Experience Lisbon through the eyes of those who know it best: the locals. This list includes spots with the best views and coolest ambiances. After all, a Lisboeta wouldn’t choose to go anywhere offering less than the best the city and the surrounding area have to offer its residents. Here are our picks of some of the coolest hang-outs in Lisbon.
Young creatives head to Largo do Intendente for its array of bars and restaurants. You’ll also find several beautifully restored buildings here, each clad in traditional Portuguese tiles called azulejos. One of the square’s most striking buildings is Casa Independente, a 19th-century mansion that has been converted into a café, bar, restaurant, cultural centre and all-round social hotspot. Offering spacious seating around wide tables and a kitchen/bar, Casa Independente is especially popular with digital nomads and students, who flock here with their computers in tow. The venue bursts into life at night, with the city’s revellers sipping their first round (or two) of drinks and socialising inside the terrace garden. It also hosts a number of up-and-coming bands.
Martim Moniz’s Fusion Market, Lisbon’s most culturally diverse scene, is rimmed with food stalls varying from Latin American to European and African cuisines, and, on the topic of live music, during the weekends, different international music (and dancing) add an extra vibrant energy. Sit among the locals during the day to taste a different kind of fast food that includes burgers made with Madeira Island’s special bolo do caco bread and soak in the sun or visit at night for drinks and dancing. It’s also a great spot to peruse souvenir stands and look for a unique gift or keepsake.
LX Factory, Lisbon, Portugal | Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo
Scattered across the former warehouses of the 19th-century thread and fabric companies, LX Factory occupies a 23,000-square-metre site that was transformed into a home to various start-up businesses, ranging from funky restaurants to work spaces for designers and artists. LX Factory holds a Sunday flea market along the main street every week, where vendors present quirky vintage and local designer clothes, handmade jewellery, and vinyl and old-school CDs. LX Factory is an island of creativity, and there is a diverse range of events related to fashion, art exhibitions, music concerts and architectural meet-ups.
The many parks and green spaces are in excellent locations where you’ll find locals lounging under the sun, sipping coffee or having a drink at a kiosk and socialising with friends. At Parque Eduardo VII during the summer, it’s common to see activity groups meeting in these free public spots and many fairs/festivals are also held there. This 26-hectare park makes the perfect escape from the bustle of the city. Running through the city centre, it’s a location that’s easy to nip into for a picnic or a rest. The Lisbon Book Fair takes place there annually every May, and there is a play area for children. The central statue, coupled with the geometric hedgerows, make this park feel like something from another era.
Visit Park Bar in the summer and there’s a high possibility that the venue will be overrun by tourists, but during autumn, winter, and spring the locals like to plan their evenings/nights out at this popular bar. Located at the top of a parking garage in lower Bairro Alto, it’s a unique spot with excellent views towards the Tagus River. The terrace is covered with trees and shrubs, adding shade and earthy tones to the decor, and in addition to high-quality cocktails, beer and wine, the bar also serves burgers and Portuguese-style sandwiches.
Directly across the Tejo River from Lisbon is Costa da Caparica, a seaside town that sits beside Almada. The beaches here are among the more convenient from the capital and often compete with the beaches on the way towards Cascais for locals’ attention. Jump on a ferry from Cais do Sodré for the more scenic route, hop on a bus or drive if you have a car; Costa da Caparica isn’t difficult to visit and while quiet in the off-season, it can get crowded in the summer. At the beaches in Costa da Caparica, sunbathers are among the most common visitors, as are young people and families. It’s a good place to relax with a book, sit at a beach bar and people-watch, spend the day with friends and listen to tunes from DJs that play by the beach bars.
Then there is Cascais, Lisbon’s semi-close resort neighbour that’s reachable by hopping on a train from Cais do Sodré and cruising for less than an hour along the Tagus River and the Atlantic Coast. Home to spectacular sights and equally amazing seafood restaurants, in addition to charming boutique shops, it’s popular among Lisboetas seeking a day or weekend away without travelling too long, and activities include cycling (there are plenty of bike rental shops in town), rollerblading and visiting the cliffs at Boca do Inferno (a top spot for taking photos). The surrounding beaches are also stunning and from Cascais, it’s possible to walk to Estoril, which is home to a beach with an incredible castle-like fortress.