After a torrid few years during the financial crisis, the Portuguese capital is having a renaissance after some shrewd political reforms and the implication of a number of economic incentives. The city is buzzing with entrepreneurial endeavours and the stunning streets are getting a deserved clean up. With its colonial and Brazilian connections Lisbon feels like a home away from home and an increasing number of Brazilians are choosing to base themselves out of the city. So here is our insider's guide to beat the crowds and drink in the rich heritage and hidden gems, just make sure to try walk everywhere to really get to see the city...
The Museu Nacional do Azulejo for the renowned local tiles. The Igreja de São Vicente de Fora for rooftop views and Brazilian royal family tombs or the Igreja de São Roque for it's stunning lapis lazuli altar. The Museu Calouste Gulbankian for an exceptional art collection and modernist gardens. The Mosteiro dos Jéronimos for an imperial Portuguese architectural statement to combine with pastel de Belem. The Jardim Botânico Tropical for a place to walk to to eat your pastel de Belem away from crowds. The new MAAT for a modern Portuguese architectural statement along the river. The Panteão Nacional to combine with the Feira da Ladra Saturday flea market and André Saraiva's new tile mural. Sintra for a day trip.
The Taberna da Ruas das Flores for informal Portuguese food with a daily menu and no reservations. Cervejaria Ramiro for informal shellfish and beer in a buzzing institution but get there early to avoid the queues. Zé da Mouraria for traditional Portuguese food with locals hidden near the old town. Take the fast ferry to Cacilhas across the river and have a traditional seafood outside at Ponto Final with fabulous views back across towards the city then carry on up the river to the eerie abandoned brick factory for your post-prandial walk. Tasca da Esquina for simple Portuguese tapas. Cantinho do Aziz for low-key African dishes from the old colony of Mozambique.
Bifanas - sandwiches stuffed with rich seasoned pork meat - are the local cheap fast food and Bifanas do Caldas by Afonso is the best hole in the wall to grab one with the local construction workers otherwise O Trevo is the place to go if you are in Chiado or Bairro Alto. For a sweet snack Pasteis de Belem is crowded but still the top pastel de nata in town or go to Manteigaria for the second best pastel and if you are more central. Copenhagen Coffee Lab or Fábrica Coffee Roasters for specialty coffee or Montana for a hipster coffee in an art supply store on the waterfront. Confeitaria Nacional for a pastry in a handsome19th Century institution.
Head to A Ginjinha or Ginjinha Sem Rival for a dose of local sour cherry liquor at the counter after work as the locals do. Memmo Alfama Hotel terrace for old town views and luxury hotel sundowners or head to Atira-te ao Rio across the river for the best sunset views with your vinho verde and away from the the crowds or Miradouro de Santa Catarina for BYOB sunsets in a park with river views. Bar Foxtrot for speakeasy cocktails. Casa Independente for live music in up and coming Intendente. Park Bar for a converted car park rooftop bar with more movement and views but the crowd can be questionable. Pensão Amor for cocktails in an old brothel or try A Bom, O Mau e O Vilão next door. Sol e Pesca for a low key drink and snack in a fishing tackle store. Remarkably, the legendary Lux nightclub is still without competition for good electronic music so check who is playing.
La Paz for quality menswear inspired by the Atlantic - stocked in Slou and A Vida Portuguêsa. Portuguese Flannel for casual shirts also stocked in Slou. Luvaria Ulisses for leather gloves from a hole in the wall. A Vida Portuguêsa for various local and heritage Portuguese handicrafts/hardware in up and coming Intendente. Claus Porto for soaps/scents in their new Lisbon store in Chiado. Barbearia Campos or Figaro’s Barbearia de Lisboa for a traditional wet shave. Conservaria de Lisboa for tinned and preserved goods. Napoleão for wine. Casa Macário for a classic general store particularly good for port, coffee and teas. Casa Pereira for buying even more coffee and tea. A Carioca for picking up coffee beans in particular. Chapelaria Azevedo Rua for hats. Casa das Velas do Loreto for unique candles. Paris em Lisboa for home linens. Sapateria do Carmo for classic leather shoes in a charming square. Xhapeland for surf boards.
Mercado da Ribeira (Time Out Market) is too generic despite the range. Fado music is too anachronistic. Lx Factory is a touch crass. José Avillez restaurants are overpriced for what they are. A Cevicheria is overhyped and nothing to write home about. Cafe Brasileira is full of tourists. The Alfama neighbourhood, which has become a sort of Disneyland - spend a couple of hours here max. The dull wealthy suburb of Cascais - only go to surf.