Exploring Lisbon equates to one thing: hills. Spread out over many mounds great and small, the city’s seven neighbourhoods butt up against one another, a steep curve here, a gentle dip there. Inevitably you find yourself either at the foot of one or looking down from another at every turn; antique trams effectively rattling past, depositing the weary-legged. But here the effort is worth it; the city’s many cobbled streets unfurl before the intrepid traveller in a magnitude of bright colour and good cheer, unveiling many prized treasures, from family-run eateries and ginjinha bars to quaint stores and creative start-ups, off-beat signage and art, all waiting to be discovered.
Cool and contemporary, the townhouse-like Valverde is situated on Lisbon’s most famous avenue, Avenida da Liberdade – Portugal’s take on the Champs-Élysées. Expect a homely setting with discreet luxury touches and a sublime pool area.
You won’t find any chocolates on your pillow or flat-screen televisions here. What you will find though is absolute tranquillity. Described as a ‘guest palace’, the Palácio Belmonte is located in a 16th-century palace surrounded by lush gardens. Marvel at the property’s original 18th-century azulejo panels, browse the library, cool off in the black marble swimming pool or simply relax.
Santiago de Alfama
Situated in the old, whimsical Alfama quarter, this 5-star boutique hotel boasts some of the best views in the city (book The Santiago Suite to capitalise on this). The modern, spacious rooms are bright and airy.
EAT & DRINK
Portugal’s star chef José Avillez has several restaurants around the city, including a pizzeria and Mini Bar, a gourmet bar where theatre and food meet to play (think edible Green Apple Margaritas and Foie Gras Ferrero Rocher Bonbons). The most sought-after seat of all though is at Belcanto. The minute two Michelin Star restaurant is known for its sophisticated Portuguese cuisine that takes diners on a journey from old Chiado to modern-day Lisboa with every bite.
Reserve a seat joseavillez.pt.
Bairro Alto Hotel Terrace
This hotel’s rooftop terrace is the hottest in the city with sink-in couches and killer views, making it the perfect sundowner spot.
Reserve a seat bairroaltohotel.com.
Serving up the most delicious contemporary seafood, including gazpacho with scallops, tapioca and lime, BBQ octopus, confit codfish, and superb mini surf and turf sandwiches – as well as the best Pisco Sours in town – this small restaurant in Principe Real is not to be missed.
Reserve a seat chefkiko.com.
Located in a magnificent 18th-century palace, Palácio Chiado offers an extravagant (there’s a golden lion suspended from the ceiling over the first-floor bar) food experience with six top restaurants each dishing up everything from traditional codfish dishes to beef loin tartare served with a cured egg on toast.
Reserve a seat palaciochiado.pt.
Decidedly trendy, LX Factory consists of a number of edgy spaces filled with creatives, stores and eateries. Expect to find everything from homeware to clothing here.
A Vida Portuguesa
The brainchild of journalist Catarina Portas, A Vida Portuguesa offers a charming selection of traditional Portuguese products, such as soaps and ceramics
Like many small independent stores in Lisbon, Luvaria Ulisses sells only one product. In this case, buttery-soft leather gloves in all colours imaginable. Go for a custom fitting and marvel at the Art Deco interiors.
Caza das Vellas Loreto
Dating from 1789, this minute wood-panelled store in Chiado stocks the most beautiful hand-made candles in all shapes, sizes, aromas and colours.
Enjoy a gallery of some of our favourite Lisboa moments.
Photography Courtesy of Santiago de Alfama, Matthew Buck, Palácio Chiado, Bairro Alto hotel, Paulo Barota, A Vida Portuguesa, Luvaria Ulisses, supplied