I fell in love with Lisbon’s sunny shores! Here’s a list of all my fave finds when I visited this month – my top picks for things to do in Lisbon. Make sure you check out my full Lisbon city guide here.
Located under the towering 25 de Abril Bridge suspension bridge, LX Factory has a very Hackney Wick meets Marrickville vibe going on. It’s nowhere near the centre of Lisbon, but take a tram from Cais do Sodré (it’s worth waiting for one of the really cute old ones) to Alcântara-Mar and it’s a short walk through some suburban streets to this former manufacturing complex. The run-down industrial area was redeveloped in 2008 to house a number of galleries, bars and cafes. I really got the feeling that the area was once a hotbed of alternative activity, especially with all the large-scale graffiti, but has since become quite gentrified. I could be totally wrong though; it may have always been this way since it’s launch. Either way, it’s an interesting spot to pop to if you’ve seen enough of the central area, especially with the newly opened Village Underground Lisboa just around the corner (which is a cafe by day, event/club space by night). Some of the places worth checking out include the champions of chocolate cake Landeau, expansive art bookshop Ler Devagar, showy Portuguese restaurant 1300 Taberna, bicycle cafe BI+CA, and the pretty awesome looking BloodBrothers, which was sadly closed when I visited but is a shop for their handmade surfboards as well customised motorcycles/skateboards/bicycles plus a bar serving vegetarian tapas. Seriously dreamy.
LX Factory – Rua Rodrigues de Faria, 103 1300 Lisbon
Chapitô à Mesa
If you are desperate to bask in the very last of the sun, come here for sunset. It’s not an easy spot to find, but just keep winding your way up to the castle, you should come across it. The entrance is strangely through what appears to be the gift shop of the famed circus school – but straight through the glass door, you emerge into an enclosed but breezy balcony, where you can drink in sunshine & cocktails. It’s a bit hippy in style but don’t be afraid to hustle for one of the prime seats in the sun. The views of the bay will be your reward.
I’ve never felt more instantly at home as soon as I seated myself at the bar. Perhaps it’s because Pavilhão Chinês (aka Chinese Pavillion) is filled with more random crap than the George & Dragon mixed with a Mary Poppins car boot sale. Like 10 times more. The drinks menu is extensive & beautifully designed. They didn’t know what a French 75 is but that could easily have been my nasal accent. The vibe is sedated and artsy – apart from the Eurodisco that was pumping endlessly. But this is no hipster bar: the staff are all well north of 50, attired in matching red waistcoats. Which works well with all the Bavarian beer mugs, British bulldog statues and portraits of extinct European monarchs. I honestly could have sat at the end of the bar nursing my margarita for one all night, I felt that comfortable here. Divine.
I have never been to a bar more perfectly suited to my pole-dancing drag queen partner, Robyn Withawhy, than Pensão Amor! Deep red velvet couches, chandeliers, erotic art adorning the walls, a MASSIVE library of erotic literature & a stripper pole! And all (relatively) tastefully done. Housed in a former brothel, this spacious cocktail bar is very popular. I had a strong margarita that definitely boosted my spirits. All quite low key – but you get the feeling you could have one hell of a party here.
I stumbled across this place by accident when I was fresh off the plane & STARVING! Vitaminas is a baguette & salad bar, kind of like Pret meets Subway with a super-healthy slant where you can build your own meal. A mega-bonus is that they do both gluten-free pasta & bread, so you can have either option! I was so relieved when I discovered this as there are so few gluten-free options in Lisbon currently. The pasta was pretty standard, but the bread was so good that I was really worried I’d accidentally been given wheat bread. Vitaminas is actually a chain with multiple locations across Lisbon, which is great news as I ended up coming back to this branch every day. Lots of seating, free wifi and they are open until late evening.
The first thing to know about Quinoa is that it is definitely not gluten-free. The owner has no idea how that rumour started on the internet but at least three other people came in with the same assumption whilst I was there. In a city very short on gluten-free options, perhaps they should give it a try? Still, this very modern organic cafe/bakery is well worth a visit. My scrambled eggs & salmon was delicious and my soy cappuccino was spot-on light & frothy. They also have a beautiful selection of bread, pastries & cakes, for those lucky enough to eat them. The perfect brunch spot for visitors and locals alike.