The best secret spots in Lisbon
By Helen Talbot (@HelenHula)
Lisbon is a spectacular city that most people seem to fall in love with as soon as they arrive. It has beautiful buildings, a variety of interesting museums, great restaurants, a buzzing nightlife and friendly locals – what’s not to love? With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that this has become one of Europe’s hottest destinations over the past few years, which, of course, means lots of visitors. But what if you want to get away from the busier locations in the city and discover what’s off the beaten path? Here’s a list of special spots in and around Lisbon where you’ll have a chance to get away from the tourist crowds and have a more original experience.
Jardim do Torel
Lisbon is sometimes referred to as ‘the city of seven hills’ and, when you are walking around, you’ll definitely notice the many ascents and descents. Being so undulating, Lisbon has its fair share of miradouros – viewpoints where you can enjoy sweeping views over the city and surrounding areas. However, these places are no secret and a lot of the more famous and central miradouros can be quite busy. Jardim do Torel provides a different experience. Here, you can marvel at Lisbon’s beauty in peace and quiet from under the shade of a tree or from one of the many seats and benches.
Intendente & Anjos
In this area there are no real sights or attractions, but it is definitely worth a visit. Why? First of all, if you like shopping for bargains, you’ll be in your element in the area’s second hand and vintage stores. Humana on Avenida Almirante Reis is where’ll you’ll find threads for ridiculously low prices, while Retro City on Rua Maria Andrade offers more upmarket clothes, but still at a good price. Secondly, the Intendente and Anjos area is great place to have a night out if you prefer a more alternative scene. Anjos70 regularly hosts cultural events, theme nights and local bands – check their social media pages to find out what’s on. Even more underground is the cultural association Crew Hassan – café, thrift and record store by day, club by night. Here, you can be watching a Cape Verdean singer-songwriter perform on stage at one moment, and the next you’re dancing to psychedelic trance in what seems like a dark basement.
Miradouro de Monsanto & surrounding parks
It’s not that easy to get to, but the Monsanto viewpoint is worth the trip. This place is basically an abandoned hilltop restaurant that is now empty and covered in graffiti. It’s a really interesting place to explore. The best part is the view from the top – here you’ll get to see the whole of Lisbon, the River Tagus and iconic 25th April Bridge, Almada and the Cristo Rei statue (which looks exactly like the one in Rio de Janeiro). While you’re up here, have a walk through the Monsanto Park and relax as you connect with nature and temporarily escape from the buzz of the city.
This trendy, old industrial neighbourhood to the east of the city has been undergoing quite a transformation recently. This is now home to the Lisbon Beer District (with three craft beer breweries: Musa, Lince and Dois Corvos), pop-up stores, independent art galleries and co-working spaces – all housed in previously abandoned warehouses. You won’t see many tourists wandering around these streets, but what you will see is a lot of creativity on the streets and even on the walls – Marvila has some great street art pieces to admire. Also, don’t miss the renowned Underdogs Gallery while you’re here!
In my opinion, the best view of Lisbon is from the other side of the river in Cacilhas. To get there, all you have to do is take a 10-minute ferry from Cais do Sodre! While on the ferry you’ll already be treated to fine views of the city. Once you are across, I would recommend you walk along the edge of the river to either Ponto Final or Atira-te ao Rio – restaurants where you can eat delicious Portuguese food while appreciating Lisbon’s splendor from the other side of the Tagus.
Caparica beaches & Gota
Also on the other side of the River Tagus are the beaches of Costa da Caparica. Less crowded than the seaside spots closer to the city, these beaches are great places to relax, eat great seafood and surf. The Gota d’Agua surf school is located at Tarquinio Beach, which is also the easiest to get to from Lisbon as a bus will take you straight there from the centre. Here, you can rent equipment or follow lessons given by professional instructors. After surfing, enjoy a drink and snack at one of the seafront bars and then continue exploring the area. I recommend following the beach south until you reach a sequence of delightful and very photogenic beach houses. On some days, especially in the winter, you may even be the only one around!
These are just some ideas of what you can do while you discover the secret spots in Lisbon. In my opinion though, the best way to see the city is to just wander around and see where your feet take you! Happy exploring.