5 years, 5 months ago
In the quest to find the yummiest custard tarts, the most exciting things to do with the kids and the most authentic activities and places to stay, nobody can give you better insights into how to make the most of your Lisbon holiday than a local can. One of the great things about staying in a holiday rental is having access to your very own Host, and they’re bound to be able to introduce you to something really special in the area.
So with this in mind, meet Olivier, one of HouseTrip’s Expert Hosts in Lisbon. Olivier is a font of information on the best secret sights in Portugal’s historic capital…
Where to shop for food and gifts
Ale-Hop at Rua Augusta nr 186 is a shop where you’ll find funny, unusual and really odd gifts. It’s a great place to find something strange to take home with you, and is really handy if you’re staying at my award-winning downtown apartment. For special and artistic gifts related to Lisboa, the best place is at Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) at the Páteo da Galé.
Downtown is the best place to stay for a vacation in Lisbon. The historic centre is called Baixa/Rossio. This area is filled with authentic food markets to stock up the kitchen in your holiday rental. A typical market here is the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodré. Definitely worth a visit.
Avoid the tourists
If you are looking for a place that’s really popular with the locals, but relatively unknown by visitors, one of the best places to visit is the Jardim da Estrela (Estrela Garden). With nice kiosks, a calm environment, beautiful centennial trees and a lot of space, it is a great place to find some quiet time and kids love it too.
Where to take the children
Speaking of the kids, if you’re looking for some great activities to do with your youngsters I highly recommend taking them to KidZania. It’s a great experience where they get to enjoy playing the role of adults. Having your kid present the weather channel or build a house is always a fun experience they’ll always remember.
Another good plan for the kids is taking them to Jardim do Torel. This garden is downtown, close to Avenida da Liberdade and has amazing playgrounds, space to play some football, a nice bar and all in a very calm environment with panoramic views. It’s actually only 10 minutes’ walk from my apartment in the heart of the historic centre on Rua dos Correeiros.
Lisbon on the senses
Lisbon is not only a beautiful city, it also smells great! We even have a traditional song that says “Cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa” (it smells good, it smells like Lisbon) and not many travellers know how to fully experience this so I’m going to tell you a secret. Visit the Mouraria neighbourhood before lunchtime between 11am and 12pm and you’ll experience a sea of aromas: through the historic alleyways you’ll scent the ingredients of Asian, African and Portuguese cuisine in a very unique and heady blend. If you stay at my apartment in Alfama you’ll immediately be surrounded by the perfume of parsley and coriander. Take a walk up the hill to Rua do Salvador and then onwards to Costa do Castelo. Your final destination is Rua da Mouraria/Rua do Capelão, where curry and African cuisine rules! A great appetizer for a unique lunch at Mouraria.
Lisbon by bicycle
I love to bike around town and Lisbon has finally prepared itself to be bike friendly. New bicycle trails have been built, crossing beautiful areas of my lovely city! Being a ground floor apartment, you can easily store your bike in my apartment at Alfama (above)and discover Lisbon by bicycle! You can rent bikes 500m away at rent-a-fun.
The place I like to cycle most isn’t actually a bike trail, it is the Expo area (Parque das Nações). It’s a bike-friendly place, where you can rent a bike or bring your own. Starting at the Jardins D’Agua (Gardens of the Water), I like to play with all the water related objects, cross through the waterfall, and be surprised by the volcano mountains. Next stop is the Oceanarium area, with its beautiful architecture, relaxing gardens and proximity to the river. My ride continues along the Oceanarium lake, towards the Portugal Pavilion – a gravity-defying structure – stopping at the Jardins da Música (Gardens of Music) to relax and play with all the instruments. Sometimes walking, sometimes on my bike, the Jardins Garcia D’Orta are everchanging with seasonal colours and smells, and are the best way to get to the promenade that takes you to the Vasco da Gama bridge.
As a bird watcher, I love to admire all the beautiful birds at the Tagus Estuary, all the way to my final destination: underneath the Vasco da Gama bridge, the best spot to feel its impressive structure and admire its amazing architecture.
The best custard tarts in Lisbon
Thankfully, it is no secret where to find the best custard tarts…in the world! The Pastéis de Belém at Belém are simply the best. Plan a full day visit to Belém since there is a lot to see and do in the area. If you’re staying at my apartment downtown you can get tram 15 at the end of the street, and don’t forget to visit the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). And whenever you get hungry, head back to the Pastéis de Belém bakery for more of the best tarts in the world. Final tip: visit all its rooms with its beautiful tiles and a view of the factory.
Featured image by txiribiton.