Got lost on purpose a few times, “stalked” the Portuguese instagramers, ate in unknown places, and also did a lot of research before my Portuguese trip, so I could compile this list of hidden gems and secret spots to visit in Lisbon.
Because going gem hunting and finding interesting corners in a new destination has a power many of us can’t resist (me included). It might be the mystery, the thrill of the adventure or merely the thought of crafting a different path. Or it might very well be the social media photos overflow that’s making us feel as if we’ve already seen those famous attractions.
In any case, hidden beauties and random finds add flavor to any trip, so I encourage you to follow that narrow cobblestone street not knowing where it leads as often as you can.
Going gem hunting and finding interesting corners off the beaten path is something I strive for in each journey, and sometimes I actually get enough time to experience a destination more in-depth, randomly exploring or wandering on a whim.
Portugal trip was like that, and I wanted to share with you some alternative routes, new local spots and hidden beauties.
The hidden gem hunter’s map of Lisbon
The Doll Hospital / Hospital de Bonecas
Dating back to 1830, the doll hospital is probably the most unusual corner you’ll find in Lisbon. They do restorations on dolls, craft miniatures and doll clothes, create toys and design carnival costumes.
And they also have a museum. I wanted to visit it so much, but it was closed when we got there, around noon. Promised myself to come back and visit it one day. It’s open from Monday to Saturday and keeps strict visiting hours (the dolls need their rest): 10h30 – 12h30 and 15h30 -17h00.
Bordalo Segundo’s secret street art spots
Bordalo II’s work is impressive to say the least, but his works are really hard to find. These huge animals ingeniously crafted from garbage, telling the story of our environmental impact, are pretty amazing and totally worth the trips around Lisbon.
Find some of his amazing artworks at:
The Raccoon > Belem, near the Belem Cultural Center
The Giant Bee > LX Factory, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103
The Fish Bank > Avenida Ceuta – Alcântara Terra
Lautasco Tipico in Alfama, a restaurant I discovered by chance and curiosity, has a gorgeous summer garden, where you can rest after roaming up and down the streets of Lisbon and enjoy cold drinks. It’s a bit more expensive than the other places in Lisbon, so you might want to lunch someplace else, but it’s perfect for coffee and drinks served in their serene garden.
The Azulejos Museum
It’s a stunning venue an instagram friend told me about. If you love Azulejos Portugues (the blue mosaic tiles) as much as I do, then you must visit this museum build in their honor. The church inside is also fantastic, so linger a bit more to admire all its beautiful corners.
The museum has a gorgeous green terrace and a restaurant that you might want to try (the restaurant was closed when we finished the museum tour, so can’t tell you about the food). This restaurant has a mesmerizing color palette and wonderful interior styling.
Magnum Pleasure Store in Lisbon is new, but after seeing the pics on instagram, we had to try it. It was just opened in June, a few days before our Portugal trip, so it might not appear on your food guide to Lisbon.
3 layers of chocolate is pure madness, but you must experience it, especially if you’ve never been to a Magnum store before (like me).
LE: Unfortunately, Magnum Pleasure Store in Lisbon was closed.
Chiado, the Parisian-like neighborhood of Lisbon
Going to the Magnum Pleasure Store led us to this wonderful Parisian-like neighborhood in Lisbon.
This side of town has a slightly different architecture, so you might want to eat your ice cream on a walk around the shop. The magnificent yellow facade next to Magnum’s ice cream shop is amazing, isn’t it?
The net of colorful narrow streets down from Sao Jorge Castle
Taking alternative routes without knowing where they lead is becoming the mantra of my travels. And this led me to a net of very narrow streets, just downhill from the famous castle. You can pin point Rua do Colhimento to your map, if you want to explore these streets.
It was very quiet around noon, probably because few people adventure on these colorful cobble stone alleys, with laundry left out to dry and parrots singing next to many tiny front doors. And these charming streets became quickly my absolute favorites in Lisbon.
Book lovers, unite! Lisbon is home to the oldest operating bookstore in the world.
Bertrand Bookshop was established in 1732 and it holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest book shop (1). You can find it on R. Garrett 73, in the Chiado neighborhood, Lisbon.
Nowadays, Bertrand Bookstores is one of the biggest book shop chains, with 50 shops open throughout Portugal.
LX Factory’s hip pubs and creative spaces
LX Factory is a hidden gem for travelers, but it seems that all the cool people of Lisbon come here to enjoy the wonderful vibes of this creative spot. It has lots of pubs and coffee shops with magazine-like interior styling, so it’s also an art & design venue, with some great street art and interesting corners. A Praça has great food and wonderful people serving, so you might want to try it.
Ler Devagar bookstore
Dare to Imagine – Welcome to Ler Devagar bookstore (Read Slowly), a wonderful creative space in the heart of LX Factory!
Here, time stands still, and even the people sipping their coffee look like they’re part of a vintage movie set. Because this bookstore is based on the grounds of a former printing space, still preserving some of the antique machines, while the new decorations give it a fresh hip look.
No wonder it was named one of the 10 most beautiful bookstores in the world!
*Dare to imagine* Welcome to Ler Devagar (Read Slowly), a wonderful creative space in the heart of LX Factory, Lisbon. Here, time seems to stand still, and even the people sipping their coffee look like they're part of a vintage movie set… Because this bookstore is based on the grounds of a former printing space, still preserving some of the antique heavy machines, while the new decorations give it a fresh hip look. No wonder it was named one of the 10 most beautiful bookstores in the world! #MateiAnaBestOf2016
The relief portraits of Vhils
To destroy is to create seems to be the guideline of Vhils’ work, a Portuguese artist who brought a one-of-a-kind technique to street art: the pneumatic drill. Etching and carving old facades of abandoned buildings, he manages to create beautiful relief portraits by layering bricks and other construction materials.
You can find 2 of his relief portraits on Rua Cais de Alcântara & Avenida da India, and you can read more about him in my Lisbon street art tour.
Cabacas, the restaurant where you cook your own meat on hot stones, also discovered by chance, because those top TripAdvisor restaurants are really crowded, with lines going up and down the streets.
So we took our chance on Cabacas and we were right – great meat and awesome prices. It’s a bit crowded, but the atmosphere of this place is very nice and cheerful. Come early, around 6-7, and you’ll get a table right away. When we got out at 8, there was a pretty long line on the street. Crazy, right?
The Best Sangria in Lisbon
We found the best Sangria in Lisbon in one unexpected place- Sushi San in Joao Crisos Tomo.
It was a great surprise for us, since we discovered it by chance on our first night in Lisbon. We didn’t drink a better one in the 7 days of our Portuguese journey. There’s no photo of this great sangria because it was over before I realized how good it was. 🙂
Lisbon’s Hidden Gems (15 Secret Places) On a Map
Lisbon, Portugal | June, 2016 | My Mobile Photos only – Copyright: ©Ana Matei
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