With a history dating back to the 13th century, the Portuguese capital’s heritage attractions and architecture have long been enjoyed by visitors. But this is a city whose popularity among tourists has been growing particularly rapidly over the past decade. Among the most fashionable short break destinations in Europe, it’s a short air hop from the UK, with sea, sunshine and that Mediterranean feel. Lisbon has an increasingly exciting culinary scene, a bohemian flair and a varied range of designer hotels. Come here to explore the area’s long heritage, taste the local food and experience the arty contemporary culture.
With a lot of ground to cover as you do Lisbon, you’ll need to fuel up for your day the right way. Serving ‘eggcentric breakfasts’, this central eatery offers an alternative to some of the more traditional Lisbon morning cafe menus. Imaginative colourful dishes revolve around the star ingredient, eggs, alongside reinvigorating juices and speciality coffees. There are three branches in the city, one in Chiado, another in Santos and a third in Sé. The first has a mezzanine overlooking Calçada de São Francisco, the second features a ‘secret’ rooftop terrace with river views, with the third occupying two large arcade rooms.
This restaurant is part of the 1908 Lisboa Hotel, found within the district of Largo do Intendente. Infame’s large picture windows allow diners to look out onto the square, the upscale venue fitting perfectly into the neighbourhood’s industrial-chic vibe. Ingredients are locally sourced, to provide a real taste of Lisbon, with meals served from breakfast through to dinner. Under the leadership of Chef André Rebelo, the menu offers a fusion of Portuguese – fused with international – flavours. Dishes have been playfully named, such as Kraken Me UP (squid, curry, shrimp and gnocchi) and You Sexy Thing (chocolate mousse, peanut praline and olive oil).
While Rocco is but one restaurant, it encompasses three separate areas. Step inside (via The Ivens Hotel) to what is a decadently immersive experience. Pass a heavy velvet drape to the Gastrobar, a circular counter surrounded by chintzy Art Deco style decor and a suspended wine cellar, serving lighter meals and divine cocktails along with DJ. The destination Ristorante serves traditional Italian dishes – classics prepared according to authentic recipes – and has a terrace for outdoor eating. Then there’s the Crudo Bar, the venue’s most theatrical spot, where diners tuck into tiered platters of oysters, caviar, crab, prawns, tartare and ceviche while sipping on champagne.
The globally esteemed Michelin-starred Nuno Mendes is the Creative Director of BAHR at The Barrio Alto Hotel. While he’s a Lisboeta, Mendes spent many years working in London, before returning to his home city. BAHR’s boho flair mirrors the atmosphere of its arty neighbourhood, Bairro Alto. Service begins at 7 am, with breakfast, followed by a Market Menu lunch, weekend brunch and dinner. Mendes prepares snacks like smoked goose barnacles on toast, starters such as aged beef tartare and mains including black pork Secretos with crayfish and Savoy cabbage. Dine indoors in the deeply fashionable restaurant, or on the terrace, with views of the Tejo river.
Clorofila at The Lumen Hotel offers one of the most unique experiences in the city. As you eat your meal, you’ll be treated to a front-row view of the Lisbon Light Show. Diners can take an incredible video mapping a journey through the capital with a dazzling display projected on the courtyard walls. Inside, the restaurant’s deep green hues create a connection with nature, at the same time as contemporary sophistication. The adjacent garden’s water mirrors evoke a sense of tranquillity, as sharing menus and executive menus – with the motto ‘healthy gathering’ are served to night and day guests.
Local to the Príncipe Real district, BouBou’s was the brainchild of Agnes and Alexis Bourrat, opening in 2018. Seasonal produce, a zero-waste approach and a love of vegetables help to define the menus, calling on the couple’s own international roots and experiences. Diners can sit in the main restaurant (some seats provide views of the kitchen activity), in the bar, on a small terrace, or within BouBou’s own tropical-esque garden. Alexis’ sister, Louise, is at the helm in the kitchen, creating nine-course tasting menus and a la carte dishes to serve every appetite, including large sharing options.
