You Go, Girl: Lisbon, Portugal
Good vibes abound in this coastal European town
Written and photographed by Chelseas Fuss
Affordability, sunshine, and a laid-back feel are just a few of the reasons folks flock to Lisbon, one of Europe’s oldest cities. Portugal’s capital is also a melting pot of its past, influenced by transplants from Mozambique, Angola, São Tomé, Brazil, and Goa, who returned after the country’s dictatorship dissolved in 1974, creating an energy of newness combined with history. Lisbon is the antithesis of trying too hard (many of the best spots don’t even have signs!), so wander the narrow mosaic sidewalks and hilly streets to discover secret cafes, green spaces, and truly unique boutiques.
Eat & Drink
A non-flashy, super affordable pizza joint in Lisbon’s colorful Mouraria neighborhood, Cantina Baldracca (Rua das Farinhas 1) offers thin crust, homemade pizza—try the asparagus and egg pie. You can’t visit Portugal without trying its fresh seafood, so hit Zapata Restaurante (Rua do Poço dos Negros 47/9), a no-frills family restaurant with simple but flavorful dishes like the family-style plate of small clams with olive oil, garlic, and cilantro. Crowded at lunchtime with local construction and office workers alike, O Afonso das Bifanas (Rua da Madalena 146) makes the city’s freshest (and cheapest!) bifanas: pork sandwiches with garlic and herbs on just-baked Portuguese bread. Decorated with hard-to-miss art deco tiles, Pastelaria Alcôa (Rua Garrett 37) makes traditional Portuguese convent pastries, inspired by the abundance of egg yolks nuns had on hand after using the whites for starching linens. The windows offer a show-stopping display of sweets including pastry cones filled with custard.
Enjoying a drink or coffee at one of the many outdoor kiosks is a quintessential Lisbon experience. Clara Clara Kiosk (Jardim Botto Machado, Campo de Santa Clara), in Alfama, the city’s oldest neighborhood, offers a view of the Teijo river, and borders an endless flea market (on Tuesday and Saturday mornings). Like most of the best places in Lisbon, Park Bar (Calçada do Combro, 58) doesn’t have a sign. Just walk up to the top of the parking garage on Calçada do Combro in Chiado, to enjoy a stunning view of the city with a drink. Topo Chiado (Terraços do Carmo) combines the best of old and new—sip a cocktail at this bar that sits at the foot of 15th-century ruins, facing a castle.
With multiple locations each featuring different goods, A Vida Portuguesa (Rua Anchieta 11, Chiado; Rua Ivens 2, Chiado; Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 23, Lisboa) is a must for its dedication to Portuguese artisans. Stocking everything from sardines and soap to textiles and pans, it’s a perfectly curated lifestyle store. Located in Lisbon’s antique district, home decor shop Cavalo de Pau (Rua de São Bento 164) provides a fresh twist on Portuguese vintage and industrial design. Bisset (Rua D. Pedro V, 56 B/C), tucked away in an alley in Lisbon’s posh Principe Real neighborhood, offers a stunning vista of the city; inside the jewel box of a shop, you’ll find African textiles, French clothing, and handmade bags.
Meet a Portuguese granny and learn a craft at A Avó Veio Trabalhar (Ru do Poço dos Negros). This studio, on one of Lisbon’s most artistic streets, offers affordable workshops (from paper flower making to basket crocheting) with Portuguese grannies and stocks a selection of granny-made products designed by owner Susana. Caulino Ceramics (Rua de S. Mamede 28) is a large, impressive studio offering playful, imaginative ceramics as well as workshops in English and Portuguese.
Charming, bohemian Café Tati (Rua Ribeira Nova 36), beyond the city’s largest market, Mercado Ribeira, is the perfect place to take some shade and enjoy a light, healthy lunch; the salmon, tomato, and guacamole served with toasted bread is a classic. Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa (Rua de O Século 79), one of the city’s best kept secrets, boasts a palace-turned-museum, modern art gallery, cafe, and bookshop. The menu is a rotating collaboration between the chef and the artists on exhibit, and a meal is best enjoyed in the crumbly garden out back. Located in Intendente, a neighborhood bursting with Indian spice shops, Chinese markets, and delicious Bangladeshi restaurants, Casa Independente (Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 45) serves as a community center, concert venue, and cafe with a verdant secret patio.
Far off the tourist trail, Jardim da Tapada das Necessidades (Calçada Necessidades) oozes charm with acres of green space, a cactus garden, rustic buildings, and a greenhouse. Across from one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, Jardim Estrela (Praça da Estrela) boasts a walkway of gardens, fountains, and benches for relaxing. Visit on Sunday, when locals gather for picnics and swing dancing.
Top photo: One of Lisbon's many hillsides
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
More from BUST