Heading to Lisbon, Portugal and want to get off the beaten path? Look no further! This post kicks off a new series of travel tips where I interview locals in various locations about their 5 favorites. I’m really excited about this series because to me, finding those behind the scenes and out of the way spots are what can take a trip from good to great!
First out are Rebecca and Cristina from the online shop Haus of Nomads. We first connected on Instagram when I was in Portugal and I really wish that I had asked them these questions while I was still there, because I missed most of what they are recommending and now I want to go back!
Rebecca and Cristina, first of all, thank you so much for being part of this series and sharing your favorites! Would you mind telling us a bit about yourselves and how you ended up living in Lisbon?
We’re a design duo with a passion for travel that’s run through our veins since we were kids. We grew up in different Americas (one in the US and the other in Brazil), traveled the globe in our own ways and made it to Europe as adults. Over the past decade, we’ve lived in Paris, London, Boston for a quick stint and now Lisbon.
We visited Portugal several years back and loved the quality of life that you could find: a slower pace along with the mix of modernity in a traditional setting. That was enough for us to make it our new home! We’ve been in Lisbon for over a year now and while it’s been tough to get set-up with a brick & mortar store as planned, there’s not much else that we can fault the city for, it has so much going for it.
Come explore the city through our eyes!
1. Favorite Part of Town
We’re big fans of Alcântara. It’s off the beaten path, but is so accessible to so much of what makes the city great. We’ve got the river, LX Factory (used to be a weaving and textile factory complex that has been transformed into a creative hub with restaurants, shops, co-working offices, art exhibits, etc.), museums, Monsanto forest park, Belém and downtown Lisbon within walking distance. While the area is becoming increasingly popular, you can still experience life with locals at that famous Portuguese pace!
2. Favorite Restaurant / Bar
If you’re tired of grilled fish and want something a bit different and off the beaten path, we’d suggest seeking out Geographia. It’s located in a charming section of town called Lapa / Janelas Verdes that not many tourists make it to. When you arrive, you get to learn about what makes Portuguese cooking unique while taking the journey to explore other Portuguese speaking countries. Definitely one to remember!
As cocktails fans, we’re sure that you’ll be hard pressed to find a more relaxed bar serving delectable concoctions that are so beautiful that you almost hate to take a sip! The Bar needs no other introduction, just trust us – laid back Aussie vibes with a local Lisbon twist make it a must.
3. The One Thing Visitors Can’t Miss / Must See
We always encourage people to get off the beaten path! Wandering through the unknown streets is where you’re going to find the most interesting things – an incredible tiled house you fall in love with, a quaint shop or an old woman watching the world go by from her window. You’ll get a feeling of life beyond what’s in any guidebook.
Our must see / do is walking from Alcântara to Belém – strolling along the river as locals do while soaking in icons such as Cristo Rei and the MAAT museum. You can stop to grab a drink or bite to eat near the marina, pass by key sites in Belém and make it all the way to the Fundação Champalimaud. It’s there where you no longer feel like you’re in Lisbon but instead like an explorer on the edge of the Atlantic with only the Americas many thousands of miles away.
4. Favorite Gift to Bring Home
We can’t deny sardines and ginjinha (a sweet cherry liqueur) their place in visitors’ luggage, but for the design-conscious, we’d suggest a couple of things:
Swing by Soma Ideas in downtown Lisbon where you’ll find lovely posters, soaps and other souvenirs that are illustrated with the sights, poems and history of Portugal. And if you’re looking to bring home a taste of the modern twist on Portuguese traditions, we highly recommend a GUR rug as a lovely way to bring a piece of your trip back home with you. They are true artisan products handmade in the north of Portugal and while they generally take 4-5 weeks to be made, we can get one delivered to your Airbnb / Hotel while in Lisbon or send it direct to your home in no time!
5. Hidden Gem
So we’ve talked about food, drink, design, culture and can only continue the tradition by sharing a few other thoughts of things that you may not think of, know about or even imagine exploring.
If you’re a foodie or on a health-kick and enjoy bread, you should really swing by Gleba. These guys mill their own flour using Portuguese grains of antiquity that are sustainably produced and naturally fermented. They even have daily flavors to try out: from chorizo to fig and honey. Yum!
Looking to see a different side of town, try out Marvila. From craft beer to art galleries in old warehouses, it’s definitely a unique side of town with it’s own creative spirit.
And for the music lovers out there, during the summer you can’t do much better than OutJazz where you can enjoy jazz in the widest sense of the term in various parks around Lisbon, for free! Bring a picnic, spirit of your choice, good company and you’re sure to have a blast!
As you can see there’s so much more to see and explore beyond the run of the mill tourist sites, so come and join us in our love affair with Lisbon!