As I sit writing this practically horizontal from my living room sofa, I’m still trying to process my movements from the year so far.
The past couple of weeks have seen me hop between two continents, adjust to a new time zone, scoff copious amounts of Pasteis de Nata, quickly wave hello (and goodbye) to the Statue of Liberty and power through a bout of British winter lurgy.
I guess you could say 2018 is getting off to a pretty good start (minus the germs), and whilst I’m still riding my post-travel high - I very much plan to keep it that way, for as long as my bank account lets me that is.
So, just over 24 hours since I planted my feet back in the UK from Lisbon and I’m ready to share some of my favourite finds from my very brief but beautiful visit to the Portuguese capital – time to get your pens and / or iPhone notes on standby…
Ever since reading an article in Conde Nast Traveller last year, I quickly made room for Lisboa on my (ever growing) wanderlust list of European getaways. Colourful architecture, an enviably relaxed culture, art, music, history and delicious food and local wines are just a few of the temptations – but I’ll let the pictures do the persuading.
Of course, like many tech-savvy twenty-something’s out there – I took to Social Media before my stay to get some recommendations on where to visit (2.5 days doesn’t leave much room for error). My friend also had her trusty Wallpaper City Guide with her, which also fuelled a number of Rooftop Cocktail Bar and pastry shop discoveries.
So, without further a due – let’s get to it…
1. GET COMFORTABLE
Although we didn’t spend an awful lot of time in our Air BnB, it was still nice to know that we could return after a day of walking and exploring (think 28k + steps) to a clean, comfortable and spacious apartment. This little find was located in the quaint area of Alfalma, about a 10 minute walk into the main city square and close to lots of view points, mini markets, restaurants and bars along the way. The flat has everything you need for a short break, including kitchen utensils, clean towels, washing machine, sound system and ample clothing storage – not to mention the Queen sized bed and bright yellow soft furnishings (very Lisboa). We ate out the majority of our trip, so we decided to spend our last evening in making use of the facilities - cooking up some delicious local faire, whilst listening to jazz and sipping on red wine. Bliss.
You can find out more about the apartment here.
2. EAT AS MANY CUSTARD TARTS AS YOUR JEANS WILL LET YOU
If you haven't heard about Portugal's infamous Pasteis de Nata, then you need to swat up - fast. Rightfully so, it wasn’t long before our days began to revolve around where we could stop for our fix, whilst topping up on caffeine as well. Places to make the visit to are:
Pastelaria-Padaria in Sao Roque – a lovely little spot on the top of Rua du Pedro in Barrio Alto. Set in a beautiful building with high ceilings, impressive amber pillars and historic tiling - this is a secret you'll be dying to share. Pair your pastry with a double espresso for Portuguese rocket fuel.
Pasteis de Belem - THE most visited destination for custard tarts in the city, this place sells over 40,000 Pasteis de Belem a day. Known for their creamy fillings and crunchy pastry, this is a foodie experiment that must not be missed. I’d recommend catching the tram / bus / train over to Belem from the city centre, otherwise you can walk – but be warned, it will take you 95 minutes and its not the most scenic of routes.
3. PAY A VISIT TO HIPSTER HANGOUT, THE LX FACTORY
Tucked away under the Ponte 25 de Abril (the bridge that looks like it’s been plucked straight from San Francisco), LX Factory is a quirky industrial complex filled with trendy independent shops, restaurants and bars. Think shipping containers, muted house music and modern street art – a real hipsters paradise (the toilets confirm this). Well worth a visit for its unique eccentricity, great shops and amazing rooftop views (and cocktails) at Rio Maravilha.
4. HAVE DINNER AT PONTO FINAL
One of my favourite moments of my visit to Lisbon was experiencing the much Instagrammed riverside restaurant, Ponto Final. A short ferry ride from Cais do Sodre, this brightly coloured hidden gem is the perfect unpretentious foodie destination that boasts some powerful city views. Serving up a wide selection of freshly caught seafood, local meats and thirst quenching wines – you’ll enjoy a truly relaxed atmosphere, lovely hosts, very generous portions (praise emoji) and a picture perfect setting. Due to the cooler February breeze, we chose to sit inside – however, come the Summer months the alfresco dining option would be wonderful. NB: Make sure you take the walk along the riverside warehouses to reach this – the inland route is off the beaten track.
5. EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH THE TIME OUT MARKET
One of the cities most well known tourist spots, the Time Out Market is a hub of local food producers and pop-up bars and restaurants. Serving up deliciousness until midnight - this is a great stop-off for lunchtime bites, afternoon vino or dinnertime feasting. Whether you’re eating in amongst the crowds or opting for takeaway – be sure to come prepared with a hearty appetite, you’ll need it for all the tempting choices.
So, now that I’ve finally got myself over to Lisbon – I’m really not sure what took me so long. A beautiful city of richness, vibrant colour and flavour – I’ve no doubt I’ll be returning for more of the cities lushness in the near future. Of course, there are probably a whole host of other notables that I’ve missed off my list, but for now - I’m very happy with my discoveries.
Obrigado Lisboa, you special place.