Our never ending hunt for the trendiest places in the world is a tough duty, but we’re happy to oblige! We scouted the streets of Western Europe’s oldest city, predating even cultural hotspots like Paris and Rome by centuries. Lisbon was at the heart of the Portuguese empire, once stretching from Asia to South Africa. The hilly metropolis was hit bad by the 2010 financial crises, leading to fiscal woes and massive unemployment.
With things looking up today, the city is undergoing a dramatic make over. Neglected districts are being reborn, neighbourhood markets spruce up and investors rediscover Lisbon’s many beauties. The city is so popular these days that Asian-style tuk-tuks roam the streets, offering guided tours with almost the same obtrusiveness as their Asian counterparts.
Perfect weather, easy-going inhabitants, great food and reasonable prices for real estate is a recipe for a thriving metropolis. Lisbon was included in the WIRED’s list of hottest start up destinations in 2016, creating buzz in the tech- and co-working scene. With major enterprises committing permanently and digital nomads coming from all over the world, it is now considered the California of Europe.
Until now Lisbon’s start up scene has been flying under the radar. With hubs like Berlin, London and Barcelona, competition is fierce. But Lisbon has unique conditions: 75% cheaper rents than London, 25% cheaper groceries than Berlin, relatively low wages and beach weather year-round. Its strong infrastructure and affordable IT talent create a hype amongst investors all over Europe, leading to the relocation of legendary Web Summit from Dublin to Lisbon in 2016. With start ups like Uniplaces, Codacy and TalkDesk rocking international markets, Lisbon’s start up scene is set to help empower the economical situation of the whole nation.
Lisbon is a city that begs to be explored. Locals tell us even they still discover new things, so don’t be fooled into thinking these highlights are all there is to see. In Lisbon you find highlights as you go. Our handpicked favourites:
Castelo de São Jorge
6th century castle with an amazing view over Lisbon. Bring bread crumbs – it comes with free roaming peacocks!
Praça do Comércio
A lively U-shaped square on the banks of river Tagus, boasting a triumph arc and a selection of galleries, cafés and stylish shops
Assembleia da República (parliament)
Seat of the Portuguese government since 1833. A monk order was evicted from the building to make place for politics.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
A Manueline masterpiece. With it’s finely sculpted maritime motifs and dramatic cloisters, it’s considered Portugal’s greatest national monument
Some consider it the most beautiful tower on Earth. Completely surrounded by water, it was the starting point for the vessels that discovered the world in the name of the Portuguese empire
Parque das Nações
A futuristic glass and steel district designed for the Expo 98 – an unexpected contrast to Lisbon’s historical charm
Convento da Madre de Deus
The Tile Museum presents history and evolution of the art of the ceramic tile which originated in ancient Egypt and eventually spread of Europe
Libon’s design museum with a focus on international fashion and a mix of temporary exhibitions.
Águas Livres Aqueduct
An ingenius piece of hydraulic engineering. It could only be financed through a tax on olive oil, wine and meat in the 18th century.
Parque Eduardo VII
Named after England’s King Edward VII, this is where you’ll find spectacular views of Lisbon, inspiring gardens and a surprisingly big Portuguese flag.
5 coolest hoods
Chiado (our top pick!)
Enjoying the breathtaking view from Bairro Alto Hotel’s terrace bar, it’s easy to see why Chiado is considered Lisbon’s trendiest and most elegant neighbourhood. From the 14th centuries remnants of Convento do Carmo to the Old Elevator connecting Baixa district with the ruins of Igreja do Carmo, Chiado’s cultural heritage ranks among the most beautiful in the world.
When you’re done exploring the national museum of contemporary art and archeological museum, be sure to recharge your batteries with a Bica (SUPER strong espresso) at Cafe Brasileira and the world’s best natas at Manteigaria. While the caffeine and sugar do their magic, check out the amazing A Vida Portuguesa for unique souvenirs before letting the day come to an end at Europe’s largest opera house – Teatro Nacionale de Sao Carlos.
Alfama is a quaint medieval district and the true soul of Lisbon. You can overlook one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Europe from Portas Do Sol, a rooftop terrace with dazzling views over the colourful fishermen’s houses below and Tagus river.
If that’s not enough to stop your breath, head to Casa dos Bicos, the famous house of spikes. It’s one of the few buildings that survived the devastating 1755 earthquake. Thanks to the reconstruction following the earthquake, the neighbourhood boasts a beautiful Roman-inspired cobblestone pavement of fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. Fado is Lisbon’s traditional music and you’ll find the fado museum in Alfama. Just around the corner, Memmo Alfama brings a modern influence. It’s the first boutique hotel in the narrow streets crowded by traditional shops and famous fado restaurants. Speaking of which – be sure to check out Chapitô, a circus school better known for its amazing terrace and tasty food.
