7 unusual things to see, do and eat in Lisbon
You can visit Lisbon many times and always experience it in a different way. How? Simply getting away from the touristic centre, joining group activities such as Taste of Lisboa’s food and cultural walks, going with the flow through off-the-beaten path not knowing where the day may lead or, quite on the contrary, planning to see and do a curated set of experiences that can indeed reveal a different side of a city you thought you knew.
If you are looking to explore the other side of Lisbon, we suggest some of our favorite things to see, do and eat beyond the obvious:
1. DRINK PASTEL DE NATA
Almost everyone who travels to Lisbon or anywhere in Portugal will give in to the temptation of indulging in our most famous pastries, probably more than once. Eating pastel de nata should be on your Portugal to-do list, for sure! But how about satiating your sweet tooth in a different way? In Lisbon, you can visit Café Klandestino and drink Portugal’s famous custards in the shape of a cocktail. Start the day with a bica and a pastel de nata, and end it with a pastel de nata cocktail!
📍Café Klandestino, Rua do Benformoso 256
2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH COLOR IN MARVILA
The area of Marvila has been referred to as Lisbon’s very own Brooklyn. Up-and-coming. Alternative. Creative. And definitely artistic. You simply have to wander the streets of the local neighborhood to come across some of the city’s most impressive murals. The contrast of the street art colors on urban constructions and the rather rural landscape surroundings with the river in the horizon, will certainly make for a rather different stroll in Lisbon.
📍Start at the train station CP Marvila. See a suggested street art itinerary here.
3. TRY SALADA DE ORELHA
Here in Portugal, we have an old time local expression for when something is really tasty. We say “está daqui!” (literally translating as “it’s from here!”) as we gently pull our own ear lobe with our fingertips. This shows admiration for the cook and, above all, appreciation for the flavor of what we are eating. The origin of this expression is unknown but it makes us think of a traditional dish which isn’t often contemplated in travelers’ Portuguese food wishlists. But that, for us, is a staple that somehow reminds us of a time gone by, sharing tales around the table and, let’s be honest, enjoying a few rounds of beers.
Salada de orelha is a cold salad made with chopped pork ears, marinated in a vinegary sauce with fresh herbs. Your best chances of coming across this kind of appetizer are to visit old-school cervejarias, that is, restaurants specializing in beers, seafood and petiscos.
📍Suggested restaurant to eat salada de orelha: Pigmeu, Rua 4 de Infantaria 68
4. GO UNDERGROUND IN LISBON
There are many suggested travel itineraries that will probably cover most of the city… but that’s just on the surface! There’s more to Lisbon than what meets the eye. In fact, there are intricate underground channels that cover a big portion of central Lisbon, some of them dating back to Roman occupation times, that is, over 2000 years ago.
While the popular Roman galleries in Rua da Prata only open up about once a year, there are other options to explore the subsolo of Lisbon all year round. Loreto Underground Gallery is a part of the aqueduct that used to deliver water to Lisbon and can be accessed all year round by booking a 2 hour guided visit.
📍Praça do Príncipe Real. Info and bookings here.
5. DRINK PORTUGUESE TEA
Did you know that Portugal is home to the oldest and currently only open tea plantation in all of Europe? Even though Gorreana Tea Factory is located on the island of S. Miguel in the Azores, you can taste Portuguese black and green tea in Lisbon itself. Purchase it to take home from stores such as Companhia Portugueza do Chá or sit down to sip it calmly at a café such as Casa de Chá de Stª Isabel, a classic tea room that, more than a business, is an institution that invests its profits in local charity projects.
📍Casa de Chá de Stª Isabel (Vicentinas), Rua de São Bento 700
6. ENJOY 360° VIEW OF LISBON AT PANORÂMICO DE MONSANTO
Taking in the expansive views of Lisbon, the contrasts between the warm terracotta rooftops and the blue of the river in the horizon, is a popular pastime in the city. Talk about enjoying a sunset or taking some of the best photos our picturesque city will afford you, and there are many well-known viewpoints that come to mind, particularly in the hillier neighborhoods such as Graça, Alfama and Castelo.
But if you’re looking to contemplate Lisbon from a different perspective, head to Monsanto Forest Park, the so-called lungs of Lisbon. Here, you can visit Panorâmico de Monsanto, a restaurant that was built around 50 years ago and that is now abandoned. You won’t be able to order anything to eat, but the 360° views of Lisbon you’ll enjoy here will be plenty to feed your wanderlust.
📍Estrada da Bela Vista. GPS coordinates: 38.7287, -9.1845
7. HAVE DINNER AT A LOCAL’S HOME
While most guides will highlight the best dishes or point you towards some of the greatest restaurants in the city, we believe that, when it comes to eating authentic Portuguese food, there’s no place like home. Who’s home? A local’s home, of course! Even if you don’t know anyone in Lisbon, we will make sure to introduce you to welcoming Lisboetas who, not only will be open to sharing experiences with you, but who also know how to cook and entertain like pros.
Book a Dinner at a Local Home with Taste of Lisboa and make friends in a relaxed environment, where you’ll get to enjoy plenty of incredible home cooked food and a selection of Portuguese drinks.
📍Info & bookings via Taste of Lisboa.
Have you discovered other local gems while exploring Lisbon? We’d love to know more about your findings! Share with us at Facebook or Instagram. Please tag us @tasteoflisboa #tasteoflisboa
Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:
10 ways to feel like a local in Lisbon
How to discover Lisbon with kids – And survive to tell the story!
5 reasons to go off the beaten path and explore Campo de Ourique when in Lisbon
Lisbon and its sustainable way of living
Foods you didn’t know were Portuguese
Real people, real food. Come with us to where the locals go.
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