Blessed with sunshine, exceptional cuisine, and highly Instagrammable pastel buildings crowned with rust-red terracotta rooftops, Lisbon belongs at the top every traveller’s list of places to visit in 2018. Best of all, the Portuguese capital has managed to remain affordable after all these years, meaning you can order another round of the fabulous local wine without worrying about your wallet.
Locals in Lisbon tend to opt for a light breakfast with their morning coffee, though there’s no reason not to order something more substantial at Tartine if you’re feeling famished. At this beloved bakery, you’ll find heartier brunch staples like eggs Benedict alongside flawlessly flaky croissants. After fueling up on caffeine, head to the Praça do Comércio, a square ringed by historic architecture on the Tagus River. After snapping the obligatory photos, pay a visit to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which showcases one of the world’s most impressive collections of modern Portuguese art, as well as cultural artifacts dating all the way back to ancient Egypt.
Afternoon 1pm –5pm
Treat yourself to a long, leisurely lunch at the Café Lisboa, where celeb chef José Avillez serves traditional Portuguese fare in a lushly decorated room inside the 18th century São Carlos National Theatre. It’s hard to order wrong here, but the cod confit with potato crumble is especially good. Desserts like a plate of local cheese and fresh figs drizzled with syrup are divine, but save room for a sweet stop later in the afternoon. Next, make a beeline for the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. As intriguing as the contents on display may be, the museum’s €20 million 7,000-square-metre exhibition space consisting of a repurposed old power plant and an undulating modernist structure steals the show. Finally, swing by the charming Pasteis de Belém, which has been baking custardy egg tarts since 1837. Note that this patisserie serves pastel de Belém, a close cousin of the more common pastel de nata that traces its origins back to the nearby Jerónimos Monastery. The original recipe, which produces a shatteringly crisp crust and a deeply caramelised centre, remains a zealously guarded secret.
Evening: 6:30pm- 12:00
When the streaks of magenta, lavender, and fuchsia bloom across the sky, head up to the Miradouro da Graça, a hilltop with a heart-stopping panorama of the city, to watch the sun slip below the horizon. After a light aperitif, make your way down towards an indulgent dinner. Since the dining scene has mushroomed in recent years, travellers are spoilt for choice. Those who want to splurge for a truly special occasion should check out the Michelin-starred Feitoria, where chef João Rodrigues highlights gorgeously presented organic produce with artful presentations. If you’d prefer a more traditional Portuguese feast that won’t leave quite as much of a dent in your bank account, Peixaria da Esquina specialises in all manner of seafood, from grilled razor clams to squid with shiitakes and broad beans. Fish this fresh needs little adornment aside from a glug of grassy olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, which is why Chef Vítor Sobral sticks to simple preparations. End your evening with a nightcap at the Red Frog Speakeasy, a Prohibition-themed watering hole with a killer cocktail list.
- Travellers used to give the seedy streets of Intendente a wide berth, but these days the neighbourhood plays host to a lively mix of cafés and bars frequented by local hipsters.
- On Tuesday and Saturday mornings, Thieves’ Market, a sprawling open air bazaar near the river.
- See Cinderella-worthy carriages at the Museu Nacional dos Coches, which showcases magnificent coaches used to convey monarchs and nobility dating back to the 1600s and 1700s.