Lisbon’s Principe Real is Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg – just cooler. Gentrification is slowly turning it into a sought after residential area, with trendy Rua dom Pedro street as main drag. Independent boutiques spruce up everywhere, led by the 560m2 Nuno Gama flagship store. A young crowd is reviving the area and amazing venues like Indian-style restaurant Lost In or tasty bakeries like Paradia Italian and Padaria Portuguesa follow on their footsteps. A highlight for tea lovers: Charcutaria Moy, the best gourmet tea shop in Lisbon.
At daytime bohemian Bairro Alta’s romantic Miradouro de São Pedro terrace offers a spectacular view over the downtown area. Below the view point resides the most expensive chapel in the world, mixing ivory, agate, lapis lazuli and gold. Eye candy at its best. If you’re craving real candy, head to candy-pharmacy Dream Pills. They sell sweets that help with “involuntary sexual abstinence” and “social media addiction”. You prefer it healthy? No problem. The small juice bar YAO Pressed Juicery has an amazing menu, as well as the hipster café The Mill next door, serving fresh and contemporary food paired with wine (yay!).
It’s at night when Bairro Alto’s true spirit shows.The sleepy neighbourhood turns into bar hopping mecca for artsy hipsters and old ladies alike. A perfect way to start the night is at Solar do Vinho do Porto where you can sample a tasty array of wines, before heading on to Park restaurant’s terrace offering eclectic music line ups and a perfect 180° view over Lisbon at night. Once you survived a night of crowded bars and inhibited street parties, take a ride on the famous funiculars to the historic and picturesque neighbourhood of Bica.
Campo de Ourique
A mix of beautiful 19th-century buildings and Art Noveau determine the face of Campo de Ourique. It’s best known for its newly renovated market hall Mercado de Campo de Ourique, housing traditonal market stands as well at 17 distinctive food shops. The neighbourhoods biggest treats are pastry shop Casa dos Moles and O Melhor Bolo De Chocolate, who offer the undisputed best chocholate cake in the world! If you’re looking for more hearty pleasures, try Pimenta Rosa or Tasca da Esquina, avant-garde cuisines with traditional roots and an impressive range of flavours.
5 Best View Points
A city built on seven hills right by the waterfront, Lisbon is a haven for panorama hunters. There is a sheer endless array of amazing rooftops, garden terraces and hilltop views, allowing you to overlook the city from almost every angle. If you plan to seduce someone, simply take her (or him) to one of the panoramas at night and Lisbon and you’ll never need Tinder again. The best thing: wherever you may roam, the next viewpoint is around the corner.
Torel – Take the Lavra lift up the hill and enjoy dreamy ponds in a public garden as you look over the Western part of Lisbon
Miradouro de Santa Catarina – Sitting between the district of Bairro Alto and Santa Catarina, this view point offers an unrivalled dawn view over Tagus river
Miradouro Portas do Sol – “The gateway of the sun” boasts postcard-perfect views over Alfama, Lisbon’s heart and soul
Miradouro Senhora do Monte – Rediscovered by tour guide and young couples only recently, Senhora do Monte (“Our Lady of the Mount”) is one of the highest view points in the city. It’s especially wort the visit at sunset.
Miradouro Cristo Rei - Built as a symbol of thankfulness for being spared the torments of WW II, a 28m statue of Christ towers on a 75m pedestal. You can take the elevator to stand at Christ’s feet and enjoy an unique view over entire Lisbon and its distinct “Golden Gate Bridge”.
Portugal’s cuisine has always been rooted in simple cooking techniques with high quality ingredients. Lisbon’s new high-end gourmet restaurants fuse the beloved simple comforts with more exotic flavours. It’s not just the reinvention and modernisation of Portugal’s classic cuisine that makes Lisbon’s culinary scene stand out. There’s also a number of highly-acclaimed new Japanese restaurants that use local ingredients and regional fish to roll sushi, Lisbon’s new trendy food.
No one has accomplished more for Lisbon’s culinary scene than genius chef José Avillez, who runs no less than 7 restaurants in Lisbon, one of them being the only 2-michelin star restaurant in town. We whole heartedly recommend visiting any of his restaurants, they create unforgettable culinary experiences in a city that’s hard to forget anyway.
Bairro de Avillez (our top pick!)
A very tasty chapter in José Avillez’ culinary story, this multi-space venue features a small gourmet grocery store, a traditional taverna, and a lush patio. José describes it as an entire universe dedicated to creativity, with the best of Portugal’s flavours under one roof.
A place that previously housed the city’s best vendors now houses some of its best restaurants. While the wares on offer may differ, the principle is the same: bringing the best of the city together.
