Lisbon is an enchanting mix of old and new, sun and sea, ups and downs. Navigate your way round the hills and you will find traditional neighbourhoods, breathtaking views, cute cafes and boutiques, all within walking distance. When your feet do begin to ache the modes of transport are numerous: trains, trams, taxis and modern tuk-tuks! Aside from the typical tourist attractions, this capital has plenty of other ideas to explore, out of the ordinary, bizarre little places were my favourite discoveries of the weekend.
Belcanto: Jose Avillez is integrated completely in Lisbon life spreading his culinary expertise and creative ideas in shops, cafes and restaurants. His very own Belcanto is rightly awarded a Michelin star and I was utterly astounded by the beautiful precision and impressive flavourful creations.
The Decadente: almost impossible to get a table but well worth booking if you can. All the food is great but most rave about the chocolate trio dessert, simple but brilliantly tasty.
Casanova Pizza: a hip pizza joint by the waterfront. Sit inside at the shared tables and switch on your floating lightbulb for service. The pizzas are insanely good with crispy crust, plenty of cheese and numerous topping options.
Pasteis de Belem: it is considered a sin to walk past this café without popping in for a Pasteis (custard tart). Sweet, warm, gooey and delicious, they are the very best Lisbon has to offer.
Santini: always expect queues at this wonderful Italian ice-cream shop. The recipe is top secret and undeniably delicious, try strawberry and coconut combination.
Pizza a Pezzi: A new way to eat pizza on the go, choose a piece, it will be weighed and costed accordingly, pay and you’re ready to go. Yum.
Cinco Lounge: Lisbon has definitely not caught on to the cocktail trend yet. But those in favour of a fruity concoction will be pleased to discover Cinco, which offers a menu of over 100 carefully designed recipes. We tried the Milly Vanilly (obviously)!
Kaffeehaus: a cool hang-out for coffee lovers and those needing a snack as a break from shopping in Chiado.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian: contains a collection of amazing ancient and modern art.
Museu-Escola de Artes Decorativas: a quaint collection of Portuguese artifacts and furniture.
Hospital de Bonecas: opened in 1930 this eerily spectacular array of dolls and broken toys. Unlike anything I have ever seen before, this longstanding building restores damaged dolls back to their former glory and offer visitors a chance to view the workshop.
Belem church: An epic building, overlooking the city. Stunning interiors and free entry.
Oceanario: Europe’s largest aquarium is a must see when in Lisbon. Showcasing each of the oceans it houses a huge variety of exotic and exciting sealife, we particularly loved seeing the otters and penguins.
Feira da Ladra: locals love the flea market which is held every Tuesday and Saturday near tram stop Campo da Sta. Clara. We wandered up and had great fun checking out the second hand selections.
Santa Justa: travel up one of the city’s best-loved landmarks,also known as the “Elevator of Carmo,” this extraordinary structure was built at the turn of the century by the Portugal-born French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard (an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel). The top of the Neo-Gothic tower, reached via a spiral staircase, has a cafe with splendid views of the city, Rossio Square, the castle and the river.
Four Seasons Ritz: historic, beautiful and luxurious, this five star hotel cannot be beaten for its superior service and wonderful rooms. Check out the fabulous spa and rooftop running track.
The Independente: the trendiest hostel and suites accommodation in the city. This funky venue also offers a groovy bar and restaurant for guests and visitors. Cheap and cool.
Lisbon Lovers: stylish merchandise for tourists.
21PR: an expansive concept store on the Rua Dom Pedro. Colourful treats come in all varieties: jewellery, chocolates, clothes and other lovely bits and bobs to tempt you to part with your pennies.
Cyan: a small jewellery workshop in the midst of the flea market, founder Maria will pick out a handmade piece to suit your character. I left with a precious engraved silver ring, that she sold me despite wearing it herself.
SkinLife: simply put, Skinlife is the Portuguese version of SpaceNK… a collection of high end boutique make-up and fragrance brands housed under one roof. Rose wine is served to clients instore.
Nails’4’us: the top nail salon in Lisbon, experts in gel manicures with a colourful range of nail essentials.
Queijaria Nacional: a top foodie store to buy wonderful cheeses and meats.
Lavaria Ulisses: this glove shop was founded in 1925 by Joaquim Rodrigues Simões, an entrepreneur with a profound understanding of the habits of the people of Lisbon. This tiny little original shop is adorable and the lovely man behind the counter will inspect your hand for a second before returning with a box of suitable options. I chose bright pink, snug fitting leather gloves, a very special reminder of my Lisbon weekend.
If you have the luxury of more time, I’d recommend a trip to the nearby seaside town Cascais where you will find free bike hire perfect for trails along the coast.