Sala De Corte
If you’re in the mood for steak, this is the place to come. Housed in a high-ceilinged industrial warehouse building, with leather banquettes and polished brass lamps, the venue specialises in dry-aged meat. It’s under the directorship of the award-winning Luís Gaspar, who prepares a variety of excellent cuts in a grill and charcoal oven. Open from midday to midnight (1 am at weekends), it has a sophisticated feel, serving artistically presented food and amuse-bouche alongside the courses. Definitely one for meat-lovers, diners can take their pick from rump, picanha, entrecôte, loin, chateaubriand, t-bone and chuletón.
Following its success in Comporta, the Cavalarica team decided to set up shop in the capital. But while it features favourites from the original venue’s menu, the majority of the dishes in the Lisbon establishment take on a different personality to its sister restaurant, geared to an urban market and more solo dining than the groups and families typically found on the coast. Ingredients showcase the country’s rich produce, including oysters by Célia from Neptun Pearl, vegetables from Cerquinha, Alentejo pork from Salsicharia Estremocense and red mullet from the Algarve. An excellent range of natural and biodynamic wines can be ordered, as well as artisanal cocktails by Fábio Nobre.
Another of Bairro Alto’s exciting eateries, this one had a total makeover in 2021. It’s been brought bang up to date, with pastel neon signage, engraved mirrors, funky artworks and staff wearing tees emblazoned with pertinent sayings. Diners can eat indoors or people-watch at outdoor tables on the pedestrianised street. With coasters marked by QR codes (containing Oficio’s own playlist), it’s almost hard to believe this place was once a monks’ refectory. Enjoy crab from the Algarve, bread from a local artisanal bakery, Spanish-style paella and Portugal’s answer to the Scotch egg. And don’t miss the whole cheese tart for pudding – it’s fast becoming a signature dish.
Its title may sound more like a trendy restaurant, but this is in fact the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. A recent addition to the city’s museum offer, it was launched in 2016, bringing together the past, present and future in creative discourse. The futuristic building, re-designed by architect Amanda Levete, sits on Belém’s riverfront and is a huge campus, beside a landscape park by Vladimir Djurovic. Once an electrical power station, maat now serves as a modern cross-cultural hub. Step inside to discover more about Lisbon’s architectural history, art and technology, through a series of exhibitions.
Belém Meaning Bethlehem in Portuguese, this chilled-out riverside neighbourhood is found to the west of the capital, easily accessed via the E15 tram or train. The Moorish Torre de Belém fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Jerónimos Monastery are the main historical visitor attractions, but it’s worth paying the area a visit purely to wander around the colourful tiled buildings. Belém pays homage to the city’s maritime heritage, with recognisable landmarks such as the sail-shaped Discoveries Monument. Perfect for escaping the bustle of the centre, Belém offers lots of scenic walks, verdant parks and laid back cafes to relax awhile.
This French brand has been in business since the 1990s, conceived by an idea from entrepreneur Alexandre Guarneri and leading the way in sustainability. Upcycling items that are already in circulation to make new clothes, its T-shirts, sweats, jackets and coats are designed to stand the test of time. Organic, chemical-free materials are incorporated as a part of the recycling process in creating garments for men and women. The resulting style is minimal and modish, although the fashion house has its roots in streetwear. Homecore’s boutiques in Paris and Lyon were joined by this one in Lisbon, on R. de São Bento 96.
The three districts of Santa Maria e São Miguel, São Martinho and São Pedro de Penaferrim merged in 2013, to create Sintra. If you’re visiting in high summer and need relief from the heat, this is the place to come. A hillside setting, with shade from pine trees, ensures the climate here is cooler. But you should see Sintra regardless of the weather. It is, without doubt, one of the prettiest spots in the country, with colourful palaces, lush gardens and fairytale castles. And it’s for these reasons, as well as its historical significance, that it’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage Listing. Around 30 mins drive from the city centre, Sintra is also known as Moon Hill, as it’s believed to have mystical properties.