Palacio Chiado – 6 extravagant gastronomic concepts by renowned brands under one roof
Bica do Sapato – Portuguese kitchen meets avant-garde in a stylish environment by the waterfront
Sea Me Peixaria moderna – Trendy vibe, stylish decor, excellent fish and tasty sushi with original flavors
The Cevicheria – A giant octopus hanging from the ceiling reveals what’s served here – delicious ceviche
100 Maneiras – Bosnic Ljubomir Stanisic has been chef since 2009. His specialty: The nine course-tasting menu.
1300 Tavern – Industrial style with outstanding decor, serving traditional Portuguese cuisine with an international touch
Aura Lounge – Cafe-lounge-restaurant serving contemporary Portuguese dishes as well as cocktails on their terrace
Can The Can – Rooftop terrace with fado music as well as a unique interior with a huge chandelier and gourmet level tapas
Find more restaurants.
Lisbon’s undisputed nightlife center is Bairro Alto. Hundreds of small bars are squished together in the narrow cobblestone streets, parties moving onto the streets as soon as the bars get crowded. On a typical night you’ll socialise to the sound of fado music with locals and travellers alike, but the clubbing scene has been catching up lately. Especially in Intendente, an area north of the city center, many faded facades now house edgy clubs. More venues are popping up monthly, their beautifully decayed locations reminding of the charm Berlin’s clubbing scene is well-loved for. The best way to explore the nightlife is to just walk from location to location, although we admit after the 5th venue “walking” wasn’t the easiest task anymore.
Pensão Amor (our top pick!)
Located in a former brothel, “Love House” reminds us of the 19th-century burlesque scene. The decadent mood is complimented by velvet furnishing, framed mirrors and a pub-style piano in different rooms. We came for the great selection of drinks. We stayed for the live band acts and jumped up to rock the dancing pole.
Cinco Lounge – A smart nightspot with over a 100 original drinks to choose from (and also a 235€ cocktail)
The Good The Bad And The Ugly Bar – An ambitious multi-faced project featuring a bar, restaurant, film club and dancefloor
Casa Independente – “Tiger Room” is a major concert venue, the associated bar sells a quality range of cocktails
Mini Bar – Gourmet bar by José Avillez serving special cocktails, wines and craft beers
Lux Club (our top pick!)
Portugal’s most prestigious night club is a former warehouse by the waterside. A labyrinth of connected rooms, the theatrical space is always packed with party-hungry night owls. The two funky floors are complimented by an amazing upstairs bar and a terrace on the roof with oversized wing chairs. Absolute must-visit for club lovers! PS: Prince and Cameron Diaz were here!
Europa Club (top afterhour pick!)
Just like Pigalle restaurant in Berlin, Europa club is located in a former brothel. And it gets wild, too. It’s the hottest afterhour club in Lisbon and the parties go on till after noon. As Berliners, we thought we found heaven. Lisbon knows how to party.
Kremlin – Lisbon’s top club in the 90s, ranking in “DJ” magazine. Reopened in 2016. Pumping beats and new decor have keep the partying going on Fridays and Saturdays
Ministerium – cool techno-electronica music in a building formerly used by the Ministry of Finance
Silk – One of the trendiest clubs around, you’ll often need to be on the guest list to get in
For dinner and party venues we recommend you any of Group K’s venues.
The Late Birds (our top pick – gay only)
An Urban luxury resort for the gay male community Lisbon, located in the heart of Lisbon’s historical center. From here you can easily access the nearby shops and many bars that open up at night. The best: all the gay bars are no further than few minutes walk. Watch our for their future expansion plans, Porto is up next.
Memmo Principe Real
Tucked away in a narrow street, this five-start boutique hotel was home to ancient royalty. It mixes contemporary and classic styles in a cosmopolitan ambience of tranquility and impeccable service that provides the visitor with a Lisbon experience that feels both timeless and authentically local.
Four Seasons Hotel – To prove Lisbon could do luxury too, dictator Salazar built this hotel in 1959. A huge marble lobby and grand decor put in under the bar setting hotels.
Palacio Belmonto – Built on the surrounding walls of Lisbon’s Castle São Jorge, breathtaking views over the city and Tagus River
Martinhal Chiado – Hidden in yet another narrow street with direct access to the flourishing party scene
If you’re looking for the best boutique hotels in Lisbon, check out this top10 list.
For a grand tour experience in Lisbon we recommend to book a day tour with the charming good looking guide Joel Moedas-Miguel. He offers private city tours and excursions to Lisbon’s beautiful surrounding.
There’s plenty to be discovered on your own, too. For a fantastic view, check out the national palace of Pena. Also located in the Sintra hills, its 19th-century romanticism is only rivaled by the thousand year history of its neighbour, the national palace of Sintra. While you’re there, don’t miss visiting Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point.
From central Lisbon it’s only a 30min ride by car to get to Costa Caparica, worth the visit for its stunning coastline and vast sandy beaches. More cool visits include Cascais, one of the most cosmopolitan and riviera-like places in Portugal ever since King Luís I chose the bay for his summer residence. Best places to stay in Cascais: Palacio Estoril and Farol Hotel.