Lisbon travel guide

With landmarks and laneways rich in history, a sassy drinking and dining scene and unique shopping, Lisbon’s got the goods, writes Kendall Hill.

Memmo Alfama


Cathay Pacific flies from six Australian cities to Hong Kong, with swift connections to London; codeshare partner British Airways completes the trip to Lisbon. 


Visitors make the pilgrimage to Pastéis de Belém, inventors of the famed Portuguese egg tarts, to find a daunting queue for takeaways. Go straight inside, grab a table and order. No waiting necessary. Rua de Belém 84-92.


A coffee at one of the Art Nouveau kiosques of the city’s squares and parks. Lisboetas are mad for caffeine and have a unique vocabulary for it: a galão is like a weak latte; a bica is an espresso; a bica com cheiro is a digestive coffee spiked with hard liquor.


Chiado 16

Chiado 16’s unassuming, 17th-century façade conceals a stunning small hotel designed by owner Heleen Uitenbroek. Beyond the floral mosaic-tiled foyer of outsized art and decorative ironwork are 11 modern, sun-drenched suites – some equipped with kitchens and laundry – with panoramic views across red Lisbon rooftops to the Tagus River and a big Atlantic sky. Visitors are treated like house guests and the location is ideal, on a quiet square in a fashionable district rich in retail and culture (the fine arts museum is opposite).

Largo da Academia Nacional das Belas Artes 16-17.

Memmo Alfama

“Make yourself at home,” says a sign in the small, stylish lobby of Memmo Alfama. “Take your time, go to your room and we’ll talk later.” It’s typical of the relaxed, sassy vibe of this 42-room Design Hotel in historic Alfama, the heart of Moorish Lisbon and the home of fado. The hotel offers free guided tours to orient guests with their neighbourhood, which is handy to the cathedral and castle. Cool rooms feature polished cement, timbers and Alentejo rugs, though not all have views. The show-stopper at Memmo is the four-level cascading terrace with small infinity pool and drop-dead views across city and river.

Travessa das Merceeiras 27.


Lisboetas love a botellón, the Portuguese equivalent of a pub-crawl, and Lisbon brims with small, quirky bars. Drop by O Purista Barbiere, a barber shop that also serves beer (Rua Nova da Trindade 16c), or the loungey Decadente for a posh version of the popular Porto Tonic, dry white Port with tonic, fresh mint and muddled fruit.

At Gambrinus, an old-school classic on touristy Rua das Portas de Santa Antão, toast longevity with a glass of 160-year-old Madeira for about $18.

For something completely quirky, Pavilhão Chinês is part labyrinth, part wunderkammer, with a serious attitude to cocktails.


Lisbon shopfronts have an irresistible antique glamour. Visitors covet coffee accessories at the perfectly preserved Casa Pereira on Rua Garrett, and bespoke gloves at Luvaria Ulisses. For the most satisfying Portuguese fix there’s A Vida Portuguesa in Rua Anchieta, an antique grocery store reimagined as a hip dispensary of designer and retro Iberian collectibles. It stocks everything from distinctively packaged soaps and chocolates to sardine fillets and Viana do Castelo embroideries.


Mercado da Ribeira

The local Time Out magazine backed this makeover of the Ribeiro market, and it’s paid off since doors opened last May. Many of Lisbon’s best chefs and restaurants are represented among the hawker-style kiosks. Try cuttlefish-ink croquettes from the croqueteria, followed by Ria Formosa oysters, crisp albariño and seabass salad at a concession by top bistro Sea Me.

Avenida 24 de Julho 50, Cais do Sodré Mar do Inferno, Cascais.

Everyone says Cervejaria Ramiro serves the best seafood in Lisbon, but the cooking is better at Mar do Inferno in Cascais, the former royal seaside resort north of the capital. Nothing beats a terrace table above the Atlantic with seafood sold by the kilo. Avenida Rei Humberto II de Italia, Cascais.

Mini Bar

José Avillez’s Belcanto is regarded as the best in Lisbon, but his Mini Bar is fun. Set in the São Luiz Theatre, its cabaret vibe is the backdrop to fanciful food and top-drawer drinks.

Rua António Maria Cardoso 58.

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