Soak Up Culture in Lisbon
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal has seen a huge rise in visitors over the last few years. Located in this coastal country, that is tucked into the western border of Spain, it is famous for its food, beaches, and rich cultural traditions. Although Lisbon is becoming quite touristy, there are still many well-kept secrets and hidden cultural gems in and just outside this amazing city. Soak up Portuguese culture in Lisbon with these nine unique activities.
Go on a Cork Tour
A what? Did you know that Portugal is the top producer of cork in the world? Their cork forests and factories produce more than just wine bottle plugs. The Portuguese use the environmentally friendly cork to produce fabrics, shoes, accessories, and construction items. You can take a day tour directly from Lisbon to see a cork forest and factory and learn about the rich history of cork production in Portugal. Many tours even pair it with a wine tasting, so you can see one of the most common uses of cork in action!
Visit One Of Lisbon’s Unique Markets
Lisbon is famous for its huge variety of markets. Visiting one or a few of these markets is a great way to get a feel for how locals shop.
• The Campo Do Ourique Market may be a bit off the beaten path, but it is worth the trek. This is a great place to try artisanal food and cocktails.
• Mercado de Santa Clara is a huge antique and flea market open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They sell everything you can imagine from old furniture to handmade jewelry. Even if you aren’t a big shopper. it’s an interesting place to walk around and have a look at some interesting wares.
• The Time Out Market is well trafficked and for good reason – it has some of the best food in Lisbon. It may not be so off the beaten path, giving off a modern hipster vibe, but you will eat well if you check out this very selective market.
Museu de Azulejos
When many people think about Portugal, they think about those beautiful old blue and white tiles – Azulejos – that adorn many old buildings and archways. The city Porto is quite famous for these tiles, but you can enjoy their beauty around Lisbon as well. In fact, you probably can’t walk down one street in Lisbon without seeing some beautiful tilework along the way.
If you love these tiles as much as we do, consider a trip to the Museu de Azulejos. They have an app that serves as an audio guide around the museum, so make sure your phone is charged!
Check out Lisbon’s Iconic Street Art
It’s not just tilework adorning Lisbon’s streets and alleyways – Lisbon is becoming extremely famous for its amazing street art culture. You will definitely enjoy the street art around Lisbon as you meander around.
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There are some pretty cool on the ground street art walking tours that explain the artistic, cultural, or political meaning behind some of the city’s most iconic pieces.
Party in The Pink District
Rua Nova do Carvalho is famous for its pink-painted path running through the street. It used to be one of the city’s shadiest areas to hang out. Think dirty dive bars, brothels, and drug dealers. Not a place we would recommend if it was still a shady destination, but the neighborhood has worked to change its image and is now one of the best areas to rub elbows with trendy locals. The vibe in Rua Nova Nova do Carvalho is an interesting mix of old and new and should be on your itinerary if you are looking for some interesting nightlife.
Get Outside The City
If you are spending more than a few days in Lisbon, it is worth taking a day trip just outside the city to see a bit of the countryside and see one or two of the beautiful villages nearby.
• Take a Train to Sintra
This trip will be an amazing architectural experience from the moment you set foot in Rossio train station in Lisbon, an ornate and extravagant building designed by the famous architect José Luís Monteiro. The beautiful town of Sintra is just 45 minutes away from Lisbon and will take you back in time with its beautiful palaces and ancient streets.
You can walk around most of the city, and ambitious travelers can hike up to the castles and estates. There are regular buses available to get you up to the various castles in Sintra if you prefer not to hoof it by foot.
• Go to a Feira in Óbidos
There are many companies offering tours to Óbidos from Lisbon, but the town is so close and so small, you can really go and explore on your own by taking one of the many buses leaving from Lisbon. This picturesque walled town is the original home of Ginjinha, so make sure to sample it while you are here. Óbidos is famous for its festival or feiras. The most famous feira is the Medieval Fair, running Thursday to Sunday from mid-July to early August and is a great way to step back in time into Portugal’s Medieval times.
Drink Like a Local
Portugal is famous for wine, coffee, and Gijinhia — a cherry liquor. You must try a small glass a Gijinhia during a sightseeing day in Lisbon. There are many tiny street stalls that serve up this local drink, expect to pay between 1-2 euros for a glass. A little bar named A Ginjiha is one of the most popular places you’ll find in guidebooks, but there are plenty of other tiny, old-world shops serving up this treat. Check out Ginjinha Espinheira or Ginjinha Sem Rival.
Learn to Make Portugal’s #1 Culinary Dish
Lisbon is a foodie’s paradise, and you will have no problem eating your way through this city. Pastéis de Nata, or Egg Tarts, are one of Portugals most iconic treats. You can find them everywhere in the city, you can even find these custard tarts in Portuguese colonial ports like Macau, Goa and southwestern Taiwan. There are many pastearias in Lisbon fighting for the title of best Pastéis de Nata.
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We suggest trying them in a few different places so you can make your own decision! Pastéis De Belém and Manteigaria are two amazing places to start your egg tart adventure. After having these for a breakfast a few days in a row, and realizing you’ll never be able to live without them, try your hands at one of the baking classes offered in the city, so you can make them for your friends and family when you get home from your trip!
This is a guest post by Karolina Klesta.
Karolina Klesta is living out of a suitcase, making money online and running a Lazy Travel Blog. She and her husband Patryk have been traveling the world since 2013. At the beginning of this year, they welcomed the new member of their family in this world- baby girl Mia. The three of them are visiting new countries every few months. Their definition of adventure is to see as much as possible without getting too tired.