Sometimes we travel somewhere for reasons other than to explore our destination. We might be attending an event that does not allow for big escapades, with not much time to discover the new surroundings with the same attention a more laid-back visit would allow. But it is nevertheless hard not to want to grab a few sights and experiences in someplace great like this city. If you can find a way to clear your schedule for just one morning, one afternoon or one evening, you can still enjoy a lot of great short discoveries in Lisboa!
If you still want to explore whatever little bit of the city center you can, do not stress, there are many options, even for short explorations. It is best to show that variety, and you can figure out what will work for you and your schedule. Here, I present some ideas focused on gastronomy and entertainment in Lisboa, with links to other articles to explore them more deeply. If what you are looking for are landmarks, monuments, and strolls, there is also an article on quick visits to Lisboa just for you!
The streets are packed with all kinds of cuisines and treats. It’s just a matter of looking around and you are bound to find something for you and your budget – traditional, vegetarian, world food, what have you. Around the lively Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto you can’t go wrong, all the food places are close by.
But maybe you have enough time and you want a noteworthy meal. Some fine restaurants worth looking up are classics, with real history and culture supporting their renown. A great example is Martinho da Arcada, cafe and restaurant where the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa would drink his absinth, and the very famous Brasileira, where he had his coffee.
For a more quick-paced lunch with drinks and snacks, I have to mention the often overlooked kiosks. There are many of these places across all of the center and they are perfect for having a meal in a lively atmosphere and quickly catch the next bus if you have to! The one in Santa Catarina, in the ‘Adamastor’ viewpoint, is a favorite, and the one in Largo do Carmo offers a great ambiance.
And for real authenticity, you cannot really claim to know Lisboa until you have tasted a liquor synonymous with the city itself – the ‘ginjinha’. There are quite a few liquor houses around Lisboa that sell this drink. I recommend Ginjinha Sem Rival, where you can also get a lesser-known house specialty called ‘Eduardino’, and also A Ginjinha, which is near Praça do Rossio and hard to miss. Get a glass after a meal for a warming finale!
The center of Lisbon has a prolific cultural scene, across all arts. There are various art museums , houses of culture, theatres, and all kinds of events are taking place regularly, from the most institutional to the more underground. For a short amount of time, the best to do would be to check out some programs to match your schedule. But there are some varied spots I can guide you to right off the bat:
A few other spots worth finding marking on your map: the peculiar Feira da Ladra, a big flea market happening every Tuesday and Saturday, with the paraphernalia of second-hand stuff on sale. Located by the central Avenida da Liberdade, Cinemateca will offer you an eclectic program for everyone into films. And if you’re up for some late-night jazz in Lisbon, there is no other like Hotclube, the oldest running jazz club in Europe.
Of course, the nightlife of Lisboa deserves a mention. Even for a quick visit, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are the places to be when the night comes. Clubs and bars of all genres and audiences are scattered about, and there is no other way to do it than walk through crowds trying to find your favorite spot. But there is something to be found everywhere, so here are some other ideas: get to O Bom o Mau e o Vilão for a hip ambiance with hip people; the intimate Tasca do Chico is a must for fado lovers, and if you are feeling some world music dance look no further than B.Leza!
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