Ah Lisbon! Your pavements may be a little bit narrow and I may have failed to pronounce anything correctly but I think I’m a little bit in love with you! I’ve noticed quite a few people popping to the Portuguese capital on Instagram recently and it’s easy to see why once you visit. Even the most ordinary buildings seem like colourful, tile-covered masterpieces and even though they’re not always in the best nick, there’s a definite charm. Your money goes a lot further (I thought there was an error with the Uber app when my half hour airport journey worked out at about £6) and the pace is really chilled. We only really spent a day and a half exploring since we had a visit to Sintra on the cards, so I had to follow my own advice and accept that I wasn’t going to be able to post the most comprehensive guide. What I can do is share some of the key areas if you’re as pattern obsessed as I am. Sometimes I’d look at the colours within a row of apartments and it’d seem like a scene straight out of a painting.
Most guides will tell you to head to this area, but if you don’t know where to start then it’s a good idea to aim high and head to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It’s a point where you can see amazing views of the city and really get a sense of the architectural mix (there’s a pretty grand castle slap bang in the middle of residential housing). We grabbed a tasty sorbet at Gelato Mú and leisurely made our way down Rua da Rosa for a bit of tile-spotting. There’s a shop on Rua do Alecrim selling original 18th century tiles and you can learn a little bit about how they came to be (after an earthquake in 1755, they were placed outside for decoration). I picked up an original from 1910 for around €10, which has now taken pride of place on my shelves. My transformation into a crazy tile-obsessed lady is complete.
The Old Town
Our Airbnb seemed quite close to the older area of the city, but what you have to remember is that there can be lots of deceptive hills that aren’t always clear on Google Maps. Stick to flat shoes and prepare to be amazed at the results from any step-counting app you may have. Our aim was to reach the São Jorge Castle but after completely losing our bearings, we ended up discovering a few quirky little shops instead. I recognised Ó!Galeria from my time in Porto (they sell works from local artists) but we also discovered gift shop A Loja, showcasing handmade items from all over the world. It’s where you need to come to if you fancy any colourful ceramics and the odd bit of vintage Celine.
It makes me do a little happy dance inside whenever I hear about underused spaces being repurposed for the creative industries (take note London). Even though it’s a little bit out of town, LX Factory is a hub where start-ups, artists, restaurants, bars and independent shops can all coexist and flourish. It takes its name from an old textile factory and is now a pretty chilled place to visit if you want a break from the typical tourist sights. Of course Wish was a must-see, with a pastel-hued mix of stationery and homeware but what I wasn’t expecting was the epic lunch at Sushi Factory. All-you-can-eat sushi for around €14 is always a good idea in my book, you tell the chef what you don’t eat and they can whip you up something pretty extensive in minutes. I would have spent an embarrassing amount of time there, if I didn’t have a flight to catch. Next time I’d love to try the typical Portuguse fare at Cantina.
Random burger picture alert! I don’t have many snaps from the area around To.B – To burger or not to burger, but I had to include this plate of brioche goodness somewhere. They’ve got all the main food groups covered (beef, chicken, veggie), an array of different chip varieties plus the cocktails are cheap. We also went to Time Out Market, a massive centre with lots of street food outlets, which is perfect if you’re dining with a large group that has different dietary requirements. Just get there early to save some seats. I’d definitely recommend Carrie and Becky’s posts if you’re planning a trip, plus We Hate Tourism offer some alternative city tours from a local perspective, just in case you need a little guidance.
This guide was a little short and sweet but it just means that I need to visit again!