Once a city full of secret fado bars and traditional restaurants that only the locals knew about, Lisbon has now become one of Europe’s most-visited destinations and it sometimes seems as if each corner has already been explored. Social media makes visiting even easier, providing tourists with lots of insider tips, and now many of the city’s coolest spots are out in the open. A few locations, however, remain largely off tourists’ radars. Here is a breakdown of some of the spots that are still something of a secret from most visitors.
Young and trendy Largo do Intendente is a bright square surrounded by beautifully renovated homes with azulejo-covered facades and hip local bars/restaurants, like the Casa Independente. Once one of the seedier parts of town, it is now a cool hangout spot for the city’s artistic, freelance, and entrepreneurial circles.
Open since 1943, the Pastelaria Aloma is a favorite pastry shop where locals swear by the pastéis de nata, even suggesting that they may be the best in Lisbon. If you’re up for a walk, you can find Pastelaria Aloma just past the Jardim da Estrela, near Campo de Ourique.
A true secret in Lisbon is this seafood restaurant, found at the end of the pier in Alcântara. Spacious and bright, it’s also easy to find a table because many people simply don’t know it – including some locals. This isn’t a place for artistic presentation: the food is simple, honest, fresh, and budget-friendly.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere peaceful to drink coffee, have lunch, or just sit and read, Linha d’Água is a great café to know. Located behind El Corte Inglés, it sits in the middle of a park and beside a small artificial pool with a fountain. Sit on the lovely terrace with friends to soak in Lisbon’s sun, or head inside where there are many more tables beside the long counter.
Ajuda is a beautifully authentic neighborhood near Lisbon, located northeast of Belém. Even some locals can’t resist playing tourist to walk through those streets and past the grandiose and beautifully preserved 18th-century National Palace, or strolling through the lovely botanical garden. Although it’s only a short 15–20 minute walk from the Jerónimos Monastery, tourists sometimes miss it while exploring Belém. The entrance fees are €5 for adults and €3 for children and it is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Looking for the holiday of a lifetime? Check out this luxury guide to Lisbon.