With an age-old history to uncover and melt-in-your-mouth culinary delights, Lisbon is a city rich in culture and compelling in character. Although exploring the city’s main tourist attractions such as the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery are a must, it’s the hidden gems that will make you see the real Lisbon and fall under its spell.
To find out about some of the must-visit places away from the crowds, we asked local bloggers about their favourite off-the-beaten-path treasures in this dynamic city.
Image credit: Atlas Lisboa
After you’ve explored some of Lisbon’s famous historic sites, you should also to check out a more recently abandoned site that was once full of glitz and glam. Recommended by Portugalist blogger James, a visit to the derelict Restaurante Panorâmico is not an experience you’ll forget in a hurry.
“Built in the 1960s, Restaurante Panorâmico was once one of Lisbon’s coolest restaurants, famous for its views over the 25th of April Bridge. Over the years it hosted many celebrities, including David Bowie. Unfortunately, the restaurant failed and the building went through several iterations before its owners finally closed the doors in 2001.
“Today, all that remains of the restaurant is the concrete shell that housed it. The walls are covered in graffiti, and everything valuable has been removed. It still has those impressive views over Lisbon, of course, making it a popular place for locals to visit while out walking.”
If you fancy browsing the rails of some trendy clothing shops, checking out local street art and relaxing in hip bars and coffee shops, LXFactory is one of the coolest complexes in Lisbon, boasting an intriguing history.
“One of my favourite places to hang out at in Lisbon is the hipster LXFactory,” says Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps. “Once a textile factory, the complex has since been converted into cafés, bars, restaurants, tattoo shops, and quirky vintage stores. It’s one of the coolest spots in the city, but still relatively undiscovered by tourists. You can easily spend an entire day there, stocking up on unusual souvenirs, sipping excellent coffee, and snapping photos of the interesting street art.”
Pastel de Nata Cooking Class
To appreciate the real Lisbon, you need to get to know its culinary heart. Foodie travel bloggers Daryl and Mindi from 2foodtrippers suggest taking a Pastel de nata cookery class while visiting for a fun workshop that will teach you all you need to know about these Portuguese egg tarts, a foodie favourite in Lisbon.
“We recommend taking a Pastel de nata class at Lisbon Cooking Academy. Not only is this fun baking class taught in English, but you also get to eat tasty Portuguese egg tarts at the end of each interactive session. As a bonus, the academy is an inexpensive metro or Uber ride from most Lisbon hotels and tourist sites.”
Hospital de Bonecas
Image credit: Hospital de Bonescas
A museum and working doll hospital, Hospital de Bonescas is not your run-of-the-mill museum in Lisbon. Fixing dolls since 1830, this doll hospital restores dolls, toys, carnival costumes, craft miniatures and doll clothes.
“The Museum houses a fabulous collection of toys that take us back in time, and it's impossible not to feel some nostalgia when visiting it,” says the Lisboa Cool website. “The doll hospital invites us to discover the traditions and games of children, showing us that it's possible to get back our favourite childhood doll.”
Travel blogger Julie spoke about her experience visiting the doll hospital with her husband over on her blog, Julie Dawn Fox. “This is more than a workshop for repairing damaged dolls. The dedicated team make new ones, create costumes and have a collection of over 3,000 dolls.
“They also fix and sell other toys; when Mike and I walked in, the two ladies at the counter were puzzling over a broken toy truck. We left them to it and followed the owner, Manuela Cutileiro, up the creaking wooden stairs to the first floor where the magic happens.
“The doll hospital has stayed in the same family for centuries. Even in today’s throwaway society, patients from all over the world are referred to the care of Cutileiro and her team of experts who examine and diagnose each situation.”
Image credit: The Rooftop Guide
If you’re looking for a drink and a bite to eat with a sweeping panorama of the city, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit PARK, a trendy rooftop bar hidden away on top of a multi-storey car park. With no signs pointing you in the right direction, getting to the bar is a bit of an adventure that requires you to find your way through the car park to the lift which will take you to the sixth floor. This secretiveness and exclusivity means that not many other tourists have been lucky enough to know about this fantastic hole-in-corner bar before their visit.
“The rooftop bar at PARK offers a large set of classic cocktails at good prices, from both an indoor and outdoor bar,” says The Rooftop Guide website. “There is also the usual selection of beers and wines, sangria and some bar bites for the hungry ones, like hamburgers.”
Travel blogger Casie spoke about the first time she went to PARK over on her blog, A Wandering Casiedilla. “My wonderful Portuguese friend took me to PARK, and I must say, I’ve never been more confused in my life. We drove into a big, industrial parking garage and he says: “Ok, we’re here!” I look around. We are in a cement parking lot. He then led me into the lift, we head to the top floor, and the door opens; what’s staring back? A super chic bar decked out with plush couches, and the entire city of Lisbon lit up for as far as the eye can see. Oh, and some really bumpin’ ‘90’s rap music.”
Lisbon is just one of the many places you can visit on our cruises from Liverpool. For more information about visiting this vibrant city, get in touch with the Cruise & Maritime Voyages team today.