Castro – Atelier de Pastéis de Nata
The pastel de nata is famously the nation’s best-loved sweet. A light and crispy case is filled with a creamy custard that’s quintessentially Portuguese and of course, indulging in a few is a rite of passage for anyone coming to Lisbon. Castro is one of the best places to find Pastéis de Nata. The artisanal bakery has an entire workshop dedicated to taking its original recipe to the next level, with a slightly more sophisticated edge for the pastry connoisseur. Found in the Chiado district, the boutique shop and cafe opened in 2021, after the brand’s success in Porto.
Formed when three friends struggled to find a really good place to buy shirts, ISTO was conceived to provide functional, high-quality garments using organic materials and sustainable practices. Tees, sweatshirts, button-ups and tote bags can all be purchased from the store. The company aims to manufacture its products in Portugal and cut waste wherever possible. While initially, it was an online boutique, the trio opened its minimalist style retail unit in 2018, in Embaixada, an arty shopping gallery on Príncipe Real. The stunning neo-Arabic high ceilinged building provides a beautiful setting for the clothing range.
If you’re in the market for some long-lasting new apparel, you should also check out Jak Shoes. The Portuguese brand had accrued a fashionable following for its unisex handcrafted trainers, before opening its second store, this time in Lisbon. They enlisted the help of architect Tiago Silva Dias, whose building design was inspired by Jak’s own minimalist footwear line. Simplicity and slow fashion are the key tenets of this brand, that creates timeless, durable, comfy sneakers with conscious consumption in mind. Buying better means buying less often, something Jak’s well-made footwear pays testament to.
Bairro Alto Hotel
This member of Leading Hotels of the World has five stars and sits in a charming spot on Praça de Camões at the heart of the cultural quarter – Barrio Alto. The building is a product of the 18th century, accommodating 87 bedrooms each drawing on Portuguese crafts from artisanal rugs to Costa Nova ceramics, a restaurant, spa and a beautiful rooftop terrace with sea views. It celebrates all things Portuguese throughout, from the on-point decor to the food, the artwork, and the furnishings. On the fifth floor is BAHR & Terrace serves the best of Portuguese cuisine in a contemporary setting and on the ground indulge in delicious baked goods at the in-house patisserie.
The Ivens Autograph Collection
Conveniently set in the centre of Lisbon The Ivens Autograph Collection is the perfect base for a city adventurer. Housed in an iconic building that encapsulates the spirit and culture of Lisbon, the hotel presents 87 unique rooms, of which ten are spacious suites including two signature top floor suites. Guests can choose to dine at the hotel’s three restaurants; Rocco Restaurant is an Italian-inspired restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Crudo Bar offers a gastronomic seafood journey and Gastro Bar presents light meals and an exquisite drinks menu. Guests can also make use of the gym which includes a range of cardio equipment and free weights.
1908 Hotel Lisboa
Adães Bermudes first designed this building as apartments and indeed it served this purpose from 1908 to 2017, winning awards for the architecture. Now, the listed Art Nouveau property offers 36 guest rooms with interiors by Atelier Maldonado. Street art and installations have been incorporated into the contemporary-chic decor, with technology embedded into the guest experience (the concierge is accessed via WhatsApp). Infame is the lifestyle hotel’s destination restaurant offering incredible seafood, with mixologists creating cocktails in the bar. But if you’d rather venture beyond the front door for food and drink, the local district of the Intendente has much to offer.
Offering an especially unique experience as part of the stay, the Lumen Hotel presents a daily evening immersive light and colour video mapping show, taking place in the internal garden. This as well an outdoor pool rooftop pool, sundeck and bar with incredible views over the city makes it particularly appealing for those looking to turn a city break into a mini holiday. Bedrooms are contemporarily decorated and soothing with pops of vibrant colour via the soft furnishing accessories, while suites in the executive floor over plenty of space with separate living and sleeping areas. The minimalist modern style, with a touch of a mid-century influence, is found throughout the hotel.