Lisbon, the beautiful, understated capital of Portugal, has become an increasingly appealing place to visit. Bleached white limestone buildings line an intricate warren of alleyways, perfect for exploring, while traditional architecture stands proud alongside more contemporary offerings. As yet not overrun by the throngs of tourists seen in so many other beautiful cities, Lisbon remains true to itself and is the perfect place for the culture loving couple to explore, especially if getting off the beaten path is a priority.
I have put together a few of Lisbon’s hidden gems that I believe are definitely worth seeking out.
The Thieves’ Market
If you find yourself in this wonderful city on a Tuesday or a Saturday, head to Alfama for the Fiera da Ladra, the Thieves’ Market. This delightful market is bursting with all manner of vintage treasures. Even if you aren’t in the mood for buying, just strolling through the lines of stalls and rubbing shoulders with the locals is an experience in itself.
Enjoy a Glass of Ginjinha
Port is definitely the alcoholic beverage most associated with Portugal, but perhaps you’d like to try something a little different? Ginjinha is a local speciality: this delectable drink, flavoured with cherry, makes a refreshing change from traditional port. One of my favourite spots at which to indulge in a glass or two is Bairo Alto, but don’t forget to leave it until after 10pm if you want to soak up a little atmosphere too.
Explore The Coast by Bike
Lisbon can get very hot in the summer months; an enjoyable way to escape the city heat is to hit the bike trail to Cascais. At the station there are free bikes that you can help yourself to, and from there, the trails await. There are miles of open trails to explore and you can pick up and put down your bikes at any of the stations along the way. I always enjoy riding out of the city and getting the train back. I never spend more than €10 on my train ticket either!
How to Get to Lisbon
In just two and a half hours you can leave the UK and arrive in beautiful Lisbon. Most UK cities offer regular connections, with flights from London leaving from Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow.
On arrival at Lisbon Airport, why waste time hiring cars or waiting around for taxis? I suggest booking a reliable private transfer with Shuttle Direct. You can then look forward to a driver waiting in arrivals for you when you land, ready to whisk you away to your final destination in the city. A half-hour transfer is all that lies between you and the start of your holiday, so pre-book and you can look forward to seamless onwards travel.
Where to Stay
Memmo Alfama – Couples love this hotel and it is easy to see why. Perfectly located in the charming Alfama district, this recently refurbished design hotel has a wine bar overlooking the Tagus River and a delightful outdoor pool. Comfort is key at the Memmo Alfama and the Egyptian linen, extra pillows and free toiletries are a real bonus.
As soon as you arrive you are made to feel very much at home. The concierge is personable and on hand to give helpful advice on what to visit in the neighbourhood and where to find the authentic restaurants with the best Fado music. I loved the complementary walking tours offered at this hotel; the tour leader was passionate, enthusiastic and very informative too. These are available on request and subject to availability.
This hotel is a great choice for culture lovers wanting to be close to the old town.
Eurostars Exhibition – If you are looking for unique, then the Eurostars Exhibition is the place for you. This historic building features a permanent archaeological exhibition within its walls, subtly embraced by the modern facilities you would expect in a hotel of this calibre; an indoor pool, restaurants, massage room and Turkish bath.
The interesting authentic décor that reflects the cultural legacy of the hotel resonates throughout and creates a relaxed and charming atmosphere. Wonderful Portuguese food is served at the restaurant, although there is a huge selection of excellent restaurants within a five-minute walk; why not dine in a traditional Fado House in Alfama, enjoy a Fado concert and indulge in some delicious Portuguese tapas?
Casa de São Mamede – Combining old-world charm with modern comforts, this beautiful hotel, situated in a seventeenth-century building and elegantly decorated with bespoke furnishings, is a delightful find. Bursting with historical features and fronted by an intricate mosaic, the hotel is also rather intriguing. After enjoying breakfast in your room, you can venture into the Chiado historical area, which is only a five-minute drive away. The city centre can be reached in ten minutes on foot or if you’ve had a long day pounding the pavements sightseeing, you can always jump on the Metro. Close to some great restaurants, the Casa de São Mamede is one of my top choices.
About Shuttle Direct
We here at Shuttle Direct are proud to be recognised as one of the most reliable names in the transfer business. Offering reliable and comfortable airport transfers and a friendly, professional staff, we are on hand to get you from the airport to your final destination with minimum fuss. After pre-booking in the UK you have nothing left to organise, so you can just sit back and enjoy the perfect start to your holiday.