Lisbon Hidden Gems
– Your Guide To Lisbon’s Best Kept Secrets –
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 create 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, and so we adventure on random streets and create our own journey.
If you don’t have that much time to spend on researching the secret spots, read on to find my top hidden gems in Lisbon, as well as a list of recommended places by locals that I hope to visit next time I’m in Lisbon.
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, local spots, and hidden gems.
The hidden gem hunter’s map of Lisbon
1) 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. It’s open from Monday to Saturday and keeps strict visiting hours (the dolls need their rest): 10h30 – 12h30 and 15h30 -17h00.
2) 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
3) The Azulejos Museum
Well, if you’re in Lisbon, then visiting the Azulejos Museum is a must.
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. The church inside is fantastic, so stay a while longer to enjoy 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.
4) 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 here look like they are 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!
5) LX Factory Lisbon
Hip Cafes & Creative Spots
LX Factory is a hidden gem for travelers, but it seems that all the cool people in Lisbon come here to enjoy the wonderful vibes of this creative spot.
Build on the grounds of an old industrial complex, LX Factory is now a creative venue with many beautifully styled cafes and pubs, and also an art & design hotspot with great street artworks and interesting corners.
It’s here that you’ll find the beautiful Ler Devagar bookstore and some of Bordallo Segundo’s artworks. When it comes to good food, “A Praça” is a good choice. And if you want to spend a whole afternoon here, you might want to stop by Landeau Chocolate for a hot chocolate served in a cool vintage interior.
6) Streets Around Sao Jorge Castle
The maze of colorful narrow streets down from Sao Jorge Castle is a bit off the beaten path, so you’ll be able to enjoy some quiet time and admire the pastel-colored facades and peaceful cobbled streets.
Taking alternative routes without knowing where they lead is becoming the mantra of my travels. And this led me to this maze of very narrow streets, just downhill from the famous castle. You can pinpoint Rua do Colhimento to your map if you want to explore these hidden gems and pretty alleys.
It was very quiet around noon, probably because few people adventure on these colorful cobblestone alleys, with laundry left out to dry and parrots singing next to many tiny front doors. We wandered these charming streets for an hour or so and felt like this area has to be on of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets.
7) Chiado, the Parisian-like neighborhood of Lisbon
Located between the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina, Chiado is one of the busiest places I’ve been to while in Lisbon. It’s a major shopping area, with lots of coffee shops and restaurants inviting locals and travelers to sit down and enjoy the sunny Lisbon.
A few streets away, close to Teatro da Trindade, there’s a quiet corner with a summer terrace where you can catch your breath and admire the splendid architecture of this neighborhood in Lisbon that felt Parisian to me.
8) The Relief Portraits By 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.
9) Lautasco Tipico in Alfama
Located in Alfama, one of Lisbon’s most beautiful areas, this is a restaurant with a gorgeous garden I discovered by chance and curiosity. This is a place where you can rest after roaming up and down the streets of Lisbon and enjoy cold drinks in a lush setting.
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.
10) Cabacas Restaurant – Cook Your Own Meat
Cabacas, the restaurant where you cook your own meat on hot stones, was also discovered by chance, because all those top TripAdvisor restaurants are really crowded in the evenings, with lines going up and down the streets.
So we took our chance on Cabacas and we were right – great meat, local feel, 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?
11) 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. 🙂
Secret Spots in Lisbon saved for my next visit
12) Casa do Alentejo
Casa do Alentejo might be the most beautiful restaurant in Lisbon because of its gorgeous patio reminding me of Moroccan Riads. It’s a 17th-century Moorish palace and it has all the elements of a Riad, from arches to mosaics to tiled floors and palms. The interiors look more sumptuous and I heard it’s a bit expensive to eat here, but I bet it’s worth saving it for my next visit to Lisbon.
13) Figaro’s Barbershop Rosemary
Figaro’s is an old-school men only barbershop in Chiado, Lisbon. Dating back to the 50’s, this place is home to some of the most renowned barbers, who even go on training tours around the world.
They specialize in haircuts from the ’20’s and ’50’s, and my Portuguese friend who tipped me up about this place told me that even Beckham comes here to get a haircut. I’ll visit it for the promised entertainment and for the gorgeous vintage space of this old barbershop in Lisbon.
14) A Ginjinha
Tasting traditional Portuguese food might be nice, but adding some local drinks to your food tour in Lisbon might be wise, considering there are so many nice beverages to try. We tasted the Portuguese version of sangria, Porto wine, of course, but also Ginjinha or Ginja, a traditional Portuguese liqueur.
My Portuguese friend tells me I should go to A Ginjinha next time I’m in Lisbon because that’s where I’ll get to taste the real Ginja, so I’ve bookmarked it for my next trip.
15) Lisbon Geographical Society
Dating back to 1875, Lisbon Geographical Society was created in order to “promote and assist the study and progress of geography and related sciences in Portugal.”(1) The museum is said to hold interesting collections of artifacts from around the world, dating back to the times when Portugal was an empire.
The reason I’ve bookmarked this hidden gem in Lisbon for my next visit has to do with its gorgeous interior and my love for architecture, but also with my background as a Geographer.
Lisbon’s Hidden Gems (15 Secret Spots) On a Map
Lisbon, Portugal | June 2016 | My Mobile Photos only – Copyright: ©Ana Matei
Hope you enjoyed this guide to Lisbon‘s hidden gems, and you’ll share it with your friends. Thank you