours, and I imagine it’s really nice on a summer day where you can hang out outside sipping drinks. If you’re looking for a day trip, the beach town Cascais is great. More about that soon.

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WHERE TO SHOP

No holiday without a little shopping, and while Lisbon might not be New York or London, you can definitely bring home a souvenir or two. For a well curated selection of Portugese classics like ceramics, olive oil, textiles, stationary, soaps and the traditional canned sardines, go to A Vida Portuguesa (several locations, I like Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 23). 

The big shopping street is Avenida da Liberdade, where you’ll find Céline and Dior shop-in-shops at Loja das Meias (no. 254)Chloé, Chanel and Valentino at Stivali (no. 38B) and Balenciaga, Gucci and Isabel Marant at Fashion Clinic (no. 180). Next door you’ll find men’s store JNcQUOI (with Dior, Tom Ford, Balenciaga and more) that also has a bar/cafe/restaurant if you’re in need of a shopping break.

Other shops worth a visit is beauty store Skin Life (Rua Paiva de Andrada 4) offering a nice selection of luxury fragrances like Le Labo and Diptyque and specialty beauty brands like Rms and Eve Lom. The traditional soap and fragrance brand Claus Porto (Rua da Misericórdia 135) also has a beautiful store if you’re looking for a nice gift. For cool Portuguese design (especially for your man) head to +351 (Rua da Anchieta 7) specialising in soft sweatshirts and T-shirts in beautiful dusty colors. Fora (Avenida Álvares Cabral 28A) is a cute little store making sunglasses inspired by vintage frames at good prices.

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