12 Reasons to Love Lisbon: eating, drinking and walking Portugal’s capital city
In April last year some friends and I went to Lisbon for a long weekend. We loved it. There were ten of us and we had a huge list of places we wanted to go. As always with us, the majority of these revolved around eating. We stayed in an AirBnB which was cheap and basic (I’m talking pubes on the pillow basic) but very central and did the job of accommodating ten girls who wanted to eat bugle crisps and play garage music without causing anyone else too much grief. We had a brilliant holiday and here are our top reasons why;
- Fucking ace fish – On our first night we went to Cervejaria Ramiro a Seafood restaurant. A colleague of mine recommended this place with the following description ‘So so good, you’ll have to queue for like 40 mins for a seat so get down there early. All they do is seafood by the KG and it is fucking ace.’ We were blown away by this three level seafood sensation. The bread and garlic butter were enough to write home (Instagram immideiately) about. I still talk about the bread now – see? The seafood was the best I’ve eaten – ever. The house speciality is barnacles which look like gnarly toenails and are the most expensive thing on the menu. We weren’t flush enough for that so we had the crayfish. The crayfish arrived at our table alive at first, before being whisked away and returning hot, buttered and sawn in half. Delicious, so, so, delicious. The staff are also lovely. Vegetarians are not well catered for on the menu. ALL they serve here is fish and bread. Oh and cheese, as well as ‘salad’ which actually means melon slices. Our waiter however very sweetly went to the supermarket to buy lettuce and tomato so the two vegetarians on our table could have salad with their cheese, melon and bread.
- Green wine – We got well into this. It’s like white wine with a greenish tinge and a bit of bubbles to it. Not unlike prosecco but more like a slightly fizzy Sauvignon Blanc. Very, very good.
- Barrio Alto – Head here for nightlife. You can bar hop, listen to live music in practically every venue, and drink cocktails as big as your head. Go to Pink Street (the street is actually pink) if you want a late one.
- Tarts – We quickly developed a daily tart-eating habit. On the second day we travelled to Belem where the original Portuguese custard tart cafe ‘pasteis de belem’ is situated. There is also an old castle in the middle of the sea which you can walk to. This area is also worth a visit for the Modern Art Gallery Museu Coleccao Berardo. The building is stunning and the gallery free to enter. It houses several famous modern art works including Warhols, Dalis and Picassos.
- Fado – Fado is traditional Portugese music originating from Lisbon. Spending a night at a “casa de Fado” or Fado restaurant is quite an intense experience. The most authentic are found in Alfama. Late one night we found one still open. We had missed dinner service but they still fed us. In between drinks being served and plates being cleared they turned off all the lights in the restaurant except for the corner where a man with a guitar and a lady sat. She sang in strange, sad music, with a guitar accompaniment it sounded a bit like Flamenco, but more mournful and downbeat.
- Tram – Take the yellow “Tram 28” through the steep, narrow streets of Alfama. This wooden antiquity is charming, not crowded, and a great way to gain an idea of the layout of the city, including its multiple levels!
- Street Art – A tour of the city’s street artists’ work is a great way to gain an understanding of the city. Lisbon has embraced street art which is wonderful to see. Artists have been commissioned by the council to jazz up municipal buildings most recently and successfully in a new car park. Our tour guide who was so passionate about the art as well as her city which made it a really excellent tour. The general tour is held every Saturday or Sunday at 3pm and lasts 2.5 hours although you can book a private tour if there is enough of you. The website asks for a donation of 10 euro which includes a shot of ginjaa (a Portuguese spirit drank in a shot) and a go at graffiti-ing a wall.
- Bars – Lisbon has so many great bars. Our favourites were Park, a rooftop bar on top of an old car park and Casa Independente. Independente is a quirky and charming student bar with a candle-lit indoor courtyard decorated with bric-a-brac such as old bath tubs, out-of-tune pianos and typewriters.
- The beach – We got the train which takes nearly an hour and was a welcome break from the city on the hottest day we were there. The coastline is dramatic, and beautiful, the sea is clear and sparkling and the beaches are sandy but very crowded. Get the train towards Cintra for the best and more secluded beaches.
- Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara – This viewpoint is ideal for a panoramic shot of the city. We ate tarts up there at breakfast time but it would be an equally great place to watch the sunset with a drink in hand.
- Tiles – Tiles are everywhere. On walls, pavements and table tops, handpainted and decorative tiles are synonymous with the capital.
- Sardines – Retro tins of sardines are ubiquitous in Lisbon. Get your self one.
Fucking ace fish
This piece has legs
The daily grind
Our view of Park bar
Sardines – cute!
Some lads on a tram
Tiles, tiles, tiles