There’s no way to sum up or even try to discover all that Lisbon has to offer in just 48hrs —but we can’t say we didn’t try. Here are our top destinations, places not to miss and things we loved.
Sleeping at Santa Clara 1728
Entering Santa Clara is like entering a different state of being. The bustling streets of the Feira da Ladre quiet down to a faint murmur while we are greeted by the team. They tell us the story of the building and that name Santa Clara 1728 comes from the fact that, when renovating the building, they found a plaque with the year 1728 written on it, it was all that was left as an indication of time and place for its history. The former palace was in ruins, its walls had been stripped by the previous owner and all traces of art and ornaments lost. Which gave Silent Living a unique, blank canvas to re-invent the notion of space.
Breakfast at Santa Clara 1728
We were met at the breakfast table by Joao, the founder of all things Silent Living, who also happens to live on the top floors of the Santa Clara building. What followed was an exchange on architecture, living and the values that make all of Silent Living’s spaces so unique:
“When we first moved in, we did all these little exercises of listening to what our guests would say as they entered though the door. One recurring theme was silence, calmness. We started to envision and design the space around these experiences. Architecture for us is not just about the space but the people.”
Morning Walk at the São Vicente de Fora Monastery and the Feira da Ladra
Walking out of Santa Clara straight into the busy ‘Feira da Ladra’, Lisbon’s biggest flea market is quite a treat. From old lamps and tiles to vintage clothing and plates. You’ll be set for at least an hour to discover all of the stalls sprawling over the hill. Right next to Santa Clara is the well-known Pantheon. But the real beauty is the old abbey of São Vicente. We were lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves when we visited. The intricate blue tiles on the walls, the smell of the stone walls, it was a refreshing tour through history and the perfect way to kick off the day.
Lunch at Prado
Heading down through Lisbon’s winding Old-town streets is of course a must. And so is having a very extensive lunch at Lisbon’s more recent food-destinations: Prado. This minimalistic eatery boasts the best ingredients Portugal has to offer, from sea to land, with a modern twist. Needless to say, our lunch ended up extending for a couple of extra hours.
After Lunch – Belém
Pastéis are intrinsic to Portugal. And, while you can get any of these custard filled pastries just about anywhere, it just wouldn’t be the same as getting them at the original Pastéis de Belém. Yes, it’s a little walk from the Alfama neighbourhood, but it was the perfect way to discover the cultural district of Belém. Here, parks and botanical gardens intertwine with palaces, museums and even a planetarium.
Pick me up coffee – Caffé Boavida
Taking the scenic route back to the old town if you’re feeling like a stroll and make sure to stop at Café Boavida for an afternoon pick-me-up. This no-frills coffee place serves some of the best coffee from its pastel coloured interior. This part of town has its own charm and plenty of cafés and spots to discover.
Dinner – the art of finding the perfect cervejaria
All pastel coloured interiors aside, cervejarias are the perfect way to enjoy delicious foods with no pretentions. Check out a couple and pick which ever one appeals most to you. We ended up settling for a perfect hole-in-the-wall meal fo the most incredible fresh grilled prawns, sardines and snails in a brightly neon-lit eatery with football on a big-screen tv and a smoking area. Yes, not Lofty at all and no interior design to be found, but that’s not what you’re here for to begin with.
After a majestic start of the day with a bath overlooking the Santa Clara garden, we were greeted by the smell of fresh baked bread coming up from the dining room at Santa Clara 1728. The chef prepares a small, seasonal dish each morning for all of the guests to enjoy at the communal dining table; a way to encourage exchange and conversation at the breakfast table.
Morning stroll – The Gulbenkian Foundation and museum
This modernist museum is a concrete oasis surrounded by huge gardens and patio’s that might be just as stunning as the art exhibitions inside. Take your time to enjoy a slower pace and a different side of Lisbon.
Lunch – Go Juu
Fish in al its forms is really the way to go in a city like Lisbon. Go Juu does an amazing selection of Japanese-inspired dishes that are light but pack a lot of flavour.
Shopping – Under The Cover and Embaixada
Right across from the museum sits the kiosk-like shop of Under The Cover, but don’t let its size fool you, this tiny bookstore has some of the best magazines and design books around. After, head down to Embaixada. Set in a stunning old palace, this is the place to shop all things design and a selection of beautiful crafts.
Aperitivo time at A Cevicheria
You can’t miss the 6 foot long octopus suspended for the ceiling at A Cevicheria. Take a bar stool and sit back for a drink and a snack.
Dinner Bairro do Avillez
Nothing beats dinner ‘al fresco’ after a whole day of walking around. At Bairro do Avilez you can choose the former Patio setting, or enjoy a more laid-back setting in the Taberna. They are both equally good in their own right and the perfect place to enjoy great food while spending time at the table with good company.
There you have it, our favourite Lisbon destinations all in one place. Feel free to share yours through our e-mail, we’ll be heading down to Lisbon soon to discover more inspiring places!