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, drink in the rich heritage and find the hidden gems, just make sure to try walk everywhere to really get to see the city and keep an eye out for the handsome modernist Portuguese typefaces and fonts scattered across 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 (see below). 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 and over the road is Pedro de Mendes Rocha's new Museu dos Coches. The Panteão Nacional to combine with the Feira da Ladra Saturday flea market and André Saraiva's new tile mural. Head to the best local beach at Praia do Guincho (see surfing tips below) and have lunch at Bar do Guincho or continue to Sintra for a day trip.
Cervejaria Ramiro for shellfish, beer and a prego (beef sandwich) for dessert in a buzzing informal institution but go for lunch to avoid the queues. For authentic and honest Portuguese food with locals try Zé da Mouraria hidden near the old town or try Zapata or Cantinho Lusitano. Take the fast ferry to Cacilhas across the river and have traditional seafood at Ponto Final (more famous) or Atira-te ao Rio (better food) 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. The Taberna da Ruas das Flores for informal Portuguese food with a daily menu and no reservations in a more contemporary style or reserve a table at the charming Dona Quiteria tucked away in the back streets of Principe Real. Cantinho do Aziz for low-key African dishes from the old colony of Mozambique or Jesus é Goês for Goan curries. Grab a spit-roasted chicken with piri-piri sauce to go from Bonjardim .
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 where to grab one with the local construction workers. Or try the rival suckling pig rolls at Boutique dos Leitões. 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 hipster coffee in a graffiti paint supply store on the waterfront. Confeitaria Nacional for a pastry in a handsome19th Century institution. If you want to see what the cosmopolitan gentrification of Lisbon is like first hand head to the minimalist Dear breakfast for smashed avocados and eggs or queue at Pistola y Corazon Taqueria for tacos and margaritas in plastic bags.
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 but if you are more adventurous go to Os Amigos da Severa. 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 Graça for laid back sunset views on a church terrace serving ice cold Imperial beer. Bar Foxtrot for speakeasy cocktails. Casa Independente for a more hipster vibe in up and coming Intendente. Sol e Pesca for a low key drink and snack in a fishing tackle store. Pensão Amor for cocktails in an old brothel or try A Bom, O Mau e O Vilão next door. Remarkably, the legendary Lux nightclub is still without competition for good electronic music so check who is playing.
Casa Pau Brasil in trendy Principe Real is the exciting new Brazilian concept store with a curated selection of the finest Brazilian brands. If in Principe Real on Saturday mornings, head to the organic farmers market in the park for supplies. 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 fine leather gloves from a hole in the wall. A Vida Portuguêsa for various local and heritage Portuguese handicrafts and hardware in up and coming Intendente. Claus Porto for soaps and 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 traditional coffee beans. 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 is the local surfboard maker and you can pick one up at the only surf shop in the city - The Base.
Praia de Carcavelos for the closest breaks to town. Praia do Guincho, which also has a good surf school, or Praia Grande and both are easy to get to by train from Cais do Sodre station followed by the local 405/415 bus to Guincho (or just use Uber). Peniche for the best waves but further away.
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.