THE trams, the crumbling tiled buildings of the Alfama district, maritime museums set in sprawling monastery buildings: there’s something determinedly Old World about Portugal’s gritty port city. Faced with an invasion of boutique hotels, celebrity-endorsed clubs and hipster restaurants, Lisboa, or ‘Peaceful Harbour’, stands firm as Europe’s most unpretentiously atmospheric capital.
Hilly Lisbon is a walker’s city – provided you stop to refuel. Tiled 1930s cafes offer bullet-strong coffee and sugary, custard-filled pastries — the granddaddy being the pastéis de belem. www.pasteisdebelem.pt
UNDER THE BRIDGE
Ponte 25 de Abril, the elegant red bridge spanning the Tagus, was built by the people behind San Francisco’s Golden Gate. It’s a nightly spectacle when lit up at ‘lusco fusco’ (dusk).
Ex-grocery store Pavilhão Chinês is part Paris bordello, part Victorian attic, with stiff drinks and soft sofas R. Dom Pedro V 89
Casa do Alentejo, one of Lisbon’s many hidden restaurants is set in a Moorish palace. www.casadoalentejo.pt
Former printing press-turned cultural mini-city, LXFactory is a collection of warehouse art galleries, studios and hipster cafes. www.lxfactory.com
ON THE GUEST LIST
Lux: This popular mega-club on the dockside is part-owned by actor, John Malkovich. www.luxfragil.com
HEAD FOR HEIGHTS
A: Take the tram: these rickety beasts crank up and down Lisbon’s seven hills like a fairground ride. Take number 28 for some of the city’s best views on the move.
B: Castelo St Jorge towers above the city — if you think this Moorish fortification looks good from below, get up into its snaking ramparts and leafy courtyards for views over the river Tagus. www.castelos.org/george
C: The Gulbenkian, Lisbon’s cultural high point, is home to an epic collection of Western and Eastern art including a gilded Egyptian mummy. www.museu.gulbenkian.pt
FADOS & DON’TS
Fado, Portugal’s folksy contribution to world music, is not to everyone’s taste.
DO: Get an overview by bar-hopping around the Bairro Alto, Fado’s home in the city for decades.
DON’T: Expect BB King. Fado may be called ‘Portuguese blues’, but it’s more flamenco guitar and smoky vocals.
The CS Vintage hotel is set in a renovated early 20th-century building with a spa and rooftop bar. www.cshotelsandresorts.com
© National Geographic Traveller (UK)