Like A Local: Lisbon, Portugal
LIKE A LOCAL
A common question that comes to my mind, and I'm sure yours as well, when I'm traveling is "what do the locals do?" I truly believe that everything and every place is worth seeing at least once. Whether it is something touristy or something off the beaten path, that something is special and more importantly new to you! There's so much we can learn by opening ourselves up to new adventures. So, of course, one of the best ways to do this is to live, explore, and experience a place "like a local"!
1. YOUR CITY'S NAME AND NICKNAMES
Although there is no nickname for Lisbon, the naturals from the city (Lisboetas) are also known as “Alfacinhas” (small lettuces). The legend says that lettuces (that did grow abundantly inside the city walls) were the only food left to its inhabitants during a prolonged siege.
2. FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT
To enjoy the best of Portuguese products and cuisine, once in Lisbon you must eat fresh fish and seafood, try a nice tender steak, indulge on our sweet pastries and try some Portuguese wine. Both food and wine are great and at very nice prices comparing with other countries. In Summer, you must have grilled sardines, and you can find it almost everywhere. For great seafood go to Ramiro, a restaurant that became particularly popular after being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. If you prefer meat, you can have a tender steak with a delicious sauce and French fries on the side in the emblematic Lisbon beerhouse Trindade. If you want to try this and that, go to one of the most trendy food courts on the city - Time Out Market - where you have a selection of restaurants and stands, including options from some famous Portuguese Chefs, high quality regional products and prestigious Portuguese food and wine brands. Portuguese like to nibble while drinking a beer or a glass of wine and, all over Lisbon, you can find this small restaurants (called Tascas) where to eat small portions of tasty food (similar to tapas). Tasca da Esquina and Cantinho do Avillez, from two famous Portuguese Chefs, take this concept a step further, presenting delicious food at very appealing prices. You can’t live without having (a lot of) Pastéis de Belém, the famous Portuguese pastry, filled with a (secret formula) custard cream and, like a local, drink expresso coffee that we call “bica”.
3. FAVORITE PLACES TO STUDY/DO WORK
Lisbon has many agreeable gardens and parks, that are great to rest, read and/or study. Lisbon students usually choose to stay on campus facilities or to go to a café nearby. There are several co-work spaces in the city, but I would suggest Coworklisboa on LX Factory, one of the trendiest places in town.
4. FAVORITE PLACES TO RELAX/DETOX
Lisbon is a very easygoing and relaxed city. But when I long for a truly Zen moment I’ll go to a garden, particularly like the park from Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, or for a stroll along the river banks. Closer to Belém district, you can find many people walking, jogging or cycling along the Tagus, or relaxing on the lawns. Lisboetas like to relax on the café’s terraces (it’s kind of a national sport), chatting with friends or just enjoying the sun. Seaside is not far, with great beaches both south and north of the Tagus.
5. FAVORITE PHOTO SPOT
Great photo spots abound in the city. Lisbon has seven hills (like Rome) and dozens of viewpoints. Portas do Sol in Alfama neighborhood has a great perspective of the old part of the city and the river. From the top of the Arch on Augusta Street (Downtown) you can take amazing pictures in every direction. From São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint, one can take really nice shots of the castle. The light by the river is fantastic and Belém district has many points of photographic interest. All over the city you can find beautiful tiled walls (the famous “azulejos”) and monuments of different eras deserving many shots. Not far from Lisbon is Sintra and not only is the most amazing place but also a photographer’s heaven.
6. ONE “TOURISTY” THING IN EVERYONE ACTUALLY HAS TO VISIT
Torre de Belém, the fortress in the river bank is a very touristic site but the visit (and, sometimes, the waiting line) is entirely worth for. The structure and the stone work are amazing and the view is unique.
7. ONE NOT SO WELL KNOWN SPOT PEOPLE SHOULD DEFINITELY VISIT
There’s a place a little of the beaten path that I love and think it should be on top ten places to visit in Lisbon. Palácio Fronteira is a beautiful palace with a remarkable collection of Portuguese tiles (both interior and exterior). The gardens are delightful and a great place for taking memorable photos, specially on a sunny day.
8. ONE UNIQUE FACT
Portuguese have an expression for when something that has to be done takes too much time or is not finished. They say that is like St. Engrácia’s works (“Obras de Santa Engrácia”). St. Engrácia was a church in the city that took over 350 years to be built. The works started in 1568, but before it was over the structure ruined and its reconstruction took until the first half of twentieth century. Today it is the National Pantheon.
9. ANY TIPS OR TRICKS ON HOW TO NAVIGATE YOUR CITY
Lisbon is not a large city and you can use the subway most of the time. There’s a Metro station at the airport or, if your hotel is distant from a Metro station you can take a cab. It’s very nice to walk around, although the steep streets can be tiring. Using the tram, specially the famous Tram 28 for the old town neighborhoods is agood idea. When going to Belém, Tram 15 is the best option. If you want to visit Sintra, opt for the train at Rossio station.
10. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR CITY
Lisbon has a light that is truly special, reflecting from the river and from the walls. Love the pastel colors of the buildings and the beautiful contrasting tiles. Its millennial story, showing trough its architecture and culture always captivates me.
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"Like A Local" offers you a peek into a part of the world that may be foreign to you through the eyes of a local! If you are interested in submitting your own "Like A Local" story please contact me via email at email@example.com with subject headline "Like A Local"