Do’s and don’ts of Lisbon

Watch Lisbon Sunsets

Lisbon is famous for its light and kaleidoscopic sunsets which arrive between 17h30 and 16h30 during winter and 20h30 and 21h30 in summer time. Whether you’d rather laze on the beach with a beer or sipping a cocktail high above the waves, in a viewpoint bar, Lisbon and its surroundings are packed with great spots to kick back and watch the sun sink into the sea or river end.

Sunset in Lisbon – Miradouro de Santa Catarina via LisboaLux

 

Stay longer – go beyond the city

Visit Sintra, Mafra, Cascais, Serra da Arrábida and Troia.

Anyone who doesn’t is missing out big time. Also check the not so touristic famous Costa da Caparica, taking the scenic route on the ferry (then bus) via the charming little fisherman’s town of Cacilhas.

Then head to the beaches. You’re not going to find the perfect landscape for a postcard but you will find miles of sandy beaches with some restaurants on the sand where you can have delicious grilled fish and sea food.

Portugal is known for its beaches, with surfers riding waves. Go to the beach early in the morning and have a surfing class just to brag at home that you’ve become a surfer.

Pena Palace in Sintra.

 

Explore the wine

Portuguese wine is more than culture. It’s a heritage.

From Algarve shores to the breathtaking mountains of the north, Portugal is a land of contrasts. The weather and terroirs are so diverse in such a small country. From north to south, from mountain to maritime vineyards, from hot and dry to cool and wet weather, Portuguese wine absorbs the different characteristics from where was produced.  In every style, from fizz to port, from crisp dry whites to elegant reds, in so many diverse ways, Portuguese wines are unique.

Of course we’re biased, but we have tasted wines from all over the world. We can surely say that, regarding price/quality ratio, Portuguese wines are the best in the world.

 

Do try salted codfish – unique in world

The story of codfish is intimately connected with the history of Portugal, with records of Portuguese fishing fleets as far back as the sixteenth century. Long before refrigeration was made available, salted cod fish was, for a long time, one of the few kinds of food that could be easily stored for a significant amount of time. It played a very significant role in triggering the Age of Discoveries, since it could be stored in ships for the long oceanic voyages.

From this conservation method, Portuguese ended up creating so many stupendous ways to cook with it that it became a central ingredient of the Portuguese gastronomy. To talk about codfish in Portugal is to talk about family, dinners with friends and the Christmas night.

There are books with more than 1000 recipes with cod, but that’s just the tip of the “Cod-berg”.

“Bacalhau à Brás”, Portuguese tradicional dish.

 

Have a traditional Portuguese night out.

Please don’t come here and try to drink like you are sprinting to the finish line.

On a Saturday night if you look around and realize you already drank six and your Portuguese friends seem to be on their third, it’s probably midnight.

Remember Portuguese have a late dinner around 9 PM, leave the restaurant at 11PM and go for some drinks at a bar. After 2 AM, Portuguese leave the bars and head for the clubs, have a few drinks there, dance the rest of the night away. At 6 AM, head out for a Bifana (pork sandwich) or a hot dog, have a few drinks there watching the sunrise. Then, we look for desert after the Bifana and wait for a bakery to open, eat a cake and either go to an after-hours party or have a little rest, before meeting you at the beach after lunch.

 

DON’TS

Don’t come here on a diet

Lisbon is a city full of pastry shops, bakeries and cosy restaurants serving truly spectacular traditional food. Food and wine is part of our culture. More, than that, we are obsessed with our food. If you arrange a meeting with locals, chances are it’s going to be in a restaurant. And they probably spent the last days thinking of the perfect place to take you.

We are proud of our gastronomy and we love to share it with foreigners. If you ask any Portuguese what is the best food in the world they will say it’s Portuguese. Therefore, coming to Lisbon on a diet is a sure way not to experience everything that it has to offer.

Portuguese Rice Pudding (“Arroz Doce”) via home.made.interest

 

Don’t take tram 28 at rush hour

It’s almost in every Lisbon tourist guide. The 28 tram is one the best and most inexpensive ways to get to know the more traditional neighbourhoods of Lisbon. However, it’s still a public transport used by locals to commute. Therefore, it is better to avoid between 6 PM and 8 PM. You’re not going to enjoy the ride if you’re packed like a canned sardine in rush hour.

It’s practically empty between 9 AM and 11 AM (except maybe in August when it may be packed with tourists at all times). During these hours you’ll be able to enjoy the mellow, laid back feeling as you look out the window, sit down on the old leather seats, feel the breeze, and listen to the creaks and squeaks the old rail makes, as it has been for the last 70 years.

Don’t say ‘gracias’

The word for “Thank you” is “Obrigado” pronounced ‘oh-bree-ga-do’ with a slight roll of the r. Portuguese people speak Portuguese, not Spanish, so you aren’t doing anyone favour by practicing your “Espanhol” skills. You’re not going to insult anyone, since Portuguese are not insecure about their culture and language, but you’ll look ignorant. It makes more sense to say “gracias” in the USA where 20% of the population speaks Spanish than in Portugal. It would be the same thing like going to England and say “Danke shoen”.

Don’t drink Port wine with your meal

Although Port wine is internationally renowned and you might be eager to try it, just remember that it is a dessert wine or an aperitif. If you’d like to mix it with food, then find yourself a platter of traditional cheese or maybe some chocolate and/or berries. If you still decided to pair it with a meal, don’t blame us when locals look at you with disgust.

He Knows Wine: Port Wine Episode by Jay Lively (youtube).

Don’t pay a fortune for Fado houses that are targeting tourists.

There’s still traditional Fado houses that keep their standards and you can listen for free.

In Cais do Sodré, o Povo is kind of a musical residency for young Fado singers/players. They usually perform on weekdays, around 10 PM (Portuguese time, so it can start later). To attend, you just have to drink or eat at regular prices (around 15 Euro for a couple of plates of traditional snacks). The Fado museum on weekends have small events for visitors, where you have a short Fado session with a tour of the museum. There is no extra to the admission price. There are also bigger and main events with good “Fadistas” if you really love our national music.

Our favourite is Tasca do Chico in Bairro Alto. They have “wild” Fado on Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s a good place to have a drink and petiscos (Portuguese tapas) at a fair price (and their quite good either). Since you’re there ask for a “firefighter” chouriço. It’s a Portuguese Delicatessen roasting in burning alcohol.  

Tasca do Chico – Fado House in Bairro Alto via Zomato

 

If there’s anything else you’d like to know just drop us a line or send us a whatsapp (+351) 932 32 32 96. We’re glad to help.


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