Lisbon is fast becoming a must visit for anyone who is looking for a European city break and it’s little wonder – its vibrant, colourful and pretty cheap compared to many other capital cities. Throw in some beautiful architecture and gorgeous beaches and you can see why people are clamouring in their droves. Travel blogger Sophie Cliff knows this well and gives us her tips on the best sights, sounds and dishes for the ultimate Mediterranean city escape.
Any guidebook will tell about all of the main sights such as Rossio Square, Castelo de Sao Jorge and Alfama, but if you’re looking to get off the beaten track and have a more authentic Lisbon experience, why not check out some of these spots?
Take the train to Sintra
Hop on a train at the main station and you can be in beautiful Sintra in about half an hour. Set up in the hills, Sintra is a little village filled with lush gardens, beautiful castles and colourful fairytale palaces. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of hours in the sun and admire the views – keep your eyes peeled for all of the pretty Portuguese tiles that adorn the palaces.
Feast at Mercado de Ribeira
If you’re a foodie then Mercado de Ribeira needs to be top of your list. In 2014, the ace team behind Time Out magazine took over one of the big halls in Lisbon’s old market and, unsurprisingly, created an incredibly cool place to hangout. Here you’ll find over 30 restaurants and shops serving up some of the best food in the city – turn up hungry, bag a table and get to work munching your way through the evening. Be sure to try out the pizza at Pizza a Pezzi, the prego steak rolls at O Prego da Peixaria and the ice cream at Santini.
Party with the locals in Bairro Alto
Set at the top of a big hill, Bairro Alto is THE place to really let your hair down in Lisbon. From around 10pm onwards you’ll find hundreds of people spilling out of the many bars and standing in the streets sipping caiprinhias and dancing. It’s a great place to get chatting to some of the locals and the party goes on until the early hours of the morning.
Tuck into some frango at Bonjardim
It would be an absolute sacrilege to visit Lisbon and not try their delicious frango (the peri peri chicken that inspired Nandos) and Bonjardim is by far the best place to tuck in. This unassuming little place is set just off one of the busiest streets in the city – you’ll have to get there early if you want a table on the paved terrace outside, but at around €7 per person for their tasty roast chicken and chips, it’s worth it.
Hang out at LX Factory
Set near the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge (which is sure to remind you of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco), LX factory is a really cool place to while away a couple of hours. It’s an old industrial site that has now been converted to house galleries, bars, restaurants and quirky shops – there really is something for everyone here. Be sure to check out Ler Devagar bookstore which is not only beautiful but is also crammed full of plenty of interesting reads.
Sophie lives in Leeds and writes the travel and lifestyle blog sophiecliff.com. She can always be found planning her next adventure – whether it’s a European city break, camping in the UK or exploring somewhere more exotic.