As far as city breaks go, Lisbon should be right up there on your bucket list.
Tipped by British Airways as one of the top destinations for 2018, there is no better time to visit this vibrant city – the foodie scene is buzzing, new hotels are popping up and unlike so many of its European counterparts, it’s affordable. With the city’s airport just on the edge of town (and all the key airlines flying in) you can touch down and be sipping a glass of Vinho Verde within the hour. Here’s our 48 hour travel guide to Lisbon so you can make the most out of your stay.
Where to rest your head?
The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a classically beautiful property. Thanks to its location just off the main Avenida de Liberdade and close to top museums such as the Gulbenkian, it’s the smart option for those seeking to ‘culture-vulture’ their way around the city. Bonus features include generous sized rooms, a totally zen-inducing spa, a rooftop running track (an experience in itself) and one of the best Sunday brunches in town.
For those looking for a super-central location, Pousada de Lisboa is another good option. Located in the heart of the city, on the magnificent Praça do Comércio (the main square), the hotel was formerly home to Portugal’s Interior Ministry. It’s since been beautifully converted. With a nod to its heritage, the hotel offers a playful mix of historical opulence and modern luxury. Artworks and artefacts loaned from the city’s galleries decorate the common areas and a rooftop pool and sundeck offer the perfect spot to relax.
Where to eat?
48 hours isn’t anywhere near long enough to do the foodie-side of this city justice. But here are some places not to be missed on a weekend escape.
Manteigaria – the spot for a speedy breakfast with the locals. Stand with a coffee and warm Pasteis de nata (always hot as new batches appear every 30 minutes!) at this very cool new-comer in Chiado.
Fabrica – A favourite spot of Portugal’s prized export, chef Nuno Mendes, Fabrica serves some of the very best coffee in Lisbon.
The Time Out Food Market – a happy marriage of the very best of Lisbon’s restaurants all under one roof. Get their early enough to avoid a major hustle for a seat and go wild on Tuna Steak sandwiches from SeaMe, the Bacalhau tempura from Marlene Vieira followed by some of the city’s best handmade ice-cream at Santini originating from the Estoril coast.
SUD – When the sun is shining, this is a dream spot to chill and enjoy the city from the waterfront. Nab yourself a sunbed next to SUD’s rooftop infinity pool and spend the morning watching the world drift by on the Tagus. Lunch is a mere lift ride away. Local fish, salads and more can be enjoyed al fresco, on SUD’s expansive terrace, against the backdrop of the city’s iconic 25 de Abril suspension Bridge.
Bairro Do Avillez is celebrated chef Jose Avillez’s latest hot ticket. A collection of 4 fantastic restaurants under one roof. Opt for Peruana on the top floor for a delectable dinner of ceviche, Peruvian rice dishes and endless pisco sours. Taberna downstairs is also heavily applauded for top quality local cuisine (think beef croquettes, pickled vegetables and tuna steak sandwiches). Whether you eat upstairs or down, the crowd is local and cool without being pretentious or fussy.
For a truly authentic local experience head to Ramiro’s – a haven for the seafood lovers amongst us. Garlic infused clams, sizzling tiger shrimp, scarlet prawns all washed down with a cold Sagres beer. Eat like a real local and make sure you leave space for a Prego (their steak sandwich) for dessert! Be prepared for queues that notoriously go around the block. It’s worth the wait.
The century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that still run through the veins of the city are the best way to navigate the seven steep hills over which Lisbon lies. If you’re feeling super brave the local tuk tuks are also a fun way to explore the city’s tighter streets.
Principe Real is peppered with independent Portuguese boutiques – Embaixada is a real must see. It’s possibly one of the most stunning concept stores in the world.
For a taste of artisanal Lisbon, stop by Claus Porto in Barrio Alto for soaps too pretty to even think about using them and tile shops a-plenty.
Meanwhile the flea market in LX Factory is a must on a Sunday, where you can snap up vintage clothes, handmade jewellery and antiques.
A pit-stop at Landeau for chocolate cake is all part of the experience.
Head to Topo in Chiado, Portas do Sol steps away from Miradouro de Santa Luzia. It has a a ‘yet to be discovered’ seductiveness, so you know you’re in a true insider’s place. Six floors up on the top of an unassuming shopping centre in multicultural Martim Moniz, you could easily walk past it. Cocktails, petiscos (tapas) and a view overlooking the old town of Mouraria, with the São Jorge Castle standing proudly in sight. Head there for sunset and the soft sounds of great DJs.
Park in the bohemian Bairro Alto, on the sixth floor of a car park, this is an urban twist on the rooftop classic. A foliage covered decked rooftop with cocktails, sangria and burgers. Enjoy 180-degree views including the Santa Catarina church, and the 25 de Abril suspension bridge. You’ll want to hang around in this establishment until the early hours.