Oh Lisboa, meu lar; da-me beijos, da-me tantos
A few months ago I got sick of the cold and jetted off to Lisbon, the most underrated city I’ve been to. Seriously. It was amazing! It reminded me of mah hometown Sydney - sunny (bliss), beautiful, relaxing and a nice selection of white, sandy beaches nearby - but better, because there were street parties and more dancing. If you ever go, go during the Festas de Junho, a month-long street party where people build random bars/restaurants/stages out the front of their homes and dance ‘til the early hours, drinking and eating sardines in the street. On top of that, the city has a vibrant cultural scene with lots of great museums, street art and music everywhere. So if you’d like to go to the beach but are worried you’ll get bored relaxing (ha. ha.) try Lisbon instead. Here are some of my favourite places there.
Lisbon has some of the best hostels in Europe, for a measly 10 euro per night. Yes, it also has fabulously luxe hotels. But some of us would rather go shopping with that money*.
Great people, comfy beds and a walking tour that lets you in on some of Lisbon’s most beautiful hidden secrets, staying here feels like you’re staying at a really good mate’s place. A really good mate who has cleaners, thank goodness. Breakfast and dinner are also available, cooked from the heart by the most darling little Portuguese woman who used to be a haute cuisine chef but now pours her heart into making hungover backpackers happy. Rua Santa Catarina 24, Lisboa
Poshest-looking hostel, ever. Incredible design, and a really great restaurant underneath as well. Atmosphere can feel a bit pretentious, but the facilities are excellent and clean and the kitchen is very well stocked with the basics. Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisboa
*or stay in one of these babies: Casa das Penhas Doradas , a mountain resort nestled in the Serra de Estrela, or luxury getaway Fazenda Nova in the south.
A Taberna da Rua das Flores
Fusion petiscos invoking Portuguese traditions with a Japanese twist, and some very fresh seafood. But pace yourself. The raw goat’s cheese with honey and almonds (all stars from Portugal) is an unexpectedly simple yet decadent end to the meal. Rua das Flores 113, Chiado, Lisboa
The biggest freakin’ fish kebabs I’ve ever seen in my life. No, really. There’s a fancy restaurant featuring Japanese-inspired flavours, but my favourite is the takeaway fish shop (peixaria) next door, where sashimi-grade salmon burgers drizzled with a touch of tamari and wasabi are the best and only things to eat for dinner on a hot day. Rua de Loreto 21, Lisboa
This unassuming restaurant on the downslope from Santa Catarina gets packed on weekends, with a young, vibrant crowd. So get here early (i.e. before 10pm) to peruse the small but brilliant menu of traditional Portuguese dishes. Three months later I’m still craving the locally sourced chorizo served here. Calçada de Combro, 115 Lisboa
GET YOUR HEALTH ON
Is it too much to ask for a salad that’s a little bit more than a limp bit of lettuce? Not at Vitaminas. This build-a-salad chain lets you pick from ingredients such as grilled vegetables, sundried tomatoes and smoked salmon, or you can follow some of their suggestions. Their dressings aren’t much to shout home for, but they have a nice tray of olive oil, herbs and vinaigrettes on the side if you want to make your own.
image / Trip Advisor
An organic supermarket featuring a mostly German selection of organic food, the closest one tucked in the upstreets of Chiado. Try the gluten-free bread from local artisan bakery Miolo - their hazelnut, brown rice and carob bread is decidedly moreish and decadent.
/ image courtesy of Brio
A very sleek, very shiny gym. A good selection of machines and classes and the staff are helpful in both English and Portuguese. Oh, and the showers make you feel like you’re in a five-star hotel. Because that’s what you really look for in a gym, of course.
Liquid Na Merendinha
A teeny, tiny shop the size of a matchbox, the menus are in English and Portuguese and feature a lovely range of smoothies and juices. Plus, the owner Teresa is a total babe. Stay tuned for an interview with her.
image / Liquid via Facebook