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Nowadays, it’s rare to glance at a destination hot list and not find Portugal, especially its capital city of Lisbon, near the top. However, though Lisbon may be one of the oldest cities in the world — existing centuries before major metropolises such as Rome, Paris and London — it has kept up with the times, offering modern travelers plenty to admire and enjoy.
Below are some of Lisbon’s top spots, including must-visit cafes, shops, restaurants and bars.
Lisbon, Portugal, is a hot spot for hip travelers; depicted is an art piece in LX Factory. // © 2018 Creative Commons user Antti Kailio
Enjoy filter coffees, americanos, cappuccinos, cortados and more at Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Lisbon’s Principe Real neighborhood. // © 2018 Creative Commons user bexwalton
Ceramicas na Linha offers shoppers a treasure trove of locally made Portuguese ceramics. // © 2018 Valerie Chen
Situated adjacent to the 25 de Abril suspension bridge and Tagus River (Tejo River), LX Factory is a revitalized barrio with an eclectic array of shops, restaurants, cafes and more. // © 2018 Creative Commons user Alex Lehner
Wish Slow Coffee House is a cute and airy part-cafe, part-design-shop located in LX Factory. // © 2018 Wish Slow Coffee House
Spend hours shopping for books, eating cake and sipping on wine or coffee in the multistory Ler Devagar bookstore. // © 2018 Creative Commons user shadowgate
Order Brazilian-Portuguese-fusion tapas at LX Factory’s Rio Maravila while taking in a view of the nearby bridge and river. // © 2018 Rio Maravila
The trendy Park Bar occupies the top floor of a parking garage in Bairro Alto. // © 2018 Creative Commons user albedo20
Time Out Market Lisboa (Mercado da Ribeira) features more than 40 carefully curated restaurants and shops. // © 2018 Creative Commons user pedrosimoes7
Copenhagen Coffee LabWith mostly neutral furniture and decor as well as a laid-back atmosphere, Copenhagen Coffee Lab will probably feel like your favorite cafe back home. The owners of this Principe Real shop are Danish — hence the name and the Scandinavian minimalist style — but patrons from all over the world, including Portuguese natives, regularly stop by for their caffeine fix.
Though espresso is the most ubiquitous form of coffee consumed in Portugal, Copenhagen Coffee Lab explores other brewing methods as well, including filter coffees made with an AeroPress, a French press or a Hario V60 coffee dripper. Americanos, cappuccinos, cortados, lattes and macchiatos are on the menu, too, with the option of a nondairy alternative such as soy milk, almond milk and oat milk. Don’t pass up the chance to snack on the made-in-house pastries, rye bread and sourdough bread.
Ceramicas na LinhaLeave room in your suitcase if you plan on ducking into Ceramicas na Linha, a family-owned shop tucked away in the Chiado neighborhood. It’s a treasure trove of stunning Portuguese ceramics that are both handmade and high-quality. Plus, they’re considerably less expensive than the ceramics sold at other shops across Lisbon; items are priced individually or sold by the kilogram.
Stock up on pastel-colored dishware sets, mugs with meticulously painted fish, bowls resembling vegetables, planters depicting Lisbon’s colorful tiles and more. (I admit that I’ve visited this store twice on two separate trips to Lisbon, and both times had to purchase an extra bag to bring items home.)
LX FactoryJetsetters will love the Alcantara area’s LX Factory, a revitalized barrio that exudes a fun, quirky energy and feels like a hideaway from the rest of Lisbon. The strip of mid-1880s industrial buildings is host to a slew of creative workspaces in addition to an eclectic array of kitschy and high-end shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes. Graffiti art adorns the building walls of LX Factory, and the red 25 de Abril suspension bridge, which spans the nearby Tagus River (Tejo River), soars above.
Start off at Wish Slow Coffee House, a cute and airy part-cafe, part-design-shop that peddles coffee, teas, other refreshments and small bites as well as locally made goods. Like Copenhagen Coffee Lab, this place will be a respite from all the espressos you’ll be ordering everywhere else in Lisbon.
Next, head to the often-photographed Ler Devagar. Situated inside a former printing factory, the hip bookstore has made its way into many Instagram feeds for good reason. In the wide-open, multistory space, books cover almost every square inch, including shelves of new and secondhand books that climb all the way to the ceiling. Whimsical sculptures such as a cyclist clutching an umbrella seem to float in midair, and indulgences such as wine, coffee and cake are available for visiting bibliophiles.
For more shopping, check out Pura Cal for chic accouterments; Retroshop for a jumble of nostalgic trinkets and antique furniture; and More Than Wine for artisanal Portuguese goods such as small-batch soaps or canned sardines. Note that most of LX Factory’s shops close by evening. If your visit falls on a Sunday, expect a lively flea market to take over the barrio’s cobblestone roads, showcasing artwork, vintage clothing and other wares for sale.
Hungry? Rio Maravila is the place to be for excellent Brazilian-Portuguese-fusion gastronomy (served tapas-style), craft cocktails and live music. The modish restaurant embraces its industrial past but elevates the concrete flooring and exposed metal beams with a bright neon color palette, funky motifs and dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. Located on the top of a four-story building, Rio Maravila also has a terrace with a prime view to watch the sun dip low over the nearby river and bridge.
Park BarPlenty of bars in the Bairro Alto neighborhood have a port wine with your name on it — but how many of them were also once the top floor of a parking garage? This sleek rooftop bar (that still sits atop a functioning car park) has been transformed into a popular garden terrace for in-the-know guests and shows off 180-degree views of Lisbon’s sloping hills, famed architecture and Tagus River. Order that glass of port or share a pitcher of sangria with friends (strongly recommended) as you kick back or groove along to whatever the DJ is spinning.
To reach the hidden establishment (no signs are posted), visitors must take an elevator to the fifth floor and then go up a flight of stairs.
Time Out Market LisboaA Lisbon trip isn’t complete without a meal or two at Time Out Market Lisboa (Mercado da Ribeira), located across the street from the Cais do Sodre metro station. Particularly great for a group with different palates, the food hall will have something delicious for even the pickiest of eaters.
More than 40 carefully curated restaurants, bars and shops operate here, offering everything from modern Portuguese fare such as octopus stew with sweet potatoes to international gastronomy including pizza, hamburgers, curry and even sushi. Be sure to try pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg tart pastries) at the Manteigaria booth, which are said to be as good — if not better — than those found at the renowned Pasteis de Belem bakery.
Though lively at almost every hour of the day, Time Out Market is especially crowded around lunchtime and in the evening. Seating is communal and first-come, first-serve, so be prepared to wait for erratic opportunities to snag a spot. Fortunately, a glass of wine can help remedy any delays.